Monday October 23, 2017

Dismantling Hinduism: Is Kumbh Mela next in line?

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Photo: www.fest300.com

By Nithin Sridhar

It is undeniable that Sanatana Dharma a.k.a. Hinduism has been under constant attacks for the last thousand years in one form or the other.

First, it was the brutal Islamic invaders who destroyed Hindu temples and killed or converted people using swords. Then, there was the Indian occupation by the British that gave a free run to various Christian missionaries to conduct evangelization.

And, now, we have various breaking India forces whose actual target for dismantling is Hinduism and its various institutions and structures because they realize that Dharma is at the very basis of Indian life.

It appears that the latest target in this dismantling project is the ‘Hindu Kumbh Mela’, according to a recent article written by noted Indologist and author, Rajiv Malhotra.

Western Academics, Christian Missionaries hand in hand in dismantling Hinduism

Photo: http://southasiainstitute.harvard.edu
Photo: http://southasiainstitute.harvard.edu

In this Western mission of dismantling Hinduism, the Western Academics, and Christian Missionaries have often complemented each other. This is not to suggest that all Western academics and Indologists have ulterior motives or that all of them have hidden connections with the Church. We have had and still have many genuine Western academics who are not only sympathetic towards Hinduism but also recognize and appreciate its richness and heritage.

But, what is also self-evident is the fact that certain sections of Western Academia are not only deeply connected with the Church and Evangelical organizations, one can also observe many trends in their activity which often complement each other, and has for their goal the dismantling of Hinduism.

First, the introduction of English education by the British resulted in the dismantling of Indian education system and the complete sidelining of Sanskrit language. Sanskrit was the storehouse and the preferred medium of transmission for all branches of Hindu knowledge: philosophy, mathematics, science, astronomy, medicine, law, and spirituality. Thus, by dismantling Sanskrit, they alienated Hindus from their own knowledge and education system.

Second, the Colonial Scholars introduced the concept of ‘Aryan race who invaded India and the ‘Dravidian race’ which was indigenous to India. The fruits of this division are visible even to this day. Using this Aryan invasion, the colonials denied both indigenousness and cultural continuity of Hindu traditions. This gave them a perfect excuse to take upon ‘White Man’s Burden’ at civilizing the ‘barbaric primitive society.’

This project of civilizing Hindu people was just another name for the Christianization of the society. The Western Academics prepared the ground for harvesting the souls for Christianity, by denying Hinduism its antiquity, continuity, indigenousness, and its tools for transmission.

Third, the inculturation attempts of Christian missionaries was complemented by the production of literature wherein various fictitious claims like Jesus came to India and learned Yoga, Saint Thomas came to South India and converted Thirukural, etc. were propagated. These myths were then used to implement the inculturation project by appropriating Hindu symbols like the saffron robe, bells, mantra, etc. for propagating the message of the Christ. Many of these myths and claims are being propagated even till this day.

Photo: defenceforumindia.com
Photo: defenceforumindia.com

Fourth, in the recent past, there has been attempts to remove Yoga from its roots. The Yoga is being now re-defined as Yoga for women, Yoga for pregnancy, Yoga for stress management, Yoga for weight reduction, etc. Various studies and literature have been written on the physical benefits of Yoga. By, this secularization of Yoga, it is being removed from its Hindu roots. This secularized Yoga is then appropriated by other religions. This is already happening in the form of Christian Yoga.

Fifth, a large band of scholars starting with Wendy Doniger and Jeffrey Kripal have carried out Psychoanalysis of Hinduism, its Gurus, Gods, and Symbols and have attributed all perverse meanings to them, thereby denying their spiritual and philosophical significance. Thus, Mother Kali becomes a Mother with phallus, Lord Ganesha’s trunk becomes his phallus, and Ramakrishna’s spiritual realizations become experiences induced by homoerotic and pedophilic passions.

