Monday, May 2, 2011

Vedic Deities - Part V


Part Five
Kumara - Kumara is a name of Skanda or Kartikeya, the god of war.Skanda is also the god of the planet Mars. According to the Mahabharata and Ramayana he is said to be the second son of Shiva. There is an interesting story about his birth. He has not been conceived in a female womb. Lord Shiva once caused his seed to fall into the fire and it was received by the Ganges. Kartikeya, was thus born. This strange birth gave him the synonyms of Agnibhu and Ganga-ja. He was nurtured by the Pleaides and hence he has six heads and the name of Kartikeya. Agni is at times referred to as his father, Ganga and Parvati, as his mother. He was born for destroying Taraka. He is a bestower of knowledge and power. He is also known as Subramanium and represents a person of perfection. He  has  six  faces,  and  in  one  hand  he  carries a spear called Shakti, which symbolizes the destruction of the negative traits in human beings. With his other hand, he always blesses devotees. Holding a bow in one hand and an arrow in the other, he rides a peacock  called Paravani.Parvani is capable of destroying harmful serpents, symbolizing the ego and menial tendencies of people. He is the most masculine and spirited of the Hindu gods. His wife is Kaumari or Sena. Kumara also refers to the mind born sons of Brahma, who not wanting to have any descendants, remained youthful, pure and innocent. There were four of them   Sanat- Kumara, Sananda, Sanaka and Sanatana, a fifth, Ribhu is sometimes added.
Lakshmi - Lakshmi as the goddess of wealth, prosperity, good harvests, and love is one of the most popular goddesses. As Sri, she is the quintessence of female beauty. She rose to the surface of the sea of milk during the great churning, carrying a pot of nectar. Since then she has been Vishnu's constant companion, and the female consort in his reincarnated forms as Padma,  Kamala, Dharani, Sita, Rukmini. Her son is Kama, the god of Love. She is depicted as a beautiful woman, golden in hue and adorned with gold ornaments. Her beauty attracts everyone towards her. With lotus like eyes, a swan like neck, a beautiful form, she is always youthful. Calm and docile, she is a compassionate and kind-hearted goddess. She has four arms and holds a pot of nectar, a conch shell, a lotus and the Sriphala or the fruit of fortune. Though associated with money and riches, she also signifies love and grace. She favors a clean environment. The red lotus she sits on signifies grace, love and peace and is symbolic of the importance of pure living without which prosperity is dangerous. She does not reside long with anyone who desires her only as wealth. Her vehicle is the owl. Her supreme form is Mahalakshmi. She is Rajyalakshmi when  she  resides  in  the  king's palace, at home  she  is  Griha-lakshmi, at war she is the flighty Jayalakshmi, as the symbol of fame she is Yasholakshmi and as Bhagyalakshmi, she brings good fortune.
Lalita - Lalita means the goddess of bliss. Worship of Lalita helps spiritual growth and material prosperity. She symbolizes love, compassion, forbearance and courage. In Vedic Mythology, the Divine Mother has been called Devi, Kali and Lalita. She is the all-giving mother whose love for all is supreme. She bestows grace and known for her benevolent nature. She desires that human beings should realize their true self and unite with her.
Maheshwara - Maheshwara is a synonym for Shiva. In the Upanishads, he is referred to as the only Rudra, the divine, the Maheshwara and the Mahadeva. Shiva is the third of the Hindu triad of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. He is a benefic deity. According to some legends, he emerged from the frown of Vishnu, wielding a trident in order to protect   Brahma from the demons. Thus, Shiva manifested himself as the destroyer and that is the attribute always attached to him. Since all matter must decay, Shiva was not only the destroyer, but assumed the form of a recreator, manifesting all forms of creation again. Death is thus a transforming channel leading to a new life. He is also considered Rudra, the Vedic god of storms, winds and death. He is the personification of the unrestrained power causing disaster and disarray. Shiva was a wanderer, meditating in the cold heights of the Himalayas and at times descending on earth. However, his apparent ascetism does not in any way delegate him to a lower level of gods. His meditative prowess is immense, resulting in physical strength and empowering him with miraculous powers as a fertility god. Shiva is worshipped in the form of a linga and yoni, both organs of pleasure and procreation. This symbolizes the link between the worlds, where life manifests itself and where the spirit becomes incarnate.  Shiva's vehicle is Nandi the bull, who epitomizes the pervasion of intuition over the rational mind. Though Shiva is Rudra, the fearsome, there is a compassionate side to him also. He is gracious enough to acknowledge his impulsive acts. He is benevolent and freely bestows boons. He is the lord of sleep and so a remover of pain, since sleep dilutes pain. He is usually depicted sitting in meditation, his locks matted on top of his head with a crescent moon decorating it. His famous third eye adorns the center of his forehead, a serpent is coiled around his neck and his weapon is a trident. He is a fair man, his body covered with ashes and the perfect image of a sage in pensive concentration. His eyes represent the sun, the moon and fire and his vision transcends time. The third inward looking eye can destroy everything when it is turned outwards. Each Yuga or period ends when Shiva opens his third eye. This same eye also saves the world when required.  His ornaments are snakes and skulls. The snakes stand for death and skull for the passing of time. His trident or Trishul represents the Satwa, Rajas and Tamas aspects of nature, symbolizing his role as Creator, Preserver and Destroyer. It emits lightning as Shiva; the god of storms punishes wrong doers with his zeal for righteousness. His bow Pinaka made of a serpent with seven heads helps the gods in time of need. His tiger skin robe gives him the image of power and his drum makes him Nataraja, the god of dance. He dances out of sheer joy in anger or sorrow. This is called his Tandava dance. His a few other names are Shambhu, Neelakantha (blue throated, because he consumed the poison which came out during the  great  ocean  churning), Yogesh (Lord of Yoga), Shava (lord of death), Pashupati(lord of cattle), Shankara (beneficent one), Ardhanarishwara  (lord who is half woman), Chandrashekhara (God  with the moon in his hair), Mahakala (great black one).

Part Six will follow
Om Nama Shivaya