|22-Devtaa in Ved|
Vaidik Deities are those Deities or Devee and Devtaa who have been described in Ved. Yaask says in the Nirukt - "the Vaidik Devtaa are resolvable into three - Agni Dev whose place is on the earth, Vaayu Dev whose place is in the atmosphere, and Soorya Dev whose place is in the sky, and these are again resolvable into one Supreme being. It is said that the energy of the Sun passes on to Agni in the evening - hence the Agni is the substitute for Soorya in the evening.
Who is Dev? It is not interpreted like jumbled reverse of Ved is Dev. According to Ved Dev are ones who have the power to give. Ved recognizes them according to the properties assigned to them. Thus the Dev who have the power to give are enormous in number, not just 33.
And why Devtaa are 33 Crores? According to one Shlok of Brihadaaranyak Upanishad, Devtaa are 33, but it is not a constant value. A Vedaantee may see it as a seed factor which gets multiplied and may become crores, but in Karm Kaand the person wants a particular Deity for the rituals. Some say that the 33 are the Devtaa that function in all the 7 planes as said in "Saptaardh Garbhaa Bhuvanasya" in Atharv Ved, 9.10.17; and hence the number is 33 Crores - and Ved call 33 Crore Devtaa.
Vaidik deities are Mitra, Varun, Sun, Moon, Vaayu, Indra etc, whichever deity the hymn praises it will say that that Devtaa is supreme - like a hymn written for the Sun god will say that Sun is supreme, another hymn written in the praise of Varun will say that Varun Dev is supreme etc, this shows that the name and form are many but a Gun of the Nir-Gun. The other set of deities are the Pauraanik deities - like Raam, Krishn, etc. There is a Sookt in the name of Brahmaa, so too in the name of Vishnu and Shiv which proves that Ved deem them as deities, and ask us to pray them for such and such a benefit. All of these have been divided in three groups -
(1) Celestial or Aakaasheeya Devtaa (gods of Heaven) are 11 -
(2) Atmospheric or Vaayaveeya Devtaa (gods of Air) are 11 -
(3) Terrestrial or Paarthiv Devtaa (gods of the Earth) are 11 -
Bhaaratee, Ilaa and Saraswatee are three Vaidik deities, whose later counterparts are Pingalaa (Soorya Naadee), Idaa (Chandra Naadee) and Sushumnaa Naadee or Yamunaa, Gangaa and Saraswatee. The first of this trio symbolizes Manifest Shakti in the form of awakened Soul or Nation, the second one signifies oral transmission of occult knowledge from Guru, and the third one is the knowledge gained by the Shishya.
(4) Others in Ved
Devtaa in Rig Ved
Kaam Dev is also mentioned
in Rig Ved in the reference that the world came into being because of Kaam Dev...
Ushaa - Ushaa is the Vaidik goddess of Dawn. She is said to be the daughter of Sky. She is radiant and immortal. The twins Ashwinee Kumaar are her companions and follow her in their glorious chariot. She is one of the few goddesses mentioned in Rig Ved. (RV 1.4br)
Dyaavaa or Prithvi Maataa (the Earth Mother)
Maatrikaa in Ved
Prayers in Ved
Devtaa in Ved
The polytheism of the four Ved and the rituals offered up to the deities is not downgraded or rejected in the Upanishad, and the elaboration of speculative knowledge concerning Self and Brahm ending with the statement by Shankar in his commentary on the Brahm Sootra that Brahm is the Infinite, is Intelligence and is Blissful, does not contradict the worship of the Vaidik deities. Indeed, one could argue that both the Upanishad and Shankar build on the former.
The Rig Ved worships 33 different Devtaa of which Agni and Indra are the most worshipped. The Vaidik ritual itself is always conducted through the worship of Agni (Fire). This exaltation of Agni continues throughout the Vaidik Aagamik Hindu tradition of worship, if only that fire is ever present in every act of worship. The gods are now worshipped after due consecration inside temples.
Two of the oldest and most commented upon of the Upanishad are the Chhaandogya and the Brihadaaranyak Upanishad. The central themes here are more or less repeated in the other Upanishad too and these two can be used as templates for an examination of the theme of continuity with the four Ved. The four Ved have their prose commentaries, the Braahman, which are followed by the forest treatises or Aaranyak, and finally the Upanishad. Hence, each of the older Upanishad can be seen as linked to them. There are some 108 Upanishad, some of them are of much later date. Many are said to have been lost over a period of time. The date of the Ved has generally been tentatively assigned to 1500 BCE and the earliest Upanishad to 800-600 BCE. These dates are to this day, tentative, and devout Hindu assign a much earlier date to the Ved, which are considered A-Purusheya (not of human origin) or Divine.
