Demigods are jivas or ordinary living entities whom the Supreme Personality of Godhead empowers to represent Him in the management of the universe. The first of the demigods is Brahma. Indra is the demigod of rain, Surya of the sunshine, Chandra of the moonshine, and Varuna of water. There are thirty-three million demigods in all. They live in the upper regions of the universe called svarga, or heaven. The Sanskrit equivalent of the word demigod is deva or devata.
According to our Hindu conception, there are thirty-three crores of Demigods like Indra, Chandra, Varuna, and many others. John Walters in his book World Religion has made a sarcastic comment that Hindu religion has high God to man ratio. One God for every three men. There is a misconception about the Hindu religion among people who profess other religions, such as Christians and Muslims, who say that in the Hindu religion there are many Gods. Actually that is not a fact. God is one, but there are many other powerful living entities who are in charge of different departments of administration. They are called demigods. All the demigods are servants who carry out the orders of the Supreme Lord, the Personality of Godhead. One must offer proper respects to all the demigods. If one can offer respects even to an ant, why not to the demigods? One must always know, however, that no demigod is equal to or above the Supreme Lord.
Ekale isvara krishna, ara saba bhritya: (Chaitanya-caritamrita Adi 5.142) Only Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and all others, including the demigods such as Lord Lord Shiva, Lord Brahma, goddess Durga and Ganesha are His servants. All demigods accept the supremacy of Lord Krishna. Listed are a few such examples.
Lord Shiva is a partial incarnation of Lord Krishna and he is in charge of the mode of ignorance or tamo-guna amongst the three modes of material nature. He takes charge of destroying the universe at the time of annihilation. He is also considered the greatest Vaishnava, or devotee, of Lord Krishna. He is confused by some with the Supreme Lord.
Lord Shiva while instructing the sons of King Pracinabarhi about the Absolute Truth prays
namas ta ashisam isha
namo dharmaya brhate
My dear Lord, You are the topmost of all bestowers of all benediction, the oldest and supreme enjoyer amongst all enjoyers. You are the master of all the worlds’ metaphysical philosophy, for You are the supreme cause of all causes, Lord Krishna. You are the greatest of all religious principles, the supreme mind, and You have a brain which is never checked by any condition. Therefore I repeatedly offer my obeisances unto You.(Shrimad Bhagavatam 4.24.42)
Lord Shiva, out of great mercy, further instructs
yah param ramhasah saksat
prapannah sa priyo hi me
Any person who is surrendered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, the controller of everythingmaterial nature as well as the living entityis actually very dear to me. (Shrimad-Bhagavatam 4.24.28)
Lord Brahma is the first created living being and secondary creator of the material universe. Directed by Lord Vishnu, he creates all life forms in the universes. He also rules the mode of passion.
Once Lord Brahma wanted to examine the potency of Krishna, he took away all the calves and cowherd boys and kept them in a secluded place. When one full year had passed, Brahma returned and saw that Krishna was still engaged as usual with His friends and the calves and cows. Then Krishna exhibited all the calves and cowherd boys as four-armed forms of Narayana. Brahma could then understand Krishna’s potency, and he was astonished by the pastimes of Krishna, his worshipable Lord. Krishna, however, bestowed His causeless mercy upon Brahma and released him from illusion. At that time Lord Brahma began to offer prayers to glorify the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
pasyesa me nayam ananta adye
paratmani tvayy api mayi-mayini
maya vitatyeksitum atma-vaibhava
hy aha kiyan aiccham ivarcir agnau
My Lord, just see my uncivilized impudence! To test Your power I tried to extend my illusory potency to cover You, the unlimited and primeval Supersoul, who bewilder even the masters of illusion. What am I compared to You? I am just like a small spark in the presence of a great fire. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.14.11)
Also In the Brahma-samhita prayers Lord Brahma states
isvarah paramah krsnah
anadir adir govindah
Krishna who is known as Govinda is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal blissful spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin and He is the prime cause of all causes. (Brahma-samhita 5.2)
Lord Indra is the chief demigod of heaven and presiding deity of rain, and the father of Arjuna. He is the son of Aditi.
Once Lord Indra was overcome by anger when the residents of Vraja cancelled his sacrifice. He tried to punish them by sending forth a devastating rainfall to Vrindavana, and Lord Sri Krishna protected Gokula by lifting Govardhana Hill and for seven days using it as an umbrella to ward off the rain. Ashamed of having attacked Vrindavana with a violent storm, Indra secretly came before Lord Krishna, offered obeisances and praised Him.
pita gurus tvam jagatam adhisho
duratyayah kala upatta-dandah
hitaya ceccha-tanubhih samihase
manam vidhunvan jagad-isha-maninam
You are the father and spiritual master of this entire universe, and also its supreme controller. You are insurmountable time, imposing punishment upon the sinful for their own benefit. Indeed, in Your various incarnations, selected by Your own free will, You act decisively to remove the false pride of those who presume themselves masters of this world. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.27.6)
namas tubhyam bhagavate
satvatam pataye namah
Obeisances unto You, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the great Soul, who are all-pervading and who reside in the hearts of all. My obeisances unto You, Krishna, the chief of the Yadu dynasty. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.27.10)
Yamaraja is the demigod of death, who passes judgment on non-devotees at the time of death. He is the son of the sun-god and the brother of the sacred river Yamuna.
