Hindu deities are the gods and goddesses in Hinduism. The terms and epithets for deity within the diverse traditions of Hinduism vary, include Deva, Ishvara, Bhagavān and Bhagavati; the deities of Hinduism have evolved from the Vedic era through the medieval era, regionally within Nepal, India and in southeast Asia, across Hinduism's diverse traditions. The Hindu deity concept varies from a personal god as in Yoga school of Hindu philosophy, to 33 Vedic deities, to hundreds of Puranics of Hinduism. Illustrations of major deities include Parvati, Sri, Sati and Saraswati; these deities have distinct and complex personalities, yet are viewed as aspects of the same Ultimate Reality called Brahman. From ancient times, the idea of equivalence has been cherished for all Hindus, in its texts and in early 1st millennium sculpture with concepts such as Harihara, Ardhanārīshvara, with myths and temples that feature them together, declaring they are the same. Major deities have inspired their own Hindu traditions, such as Vaishnavism and Shaktism, but with shared mythology, ritual grammar, theosophy and polycentrism.
Some Hindu traditions such as Smartism from mid 1st millennium AD, have included multiple major deities as henotheistic manifestations of Saguna Brahman, as a means to realizing Nirguna Brahman. Hindu deities are represented with various icons and anicons, in paintings and sculptures, called Murtis and Pratimas; some Hindu traditions, such as ancient Charvakas rejected all deities and concept of god or goddess, while 19th-century British colonial era movements such as the Arya Samaj and Brahmo Samaj rejected deities and adopted monotheistic concepts similar to Abrahamic religions. Hindu deities have been adopted in other religions such as Jainism, in regions outside India such as predominantly Buddhist Thailand and Japan where they continue to be revered in regional temples or arts. In ancient and medieval era texts of Hinduism, the human body is described as a temple, deities are described to be parts residing within it, while the Brahman is described to be the same, or of similar nature, as the Atman, which Hindus believe is eternal and within every living being.
Deities in Hinduism are as diverse as its traditions, a Hindu can choose to be polytheistic, monotheistic, agnostic, atheistic or humanist. Deities in Hinduism are referred to as Devi; the root of these terms mean "heavenly, anything of excellence". According to Douglas Harper, the etymological roots of Deva mean "a shining one," from *div- "to shine," and it is a cognate with Greek dios "divine" and Zeus, Latin deus. In the earliest Vedic literature, all supernatural beings are called Asuras. By the late Vedic period, benevolent supernatural beings are referred to as Deva-Asuras. In post-Vedic texts, such as the Puranas and the Itihasas of Hinduism, the Devas represent the good, the Asuras the bad. In some medieval Indian literature, Devas are referred to as Suras and contrasted with their powerful, but malevolent half-brothers referred to as the Asuras. Hindu deities are part of Indian mythology, both Devas and Devis feature in one of many cosmological theories in Hinduism. In Vedic literature and Devis represent the forces of nature and some represent moral values, each symbolizing the epitome of a specialized knowledge, creative energy and magical powers.
The most referred to Devas in the Rig Veda are Indra and Soma, with "fire deity" called the friend of all humanity, it and Soma being the two celebrated in a yajna fire ritual that marks major Hindu ceremonies. Savitr, Vishnu and Prajapati are gods and hence Devas; the Vedas describes a number of significant Devis such as Ushas, Aditi, Saraswati, Vāc, Nirṛti, Ratri and bounty goddesses such as Dinsana, Puramdhi, Bharati, Mahi among others are mentioned in the Rigveda. Sri called Lakshmi, appears in late Vedic texts dated to be pre-Buddhist, but verses dedicated to her do not suggest that her characteristics were developed in the Vedic era. All gods and goddesses are distinguished in the Vedic times, but in the post-Vedic texts, in the early medieval era literature, they are seen as aspects or manifestations of one Brahman, the Supreme power. Ananda Coomaraswamy states that Devas and Asuras in the Vedic lore are similar to Angels-Theoi-Gods and Titans of Greek mythology, both are powerful but have different orientations and inclinations, the Devas representing the powers of Light and the Asuras representing the powers of Darkness in Hindu mythology.
According to Coomaraswamy's interpretation of Devas and Asuras, both these natures exist in each human being, the tyrant and the angel is within each being, the best and the worst within each person struggles before choices and one's own nature, the Hindu formulation of Devas and Asuras is an eternal dance between these within each person. The Devas and Asuras and Titans, powers of Light and powers of Darkness in Rigveda, although distinct and opposite in operation, are in essence consubstantial, their distinction being a matter not of essence but of orientation, revolution or transformation. In this case, the Titan is an Angel, the Angel still by nature a Titan.
