Gods ‘devata’ and goddesses ‘devi’ hold special significance in the ancient scriptures of Hinduism. The holy Vedas mention various ways to worship and honour these deities. Rig Veda describes over thousand hymns dedicated to the deities. It is said in the Bhagavad Gita and the Bhagvat Purana that the deities having immeasurable powers are the limbs of the Supreme Purusha who personify Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh (the Trinity). That’s why these deities are called as the mukhya or chief deities in the scriptures. These deities are empowered to carry out universal functions of creation, maintenance and destructions. For instance, the thunder god Indra worshipped for rains manages universal affairs bringing forth rains, the fire god Agni invoked at the altar of sacrifices manages the Fire element its variegated forms, Surya the sun god worshiped for life offers heat and light and so on. The deities are in charge of every created manifestation including the body of living beings on this earth.
Every living being is embodied and the body’s all the functions are controlled by the deities. The energy centers called Chakras derive their powers from these deities. For instance, the Root Chakra is ruled by Lord Ganesha who removes obstacles and strengthens the roots by giving support, crown chakra is ruled by Goddesses Durga who removes fears and giving blessing of Moksha. Let us understand the position of these deities, their attributes, traits and their connection to the Chakras.
In the Vedas, Saraswati is the Goddess of Learning, Wisdom, Knowledge, Music, Arts and Skills. In Sanskrit, Saraswati means “the essence of the self”. Goddess Saraswati is the consort of Lord Brahma, and hence, source of all knowledge herself. Since knowledge is necessary for creation, Saraswati symbolizes the creative power of Brahma. She is a beautiful goddess being elegant, graceful and glowing with the light of knowledge. She is often worshipped by the knower of Vedas, the seers and the inquisitive students. She is the river of consciousness that enlivens creation; being the dawn-goddess whose rays dispel the darkness of ignorance.
Goddess Saraswati is also known as Gayatri, which is where the Gayatri Mantra gets its name. Her name is loosely translated as “the one who flows”, which is why Saraswati River got its name too. She is the deity of the river in the Rig Veda. The same meaning is applied to her intellectual thoughts and words. She represents the free flow of wisdom and consciousness and is considered to be the mother of the Vedas, which is why Saraswati Vandana chants often mark the beginning and end of all Vedic lessons.
Durga is the Active Energy of the Supreme Lord. She is the embodiment of purity, knowledge, truth and self-realization. As a warrior goddess, She is also known as Shakti or Devi. In Sanskrit, the word ‘Durg’ means a Fort, or a protected fortified place that is safe. Also, ‘Durga’ means the one who is invincible. Also ‘Dur’ means ‘prison’ and ‘Ga’ means ‘go or approach’. It means the one who sends or makes the miscreants go into the prison. She is the Active Principle in the Universal affairs. She punishes the disturbing elements. She is in charge of this material world which is described as ‘Dukhalaya’ or the place full of miseries (‘Dukha’ means pains and ‘Alaya’ means place as in ‘Vachnalaya’-library, ‘Bhojnalaya’-place where food is served).
Goddess Durga protects the human race from evil and misery, and it’s believed that praying to her destroys all negative forces like ego, hatred, prejudice, selfishness and jealousy etc. Another meaning of ‘Durga’ is ‘Durgatinashini’ which means "the one who eliminates sufferings."
GODDESS SHRI LAKSHMI
Goddess Lakshmi is the Goddess who governs all the forms of wealth and auspiciousness. It is She who paves a w way for success and all the forms of prosperity. Mother Lakshmi is often depicted in several colors: Pink, Gold and White. When Lakshmi's skin color is Pink, She is the Divine Mother. When Her skin is Gold, She is the Universal Shakti and when Her skin is white, She is Mother Earth. As the consort of Lord Vishnu (Narayana), She is the Mother of divinity, wellbeing and beauty. Sri Lakshmi embodies Sublime Beauty, Siddhi, Peace, Strength, Balance, Auspiciousness, Opulence and Wisdom. In the Atharva Veda (7:155) it is mentioned that a thousand Lakshmis are born with the birth of a virtuous and auspicious being. This signifies Her auspiciousness. Because Lakshmi possesses all of these good and noble qualities, She embodies infinite wealth~ symbolizing that good and noble qualities are the only wealth we can keep. As mentioned in the Shatapatha Brahmana, Sri is the purest and the original form of Lakshmi. Sri is the auspicious energy (consort) of Lord Vishnu. It is Sri from who the gods and other heavenly personalities derive their energies in the matter of the cosmic maintenance.
