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HINDU PANTHEON 1 <= 2 <= 3 <= 12 <= 330 million Hinduism: The Religion of 330 million Gods (and Goddesses)! but 12 popular deities 3 important deities (Trimurti) 2 most dominant deities and One ultimate reality: Brahman! Hindu Deities I. VEDIC GODS: Indra, Agni, Mitra, Varuna,Soma, Rita, Gui,... II. GODS of POPULAR HINDUISM GODS OF POPULAR HINDUISM (OR POPULAR DEVOTION): *HINDU TRIMURTI (TRINITY) 1. BRAHMA (creator) <===> 2. VISHNU (Preserver)<===> 3. SHIVA (destroyer) <===> SHIVA + KALI => GANESHA (GANAPATI) (Father+Mother => Son) Wives SARASVATI LAKSHMI KALI (PARVATI) TEN MAJOR HINDU AVATARS The number of avatars has never been settled. Most Hindus today recognize ten, named in this order: 1°) Matsya (the fish) 2°) Kurma (the tortoise) 3°) Varaha (the boar) 4°)Narasimha (the man-lion) 5°) Vamana (the dwarf) 6°) Parashurama (an ax-wielding man) 7°) Krishna 8°)Rama (a folk hero) 9°) Gautama Buddha (the founder of Buddhism) 10°) Kalki (the avatar yet to come) POPULAR HINDU DEITIES 1. BRAHMAN (the Ultimate Reality) 2. SACRED COW 3. Two dominant types of Hinduism: SHIVA VISHNU 4. TRIMURTI 5. MAJOR GODDESSES 6. RAMA 7. KRISHNA 8. THE NOTION OF AVATARS 9. KALKI (Avatar to come) 10. OTHER GODS AND GODDESSES MOST POPULAR GODS OF MOST HINDUS Two dominant Gods: SHIVA and VISHNU Today, most Hindu adherents are - Shaivites (worshippers of Shiva) or - Vaishnavites (worshippers of Vishnu) Other important popular Gods: - Kali - Krishna - Rama - Ganesha HINDU PANTHEON Gods and Goddesses of today’s Hinduism 330 million (but 12 popular deities) Gods Goddesses 1. BRAHMAN 8. KALI (Parvati) 2. BRAHMA 9. SARASVATI 3. VISHNU 10. LAKSHMI 4. SHIVA 11. SITA (ideal wife) 5. GANESHA (Ganapati) 12. Sacred Cow 6. KRISHNA (associated with the cult of the Sacred Cow) 7. RAMA (ideal king and ideal husband) ( Kalki and Buddha) Hindu Goddesses 1. SHAKTI, the Great Goddess who goes by many names such as 1. KALI, 2. PARVATI, 3. DURGA 2. 3. 4. 5. SARASVATI LAKSHMI SITA The SACRED COW FEATURES OF HINDU THEOLOGY Hindu understanding of the nature of God offers a complex picture dominated by the following features: 1. conception of unity and plurality of God: Notion of Avatars 330 million Gods and Goddesses, one and unique Brahman. 2. Notion of Trinity 3. female and male gender of God 4. doctrine of incarnation of God (or Avatar) 5. doctrine of the return of KALKI (the “savior”): doctrine born between 100 and 300 C.E. 6. two basic conceptions of the nature of God (the impersonal God of the philosophers and the Personal God of popular devotion) - Two different manifestations of the Divine: benevolent and terrifying (Mysterium tremendum: Otto), inspiring both love and fear. I. Unity and diversity of God According to the epic "Mahabharata" (1.1.39), there are 33,333 Hindu deities. In other, later sources, that number is multiplied a thousandfold. Thus there are more or less 330 million Gods and Goddesses in the Hindu Pantheon Usually, however, the gods are referred to as "The Thirty-Three.” But most believers today worship 12 deities II. Hindu Pantheon Hindu pantheon includes 12 major deities: 1) Brahman, the ultimate reality The trinity (3 main Gods): Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Three main Goddesses: Kali, Lakshmi, Sarasvati 8) The Sacred Cow 9-10) 2 major avatars: Krishna and Rama 11) Ganesha 12) Sita KALKI, the avatar to come Buddha (as one of the avatars) (Jesus) HINDU TRINITY 1. BRAHMA (creator) <===> 2. VISHNU (Preserver)<===> 3. SHIVA (destroyer) <===> Wives SARASVATI LAKSHMI KALI (PARVATI) SHIVA+KALI => GANESHA (GANAPATI) (Father+Mother => Son) HINDU TRINITY (TRIMURTI) HINDUISM offers its devotees many paths. However most people’s devotion is centered around 3 major gods that form the Hindu triad known as TRIMURTI. At the core of Hindu thought we first find Brahman as the ultimate reality, the one and undivided. However postclassical Hinduism sees him in terms of three forms or functions (Trimurti)- creation,preservation, and destruction- each of which is expressed by a specific god: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. HINDU TRINITY (or TRIAD) In the light of the role he plays in the existence of the World, God is conceived by Hindus as a trinity. Thus three principal moments are envisioned in the life of the cosmos according to the Hindu trinity Creation: Maintenance: Destruction: God Brahma God Vishnu God Shiva Poet Shivavakkiyar (XVII's century BC, Tamil literature) described Shiva as the One God in the following way: "Not Vishnu, Brahma, Shiva, In the Beyond is He, Not black, nor white, nor ruddy, This source of things that be; Not great is he, not little, Not female and not male But stands for, far, and far beyond All being's utmost pale." Important myths about the gods are tied to these moments. Traditionally, Brahma is the creator, emanating the universe and