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  ‼  Aum, Asato maa sadgamaya, Tamaso maa jyotirgamaya  ‼  
     

 

SYMBOLISM OF DEITIES AND EDUCATIONAL
VALUE OF HINDU SCRIPTURES

Since the beginning of Humanity man has believed in a certain power that governs the universe and he has felt a need to worship it. However, it was difficult for him to conceive of a God with no form or face. The wise old men understood this need of the common man. Maybe that was the reason why the deities were attributed to have four hands. That may have been intended to show that God has more powers and qualities than a normal human being.

Most of the deities are represented with the point­ing finger touching the thumb of form a circle leaving the rest of the three fingers aside. This is called the Gyan Mudra or the symbol of true knowledge.

The pointing finger represents the Ego; the thumb the True consciousness or the Atman and the other three fingers represent body, mind and intellect.

We all know that the hand is ineffective without the thumb; similarly the body is ineffective without the true spirit that resides in it. So. when leaving the body, mind and intellect aside, the ego surrenders to true consciousness; it becomes eternal as symbolised by the circle formed by the joining of pointing finger and thumb.

Lord Shiva has been called the Nataraja - The Lord of the Dance, Birth and death, formation and decay, change and movement occur all the time as it is the law of the universe. The above is symbolised in the dance of Siva.

Lord Ganesh is one of our earliest deities and as explained earlier is always worshipped before any other God, during any ceremonial prayer because he is considered to be the dispeller of obstacles.

Then why did the masses give an elephant head to one whom they wanted to worship as the Almighty? The legend claims that Lord Siva had cut his own son, Ganesha’s head in a fit of temper and when his wife Parvathi implored him to restore her son’s life, he promised to do so.

Lord Siva said that he would cut the head of the first living creature that passed by and use it to replace his son’s head, and that is what He did. However, it makes me wonder why Lord Siva said that He would cut the head of the first living creature that passed. The theory is far-fetched, but could Lord Siva have performed head transplant?

After all. Eric Van Daniken In his book Chariots of the Gods does claim that humanity was very advanced in early history and far-fetched theories like the above one should be taken literally. Also there are some ancient paintings, in which what seems like, transplants of internal organs!

The above is, as far as the literal story of Sri Ganesh, goes.

Let us come to the symbolic aspect.  Lord Ganesh has big ears denoting that God is able to hear everything. The long trunk of an elephant has the quality of being able to uproot a tree; and at the same time pick up a tiny needle from a haystack which is again a quality attributed to the Lord as we believe that in spite of his great power, the tiniest creature does not pass unnoticed by Him.  Lord Ganesh’s large belly denotes prosperity.

His carriage is a rat. How could an elephant sit on a rat? Seems absurd-but It is not so. The lord in spite of being the Lord of the Cosmos attends to our Earth which is but a speck of dust in the universe.

The Hindus worship the Goddess Lakshmi. She is considered the Goddess of wealth and is the consort of Lord Vishnu, the Preserver of mankind.

According to the scriptures and paintings that have come down from ancient times, if the Goddess Lakshmi travels alone she travels on an owl. If she travels with Lord Vishnu she travels on the Garuda (Eagle).

Swami Nirmal Chetan explains the symbolism thus. An owl is supposed to be blind during the day and a wealthy person without the right kind of intellect cannot see beyond his richness.

Therefore, whenever Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth, travels without Lord Vishnu she makes the person whom she visits metaphorically blind. However, when the Goddess Lakshmi travels with Lord Vishnu, she travels on a Garuda (Eagle) who is the symbol of wisdom.

In a lighter vein the word “Doulat” (wealth) is derived from the words do laat (two kicks)

When wealth comes to a person without right discrimination he gets one kick-this makes him blind, egoist and a bigot. When wealth decides to make its exit It gives the person another kick-that of blood pressure or heart attack!

Krishna is the most worshipped deity as well as the most controversial one. We Hindus believe that Krishna was a true yogi. He did everything in life, but with total detachment. In fact, in the Gita, He states that there is nothing to be renounced in this world, but attachment to the senses and desires. Yet it seems He lived His life to a point of absurdity, marrying 16,108 women, stealing but­ter while he was a child and bothering and teasing the gopis (ladies) in the village.

However through His pranks, one message comes out clear-Love. His profound Intellect is proven later in the philosophy that He expounds to Arjuna on the battlefield, which Is known as the Bhagavad Gita.

In the Srimad Bhagavat. Krishna freed 16100 women who were Jarasandha’s prisoners. Jarasandha was planning to sacrifice them arid Krishna gave them refuge. During those days women would consider it below, their dignity to live under the protection of a man unless they were married to him. Maybe that is the reason why Lard Krishna had to make them His wives.

Let us not forget that morality differs with time. What may have been perfectly ethical during those days may not be so today: but we have to live according to the rules prevailing during the age that we live in.

The symbolic aspect is that Krishna’s main wives were actually his two hands, two legs, two ears and two eyes. The rest of the 16,100 wives were the veins in His body. This means that just like a wife is supposed to be under the husband’s care and protection so was Sri Krishna the Lord of His sense organs to the extent of even being in control of the blood that flowed within His veins.

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