Friday, March 14, 2008

The 3,003, 303 and 33 gods of Hinduism!

In an earlier post,

The many Gods of Hinduism and pithrus as Gods.

we saw how the many gods of Hinduism came into being.

If one fails to go through from the root of Brahman,

the multiplicity of Gods in this system would hold no meaning.




As such, texts speak of 3,003, 303 and 33 gods.

Sage Yajnavalkya tells about these gods are in his reply to Vidhagdha.




The 3,003 and 303 gods in effect

are manifestations of 33 basal level forces of nature

which have been assigned specific names in consonance

with the functions they carry out.


The 33 gods consist of none other than

the vasu, rudra and adhitya, besides 2 other entities.




There are 8 Vasus, 11 Rudras and 12 Adithyas.

They make 31 gods.

In addition to them Indra and Brahman complete the list of 33 gods.

Other 303 and 3,003 gods are all manifestations of these gods.




This is espoused in Brihadharanyaka Upanishad

In a dialogue between sage Yajnavalkya and Vidaghdha (1)




Of these 33 gods,

the Vasus are stated as gods that shine.

Agni is their form

And red is their colour. (2)


(All the functions in this universe can be grouped into seven colours, as contained in the sun’s ray. Each colour denotes a specific energy impulse that influences human behavior in a specific sphere of action. These are depicted variously, as 7 planets, 7 swaras, seven faculties (5 + soul + supreme Brahma) etc.

The forces of Nature responsible for these 7 vital functions are known as gods.

Detailed narration on these issues will be taken up later.)




The rudras are the gods that wail.

They are 11 in number.

They include the 5 faculties of sense

(sight, sound,smell, taste and touch)

and 5 faculties of action

(expression represented by the spoken voice,

acquisition represented by the person’s grasping hand,

locomotion represented by the person’s walking feet,

expulsion represented by the discharge of bodily waste

and regeneration represented by the birth and bringing up of children.

In addition to these 10 faculties of sense and action,

The 11th god is the inner faculty of Mind.


They are represented by the white colour. (3)




The 12 Adhityas are the gods that take away.

They represent the 12 months of the year.

They represent the passing away of time.

As time passes, it takes all things away.

They represent black colour. (4)




Thus the 8+11+12= 31 gods represent

life on this earth in 3 planes of existence called,

bhu, bhuvah and svah.,

the world we live (physical)

the subtle world enveloping us (anthariksham or vital level)

and the intangible mental level representing heavens.




The Lord of all these 31 is the 32nd God,

The god represented by thunder-bolt.




He is none other than Indra

(the significance in the post The many Gods of Hinduism and pithrus as Gods.” )

Indra represents the basic energy or electric impulses of this universe

which is crucial for its formation and sustenance.




The 33 rd God is the Supreme One from whom

all these

physical, subtle and mental manifestations sprang.

He is Brahman.


He is the One and only God who manifested Himself

into simplest forms

for life to grow and sustain.


Thus the entire system of Gods is about life on this earth

and how to facilitate for its sustenance.




Einstein rightly remarked once that this is a friendly Universe.

This is a vedanthic notion only.


Every aspect of Brahman and every motion of it to become ‘brh’ (grow big)

is aimed at making life possible,

making life proceed in spite of all odds.

But living has its limitations!


What is alive today can not be alive for ever.

In the plane of not being alive in the physical sense,

this universe is again friendly –

by means of 3 gods

known as

Mithra, Varuna and Aryama!




Of these Aryama is a pithru,

representative of the 3 –some vasu, rudrs and adithya.

Aryama means ‘bosom friend’


He is always in the company of Mithra and Varuna in the Vedic hymns.

Mithra also means friend


And Varuna, God of waters never leaves these 2.




“Aryama, mithra and Varuna, gods of the same race,

do not embrace vile death-bringing sin and they utterly dispense our foes”


They always travel along with Bhaga, the sun.

“Agni.. we adore that of thine,

by which Varuna, Mithra and Aryama,

the naasatyas and Bhaga shine “ (Rig VI-i-III-7)




They are instrumental in converting the water oblations into respective

Sa-pinda constituents of pithrus!




It is done by means of tarpaN or tarpaNam.


Generally any offering or ‘arpaN’ is supreme.


When we offer something to God in the course of our regular puja, we just say, ‘samarpayaami’- I am offering to you.


But when the offering is made to someone who is not present in front of us or who is not directly receiving the offer from us, it is tarpaNam

– offered to someone in 3rd person.


TarpaNam means ‘tasmai arpaNam’ – offerings to ‘him’

(or someone else who is not there.)

(This is used in neuter gender also)




It also means satisfying others.


The word tarpaN is formed from the root, ‘trup’ which means satisfying others.


