As a universal concept Hinduism accepts all formulations of Truth, According to the universal view there is only One Reality, but no particular name shape or form can adequately describe that Reality. Though Truth is One it is also Universal, not an exclusive formulation It is an inclusive Oneness – a spiritual reality of the Supreme Being – Consciousness – Bliss, which could be called God but which transcends all names and forms. The different Gods and Goddesses of Hinduism represent various functions of this One Supreme Divinity, and they are not separate Gods. Acceptance of other faiths, tolerance and pluralism are obvious corollaries to this great socio-religious principle of antiquity, Around the 6th century BC, the great Hindu philosopher, Adi Shankara grouped the various forms of worship in Sanatana Dharma (Eternal code of conduct, Hinduism) into six sects (Shanmathas). They are:
- Ganapathyam … The devotion to Lord Ganesha,
- Saivam … The devotion of Lord Siva.
- Vaishnavam … The devotion to Lord Vishnu.
- Sauram … The devotion to the Sun God, or Fire.
- Shaktham … The devotion to Sri Shakti (Durgaji)
- Kaumaram … The devotion to Lord Kartikeya
Our temple has physical representations of all of the above except the Sun God. However, during Yajnas, Homas and other Poojas, we always worship the Fire God.
Lord Ganesha is worshiped by Hindus in all regions as the prime deity, Every ritual begins with a prayer and a pooja offering to Sri Ganesha. He is the Ishwara of the multitudes (GANA), Ganapati- the Lord of the GANA; Vinaharta – the remover of all obstacles in the proper conduct of the Dharma; Siddhi Vinayaka – the leader who guides us in attaining our goals, prodding us towards completion of all our tasks through proper conduct of our spiritual life, In one hand He holds a hook to prod us on our path to righteousness.
The Lord of obstacles, Sri Vighneswara, has four arms representing four-inner- equipment (antakarana), The significance of the symbols in each hand is as follows: With the axe, He cuts off all the attachments of the devotees and thus ends their misery. With the rope, lie pulls them nearer and nearer to the Ultimate Truth and ties them to the Highest Goal. The modhaka (sweet) in the third hand represents the reward of the joys of sadhana,
With the other hand, He blesses all his devotees and protects them from all obstacles, The broken tusk reminds us the familiar mythological episode of Vinayaka taking down notes of Mahabharata with one half of his tusk as Sage Vyasa dictated the great Epic Poem.
Sri Lakshmi Narayana
Lord Narayana (or Vishnu) is one of the principal Hindu deities, worshiped as the protector and preserver of the world and restorer of (moral order). He is known chiefly through h,is avatars (incarnations), particularly Rama and Krishna. In theory, Vishnu manifests a portion of himself anytime he is needed to fight evil, and his appearances are innumerable; but in practice, ten incarnations are most commonly recognized.
Lord holds a Chakra (discus) in one hand denoting that he maintains Dharma (righteousness) and order in the universe. The SLIANEHA (conch), the sound symbol that he holds in the other hand, symbolic of the NADA BRAHMAN (music of the cosmos) is to remove all ignorance. The GADA (mace) is to eliminate all evil in the world and the LOTUS is the symbol of beauty, purity, serenity and perfection – the cosmic universe.
The beloved wife of Sri Narayana is Sri Lakshmi, Mother Lakshmi is always identified with the Lord, and hence they are known as Sri Lakshmi Narayana. Mother Lakshmi is a mother of prosperity, peace and illumination, without her grace, one can’t have inner peace or perennial joy. Other names & manifestations of Lord Narayana are Vishnu, Parandama and Vasudev.
Lord Shiva, Linga and Nandi
Shiva is one of the gods of the Trinity. He is said to be the god of destruction, Shiva is believed to be at the core of the centrifugal force of the universe, because of his responsibility for death .and destruction, But Shiva dissolves in order to .create, since death is the medium for rebirth into a new life. So the opposites of life and death and creation and destruction both reside in his character. Shiva, in his abstract form, is worshiped as Linga. Other names & manifestations of Lord Siva: Nataraja, Dakshinamurthi ,Lingodhbava, Haryardhamurthi , Ardhanareeswara and Parameshwara.
The Goddess Durga, also known as Parvati is the wife of Lord Shiva, Parvati represents prakriti or nature, which means perishable matter, in the absence of which true and complete destruction by Shiva becomes impossible. (As we are all aware of today, only biodegradable matter can be destroyed). This could possibly he the meaning of the idea that Shiva becomes nothing in the absence of Shakti, Durga has two famous sons, Kartikeya and Ganesh. Durga exists in various divine forms, One of her most fiercely powerful forms is Kali (goddess of destruction). Other names and manifestations of Durgaji: Parvati, Ulna, Ardhanareeswari, Parameshwari, Kali, Mariamman Maa
Sri Ram Parivar
Rama is one of the most commonly adored gods of Hindus and is known as an ideal man and hero of the epic Ramayana. He is always holding a bow and arrow indicating his readiness to destroy evils. He is also called “Shri Ram”. More commonly he is pictured in a family style, (Ram Parivar) with his wife Sita, brother Lakshman and devotee Hanuman who is sitting near Lord Rama’s feet.
