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Idol Worship & 33 Crore Gods of Hindus – Part II

By: Chanchal Malviya
Sep-06-2007
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(Author is a Project Manager at a Multinational company in India, taking care of their Offshore magazine publishing. Has been an active writer, and have recently completed my book - "From the Laws of Nature - I")
 


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This is Part II of - Idol Worship & 33 Crore Gods of Hindus

33 Crore Gods of Hindus – I
Idol Worship & 33 Crore Gods - II
Mathematics of God - Idol Worship – Part III

Idol Worship & 33 Crore Gods of Hindus – Part II

For the believers of God, it is an accepted faith across the globe that God is one. Hindus too believe so, but then there remains a question often shaped as a mockery over Hindus about the various practices of worship rendered to innumerous God in their faith. And this question is often thrown by people, who are philosophically and religiously recognized. How come Hindu religion has 33 crore Gods? Is it sensible at all to believe and practice this? I have a question – How can one decide what is sensible and what is not, particularly when none of those great thinkers have attained perfection in realization of God, none of them have seen God, none of them have heard God. There are numerous instances where religion, religious books and their beliefs have tried to define God. Criticism is an easy thing to do but we have coins with two sides always. Realization of the positive side and its practice is not only hard to recognize but difficult to accept as well. Criticism is the negative side, where ego, arrogance and envy exist with an intention to force boundaries upon people outside the boundary.

We require realizing and understanding God first completely before condemning any belief that is in line with God. If God is within creatures, we require realizing first ourselves, within ourselves, which is in very vicinity to us. If God is not within the creatures, then where is he – if the answer is we do not know; then do not fight? We are physically a body with senses, mind and soul. But behaviorally, we are a sum of our own thoughts represented by our overall behaviors or actions.

Most of our behaviors or actions are around our kindred ones. Even the recognition of God in our life persists more to support this behavior. Our behaviors mostly are aligned to deliver responsibilities towards our relationships. And relationships have names. We have so many names despite of the fact that we are still the one person.

My son calls me “Father”. My wife calls me “Husband”. My father calls me “Son”. My sisters and brothers call me “Brother”. I am a “Grand Child” for some and time makes me a “Grand father” for some. I am an “in law” for few others. I prove to be a “friend” for many. Aren”t all these Nouns,as my name itself? Yet my name is there. But I am recognized more by the Nouns of relations among my kindred, rather than my name. I find that every other relation has a different name for me. And these names are not confined to a particular country or religious believers. This is universal. And these nouns of relations are just not names; they are actual vision which immediately pervades in accordance to the relation when one calls us by our name. So, if my mother calls me by name, she doesn”t realize me as a father of a son or husband of a wife; she immediately envisions me as her son. And it is these names that alter my behaviors with respect to the name variance. I find that my responsibility towards each of these relations is different. For example, the relation that I enjoy with my wife is quite different from all other relations. This means, the same person – myself, is having different names, different authorities, different responsibilities and different recognized power. I owe them all and render them all.

Is GOD only a father? If someone says “yes”, then I have something to ask him. Is GOD having only limited power to be a father only? I believe “NO”. GOD is omnipresent and omni-powered. We call him GOD because we expect anything and everything from him. He can take any role and responsibility which we cannot render or whenever we require it. At least, when we are failing in life towards any of our roles, we pray GOD to fulfill that. Hence, GOD just cannot be a father. If I am unable to serve my father for some purpose which is important enough to bring tears in my eyes, I can rely on GOD to play the role for me and fill the gap. Hence, virtually GOD is a son then – son of my father realized through me. GOD can be my friend. GOD can be any of the relation I chose him to be for the reason of prayers and for the reason of fulfilling my actions. In fact, GOD can hold any relation, any position and any situation for me as long as there is the undoubted faith and deep routed love for him. More sincerely, Love is one relation that is true for GOD as well for us; it is a relation that enriches our heart and mind with complete faith and it is this Love which is required to be realized in our life for humans as well.

Hence, I believe Hindus are advanced enough to recognize 33 crore such responsibilities executed by GOD. And not all these responsibilities are towards humans. Every creation across the Universe lies as a manifestation of same GOD and all of them are rendered support by the same relative GOD with varied names and powers. When it comes to worshipping these powers of God, there is much more to this, than names and responsibilities for Hindus. Why it is that despite of these countless diversities in names, Hindus do not fight among themselves and practice perfect religious harmony in huge variance? In contrast, we find this throughout the world in all other religions that if there is even slight diversity; people tend to challenge each other for even their lives. Why doesn”t a Hindu follower of Lord Shiva attack a follower of Lord Krishna? If beliefs of all other religions are so correct and scientific, why is the strong and positive attitude of tolerance missing in them? There is surely much more deep routed facts to these 33 crore figure, than simply what appears to the outside world.

