An article by Swami Haripriya Parivrajika
do we have so many Gods in the Hinduism? This is a question you also
might have in your mind. But the fact is that there is no answer to this
question, because there is no concept of many Gods in Hinduism. God is
only one. He is called the
"Parbrahm" (Supreme Godhead). He is
one without a form. He is the all pervasive energy residing everywhere.
He is the infinite eternal space as the Vedas declare
"Aum Kham Brahm" (that Supreme God is the space).
"Kham" means space.
So why are we worshipping God in a certain form?
me explain this to you through an example. Everybody knows that we
can't survive without water. The ocean is the abode of water; still we
can't use its water directly. We cannot drink the water of the ocean;
neither can we cook with it. But when that same water is available to us
indirectly, it becomes the source of our lives. How do we get it
indirectly? The rays of the sun absorbs the water of the ocean, that
water appears into clouds, then in the form of rain it reaches the earth
and fills all rivers. Now we become able to use that water.
same idea is with the formless God and God in a certain form. The
formless God is like the ocean, which can't be of any help to us
directly. But when it manifests its self in a certain form, it becomes a
great help and guidance in our lives, like Lord Rama or Lord Krishna.
example is that of fire. In an invisible form fire is residing
everywhere in this space, but it is of no use for us. It is only
beneficial when that fire becomes visible. So we only have benefit when
the fire is in a form.
When God becomes from
"vyakta" (manifested) only then it is beneficial for our lives.
let us try to understand how God has manifested himself. First you have
to know that this whole creation is the projection of that Supreme
Truth we call God.
The 11th chapter of the
Bhagvad Gita is called the
"Vishvaroopdarshanyoga", in which
Arjuna got the opportunity to see
Bhagvan Krishna in the form of this whole creation (Vishva= whole creation, roop= form). Lord Krishna is saying to
Arjuna in the 7th shloka of the 11th chapter:
Ihaikastham jagatkritsnam pashyaadya characharam,
Mama dehe gudakesha yad-chanyaddrashtumichhasi.
behold as concentrated within this body of mine the entire creation
consisting of both animate and inanimate beings, and whatever else you
desire to see.
Also in the
Ramayana you can read
"Vishvaroop Raghubansmani", means this entire creation is the form of that Lord
Rama who is the illuminator of the Raghu Dynasty.
you can find innumerable forms in this entire creation, in the same way
there are innumerable manifestations of God. Some amongst these are
Supreme Brahm has first manifested Himself in the forms of
Brahma (the creator),
Vishnu (the sustainer) and
Mahesh/Shiva (the annihilator). In these three forms He rules the universe. Another special manifestation is that of the
(panch=five, deva=deity). Each human has five aspects in their lives:
name, form, power, knowledge and love. These 5 aspects are the base of
your whole personality. Similarly the
Supreme Brahm also has these 5 aspects, which are in the form of the 5 main Deities worshipped in the Hinduism. These 5 Deities are Lord
Surya Deva (the Sun God), Mother Goddess
Shiva and Lord
Vishnu (also in the form of Lord
These forms of the Supreme are the embodiments of respectively the
name, the form, the power, the knowledge and the love of God. One
Supreme Truth (
Parbrahm) is manifested in these 5 forms. This
means that these 5 forms are not indicating that there are 5 Gods, but
God is one with numerous forms and names.
According to these 5 manifestations there is an arrangement of
"panchdeva Upaasna" (arrangement of worshipping God in 5 different forms), in the Hinduism. The worship of each Deity is established in a
"sampradaay" (traditional doctrine). The doctrine for the worshipper of Lord
Ganesha is called the
Gaanpatya sampradaay, for
Surya Deva it is called the
for Mother Goddess
Durga it is the
"Shaakta sampradaay", for Lord
Shiva it is the
"Shaiva sampradaay" and for Lord
Vishnu it is the
Everybody is completely free and independent to choose whatever
sampradaay they like to follow. The ultimate goal of each
is the same, which is to realize that Supreme Truth and the Deities are
not separate Gods, but the projection of one Supreme God. So it is
totally ignorant to say that one
sampradaay is higher than the other or that the Deity in one
sampradaay is bigger/greater than in the other.
Now it is clear that God is in both manifested and unmanifested forms. According to this there are two types of devotees
"Nirguna Upaasak" (worshipper of the Unmanifest) and
"Sagun Upaasak" (worshipper of God possessed with forms and attributes). Amongst these the path of the
"Sagun Upaasak" is the most practical.
our birth we perceive everything in names and forms. It is very hard
for us to concentrate on the abstract. As human beings we are very much
centered in our body which makes it very difficult for us to meditate
upon the Unmanifest. The strain is much greater for the
"Nirguna Upaasak", [see
Gita 12-5]. For the
it is easier to attain atonement with the Unmanifest. When you meditate
upon God in a manifested form, it also includes the Unmanifest, because
manifested or unmanifested,
God is one.