Lord Rama is considered as the Sixth incarnation of Vishnu and is thought of as an ideal example for mankind to follow. Unlike other avatars, Rama acted like a human, followed the cannons of law laid for humans and was a living embodiment of Dharma (Ramo vigrahavan dharmaha), His kingdom. called Ramarajya is still considered to be an excellent model of spiritual democracy.
Sri Radha Krishna
Because of his great Godly power, Lord Krishna is another of the most commonly worshipped deities in the Hindu faith. He is considered to be the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu. Lord Krishna is usually depicted as playing the flute (venn or murali), indicating spread of the melody of love to people. He is also shown with his childhood devotee Radha. The Lord is usually remembered and worshipped as Radha- Krishna. The pair symbolizes the eternal love between people and God.
It was Lord Krishna who declared “The Supreme Lord descends from time lo time in this material world to re-establish the teachings of the Vedas” In His Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna promises: “Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion – at that time I descend Myself. To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to re-establish the principles of religion, I myself appear millennium after millennium.
Sri Hanumanji (Anjaneya)
Hanuman is one of the most popular God of Hindus, People from all walks of life worship him and admire him, As a devotee of Lord Rama, he has become very popular for his devotion and great qualities. Like Ganesha he commands respect and veneration from children and elders alike. Any one who is familiar with the Ramayana, cannot but appreciate his divine nature and super human personality, shaped by the strength of celibacy, humility, selflessness, unsurpassed devotion, determination, fearlessness and an extraordinary commitment to work for the divine. His temples are found everywhere in India, in towns and cities, on the hills, in the forests and most difficult places. Sita found in him a friend. a son and a loyal servant. Impressed by his loyalty and commitment to the cause of Rama, she
blessed him to remain immortal in his existing form till the end of creation and help the loyal devotees of Rama.
Kartikeya or Murugan. as the Tamil people affectionately call him, is the second son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. The sloka OM SARAVANABAVA describes him as an absolute Being. Lord Subramania is called Aum kara pranava swarooban, He is the embodiment of Aum and he explained the meaning of Aum to his father, Lord Shiva, at Swamimalai, South India. Hence he is called Swaminathan (Lord of Swami). By being the personification of Aum, Lord Subramania represents Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara, Lord Subramania has two consorts, Deivayanai representing Kriya sakthi (duty) and Valli representing Icha sakthi (desire) and he himself representing Gnana sakthi (knowledge) and righteousness and thus protects Dharma by destroying the evil. While Ganesh removes obstacles Murugan bestows all spiritual powers, particularly the power of knowledge. The most popular and desirable form of worship of Lord Subramania is as Pranava Swarooban accompanied by the two sakthis. His vehicle which is the peacock symbolizes ego which is conquered for spiritual elevation, The popular worship of Shiva in the north of India and Murugan (who is his youngest son) in the South of India bridges the nation as one family. In fact, Kaumaram representing the devotion to Lord Murugan, is one of the six subsects of Hinduism, As an embodiment of knowledge, Kumaran is said to have expounded the meaning of the PRANAVA MANTRA to his father Lord Shiva himself.
Other names and manifestations of Kartikeya: Kumaran, Subramanian, Skanda and Shanmuka (because he has six faces).
Sri Mahavir was the last Tirthankara of the Jain religion. According to Jain philosophy, all Tirthankaras were born as human beings but they have attained a state of perfection or enlightenment through meditation and self realization. They, are the Gods of Jains, Tirthankara – One who establishes the four fold order (Monk, Nun, Layman, and Laywoman) of religion.
Jina – One who conquers his inner enemies like anger, greed, passion, ego, etc. The followers of Jina are known as Jains. The spiritual power and moral grandeur of Mahavir’s teachings impressed the masses. He made religion simple and natural, free from elaborate ritual complexities. His message of nonviolence (Ahimsa), truth (Satya), non-stealing Achaurya), celibacy (Brahma-charya), and non- possession (Aparigraha) is full of universal compassion. He said that, “A living body is not merely an integration of limbs and flesh but it is the abode of the soul which potentially has perfect perception (Anant-darshana), perfect knowledge (Anant-jnana), perfect power (Anant-virya), and perfect bliss (Anant-sukha)”. Sri Mahavir’s message reflects freedom and spiritual joy of the living being.