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Vedic Gods and Goddesses


Vedic Gods and Goddesses
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Indra – Vedic GodIndra is the most popular and praised god in the Vedas. In the Rig Veda, more than half the hymns invoke 3 gods, with Indra being the one who has the maximum number of hymns ( 250 hymns). He is the lord of the heavens. He is the god of thunder and rain and a great warrior. Vayu Devta is his friend and servant and the Vasus are his advisors. His Vahan is a white elephant called Airavata and has a weapon of lightning called Vajrayudh. His status and survival is the most important for him and he is always concerned about it. He goes to any lengths of scheming to keep his position as the leader. He fought many demons and brought victory to the gods. The slaying of Vratasura is his most famous achievement. Indra’s Kingdom is situated near Mount Meru and his love for Soma (Amruta, Elixir) is no secret. Indra is also depicted as someone who disguises himself to win over women. One such popular story is of Ahalya and Gautama Muni.

Varuna is the ruler of the world and enforcer as well as upholder of law and order in this world. He has supreme Varuna – Vedic Godknowledge and knows everything happening in this world. He is the protector of this world. Everything in this world happens through his wishes. He has thousand eyes and oversees the whole world. Hence he is the God of the moral law. He punishes those who transgress from this law but forgives them out of compassion if they repent and pray. By activating Vayu, the lord of the wind, he sustains life by giving rain and crops. Though Varuna was the chief deity in the beginning, he seems to have yielded his place later on to Indra and Prajapati.

In the subsequent mythological literature Varuna is described as the presiding deity of the western quarter and as the lord of oceans, water and aquatic animals.He is depicted as a rider of chariots pulled by 7 swans and he has four hands.

Agni – Vedic GodAgni is the master of sacrifices and wealth. No sacrifice is complete without his presence. His presence makes the sacrifice successful because he sends those sacrifices to the gods. He is the messenger as well as the priest of gods. He is kind and giving and loved by many. He is depicted as having 2 heads, 6 eyes, 7 hands, 3 legs and 4 horns with a pot belly and long flowing hair.

He is said to be a son of Dyaus and Prithivi; he is also called the son of Brahma, and is then named Abhimani; and he is reckoned amongst the children of Kasyapa and Aditi, and hence one of the Adityas. In the later writings of hinduism, he is described as a son of Angiras, king of the Pitris (fathers of mankind), and the authorship of several hymns is ascribed to him.

The 7 Names of Agni
Agni has many names: Vahni (who receives the hom, or burnt sacrifice); Vitihotra, (who sanctifies the worshipper); Dhananjaya (who conquers riches); Jivalana (who burns); Dhumketu (whose sign is smoke); Chhagaratha (who rides on a ram); Saptajihva (who has seven tongues).


Rudra – Vedic GodRudra is the god of storm and lightning. He is also the ‘bringer and provider of medicines’. He wields the lightning bolt and bow and arrow and sends down lightening which brings fear to people as well as animals. He is fierce and well built. He is golden in color with braided hair. He is strong and and adorns himself in golden ornaments.

Rudra is frequently depicted in the Vedas as a terrifying character, representing the numinous aspect of God with fear-inspiring abilities such as that which causes disease. In contrast, Rudra also possesses milder characteristics such as the ability to heal. These opposite characteristics are a result of the considerable amount of syncretism of regional and tribal gods that took place under his name. Rudra is also believed to be an early form of Lord Shiva, the lord of destruction, and due to the complex mythological and religious link between the two deities, they are often referred to together as Rudra-Shiva.

Rudra & Shiva
In the later Vedas, Rudra is depicted to have inherited new monikers such as Bhava, Sarva, Mahadeva, and Shiva, most of which were probably names of regional or indigenous gods of non-Aryan of non-Vedic origin. In the divine persona of Rudra the traits of these deities seem to have been syncretized into one supreme god. By the time of the Upanishads, Rudra had assumed all the characteristics of a single, Supreme Lord, such as omnipotence, omniscience, and transcendence. In the Svetasvatara Upanishad particularly, Rudra-Shiva is proclaimed to be identical with Purusha, the primordial man, and even Brahman, the monistic essence of the universe. By this time, Rudra was also perceived to be protector and creator of all things, and had begun to more closely resemble the god currently known to Hindus as Shiva. The following verse from the Svetasvatara Upanishads illustrates the immense power attributed to Rudra:

“He who is the source and origin of the gods
The ruler of all, Rudra, the great seer,
Who of old created the Golden Germ” – (from Svetasvatara Upanishad III.4)

This verse foreshadows the importance that Rudra would come to attain after transforming into Shiva.

In the Yajurveda, the theonym “Shiva” was at first used in order to distinguish Rudra’s auspicious nature from his fierce appearance. Shiva also assumed Rudra’s status as a divine “outsider,” keeping residence well away from society in the Himalayas. Because of the complexly interwoven relationship between Rudra and Shiva, scholars often refer to both gods as a collective entity, “Rudra-Shiva,” in order to acknowledge their fusion in Hindu myth and worship.


Mitra is also the guardian of the world along with Varuna. Together they look after the world and uphold the order. They make all the things happen in this world- from the river flowing to the rain falling. Mitra is associated with the morning light while Varuna is associated with the night sky.

In the Rigveda, the oldest of the Vedic texts, Mitra is mostly indistinguishable from Varuna, together with whom Mitra forms a dvandva pair Mitra-Varuna, and in which Mitra-Varuna has essentially the same characteristics as Varuna alone. Varuna is not only the greater of the two, but also — according to RV 2.12 — the second-greatest of the RigVedic gods after Indra.


Vayu is the lord of beauty and intelligence. He as a swift mind and is also called the lord of thoughts. He is considered to be very intelligent and he brings light to the earths and heaven. He is depicted as being blue in color with four hands. Two of the hands hold a fan and a flag respectively while the other two hands are in abhaya and varada mudras.SURYA
Surya – Vedic GodSurya is the lord of light and power. He keeps the darkness at bay with the light radiating from him. He destroys diseases and hence gives good health to people. He is the maker of light and illuminates the world of humans as well as the gods. He is depicted as being golden with radiant hair. He is seen riding swiftly across the sky in his golden chariot drawn by 7 horses.

Surya and Savitri are two names by which the Sun is commonly addressed in the Vedic hymns. Sometimes one name is used exclusively, sometimes they are used interchangeably, and sometimes they are used as though they represented quite distinct objects. It is supposed that Savitri refers to the sun when invisible; whilst Surya refers to him when he is visible to the worshippers.

Although the hymns in which Surya is addressed are not very numerous, his worship was most common in the olden time, and has continued to the present hour. It is to him that the Gayatri, the most sacred text of the Vedas, is addressed at his rising by every devout Brāhman. Simple in its phraseology, this short verse is supposed to exert magical powers. It is as follows:—

“Let us meditate on that excellent glory of the divine Vivifier;
May he enlighten (or stimulate) our understandings.”VISHNU
Vishnu is a kind and loving god. He is the protector of people. He upholds the threefold existence i.e. the heaven, the earth and the living creatures. It is said that is incarnation ‘Vamana’ covered both the heaven and earth in two steps and crushed the demon Bali in the third step.