simultaneously promulgating the four Vedas from his four mouths. As creator, God is conceived as the Cosmic dancer who creates the world from his dance. And the World is then conceived as Lila (Play of God). BRAHMA The God BRAHMA is to be distinguished from the all-pervading god-force of the Upanishads, BRAHMAN. The word BRAHMAN is neuter. The word BRAHMA is masculine and refers to a distinct entity. BRAHMA Of the three leading deities of the Hindu pantheon, Brahma receives the least attention. Although Brahma is widely respected and recognized as being the creator of the world, only two temples are specifically dedicated to him in all of India, and he has no cult of devotees. Although Brahma is not mentioned in the Vedas, considerable mythology has accumulated during the postVedic era about him and his work of creation. VISHNU He is usually shown in images as a dark-blue man wearing a crown and possessing four arms, each of which holds an object specially associated with him: - a conch shell, - a discus, - a mace, - and a lotus. Vishnu is deeply concerned for the welfare of humankind In order to help men Vishnu is believed to have incarnate in various forms, several of which are animals. His two chief incarnations (avataras), however, are as men: Rama and Krishna. SHIVA - he is worshiped as the supreme monotheistic deity. - Unlike Vishnu, Shiva has a ruthless, intolerant and ferocious aspect. He is "The Destroyer", the god of death, and of time which destroy all things. He wears a necklace of skulls, inhabits burning grounds and battlefields, and is accompanied by ghosts and demons. SHIVA He is usually depicted with two main symbols: a third eye in his forehead (as a sign of his wisdom), and in temples he is often represented with the lingam, a stylized phallus usually of stone (symbol of power of procreation). In Hindu temples, the lingam is often found together with the YONI, a stylized form of the female sexual organ. YONI stands as image of Shiva's wife called PARVATI. SHIVA SHIVA is regarded as a source of procreation as well as destruction, that is a special divine force behind all natural processes of destruction. SHIVA He is the great ascetic and yogi, that is, he is the symbol of the great creative power of nature, and the patron of ascetics and yogis. He sits on a tiger skin, sunk in meditation, high on the Himalayan mountains, and by his meditation preserves the world. His body is covered with ashes, in token of detachment. He is the lord of snakes which cover his limbs. He is also the Lord of Dance (Nataraja), and his eternal dance animates the universe, or destroys it. LAKSHMI or SRI: Vishnu’s Wife She is the goddess of wealth and prosperity. She is usually shown sitting on a lotus, and is a popular divinity. SARASVATI: Brahma’s Wife She is the goddess of wisdom, knowledge, speech, and poetry. She is patroness of art, music, speech, and literature. She rides on a peacock, and carries a musical instrument, the vina, and a book. She is said to have invented the Sanskrit language, and is worshipped especially by students, writers and musicians. KALI (or PARVATI): Shiva’s Wife Parvati has many characters and is known by many names. She is the goddess of beauty. She is young, and kind. She is also called Kali and is depicted with a red tongue protruding from her mouth. As Kali, she is the powerful and terrifying deity. GANESHA (GANAPATI) Parvati and Shiva have a son called Ganesha, or Ganapati. This god-elephant is especially beloved by all Hindus. The Vedic Aryan Gods 1. VARUNA (The high-arched sky) 2. SAVITAR, SURYA (Sun) 3. INDRA (god of war, storms and monsoons) 4. RUDRA (Mountain storms, plants) 5. AGNI (god of fire) 6. SOMA (drink of communion) 7. RITA (principle of cosmic order) 8. MITRA (god of loyalty and faith keeping) 9. GUI (the SACRED COW, in Hindi) Hindu Pantheon 1. VEDIC GODS: Indra, Agni, Mitra, Varuna,Soma, Rita, Gui,... 2. BRAHMAN (THE SUPREME GOD OF HINDU PHILOSOPHERS) 3. GODS OF POPULAR HINDUISM (OR POPULAR DEVOTION): *HINDU TRINITY Wives 1. BRAHMA (creator) <===> SARASVATI 2. VISHNU (Preserver)<===> LAKSHMI 3. SHIVA (destroyer) <===> KALI (PARVATI) SHIVA+KALI => GANESHA (GANAPATI) (Father+Mother => Son) * AVATARS: Krishna, Rama, Gautama Buddha, Kalki, etc. * The Sacred Cow (Gui) IS HINDUISM A FORM OF POLYTHEISM? (Deconstructing the Hegelian Paradigm Mythology) “Images of the Hindu gods are not intended to be understood literally…In studying Hinduism, traditional labels of polytheism, monotheism, or atheism are inappropriate. They are not helpful in understanding Hindu attitudes toward the divine. Perhaps the term HENOTHEISM is better, for it emphasizes one superior god in the presence of lesser gods.” (Warren Matthews, World Religions. 