When wound one get satisfied?

When one is in need of something.


If we offer what they need, they will be satisfied.


What do they need?

They need water.


They are said to be thirsty, needing to be replenished

(which we discussed in earlier posts).


The replenishment happens by means of water

which is the best universal transporter and communicator

(which also we have explained)


And the medium that converts this water,

consists of

three friends of nature and friends of man

Mithra, Varuna and Aryama –

who travel along with path of Bhaga, the sun.

When they reach the height of heavens,

that is, at mid-day, they can grab the oblations to the fullest

and pay back them

- to the respective constituent particles of sa-pinda.




Mid-day oblations is the best time for tarpaN.



TarpaN is such an integral part of Sanatana dharma

that even in everyday life, when one offers water to the thirsty,

one has to say, “tarpaN” (“let this reach them”)

And the receiver who takes the water must say, “su-tarpaN’

(‘let this be su-tarpaNam – good tarpaNam’.) (5)




What a wonderful way of talking, offering, thinking and doing

that have been bequeathed to us!!

So that may we all preserve and transfer this knowledge to posterity.


What a wonderful way of mutual dependence

that this dharma has given to us!!

So that may we all render our squirrel’s contribution in this Grand design of the Lord starting from Brahma deva onwards.


What a wonderful way of living that has been taught to us,

so that we don’t sin, but always pay back

whatever we have received from others,

-so that we can be debt-free!!

(this is what tarpaNAm is all about ).

So that may we all shed all our karmas and

become eligible to be embraced by Brahman.



The Peace Chant



Om. May the different limbs of my body, my tongue, prana, eyes, ears and my strength

and also all the other sense—organs be nourished!

All, indeed, is Brahman, as is declared in the Upanishads.

May I never deny Brahman! May Brahman never deny me!

May there never be denial on my part!

May all the virtues described in the Upanishads

belong to me,

who am devoted to Atman!

Yea, may they all belong to me!


Om. Peace! Peace! Peace!






Reference:




(1) Brihadharanyaka Upanishad - Chapter IX—Yajnavalkya and Vidaghdha

1

Then Vidaghdha, the son of Sakala, asked him:

"How many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?"

Yajnavalkya ascertained the number through the group of mantras known as the Nivid and said:

"As many as are mentioned in the Nivid of the Visve—devas—

three hundred and three and three

thousand and three."

"Very good," said Sakalya (the son of Sakala) and asked again:

"How many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?"

"Thirty—three."

"Very good," said Sakalya and asked again:

"How many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?"

"Six."

"Very good," said Sakalya and asked again:

"How many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?"

"Three."

"Very good," said Sakalya and asked again:

"How many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?"

"Two."

"Very good," said Sakalya and asked again:

"How many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?"

"One and a half."

"Very good," said Sakalya and asked again:

"How many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?"

"One."

"Very good," said Sakalya and asked:

"Which are those three hundred and three and those three thousand and three?"

2

Yajnavalkya said:

"There are only thirty—three gods. These others are but manifestations of them."

"Which are these thirty—three?"

"The eight Vasus, the eleven Rudras and the twelve Adityas—these are thirty—one.

And Indra and

Prajapati make up the thirty—three."

3

"Which are the Vasus?" asked Sakalya.

"Fire, the earth, the air, the sky, the sun, heaven, the moon and the stars—

these are the Vasus;

for in them all this universe is placed (vasavah).

Therefore they are called Vasus.

4

"Which are the Rudras?" asked Sakalya.

"The ten organs in the human body, with the mind as the eleventh.

When they depart from this mortal body,

they make one's relatives weep.

Because they make them weep (rud), therefore they

are called Rudras.

5

"Which are the Adityas?" asked Sakalya.

"There are twelve months in the year.

These are the Adityas,

because they move along carrying (adadanah) all this with them;

therefore they are called Adityas."

6

"Which is Indra and which is Prajapati?" asked Sakalya.

"The thunderclap is Indra and the sacrifice is Prajapati."

"Which is the thunderclap?"

"The thunderbolt."

"Which is the sacrifice?"

"The animals."

7

"Which are the six gods?" asked Sakalya.

"Fire, the earth, the air, the sky, the sun and heaven; for these six comprise all those."

8

"Which are the three gods?" asked Sakalya.

"These three worlds, because all those gods are comprised in these three."

"Which are the two gods?"

"Matter and the vital breath (prana)."

"Which are the one and a half?"

"This air that blows."

9

Yajnavalkya said:

"Concerning this some say: 'Since the air blows as one substance,

how can it be

one and a half (adhyardha)?'

The answer is: It is one and a half because

by its presence everything

attains surpassing glory (adhyardhnot)."

"Which is the one God?"