Savitr is also considered the sun lord like Surya. But unlike Surya who represents the blazing sun, Savitr represents the hidden sun- it’s the sun before the sun rise and after the sunset. He is described as having golden eyes, golden hands and golden tongue.


Pusan is considered to the lord of paths and a guardian of cattle’s. He protects the people from wild animals and does not allow them to stray onto dangerous paths. He keeps their journey stable and obstacle free. He keeps people away from harm and drives away enemies. He is also the friend of Indra and Surya.


Usha is dawn and a daughter of the sky. She is the one that wakes up every living creature when the sky starts to lighten up. She is the goddess of light and beauty as she brings light and everything beautiful into the lives of the humans.


He is the god of Inspiration. He gives the gods and human’s inspiration to get up and do things. It gives joy and bliss and rids people of diseases. He is the strength of gods and mortals and keeps everyone stable. He is also the lord of speech as he has influence on the movement of our speech.


Ashvins – Vedic GodThey are twin deities and are the brothers of Usha. They travel in a chariot with three spokes. They have healing and curative powers. It is believed that they come to the earth thrice a day and help mortals by providing them heavenly medicine. In the Rig Veda, the are prominently featured, and are said to be the sons of Saranyu (the daughter of Tvashta) and Vivasvant. They are also said to be the sons of heaven (Dyaus). Pusan is said to be their son.

The two brothers are forever youthful, handsome, brilliant, golden, fast, and athletic. Compassionate, they help those in need from old women to soldiers left behind by a retreating army. They also represent duality, can change their form at will, and possess the power to cure. Indeed, this latter ability meant that they are the subject of many Hindu hymns as they are considered the official doctors of svarga, one of the intermediary heavens and realm of Indra.


They are the lords of storm and destruction. They bring about huge storms that shake the earth and bring darkness even during day time. They are ferocious. In spite of this they are not wicked. They work for the welfare of man and give them strength to overcome obstacles and become rich.


The eight vasus are – Dhara (earth), Apa (water), Anala (fire), Anila (wind), Dhruva (pole star), Soma (moon) and Prabhasa (light). They are the attendants of Lord Indra. They eventually attained popularity in different areas.


The 12 Adityas are the 12 lords of light. They represent the 12 months in a year or the 12 spokes of a clock. They are the upholder and enforcer of law. They bring light to the world and drive away the darkness. They never sleep and are always protecting everyone from evil and harm.


Brihaspati – Vedic God
He is the friend of Lord Indra and is considered to be the giver of wisdom and wealth. He drives away diseases and protects them from enemies. No sacrifice is complete without his presence as he is the priest of heaven. He sees to it that the unworthy do not enter.


Bhaga is the son of Aditi and he is a giver of blessings and gifts. He is kind and gives very generously. That’s why everyone- rich or poor approach him.


Rta is the god of rhythmic patterns. She determines and looks over any form of pattern in this world. She determines the way the planets assign themselves, the way the seasons come and go, the cycle of life and death etc.


Rbhus are skilled craftsmen. They are the sons of Sudhavan and are considered to have powers that make them very good with their hands and the work they do. Due to their craftsmanship they were promoted to the ranks of god.


Yama is the lord of Justice and the ruler of the dead that go to hell. He has two dogs that have four eyes and wide nostrils. They guard the way to the world of Yama. He is shown as riding a he buffalo carrying a mace and noose which he uses to drag the dead to hell. He looks over the deeds of people and provides them with the appropriate punishment.


Manyu is considered to the lord of war. He fights and slays the enemy and removes evil. He is fierce and strong and gives wealth and safety to the people.


Prajanya is the Lord of rain. He is controller of lightning and thunder. He is feared by all life forms. He makes travelling through deserts possible by bringing down rain. He can make plants grow through rain. When he fills the sky with rain clouds, winds start and lightning flashes. He is also the upholder of law as he punishes those who sin and protects the people.


Saraswathi is the goddesses of the river. She has seven sisters. She is the helper of gods. She punishes people that look down upon god. She is also a giver of water to the people. She provides people with strength as well as wealth.


Hindu Goddesses and Deities
Hinduism is considered as the oldest religion and it is a religion of remarkable tolerance. Although Hindus worship many gods and goddesses, it is strictly not a polytheistic religion. Hinduism has elements of both monotheism, polytheism and is sometimes classified as “Henotheism” or “Kathenotheism” – a belief in single god, with the various manifestations of the one divine entity. This highest form of God in Hinduism is known as Brahman, the supreme Self. He is both manifested and unmanifested, Being and Non-Being, Existence and Non-existence.

All the various forms of Gods in Hinduism is in reality a manifestation of the Supreme Self, the Brahman. In their individual aspects they represent diversity and his numerous dharmas. Within Hinduism, there are three major traditions – Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism, whose followers consider Shiva, Vishnu and Shakti ( Devi) to be the supreme deity. Rest of the

Within Hinduism, a large number of personal gods (Ishvaras) are worshipped as murtis. These beings are significantly powerful entities known as devas. Initially the Hindu pantheon of Gods included a limited set of deities and many new sects have since formed acknowledging living priests as deities. The exact nature of belief in regard to each deity varies between differing Hindu denominationsand philosophies. Often these beings are depicted in humanoid or partially humanoid forms, complete with a set of unique and complex iconography in each case. The devas are expansions of the Brahman into various forms, each with a certain quality.


Hindu Gods and Deities
Hinduism is considered as the oldest religion and it is a religion of remarkable tolerance. Although Hindus worship many gods and goddesses, it is strictly not a polytheistic religion. Hinduism has elements of both monotheism, polytheism and is sometimes classified as “Henotheism” or “Kathenotheism” – a belief in single god, with the various manifestations of the one divine entity. This highest form of God in Hinduism is known as Brahman, the supreme Self. He is both manifested and unmanifested, Being and Non-Being, Existence and Non-existence.

All the various forms of Gods in Hinduism is in reality a manifestation of the Supreme Self, the Brahman. In their individual aspects they represent diversity and his numerous dharmas. Within Hinduism, there are three major traditions – Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism, whose followers consider Shiva, Vishnu and Shakti ( Devi) to be the supreme deity. Rest of the

Within Hinduism, a large number of personal gods (Ishvaras) are worshipped as murtis. These beings are significantly powerful entities known as devas. Initially the Hindu pantheon of Gods included a limited set of deities and many new sects have since formed acknowledging living priests as deities. The exact nature of belief in regard to each deity varies between differing Hindu denominationsand philosophies. Often these beings are depicted in humanoid or partially humanoid forms, complete with a set of unique and complex iconography in each case. The devas are expansions of the Brahman into various forms, each with a certain quality.





Vedic Gods, Goddesses and Rituals: The Origins of Secret Mantra Day 4

The previous day’s teachings had touched on the literature of the Vedic period, during which the Karmapa had spoken about the gods in heaven as well as the gods in the air, he now continued with today’s teachings, speaking about the gods of the Earth.

III. Gods of the Earth
The first of the gods of the Earth is Agni, the god of fire, the second is Soma, the god of alcohol/intoxicants as well as the moon, and the third is Pṛithvī, the goddess of the Earth.

