Hindu Gods and Goddesses
In our last article How to Navigate the Hindu Gods we described the main 3 gods in Hinduism known as the Trimurti. Needless to say, all the Hindu gods, and specially the main three – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, have a long genealogy starting with the old sacred texts of the Vedas and lasting even until our days. Thousands of stories, legends, folk tales and alike had been written about them. They have millions of devotees and many pilgrimage sites identified with them or with their different incarnations. But the picture of the three main Hindu gods is not complete. They are in fact very powerful deities, but as we all know, a man need his woman and the Hindu gods are no different. They need the female energy, known as Shakti, in order to put all their action in to force in the universe. One can say that without this energy of life, motherhood and creation, the alfa-male gods (especially Shiva) are quite impotent…
Feminine Energy and the Tridevi
The feminine energy manifests in the characters of the wives (known as the consorts) of the male gods. They are known as the goddesses of the Tridevi, the three female consorts of the three main Hindu gods. The concept of feminine divinity exists from the beginning of Hinduism. The goddesses were always there, and always very important and powerful. From the old scripts of the Vedas the ancient goddess Devi (Mother and fierce destroyer) embodied the concept of shakti which continues today, the goddesses are well loved and respected, and have a central role in the Hindu Pantheon. Let’s take a closer look at the goddesses:
Beautiful Saraswati appears sometimes as the daughter of Brahma and sometimes as his wife. She is known as the goddess of knowledge, science, poetry and music. In a way she is similar to a muse for all people that are involve with the arts and learning. She will always appear as a beautiful women holding a book and playing music with the veena – an Indian music instrument similar to the guitar. Pujas (religious ceremonies) for Saraswati take place all around India and devotees offering honey to this goddess, as honey represents perfect knowledge.
The consort of Vishnu is the goddess of prosperity and good luck. She is identified with wealth, prosperity (both material and spiritual), fortune and happiness. Lakshmi is a devoted wife and appears next to him in his various incarnations, especially as Rama and Krishna where Lakshmi takes the shape of Sita the wife of Rama and as Radha, wife of Krishna. In those ‘roles’ she is celebrated as the symbol of the perfect devoted Hindu wife. Hindus worship Lakshmi during Diwali, the festival of lights (November 3rd 2013). According to tradition, people put small oil lamps outside their homes on Diwali in hopes Lakshmi will come to bless them. Today we can find the image of Lakshmi also in modern shopping malls, greeting the shoppers with a good fortune.
Beautiful Parvati is the daughter of the Himalayan Mountains. The Shakti, or wife, of Shiva, is also a dedicated wife and mother and embodies merits of the model Hindu women. But Parvati also holds a somewhat dark and fearsome side. She can manifest as the goddess Durga and Kali. In these forms of the goddess, the feminine energy of Shakti becomes wild. They are dangerous and ferocious goddesses that save the world after the failures of the men gods to do so. Parvati is also celebrated all around India in her different forms. In Karnataka and Maharashtra She is worshipped as the goddess of harvest and protectors of women in the Gauri Festival. In West Bengal, which is known for its many Shakti centres and festivals, she is celebrated as Durga in nine days of the Navratri festival (5th – 13th October 2013), in which all her manifestations are worshiped.