The gods of the Hindus
Posted on January 25, 2015 by shantanup
My purpose in this blogpost is to try and establish the significance of the gods of the Hindus as to their origins.
Aupmanyav in Religious Forums asked arguing that the Vedas originated somewhere in Central Asia or Europe or Middle-east: And if the Vedas are indigenous, why don’t they mention Shiva, Rama, Krishna, Ganesha or Durga? Most Indians would not even know the names of Vedic Gods and Goddesses. Why Eastern part of India rose against brahminic rituals in Gautama and Mahavira’s time? To which axlyz replied: ‘Shiva and Durga are definitely mentioned in the Vedas and Upanishad. On a closer look, many mantras in the Vedas can be seen as referring to Krishna and Rama. Even then, their names like Narayana etc are all mentioned there. Please stop reading the works of Indologists and start reading the works of Vedantins’. Shivshomashekar responded: ‘The problem is all these references are tenuous. It takes more effort to establish this evidence than to show that they may have meant something else. If we are willing to make an unbiased, neutral study – no matter, what the outcome – then, we should not side with either Indologists or Vedantins. We should also note that the Vedantins were not documenting history. Their purpose was entirely different’. Aupmanyav added: ‘Find me one name in RigVeda (except for one instance when Shiva is used as ‘auspicious’). I am not talking about later scriptures’….’For what reason Rama and Krishna (or Shiva and Durga) should only be taken as Christian Era? They are primordial Hindu deities. Perhaps Hindus were worshiping them even 5,000 years ago. It is a fact of history that Alexander while returning to Babylon in 325 BC came across mud-wells north of Ormara in Pakistan, and these wells were known as “Rama-kupa”. I quote from “The Ancient Geography of India” by Sir Alexander Cunningham, the first Surveyor General of Archaeology of India.’
My interest was in particular to determine whether there were any references to the three deities of guna consciousness triad in the Vedas. Vishnu is apparently mentioned 93 times in Rig Veda(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vishnu), and on Brahma I quote: ”In the Rig-Veda it appears as the religious property of a narrow circle, a mysterious power which can be evoked by texts, ceremonies or chants and sacrifices. In Vedic times a god, Brahmanaspati (or Brihaspati q.v.) was conceived of a “lord of prayer,” brahma, the heavenly brajiman, prototype of the earth ly.” http://gluedideas.com/Encyclopedia-Britannica-Volume-3-Baltimore-Braila/Brahman.html. Aupmanyav confirms by his words: ‘Yes, Brahmanaspati, Prajapati was the Chief Aryan God, something like Paramatma today’. What about Shiva? Does the name appear or is it assumed to be another name for Rudra (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shiva). I asked Aupmanyav: Please can you quote the specific Veda reference where the name ‘Shiva’ appears, rather as an assumed synonym for Rudra. I am interested to know when the name Shiva first appears in the shruti. He replied: There is none. It only appears as an “adjective shivam in the sense of “propitious” or “kind” is applied to the name Rudra in RV 10.92.9. According to Gavin Flood, Shiva used as a name or title (Sanskrit śiva, “the kindly/auspicious one”) occurs only in the late Vedic Katha Aranyaka, whereas Axel Michaels asserts that Rudra was called Shiva for the first time in the Śvetāśvatara Upanishad.” – Rudra – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia सतोमं वोअद्य रुद्राय शिक्वसे कषयद्वीराय नमसादिदिष्टन l येभिः शिवःसववानेवयावभिर्दिवःसिषक्ति सवयशानिकामभिः ll Stomaṃ vo adya rudrāya śikvase kṣayadvīrāya namasādidiṣṭana l yebhiḥ śivaḥ svavānevayāvabhirdivaḥ siṣakti svayaśā nikāmabhiḥ ll With humble adoration show this day your song of praise to mighty Rudra, Ruler of the brave: With whom, the Eager Ones, going their ordered course, he comes from heaven Self-bright, auspicious, strong to guard. Rig Veda: Rig-Veda, Book 10: HYMN XCII. Viśvedevas.
Aupmanyav adds: Vishnu and Brahmanaspati are mentioned in RigVeda but not Shiva. Brahma is an adoption of Brahmanaspati/Prajapati in Hinduism came after the assimilation of Aryans. Before that, there was no Brahma, Brahman or Brahmin (caste) in Hinduism.
So the relevance of these Vedic deities to the reality of guna consciousness is tenuous and indeed non-existing. The guna consciousness idea is mine alone and has been put forward as an explanation of reality for the first time in human history. The Vedic people of ancient times had no idea of gunas.
