Why is Lord Ram worshiped in India
The most important goddesses and gods in Hinduism
Hindu heaven is like going to a shopping mall for a summer sale. Because in Hinduism there is no central body that determines what and, above all, who exactly belongs to Hinduism - like the Vatican does for the Catholic Church. And so not only do a multitude of goddesses and gods coexist in India, there are also countless legends and myths about each and every one of them, some of which contradict each other or emphasize completely different aspects of the respective god. Pretty confusing!
But there are some gods within whom almost all Hindus can agree on. We introduce you to the most important ones, with their best-known properties, their species and identifying features.
Brahman and Ishvara, the origin of the world of gods
The most important force in the Hindu faith is Brahman, the almighty cosmic consciousness without any properties.
When Brahman manifests, it becomes Ishvara, a god with a form and characteristics who can show himself in almost all aspects of the manifest universe.
The most famous manifestations of Ishvara are Brahma (see 1.), Vishnu (see 2.) and Shiva (see 3.). It forms a trinity (Trimurti), i.e. a trinity: Brahma creates our universe, Vishnu receives it, Shiva destroys or transforms it in order to free it from evil. There is also a nice play on words in English: G.O.D. (ie God) stands for “Generator, Operator, Destroyer”, ie Creator, Preserver, Destroyer.
There is also the female primordial goddess Devi (see 4.)that represents the feminine side / energy.
Pretty much all of the other popular gods in Hinduism are associated with these four gods in one way or another.
1. Brahma, the creator of the world
Brahma is the oldest form of Ishvara. As a manifestation of Brahman, he created the universe in deep meditation. So our world is ultimately a fantasy of Brahma.
Brahma usually sits on a lotus flower, has four heads and usually holds in his four hands the Vedas (symbol of wisdom), a lotus flower (creation), a Japa Mala (the Hindu rosary, because Brahma is known as a world teacher, as a guru) and the begging bowl Kamandalu (because although he is the creator of the universe, he is only a beggar who draws all his strength from Brahman) or makes some other receiving gesture.
2. Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom
While Brahma is not a particularly popular god, his wife Saraswati can hardly save herself from fans. She is considered the goddess of knowledge, language, sciences, arts, music and is particularly admired by intellectuals and philosophers and everyone who learns - schoolchildren, students, scientists.
Like her husband Brahma, she usually sits on a lotus flower and often holds the Vedas and a lotus flower in two of her four hands. The easiest way to recognize them, however, is their Indian lute (Veena).
3. Vishnu, the preserver of the world (also called Narayan or Hari)
As the sustainer, Vishnu forms the balance between Brahma, the creator (see 1.) and Shiva, the destroyer (see 3.).
Usually in two of his four hands the conch shank (which symbolizes the cosmic sound and thus the energy of the universe) and a lotus flower (which symbolizes creation) and in the other two hands the disc or the fire wheel and the club, which symbolize destruction . Sometimes Ananta is represented with or on the world serpent or with his mount, the eagle Garuda (after which the yogic eagle exercise Garudasana is named).
He stands for love, peace, all the best and is the god of the karma yogis, those who serve selflessly.
4. Lakshmi, the goddess of luck
The goddess of happiness, abundance, beauty and wealth is Vishnu's wife. What is meant is not superficial beauty and the accumulation of material wealth, but real prosperity, which consists of a good material supply (not a matter of course in India!) As well as moral and mental strength. Lakshmi is the manifestation of the positive qualities of Vishnu and - like a good mother - gives all living beings what they need.
She is usually shown standing on a lotus flower, and also holds lotus flowers in two of her four hands, with the other two hands she blesses her sincere admirers with prosperity (symbolized by a "golden hand" or gold that flows from her hand as well as the Blessing gesture Anhaya Mudra).
5. Rama, the perfect lover
Rama is the seventh incarnation of Vishnu. He is known for the Indian national epic Ramayana. Rama shows how a person can lead an ideal life in this world - in all areas: as ruler as well as father, husband, son and friend. This is one of the reasons why Rama and his wife Sita are considered perfect lovers in India - like Romeo and Juliet here in the West, only with a happy ending. That is why every decent Hindu couple has a portrait of Rama and his wife Sita hanging in their bedroom.
Rama is almost always shown with his bow, with which he defends the good and defeats the demons, i.e. our bad qualities.
6. Hanuman, the loyal monkey god
Hanuman is the faithful general of Rama in the Ramayana. He sees himself as a devoted servant of Rama and Sita and is therefore often depicted with them. Sometimes he is shown in open-hearted portraits of Sita and Rama sitting. Hanuman is therefore considered a perfect Bhakti Yogi, i.e. God-worshiper. For example, he jumped from India to Sri Lanka in one leap and then brought a mountain with essential medicinal herbs from the Himalayas to Rama. Incidentally, this story is not only the origin of the yogic practice Hanumanasana, the full balancing act, but also shows that true devotion and deep faith can move mountains.
Hanuman is also considered the son or god of the wind - which is why he is sometimes shown flying - and is therefore the protector of the yogic breathing exercises Pranayama.
In India, he is also adored by athletes and bodybuilders because of his sheer limitless strength and muscular body.
7. Krishna, the blue flute player
Krishna is the eighth incarnation of Vishnu and the manifestation of infinite cosmic consciousness in human form. Krishna explains yoga in the Bhagavad Gita, and there are hundreds of other legends surrounding Krishna - from wondrous events during his childhood that made his divinity evident to rumors of wild affairs with the Gopis, the cowherdesses. Krishna is venerated in India and the "Hare Krishna" is still heard regularly in German pedestrian zones.
Krishna is usually depicted with blue skin (blue symbolizes infinite consciousness) and yellow clothing (yellow as the color of the earth symbolizes that this consciousness is limited by the human body). As a child, Krishna had to hide from the evil ruler Kamsa, who had been prophesied that Krishna would kill him (as later happened). Therefore Krishna grew up as a shepherd boy, which is why images often show him surrounded by cows. Since Krishna also enchanted everyone with his truly divine flute-playing, he is often depicted with a flute in his hand.
8. Shiva, the destroyer
You can find out everything about Shiva (who is also called Maheshvara, Mahadev, Nataraj, Nilakantha, Rudra ...), the most popular god of the Hindus (and the most common statue in yoga studios!), Here.
9. Parvati / Kali / Durga, the complex wife of Shiva
Parvati is Shiva's wife and is known as a kind mother. But she can also appear as Durga riding a tiger to fight evil - or as an angry embodiment of Durga, namely the wild Kali, draped with skulls, blood and sabers.
10. Ganesha, the elephant-headed son of Shiva
Ganesha is the elephant-headed son of Shiva and his wife Parvati. He is - not only in India! - extremely popular and is considered to conquer all obstacles, loves sweets and has such a balanced interior that he can ride a tiny rat. You can find out more about Ganesha here.
11. Devi, the divine mother
Devi (called "Uma" in Buddhism) is the goddess of the goddesses. Her admirers are followers of Shaktism, in which she is worshiped as Shakti, i.e. female, creative primal force of the universe. It symbolizes the creative aspect of the formless consciousness of Brahman and is therefore regarded as "Mata" (mother), i.e. the root of all being.
As "Mahadevi" (great goddess) she unites the characteristics of all other goddesses and is strongly revered in India in her numerous aspects - as Saraswati, Lakshmi, Kali, Durga etc. (see above).
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