Sixth, there has also been various attempts at discrediting the genuineness of various Hindu movements in the last century. Hence, Vivekananda’s teachings have been branded ‘Neo-Vedanta’ and “Neo-Hinduism’ which is something different from traditional Hinduism. It is further suggested that the Hindu reformation is largely inspired by Christian values.

These are all clear attempts at dismantling Hindu religious, philosophical, and spiritual foundations by reducing its religious symbols into aids for sexual fantasies, its practical systems of spirituality into physical exercises, and rooting its internal reformation in Christian values.

These various attempts at the academic dismantling of Hinduism, intentionally or unintentionally, prepare the ground for future evangelization. The Christian missionaries are well-funded and well spread across the world, and they are continuously involved in harvesting the souls through every possible means.

But, despite pouring enormous money and manpower over last 200 years, their evangelization project in India has been only a partial success bordering on failure. This failure has not demotivated them. Instead, it has further strengthened their resolve to find different ways and form different strategies to achieve their goal of Christian India.

Thus, we can see a clear relationship between the attempts at the academic dismantling of Hinduism by the western scholars and the evangelization activities of the Christian missionaries who are trying to dismantle Hinduism at the ground level.

Is Kumbh Mela the new target for dismantling Hinduism?

The latest target of these ‘dismantling Hinduism’ forces appears to be the sacred Kumbh Mela. Kumbh Mela is one of the most sacred events in Hinduism. Millions of Hindus from across India come and gather once every three years to take a ritual bath in the river and participate in other religious activities.

Photo: www.kumbhmela.com
Photo: www.kumbhmela.com

It is not only the world’s largest congregation of people but is also the largest congregation of saints and Yogis, belonging to diverse sects and schools. It is held in Haridwar, Prayag, Nashik, and Ujjain respectively on a rotational basis. According to some scholars, the earliest historical references to this sacred event is in the 7th century.

On the other hand, the Puranas record that, when the gods and demons churned the milky ocean for Amrita (the nectar of immortality), they began to fight with each other over drinking the Amrita. Then, Lord Vishnu, who appeared in a female form as Mohini, took away the pot containing the Amrita. It is said that, during this flight of Mohini, few drops of Amrita fell at four places on earth. And the Kumbh Mela is organized at these four places.

Now, it appears that the very foundation of this ancient and sacred event of Kumbh Mela may now be under threat. In 2013, Harvard University initiated a major project to study and map Kumbh Mela called ‘Harvard Kumbh Mela Project’.

The project not only brought worldwide attention to the Kumbh Mela, the initiative was also appreciated across the world. The initiative, which involved 50 academics from multiple disciplines, ‘mapped’ the Kumbh Mela by first recording various trends and observations on various aspects of Kumbh Mela and then analyzing them by categorizing them into various themes: Environment, Urbanism, Business, Public Health, etc.

Though, from the outset, the initiative appears to be genuine and useful, this intervention along with many similar western interventions may ultimately lead to the dismantling of Kumbh Mela, warns Rajiv Malhotra.

Malhotra says that the western interventions in Kumbh Mela may lead to distortion, secularization, and commercialization of the Mela. This may in turn prepare a ground for Christian missionaries to function.

Regarding the multidisciplinary approach of the Harvard project, Malhotra says: “Each lens is highly secularized, lacking even an iota of shraddha (Conviction) for our traditions. They are looking for “interesting specimens” to study.”

He further points out that the Western interventions try to analyze Hindu traditions using lenses of feminism, environment, sociology, etc. These interventions are devoid of Hindu philosophical insight and understanding and hence will lead to digestion and distortion of Hindu practices. This is nothing but another form of colonialism.

The Harvard project’s first phase was limited to mapping. Now, in the second phase, they will undertake prescriptions and interventions to remove the shortcomings in the Mela and supposedly improve them. In other words, Hindus will be told how to practice Hinduism and conduct sacred events. This is not to suggest that Kumbh Mela is without its shortcomings, but that a solution to these shortcomings must be evolved from within the tradition by taking into account all aspects of the event. But, this is not the case with western interventions. They break down Hindu practices into various themes and analyzes those practices using western lenses, and many a times they deliberately ignore Indian realities and Hindu worldviews.