1. Agni, the god of fire
The god of fire, Agni, is a god worshiped by humans from ancient times, and he is particularly important in India. In the Vedic literature, Agni is recognized as an extremely ancient deity. He takes three forms, that of the Sun God of the heavens, Indra in the space between, and Agni on earth – all three being in essence Agni. These three gods control the heavens, the air, and the earth, and all three levels are of equal importance. If one of them had to be considered most important, the most powerful would-be Agni. In the Vedas, we therefore find the largest number of hymns of praises to Agni.

The origin of the worship of Agni is in the fires used in fire pujas and in daily life. At that time, people believed that offerings could be actually made to deities through the medium of fire, for the gods to enjoy the offerings and also to hear and learn about people’s desires and so forth. Thus, by means of fire, a connection was created between people and the gods, because of which fire was considered a messenger of the gods and indispensable when performing a sacrifice.

The Indians deemed Agni the youngest of the gods who arose newly when a fire was lid by rubbing two sticks of wood against each other. He is thus considered to be especially powerful and majestic. This relates to the Sanskrit term for god, which is deva, and can mean light or to illuminate. Because it is through light that the power of the gods becomes evident, people considered that fire, because of its light, had the same divine power as the sun in the sky. Just as the sun has the ability to illuminate everything, people thought of fire as also having a divine nature; and as fire was particularly indispensable in daily life, there was a definite reason why people worshipped fire.

With regard to the benefits of worshipping fire, it is believed to have many powers, such as dispelling darkness and burning impurities, as well as the power to subdue demons, for which he is called the Demon-Slayer Raksohan. During the Vedic period, people believed it important to make fire offerings in their households, due to which he is considered the main deity when making a fire puja at home and is also known as Gṛhapati, the Lord of the Household.

Because in sacrifices the offerings are made to deities through the medium of Agni, he is likewise called Havyavahana, the bearer of the sacrifice or Duta, the messenger. This god also has many functions, such as ruling humans, regulating the laws of heaven and earth, as well as the power of omniscience. Agni is moreover connected to some rituals of Secret Mantra, during which one recites his name, meditates, and makes offerings to him.

2. Soma, the god of alcohol/intoxicants
In this context it is important to know that the Brahmins enjoyed intoxicants and they thought that because they liked intoxicants, the gods must likewise have a liking for them, so it would be good to offer alcohol and other intoxicants. The gods Soma, Agni, and Indra were considered to have a deep connection between each other. The intoxicating power of Soma [an intoxicant] came about due to the power of Agni, as it needed to be boiled first, which then increased Indra’s strength so that he could perform vast deeds, becoming especially courageous and very strong. Thus, according to Indian belief, Indra got his power due to Agni. Soma was a drink that the Aryan people had been drinking for generations, and there was no one among the gods and ancestors who disliked it.

Not only was soma drunk by the gods, but it was also a gift from the gods to humans. And when humans drank this intoxicant given by the gods, it was said they could have long and healthy lives. Due to this, the god Soma was connected to people’s hopes for the future, which is also expressed in the hymns to Soma. At the end of the Rigveda, Soma is also considered to be the god of the Moon.

3. Pṛithvī, the goddess of the Earth
Pṛithvī is an emanation of the Earth who had the power of the gods in heaven, so she was revered greatly by humans. Considering the Earth to be a goddess had been present from long before, but later Pṛithvī’s status declined greatly. People considered that Pṛithvī was the mother of all things and produced and gave birth to everything. Furthermore, it was believed that all the gods were born when the heavens and earth joined. However, as the Earth is what people step upon and is always below their feet, people did not regard the Earth as highly as the sky, fire, water, and so forth and devotion for her was lost. Therefore, there are fewer hymns to Pṛithvī in the Vedas than to other gods.
With this, His Holiness completed the discussion of the gods of the Earth and continued with a presentation of other deities that are not included among the gods in heaven, in the air or on Earth.

IV. Other gods
The other gods His Holiness spoke about were Yama, Sarasvatī, Brihaspati, and Puruṣa.

1. Yama
First of all, His Holiness explained, we need to know that Yama appears in Mahakala texts, in many rituals, and represents the Lord of Death. As to how Yama is described in the Vedic literature, he was not originally a wrathful god, but later people made him into a dark-coloured and frightening deity. In the first praise of Yama in the Vedas, he is praised as appearing like the departing sun. The setting sun is symbolic of death, and when the sun goes down, people feel a little sad, thinking that just as the sun sets, their life will also end one day. The sunset made them contemplate the next life. In this way, a connection was made between Yama and the world of the next life. And if there were a next life, there must be a place one goes to and a god who rules over the world of the next life; so people believed this to be Yama. Although Yama was first related to the sunset, in the Vedas, he changed to having human characteristics and people considered him to be the King of the Dead i.e., the king of the place that people would go to after they died.

At that time, they believed that when good people died, they achieved a new body that radiated light and went to a heaven of light and happiness. They stayed there in the presence of King Yama, enjoying unending happiness. Thus, at that time, Yama was thought of as the benevolent king of a kingdom of happiness. It was only later in the texts of the Purāṇas that he became a cruel deity who punished wrongdoers after they died.

From ancient times, Yama had been a king who appeared in a time free of illness and suffering. Then as misdeeds and suffering gradually increased and people became afraid of dying, that aged king led his retinue to the world of the dead. With him there were two dogs that he would always send to the human realm. The dogs had four eyes each and large snouts, and such a strong stench that people did not like them at all. But people did not dislike Yama.

Yama was one of two twins born from the heavens. He also had a younger sister called Yami. Later in the Secret Mantra, Yama was divided into two deities, Yamantaka and Yama Dharma Raja, the King of the Hells, the one who punishes wrongdoers. Showing three depictions of Yama, His Holiness pointed out, that while all originated from India, one was an Indian image of Yama, while the others were a Japanese and a Chinese depiction respectively.

When the Vedas first appeared, there were not many female goddesses, most of them were male. The two principal female ones were Uṣhas, the Goddess of Dawn, whom His Holiness had described previously, and Sarasavati. Well-known goddesses such as Durgā, Kalī, and Lakṣhmī only appeared later.

Before elaborating on the goddess Sarasvatī, His Holiness decided to first give a description of Brihaspati, the God of Prayer.

2. Brhaspati, the god of prayer
Brhaspati is considered to be the god of aspirations or prayers. Unlike the other gods who originate from a phenomenon in the natural environment, Brhaspati had no similar basis for arising. People believed in the great power of prayer by means of which one would gain the ability to control others and to change the wishes of the gods, so all the words of their prayers became divine in nature. This is similar to how they believed that fire and soma had divine powers. The god of prayer was not initially of great importance, but later became more important.

His Holiness went on to explain that in the Upanishads, an important non-Buddhist text which was translated into Tibetan by Gendun Choephel, the god of prayer is revered highly and given the name Bṛhaspati. In the later texts that are called Purāṇas, which are another type of Hindu literature, Bṛhaspati is asserted to be the highest of the three great gods and identified as Brahma, the creator of the world.

