Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Male Gods or female Goddesses -- Who is more powerful?

Is someone more powerful than God- 2

By Neeraj Mahajan

Hinduism is possibly the only religion in the world where God is worshipped in the male as well as female form. Ganesha, Krishna, Rama, Hanuman are among the most popular male Gods while Lakshmi, Durga, Kali and Saraswati top the popularity chart among goddesses worshipped by the Hindus all over the world.

Worship of the male and female sexual organs is an important ritual in Hinduism. The phallus (Linga) is worshipped as Shiv Linga – which symbolizes Lord Shiva, similarly the vulva (Yoni) is worshipped as symbol of Mother Godess Shakti or prakriti. In Hindu Mythology Shiva is the extreme male power of the universe. Sati the extreme female power of the universe too has manifested from him.

Another interesting aspect of male and female co-existence in Hinduism is the concept of  Ardhanarishvara or fusion of Purusha and Prakriti symbolizing that each is incomplete without the other.

At the root of the concept of Ardhnarishvara is the story of Sage Bhringi – a worshipper of Lord   Shiva who kept ignoring his wife Parvati in his prayers. While praying the sage tried to go around Shiva without circling Parvati. So Parvati sat on Shiva’s thigh so that Bhringi had to encircle her too. But Sage Bhringi was adamant and took the form of a bee and tried to circle Shiva through the small gap between Shiva and Parvati. Infuriated by Sage Bhringis attempts Parvati fused her body limb to limb with Shiva. Thus Sage Bhringi had to worship her as well as Shiva in the form of Ardhanarishvara.

This is the essence behind the concept of Ardhnarishvara is to indicate the interdependence between Man and Woman. While a Man symbolizes manhood, strength, discrimination, righteousness, intellect and decision making skills, a Woman possesses sensitivity, emotions, compassion and passion which complement each other. Only a woman like Nature has the power to give birth and sustain life.  They are both incomplete without the other.

Curiously the Aryans used to worship the basic elements of nature like fire, water, earth, sky. Each had a presiding deity like Indra (rain), Agni (fire), Pavan (air) and Varuna. These Devas were simply helpers of the Supreme Being. They were spiritual beings often represented in human or partial human forms. But still the basic distinction between Devas and Gods was that though they were also worshipped –the  Devas or angels were not of the same status as god.

The most prominent of them are appointed "loka palas", or guardians of the world and given the authority to preside over a particular aspect. For instance Indra, the King of the Devas has control over rain, Kubera is the god of wealth while Yama is the lord of death, Shani dev if the Lord of Justice. Kamadeva – the Lord of Love, tried to play match maker and fired a magical arrow to make Siva fall in love with Parvati that is why he is also called Ananga or bodyless, because, Shiva’s angry glance reduced him to ashes.

According to a Bani in Guru Granth Sahib, “God is the creator of all. “He created air, water, fire, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva (Guru Granth Sahib, 504).

Among the Tridev or Trimurti-- Shiva and Vishnu are regarded as Mahādevas ("great gods") and worshipped most while Brahma the creator is not regarded as a God in Hinduism.

(To be completed)

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