Malhotra maps the trajectory that many of the western interventions adopt in their approach to Hinduism and other eastern cultures and how this will eventually result in the dismantling of those cultures.

Photo: nasikujjain.com
Photo: nasikujjain.com

He says that Western interventions start as curious field trips that record exotic aspects of the native culture. Then, academics from multi-disciplines like sociology, anthropology, etc. will create various frameworks and map their observations into those frameworks.

These frameworks form the basis on which the whole culture is analyzed and conclusions drawn. It is necessary to highlight that, these frameworks have no connection with how the native traditions perceive themselves and their practices. Thus, the frameworks act as tools for imposing western ideas and perceptions on native cultures.

Slowly people from native culture are made to adopt these new frameworks. This ultimately results in the western narrative of native culture becoming mainstream and the indigenous narrative of their own culture becomes sidelined and suppressed.

Further, the western narrative will absorb all that it finds as useful from the native culture into its knowledge systems and suppresses and finally discards those elements of native culture that does not fit into its frameworks.

Once, the western narrative becomes a dominant narrative, it is then used to modify various practices of Native culture. This modification is then portrayed as ‘reformation’ though in reality it uproots the native practices from its foundational ethos. This in turn prepares the ground for appropriation by Christian and other western religions.

In the case of Kumbh Mela, if these western interventions are not stopped and if they were to follow the above-mentioned trajectory, then the very Dharmic foundation of the Kumbh Mela will be first discredited by raising various social and environmental issues as a pretext. Then, the event will be secularized by removing those elements which are important to Hindu tradition, but which does not fit into the western secular framework. The Mela will then be commercialized by reducing it to a simple tourism activity. Finally, the ground thus prepared will be used by Christian missionaries for conversion activities.

It must be remembered that the scenario of the digestion of Kumbh Mela presented above is only a possibility at this moment. It may not materialize into reality. Yet, considering how western narratives have colonized Indian discourse in almost every aspect of life, there is a strong chance that dismantling of Kumbh Mela may indeed become a reality. This possibility is further strengthened by the Christian missionaries’ attempts at converting people in Kumbh Mela as part of Project Thessalonica.

According to Alex Pomero, Project Thessalonica is a sub-project of Joshua Project II that aims to convert all non-Christians into Christianity. He writes: “Project Thessalonica aims to stop or limit Hindu activity by converting people who form the pillars of Hindu culture, festivals, traditions, and activity. Traditionally missionaries hate any public expression or display of heathen religions in the form of festivals and temples. Missions want to ensure that no new temple construction activity starts. With this objective, they are converting masons, craftsmen and others involved in temple construction activity.

The First Baptist Church of Nashville, Tennessee adopted towns where the annual Kumbh Mela takes place and has been actively converting the locals so that visitors face extreme hardship during their next visit trying to find services and supplies. Another mission group is adopting boatmen of Kasi where Hindus drop rice balls in river Ganges as an offering to their forefathers. The boatsmen are being trained in other fields so that they abandon this profession. They are making environmental groups raise the voice so that Ganesh processions, Kumbh Melas, and Jagannath Rath Yatras are limited.

Therefore, considering how Western academic narratives and Christian missionary activities have gone hand in hand in the past, and how missionaries are already present in Kumbh Melas, it is better for Hindu leaders to wake up and assess the issues affecting Kumbh Mela and be attentive to any attempts at hijacking of the Mela by secular and liberal forces backed by western academia. As the saying goes, ‘better be safe than sorry.’