The deep routed reality is that Hindus have discovered these varied sources of existence through years of research. Hindus have mastered the natural science; they have realized GOD to the extent that they have listed down 33 crore different forms of natural power that is holding this Universe true, they have listed 33 crore immaterial manifestations of God – a figure where science has a long way to go. It doesn”t mean by any chance that all the listed forms are different GOD. They are still the same, but can be called for different purposes. In fact, they are smart enough to call them as Devas (representatives or manifestations of GOD) rather then GOD himself. So, that people still believe in only “One” GOD, the “One” whole that envelops the whole variance, the “One” as explained by me in the article Idolatry. I really feel like saying to the critics – can they or their religious books list down even 33 thousand forms of natural powers – powers that nature displays to hold life and existence of this earth and universe. It is not an easy thing to even imagine this. Hindus have come up a long way to do so. I think the world needs more insight than this to understand the facts about Hindu beliefs.

To make things more vivid, I will explain in brief one of many philosophies behind idols and images of so many Gods. A simple question – Why do nearly all Hindu Gods are seen holding weapons (tools)? Yet we find Hindus not fighting for the differences. The fact is as deep to consider that to God everything and every creature are equal. The philosophy says that Law and Weapons (tools) recognizes none, i.e., for these two entities, all other entities are equal and they act with equal nature to all. In the law book of God all his creations has to hold equal importance (or else God would prove to be incomplete, existing in variance and prejudice over his own creations). Hence, these tools in the hands of Hindu idols and images symbolize equality towards all. Another important philosophy of weapons or tools are to convey that weapons and tools should be held by only those people who have the Godly qualities, i.e., the sense of equality towards all. Third, important philosophy is to convey that weapons and tools are for protection and facilitation for human and its misuse is possible only if goes in hand of inhuman. Thus, weapons are in hands of God, God who sees everyone equal – powers of manifestations of God under the laws of nature has to be of similar sense and Hindu philosophy of 33 crore figure is an attempt to elaborate this concept.

To understand above concept, I will explain the symbolic meanings of few important deities – my explanations are brief explanations, avoiding the details as detailing would take another book to be written). Taking Lord Shiva as our first example, he is also called “Mahadeva” meaning – Deity of all Deities. If every Deity in Hindu is a natural power, obvious question is: which of those powers is represented by Lord Shiva. As Lord Shiva is deity of all deity, he has to be the source of energy to all other deities. And hence, as per Hindu myths – Lord Shiva represents “Light” – an energy which is the source of all existence (Imagine a creation without light; nothing can exist).

Worship of Lord Shiva started as Jyotirlinga – “Jyoti” meaning “light” and “linga” comes from the Sanskrit word “Lingam” meaning

Since, light is relative to darkness, the generalized theory of relativity was conceptualized on this ground. To ensure the universal distribution of theory as a law, Lord Shiva brings the knowledge of Gender in relative terms, because the myth says that it was Lord Shiva that established the meaning of two genders required for creation. Thus, the concept of relativity started taking the shape of a theory, established long back by Hindus, but realized only late by our modern scientists. And it is this parallelism of existence that created ground for Hindus to research and establish 33 crore such relative powers.

As another example, we would take Lord Ganesh, who is put ahead of all other deities. It is light that produces “Knowledge” and hence, Lord Ganesha (Deity of Knowledge) as per Hindu myths is son of Lord Shiva: Knowledge is a product of Light. But it requires knowledge to perceive the power of light, and hence Lord Ganesh is worshipped as the first deity.

Knowledge is the killer of Ignorance and death of Ignorance saves humanity from dangers of life. Hence, Lord Ganesha is also called as “Vighnaharta” – reliever from obstacles. Right from rat to elephant, all animals contain some intelligence as humans and this is the minimum that is represented by Lord Ganesha.

We can have Lord Vishnu as one more example, to fathom the depth of these images and Idols. If we look at Lord Vishnu, he is symbolized by four hands, each hand holding different things. In first hand, he holds “Shankh” (a symbol of Sound, sound that emerges through heart of a person and passes through the heart of “Shankh” and gets intensifies and uniform.

Thus, a sound from heart has to be truth, its passage from the heart of “Shankh” makes it pure and intensifies” and what is spread is uniformity of the truth in loudness), in second hand he holds “Chakra” (a symbol of revolutions and cycles, through which the whole creation goes on; it is a miniature symbol of the whole Universe and is explained in detail in Purana), in third hand he holds “Gada” (a symbol of power, strength and weapon; that execution of power and strength requires the vision of equality as of a weapon) and the fourth hand holds “A Lotus” (a symbol of beautiful detachment; lotus is born in dirt, yet it is so beautiful because it is not attached to the dirt). The four fold symbols are important for realization and to support the whole ongoing system of creation.