Next, His Holiness spoke about Puruṣa.

3. Puruṣa
Puruṣa is another imagined god, not a god whose identity is based on a natural phenomenon. When looking at non-Buddhist texts, His Holiness continued, we find that they talk about a self or a soul. This is what the word puruṣa refers to. Puruṣa is considered to be one of the earliest of the gods, said to have a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, and a thousand arms. Similar to the Buddhist thousand-armed Chenrezig [Avalokiteshvara]. Puruṣa was later identified as being the nature of the world, the soul, the self, or consciousness, out of which everything arises. Thus, people began to take interest in him, and he became very important. The praises of Puruṣa are identified as a predecessor to the tradition of the caste system.

After the break, His Holiness went on to elaborate on the goddess Sarasvatī.

4. Sarasvatī
Originally, in the Vedas, Sarasvatī is the goddess of all the rivers. And in particular, according to the Rigveda, she is described as having special powers to cleanse humans of all impurities, bring wealth and prosperity, increase courage, and bring more children. Later, in the Brāhmaṇas, she became the goddess of words or language, a deity who increased debating skills and intelligence, and finally also became recognized as the goddess Lakshmi.

His Holiness then gave a presentation about the Maras, or Demons, among which there are three primary classes:

Asuras/Demigods, Rakṣhas and Piśhāchas/Flesh Eaters
1. Asuras/Demigods
The Vedas speak not only of gods but of demons as well. There are many kinds of demons, the Karmapa said, and then went on to describe a representative few.

The Sanskrit word for demigod is asura. It is the same word as is used in the main text of the Zoroastrian religion; a Persian religion considered one of the most ancient religions in the world. Its people live in present-day Iran and mainly worship the fire god. They use the word ahura. The reason why these words are the same is, as His Holiness had mentioned the other day, that the founders of the Persian civilization as well as those who founded the Indian civilization, were Aryans, who originally came from Central Asia. The Aryans then split up into two groups, one making its way towards the Punjab and the other group continued towards Iran, later becoming the Persians. Thus, because they originally lived together, they shared a common language, and we find many similarities between Persian and Sanskrit.

The term ahura appears in the Zoroastrian text called Avesta, which is to Zoroastrians like the Bible is to Christians. Yet, there is a great difference between the Vedic view and the Zoroastrian one; according to the Vedas, asuras are on the side of the gods of darkness, while in the Persian religion, ahuras are the gods of light. It is possible such a great difference comes from an event in history from the time after the Indo-Aryan and Iranian-Aryan peoples divided into two groups, but there is no clear historical evidence confirming that hypothesis.

Furthermore, the Zoroastrian text of the Avesta is very long with a lot of topics. It is probably more than 35,000 words long and written on around 1200 sheepskins [vellum]. It was compiled around the 4th century BCE, but later was burned at the time when the emperor Alexander the Great invaded Persia, and only one book survived. During the subsequent Ashkâniân dynasty, it was once again collected and recompiled, and completed during the time of the Sassanid Empire, which was also a Persian empire. The version that is known today is not the complete ancient text; it is no more than a third of it; yet it is still an important text in terms of the ancient civilization.

Coming back to the origin of the asuras, the demi-gods, His Holiness continued, research cannot exactly describe what they are. However, in the Rigveda, the word asura is used as an adjective, not for specific god-like individuals. Gods who had the great maya power or strength of a demon would be described with the adjective asura. This adjective is used to describe Varuna and Indra, for example, and many other gods. This word was used as a way of expressing praise to show that there was a demonic power called maya that was especially worthy of fear.

Later, asuras became a specific type of god. In the Rigveda, there occurred a change in the meaning or usage of the word and Indra and Agni were called asura slayers, the ones who kill asuras, and thus asuras are clearly identified as a type of demon.

During the period of the Sāmaveda and the Yajurveda, they became a class of demons who opposed the deva gods of heaven, and there are tales of the battles between them.

To recap, looking at the Persian religion, ahuras were identified as good gods of light who have the same status as gods; they would later in the Vedas become identified as the source of evil and darkness. However, the Persians believed that the ahura will one day defeat the ahriman devils, punish the wicked, protect the weak, and once again return to the Heavens.

2. Rakṣhā
There are rakṣhas in the Rigveda, and rakṣhas are a demon frequently seen in the Atharaveda too. Those who harmed the gods are the asuras, and those who harmed humans are called rakṣhās. The rakṣhās harmed humans by taking many different physical forms, such as the forms of dogs, vultures, and owls that moved about at night, or they took the form of a man to harm women, children, and so forth.

In particular, there was a special class of rakṣhās called yatudhanas or sorcerers. They cast spells or curses, ate human or horse flesh and drank cow milk, thereby harming people and livestock. Or they would take the form of food, be eaten and cause illness. In brief, people were terrified of rakṣhās, and would try to prevent such harm by reciting mantras or sacrificing to Agni (whose name also means Demon Slayer).

His Holiness then continued with the third type of demon, the Piśhācha, or Flesh Eaters.

3. Piśhācha/Flesh Eaters
Piśhāchas, in Tibetan called ‘Flesh Eaters’, are a type of ghost, also called corpse-eaters. The Piśhāchas are the adversaries of the ancestors, for they were the demons who would devour the corpses of the ancestors, and thus were a type of demon for whom no one would perform a sacrifice. Some researchers assert that they were the basis for hungry ghosts, one of the six classes of beings.

The relationship between gods and humans
In general terms, the ancient Indian people believed that, although the Vedic gods transcended humans in their magical powers, they were similar to humans in character. Thus, the relationship between the two was based on reciprocal benefit—they were not like buddhas and bodhisattvas who expect nothing in return. If someone failed to make an offering to the Vedic gods, the gods would not offer any protection or assistance. If the gods failed to provide help in return for offerings, the people stopped making offerings to them. This is demonstrated by the fact that of the many types of sacrifices described in the Rigveda, all of them are only rituals for supplicating and praying to the gods—there are no rituals for offering thanks.

The main avenue for creating a connection between gods and humans is the sacrifice; sacrifice is the only way connections are made between gods and humans and are like the basis and vital element of Vedic learning, their texts and philosophy, and Vedic devotion.

Sacrificial rituals
In the next of his teachings, His Holiness continued to discuss the stages of the sacrificial rituals at that time.
First, during the time of the Rigveda there were no special buildings or assembly halls where sacrifices or assemblies where held. Most were held in private houses. In the middle of the site of the fire offering, there was a hearth for the fire puja, and on one side of that was the vedi, the sacrificial altar that we call a mandala, on which kusha grass was laid out. This was considered a place for the gods to sit when they had been invited.

At that time, there was no custom of making representations of gods. The Aryans would offer praises in front of the altar and make prayers, after which the offerings were offered to the fire in the hearth—they believed that the gods were accepting the offerings then. His Holiness thinks that mandalas probably originated from this.
A mandala in ancient India needed to be built, was made out of clay and needed to be fired; they were nothing like we use today and hold in our hands.

