Back Of The Book
Why is it that different Hindu gods and goddesses though essentially spiritual, possess human attributes?
Why is it that they possess various forms, clothes, weapons and vehicles?
Why is it that Durva, a holy grass is dear to Shri Ganesh
Why is it that Vilva Patra is dear to Lord Shiva?
Why is it that the Goddess's body is coloured red?
Why is it that Saraswati, the goddess of learning, dons white clothes and holds a white lotus?
Why is it that Lord Krishna carries a conch shell and Chakra in his right hand?
Why is it that Shri Hanuman carries a mace in his hands?
Why is it that Goddess Shitala uses a donkey as her vehicle?
Why is it that Ram holds a bow and arrows in his hands?
Why is the symbolic meaning of Trishula (trident)?
Why is it that Kartikeya has six heads?
Why is it that image worship is so common among Hindus?
Do gods and goddesses reside in icons?
Why is it that Vishnu assumes Virat Roop?
Why is it that Shiva, Hanuman and Gayatri go with five heads?
What is the symbolical meaning of Ardhanarishwar?
Why is it hat goddess Durga has eight, ten and eighteen arms, as demanded under different situations.
Why is it that the meanings of the words Sita and Aum are similar?
Why is it that Hanuman holds mountains in his hands.?
Why is it that Brahma has four heads?
Why is it that Vishnu takes the form of Varah (Boar)?
Why is it that there are innumerable gods and goddesses in India?
Why is it that Kuber, being the deity of wealth has an ugly face?
Why is it that Balram holds a plough as his weapon?
I inherited a meager amount of astrological knowledge from my familial tradition. But late, through my own endeavour, I expanded the volume of my knowledge in this field. My areas of interest are Palmistry, Phrenology and Tantra-Mantra.
How and wherefrom this boundless cosmos came into being, is the eternal query that has been disturbing human mind from time immemorial. The Vedic response to this query is as follows:
In the beginning, only Hiranyagarbha was there. He was the only master of the entire creation. He held the cosmos all by himself and only he deserves our worship. There was a Supreme Being in the heginning. From His mind, the Moon came into being. From His eyes the Sun arose. Vayu (air) and Prana arose from His ears and fire was born from His mouth.2 From the naval of this Divine Being arose the mid-sky (Antariksa). From His head arose the uppermost sky (Dyuh). From His feet arose the earth and the ten directions assumed their being from His ears. Thus the cosmos was materialised by the Supreme Being from different parts of His body.3 From the Supreme Being all beings arise; they live in Him and ultimately are dissolved in Him.4 From the Supreme Being, sky came into being. From the sky, Vayu was born. From Vayu emerged fire. Fire led to the birth of water. Water resulted in the birth of earth and lastly from the earth arose vegetables and creatures.5 The entire manifestation emerges from the abstract Supreme Being in the day-process. As the right-process sets in, the entire manifestation is dissolved in the Supreme Being which is abstract, invisible and intangible.6 In fact, the entire manifestation is incomplete by itself; it is dependent on the Supreme Being for its entity, movements and acts. For example, the Sun appears as shining but it does not shine by itself. So are the moon and the stars; they do not shed their own light. Similar is the case of lightening and fire. The light they shed is not theirs. Everywhere, it is the light of the Supreme Being. He is the ultimate source of light. It is the light of the Supreme Being that pervades through the entire manifested cosmos. In other words, the Supreme Being sprays light through the suns, the stars, the moons, the lightening and the fire.7 This is Vedic cosmology.
The foregoing exposition of Vedic cosmology may be conceptualised as a circle whose nucleus is the Supreme Being and the rest of the circle is the manifested cosmos. The manifested cosmos arises from the nucleus in the emergence course and merges in the same in the reverse course. The two courses are ad infinitum.
