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10 Deities You Should Know as a Yoga Teacher

26 Jul 2021 HYN Himalayan Yoga Academy

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“There can really be as many gods as there are devotees to suit the mood , feelings , emotions , and emotional and social background of the devotees.”

~  Shree rama Krishna

You are likely come to know some of the mantras or depiction about popular Hindu gods and goddesses basically 10 Deities You Should Know as a Yoga Teacher if you are a yoga teacher , or a yoga student .So you  might be wondering about why it is important to know who or what they are.

Including Myths and Mantras into your practice whether teaching or simply deepening as a student ,can help bring you deeper clarity ,heart-opening ,support  and insight of your journey .

Yoga is the ancient spiritual  science of human beings and awakening system that draws from a wide range of inspirations including religions  like Hinduism ,Buddhism , Jainism , and  also western science and phsycology .

Divinity of Hindu Gods is vast . There are said to be 33 millions hindu deities each related with a variety of stories ,parables  , iconographies , and  mantras that teach about the values and aims of human life and path to awakening .

In Nepal and india , you can observe worshippers offering different gods with offerings which includes mantra, incense , prayer , flowers and other precious items .

Dieities or gods are the  supernatural being considered divine or sacred .Simply , they can considered as archetypes that depicts patterns of thoughts and habits that are individually present in Universal Psyches .

In short , reciting mantras and practicing diety meditation in your yoga practice can not only help you to know about ancient traditions , cultures and values but also help you to realilze your inner self and take you to deeper journey towards liberation .

        Three supreme god in Hinduism

              Brahma , Bishnu , Shiva

1) Brahma

-Brahma is considered as creater of the world . He is also  reffered as swoyambhu which means self born and is associated with creation ,knowledge and Vedas . Brahma is the first of the trimurti –supreme trinity of gods along with Vishnu and Shiva .

Symbolism-Brahma symbolizes the mind and intelligence as he is the source of knowledge .

Iconography Artistic renditions of Brahma show him with four heads ,which symbolize the four Vedas ,or a holy books , and the four castes .

Also , four hands symbolizes the aspects of the human personality –mind , intellect , ego and consciousness .

Divine consort His divine consort is Saraswoti and she represents his  creative energy ( shakti ) as well as knowledge he possesses .

Mantra- We invoke Brahma  to greet our great creator and great teacher .

2) Vishnu

The glorious Vishnu is the sole refuge of mortals .He is infinite  light ,love and wisdom .He resides in the  hearts of all being . His grace is invincible . He is the highest truth . He is infinite bliss . He is the protector , preserver and savior

                                          ~ Swami Sivananda

.Vishnu is the protector and preserverand sustainer  of the Universe . Some of his avatars are Narayana , Vasudeva , Narasimha , Krishna .

. Symbolizes the moral justice values and order to restore the balance of bad and evils . He is powerful ,wise and encourages kindness .

. Iconography-Vishnu is  portrayed with having blue skin and four  arms ,and as dressed with extensive jwellery , flower garlands , a large crown . In the four hands ,Vishnu  carries a conch shell , a ‘chakra’ – war disc symbolizing that which restores dharma and cosmic equilibrium with war if necessary ,  a club like mace- symbolizing authority and power of knowledge . and a lotus flower which symbolizes purity and superiority.

.Divine consort –Lakshmi – Goddess of wealth and happiness .

.Mantra – we invoke Vishnu and his avatars for removing negative energy and preservation and sustanibility of life . Also , to help with patience , liberation ,compassion and prosperity  .

3) Shiva

“The greatest power in existence is Shiva. Shiva means nothingness. Nothingness, the very basis of Everything.” – Sadhguru

Shiva is known as ‘the destroyer’ .within the trimurti . Shiva is the supreme god who creates , protects and transforms the  Universe .

Symbolism –Shiva is known as the protector and destroyer .he is also known as Adiguru .He is the inner self of all being .