8 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for the particularly imminent warnings in the last few paras, with conversion mafias’ activity in & around Kumbha mela sites

  2. All of the data points listed in the article are technically true. Yet it is unable to string these data points together to pinpoint the larger undercurrent, and most importantly the causative factors that contribute to the dismantling that are sourced within, (and not outside). For example, it is rather a convenient alibi to critique the Western analytics of Vivekananda, Dayananda or Aurobindo – which is valid at one level – but grossly misses the internal infusion of alien thought – or internal colonization that India went through in the last 2 centuries – in the intellectual space. If one compares these two centuries to the era of Muslim/Mughal colonization 1208 to 1708 (~ 500 years), India may have been politically subdued in this era, but Indian intellectuals – the Dharma Practitioners – never compromised. The same is not true during the British period. The 19th century is littered with Indian intellectuals bending on their knees to accept the superiority of Modernism over their own traditions. [Here modernism has a philosophical meaning – this has nothing to do with Bullock Cart vs. Air Travel.]. It is infusion of Modernism, as a philosophy, incorporated into our traditions that manifests into the so-called Reform paradigm that will eventually dismantle Traditional Hinduism. Roman Empire fell from within, not from outside. So would Hinduism – if it ever happens. The interpreters of these maladies underestimate the inner strength of a quintessential Dharmic system – by assuming that redundant or bad customs can only be “reformed” by infusion of Modernism. This is dead wrong ! There is no need for the process of Reform in Hinduism. It already has all the mobility that is intrinsic to it that can facilitate a natural shedding of its dead skin, and shall comfortably build new ones, as was the case before 19th century.

    The Reform Mafia (the Modernist Hindoos) – is the one that is dismantling Hinduism. What is imputed on Western Academicians is only technically true. They might be the thieves that are breaking into the house, but someone from within the house also is inviting them to break in. This is what is missed from the narrative.

    • ” For example, it is rather a convenient alibi to critique the Western analytics of Vivekananda, Dayananda or Aurobindo – which is valid at one level – but grossly misses the internal infusion of alien thought – or internal colonization that India went through in the last 2 centuries – in the intellectual spa”

      Yeah, so called ‘Western analysis” of great sages like Vivekananda, Dayananda or Aurobindo – based on the psychoanalysis bullshit by Sigmund Freud cannot be considered as valid.

    • Is Dharama only applies to the people who seek spiritualism? Is Hindusim confined to Rishis only? If it is not then it is each and every individuals responsibility to do his/her own Dharma, It is time to awaken ourselves and move forward with a sense of responsibility. This starts with the ability to call a spade a spade without any hesitation. Then understanding our own heritage and articulating it effectively around us without any second thought of getting accepted or not.

  3. Without taking sides, can one ask whether we have concluded that all that is ancient is final, true and liberating? naturalmind.org/nm/one.pdf

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Hinduism is Not an Official or Preferred Religion in Any Country of The World, Says a New Report

Though Hinduism is the third largest religion of the world, it is not the official state religion of any country according to a Pew Research Center Report

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Hinduism
Hinduism is not an official religion of any country in the world. Instagram.
  • No country has declared Hinduism as its official state religion – despite India being an influential Hindu political party
  • Hinduism is not an official or preferred religion in any country of the world, according to a Pew Research Center report.
  • 53% of 199 nations considered in the study don’t have an official religion
  • 80 countries are assigned either an “official religion” or “preferred religion”

Nevada, USA, October 16: Hinduism is the primeval and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion followers of moksh (liberation) being its utmost desire of life. India is among the category of nations where the government do not have an official or preferred religion.

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank headquartered in Washington DC that aims to inform the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

The report states that a country’s official religion is regarded as a legacy of its past and present privileges granted by the state. And a few other countries fall on the other side of the gamut, and propagate their religion as the ‘official religion’, making it a compulsion for all citizens.

It adds up on the context of allocation that more than eight-in-ten countries (86%) provide financial support or resources for religious education programs and religious schools that tend to benefit the official religion.

Hinduism
Islam is the most practiced official religion of the world. Instagram.