Cosmic circle is run by three deities, Brahma, Visnu and Siva. Brahms creates all the creatures on behalf of the Supreme Being. Visnu maintains the creatures. Siva's role is dissolution. The dissolution is not a negative role; it is a pre-condition for regeneration. Siva sits on the confluence of dissolution and regeneration. This is His uniqueness. He is unique on one more point. Whereas Brahrna and Visnu have only male figures, Siva is half-male and half-female. He is called ardhandriswara. Brahma, Visnu and Siva are Vedic deities. The other prominent Vedic deity is Indra. In the praise of Indra, rsis have composed maximum number of hymns. In the Vedic text, Indra is depicted as the most powerful deity. He is deemed as the deity of deities. Varun, the deity of water also occupies a very prominent place in the Vedic text. In addition to these manlike deities, natural items such as fire, dawn, air, sun, moon, earth, sky, rain, and soma have also been depicted as deities. Fire is a very important deity in the Vedic text as it carries dhuti to the devtas offered in the Yajnas.
The Supreme Being reincarnates Himself for the regeneration of mankind, to arrest the degeneration of morality and to uphold the regeneration of dharma. He physically appears on the earth from age to age. Major incarnations of the Supreme Being are Kurma (tortoise), Matsya (fish), Yaraha (boar), Hayagreeva, Vaman, Nrsimha (half-man-half-lion), Parasuram, Rama, Krsna, Buddha and Kalki. The Kalki incarnation is yet to take place.
Out of the above mentioned incarnations, two, namely Parasuram and Rama are contemporary. Rarna and Krsna incarnations of the Supreme Being have made a deep imprint on man's mind. The incarnation of Visnu in the form of Buddha created a new wave of compassion and love in the heart of man. Buddha was opposed to any kind of violence against any living being-man, animal or other creatures.
Indian scholars have divided knowledge into three parts, Adhyatmik (ontological), Adhidaivik (related to gods and goddesses) and adhibhautik (material). In the literature of other societies, plenty material is available on the three points. But Vedic exposition on these points is far more clear and explicit as compared to the same elsewhere. This fact has been acknowledged by the philosophers and thinkers all over the world. It is said that a single man's life is inadequate for the study of hymns and philosophical books authored by the ancient Vedic scholars. For example, the Gita is a small book consisting of seven hundred verses. It has been translated into several languages. Yet the mysteries of this book remain as undeciphered as ever. Indian literature enshrines vast knowledge both spiritual as well as scientific. It is very difficult to identify and explain such a vast content of the Indian literature. In the present book, out of the three sub-streams of knowledge mentioned above, I have concentrated on the one namely Adhidaivik. The word Adhidaivik consists of two parts namely adhi and daiva. The two words jointly produce a new meaning. In short, in this branch of knowledge our rsis concentrate on deities-their names, their shapes, their hands holding weapons, their dress, their colour, their musical instruments and several other such things.
India is full of diversities in respect of climate, language, seasons, caste, living-beings, vegetation, and bodily structure. Similarly, diversity in colour, weaponry, mouth organs of deities is also found. One naturally grows curious to know why a deity's face is elephant-like, whey another deity has six faces; why yet another deity has horse-like faces. What is the mystery behind a deity having four or sixteen arms? Why Jagdamba (the mother of the world), a compassionate deity opts for the lion as her vehicle? Sarasvati (the deity of learning) mounts on goose. Mahadeva opts for the bull as his vehicle. What does it really mean? In the Puranas, there are details of the colour, shape, vehicle, food, and the weapons of deities. But, why is it so? There is no definite answer to these queries in the Puranas. Here and there no doubt, short answers of these questions are found but details are not available.
To find out the answers of such queries, I have spent nearly fifteen years of my precious life. I read several books on the topic in several languages including English and have brought out the spiritual and the scientific answers of the queries raised above.
