Gods, Goddesses and Their Tales


Dr. Ravi P. Bhatia – TRANSCEND Media Service

As many of us would know, India is a country with several different religious faiths. Apart from well known Christianity and Islam, India is home to various forms of Hinduism and many other beliefs and faiths–Jains, Sikhs, etc. We gave birth to Buddhism, which spread from India to several nations in the East — Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, etc. Japan and China have also been transformed in different positive ways by Buddhism.

Christianity and Islam have different sub divisions. Catholic and Protestant with beautiful churches and religious townships celebrating the two main divisions of Christianity. Islam also has two sub divisions: Shia and Sunni. Shias are prevalent in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Bahrain; the Sunnis mainly in Saudi Arabia, UAE, India, Pakistan.

Apart from Buddhism in India, we have Jainism, the Sikh religion or Sikhism , and several smaller faiths such as the Baha’i faith, Dev Samaj and a few others. Dev Samaj has few believers in India now but is active in some academic institutions. But Hinduism remains the largest religion with several Gods and Goddesses — Rama, Krishna, Ganesh, Durga, Parvati and many others — each with its own tale that enriches the religious fabric of India.

We all know the story of Rama who was banished from his kingdom by his step mother for fourteen years. He was accompanied by his wife Sita and brother Lakshman during the exile. Krishna is a beloved God right from his childhood when he would lick milk from his neighbours homes and play the flute to attract his female admirers, the Gopis. As a child, he was known by several names — Gopal, Govind, Mohan, Murari, Nand Lala and other names.

As he grew up, he imbibed wisdom that he shared with his disciples as depicted in the famous book Bhagwad Gita. Even Mahatma Gandhi was inspired by this well known treatise of life/death/transmigration—both materially and spiritually.

Durga is a well known female goddess who moves around riding the ferocious looking lion and slays demons and wicked people. Another well known goddess is Parvati who is a symbol of power, purity and joy. A third well known Hindu goddess is Saraswati, who is believed to be an incarnation of knowledge/wisdom. Incidentally, Saraswati is also the name of a river that is supposed to flow in the northern part of India but is hardly visible to people today.

Brahma is believed to have created our universe and our planet as we know them; their maintenance is the responsibility of Vishnu and their dissolution is supposed to be carried out by Shiva, the God of destruction.

Another familiar God is Ganesh, the son of Shivaji, who has the face of an elephant. It is believed that he comes to visit his disciples every year and after staying for a few weeks, he is taken out and immersed in a neighbouring river or pool. Thus we have several well known Gods, both male and female, to enrich our spiritual lives.

The stories of these Gods are not only intrinsically interesting but they teach human values such as truth, nonviolence (ahimsa), non attachment, and many other qualities and virtues. As indicated earlier, Mahatma Gandhi believed and practiced these noble qualities. Even some Europeans such as the Editor of TMS, Antonio C S Rosa, follow and practice these values.

Having faith in these Gods and Goddesses helps us believe in and practice the above human values and qualities.



Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, an educationist, Gandhian scholar and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University. His new book, A Garland of Ideas—Gandhian, Religious, Educational, Environmental was published recently in Delhi. ravipbhatia@gmail.com

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 20 Feb 2023.

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