Yamaraja instructs his messengers, the yamadutas as follows
paro mad-anyo jagatas tasthusash ca
otam protam patavad yatra vishvam
yad-amshato ‘sya sthiti-janma-nasha
nasy otavad yasya vashe ca lokah
My dear servants, you have accepted me as the Supreme, but factually I am not. Above me, and above all the other demigods, including Indra and Chandra, is the one supreme master and controller. The partial manifestations of His personality are Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, who are in charge of the creation, maintenance and annihilation of this universe. He is like the two threads that form the length and breadth of a woven cloth. The entire world is controlled by Him just as a bull is controlled by a rope in its nose. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.3.12)
aham mahendro nirrtih pracetah
somo ‘gnir ishah pavano virincih
aditya-vishve vasavo ‘tha sadhya
marud-gana rudra-ganah sasiddhah
anye ca ye vishva-srjo ‘maresha
yasyehitam na viduh sprsta-mayah
sattva-pradhana api kim tato ‘nye
I, Yamaraja; Indra, the King of heaven; Nirrti; Varuna; Chandra, the moon-god; Agni; Lord Shiva; Pavana; Lord Brahma; Surya, the sun-god; Vishvasu; the eight Vasus; the Sadhyas; the Maruts; the Rudras; the Siddhas; and Maraci and the other great rishis engaged in maintaining the departmental affairs of the universe, as well as the best of the demigods headed by Brhaspati, and the great sages headed by Bhrgu are all certainly freed from the influence of the two base material modes of nature, namely passion and ignorance. Nevertheless, although we are in the mode of goodness, we cannot understand the activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. What, then, is to be said of others, who, under illusion, merely speculate to know God? (Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.3.14-15)
Lord Ganesha is the demigod in charge of material opulence and freedom from misfortune. He is the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati, and is the scribe who wrote down the Mahabharata. He has an elephant head.
In the Brahma samhita, it is stated
yat-pada-pallava-yugam vinidhaya kumbha-
dvandve pranama-samaye sa ganadhirajah
vighnan vihantum alam asya jagat-trayasya
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
I adore the primeval Lord Govinda, whose lotus feet are always held by Ganesha upon the pair of tumuli protruding from his elephant head in order to obtain power for his function of destroying all the obstacles on the path of progress of the three worlds. (Brahma-samhita 5.50)
Lord Varuna is the demigod in charge of the oceans.
Once the king of the cowherds, Nanda Maharaja, observed the prescribed fast on the eleventh day of the lunar month and then considered how to break his fast properly on the twelfth day. By circumstance only a few more minutes remained, and so he decided to take his bath at the very end of the night, although astrologically that was an inauspicious time. Thus he entered the water of the Yamuna. A servant of Varuna, the demigod of the ocean, noticed Nanda Maharaja entering the water at a time forbidden by scripture and took him away to the demigod’s abode. In the early morning the cowherd men unsuccessfully searched for Nanda, but Lord Krishna immediately understood the situation and went to see Varuna. Varuna worshiped Krishna with great and variegated festivity. Afterwards he begged the Lord to forgive his servant for having foolishly arrested the king of the cowherds.
adya me nibhrto deho
‘dyaivartho ‘dhigatah prabho
avapuh param adhvanah
Shri Varuna said: Now my body has fulfilled its function. Indeed, now the goal of my life is achieved, O Lord. Those who accept Your lotus feet, O Personality of Godhead, can transcend the path of material existence. -(Shrimad Bhagavatam 10.28.5)
namas tubhyam bhagavate
na yatra shruyate maya
My obeisances unto You, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Soul, within whom there is no trace of the illusory energy, which orchestrates the creation of this world. (Shrimad Bhagavatam 10.28.6)
Lakshmidevi is the goddess of fortune and the eternal consort of the Supreme Lord as Lord Narayana, who resides in the unlimited spiritual realm of Vaikuntha.
In the Brahma Samhita, it is mentioned,
laksavrtesu surabhir abhipalayantam
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, the first progenitor who is tending the cows, yielding all desire, in abodes built with spiritual gems, surrounded by millions of purpose trees, always served with great reverence and affection by hundreds of thousands of lakshmis or gopis. (Brahma-samhita 5.29)
All the demigods
When the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna entered the womb of Devaki to kill Kamsa, all the demigods understood that the Lord was living within Devaki’s womb, and therefore in veneration they offered Him the Garbha-stuti prayers.
tvam pasi nas tri-bhuvanam ca yathadhunesha
bharam bhuvo hara yaduttama vandanam te
O supreme controller, Your Lordship previously accepted incarnations as a fish, a horse, a tortoise, Narasimhadeva, a boar, a swan, Lord Ramacandra, Parashurama and, among the demigods, Vamanadeva, to protect the entire world by Your mercy. Now please protect us again by Your mercy by diminishing the disturbances in this world. O Krishna, best of the Yadus, we respectfully offer our obeisances unto You. (Shrimad Bhagavatam 10.2.40)