The book has been written with the object of presenting the pantheon of Hindu Deities in an interesting and understandable manner. Thus this book included a Devi Section, a (Matri section), a Deva section, (Pitri section), a Veda Deva section, and a Purana Deva section. In the Matri section, primeval female energy, her well-known figures such as Nava Durga, Nava Gauri, Sapta Sati, and seven Ghrita mantras have been discussed. The following is the detailed description of the first section (Devi or Matrika section):
1. Nav Durga Sailpuri; Brahmacarini, Candra Ghanta, Kusmanda, Skandamata, Katyayini, Kalaratri, Mahagauri, and Siddhamata. Also the description of Durga is found In Tantrik literature. The following are the Durgas of Tantrik literature. Neelkanthi, Ksemakari, Harsiddhi, Rudransa, Van Agni, Jaya, Vindhyavasini, Rupmari.
2. Navgauri-Mukhnirmalika, Jyestha, Saubhagya, Sringara, Visalaksi, Lalita, Bhavani, Mahalaksmi.
3. Saptamatrika Gauri-Brahmi, Mahesvari, Kaumari, Vaisnavi, Varahi, Indrani, Camunda.
4. Seven Satis-In Druga Saptasati, there are three caritras (a) Prathama (base); (b) Madhyama (middle); and (c) Uttama (apex). In each of these, there are several Satis whose names are given below:
In the Prathama Caritra, Mahakali is the chief Sati. The seven Satis of this Caritra are: Kali, Tara, Chinnamasta, Sumukhi, Bhuvanesvari, Bala and Kubja. In the Madhya Caritra, Mahalaksmi is the chief sati. The seven satis of this Caritra are Laksmi, Lalita, Kali, Durga, Gayatri, Arundhati and Sarasvati. In Uttama Caritra, Mahasarasvati is the chief Sati. The seven Satis of this Caritra are Brahmi, Mahesvari, Kaumari, Vaisnavi, Varahi, Indrani and Camunda.
This book further discusses the ten major incarnations of Visnu. I have also given a description of Vedic deities. The major Vedic deities are Agni, Varun, Yama, Indra, Surya and Vayu. In the fourth section, textual and contextual significance of Vedic-Puranik and purely Puranik deities has been discussed. Ganesa is the major deity of this category. Names of different deities have been explained according to their mythological background as well as scientifically in the present work. For example, Ganesa is known by such name as Lambakarna (long-ear), Lambodara (long-belly), and Gajanana (elephant-headed). Foods of deities also have been similarly explained. Ganesa likes Durva (a grass), Laddu (sweet ball) and Jambuphala. Kartikeya (son of Siva) has six heads. Hanumana looks like a monkey. Sitalas vehicle is donkey. Meaning of all these symbols has been given in this book particularly for western readers. Westerners call Hanumana the monkey-god, Ganesa as the elephant-headed god. To dispel their ignorance about Indian deities is the major objective of the present work.
The book further provides a description of purely puranik and regional deities. Major deities of this category are Sitala and regional deities. Major deities of this category are Sitala and Sankatha. To collect matter on these deities, the author had to go through a large number of books available in Hindi and English languages.
Hindu literature is very vast. It consists of four Vedas, four sub-Vedas, Upanisads, eighteen Puranas, eighteen sub-Puranas, several law books, theology books, epics such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, several philosophical systems such as orthodox (six systems of philosophy) heterodox (Buddhist, Jain and Carvak philosophy), Buddha philosophy in Pali and Sanskrit languages, Jain philosophy in Prakrit language, Jain philosophy in Prakrit language. In addition to these, there is vast store of Tantrik literature. Hindu literature is like an ocean. Even a single drop of this can bring real happiness to man.
Mine is the humble effort to present the kernel of the entire Hindu literature in my own way. Others more informed in this field are requested to take up the mission on a greater scale. In spite of my best efforts, certain errors might have crept into this work. Learned readers are requested to apprise me with such errors.
