Sanatan Dharma

Advantage of having Multiple Gods

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Part II - Sanatan Dharma, Chapter 6/11 - Advantage of having Multiple Gods

This is Part II - Sanatan Dharma, Chapter 6/ 11

Table of Contents

14. Advantage of having Multiple Gods

As we have seen earlier, there are various reasons why many Gods exists in Hinduism. In sanAtana dharma, there is deep study of the workings and nature of mind and on subtle bodies. Mind is very important to study as we all live by our mind. Spirituality is direct dealing with mind. It is said that mind is the reason for bondage (bandhan) and mind alone is the cause of liberation (mukti). Both bandhan and mukti are within mind. Happiness and sorrow are both states of mind. Sanyāsa is a state of mind and not a way of living. Whatever form we want to see is visualized or imagined by mind alone. Different forms of Gods, their expressions and body language seen in idols and statues depend upon the mindset of artist. No one has actually seen either Visṇu or Śiva.

Mind does not remain steady in one state. It keeps changing it’s mood. Form and character of Rāma may suit one person, while form of Kṛsṇa another, form of Śiva or shakti (Śakti) to another. In some cases it happens that due to changing nature of mind, mind may get saturated with repetitive tasks and reading same stories again and again and focusing on one way of living, worshiping one form of God. S/he can shift his/her attention to another God, say from Kṛṣṇa to Śiva. Both have different characteristics and different ways of worships. Śiva has very different character than Rāma or Kṛsṇa. Mind might just get change that it needed. Compassion, guilelessness, peaceful nature, accepting all be it downtrodden, demons or even ghosts as devotees shows Śiva’s big heart. One can now cultivate these qualities by worshipping Śiva. S/he has already acquired certain qualities by worshipping Kṛṣṇa like surrender, faith in God, devotion and longing for God. Longing for the unconditional Love (of spiritual nature) is well connected with Kṛṣṇa. Longing for God is very important state of mind.

A man should practice spiritual discipline and pray to God with a longing heart for love at his lotus feet. - Sri Ramakrishna

Longing is like a rosy dawn.after the dawn, out comes Sun. Longing is followed by the vision of God. - Sri Ramakrishna

Longing is the means of Realising Ātman. - Kathā Upanishad

Rāma stands for obedience, and ideal king, son, brother, husband, disciple and guru. But is most important quality is awareness. Rāma is never shown without his bow and arrow. They represent alertness. Rāma represents ‘wakefulness’. You must always remain alert that no negative thought ever influence you.

We will discuss meanings of names in details in a later article, ‘Detailed description of meaning of names of Popular Gods

After understanding few popular names, let us continue to understand the benefits of contemplating on personal God.

When contemplating or gazing or chanting mantra whatever is our intention we get. Suppose we listen to stuti of Bhagavān Rāma which eulogize his quality of ‘obedience’ and then we chant his name, our mind will be long for the quality of obedience since it is impressed by this quality. As and when we listen to stuti-s glorifying one or other quality, our mind will tend to remember it. They get itched in our heart and mind. Now when we chant his name, these qualities will gradually begin to manifest in us. Rāma, who is already residing in our heart will make these qualities manifest within us.

We will now discuss importance of multiple Gods with respect of vibrations and energy centers.

Depending upon mindset and depending upon the basic predominant qualities, mind is attracted to a greater extend towards one form of God than another. Based on vibrations of subtle body (prāṇamaya kosha, energy body), one bīja mantra suits or is more effective than other mantra. This true where more than one mantra is attributed to one form of God. For example, ‘Śrī Rāma Jai Rāma Jai Jai Rāma’, ‘Śrī Rāma rāmāya namaḥ’ and ‘Śrī Rāmachandrāya namaḥ’ all have different effects. (the real name of maryādā puruṣottama Prabhu Śrī Rāma is Śrī Rāmachandra’. ‘Rāma is the birth name of ‘Bhagavān Paraśurāma’ and ‘Bhagavān Balarāma’. ‘Śrī Kṛṣṇa śaraṇam namaḥ’ and ‘OM namo bhagavate Vāsudevāya’ also have different effects on mind and subtle bodies as they generate different unique vibrations.

