Beautiful philosophies and ideals explained through images of Gods

People have always looked up to someone in their life to follow in their footsteps. It can be their own parents, one of the relatives who are close to them, or friends. It can be anyone. But very few people look up to God as their source of inspiration and role-model! Because according to us, God is very high up there, with whom we cannot compare ourselves with. He/She is someone whom we run to only when we face troubles in our life. So we rarely remember God all the time.

Hindus have millions of Gods, or so we claim. It is always confusing to the youths when they see people putting in so much faith in so many Hindu Gods, an
d that too at the same time. Each and everyone of us have different “favourite” God (Ishta Devata). Where did all these God characters like Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesha, Muruga, Durga, Kali all come from? From our scriptures of course.

Rig, Yajur, Sama, Atharva Vedas – Mention of 44 Vedic Gods such as Agni, Vayu, Varuna, etc.
Agamas – Mention of Mahadevas and Mahadevis under thre
e main sects: Shaiva, Vaishnava, Shakta
Puranas – Mention of Devas and Devis such as Ganesha, Muruga, etc… Devas are also Gods with specific functions/duties, but Mahadeva/devi is the supreme to them.

So it is in the Puranas and the Agamas which have the mention of these Gods we know about. Their stories are extensively described in our Puranas. So, why were they created? I mean, they don’t really exist, as they are only representations of God, but in various different forms. But think about it, why would our Rishis waste their time sitting around and creating these images, if not to teach us some important values through them?

As the saying goes, Hindus don’t pray to idols, they pray to the ideals that the idols represent. Similarly each idol in the Temple we worship has an ideal to it, and many people are ignorant about it. Once they become aware of why one prays to Kali, for example, their prayer becomes meaningful.

Ganesha – Remover of obstacles, giver of knowledge.
Rope and axe in both hands – He is the one who binds us to sense-objects and He is also the one who detaches us from the sense-objects. He gives us this experience to remind us that attachment to sense-objects (something that binds you emotionally to a thing) gives us only misery.

Lots of sweets (modaka) – The sweets represent knowledge. Knowledge is sweet and gives you happiness, as it removes your ignorance. When the darkness in your mind is removed, you will not fear anything, and so you will be in peace. Peace = happiness.

Mouse eating sweet – The mouse represents the human mind, something which doesn’t remain in one place. Just like our thoughts, which keep moving and never stopping in one place. But the mouse, in the presence of the God, remains in one place, still. Not only that, we also see it here as eating the sweet, meaning consuming knowledge given by God.

Durga – Slayer of the negativities in us, and granter of wishes.
So many weapons in her hands – She multitasks!! Seriously, this is something only God is capable of doing. Though she is in a killing spree, look at her face. She is always calm and cool. She has taught me many things in life. During times of stress, I just remember Her and pray to Her, and I will forget all my stress for a while and move on. She does so many things at one time, and yet she never looks tired but looks calm. She is my inspiration!

Buffalo (Mahishasuran) – Represents laziness, animal quality in man. She slays this demon, and this represents that by praying to Her, we are asking for Her grace to remove the negativities in our minds.

Lion (vehicle) – So many Gods have animals as their “vehicles”. A vehicle is something that is in our control. Similarly, the lion itself is in Her control! She is not scared of the lion, but she controls it!

Kali – Goddess of Time, and Slayer of the negativities. She is a very fierce Goddess, but I personally like Her very much. Anyone, who sincerely prays to her, She will grant them their wishes. Also a God who is controversially involved in black magic as well, which I will come to later.
Kali (very fierce) – The word “kali” means time. Kali appears fierce because time doesn’t stop for anyone. Most of us, or maybe all of us, hope that we could turn back time and correct all our mistakes. But it doesn’t happen! As such, she is fierce like time. Time just keeps moving on, not stopping for anyone. Not even for God!

Decapitated heads in her hands – The head represents the ego. Our ego has to be surrendered to the Mother Divine, if not She will take it by force! Only by surrendering our ego will we be able to experience the Truth. It is our ego that gives us the sense of “I-ness”, “I am the do-er”, the sense of ownership. It is our ego that gives us both pleasure and pain. Surrendering the ego is our only way to attain eternal bliss. This statement is something that is not easily comprehensible by everyone. It has to be experienced to be understood very well.

So many weapons – Why does she appear to be so violent? Because that is how BAD our negativities are!!! She has to use all kinds of weapons to chase away the demons in us!! Just think about it! If you are in Her place, you will definitely need those weapons wouldn’t you??

Kali and Shiva – While Kali represents the “changing” reality, Shiva represents the “changeless” reality. Let me explain more clearly: When you measure time, you take final time minus the initial time right? This shows that to measure time, a change has to take place! If no change takes place, then you cannot measure time!! The entire universe is constantly changing, and thus the existence of time. Another fact is that to measure change, you need to have a reference point, something which is changeless. Therefore, change is always measured with reference to something changeless, and this changing reality (Kali) is therefore dependent of the changeless reality (Shiva). That is why Kali is stepping on Shiva. This is the significance of the whole image.