Every God of Hindu symbolizes some powers of nature. It is important to note that none of the Hindu Gods are found to hold meat of humble animals or impure food. They are at most shown to kill the inhuman (often called as “Rakshas” in Hindu myth). These are very deep routed creations of Hindu ideologists; their beliefs are not as blindfolded as is perceived outside their arena. One classical example of Hindu ideology realizing the meaning of 33 Crore Gods or deities can be understood by following famous Hindu saying:

“Matri Devo Bhawa, Pitra Devo Bhawa, Guru Devo Bhawa, Atithi Devo Bhawa”

Meaning: Mother, Father, Guru and Guest are form of deity. At first this seems meaningless. But there is depth to this – and the depth takes to deep enough to explore even God. A person as per Hindu philosophy is said to be of divine nature, if he has absorbed energies from these people. From mother one absorbs the individuality (“Sanskar”), which is the basis of his developing attitude. From father one absorbs the identity (“Pratap”) which builds his Personality. From Guru, one absorbs the true Knowledge, which adds to one”s intellect. And from Guest (“Atithi”) one absorbs humanity, an attribute of Godly creation that allows him to behave in perfection in nature. The concept of Guest is far different and superior among Hindus than in any other community of the world. A Guest has two forms in Hindus – “Mehmaan” and “Atithi”. The “Mehmaan” form, as known to the world, are those who are visit upon invitation and are known to the host of their arrival – A Hindu would respect him in all possible way and make him feel warm. But the “Atithi” form, as not known to the world, are those who arrive uninformed as Guests (may be known one or may be unknown). They hold extra importance, their importance being a form of deity (not they), because like God they do not have a date of arrival – and hence, a treatment of highest form towards them signifies that Hindus in their behavior excels western understanding. Thus, deities in Hindu are not only those natural powers like fire, air, water, etc., but also the immaterial that constitute our existence.

Hindus realize that this world would be beautiful if these natural powers are respected and utilized in their natural form, unlike the realization that materialistic science has discovered against the natural laws. And hence, where they seem to be providing advancement they are actually leading the world towards huge devastation. As a simple example, we can consider Fire as a power of nature; it can burn anything in this world. And this burn has positive as well as negative impacts (actually the impact is same and uniform, its realization as creatures varies). Thus, food burnt (cooked) produces varieties of tastes and eating enjoyable. Metal burnt helps to get molded to shapes and size desired. Burning sun and lamps produces light and source of energy. But the same fire, burns houses devastating lives inside. It can burn jungles thus devastating vegetation, animals and natural balance. Burning impact is still uniform, but applications are different and hence realization is different. Thus, it is important for the most advanced creature, as humans, to understand the different usage of fire and use it only in a manner that is agreeable and beneficial to all. To make its usage overall positive, it requires a mass attitude shift – how would this be achieved? This can be achieved only through respect towards this power. Respect is a boundary, a boundary that has maximum benefits, minimum negative impacts. Thus, the methodology of realizing fire as a source of useful energy and an important essence of life, a meaning of respect was added to it by the word “deity” – The Fire Deity (Agni Deva) by Hindus. Worship is simply a methodology of conveying regards to this energy and using it in a harmless manner. I do not understand what is wrong in this. In fact, there is nothing wrong in this – hence, the Hindu society is a peaceful society. We can also find the sense of equality in the property of Fire, i.e., its qualities and identity cannot be changed – no science can diminish the power of Sun, and the uniform distribution of that power towards all, irrespective of planets, irrespective of religion on earth. Hence, Sun for a Hindu qualifies as a Natural power to be given a form of Deity.

While I do not find even in Science unfolding the importance of moon for existence of life, Hindus have gone to identify the secrets held by nature in having moon as one of the facilitation in support of life system on earth. And since, attributes of moon do not exist under prejudice and is uniform for all, it qualifies as a deity. The life would not exist if water and air is not there. All these are natural energies, and important for life to exist. And any effort to challenge these energies would devastate life itself. Who will disagree to this, even scientifically? So why is the question raised on the community which knows its best utilization through the methodology of worship? The reality is that people, who attack Hindus for their 33 Crore Gods or Idol worship, have actually executed immense violence, unnecessary killings, forced decisions, and deceitful conversions. And as per the same relativity theory of Hindus, the bad cannot tolerate the good. They will have a nature to attack and win over good. But thousands of years have failed to do so. Another thousand of years would again fail to do so.

If this is not clear yet, we can take any deity of a Hindu and ask a question – what power or energy does it imply? If anyone does not have the answer to it, feel free to write to me and I will let him know, how a deity is categorized as a deity in Hindu philosophy. Under the universal theory of relativity, each of these energies will bring positive and relatively negative impact. To realize the best and the positive part, we need to respect them first (with a realization that it can devastate if something goes wrong).