In this sense, different forms of Gods, their bīja mantra-s (beej mantra-s), their divine character, their divine life and incidents related to them, predominant qualities exhibited by them each have unique effect on our mind and hence on our personality. Hence in ancient days, children were imparted moral and ethical values by mothers singing stories from purāṇa-s glorifying different Gods. Divine qualities like valour, strength, respecting others views, respecting elders, respecting wisdom of even enemies, importance of adhering to truth, etc are cultivated in hearts of innocent kids, which will form a solid foundation of their character and the way they think.

Alas this tradition is fading away as morally and ethics have taken a backseat in our life, since we are busy blindly emulating the west even at the cost of degrading our morality and ethics. Whatever is good has to be adopted, but why become so much materialistic so as to become uncaring for others or for society by neglecting moral and ethical values. Everyone is busy focusing on IQ (Intelligence Quotient), but not many seem to be focusing on EQ (Emotional Quotient), which is very important to bind family and society. Mind is derived from nurturing to the fullest. Our Inner voice, our conscience should not be let to die out of starvation. It should not be neglected. We must trust our inner voice and act accordingly. We must keep feeding it by giving it importance in our life and let it remain alive and vibrant. It is there to help us and not to harm us or to make us superstitious. Let's return back to the topic.

It is said that each one of us is born with some pre-dominant qualities and that we have some pre-determined destiny that we must pass through. Here the question arises that if we are born with a particular nature, what is the need to cultivate qualities. The answer is, what we perceive depends upon how we think and how we interpret any situation. It is not said that new saṃskāra-s cannot be embedded in our hearts. Qualities are like fire. It can be used for both constructive and destructive purpose. Fire can cook food and hence gives us life. Fire is life saver, yet fire can burn us. Suppose a child is born with violent tendency. We can impart qualities like adhering to truth, justice and fighting for the oppressed. Such a child is expected to pick up arms. But picking up arms is not in itself a destructive act. One can either become an underworld Don or an encounter specialist. There is violence in both of them, but one’s violence is triggered by destructive intention, while that of other, violence is triggered as a result of revolt against injustice and necessity to punish the wicked. Intention or motive behind action is important than action itself. Saṁskāra-s give direction to our qualities (guṇa-s). Our saṁskāra-s make us what we are.

Simple explanation of certain concepts in purāṇa-s can be easily explained to kids. Later on deeper meaning, alternate meanings are explained as they mature spirituality. Multiple Gods helps us cultivate emotions, ethical, moral values and spiritual values. They shape they way we think. Wide variety of stories having same moral of the story help us embed certain qualities without making them boring. They our identity. They shape our future. These so-called mythological stories are what makes ‘us’.

Due to the above reasons, though each one of us has one Īshṭa devatā or one family deity, we are not forbidden to worship or eulogize other forms of Gods until one reaches sufficient inner purity. After certain qualities are sufficiently developed in an individual, one’s mind becomes stable. Now one can focus only on one God who is his/her Īsṭa devatā or chosen deity that is suitable to his/her psychic.

For beginners who have wavering mind, worshipping multiple Gods helps one keep boredom away and keeps the weak and restless mind connected to spirituality.

In addition to shaping our mind, multiple Gods opens doors of artists, giving them many ways to express their arts, be it sculptures or paintings or be it composing dance, songs, poems, novels and other literature not of spiritual nature. Qualities express themselves through the works of artists and in this process they blossom more and more in the heart of an artist as artist constantly thinks of God and his qualities throughout composition of his work or his art. Due to above stated reasons, we have a rich and diverse culture not found anywhere in the world. We have freedom to express our views in multiple ways.

Though there is cultural diversity, we are united by our common source of knowledge - our shāstra-s.

Diversity is our strength. It allows us to express ourselves in different ways. Mind itched with divine qualities via stories of great characters in our shāstra-s, expresses the beauty of these qualities in the form of various works of social nature like dramas, plays, songs and stories, thereby making spirituality and culture interwoven and inseparable.