Commenting on Hinduism, the report states:

In 2015, Nepal came close to enshrining Hinduism, but got rejected of a constitutional amendment due to a conflict between pro-Hindu protesters and state police.

Although India has no official or preferred religion as mentioned in the Constitution,it was found by PEW that in India the intensity of government constraints and social antagonism involving religion was at a peak. “Nigeria, India, Russia, Pakistan and Egypt had the highest levels of social hostilities involving religion among the 25 most populous countries in 2015. All fell into the “very high” hostilities category,” the report added.

As per the 2011 census, it was found that 79.8% of the Indian population idealizes Hinduism and 14.2% practices to Islam, while the rest 6% pursuit other religions.

While Hinduism stands up with the majority, Article 25 of the Constitution of India contributes secularism allowing for religious freedom and allows every Indian to practice his/her religion, without any intervention by the community or the government.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, applauded the Hindu community for their benefaction to the society and advised Hindus to concentrate on inner purity, attract spirituality towards youth and children, stay far from the greed, and always keep God in the life.

According to Pew, these are “places where government officials seek to control worship practices, public expressions of religion and political activity by religious groups”.

-by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram.  She can be reached @tweet_bhavana

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Paintings Which Beautifully Depict Scenes From Ramayana

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Ramayana
Ram lifting the bow during Sita Swayambar. Wikimedia Commons.

Ramayana, the ancient Indian epic which describes the narrative of Ayodhya Prince lord Rama’s struggles. The struggles include- exile of 14 years, abduction of his wife Sita, reaching Lanka, destruction of the evil. It is strongly ingrained in the Indian culture, especially, the Hindu culture since a long time. Hindus celebrate Diwali based on the narratives of Ramayana.

The story of Ramayana gives out the beautiful message that humanity and service to the mankind is way more important than kingdom and wealth. Below are five paintings describing the scenes from Ramayana:

1. Agni Pariksha in Ramayana

Ramayana
Agni Pariksha. Wikimedia.

When Lord Rama questions Sita’s chastity, she undergoes Agni Pariksha, wherein, she enters a burning pyre, declaring that if she has been faithful to her husband then the fire would harm her. She gets through the test without any injuries or pain. The fire God, Agni, was the proof of her purity. Lord Rama accepts Sita and they return to Ayodhya. 

2. Scene From The Panchavati Forest

Ramayana
scene from the panchavati forest. wikimedia.

The picture describes a scene from the Panchavati forest. It is believed that Lord Rama built his forest by residing in the woods of Panchavati, near the sources of the river Godavari, a few miles from the modern city of Mumbai. He lived in peace with his wife and brother in the forest.

3. Hanuman Visits Sita

Ramayana
Hanuman meets Sita. Wikimedia.

Hanuman reaches Lanka in search of Sita. At first, he was unable to find Sita. He later saw a woman sitting in Ashok Vatika, drowned in her sorrows, looked extremely pale. He recognized her. After seeing the evil king, Ravana making her regular visit to Sita, he hid somewhere in the Vatika. After Ravana left, Hanuman proved Sita that he is Rama’s messenger by showing her his ring. He assured her that Rama would soon come to rescue her. Before leaving Lanka, he heckled Ravana. Agitated by Hanuman’s actions, Ravana ordered to set Hanuman’s tail on fire. With the burning tail, Hanuman set the entire city on fire.

 

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Exploring the Faces of Faith and Devotion: 7 Principal Gods and Goddesses of Hinduism

Foremost among the several gods and goddesses of Hinduism are the Trimurti; Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh, the holy triad that signify supreme divinity in Hinduism – the creater, sustainer and destroyer of the world

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Are you familiar with the various gods and goddesses of Hinduism? Pixabay

New Delhi, October 9, 2017 : Devout Hindus have a god for every occasion and every day – over 33 million, according to popular beliefs. While people of other religions often interpret them as fictional characters, the multiple gods and goddesses of Hinduism are held with utmost devotion and sincerity by the believers.