Lord Rama, the seventh avatar of Lord Vishnu was the king of Ayodhya and is considered as the highest worshipped deity in the Vedic customs (Hinduism). Lord Rama and Lord Krishna are considered to be the most significant avatars of Vishnu. He is considered the Supreme Being, rather than an avatar in a few sects. The Vedic magnum opus Ramayana details His idealistic nature, duties toward others and renunciation.
Rama was the eldest son of the king of Ayodhya, Dasharatha and his wife Kausalya. He is referred to as Maryada Purushottama. It is to be noted that maryada means ‘limit’ and purushottama means ‘the greater than the greatest man’. Purusha means ‘man of honor’. The word uttama is made of ‘ut’ means ‘above’ and ‘tama’ is one of the modes of nature meaning ‘ignorance’. The Lord Rama is above all the tamasik qualities and He is ‘Purushottam’ meaning He is greater than the greatest or the best (uttama) men.
Lord Krishna is known as the Eighth incarnation or avatar of Lord Vishnu. He is one of the most revered incarnations in the Vedas. He played the most crucial and critical part in the Mahabharata. Lord Krishna is also known as Vasudeva, Gopala and Bala Krishna. His legends span from His ever-pleasing childhood, to pleasing the residents of Vrindavana, to killing the demons, to attracting the Gopis to sharing the highest philosophical discourse on Dharma with His friend and disciple Arjuna in the Mahabharata.
The Lord was born to Devaki and Vasudeva during their incarceration. There was a celestial prophecy (Akashvani) that the eight son of Devaki will kill the demonic King Kansa, brother of Devaki. This was due to his demonic nature and ruthless ruling over his kingdom. Soon after the prophecy, he got his sister Devaki and her husband Vasudeva incarcerated and awaited the birth of the eighth son. Afraid of death personified (Vishnu); he killed all six innocent children immediately after their birth. Such heinous acts made me the most sinned ruler in the whole universe. Devaki had a miscarriage for the 7th baby, and it is believed that divine powers transferred the womb to Roshini secretly, so Balarama could be born as Krishna’s elder brother. When Lord Krishna was born on a rainy night, and was secretly removed by Vasudeva from the prison, and sent to live with His adoptive parents Yashoda and Nanda in Gokula.
Lord Ganesha is one of the celestial deities holding the divine prominence in Vedic scriptures. His form, intellect, divinity and strengths are glorified in the Ganesh Purana. He is Ganesha or Ganapati who is the lord of masses that worship him for his blessings. He is the first Vedic deity worshipped first at the altar before other deities at a ritual or a venture. He is the ruling deity of the Muladhara Chakra and blesses his devotees with wisdom and ability to face challenges and obstacles in life. He has a pot belly signifying contentment and fullness. He holds a fragrant Modak in His left hand signifying the bliss of satisfaction that he provides. His vehicle, the Mouse, signifies that one needs to curb vices (signified by mice) to achieve his state.
Lord Kubera is the Universal Treasurer under the able administration of Goddess Lakshmi. Kubera's wealth is very well mentioned in Rig Veda. He is the store house of all prosperity and assumes highest responsibilities. Vaishravane the grandson of Brahma is none other than Kubera. Indeed, he is the cousin to Ravana. Even though there was a mutual fight between them, due to the vision and grace of Kubera on Ravana's Kingdom, Ravana and his subjects were able to live a luxurious life. Whenever Kubera reached his other destinations by using his Puspak Vimaana (an airplane), many droppings of gold silver and pearls used to take place. Those places flourished in no time. Kubera did severe penance. On seeing his penance, Lord Shiva was very much pleased and the seat in northern direction was handed over to him. With the leadership, Shiva adorned him as king of Alakpuri. He epitomizes artha, wealth, opulence as described in the Vishnudharmottara Purana.
