Will the action of praying to / worshipping gods for something be fruitful according to Buddhism?

Is there any reference where a god (deva) has helped a person who has prayed to / asked help from the deva ?

In Jainism, it is said that if the followers insist on praying to god, it's advised that they should pray (ask for help) only for the knowledge that leads to Nirvana.


I asked this NOT because I wanted help from god or believed in god. I asked this because, Buddha said that there are heavenly beings (gods) with powers, but are themselves mortal too.. So, I just wanted to know, why Buddhists pray to those gods (I've seen many Buddhists praying to god, not all Buddhists). Is that even fruitful?


7 Answers 7


As the common saying goes: "god(s) help those who help themselves", if the gods could help someone, it'd be only in accordance with that individual's wholesome kamma. Someone who kills, cheats, or engages in various misconducts shouldn't expect to get "help" no matter how frequent and sincere s/he prays:

From AN 5.57: "There are these five facts that one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained. Which five?

"'I am subject to aging, have not gone beyond aging.' This is the first fact that one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained.

"'I am subject to illness, ... death, ...

"'I am the owner of my actions, heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir.' ...

"These are the five facts that one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained.

  • Worshipping gods, just to do not miss the content under the cover, is actually a good deed, Apacāyana And having done good deeds sometimes bring strange seeming results: "After all, these are the first instructions Bahiya receives from the Buddha, and he attains Awakening immediately afterward, so they would appear to be complete in and of themselves." Ud 1.10 and FfA. Giving (by wore shipping) or demanding or wishing are different things Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 1:30

In the Tibetan Tradition yes,

Deities have mantras, such as Tara and Chenrezig, that can be evoked for protection and other benevolent reasons. These mantras have specific benefits, and some have no associated deity, and are like "magic spells."

These deities however are not devas, but enlightened beings.

For example

enter image description here

(Sometimes spelled differently in various English translations)

Is supposed to have the following benefits :

Whoever sees, hears, remembers, or touches this mantra will be purified of all negativities and gain freedom from rebirth in the lower realms—from the Ksitigarbha Dasacakra Sutra.

Recalling this mantra just once has the power to purify even the five uninterrupted negative karmas. It prevents rebirth in Avici, the heaviest of hells. -- Source

These mantras are normally chanted in meditation , there is some controversy over the subject in Western Rime centers, but it is absolutely a part of the Tibetan Tradition.

  • I think it is important to distinguish beteen devas as 'yid-dam' and those as 'lha'.
    – Manjusri
    Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 22:41
  • 1
    @Manjusri Maybe you could add that distinction, to your answer.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 20:00

not exactly praying but rather doing something good and dedicate it to local devas. Maha-parinibbana Sutta

Wherever he may dwell, the prudent man Ministers to the chaste and virtuous; And having to these worthy ones made gifts, He shares his merits with the local devas.

And so revered, they honor him in turn, Are gracious to him even as a mother Is towards her own, her only son; And he who thus enjoys the devas' grace, And is by them beloved, good fortune sees.

However, Buddha did not speak in detail of how the devas would help and protect us.

  • I'm just thinking out loud that this dharma might be useful for those who have their hearts fixed on praying to gods, but instead of praying, do something good and dedicate it to the gods will be much more beneficial than getting down on the knees and pray. just strictly my thought.
    – user5056
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 21:13

No, most likely not. Would Gokul NC helps somebody who prefers to pray rather that to be always aware that Gokul NC (gods) are watching one (see Adhipateyya Sutta: Governing Principles), and therefore do not do unwholesome things?

Don't worry that there are no Devas protecting Gokul NC, when Gokul NC is walking a good way and be honest all the time.

Rakkhantu sabba-devatā May the devas protect you.

Is a good wish, rather to think "may the devas protect me" Demanding and wishing is never as protective as giving and would not attract Gokul NC to the Devas, to see you worthy to be good protected.

(Note: this answer has not been given with the agreement to be means of trade or the purpose of/for trade and/or keep people trapped and bound. How you handle it lies in your sphere, but does not excuse the deed here either.)