Ours is a polytheistic religion – in other words, a myriad of gods and goddesses of Hinduism. Foremost among the several gods and goddesses of Hinduism are the Trimurti; Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh, the holy triad that signify supreme divinity in Hinduism – the creator, sustainer and destroyer of the world. These divine forces are known to appear in different avatars, embodied by different gods and goddesses.

In Hinduism, Lord Brahma is the creator of the Universe and the first member of the holy trinity (Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh). However, he is not worshiped as Vishnu or Shiva with only one temple dedicated to him, the Pushkar temple of Rajasthan.

Here are some of the many gods and goddesses of Hinduism.

1. Vishnu

Vishnu is the second member of the holy Hindu triad, who sustains the entire world – Vishnu is believed to return to the earth during distressed times to restore the balance between good and evil.

gods and goddesses of Hinduism
Lord Vishnu. Wikimedia

Believed to have incarnated nine times, Vishnu symbolizes the principles of order, righteousness, and truth. His associate is Lakshmi, the goddess of family life and prosperity.

Vishnu is always depicted with a blue-colored human body with four hands, each of which carries four different objects – a conch, chakra, lotus flower and mace. The god is shown to ride the Garuda, an eagle.

So far, Vishnu has appeared on earth in various incarnations. These include fish, turtle, boar, Narsimha (half lion, half man), Vamana (dwarf sage with the ability to grow), Parsuram, Ram, Krishna and Buddha. Devotees believe he will re-incarnate in a last avatar, popularly known as ‘Kalki’, close to the end of this world.

Hindus who worship Vishnu are primarily known as Vaishnava and regard him as the greatest god.

2. Shiva

One of the members of the holy Hindu trinity, Lord Shiva is as the god of destruction, so that the world may be recreated by Brahma. Thus, his destructive powers are perceived as regenerative: necessary to make renewal possible.

Known by different names like Mahadeva, Nataraja , Pashupati, Vishwanath and Bhole Nath, Shiva is known to have untamed enthusiasm, which drives him to extremes in conduct. It is his relationship with wife Parvati which established the balance. While other gods and goddesses are represented in glorious avatars, Shiva is dressed in plan animal skin and usually sits in a yogic aasana.

gods and goddesses of hinduism
God Shiva, Wikimedia

Shiva is often addressed as the Lord of Dance, with the rhythm of the dance believed to be symbolic of the balance in the universe, masterfully held by Shiva. His most significant dance form is the Tandav.

Hindus who worship Shiva as their primary god are known as Shaivites.


3. Lakshmi

One of the most popular goddesses of Hindu mythology, Lakshmi gets hers name from the Sanskrit word ‘lakshya’, meaning ambition or purpose. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth, prosperity and purity and is the associate of Vishnu.

Lakshmi is believed to reside in places of hard work, and sincerity, However, the goddess leaves whenever an individual is overcome with greed or malice or when these qualities are not evident anymore. Hindus believe Sita is an incarnation of Lakshmi. Hence, they worship the goddess of prosperity primarily during Diwali, which commemorated the Hindu epic Ramayana.

Gods and goddesses of hinduism
Goddess Lakshmi. Wikimedia

Lakshmi is widely represented as an enchanting woman with four arms, settled or standing on a lotus flower.

Devout Hindus worship Lakshmi at temples and inside homes alike, and believe worshipping her with utmost sincerity blesses an individual with success and fortune.


4. Ganesha

The pot bellied, elephant-headed god Ganesha, also known as Ganpati, Vinayak and Binayak, is the son of Shiva and Parvati. one of the most popular gods and goddesses of Hinduism, Ganesha is revered as the remover of all obstacles, which is why his presence is first acknowledged before beginning any new work.