There is something to this belief, since the rituals and the hymns, though solemn, are also of a joyous celebratory nature and they invoke not only the presence of the deities at the time of the rituals, but also are a testimony to their continued presence in the universe.
The deities (Devee and Devataa) are invoked in their presence in the elements,
as transition to the reflections of the Upanishad. The Chhaandogya, for instance,
reflects a movement from the various elements that culminate in the Udgeeth, the
OM (the Pranav). The entire universe (multi-universes) are sacralised, starting
with the elements of Earth and Water, and the Upanishad sees no contradiction in
gathering these up as correspondences and as well the presence of deities in the
OM. It is only at this stage that one can identify the Chhaandogya's final mention
of Brahm as the all encompassing reality that expresses itself in the Devee and
Devataa referred to above. A single example will suffice (though the Upanishad
repeats this thought several times) :--- "Let a man meditate on the syllable
OM, called the Udgeeth; for the Udgeeth is sung, beginning with OM. The essence
of all beings is the Earth, the essence of the earth is water, the essence of
water are the plants, the essence of plants is man, the essence of man is his
speech, the essence of speech the Rig Ved, the essence of the Rig Ved is the
Saam Ved, the essence of the Saam Ved is the Udgeeth (OM)."
The culmination in what is referred to as the Mahaa Vaakya is a natural progression in the thinking of the Upanishadik seer : That Thou Art (Tat twam asi). By the conclusion of the Upanishad there are references to Braahman. Here, the identification of the individual Self, now raised to the level of Self (Aatmaa), with the infinite reality of Brahm, is first mentioned. It is left to the Brahm Sootra and the commentaries by Shankar and Raamaanuj (and theistic commentators like Madhwaa, Vallabh) to further elaborate this theme. The idea too is that each individual human who progresses through the stages of meditation, yoga, devotion, knowledge etc. will enact the identification. The overall word for the process is "Upaasanaa".
The Brihadaaranyak has a parallel movement to that of the Chhaandogya.
The famous Mahaa Vaakya "Aham Brahmasmi (I am Brahm)" can be
translated thus : "Verily in the beginning this was Brahm, that
Brahm knew its Self only, saying "I am Brahm". From it all
this sprang. Thus, whoever Dev was awakened (so as to know Brahm), he
indeed became that (Brahm); and the same is true with Rishi and men.
The Rishi Vaam Dev saw and understood it, singing "I was Manu (moon),
I was the Sun" Therefore now also he who thus knows that he is Brahm,
becomes all this. . . "
This remarkable passage is succeeded by a spectacular celebration of the elemental
world in its inner connection with the Self-Brahm : -
The Brahm Sootra by Baadarayana (identified as Vyaas Jee) and the commentaries by Shankar and Raamaanuj can legitimately be described as Vedaant, the culmination of the Ved. The process is not simply a chronological one, but a religious and spiritual process. The reader is advised to read these philosophers in the original, either in Sanskrit or in a good translation (George Thibaut in the Sacred Books of the East series). The Brahma Sootra are so called because they enquire into the nature of Brahm. The work begins with the famous aphorism: "Adhato Brahm jigyaasaa" (now one must inquire into Brahm).
These aphorisms have been endlessly commented upon, the most famous commentaries being by Shankar (820 CE) and Raamaanuj (1077-1157). Both, whatever the minutiae of their different interpretations, are agreed on one thing : that is Brahm is that which is Infinite, is Intelligence, is Blissful (Sat, Chit, Aanand). While Shankar sees the universe as the Maayaa of Brahm, Raamaanuj sees it as the embodiment of Brahm. While it may be relatively easy to read this into Raamaanuj's commentary, the astonishing philosophical arguments of Shankar need to be carefully studied before one understands what he means by the Maayaa of Brahm, and hence of Brahm's relation to the world.
The writer does not see the difference between the two philosophers as significant. What is common to both is Satchidaanand (Sat, Chit, Aanand) and here the Vaidik gods are ever present, whether as Maayaa or as embodiment. The rituals offered to them by the Vaidik Rishi are an ongoing reality in the Punya Bhoomi, whether one construes this phrase as limited only to the Indian subcontinent or to Mother Earth.
Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 04/02/13