Iconography –The iconographical attributes of Shiva are the serpent around his neck which represent ego which has no place in his body , the adorning crescent moon to represent infinite cycles ,,holy river Ganges flowing from his mattered hair , the  third eye on his forehead , the trisula or trident as his weapon , and the damaru drum . He is worshipped in the form of lingam .

Family –Shiva is the divine consort of Shakti , father of Ganesha and Skanda-God of war

Mantra – We invoke Shiva to  help us destroy ego , greed ,lust , anger ,illusion ,and ignorance . ,which create hardship and challenges in the way of peace and enlightenment . .Also to align with the heart of Yoga . as Shiva is the first yoga guru( Adi Guru ) .

        Trinity of Supreme Godesses of Hinduism

                      Saraswati , Lakshmi ,Kali

These triune goddesses are the manifestations of Shakti . The three goddesses is a concept in hunduism joining a triad of eminent goddesses either as feminine version or as a consorts of masculine Trimurti , depending on the denomination .

4) Saraswoti

Knowledge destroys the darkness of ignorance .   ~Rig Veda

.Saraswoti is the hindu goddess of knowledge , music , art , speech ,wisdom and learning .

.Divine consort of Brahman

.Iconography – The goddess Saraswoti is often depicted as a beautiful women dressed in pure white saree , often seated in a white lotus .which symbolizes light , knowledge and truth .

Saraswoti is depicted with four hands , which symbolically mirror her husband Brahma `s four heads , representing mind , intellect , alertness and ego . The four hands holds items with symbolic meaning – a pustaka (book or script) which symbolizes the Vedas  representing the Universal ,divine , eternal and true knowledge as well as  form of learning . A malaa (rosary, garland) representing the power of meditation ,inner reflection and spirituality . , a water pot represents the purifying power to separate right from wrong , the clean from the unclean and  a musical instrument called veena , represents all creative arts and sciences, and her holding it symbolizes expressing knowledge that creates harmony .

Mantra –We invoke Saraswoti to help us with our studies ,communication , expression and creative flow as well as to move towards the path of enlightenment .

5) Lakshmi

Knowledge increases his thinking capabilites and helps him in getting new and innovative ideas .After implementing those ideas successfully he earns wealth    ~Rig Veda

Lakshmi is the Goddess of wealth , fertility ,auspiciousness , light , material ,and spiritual fulfillment .

Symbolism – Lakshmi reminds us to be grateful for the material , spiritual and emotional abundance that we have already have within ourselves-rather than what we lack .

Family – She is divine consort  to Vishnu .

Iconograpghy –Lakshmi typically wears a red saree embroidered with golden threads , which symbolizes fortune and wealth .

She is either sitting or standing in the lotus and typically carrying lotus in one or two hands . Lotus symbolizes knowledge , self realization and liberation in the Vedic context .also represents reality , consciousness and karma in tantra context .

Also , Lakshmi is very often shown with one or two elephants and occasionally with an owl . Elephant symbolizes work , strength , and activity for abundant prosperity whereas owl signifies the importance of economic activity in maintenance of the life , ability to move , work and prevail in confusing darkness .

Mantra –We invoke Lakshmi to help support our success and prosperity and also helps us to appreciate gratitude towards the abundance we already have .

6) Kali

When the power comes from within us and we claim it as our own ., then we no longer have to affirm ourselves by dominating others . The irony is that we are actually afraid of our own power .

Kali , or parbati is the  Goddess of power , war , beauty and love .

Symbolizes – Kali symbolizes the death of ego and reminds worshippers that the humand body is temporary condition only .

Divine Consort – Kali is the divine consort of Shiva .

Iconography –Kali is often depicted as a terrifying force ,with blood dropping from her mouth ,a protruding tongue, a garland of humans heads  , a skirt made up of bones and a sword that cuts away fear , greed and ignorance –the  delusions that keep us from finding peace and joy within our lives .

Mantra –We invoke kali for protection  , and helps to cut away ,that no longer serves us .