The offerings that people made were usually various kinds of foodstuffs —milk, cheese, grains, seeds, meat, and beverages. In particular, the intoxicating soma beverage was the favorite of Indra, Vayu, and the ancestors. As animal sacrifices, they usually offered cattle, horses, goats, sheep, and so forth. In very ancient times, it seems, there was also human sacrifice, which was later discontinued.

If it was a regular, ordinary sacrifice, the head of the household would perform the ritual himself. If it was a particularly elaborate ritual, the head of the household would be the sponsor, make a particular offering, and invite a priest to perform the sacrifice. From this we can deduce that the Aryans already had priests who performed sacrifices before they arrived in India. At the time of the Rigveda, the priests became powerful, and there were many different types with various ranks.

In the hymns of the Rigveda it says that there must be four kinds of priest or ṛtvij, among whom the work was divided: Adhvaryu, Udgatṛ, Hotṛ, and Brahman.

The first type of priest, the Adhvaryu, prepared the ritual. His role was to measure the place where the ritual was to be conducted, prepare the altar, arrange all the substances needed for the ritual, and prepare the firewood, water, animals to be sacrificed, and then chant the yajus [sacrificial prayer] in a low voice.

The second type of priest is the Udgatṛ, or chanter of the hymns. He would sing the hymns to a melody along with music and offer praises of the god’s qualities. He would sing long or short sāman offering songs as appropriate for the ritual.

The third type of priest is the Hotṛ, the one who invites the deity. He would recite words of the verses to invite the deities to the altar, while primarily reciting the praises from his memory.

The fourth priest was the Brahman or supervisor of the ritual. (The clan of these priests would later become the Brahman caste.) He had a higher status than the other three priests, and his responsibility was to oversee whether the ritual was performed properly or not. He oversaw all the stages of the ritual and would recite prayers on behalf of the sponsor. This priest needed to have thoroughly trained in all the practices of the ritual performed by the other three.

This, His Holiness said, completed the explanation on the Earlier Vedic Period.

He then concluded the teachings by emphasizing once more that in order to understand the history of Secret Mantra, we need to understand the background and history of Indian civilization. Only when we understand that, can we understand how and why Buddhism spread and what the qualities and features of Buddhism are. How was it that the Buddha thought at that time? What were his particular deeds? Likewise, first there were the Shravakayas [the Listeners], then came the Mahayana and subsequently the Secret Mantra [tradition]. The teachings of the Buddha arose in stages, of which we need to get a clear picture.

His Holiness stressed that we should understand the reason for his teaching these topics. Yet, he reassured everyone, even if one does not understand everything fully now, one may later understand the reason behind it. Thus, there is no need to become anxious, that His Holiness was talking about other things when he was meant to be speaking Secret Mantra. Rather than getting anxious, one should just relax, he advised. The subject matter he was exploring was vast so, for that reason, he would focus on the most important aspects.



Worship of Rigvedic Aryans
Rig-Vedic Aryans worshipped natural forces while also believing in the fundamental oneness of nature.
They worshipped numerous gods not out of fear of nature, but to earn her favour.
Natural phenomena like the sky, thunder, rain, and air were thought to be led by their presiding deities, while natural disasters were thought to be a manifestation of their displeasure.
The hymns of the Rig-Veda were primarily performed to glorify the gods and appease them.
God was considered as the king, the creator of time, the defender of humanity, and the source of happiness.
There were no temples or idols, nor were there any places of worship.
Natural occurrences were interpreted as the manifestation of numerous gods’ spiritual manifestations.
Varuna, Indra, Mitra, and Dyus were considered as deities for the many appearances of the sky.
The majority of these natural phenomena were personified, and the world’s earliest mythology was born.


List of Rig Vedic Gods & Goddesses

Name of God

Associated with natural forces


Wind God


Father of Heaven


Mother of Surya


Storm Spirits


Divine Musicians


Healers of diseases and experts in surgical art




Mistresses of Gods


An archer God, whose anger brought disease


Goddess of Dawn


Mother of Goods


Earth Goddess


Forest Goddess


The River Deity

Although, the early Vedic religion was naturalistic and the evidence of sacrifices for Praja (Children), Pasu (cattle) and Dhana (wealth) and not for spiritual upliftment or against misery.


The Indian religious traditions consider the Vedas to be of divine origin and Apaurseya or those which were not composed by any human effort. These Vedas deal with various subjects besides discussing the several gods and goddesses and other religious beliefs. Indeed it is not only the earliest body of the religious beliefs, preserved in the literary form, but it also represents a more primitive phase of thought than is recorded in any other literature. It can, moreover, be traced step-by-step through the various stages of development. It is, finally the source of the modern Hinduism which can thus be historically followed up to its. origin, throughout a period of well over thousands of years. As natural result of its value to the investigator of the religious thought in general, the study of Vedic religion gave birth in the later half of the nineteenth century, when these sacred books also attracted the attention of the foreign scholars.

The ideology of the Vedic literature hovers round the Vedic gods, the fire sacrifices, and the sacrificial animals, Indeed the concept of the Vedic gods is quite’ an original one and is based on the forces of nature primarily, though in the later texts several other factors like magic and other tantrik practices entered the Vedic ideology. The Atharvaveda indeed happens to be the spokesman for such magical practices. During the initial Vedic literature the gods like Rudra, Visnu, Prajapati and Indra, the most powerful of the Vedic gods, were conceived in abstract form and not in human form, nor were their iconographical features prescribed. It was, therefore, left to the imagination of the worshippers. to adore them in a suitable form.

The gods and the universe happened to be the creation of Supreme soul, irrespective of their being Indra, Agni, Mitra, Varuna, Asvanikumaras, Soma, Surya or Prthivi. The all pervading Supreme Soul was considered to be eternal and everlasting. Indeed these gods were considered to be the forerunners of the later Brahmanical cult wherein they were adopted in one form or the other.

Let us take the case of Visnu who happened to be enjoying a somewhat insignificant position in the Vedic literature, but in the Rgveda, he was described to be an all pervading god. This quality was hardly available with any other early Vedic gods. In the Brahamnic literature one could peep into his performances as Trivikrama form taking the three strides in order to measure the universe. This episode has been believed to be the earliest reference to the incarnations of Visnu. But even at this stage he was never described to possess four arms or his attributes. The earliest attribute held by him possibly was the gada or the club when he was known as Gadadhara. It may be recalled here that Visnu was also found represented in a second century B.C. inscribed sculpture from Malhar (Madhya Pradesh) in which he is holding a gada in both the hands. This goes on to testify that the earliest specimen of Visnu appears in his Gadadhara form. Now with the passage of time, the Puranas developed stories about his other attributes like samkha, cakra and lotus. The Puranas testify that Visnu received the samkha after the killing of the demon of the same name in the deep ocean. The cakra, however, is stated to be originally with Siva and Visnu had to meditate upon Siva to receive it from him for the killing of a demon. Siva obliged Visnu, after putting the devotion of Visnu to test. Siva as cakradanamurti is therefore quite a popular motif in Indian plastic art, particularly in the medieval period. As far as the lotus is concerned, nothing definite about its being the attribute of visnu could be said, but the Puranas contain a story according to which the four-faced Brahma emerged seated over a lotus, the stalk of which emerged from the navel of Visnu.