Gokul NC

Do the gods help us if we pray to them according to Buddhism?

Sure, if one honores and respects them, one can espect rewards. Like if one interacts with other beings, here being with guṇā, having performed and developed goid qualities.

Like with other beings the help is of course limited to merely "outwardly". But they are also used to lift ones mind and come to skilful concentration.

The Buddha praised and encouraged to sacrifies and respect in regard of the Devas and Gods and told that a person doing so where ever he goes, will always gain the respect of the Devas and be best possible protected. (Maybe my person can add a key sutta here, which came to mind)

It's usuall to give wishes like "may the Devas protect you".

The Buddha was always good protected and supported by the Devas and enjoyed their help and company even in his quest.

Not believing in "spontaneously born beings", Deva, Gods and rejecting their existence is a factor of wrong view and one not respecting the goodness and merits of Devas and in many cases their inferior might also still have problems not knowing what is higher and foremost, which is also an indicator of the first path factor missing, yet it is even a wordily matter of right estimate.

Of course Devas, aside of maybe teach or tell one Dhamma, can not help one in the task to master the path for liberation from suffering, like nobody can: Something one needs to do by oneself, and of course Devas can also not chance effects caused by ones iwn deeds and erease them to arise. But all that ciunts for other people, even the Lord Buddha likewise.

It is maybe good to remark that Devas do not like the company of humans that much because of their virtue, so to enjoy best help and have Devas arround, one needs to have virtue and attributes similar to them.

So torward all here coming accross:

Rakkhantu sabba-devatā

May the devas protect you.


Through the power of all the Buddhas/Dhamma/Sangha,

Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ

May you forever be well.

Hotu sabbaṃ sumaṅgalaṃ

May there be every good blessing.

*(Note: This is a gift of Dhamma, came into being by goodness received and gratitude and so given by goodness and gratitude, and not meant for commercial purpose and trade in the world, or any wordily gain.)

  • If you scroll down below, there's another answer written by you 1.5years ago (from another account), which seems a little contradicting to your current answer. Nevermind :)
    – Gokul NC
    Commented Jun 17, 2017 at 17:10
  • Yes, @GokulNC at fist look. How are did you regard it 1,5 years later? Currently aversive torward Gods or merely attachend to them? Where lies the contradiction? How do you feel that the audience and tendence of answers have changed? Commented Jun 17, 2017 at 23:07
  • Did @GokulNC chances his question? And what is different, what still the same? Commented Jun 17, 2017 at 23:50

I think it is important to distinguish between devas as yi-dams and those as lha.

According to Buddhist Dharma I was taught, devas as lha are just sentient beings in Samsara, just like the other ones. They also know craving, hate, ignorance and they are not free from suffering.

And a being not freed from suffering cannot free the other beings from it. Perhaps they might help people freeing them from temporal, everyday suffering, but not from the ultimate one.

In Buddhist Dharma one of the vows is also not to take refuge / not to rely upon mundane gods (devas, or lhas).


Gods? Hardly.

Many years ago I was attending a football game in California. My team (the home team) was getting hammered. They had played poorly all game and the crowd was near silent. Out of nowhere one of our players made a really good tackle. His family was in attendance and despite the overall sullen crowd they stood up and cheered for their boy. And they cheered relentlessly ... well beyond what his play warranted. Then more stood up. Then his teammates took notice of the fervor and they congratulated him too. All of the sudden the entire team is standing and cheering as is 3/4 of the crowd. And the team starts playing better as a result.

The Niners still lost, but they actually made a game of it. The way that the community consciousness of that crowd affected things was miraculous. Stirs emotions, stirs adrenaline, builds energy, builds comraderie and on and on. This is a small example of the ideology of interconnectedness. Everything we do effects everything else down the line in ways we know and ways we dont. Some maybe even not linearly in time.

But the point is that positive mental energy can be "contagious" so to speak and it has to do with that interconnectedness and not necessarily the work of gods.

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