With Diwali approaching soon, I thought I should address a major concern of today’s youth. Not air pollution, but the question “Who is Ram, bro?”
Have you ever wondered why Brahma doesn’t have worshippers but Shiva and Vishnu do? Or if Radha never married Krishna, why do we still associate her with Krishna and disregard his 16,108 wives? Or if Ravana is so evil, why is he still worshipped in Sri Lanka, Bali and parts of South India?
Ofcourse, we know that Aphrodite is the Goddess of love and beauty in Greek Mythology, but why are we so ignorant about Indian mythology?
It’s time to impress your parents. Let us first begin with the basics of Indian Mythology. Although there are said to be 33 million Gods and Goddess in Hinduism, some are more prominent than the others.
Brahma (the creator) and his wife Saraswati (Goddess of knowledge)
There are many stories around why Brahma is not worshipped. The most common one being that he created Satarpura, a beautiful woman, to aid him in creation of the universe. Infatuated by her beauty, he sprouted a head in every direction (including a fifth one facing north) looking for her. Enraged by Brahma’s behaviour, Shiva cut off his fifth head and cursed that nobody would worship him on Earth. Therefore, Brahma has very few temples and followers.
Saraswati, consort of Brahma, is worshipped as the goddess of learning, wisdom, speech, and music. Although it is also argued that she is the daughter of Brahma since she was born from his mouth. (You read that right!)
Vishnu (the protector) and his wife Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth)
Vishnu is known to take innumerable avatars whenever the world is in trouble. Ten of his incarnations (Dashavatara) are celebrated therein as his major appearances, including Rama in Ramayana, Krishna in Mahabharata and Buddha.
Lakshmi, who is worshipped during Diwali, is depicted with one or two elephants and occasionally with an owl. She is also the Goddess of fortune and prosperity.
Shiva (the destroyer) and his wife Parvati (Goddess of strength)
Shiva has a serpent around his neck, the holy river Ganga flowing through his matted hair and a third eye on his forehead. He is also worshipped in the aniconic form of Lingam.
Parvati is also the Goddess of love and fertility. She is the mother of Ganesha and Kartikeya whose vehicles are the mouse and the peacock respectively. (P.S. Each deity has his/her own animal as a vehicle, sometimes more than one animal)
I hope this article sparks your interest in Indian mythology, which is vast and interesting. There is nothing un-cool in knowing the stories that form the basis of our cultural rituals and beliefs.