April 30, 2017: If you are planning for a holy journey to a land known for its culture and diversity, then certainly you are about to have a life-changing experience. Hinduism is one of the oldest religions of the world and is followed by a many people across the world. Many foreigners flock to India in order to attain peace of mind and solace in the rich culture of this nation. Pilgrimage is one such method to step closer to the god. This rich culture consists of as many as 33 crore gods and goddesses and knowing all of them may appear to be quite exhaustive but it certainly is an enriching experience.
Many foreigners flock to India in order to attain peace of mind and solace in the rich culture of this nation. It is believed by many that pilgrimage is one such method to step closer to the god. This rich culture consists of as many as 33 crore gods and goddesses and knowing all of them may appear to be quite exhaustive but it certainly is an enriching experience.
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If you are planning to go on a sacred journey to this subcontinent, knowing a few of these deities will be really helpful. Here is a list of 10 deities that one must know about on a visit to India-
• Brahma– The first deity of the Hindu trinity, Lord Brahma is considered to be the god of creation, including the cosmos and all of its beings. Several puranas describe him as being born from a lotus emerging from the navel of the god Vishnu.
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Brahma is traditionally depicted with four faces and four arms. Each face points to a cardinal direction. His hands hold no weapons, rather symbols of knowledge and creation. In one hand he holds the sacred texts of Vedas, in the second he holds mala (rosary beads) symbolising time, in the third he holds a ladle symbolizing means to feed the sacrificial fire, and in fourth a utensil with water symbolising the means where all creation emanates from. His four mouths are credited with creating the four Vedas. The most famous temple of Brahma is in Pushkar, Rajasthan.
• Vishnu– The peace-loving deity of the Hindu Trinity, Vishnu is the Preserver or Sustainer of life with his steadfast principles of order, righteousness, and truth. When these values are under threat, Vishnu emerges out of his transcendence to restore peace and order on earth. Vishnu’s earthly incarnations have 10 major avatars. The devout followers of Vishnu are called Vaishnavas, and his consort is Lakshmi. Vishnu is popularly worshipped as Lord Venkateshwara in the southern India.
• Shiva– The most powerful and fascinating deity in Hinduism, who represents death and dissolution. One of the godheads in the Hindu Trinity, and known by many names – Mahadeva, Pashupati, Nataraja, Vishwanath, Bhole Nath – Shiva is perhaps the most complex of Hindu deities. Hindus recognize this by putting his shrine in the temple separate from those of other deities and worshiping Shiva as a phallic symbol called the ‘Shiva Limgam’ in most temples.
• Ganesha– Easily recognizable as the elephant-deity riding a mouse, Ganesha is arguably the most popular Hindu God, and one of the commonest mnemonics for anything associated with Hinduism. The son of Shiva and Parvati, Ganesha is depicted as having a curved trunk and big ears, and a huge pot-bellied body of a human being. He is the lord of success and destroyer of evils and obstacles. He is also worshiped as the god of knowledge, wisdom, and wealth.
• Hanuman– Hanuman, the mighty ape that aided Lord Rama in his expedition against evil forces, described in the epic Ramayana, is one of the most popular idols in the Hindu pantheon. Believed to be an avatar of Lord Shiva, Hanuman is worshiped as a symbol of physical strength, perseverance, and devotion. In times of trouble, it is a common faith among Hindus to chant the name of Hanuman or sing his hymn – “Hanuman Chalisa”. Hanuman temples are among the most common public shrines found in India.
• Krishna– The great exponent of the Gita, Krishna is the ninth and a complete avatar of Vishnu, the Godhead of the Hindu Trinity. Of all avatars, he is the most popular and perhaps the one closest to the heart of the masses. This blue-skinned deity has influenced the Indian thought, life, and culture in myriad ways – not only its religion and philosophy, but also into its mysticism and literature, painting and sculpture, dance and music, and all aspects of Indian folklore.
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• Kali– Kali, or the dark goddess, is the fearful and ferocious form of the mother goddess Durga. She is depicted as having born from the brow of Goddess Durga during one of her battles with the evil forces. Kali is represented with perhaps the fiercest features amongst all the world’s deities. Her tongue protrudes from her mouth, her eyes are red, and her face and breasts are sullied with blood. She stands with one foot on the thigh, and another on the chest of her husband, Shiva.
• Rama– Rama, the perfect avatar of the Supreme Protector Vishnu, is an all-time favorite among Hindu deities. The most popular symbol of chivalry and virtue, Rama is “the embodiment of truth, of morality, the ideal son, the ideal husband, and above all, the ideal king.” He is widely believed to be an actual historical figure – a “tribal hero of ancient India” – whose exploits form the great Hindu epic of Ramayana or The Romance of Rama.
• Saraswati– Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and learning, represents the free flow of wisdom and consciousness. She is the mother of the Vedas, and chants to her, called the ‘Saraswati Vandana’often begin and end Vedic lessons. The goddess of wisdom, art, and music, she is the daughter of Lord Shiva and Goddess Durga. It is believed that goddess Saraswati endows human beings with the powers of speech, wisdom, and learning.
• Durga- The Mother Goddess — known variously as Durga, Bhavani, Sherawali, Amba, Chandika, Gauri, Parvati, Vaishno Devi — represents the fiery powers of the gods. The name “Durga” means “inaccessible”, and she is the personification of the active side of the divine “shakti” energy of Lord Shiva. Durga is usually portrayed as riding a lion and carrying weapons in her many arms. She is the protector of the righteous, and destroyer of the evil.
Every deity in Hinduism stands for humanity and righteousness. Stories about these divinities may or may not be true but they certainly teach one life lessons and encourage one to walk on the path of goodness.
– by Nikita Tayal of NewsGram, Twitter: @NikitaTayal6