Brahma on the other hand, was mostly known in the early Vedic literature as Prajapati, who was responsible for the creation of the universe. But his form of having four faces and four arms developed at a considerable later date, also earning him the title of Pitamaha. It has not been possible to trace out the reason for the development of this type image as an old one or the grandfather. But possibly it was due to his being constantly associated with the creation.

Siva was known as such in the Rgveda where he was popularly conceived as Rudra in an abstract form and the word Siva appears only once in the Rgveda. All his iconographical features, making him five faced, four armed, marriage with Sati and the Parvati, with the bull as his vehicle developed at quite a late stage in the ancient Indian literature and art.

Vrsapakapi, happened to be a monkey god in the Vedic literature, who enjoyed the proximity of Indra, but was adopted in the subsequent times as Mahakapi or Hanuman as per the evidence of the Brahma Purana.

Ganapati, no doubt appears in the Vedic texts, but he is not to be found as Ganesa, the son of Siva of the later Puranic period. He, no doubt, happens to be chief of the ganas, but the term Ganapati has also been used for Rudra or Siva. Therefore, the Puranic Ganapati entirely is the developed form of Vedic Ganapati.

Similarly, Indra, the so powerful a Vedic god, in due course of time was relegated to the insignificant position of a Dikpala in the art and literature of the later period. Similar is the position with the other Vedic deities. Indeed ever since the dawn of civilization on earth, several deities have appeared in human, composite or even animal forms, dominating the Indian religious thought in one or the other forms, while some of them disappeared from the Indian religious scene as rapidly as they had mushroomed, some of them disappeared with the passage of time, and still others came down to the modern times in an improved or modified form.

It may be recalled that the Rgveda was originally spread over together with the Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda into over a thousand Sakhas. The study of the Rgveda started from Rsi Paila. The hymns were composed in the form of metres forming the texts. On the basis of the Mahabhasya the number of the Rgveda’s Sakhas has been counted as twenty-one. But currently only Sakala, Baskala, Asvalayana, Samkhyayana and Mandukayana only are available. Inspite of the fact that except Sakala, the Samhitas of the other Sakhas are not available, but they are found mentioned at several places. Some of them find mention in the Brahmanas, Aranyakas and others in the Srout Sutras. Therefore the existence of the five Sakhas is confirmed.


Gods of the Rigveda

The religious practices of the Vedic era form the precursors to many of the beliefs and practices of modern-day Hinduism. In the Vedas, we can see the roots of modern Hinduism, yet many deities and practices have changed significantly over the centuries. Indeed, the main trinity of Hinduism today, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, do not appear in the Rigveda in the same way or with the same importance that they are ascribed nowadays.

In the early Vedic period, there were two major groups of deities: the devas and the asuras. The devas were celestial beings or gods, worshipped and praised for their excellence. The asuras were another class of celestial beings defined by their opposition to the devas. Over time, the power and importance of the devas surpassed that of the asuras, and the asuras began to be understood as demons.

The devas were not viewed as all-powerful, and humans’ relationship with them was transactional. Through sacrifices and offerings, humans secured the aid of the gods in maintaining peace, order, and health.

The Rigveda enumerates 33 devas, some representing forces of nature and other representing moral values. Some of these are gods still known and worshipped today, some have been changed but are still part of the Hindu pantheon, while others are no longer commonly worshipped. The most important deities of the Rigveda were in fact Indra, Agni, and Soma. Varuna is a fourth god who, though not discussed as extensively as the former three, played an important role in the early days of Vedic mythology.

Indra was one of the most important gods in the religion of the Vedic era. He is the king of the gods, as well as the god of storms and war. Indra is particularly celebrated in the Rig Veda, in which there are more than 250 hymns devoted specifically to him, more than any other deity. He is sometimes paralleled to Zeus in Greek mythology, Odin in Norse mythology, or Wotan in German mythology.

There are many stories devoted in Indra, and throughout the texts he plays a variety of roles. He rules over other deities as the benevolent king of the gods, bringing peace and prosperity. As the king of rain and sthunder, he brings rain to end droughts, yet he is also a great warrior who conquers the asuras.

He is often depicted riding a white elephant, Airavata. There are also many references to Indra and Soma, the elixir of the gods to which he is very partial. There are multiple tales in which he overindulges in Soma and must be restored to his senses from its aftereffects by the goddess Sarasvati or the Ashvins.

Agni’s importance in Vedic religion is second only to Indra’s, though Agni’s function in worship surpassed Indra’s. Agni is the god of fire, and was thus was of central importance in yagnas (fire ceremonies), especially sacrificial ceremonies. He is understood to be a messenger between humans and the gods, bringing the prayers and offerings of ceremonial rites to the gods and the boons and blessings of the gods back to humanity. In this way, he functions as an intermediary force, transforming the offerings of the human terrestrial world to the subtle celestial realm of the gods.

Agni is the protector, especially of the home. He is omnipresent, and thus knows the thoughts of all people and is a witness to all important events. He is said to be able to discern between truth and lies, and this led to practices where people would be made to confess things in the presence of fire as a test of truth, “trial by fire.”

In art, Agni often has two heads, four or seven arms, three legs, and black or deep red skin. He has three or seven tongues, and black hair like leaping flames. He rides either a goat or ram (the most commonly sacrificed animals), or a chariot with seven wheels, drawn by red horses. He is usually carrying a fan (with which he builds up fires), a sacrificial ladle, an axe, and a flaming torch or javelin.

Soma refers to a god, a plant, and a ritual drink, and the distinction between the three is not always made clear in the Rigveda. There are 120 hymns devoted to the praise of soma in the Rigveda, but the most common reference is to the drink and the supernatural powers it bestowed upon those who drank it. Consequently, soma wasn’t often portrayed in any human-like form, though he was occasionally portrayed as a bull or bird.

Soma was considered a bringer of health and wealth. Soma the sacred drink is said to be a yellow-golden color, and thus soma is also often identified with light. The gods drank soma to sustain their immortality, and the drink would likewise bestow the powers of the gods upon any mortal who drank it. In this way, soma could bridge the profane and divine realms, similar to the role agni served.

Soma is especially associated with Indra, so much so that it is rare to see one referenced without the other. Soma the drink inspires and empowers Indra to perform many of his mighty deeds. Yet soma himself is also a god capable of his own feats. He is a great and heroic warrior depicted as the victor in all of his battles, capable of repelling all enemies.

Though Varuna is not praised as much in the Rigveda as Indra, that does not accurately represent his importance in the early Vedic era. The Rigveda places special emphasis on the Agni and Soma ritual, and Indra is thus frequently involved due to his connection with Soma.

However, even though Varuna does not have as many hymns devoted to him in the Rigveda as Indra, Soma, or even Agni, he was a god of great importance whose role changed over the course of the Vedic period. At the early part of the Vedic era, he was the god of universal law and moral order, the supreme, omniscient, and omnipresent ruler who controls the actions of man and the cosmos. He was thus placed at the head of the Vedic pantheon.