The lord of success and wealth, Ganesha is also the patron of knowledge and learning; devotees believe he wrote down parts of the Hindu epic Mahabharata with his broken tusk.

gods and goddesses of hinduism
Ganesh Puja. Wikimedia

Ganesha is typically depicted as a pot-bellied, elephant-headed red colored god, with four arms and a broken tusk. This head is believed to characterize the atma or the soul and the body represents the maya or mankind’s earthly existence. The rats, which can gnaw their way through every hardship, are believed to symbolize Ganesha’s ability to destroy all obstacles.

Lord Ganesha is shown riding mouse, which can gnaw their way through every hardship, are believed to symbolize Ganesha’s ability to destroy all obstacles.


5. Krishna

Believed to be the most popular and the most powerful avatar of Vishnu, Krishna is revered as the Supreme Being or the Purana Purushottam out of a list of several hundred gods and goddesses of Hinduism, by several devout Hindus. One of the most loved and mischievous gods, Krishna means ‘black’ and can be believed to denote mysteriousness.

In Hinduism, Krishna takes several different roles- that of a hero, leader, protector, philosopher, teacher and a friend and is believed to have lived on earth between 3200 – 3100 BC. His birth is widely celebrated on the midnight of Ashtami during the month of Shravan, and is called Janmashthami.

gods and goddesses of Hinduism
Picture of idols of Lord Krishna and Radha, decorated for Janmashtami. Wikimedia

Stories of Krishna’s birth, childhood and youth and widely read and circulated, with every mother wanting to have a child like him. His raas with Radha is also remembered widely.

Krishna is held with utmost reverence for his role as the charioteer of Arjuna, as explained in the Mahabharata. It was in the middle of this war that Krishna delivered his famous advice about ‘Nishkam Karma’ which propagated action without attachment, which formed the basis of the Bhagwat Gita.

Krishna is extremely fond of white butter and there are several stories about how he stole butter from gopis throughout his childhood. He is depicted as a dark and extremely handsome, usually depicted with a flute which he used for its seductive powers.


6. Ram

Maryada Purushottam Ram is the ideal avatar of Vishnu. An epitome of chivalry, virtues and ethical demeanor, Ram is the seventh incarnation of Vishnu who is believed to have taken birth to eradicate all evils from the world.

gods and goddesses of Hinduism
Ram Darbar. Wikimedia

Unlike all other gods and goddesses of Hinduism, Ram is believed to be a historical character, instead of an imaginary figure. The Hindu epic Ramayana is a retelling and celebration of Ram’s life – a tale of his fourteen years in exile with his wife and brother.

Ram’s birthday is celebrated as Ramnavmi, wherein devotees invoke him with religious chants to attain his blessings shield. The festival of lights, Diwali, which is one of the major festivals in Hinduism, is also observed to celebrate the return of Ram, Laksham and Sita back to Ayodhya after an exile of fourteen years.

Ram bears a dark complexion to show his resemblance to Vishnu and his other avatar Krishna, and is almost always depicted with a bow and arrow in his hands and a quiver on his back. Ram also wears a tilak on his forehead. Accompanying the statues of Ram are idols of his wife Sita, brother Lakshman and the celebrated monkey-god Hanuman, who together combine the Ram Darbar.

7. Saraswati

Daughter of Shiva and Durga, and the consort of Brahma, Saraswati is revered as the goddess of wisdom, learning, speech and music. She is the goddess of knowledge and arts. Devotees often worship the deity before commencing any educational work- books and stationary items are often revered as Saraswati is believed to reside in them.

Saraswati Vandana, religious chants dedicated to the goddess of music often begin and end all Vedic lessons. The goddess also plays songs of wisdom, affection and life on the veena, a string instrument.

gods and goddesses of hinduism
Sarswati, Wikimedia Commons

Saraswati is visually represented in pure white attire and rides a peacock, with a lotus in one hand and sacred scriptures in the other. She also has four hands that signify the four aspects of learning- mind, intellect, alertness, and ego.

Out of all the 33 million gods and goddesses of Hinduism, devout Hindus believe only Saraswati can grant them moksha- the ultimate emancipation of the soul.