Prabhu: Prabhu means lord. The provider (master) is called “Prabhu”.
Anybody can be a Prabhu. So let’s say you have a shop franchised to a big company and you have employed a clerk. To that clerk, you are the prabhu but to you, that company is your Prabhu.
“Annadata” is sometimes referred to as Prabhu. God can be prabhu. A landlord can be a Prabhu. An employer can be a Prabhu. A Guardian can be a Prabhu. A milkman can be a prabhu (to the cow). The person who protects others is a Prabhu. Anyone who provides is a Prabhu.
When you say “Hey Prabhu, meri raksha karna”, what you actually mean is “Hey provider (whoever it is), protect me when I need you”
Bhagwan: Something/ someone that is “Prosperous” to the subject.
Bhagvan == Bhag + Van (someone who uplifts the Bhagya of the subject)
Bhagwan is masculine. The feminine form is Bhagwati.Bhagwan is subjective in nature and is not universal.
Difference between Bhagwan and Prabhu
To a farmer, the Bull is the Bhagwan. Note that to the Bull, the farmer is the “Prabhu”. The farmer is the keeper and provider for the Bull and hence the Bull considers the farmer as “Prabhu”.
However, to the Prabhu, the Bull is the Bhagwan. The Bull brings prosperity to the farmer and hence the farmer worships the Bull in the form of Nandi (shiva).
The farmer calls the Bull “bhagya data”.
The subject can call anyone Bhagwan so long as that person brings prosperity. You can call Vishnu as Bhagwan. You can call your father as Bhagwan. You can call your manager as Bhagwan. You can call your teacher as Bhagwan. And so on and so forth.
Devta: The “divine” source which propels “karya”
Devta is the masculine form of “Dev” (Dev == to give). The feminine form is “Devi” and the word Devta means both Dev and Devi.
Anyone who has achieved a state of supreme mastery over something and has owned it is called a “Dev”/”Devi”.
- Saraswati is the Devta of Knowledge.
- Varuna is the Devta of Water.
- Lakshmi is the Devta of Wealth.
- Durga is the devi of Shakti.
- Brahma: Devta of creation.
- Yama is the dev of time/death
So you can say that Sachin Tendulkar is one Devta of Cricket.
However, Sachin is not a “Prabhu” of Cricket, since Sachin is not the one who guards and provides for Cricket. After Sachin, Cricket will continue. Sachin is not the Bhagwan of Cricket, since Cricket was not prosperous through Sachin. Cricket was always there, it is Sachin who achieved mastery over it.
Parmatma: The supreme soul of an Individual
Parmatma (Par + atman). Something which is above and beyond the “atman” (soul).
Every individual has a “Parmatman” inside it. You are nothing but a soul, trapped in a cage of flesh and bones. Your parmatman is sleeping. It is the state of pure consciousness when that super soul wakes up.
Ishwar: The supreme lord
Ishwar means the supreme lord through which everything came into existence. Shiva and Vishnu are considered as “Ishwars”. Brahma is not Ishwar. Brahma is a Devta.
Vishnu is more of a “Prabhu” who keeps the whole universe while it is Shiva who is the supreme champion of all things that exist.