Why is Kali sometimes used in black magic? – Whatever the tantric mantras produce are just energy. And energy is just energy by itself. It can be used for good and for bad, depending on us. So if it is used for bad, then it becomes black magic. Whereas, if the energy from the mantras chanted are used for good, then good results.

Murugan – A Beautiful Philosophy (Just like Him)
Depicted always with 2 consorts – Lord Muruga is always depicted with 2 consorts and they are not really His wives!!! This is the part where many don’t really know why some Gods have more than one wife. First of all, they are not wives, they are consorts or forms of Shakti (energy). So what do they represent? Deivanai (Consort from the Heaven) represents Kriya (action). Valli (Consort from the Earth) represents Iccha (desire). Murugan has another Shakti with Him and that is His Vel (spear) which represents Jnana (Knowledge). Basically, to attain a goal, firstly you need desire for that goal, then you need to have the right knowledge to attain that goal, then finally you perform actions to attain that goal. That is the philosophy explained from the image. Also if you notice, Valli (who represents iccha/desire) was married by the Lord due to His desire for Her. Whereas Deivanai (who represents kriya/action) was married by the Lord as a “gift” for His good actions of eliminating the demons.

Vel (spear) – As said earlier, the Vel represents Jnana, knowledge. The breadth of the spear-head, the length of the spear and the sharpness of the spear all tells us that our knowledge should be broad-based, deep and sharp respectively.

After learning all this, I found myself to be more open in my views about Hinduism. Sure, there are many superstitions. But don’t just be passive about them! Do something! Find out whether they are really true or not! Never stay with doubts in your mind! Hinduism is so much more meaningful than it really seems to be! My perception of Temples, prayers and all changed after learning even more than this!!

Visit http://www.nushindusociety.org/forum for more such learning experience!! 🙂

Atmashtakam

Hi everyone! This is my first attempt of a beautiful devotional 🙂 It has very beautiful meanings, written by the great Indian philosopher: Adi Shankaracharya!! I love this song very much. I truly hope my rendition is good… Although at some places I seem to have sore throat… At the middle of the song, my voice changes slightly due to the soreness, pls don’t mind…

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Song: Atmashtakam
Singer: Priya
Written by: Adi Shankaracharya

Mano Budhya Ahankara Chithaa Ninaham,
Na Cha Srothra Jihwe Na Cha Graana Nethrer,
Na Cha Vyoma Bhoomir Na Thejo Na Vayu,
Chidananada Roopa Shivoham, Shivoham 1

Neither am I mind, nor intelligence,
Nor ego, nor thought,
Nor am I ears or the tongue or the nose or the eyes,
Nor am I earth or sky or air or the light,
I am Shiva, I am Shiva, of nature knowledge and bliss

Na Cha Praana Samgno Na Vai Pancha Vaayur,
Na Vaa Saptha Dhathur Na Va Pancha Kosa,
Na Vak Pani Padam Na Chopa Stha Payu,
Chidananada Roopa Shivoham, Shivoham 2

Neither am I the movement due to life,
Nor am I the five airs, nor am I the seven elements,
Nor am I the five internal organs,
Nor am I voice or hands or feet or other organs,
I am Shiva, I am Shiva, of nature knowledge and bliss

Na Me Dwesha Raghou Na Me Lobha Mohou,
Madho Naiva Me Naiva Matsarya Bhava,
Na Dharmo Na Cha Artha Na Kamo Na Moksha,
Chidananada Roopa Shivoham, Shivoham 3

I never do have enmity or friendship,
Neither do I have vigour nor feeling of competition,
Neither do I have assets, or money or passion or salvation,
I am Shiva, I am Shiva, of nature knowledge and bliss

Na Punyam Na Paapam Na Soukhyam Na Dukham,
Na Manthro Na Theertham Na Veda Na Yagna,
Aham Bhojanam Naiva Bhojyam Na Bhoktha,
Chidananada Roopa Shivoham, Shivoham 4

Never do I have good deeds or sins or pleasure or sorrow,
Neither do I have holy chants or holy water or holy books or fire sacrifice,
I am neither food or the consumer who consumes food,
I am Shiva, I am Shiva, of nature knowledge and bliss

Na Mruthyur Na Sankha Na Me Jathi Bhedha,
Pitha Naiva Me Naiva Matha Na Janma,
Na Bhandhur Na Mithram Gurur Naiva Sishya,
Chidananada Roopa Shivoham, Shivoham 5

I do not have death or doubts or distinction of caste,
I do not have either father or mother or even birth,
And I do not have relations or friends or teacher or students,
I am Shiva, I am Shiva, of nature knowledge and bliss

Aham Nirvi Kalpi Nirakara Roopi,
Vibhuthwascha Sarvathra Sarvendriyanaam,
Na Cha Sangatham Naiva Mukthir Na Meya
Chidananada Roopa Shivoham, Shivoham 6

I am immutable, I am without form, omnipresent on account of my all-pervasive
nature; I am not even associated or attached with my sense organs. I am not
salvation, nor the knowable; I am the very form of knowledge and bliss, I am Shiva, I
am Shiva.