Religiosity and Divinity in Hinduism Essay

Pages: 5 (1590 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Theology

¶ … Functions of Four Hindu Divinities

Characteristics and Functions of Four Hindu Divinities: Varuna, Shiva, Ganesha, and Krishna

History and Origin

Hinduism is a term that applies to some religious and traditional practices common to the native Indian people. There is no specific moment that Hinduism is thought to have originated (Gerner 45). Moreover, research shows that there is no specific founder of Hinduism because its tradition replicates itself through generations, is timeless, and has always existed. Hinduism teachings are founded on a collection of sacred texts called 'Sanatana Dharma,' meaning the Eternal Teaching. Hinduism is a complex tradition that is diverse and with interrelated doctrines of religion and practices with similar characteristics but with less unity in its practical and believed manifestations. These manifestations vary from those of intense philosophical realms about varied and mystifying metaphysical realizations, varied rituals, physical and mental exercises like Yoga, to other simple and child-like genres in the form of legends, tales, and so forth (Wilkins 3-7).

Hindu tradition is counted to have come from the prehistoric times. Its foundations are found in the teachings of the unknown 'rishis' which were transformed to oral descriptions. Less is known beyond the 'vedas' description of Hinduism. 'Vedas' is a collection of ritual texts and hymns with compositions from different periods. The earliest period of reference is approximately 5500 BCE.

Demographics

Hinduism is the world number three religion regarding its vastness, coming after Christianity at position one and Islam at position two. It has over one billion adherents. Moreover, more than 90% of this population is in India. Up to 2006, Nepal was the only Hindu kingdom in the world, before being overtaken by democratization into secular leadership. Globally, the number of Hindu in the world is expected to rise to 1.4 billion by 2050, up from the current one billion as of 2010 (Flood 34-67).

Polytheist nature of Hinduism

Hinduism is often understood ad being polytheistic. It is known to recognize more than 330 million gods in the world. Nonetheless, it has one supreme god called Brahma. Brahma inhabits all the portions of reality and survival throughout the world. Hindus believe that Brahma is unknowable and impersonal. He exists in three other different forms as Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Shiva the Destroyer (Dilmaghani 38). There are different elements of Hinduism thought in different schools and thus made it hard to summarize Hinduism. For instance, Hinduism is through to be monistic, pantheistic, theistic, and panentheistic. All these vary depending on different schools of thought.

How Gods Are Worshiped and their Influence on One's Life

Hindu worshipers have their belief and worship grounded in the teachings of 'samsara' which means 'the cycle of rebirth,' and Karma meaning 'the law that covers cause and effect.' These two hold that the actions of the believer or worshiper, including the thoughts, have a direct reaction from the influence of the Hindu teachings. The individual current and future life is determined by the God. They also believe that the cosmos is inhabited by numerous deities and other beings in spirit like goddesses and gods or devas. These beings influence the world and interact with human beings. Hindu worshipers thus worship these beings as they influence their lives, now and into the future (Wilkins 6).

The Four Gods

Varuna

Varuna is the Hindu god of water together with the celestial ocean. He is also the god of the law of everything beneath the water. His mouth is called 'Makara', and his husband is the goddess Varuna. Initially, Varuna, who was the chief god of Vedic Pantheon, was taken over by Indra, and finally disappeared with the rising of Vishnu and Shiva. In his presence, Varuna was the highest god of the cosmos, the protector of the divine order, the spreader of rain, and the implementer of contracts. He is referred as omnipotent and omnipresent. He makes the sun move in the skies so that day and night appear and the earth sustains its form. He sees the movement of every bird, he goes and is present at every human gathering, and he knows all. He uses his force called 'rta' to keep the cosmic order. He has a close relationship with Mirta. He is among the Adityas and hence taken as an asura. He is viewed as a white man wearing golden armor while riding on a Makara (which is a monster from the sea). Moreover, he is viewed holding a lasso or a noose made from a snake. He is worshiped with intense fear and veneration. He punishes mortals who did not stick to their word. He was regarded as the 'cosmic hangman' and a lord of the dead. They are important because they cause the presence of water.

Shiva

He is the god of Yogis, the celibate, and the self-controlled. He is also a lover of the spouse (Shakti). He is endowed with the power to destroy the world. He is after Brahma, who is the creator, and Vishnu, who is the presenter (Narayanan 34). He takes responsibility and causes the change in forms of death together with destruction, and with the inherent positive sense to destroy the ego and wrong identification with the form. He handles shedding off grown habits and every other attachment. His power of destruction purifies individuals on personal levels when they view problems as to bring clarity and act as in the universal level.

Shiva exists in four forms visible in his Panchavaktra form, having five heads, which is a combination of all the energies of Shiva. These forms are agora, which represents residents in the cremation places, Ishana appearing as Shiva lingam, Tat Purusha representing the meditation, Varma Deva, who is the eternal Shiva, and Saddyojat, which is the older wrathful form. Shiva has attributes like living on Mount Kailasa existing in the Himalayas, seating on a tiger skin, having a vehicle in the form of a white bull called Nandi meaning the joyful, and being a snake that does not die. With the destruction of the world in the realm and power of Shiva, Shaivites, who are the worshipers, get comfort when they worship this god, and the world gets no destruction (Narayanan 2-6).

Ganesha

Ganesha is the Hindu lord of success. He is the son of Shiva together with Parvati. He has an 'elephantine countenance' having a curved trunk and massive ears. He also has a huge belly that appears like a pot. He resembles the body of a human being. He is the elephant deity who is riding a mouse. Apart from being the lord of success, he is also the main destroyer of the evil and any obstacles. People worship Ganesha as the god of knowledge, education, wisdom, wealth, among others. He is one of the top five Hindu deities in Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu and Durga. The idolatry of these five deities is worshiped and glorified being the 'Panchayatana puja.'

The head of Ganesha is a symbol of the Atman or soul, the ultimate reality of human existence, and Maya, the human body existence on earth. The head of the elephant denotes wisdom; the trunk represents Om, which is the symbol of the reality of the cosmos. He works to destroy pride and vanity in human beings. Worshippers worship him to be protected from such destruction. He also destroys selfishness and pride. With no respect to their sectarian belief, all Hindus have to worship Ganesha. Moreover, Hindus believe that Ganesha is the beginner of the religion and the essential meeting ground of all Hindus.

Krishna

Krishna is perceived as the number eight incarnation of the Lord of Vishnu. He was born in Dvarpara Yuga and named the 'dark one.' He is the demonstration of love and ultimate divine joy that gets rid of all pain and sin.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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