4th edition, Thomson/Wadsworth,2004), pp.108-109. “A distinctive attitude of Hinduism is that there is more to the universe than meets the eye. There is a reality that embraces all we experience; to understand the universe and ourselves, its presence is necessary. Behind all the phenomena of life a source of energy makes it possible. This unit can be experienced, however, in a great variety of ways. No one way in itself is complete.” (Warren Matthews, World Religions. 4th edition, Thomson/Wadsworth, 2004), p.109. The distinction between the Gods is not between good and evil, but rather between two ways in which the divine manifests itself in this world, as both benevolent and fearful, both harmonious and disharmonious. Vedic Gods 1. VARUNA (The high-arched sky) 2. SAVITAR, SURYA (Sun) 3. INDRA (god of war, storms and monsoons) 4. RUDRA (Mountain storms, plants) 5. AGNI (god of fire) 6. SOMA (drink of communion) 7. RITA (principle of cosmic order) 8. MITRA (god of loyalty and faith keeping) 9. GUI (the SACRED COW, in Hindi) Vedic Hinduism and the response to human anxieties. Science has only recently become humanity’s defense against natural ills. Most religions, past and present, address the whole range of human insecurities. Like other religions, the Vedic religion addresses its adherents’ most acute insecurities, whatever they be. It was as broad in its scope as the anxieties of its people. In sum, the worship of the Vedic or Aryan gods is directed toward three types of insecurity: 1. Insecurity from natural forces: disease, danger of injury, and want. 2. Moral insecurity 3. Military insecurity from foreign invasions =>In economic needs, people worship the gods of nature, For social stability they worship Varuna, and in war they worship Indra. 1. Natural Insecurity 1. Insecurity from natural forces: disease, danger of injury, and want. In this area, Vedic worshipers supplemented normal human efforts by invoking the many nature deities and by resorting to the Atharvans’ magical rituals. These gods are invoked when people are in economic needs (poverty, drought, famine, epidemics, etc) 2. Moral insecurity This is caused by destructive individualism within the community itself. To overcome this danger, people worship VARUNA: As the guardian of rita, Varun punishes antisocial behavior and supports the authority of kings. Indra as the personification of Aryan might, is not moral at all. 3. Military insecurity Arises in warfare with alien civilizations Here worshipers call upon the god of unbounded force, seeking strength and a rallying point in war. The Aryan gods of the Veda have varying moral natures. Varuna is a highly moral deity. Nature gods like the solar Savitar are amoral, Indra as the personification of Aryan might is not moral at all. Niels C. Nielsen, ed., Religions of the World (New York: st Martin’s Press,1993); p.97 INDRA In the Rig-Veda, Indra is the creator and ruler of the universe. He is the Patriotic God of war par excellence for the Aryan people He is a warrior who fights for the Aryans against the aboriginal Dasas, He slays demons and hateful forces, He preserves humans and gods He quenches his thirst with Soma, an invigorating drink AGNI = The Vedic god of Fire • • • • SOMA a deified intoxicating plant. VARUNA: God of the high-arched sky. RITA God of order and principles. Rita is the protector of Truth, the principal force of the universe which orders all things, preventing chaos. MITRA was closely allied with Varuna, Truth. He is the god of faithfulness and keeping promises; People invoke his name as they enter binding agreement. CHARACTERISTICS OF OTHER HINDU GODS AND GODS RAMA He is often shown carrying a bow and arrow. He is the embodiment of ideal manhood: a brave leader, a just king, a gentle and faithful husband to his wife RAMA has a wife called SITA, who is herself the ideal of womanhood. KALKI and the notion of the Savior to come The myth of Kalki is particularly interesting. Pictured as a swordsman on a white horse (or a horseheaded figure), Kalki is to appear at the end of the present evil age to unseat from their thrones the wicked barbarian rulers of the earth and to restore the righteous Brahmanic order. This hope in Kalki expresses India's revulsion in the first three centuries C.E. to the long and often hostile rule of foreign dynasties and faith in a deity concerned with the world. THE SACRED COW The sanctity of the cow is one of the foremost characteristics of Hindu spirituality and devotion. The sacred cow is largely connected to the devotion to Krishna But Indian mythology also says that Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, resides in cow's gobar. For Hindus, this sacred animal has far deeper nuances in Indian culture and ethos than is generally understood. For instance, in Sanskrit, the vocabulary used to mention the cow is indeed staggering, revealing the extraordinary importance that was once attached to it. But for Hindus, the Cow is more than a sacred animal. The cow is the sacred Mother Earth The Divine Mother that sustains all