kamaistaistairhritajnyaanaahaa prapadyantenyadevataahaa |
tam tam niyamamaasthaaya prakrityaa niyataahaa svayaa || 20 ||

They, whose knowledge has been usurped by desires, seek refuge of other deities. They resort to rites, compelled by their own nature.
kamaihi : desires
taihi, taihi : those
hritajnyaanaahaa : they whose knowledge has been usurped
prapadyante : seek refuge
anya : other
devataahaa : deities
tam, tam : those
niyamam : rites
aasthaaya : resort
prakrityaa : nature
niyataahaa : compelled
svayaa : their own
Shri Krishna praised the wise devotee’s quest for the infinite Ishvara in the previous shlokas. He now proceeds to describe the other category of devotees. These devotees feel a sense of incompleteness. They keep looking for finite things such as people, objects and situations to make themselves feel complete. Shri Krishna says that such devotees, compelled by their nature, seek the refuge of finite deities. They do so because their discrimination is usurped by the force of their desires.
First, let us look at what is meant by usurping of knowledge by desires. We have seen the example earlier of a family walking through a shopping mall. The husband and the wife see the exact same shops. Both their intellects give them the same knowledge of objects. In other words, both of them recognize that “this is a nice outfit” and “this is an Ipod”. But their behaviour towards these objects will be different due to the difference in their respective desires. The husband will think “I want that Ipod” whereas the wife will think “I want that outfit”.
Now, unlike the wise devotees, such devotees still have not shifted their focus towards the ultimate goal that will give them infinitude – Ishvara. They still harbour desires for material objects, people and situations that prevents them from contacting the infinite. So then, due to the force of their desires, they look for something finite to give them happiness. To that end, they propitiate deities that will give them their finite objects of desire. They approach Lord Ganesha to remove obstacles in their line of work, for example.
Their situation is no different than a businessman who wants to build a factory. He will have to appease the local minister to get land clearances. He will have to appease the local union leader to ensure the smooth running of his factory. He will have to appease his customers so that they will keep placing orders for his goods. But in doing so, he will have to dance to their tune. He may have to give someone’s son-in-law a job in his factory, and so on and so forth. Similarly, in order to propitiate these deities, we may also have to follow prescribed rites and rituals that are specific to each deity.
Shri Krishna says that even if pursuing limited or finite goals is not the way to go, Ishvara will still demonstrate compassion towards such devotees, indicated by the next shloka.