"The vital breath (Hiranyagarbha);

it is Brahman which is called That (Tyat)."




(2) Chapter VI — Meditation on the Vasus

1

On the first of these nectars the Vasus live, with Agni (fire) at their head. Truly, the gods do not eat or drink. They are satisfied by merely looking at the nectar.

2

They retire into that red colour and rise up from that colour.

3

He who thus knows this nectar becomes one of the Vasus, with Agni (fire) at their head; he is satisfied by merely looking at the nectar. He retires into that red colour and again rises up from that colour.

4

As long as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, so long does he, like the Vasus, enjoy rulership and sovereignty.




(3) Chapter VII — Meditation on the Rudras

1

On the second of these nectars the Rudras live, with Indra at their head. Truly, the gods do not eat or drink. They are satisfied by merely looking at the nectar.

2

They retire into that white colour and rise up from that colour.

3

He who thus knows this nectar becomes one of the Rudras, with Indra at their head; he is satisfied by merely looking at the nectar. He retires into that white colour and again rises up from that colour.

4

As long as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, twice as long does it rise in the south and set in the north and just so long does he, like the Rudras, enjoy rulership and sovereignty


(4) Chapter VIII — Meditation on the Adityas

1

On the third of these nectars the Adityas live, with Varuna at their head. Truly, the gods do not eat or drink. They are satisfied by merely looking at the nectar.

2

They retire into that dark colour and rise up from that colour.

3

He who thus knows this nectar becomes one of the Adityas, with Varuna at their head; he is satisfied by merely looking at the nectar. He returns into that dark colour and again rises up from that colour.

4

As long as the sun rises in the south and sets in the north, twice as long does it rise in the west and set in the east and just so long does he, like the Adityas, enjoy rulership and sovereignty.


(5)

A list of certain good habits including the one on saying ‘tarpaN’ when giving water to someone is found in Shanti parva, MB chapter 191)

They are given here.

When some sneezes, we have to invoke the power of our speech

to guarantee that the person’s life is not lessened by the disturbance

to his prana (in inhalation and exhalation).

When one sneezes we have to bless them to live long.

We have to say ‘Dheergaayushmaan bhava’. (may you live long)

When the person sneezes again,

we have to make our vow strong by blessing him

sadhaayushmaan bhava’. (may you live for 100 years)

There are other times too

when we must express our good wishes to others to live long.



Bheeshma lists those occasions as

(1) when one sees another taking bath

(because by bathing, it means a day in his life is gone

and another day has arrived.)

(2) when one sees a person in ill-health.

(3) when one sees a person shaving

( There are old timers who say that they are going for ‘aayush-karma’ while going to have a hair-cut)

During all these instances, one must say “aayushyam”. (let there be long life)




Likewise when one offers food to someone,

he must say “sampannam” (‘wealth’ )

- may this food give him the wealth of aayush.

(because food nurtures prana)

The receiver of the food must in turn say, ‘su-sampannam’ –

(good wealth) –as a mark of acceptance

and also to bless the giver that he too gets better wealth of longevity

(by this offer of food)

(because he is not robbing the Nature by not having the food for only himself but is giving it to someone else– this is yajna which was discussed in an earlier post).




And what one must say when one offers water to some one

is ‘tarpaNam’!! (let this reach them)

The receiver of water must return the wish ‘su-tarpaNam’.(let this reach them in the best way)









2 comments:

ஆகமக்கடல் said...

நமஸ்காரம்,
மிக அர்புதமான விஷயங்களை பகிர்ந்துள்ளீர்கள்.ஆனால் எனக்கு ஆங்கிலம் தெரியாததால் என்னால் க்ரஹித்துக்கொள்ள இயலவில்லை.எனவே இதை தமிழில் மொழி மாற்றம் செய்து வழங்கமுடியுமா?BY வெங்கடேச சிவம், gvsivam@gmail.com

jayasree said...

நமஸ்காரம். தங்கள் கருத்துக்கு நன்றி. நேரமின்மை காரணமாக மொழி பெயர்ப்பு செய்யமுடியவில்லை. மன்னிக்கவும். எனினும், இந்தக் கட்டுரை பிருஹதாரண்யக உபநிஷத்தின் அடிப்படையில் எழுதப்ப்பட்டுள்ளாதால், அந்த உபநிஷத்து மொழி பெயர்ப்பையும், உரையையும் படிக்குமாறு கேட்டுக் கொள்கிறேன்.

தற்சமயம் ’தமிழன் திராவிடனா’ தொடரில் கவனம் செலுத்தவே, அது முடிந்ததும், நீங்கள் கேட்கும் இந்தக் கட்டுரைகளைத் தமிழில் எழுதுகிறேன்.