7) Durga

“O Queen of all , you who exist in the form of all, and possess every might , save us from error ,, O Devi ,salutation to you Devi  Durga “

                               ~Devi Mahatmyan

Durga is known as warrior Goddess  also Divine Mother associated  with protection , strength , motherhood , destruction and wars .

Symbolizes –Her legend centres around combating evils and demonic forces that threatens prece , prosperity and Dharma – the power of good over evils .Durga is believed to unleash her divine wrath against the wicked for the liberation of thr oppressed, and entails detruction to empower creation .

Iconography –Durga is depicted riding a tiger , and with each of her eight arms holding a myriad of weapons to destroy and create .She  is imagined to be terrifying and destructive where she has to be , but benevolent and nurturing when she needs to be .

Family –Divine consort of Shiva .

Mantra –We invoke Durga for protection , wisdom , strength and blessings to help us rise as a leader .

 8) Ganesha

“Man learns through experience, and the spiritual path is full of different kinds of experiences. He will encounter many difficulties and obstacles, and they are the very experiences he needs to encourage and complete the cleansing process.”

Ganesha is most worshipped elephant headed God . He is known as the god of good fortune who provides prosperity ,fortune , and success .

Symbolism – Ganesh represents wisdom , good fortune being remover of obstacles and the patron of arts and science . Ganesha has a permanent abode in every being at the muladhara ( first chakra ).Ganesha holds  , supports ,and guides all other chakras , thereby “governing the forces that propel the wheel of life “.

Family – Son of Shiva and Parvati

Iconography –Ganesha is represented having elephant`s head . He  may be portrayed standing , dancing , heroically taking action action against demons , playing with his family as a boy , or engadging in the range of contemporary situations .Also , Ganesha depicted riding in mouse or shrewd.

Mantra –We invoke Ganesha at the beginning of anything  – a practice , a day , a new journey , a new business , for the new beginning and to remove any obstacle in the life .

9) Hanuman

Whenever I am really stuck  , when I really need to go there ,` I sing the

Chalisa and that connects me to Maharajji , to human , to that powerful presence that`s deeper than any of that stuff  . And , by touching that  , I `m able to overcome whatever I`m stuck in ….at least for 10 minutes .

                                             ~ Krishna Das

 God of wisdom , strength , courage , Devotion and self discipline . He is the  great warrior monkey God . , and the original of Bhakti Yoga .

Symbolism – Hanuman symbolizes the human excellences of inner – self control , faith , service to  a cause , hidden behind the first impressions of being who looks like a Ape man as well as the he is the symbol of devotion , strength and preservation .like us , Hanuman often forgets  his divinity , and reminds himself by chanting ram`s name over and over again to help him remember and bring him back to the path .

Family – He is the faithful and devoted servant to Ram . An avatar or incarnation of lord Vishnu.

Iconography – Hanuman is often depicted as bowing or kneeling with the devotion next to sita and ram .

Mantra – We invoke Hanuman to help with physical strength , devotion , power , and stamina  .

10) Krishna

The key to Happiness is the reduction of desires    ~ Lord Krishna

Lord Krishna is known as lord of protection  , compassion , tenderness and love and the Lord of Yoga or Yogis .

Symbolism – Krishna as the essence and symbol of the divine love . Krishna is the beloved main hero of the Bhagwad Gita .He is creator of wisdom and ignorance of  light and darkness, of time and space ,forgiver and  punisher , a friend ,teacher and leader .

Family –Avatar of Vishnu , also popularly known as Govinda or Gopal .

Iconography – His iconography typically depicts him with blue skin like Vishnu which symbolizes the immeasurable and all pervading reality such as sky and ocean appear to mortal eye as color blue . He is often depicted wearing a peacock – feather crown , and  playing the basuri . He is sometimes accompanied by cow or a calf , which symbolize the divine herdsman Govinda .

Mantra –We invoke Krishna for purification ,solace , bliss .It is said that Krishna is the savior of humanity and remover of all sufferings .

Written By Sulakshana Simkhada

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