Vaishnavism is one of the major traditions within Hinduism along with Shaivism and Smarthism. It is called Vishnuism, its followers are called Vaishnavas, it considers Vishnu as the Supreme Lord; the tradition is notable for its avatar doctrine, wherein Krishna is revered in one of many distinct incarnations. Of these, ten avatars of Vishnu are the most studied. Rama, Narayana, Hari, Kesava, Govinda, Sri Nathji and Jagannath are among the popular names used for the same supreme being; the tradition has traceable roots to the 1st millennium BCE, as Bhagavatism called Krishnaism. Developments led by Ramananda created a Rama-oriented movement, now the largest monastic group in Asia; the Vaishnava tradition has many sampradayas ranging from the medieval era Dvaita school of Madhvacharya to Vishishtadvaita school of Ramanuja. The tradition is known for the loving devotion to an avatar of Vishnu, it has been key to the spread of the Bhakti movement in South Asia in the 2nd millennium CE. Key texts in Vaishnavism include the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Pancaratra texts and the Bhagavata Purana.
Vaishnavism originates in the latest centuries BCE and the early centuries CE, as an amalgam of the heroic Krishna Vasudeva, the "divine child" Bala Krishna of the Gopala traditions, syncretism of these non-Vedic traditions with the Mahabharata canon, thus affiliating itself with Vedism in order to become acceptable to the orthodox establishment. Krishnaism becomes associated with bhakti yoga in the medieval period. Although Vishnu was a Vedic solar deity, he is mentioned more compared to Agni and other Vedic deities, thereby suggesting that he had a major position in the Vedic religion. Other scholars state that there are other Vedic deities, such as water deity Nara, who together form the historical roots of Vaishnavism. In the late-Vedic texts, the concept of a metaphysical Brahman grows in prominence, the Vaishnavism tradition considered Vishnu to be identical to Brahman, just like Shaivism and Shaktism consider Shiva and Devi to be Brahman respectively; the ancient emergence of Vaishnavism is unclear, the evidence inconsistent and scanty.
According to Dalal, the origins may be in Vedic deity Bhaga. According to Preciado-Solís, the Vedic deities Nara and Narayana form one of the Vedic roots of Vaishnavism. According to Dandekar, Vaishnavism may have emerged from merger of several ancient theistic traditions, where the various deities were integrated as different avatars of the same god. In Dandekar theory, Vaishnavism emerged at the end of the Vedic period before the second urbanisation of northern India, in the 7th to 4th century BCE. Vasudeva and Krishna, "the deified tribal hero and religious leader of the Yadavas," gained prominence, merged into Bhagavan Vasudeva-Krishna, due to the close relation between the Vrsnis and the Yadavas; this was followed by a merger with the cult of Gopala-Krishna of the cowherd community of the Abhıras at the 4th century CE. The character of Gopala Krishna is considered to be non-Vedic. According to Dandekar, such mergers consolidated the position of Krishnaism between the heterodox sramana movement and the orthodox Vedic religion.
The "Greater Krsnaism", states Dandekar merged with the Rigvedic Vishnu. Syncretism of various traditions and Vedism resulted in Vaishnavism. At this stage that Vishnu of the Rig Veda was assimilated into non-Vedic Krishnaism and became the equivalent of the Supreme God; the appearance of Krishna as one of the Avatars of Vishnu dates to the period of the Sanskrit epics in the early centuries CE. The Bhagavad Gita was incorporated into the Mahabharata as a key text for Krishnaism; the Narayana-cult was included, which further brahmanized Vaishnavism. The Nara-Narayana cult may have originated in Badari, a northern ridge of the Hindu Kush, absorbed into the Vedic orthodoxy as Purusa Narayana. Purusa Narayana may have been turned into Arjuna and Krsna; this complex history is reflected in the two main historical denominations of Vishnavism. The Bhagavats, worship Vasudeva-Krsna, are followers of brahmanic Vaishnavism, while the Pacaratrins regard Narayana as their founder, are followers of Tantric Vaishnavism.
According to Hardy, there is evidence of early "southern Krishnaism," despite the tendency to allocate the Krishna-traditions to the Northern traditions. South Indian texts show close parallel with the Sanskrit traditions of Krishna and his gopi companions, so ubiquitous in North Indian text and imagery. Early writings in Dravidian culture such as Manimekalai and the Cilappatikaram present Krishna, his brother, favourite female companions in the similar terms. Hardy argues that the Sanskrit Bhagavata Purana is a Sanskrit "translation" of the bhakti of the Tamil alvars. Devotion to southern Indian Mal may be an early form of Krishnaism, since Mal appears as a divine figure like Krishna with some elements of Vishnu; the Alvars, whose name can be translated "sages" or "saints", were devotees of Mal. Their poems show a pronounced orientation to the Vaishnava, Krishna, side of Mal, but they do not make the distinction between Krishna and Vishnu on the basis of the concept of the Avatars. Yet, according to Hardy the term "Mayonism" should be used instead of "Krishnaism" when referring to Mal or Mayon.