Deity in Hindu philosophy is not a prophet or any person as in other religions. They do not have any physical forms. They have simply elementary as well as divine existence. And who can count these divine natures of infinite God? Thus 33 Crore count is an amazing research done by Hindus over a huge period of time. Here is an analysis to be attempted – How long did it take for Hindus to bring these 33 Crore count into their list. (On the materialistic part of life, Hindus have also listed around 8.4 million species, while science have just reached the figure of 1.75 and is predicting the figure to be between 8 to 10 million – How have Hindus come to this figure?). There are two possibilities – either the creator himself have done this and Hindus were the first creation of Humanity by God OR it took tens of thousands of years for Hindus to bring this research into reality. Accepting any of the two possibilities, we easily end up in understanding since how long Hindus have existed. It was only recently that they were named “Hindus”. They are the eternal humans, and would continue to be so. They have ever existed and would ever exist. Of course, there would be challenges and transformations through which they have to pass by and these criticism and onslaughts are simply a picture of such challenges. The truth has to pass through false boundaries and negative nature of energies. And as it passes and will pass through the same list of energies (33 Crore Count), those who respected it would be saved and those which misused and disrespected it would suffer. This is a law of nature, and no science can disprove this. This can only be realized on the line of time that always takes us into past and inspires us to look at past. Taking a static situation of ever moving time, it is the present which we have to configure so as to make sure that the future is not negative, the future is peaceful, the future is happy. Peace, happiness and positive results are not achieved without the essence of respect in it.

Hindus realized that 33 crore deities constituted their body and soul too. Because these 33 crore deities that constituted this whole universe, also constituted humans as well. And this very philosophy gave birth to AyurVeda, a medical science, which is yet to be unfolded completely and practiced by modern world. And this very philosophy gave birth to the concept of Self Realization, the basis of all human achievement, a journey through the mind being the reason of all scientific inventions.

When Hindus say 33 Crore Gods (Devas and Devis), they realize them all in themselves. For example, fire in our body exists to produce heat, anger, energy, hatred, arrogance and other attributes. A disregard towards it would produce chemistry (For e.g., acidity in stomach for wrong diet, uncontrollable and harmful anger mis-utilizing energies) that can harm us. Hence, a regard toward Agni Deva, comes by realization of knowledge of his existence in various forms. If we go in the details of AyurVeda, we can find an elaboration on various forms of these energies in our life. And obviously, as far as God is concerned, every Hindu believes that all these 33 Crore energies are again manifestation of God only.

People who criticize Hindus either know only their part or want others to live with what they are providing, which is nothing else then bounded religious belief, a bigotry – a quality which their religion has definitely not taught them to live with; because God cannot be achieved in boundaries, God can be touched with immense boundary-less feelings; God can be realized with infinite boundary-less knowledge.

The question is how such forced believes exists? Why religious practitioners want to prove themselves over other beliefs? What interest envelops them impelling them to undertake such selfish steps? Will this world be peaceful enough to live in with only one religion like Christian or Islam into practice? Will there be no differences among people then?

Let us assume that the target of converting the world into one religion is achieved. Then there is another question – Is the miseries from the world eliminated (probably because God is happy now as the wish of God has come true). Let us assume that miseries are eliminated: but how was this possible (Probably because every individual is living the same standard life given by the same God. This has to be there obviously because if differences exist between two individuals in any aspect, competitiveness would come into picture and then everything will result the same way as it is with different God). Now, if everyone is comfortable and equal in all aspect, don”t you think this world would come to a stagnant stage, an inert stage – a stage of death? Hence, the variation of understanding is also there so that the true meaning of God is established. It would depend on individuals and societies to choose the most tolerance and peaceful methodology of Hindus remain in the attacking moods like Islam or deceive humanity in the name of God and force conversions as Christianity.

Actually, this very difference is the cause of existence of worldly happenings. It is the diversities that is creating individuals and allowing them to exist. People who desire to convert this world into one religion and people who tries to command others thinking thereby demanding a behavior towards conversion, do not understand religion at all. They are actually working against the principles of nature as created by God – diversities. Nature has not created any two humans same from the 6 billion population. Nature has differentiated every creature and every species as unique identity. How can human even think of bringing people under one belief? This can never be achieved and trying to achieve this is an unnatural act which eventually will result in death of billions of lives.

There was never a time without variations and there would never be a time in this world when these variations won”t exist. And the only possible and admirable religious step a practitioner should take is to allow others to live as they are. That is only solution which can lead to effective standardization of human living behaviors. And this is the only message which God has always conveyed to this world – Unity in Diversity. And this is what is best realized in Hinduism.


Chanchal Malviya

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