Varuna was originally a kind of solar deity. He presided over the night sky, representing the dark aspect of the sun as it makes its journey from west to east during the night before rising again. He was also the King of Heaven and Earth, and his power to oversee all of the moral behavior of humanity was symbolized in depictions in which he was said to have a thousand eyes, often likened to the stars in the night sky. He is otherwise not usually depicted in anthropomorphic form, perhaps as a way of highlighting his supreme transcendence.

Eventually, his role became less significant, and he was replaced by Indra as the head of the vedic pantheon. In later Vedas, Varuna’s role as the overseer of human morality gradually diminished, and his jurisdiction was restricted to the celestial waters and the ocean, which is how he is more commonly understood today.

Worship of Nature
Rig-Vedic Aryans worshipped the forces of nature, but at the same time believed in the basic unity of nature. They worshipped many gods not in fear of nature but to gain nature’s favour. All the natural phenomena such as the sky, thunder, rain, air were believed to be guided by their presiding deities, while natural devastations were taken to be an expression of their wrath. The hymns of the Rig-Veda were mainly sung for the glorification of the gods in order to appease them. God was regarded as the ruler, ordainer of the period of life, protector of men and giver of happiness.

There were no places of worship like temples or objects of worship like Idols. Natural phenomena were conceived as the expression of some spiritual different appearances of various gods. For the different appearances of the sky different deities were imagined, such as Varuna, Indra, Mitra, Dyus. Most of these natural events were personified and it was the birth of first mythology in the world.

Dyus-Pitr, Mithra, Varuna
The Aryans looked up to the bright sky and worshipped it under the name of Dyu or Dyaus. This term is equivalent to the Greek Zeus and the first syllable of the Jupiter. It is also similar to Tiu of the Saxons and the Zio of the Germans.

These common names under which the sky-god was worshipped by the different cultures of ancient times prove that the sky was worshipped under these names by the primitive Aryans in their original home.

So, earliest divine power in Vedic literature is Dyaus. Dyaus was referred as Dyaus Pitr, which later became Ju-piter. Pitr means Prithvi and Dyaus was coupled with prithivi and the two Dyaus-Prithivi are the universal parents.

Rig-Vedic Aryans called the sky of day as Mithra corresponding to the Zend Mithra; and they called the sky of night Varuna, corresponding to the Greek Ouranos.

Varuna, apart from being the god of the sky, is also the god of law of nature Rta. Varuna is also lord of the Patal Loka (nether world). He is one of the most prominent gods in the Rig-Veda, and lord of the heavens and the earth.

Indra and Marut
While the Hindu Aryans of the Punjab continued to worship the ancient sky-god under the ancient names of Dyu, Mitra, and Varuna, they paid special homage to the sky that rains, which they called Indra. Rise of rivers and the luxuriance of crops depend on the rain-giving sky; and in course of time, Indra became the most prominent deity in the Vedic society.

Indra was conceived as a warlike deity, battling with the clouds, called Vritra, to obtain copious torrents of rain for man, and fighting with the demons of darkness, called Panis, to restore to the world the light of the morning. The Maruts or storm-gods were supposed to help Indra in his contest with the reluctant clouds, for in India the first showers of the rainy season are often attended with storms and thunder.

Thus, Indra was the most important divinity and was lord of war. 250 hymns have been devoted to only Indra in Rig Veda, which is highest for any of the Gods. His other names are:

Car-warrior (Rathestha)
A winner ( Jitendra)
Soma Drinker (Somapa).
Indra is mentioned as son of Dyaus. He killed a demon Vritra, so he is known as Vritrahan. He destroyed the forts of Dasyus, so also known as Purandhar. He held the thunderbolt (Vajra) with which he destroyed the enemies. His wife is Indrani or Sachi (energy).

Aditi, Sun, Savithri
Next to the sky, the sun was the most prominent object of the worship of the ancient Hindus. Aditi was the limitless light of sky, and her sons, the Adityas were the suns of the different months of the year. Surya was coterminous with Greek Helios, the Latin Sol, and the Teuton Tyr.

Savitri is another name of the same deity Sun, and the sacred hymn, the Gayathri Mantra, which is still repeated every morning by pious Hinuds all over world; is a verse dedicated to Savithri. Please note that Vishnu, which in later Hindu mythology has become a name of the Supreme Preserver of all beings, was a name of the sun in the Vedic age. The rising sun, the sun at Zenith, and the setting sun were considered the three steps of Vishnu striding across limitless space.

Fire or Agni was an object of worship. No sacrifice to the gods could be performed without libations or offerings to the fire, and Agni was therefore considered to be the priest among the gods. But Agni is not only the terrestrial fire in the Rig Veda; he is also the fire of the lightning and the sun, and his abode was in heaven. The early sage Bhrigus discovered him there, and Atharvavan and Angiras, the first sacrificers, installed him in this world, as the protector of men.

Thus, Agni is the God of fire and acceptor of sacrifices. He was considered an intermediary between Gods and men. 200 hymns have been devoted to only Agni in Rig Veda while Agni is mentioned in 218 hymns.

Vayu and Rudra
Vayu or the wind is sometimes invoked in the Rig Veda. The Maruts or storm-gods are oftene invoked, as we have seen before, and are considered the helpers of Indra in obtaining rain for the benefit of man. Rudra, the loud-sounding father of the Maruts, is the Thunder, and in later Hindu mythology, this name has been appropriately chosen for the Supreme Destroyer of all living beings.

Soma & Brihaspati
Agni, or fire, received special homage because he was necessary for all sacrifice. The libation of soma juice was similarly regarded sacred, and Soma was worshipped as a deity. Similarly, the prayer, which accompanied the libations or offerings, was also regarded as a deity, and was called Brahamanaspati. In later Hindu mythology, Brahman is selected as the name of the Supreme Creator of all living beings.

Soma was prepared by extracting juice from the stalks of a certain plant, and the Soma God was god of the plants. 123 hymns are dedicated to Soma and most of them are from Soma Mandala.

Agni Soma Cult

Aprt from lightning the Holy Fire, the Soma-drinking was another mark of the Arya cult, which may therefore be called ‘the Agni-Soma cult-‘ Soma is a product of the Himalayan regions, so that when the cult moved down to the plains, Kirata (huntress) girls from the Himalayan hills supplied it to Brahmanas. The use of Soma, like the worship of Agni indicates the Himalayan region as the place where the Agni-Soma cult first originated.

Soma & Haoma
The fermented juice of the plant called Soma appears to have been the only intoxicating drink used in Vedic times. So much were the ancient Aryans addicted to this drink, that Soma was soon worshipped as a deity both in India and in Iran (under the name Haoma in the latter country), and we find one entire Mandala, or Book, of the Rig-Veda, dedicated to this deity.

They are various Vedic gods taken together as a whole headed by Indra. 70 hymns are dedicated to Visvedevas in Rig-Veda.

Ashwins or Ashwinikumars
Light and Darkness naturally suggested to the early Aryans the idea of twin gods. The sky (Vivasvat) is the father, and the Dawn (Saranyu) is the mother of the twin Ashwins and the legend goes on to say that Saranyu ran away from Vivasvat before she gave birth to the twins. There is a similar legend in Greek mythology, where and Erinnys (corresponding to Saranyu) ran away from her lover, and gave birth to Areion and Despoina. The original idea is that the Dawn and Gloaming disappears, and gives birth to Light and to Darkness.

