Essentially there are three main Gods (similar to the Christian Trinity*):
Brahma, the Creator, then joins with primordial Matter to produce
One way to understand the significance of the main personal Hindu Gods is to look at their relationship with the Elements of Creation and the Chakra system in the human body:
|Diety||Element||Chakra||Role||Ray||Energy/Quality (From Theosophy)|
|Shiva (the Father)||Spirit (Paramatma)||7||Sahasrara/Crown||Destroyer/Transformer||1||Will, Purpose or Power|
|Vishnu (the Son)||Rama, Krishna, (Jesus)||Soul (Atma)||6||Ajna/Eyebrows||Sustainer/Savior||2||Love and Wisdom|
|Brahma (the Holy Spirit) +
|Saraswati||Mind+Body||Space/Ether (Akash)||5||Vishuddha/Throat||Sound/Speech/Learning||3||Active, Creative Intelligence|
|Hanuman||Wind/Air (Vayu)||4||Anahata/Heart||Strength/Support/Healer||4||Harmony through Conflict, or Beauty or Art|
|Laxmi||Fire (Agni)||3||Manipura/Solar Plexus||Prosperity/Abundance||5||Concrete Knowledge or Science|
|Parvati||Water (Jala)||2||Swadhisthana/Sacral||Passion/Self Sacrifice||6||Devotion or Idealism|
|Ganesha||Earth (Prithvi)||1||Muladhara/Root||Ritual/Mantras||7||Ceremonial Order or Magic or Ritual|
In the Ramayana, Sita is the Kundalini Shakti that rises from the Muladhara Chakra to meet Rama at the Ajna center. The goal is of course to go beyond that to meet Shiva at the Crown Chakra for ultimate liberation.
According to Adi Shankaracharya (8th Century Hindu scholar, teacher, philosopher, leader), all Hindus should worship the five following Gods (Panchayatana/Pancha Devata) in order:
I have added some information based on Theosophical literature and clearly marked it in green color to indicate that it may not be main-stream Hindu thought (in my opinion, Theosophy is to Hindu Thought as Quantum Physics is to Newtonian Physics - there is no contradiction, one just expands on the other). Incidentally, the energies of the Chakras are referred to in Theosophy as the energies of the Seven Rays - however they are numbered in reverse. So Ray One, is the energy of the Crown or seventh Chakra and Ray Seven is that of the Muladhara or first Chakra.
Please click on each name to read more (or Expand All):
Celestial objects like planets, stars, comets etc, may appear to us, as dead objects without a will or a mind of their own or the ability to act outside their apparent fixed orbits. This is totally incorrect. Almost all celestial bodies are ensoled by a heavenly, living being. In fact all the beings that ensole each planet of our solar system can be considered to be like a 'God' with the Sun being the highest God in our solar system.
There is another class of Divine Incarnations that take place in India - unlike the human incarnations listed above (where divinity descends into mortal humans). These are incarnations of Divine Beings, themselves, as mortal humans. To put it a bit simplistically, in the previous case, a man becomes God and in this case a God becomes man, i.e. in one case a man like Rama becomes an Avatar when the divine spirit descends into him and in the other case, a God like Saibaba becomes a man by taking birth in a human body. To understand the difference better, please read this webpage. The first type of Avatars (Rama, Krishna, Jesus) come only approximately every 2160 years, while the second type occur every century in India (often several living at the same time). India and Hinduism have been very lucky and very blessed that these second type of divine beings (Gods from outside our system) take birth regularly in India as mortal humans (the first type of Avatars can occur in any country). The main task of these type of Avatars is anchoring of 'Good' on this planet and help balance out the 'evil'.
I have listed them below in the order of their importance (in my opinion). There are many of them, but I have just listed the most important and well known ones.
Just as planets are ensouled by 'Gods', bodies of water, particularly rivers, are ensouled by 'Goddesses'. These are highly evolved, spiritually advanced beings from the angelic evolution who play a role in not only nourishing the land but purifying it as well as making it sacred. The many rivers of India are one of the main reasons that the land is sacred (in spite of filth and squalor which seems to be everywhere).
Below are the seven main rivers of India approximately in the order of their spiritual status and importance. All rivers are feminine and can be considered to be incarnations of Parvati.
|Though Hinduism has so many Gods worshipped devotedly by all Hindus, Hindu philosophy as given in the Upanishads states unequivocally that there is only one entity or being that underlies all existence including all the Gods. This entity pervades all of creation but it also stands apart from creation. It is totally impersonal (this is in sharp contrast to major monotheistic religions which all believe in a single personal God). This entity is named brahmn (not Brahma with a long 'a' at the end, it is usually spelt as brahman). I hesitate to capitalize it since it is not a person. It is totally beyond human understanding, human knowledge, human thought or human comprehension. It is not a thing nor is it a non-thing, it is not a person nor is it a non-person, it has no gender neither does it have a number, it is infinite and endless. After all the Universes and the Gods are dissolved/destroyed in the final MahaPralaya, this entity still remains and out of it new Universes will be born. It is not possible to relate to this entity or to worship it, the only thing that we can do is ultimately become one with it and experience being it - Tat Tvam Asi (Thou Art That). The process of union with the Absolute takes many lifetimes of spiritual practice and service (one lifetime of meditation will not do it). Brahmn is indescribable, so the only thing possible to know is what it is not (Neti, Neti). However, we do know three attributes of this 'substance' - it is existence/being (Sat), it is consciousness (Chit) and it is bliss (Ananda) - Satchidananda.|
A Note on Hindu Temples:
Many monotheists find the worship by Hindus in front of an idol to be quite ridiculous and may accuse Hindus of idolatory or something even worse. The educated Hindu will then often become defensive and protest that he is only using the idol as a 'symbol' similar to the Christian cross and he does not believe that the idol itself is a God. Actually both of them are wrong to some extent.
When a temple is built and the idol established and consecrated, the priests perform a ritual called Prana Pratishta in which the deity is invited to enter the idol and become part of it. The priests use various tests to verify that the spirit of the deity has indeed entered the idol (some of these tests are supposed to be secret, so I won't mention them here). Regular daily aarti/puja has to be conducted from then on, to ensure that the spirit remains resident in the idol. If ever the temple is desecrated (by some person or a natural event), the Prana Pratishta ritual has to be repeated. So the idol is not just a symbol, it does indeed contain a part of the God (to whom the temple is dedicated) and a sensitive person can experience this fact when entering the temple.
Created: March 17, 2013
This page is still under constructon...
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