From the deep analysis of the accounts of gods and goddesses in the foregoing five sections, it appears that there pervades only one supreme substance in the universe which is variously named by the people. This Supreme Being is conceptualized according to one's own needs and requirement. Such a view of the universe is the very theme of the Vedic hymns and Puranas. In Ramtapniyopanisad, it is said that the attributeless Brahma reincarnates itself in different forms for the good of the worshipper. An example, a Goldsmith makes several jewels from gold but in all the jewels the common substance is gold. Gram is another example. Gram is one and single substance. From this, countless eatables are prepared. The eatables are diverse in shape and taste but their primary content is one and the same i.e. gram.
This Supreme Being is one yet it has been conceptualized in the form of countless gods and goddesses. With these diversities are associated the methods and the processes of the worship of the respective deities. For example, in the Vedic mode of worship, particular emphasis is laid on fame, shape, and Sadhana. In Soma, Asvamedh and Puranik worship, stress is laid on prayer, recitation of name, pilgrimage, vows, fasting and so on. Similarly, for immediate outcome with lesser efforts and small cost, Tantrik devices are applied. A few examples: A smaller secret formula (gam ganapataye namah) was evolved for Mrtunjaya mantra consisting of thirty-six letters. This has been done with a view to grab God's blessings with meager efforts in lesser time. For such objectives, several mystic formulas are also applied. Traces of such mystic formulas are available in Upanisads, Vedic hymns and Puranas. But in Tantra Sastra such formulas have been made more accessible and elaborate. For example, in Tantra literature such mysterious themes as presiding deity, shape, energy of varnamatrika kavarg are discussed in big details. Similarly, description, of sixty four Varnas, their respective gods and goddesses, energy is available in Tantra Sastra.
In Tantra literature Bijmatras (kam, kham, and gam) have been evolved. The first Bijamantra of Navarna is aim. This Bijamantra has enormous power. Aim consists of three letter a+e+a=aim. The candrabindu in this mystic formula symbolizes thrill-producing from E. The First mantra of Samveda starts from letter A. By joining these three letters aim is formed. Later, the symbol of thrill-producing power in the form of candrabindu is added to it and thus aim comes into being. So aim symbolizes the three Vedas. Tantra Sastra has evolved this Bijamantra by joining the three first letters of the three Vedas for the attainment of worldly objectives. Similarly, hrim, klim mystic formulas were also evolved.
Along with a power of varnas, power of lines has also been brought out in the Tantra literature. For example, upward triangle symbolizes the here powers of maya of god namely, desire, knowledge and action. In God arises the desire to create. Then arises knowledge to create and finally the action follows. To symbolize this idea, the mystic formula of triangle has been cconceptualised.
The Triangle is of two kinds upward and downward. The Downward triangle symbolizes the creation aspect of the world. The Upward triangle symbolizes Siva, the supreme seat of Moksa and Bliss. The point between the two triangles symbolizes energy. From this point arises movement which leads to creation.
Those interested in worldly attainment and possession should worship goddesses related to the downward triangle. Seekers of Moksa should opt for the upward triangle symbolizing Siva. Those seeking both this worldly and other worldly bliss must worship a six-angled diagram. Those seeking the worship omnipresent, omni permeating, supreme female energy (Parambika), must worship, sricakra. In sricakra there are nine downward and nine upward triangles. This Cakra symbolizes the entire cosmos.
Similarly, there are Bhuvanesvari Yantra, Durga Yantra, and Svastik Yantras. The Svastik is the Yantra of Ganesa. Through this Yantra Ganesa is worshipped and propitiated. He is regarded as the remover of all obstacles. In fact, it is very difficult to unravel the mysteries of all the Yantras.
In Tantra Sastra deities have been symbolized through letters and diagrams. Siddhis can be attained through the worship of numbers as well. Tantra Sastra proclaims that through numbers charismatic Siddhis are attained. There are Yantras with such numbers as fifteen, twenty and thirty. These number-Yantras are progeny-generative, wealth-creative and health-creative.
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