33 Devas


May Varuna with guidance straight, 
And Mitra the One-who-knows,
And Aryaman in accord with Aditya,
Guide us forth, like the wind that blows,

As with their Might Evermore
They guard the Sacred Laws,
Shelter may they vouchsafe to us, 

Immortal Gods to mortal men..


Hindu mystics knew from their experience, that verbal descriptions of the Supreme Reality can be Incomplete and hence resorted to Mythology to convey the feeling of their communion with God.

Vedic Seers composed hymns eulogizing the sentient beings guarding all Natural  and Supernatural phenomena and called them Devas that stems from the Sanskrit root 'Div'meaning the 'Shining One'.



The effulgent Devas


The derived term 'Deus' or 'Dios' from the same root, is still used to refer to God in modern European languages and even in the translations of the New Testament of Bible.

The oldest texts detail 33 principle Devas who were the guardians of Nature and Cosmic Creation. They are:


The ancients especially venerated the Adityas and Vedas are full of hymns dedicated to Indra, Agni, Surya, Varun and the like. The 12 Adityas correspond to the 12 Solar months and represent different attributes of social life. These are:

Ansh (due share),
Aryaman (nobility),
Bhaag (due inheritance),
Daksh (ritual skill),
Dhatri/Tvashtar (skill in crafting),
Mitra (friendship),
Pushan/Ravi (prosperity),
Savitra/Parjanya (power of word),
Surya/Vivasvan (social law),
Varun (fate),
Vaman (cosmic law).

Indra, of course is the undoubted leader and has proved his worth on numerous occasions, most famous of his exploits being the slaying of the dragon Vritra.


Indra leads the Adityas



The 8 Vasus are attendant deities of Indra and comprise of eight elemental gods that represent the different aspects of Nature. They include:

Anal (Fire),
Anil (Wind),
Apas (Water),
Antariksh/Dyaus (Space),
Dhara (Earth),
Dhruv (Pole Star),
Prabhas (Dawn),
Soma (Moon).


The 11 Rudras are three-eyed manifestations of the Original Rudra and include Lord Shiva, who, along with Prajapati Brahma and Shri Hari Vishnu forms a part of the highest echelons of the hierarchy amongst Gods known as the Trimurti . The respective roles of the Holy Hindu Trinity are:

  • Brahma, the First in this Trinity and is the Creator and Master of all Divine Ceremonies.  
  • Shiva, the Cosmic Dancer, Nataraj who through his celestial dance, sustains the endless rhythm of the Universe.
  • Vishnu, the Preserver god who incarnates to help mankind face the challenges posed whenever Evil forces become too dominant in the Universe.





With time, other manifestations of the Supreme Lord appeared and were also incorporated in the group of Devas.

Principle amongst these are Ganesh, the elephant-headed son of Lord Shiv and Shakti; andHanuman, the monkey-god who is the 12th manifestation of Lord Shiva. Others include the twin sons of Surya - Ashwini Kumars and the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu known as theDashavatar. 

Buddhist Cosmology expands the concept of the 33 Devas further and describes a separate Heaven for them called the Tavatimsa, on top of Mount Meru, similar to Mount Olympus of the Greeks in purpose as well as function).
 

 Devas in the Heaven



However, a Hindu, with sufficient insight into his religion, will not get swayed by these different manifestations and knows that all these gods are images representing the many facets of One Reality, the Supreme Brahman.

At its core, Hinduism has always believed in One Supreme God Who manifests Himself as many in order to Create, Preserve and ultimately Annihilate the Creation. This Supreme Brahman is beyond concepts and images and this attitude of Inclusiveness provides the characteristic of tolerance to Hinduism. 


Devas in the Universal Form of Lord Vishnu



I will share more insights on similar topics in the posts that you can access from the right hand panel. For now, let us grab the magic carpet called Mythology and once again, Begin at the Beginning.

.
Aum Shanti: Shanti: Shanti:
.

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