human beings and the life of every sentient being. Gui as the cow is called in Hindi, is symbolic of Earth itself (similar to Gaia, the Greek goddess of earth). It follows that the cow represents the Divine Mother that sustains all human beings and brings them up as her very own offspring. Much as a mother shows the highest mark of affection for her young, the passion of the cow for her calf is just as legendary and often referred to in Indian literature. The ancient texts describe how the gods run to the succour of a devotee like a cow hastening to feed her calf. In fact, the cow is even more than a mother in the sense that it fulfills all the needs of her children as well. It is in this conception that the cow is understood as Kakadhenu, the wish filling mythical cow, abode of the 330 million Indian gods and goddesses. But in Indian mythology and legend, it is with the cult of Krishna that the cow is closely connected. Among other deeds, Krishna is said to have lifted mount Govardhan to protect his group of cows, cowboys and milkmaids. In popular imagination it is Lord Krishna who symbolized the relationship man should have for the cow. Hence to take care of this innocent and self-sacrificing animal is a matter of virtue for Hindus who identify the act as dharma or moral duty. THE FIVE GIFTS OF THE COW Indian scriptures tell us that the cow is a gift of the gods to the human race. It is a celestial being born of the churning of the cosmic ocean. it was natural that in a predominantly agricultural and pastoral country like India, cows were and to some extent still are, considered to be the real wealth of the people. the cow is considered the backbone of rural society. Panchgavya (or the five gifts of the cow): 1. milk, 2. yoghurt, 3. ghee, 4. gohar, 5. and gau mutra. 1. it is the cow that gives birth to the bulls, bulls that are harnessed to plough the fields and to provide transportation. 2. And then there is the mild-milk that is cultured to become yoghurt 3. yoghurt which is churned to produce butter- 4. butter which is converted into ghee or clarified butter that in India is used as cooking medium. 5. In addition to this, there is paneer or cottage cheese and buttermilk. 6. Indians cannot forget khoya and mana-the other milk derivatives used in preparation of sweets. Paeans of praise is reserved for cow's milk and ghee which is considered to be an elixir. Dr. D. Bhandari, the former Director of Animal Husbandry in Rajasthan said, ”It is the wonderful bacterial flora of the cow's stomach that imparts this matchless quality to its milk ideally balanced for humans. Buffalo milk may be richer but it is the cow's milk that sharpens intellect, gives swiftness of body, stability of emotions and a serene nature to the one who drinks it." Gobar and gau mutra are also mixed with mud and straw to make dried cakes that fuel kitchen fires. Traditional wisdom says that in burning these cow dung cakes, the temperature never rises beyond a certain point, ensuring the nutrients in the food are not destroyed by overheating. Besides, the smoke of gobar clears the air of germs. Gobar has also been successfully used to produce bio-gas and generate electricity for consumer use. Scientific studies show that gobar has been found to be resistant to solar radiation. And of course, gobar mixed with gau mutra makes for excellent manure and a natural pesticide. Modern day ecologists are saying that as compared to chemical fertilizer which damages the land in the long run, gobar actually improves the health of the soil. It isn't hard to see why Indian mythology says that Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, resides in cow's gobar. 6 major purposes of life are fulfilled by the cow 1. Electricity and bio-gas. 2. Production of food: Energy or Power to plough the field 3. Transportation 4. Leather (clothing) 5. Good food 6. Products of various usage 7. Medicine. 4. Good Food 1. Milk 2. Yoghurt 3. Butter 4. Cottage Cheese 5. Ghee 6. And other products 5. Other products the cow’s horns and bones and other parts of the body like intestines have various uses. 6. Medicine Cow milk and other derivative products help people become healthy physically, intellectually and psychologically. The Cow heals the mind and the body. Cow products provide:… Cow products provide: Sharp intellect Swiftness of the body (beauty) Mental stability (Stability of emotions) Serene nature In other words the cow helps you be a smart person, a beautiful person, a good and emotionally stable personality (not a crazy one) Cow urine or gau mutra (taken in measured quantities) has a unique place in Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine. Commenting on the chemistry of gau mutra,Dr. C.H.S. Sastry, Director of the National Institute of Ayurveda said, "Cow urine is used to produce a whole range of ayurvedic drugs, especially to treat skin diseases like eczema."