My thoughts are that Krishna or more appropriately Sri Krishna may not have been mentioned in the Vedas because God does not wish humanity to worship Him, with or without idols. My experience tells me that He stays aloof leaving Vedantins to meditate on Brahman consciousness without getting the day-to-day experience of oneness with Him that I managed to do. I wonder about God in awe of Him, converse with Him to get my thoughts ironed out but He has made clear that I must be free of Him as a sanyassi. He merely advised the Hindus of the reality that there is a God who has created the universe and then given spiritual thoughts to the ancient Hindus on how to develop their Vedic society in what we know as sanatan dharma. I am the beneficiary of this kind of updating revelation. God is experienced through devotion to truth by the conduct of gyan yoga instead of religious worship through bhakti. He comes from yuga to yuga by choosing an avatar when there is a need to remind people of sanatan dharma so that people once again begin to live to the reality that man need not wander about clueless in delusions, and that the selfish and the greedy who ruin Nature will not have their own way forever.
So as far as which gods got mentioned in the Vedas not all Vedic gods and goddesses gods represented aspects of the natural environment, but the most apparently did. It seems to me that people were being advised to worship elements of nature instead of gods of humanity who protected devotees that worshipped them. Vedic beliefs were centered around fire worship, Indra, Agni, Vayu, Vishnu, Mitra, Varuna, Dyus, Soma and Rudra ( Vayu, Indra, Agni, etc being wind, rain and fire gods). The central principle of sanatan dharma for society was to live in tune with Nature.
Then we have the Upanishads and the question of which gods were mentioned there is also relevant. What was the purpose of those gods. Pending confirmation of what gods were or were not mentioned in the Vedas and the Upanishads I will offer a personal understanding. None of the gods like Rama, Shiva, Ganesha and Durga got a mention in the Vedas because these were not part of sanatan dharma, that is oneness with Nature. They were rather gods of guna consciousness which runs humanity through the generation of thoughts and beliefs, as coming from deities through the mind. Guna consciousness is part of the consciousness energy of the universe, the other part of the energy being physical energy. These gods and goddesses cause humans to behave in different ways to the way of santana dharma advised to the Vedic people by God. The materialised at different times in tribal and traditional Hindu societies in an interplay of ideas. These guna consciousness gods have a powerful effect on society as we can see from the effects of Islam. That is why even in the Eastern part of India rose up against brahmanic rituals: this population went against the Vedic religion and started believing in Shakti goddess of Durga as Shiva’s consort. The manifestation of Shakti movement is highly tamasic and was very powerful in opposing sanatana dharma. It should be noted that on god Jagannath this reference (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jagannath) states that ‘Jagannath is considered the epitome of Tantric worship. Jagannath is venerated as Bhairava or the Hindu God Shiva the consort of Goddess Vimala by Shaivites and Shakta sects. Even the priests of Jagannath Temple at Puri belong to the Shakta sect, although the Vaishnava sect’s influence predominates. As part of the triad Balabhadra is also considered to be Shiva and Subhadra a manifestation of Durga. Jagannath is said to assume the form of any God to satisfy his devotee’s desire. In the Bhagavata Purana the Sage Markandeya established that Purushottama Jagannath and Shiva are one. Jagannath in his Hathi Besha (elephant form) has been venerated by devotees like Ganapati Bhatta of Maharashtra as the God Ganesh.’ Since Sri Krishna is only known to us through the shastras and direct avatars, and does not assume the form of any other god to satisfy his devotees desires, Jagannath would appear to be an imposter God created by the tamasic guna consciousness deity Shiva to rival Sri Krishna. Here is a discussion of the origins of god Ganesha: https://www.religiousforums.com/threads/ganesha-helps.173633/.
It seemed to me that some gods have less powers than other gods, but how true is that? We do not have written accounts of the details of what each god represents; only generalities like what the gods represent. And this depends of the views of followers. Most Hindus believe for example that Brahma has powers of creating, Vishnu of maintaining or preserving and Shiva of destruction. But their supposed abilities must be reconciled with the gunas. Have the names of the gods and goddesses that have acquired prominent status been associated with sattva, rajasic and tamasic gunas. One can only make a guess that Lakshmi is tamasic, Ganesha is sattvic, Hanuman is sattvic, Rama is sattvic, Durga is rajasic and Kali is tamasic, etc. In no way can these gods and goddesses be said to be filling certain roles in running humanity for the Supreme God Sri Krishna. They are not each an aspect of the supreme’s energy. For that they would all have to adhere to the code of conduct of sanatan dharma, that is, accept Sri Krishna as Supreme. These gods and goddesses are in no way connected to the Supreme God Sri Krishna through any mechanism of the Paramatma. On the other hand these gods and goddesses all regard themselves as supremely powerful and worthy of worship. They are just energies of various descriptions defined by their gunas or blend of gunas in the guna consciousness energy of the Brahman. Sri Krishna has no attachment to any of the gods of the guna consciousness and they in turn are not subservient to Him. They would not even know that He exists. They do not have any means of communicating with each other or with Sri Krishna as Supreme God. Gods such as Allah and Jagannath are creations of humans by the tamasic god Shiva. That is the nature of the Hindu pantheon.