In Sanskrit, the word Shiva means ‘The Auspicious One’. Lord Shiva is one of the holy Trinity or Forces behind the cosmic functioning. The Trinity includes Lord Brahma who performs creative tasks, Lord Vishnu, who maintains the created manifestations and Mahesh (Shiva) who annihilates the manifestations through His Cosmic Dance called the Tandava. Lord Shiva is known by many different names such as Mahadev, Mahesh, Mahayogi, Bhole Nath, Pashupati, Nataraja, Shankara, Vishwanath, Bhava, Bhujangapatihari and Bhairava and so on.
He is associated with Shakti or the Female Creative Energy. He has many fearsome forms and is regarded as a formless (not materially manifested as humans and animals), transcendent, limitless and omniscient entity. Shiva as Rudra is the destroyer of sorrows and evil. He as Shankara brings forth goodness. Shiva as Natraja is the patron of dance and art and a divine cosmic dancer Himself. Devotees of Shiva follow Shaivism and believe that Lord Shiva is both the creator and the destroyer, and hence is static as well as dynamic. He is considered to be the source of fertility and bestows prosperity on His devotees, while he destroys the evil to protect the good. In temples, Shiva is often found as the ‘linga’ – a dvine symbol that represents Him as a powerful energy responsible for existence of all living beings on a microcosmic and macrocosmic level.
Lord Hanuman is described in the various Vedic scriptures primarily the Ramayana as a devout servitor of Lord Rama. Born to Anjana and Kesari, he acted as a determined assistant, subordinate and devotee of the Lord in a ghastly battle against the Lankan King Ravana who had abducted Mother Sita, Rama’s divine consort.
Hanuman is considered to be Chiranjeevi; the one who lives eternally. He is stronger than the strongest enemies, full of valour, with various skills and powers. He is one of the famed devotees of the Lord. His devotion to the Lord is matchless. At the same time he is the wisest of all, very knowledgeable, and a brahmachari (celibate). Throughout his life as given in the epic Ramayana, he performed only one task which is serving the lotus feet of Lord Rama by obeying His commandments. He joined the military forces with the Lord in a battle against the Lankan King Ravana, and used his extraordinary powers several times to assist the Lord. He also set Ravana’s Lanka on fire in an attempt to save Mother Sita.
Lord Dakshinamurthy is a divine form of Lord Shiva as a teacher or guru. Also known as Jnana Dakshinamurthy as He is the bestower of jnana (knowledge), his teachings are in the form of para vak which is believed to be inaudible to human ears. He is the guru to Lord Brahma’s four sons, teaching them in silence. In the Vedic customs, A Guru (Spiritual Master or Teacher) is given a special place of reverence. Lord Dakshinamurthy is the personification of the ultimate awareness. In this form, Shiva is the guru with an abundance of understanding and knowledge on subjects like music and dance, yoga, wisdom, and shastra vidya (scriptural knowledge). Hence, Lord Dakshinamurthy is also known as the Lord of Wisdom, and a universal Guru.
‘Dakshinamurthy’ is made of ‘Dakshina’ meaning ‘South’ and Muruthy means ‘Vigrama’ or ‘Deity’ (idol); ‘The One Facing South’. One can find the deity of Jnana Dakshinamurthy in most Lord Shiva temples facing the South which is the direction of Death and Change. This Lord is regarded as the ultimate Guru who is the embodiment of knowledge and the destroyer of arrogance and ignorance, as His cosmic knowledge illuminates the world.
19 AVTARS OF LORD SHIVA
As a supreme God in Hinduism, Lord Shiva is known to have taken many incarnations and avatars. The five most important avatars that a devotee must know are:
Tatpurush - Manifested in Peetavasa or the 21st Kalpa, Tatpurush is the third and the most popular incarnation of Lord Shiva.
Ishan - The Ishan form of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati were manifested in Vishwaroop Kalpa, and were the beginning of Ardhamundi, Mundi, Caste and Shikhandi manifestations.
Namadeva - During Rakta or the 20th Kalpa, a red complexioned entity emerged from Lord Brahma, and is believed to be Namadeva – a form of Shiva.
Aghoresh - Born out of Lord Brahma in Shiva Kalpa during a deep meditative state, Aghoresh has a black complexion.
Sadhojat - Considered to be the first incarnation of Lord Shiva in Shweta Lohit or the 19th Kalpa, four of the first disciples of Sadhojat were Sunand, Nandan, Vishwanandan and Upanandan.