Please note that later, Aswins lost thier original charecter and simply became the physician gods, responsible for healing of the sick and the wounded, tending mortals with kindness. There are other twins Yama and Yami, who are kids of same parents – the Dawn and Sky. They also acquired different chareters in Rig Veda.

Yama & Yami
Yama is considered to have been the first mortal who died and espied the way to the celestial abodes, and in virtue of precedence, he became the ruler of the departed. He is the guardian of the world of Dead. His twin sister is Yami and both Yama and Yami are Children of Surya. Yamini means Night and Yami is also known as Yamuna.

Usha has been described as far – extending, many – tinted, brilliant Dawn, whose abode is unknown. She harnesses her chariots from afar and comes in radiance and glory. She is the young, the white-robed daughter of the sky, and the queen of all earthly treasures. She is like the careful mistress of the house who rouses everyone from his slumbers and sends him to his work. Yet she is radiant as a bride decorated by her mother for the auspicious ceremony, and displaying her charms to the view.

Such are the fond epithets and beautiful similes with which the Hindu Aryans greeted the fresh and lovely mornings of a tropical sky.

Other Rig Vedic Gods
Pusan: The guardian of the Jungle Paths and Roads.
Aditi – Goddess of Eternity
Gandhrava – Divine Musicians
Rbhus – three semi divine deities of Rig-Veda.
Rudra – Archer of Gods
Aranyanai – Goddess of Forests
Usha – Goddess of Dawn
Prithvi – Goddess Earth
Apsaras are dancers of the celestial courts, however, Rig Veda mentions Apsara as the wife of Gandharva. Rig Veda allows for the existence of more than one Apsara. The maiden Apsara is Urvashi who became the wife of king Pururavas, first king of the Somavamsha. Narrative of Urvashi and Pururavas is found in the Rigveda (X.95.1-18) and the Shatapatha Brahmana (XI.5.1)

Comparison of the Greek Dieties and Ancient Hindu Dieties
There was an essential difference between the Hindu gods of the Vedic age and the Greek gods of the Homeric age. The first thing we should note that the Sanskrit language is nearer and closer than the Greek to the original Aryan tongue, yet Hindu conceptions go nearer to the original Nature-worship of the primitive Aryans. The Gods of Homeric Greeks have attained a marked individuality and the characters are so individualistic that “nature” almost escapes. But the Hindu Gods are still the powers of Nature and show manifestations of Nature. For example, we can identify Indra with Rains easily but can not identify Zeus with Sky. Therefore, we can say that Hindu conceptions are more true to their original sources.


In the Rig Veda the goddess Usha is consistently associated with and often identified with the dawn. She reveals herself in the daily coming of light to the world. She has been described in the Rig Veda as a young maiden drawn by one hundred horses. She brings forth light and is followed by the sun who urges her onwards. She is praised for driving away, or is petitioned to drive away, the oppressive darkness. She is asked to chase away evil demons. As the dawn she is said to rouse all life, to set all things in motion and to send people off to do their duties. She sends the curled-up sleepers on their way to offer their sacrifices and thus render service to the other gods.

Usha gives strength and fame. She is that which impels life and is associated with the breath and life of all living creatures. She is associated with, or moves with cosmic, social and moral order. As the regularly recurring dawn she reveals and participates in cosmic order and is the foe of chaotic forces that threaten the world. Usha is generally held as an auspicious goddess associated with light and wealth, and is often likened to a cow.

In the Rig Veda she is also called ‘the mother of cows’ and like a cow that yields its udder for the benefit of people, so Usha bares her breasts to bring light for the benefit of human kind. Although she is usually described as a young and beautiful maiden, she is also called ‘the mother of the gods and the ashwins’. Considered as mother by her petitioners she tends to all things like a good matron and goddess of the earth. She is said to be ‘the eye of the gods’ and is referred to as ‘she who sees all’, but is rarely invoked to forgive human transgressions. It is more typical to invoke her in times of need to drive away or punish one’s enemies.

Usha is known as the goddess, reality or presence that bears away youth. She is described as ‘a skilled huntress who wastes away the lives of people’. In accordance with the ways of Rita she wakes all living things but does not disturb the person who sleeps in death. As the recurring dawn, Usha is not only celebrated for bringing light from darkness, she is also petitioned to grant long life, as she is a constant reminder of peoples’ limited time on earth. She is the mistress or marker of time.

The ancient Vedic tradition has viewed Usha as the harbinger of light, awareness, activity. People divided time into the form of day and night. At night all creation rests and in the day the whole of creation is active. The transformation which takes place from night to day is known to be the attribute of Usha, the awareness that stirs up the activity of creation, the light that gives sight to the eyes, that gives power to the senses, that gives power to the mind and intellect, Usha has been regarded as the light, or the dawn of human consciousness.

Another goddess commonly referred to in the Rig Veda is the goddess Prithvi who is nearly always associated with the earth, the terrestrial sphere where human beings live. In the Rig Veda furthermore she is always coupled with Dyaus the male deity associated with the sky. So dependent are these two deities in the Rig Veda that Prithvi is rarely addressed alone but almost always as part of the dual compound Dyaus-Prithvi, Sky-Earth. Together they are said to kiss the centre of the world. They sanctify each other in their complementary relationship. Together they are said to be the universal parents who created the world and the gods. As might be expected, Dyaus is often called ‘father’ and Prithvi ‘mother’.

In addition to her maternal productive characteristics, Prithvi usually, along with Dyaus in the Rig Veda is praised for her supportive nature. She is frequently called ‘firm’, ‘she who upholds and supports all things’. She encompasses all things, is broad and wide, and is motionless. Although elsewhere she is said to move freely, Prithvi with Dyaus is often petitioned for wealth, riches and power. The waters they produce together are described as ‘fat, full, nourishing and fertile’. They are also petitioned to protect people from danger, to expiate sin and to bring happiness. Together they represent a wide, firm realm of abundance and safety, a realm pervaded by the order of Rita, which they strengthen and nourish. They are un-wasting, inexhaustible and rich in gems.

In a funeral hymn the dead one is asked to go now to the lap of his mother earth, Prithvi who is described as gracious and kind. She is asked not to press down too heavily upon the dead person but to cover him gently as a mother covers her child with her skirt. The most extended hymn in praise of Prithvi in vedic literature is found in the Atharva Veda. The hymn is dedicated to Prithvi alone and no mention is made of Dyaus. The mighty god Indra is her consort and prefects her from all dangers. Vishnu strides over her, and Parjanya. Prajapati and Vishwakarma all either protect her, provide for her or are her consorts. Agni is said to pervade her. Despite this association with male deities, the hymn makes it clear that Prithvi is a great deity in her own right. The hymn repeatedly emphasises Prithvi’s fertility. She is the source of all plants, crops, and nourishes all creatures that live upon her. She is described as patient and strong, supporting the wicked and the good, the demons and the gods, She is frequently addressed as ‘Mother’ and is called to nurse all living things.