Introduction to Vedic Gods and its significance
Hinduism is a combination of monotheism, polytheism, henotheism and kathenotheism. Diversity in approaches, beliefs and practices, makes it difficult to classify Hinduism.
The gods of Hinduism are also worshipped in different ways. Hinduism allows, simple, personalized worship of personal gods. As well as elaborate rituals to spread them.
Methods to worship god in Hinduism
One may approach the gods or through the mediation of priests. They may be worshipped physically, mentally or by both means. They may be worshipped according to the right hand methods and left hand methods.
One may also worship the pleasant or fierce forms of the same deity. They may be worshipped for positive or negative ends. And also for worldly or spiritual purposes. Devotees have the freedom to worship the formless, invisible, infinite God. Or the God with names and forms.
The amalgamation of many philosophies and belief systems enriched Hinduism. This aspect made it colorful and vibrant. They added to its complexity and diversity and ensured its continuity. Also it appealed to the diverse groups of people.
Today, Hindus worship various gods and goddesses. The gods may belong to different groups and live in different worlds. Yet they all belong to one large family (vasudaika kutmbam). This represents Brahman in their final essence.
A multi-tier universe of Hinduism with vedic essence
The Vedic religion forms the heart of Hinduism. since most of its beliefs are derived from it. The Hinduism which we practice today is much different from the Vedic religion. Vedic way was practiced in the subcontinent two or three millenniums before.
The Vedas contain many references to Vedic deities. They are called devas, the beings of light, purity and excellence. The Vedas proclaim them as one class of beings in contrast to humans. They are the celestial beings of the mid-region.
It includes Yakshas, Gandharvas, etc., the animals, Asuras and others. All these are believed to be the children or grandchildren of Brahma, the creator god. They all seem to fit into a large family like a unit. In which the Brahman is the head of the family and Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva as the eldest sons.
The Devas live in the heaven. The Celestial beings occupy the mid-region. Humans, animals, insects, etc., live in the mortal world. Whereas the Asuras, the dark forces of the universe, live in the lower worlds.
The early Vedic religion recognized only a four-tier universe. As time went by, the number of worlds kept increasing. The number is now uncertain. It can be anything from 14 lower and upper worlds to infinite worlds. Or it can be a universe of both gross and subtle kinds.
The classification of Vedic deities
There are divisions and classes among people. In the same way the gods of Hinduism also fall into different categories. At the top of the pyramid is Brahman. Below him are the triple gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, and their consorts. The mid-tier is occupied by the Vedic gods.
They are the rulers of the directions (dikpalas), planetary gods. Also are the associate gods of the triple gods, their children and manifestations. Below them are great souls (siddhas), liberated souls (muktas).
Not only that the demi-gods, divine beings, celestial nymphs, guards, goblins and so on. At the bottom, there are animals, insects, worms, hells and beings of the dark worlds.
The diversity of gods
The gods of the Vedas can also be classified into five categories. Based on the predominance of the elements (mahabhutas) and the gunas are present in them. The elements are five namely fire, air, water, earth and space. All these are responsible for materiality. The gunas are three, sattva, rajas and tamas. They are responsible for behavior and basic traits. They vary as per the situations. They may be present alone or in different permutations and combinations.
For example, Agni, Apas, Prithvi, Vayu and Dyaus are made up of only one element. Agni contains only fire, Apas contains only water, Prithvi contains only earth. Whereas the Vayu contains only air and Dyaus contains only space.
Each of them possesses complete mastery over the element which they represent. They may complement or neutralize the others. For example, Shiva has the predominance of fire and earth. But he has other elements too, which makes him a rather complex and powerful deity. He also has the predominance of Tamas.
The earth element keeps the negative aspects of fire (destructive power) under control. The same fire under the influence of Sattva makes him the universal teacher. Which is also the source of spiritual wisdom.
The number of gods
The popular saying is that Hindus worship thirty million deities. That number may be far-fetched, but it is true that Hindus worship many gods. In their final essence, they are Brahmans.
They represent the unity and oneness of the whole creation. Brahman is one, but he projects himself as many. This is the truth which is repeated in several Upanishads. It is based upon three simple observations.
The qualities, attributes and secrets of the Vedic gods
The Vedic gods are not free. Though immortal, they are not liberated souls. As they are bound by certain duties and obligations as humans upon earth.
They were also created in such a way that they cannot live without the help of humans. They have immense powers and supernatural abilities.
Yet they have to depend upon humans for their nourishment. As per Vedas the humans depend upon cattle and other animals for their nourishment.
The gods depend upon humans for food. Helpless humans have the obligation to perform daily sacrifices to nourish the gods. In turn, gods repay their debt by helping humans.
They fulfill their desires and prosper with progeny, peace and happiness. Thus, the relationship between gods and humans is symbiotic and beneficial.
Since the gods contain the predominance of sattva, they possess many divine qualities. On the positive side, they are benevolent, intelligent and fearless. They are also easy to please and help those who perform sacrifices.
For their offerings it bestows upon them knowledge, peace, prosperity and happiness. And also protect them and the world from demonic influence. As part of the preservation of the worlds and Dharma, they also perform many duties. It is guiding the souls who are on their way to ancestral heaven. Or the immortal heaven, making things auspicious.
Besides that preventing natural calamities, removing misfortune and protecting people from their enemies. Whenever necessary, they take part in wars to fight the Asuras. And also prevent the worlds and beings from their evil influence.
It is why Vedic sacrificial ceremonies are performed strictly according to the procedure. They play an important role in the order and regularity of our world. They perform a balancing act between order and chaos. And also between the positive and negative forces of the universe.
Because of them the rains fall, the rivers flow, the crops grow and the souls reincarnate. Without them, the world will fall into chaos. We cannot uphold our own dharma. Hence, the gods deserve our respect and support.
Looking for similar kind of articles kindly click hereAbout Hanuman or Anjaneya