Most of the Gupta kings, beginning with Chandragupta II were known as Parama Bhagavatas or Bhagavata Vaishnavas. After the Gupta age, Krishnaism rose to a major current of Vaishnavism, Vaishnavism developed into various sects and subsects
Ganesha known as Ganapati, Vinayaka or by numerous other names, is one of the best-known and most worshipped deities in the Hindu pantheon. His image is found throughout India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bali and Nepal. Hindu denominations worship him regardless of affiliations. Devotion to Ganesha is diffused and extends to Jains and Buddhists. Although he is known by many attributes, Ganesha's elephant head makes him easy to identify. Ganesha is revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom; as the god of beginnings, he is honoured at the start of ceremonies. Ganesha is invoked as patron of letters and learning during writing sessions. Several texts relate mythological anecdotes associated with his birth and exploits. Ganesha emerged as a deity as early as the 2nd century CE, but most by the 4th and 5th centuries CE, during the Gupta period, although He inherited traits from Vedic and pre-Vedic precursors. Hindu mythology identifies him as the restored son of Parvati and Shiva of the Shaivism tradition, but he is a pan-Hindu god found in its various traditions.
In the Ganapatya tradition of Hinduism, Ganesha is the supreme deity. The principal texts on Ganesha include the Ganesha Purana, the Mudgala Purana, the Ganapati Atharvashirsa. Brahma Purana and Brahmanda Purana are other two Puranic genre encyclopedic texts that deal with Ganesha. Ganesha has been ascribed many other epithets, including Ganapati and Vighneshvara; the Hindu title of respect Shri is added before his name. The name Ganesha is a Sanskrit compound, joining the words gana, meaning a group, multitude, or categorical system and isha, meaning lord or master; the word gaṇa when associated with Ganesha is taken to refer to the gaṇas, a troop of semi-divine beings that form part of the retinue of Shiva, Ganesha's father. The term more means a category, community, association, or corporation; some commentators interpret the name "Lord of the Gaṇas" to mean "Lord of Hosts" or "Lord of created categories", such as the elements. Ganapati, a synonym for Ganesha, is a compound composed of gaṇa, meaning "group", pati, meaning "ruler" or "lord".
Though the earliest mention of the word Ganapati is found in hymn 2.23.1 of the 2nd-millennium BCE Rigveda, it is however uncertain that the Vedic term referred to Ganesha. The Amarakosha, an early Sanskrit lexicon, lists eight synonyms of Ganesha: Vinayaka, Vighnarāja, Dvaimātura, Gaṇādhipa, Heramba and Gajanana. Vinayaka is a common name for Ganesha that appears in Buddhist Tantras; this name is reflected in the naming of the eight famous Ganesha temples in Maharashtra known as the Ashtavinayak. The names Vighnesha and Vighneshvara refers to his primary function in Hinduism as the master and remover of obstacles. A prominent name for Ganesha in the Tamil language is Pillaiyar. A. K. Narain differentiates these terms by saying that pillai means a "child" while pillaiyar means a "noble child", he adds that the words pallu and pell in the Dravidian family of languages signify "tooth or tusk" "elephant tooth or tusk". Anita Raina Thapan notes that the root word pille in the name Pillaiyar might have meant "the young of the elephant", because the Pali word pillaka means "a young elephant".
In the Burmese language, Ganesha is known as Maha Peinne, derived from Pali Mahā Wināyaka. The widespread name of Ganesha in Thailand is Phra Phikanet; the earliest images and mention of Ganesha names as a major deity in present-day Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam date from the 7th- and 8th-centuries, these mirror Indian examples of the 5th century or earlier. In Sri Lankan Singhala Buddhist areas, he is known as Gana deviyo, revered along with Buddha, Vishnu and others. Ganesha is a popular figure in Indian art. Unlike those of some deities, representations of Ganesha show wide variations and distinct patterns changing over time, he may be portrayed standing, heroically taking action against demons, playing with his family as a boy, or sitting down on an elevated seat, or engaging in a range of contemporary situations. Ganesha images were prevalent in many parts of India by the 6th century; the 13th-century statue pictured is typical of Ganesha statuary from 900–1200, after Ganesha had been well-established as an independent deity with his own sect.
This example features some of Ganesha's common iconographic elements. A identical statue has been dated between 973–1200 by Paul Martin-Dubost, another similar statue is dated c. 12th century by Pratapaditya Pal. Ganesha has the head of a big belly; this statue has four arms, common in depictions of Ganesha. He holds his own broken tusk in his lower-right hand and holds a delicacy, which he samples with his trunk, in his lower-left hand; the motif of Ganesha turning his trunk to his left to taste a sweet in his lower-left hand is a archaic feature. A more primitive statue in one of the Ellora Caves with this general form has been dated to the 7th century. Details of the other hands are difficult to make out on the statue shown. In the standa
Indus Valley Civilisation
The Indus Valley Civilisation was a Bronze Age civilisation in the northwestern regions of the Indian subcontinent, lasting from 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE, in mature form from 2600 BCE to 1900 BCE. Along with ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia it was one of three early civilisations of the region comprising North Africa, West Asia and South Asia, of the three, the most widespread, its sites spanning an area stretching from northeast Afghanistan, through much of Pakistan, into western- and northwestern India, it flourished in the basins of the Indus River, which flows through the length of Pakistan, along a system of perennial monsoon-fed, rivers that once coursed in the vicinity of the seasonal Ghaggar-Hakra river in northwest India and eastern Pakistan. The civilisation's cities were noted for their urban planning, baked brick houses, elaborate drainage systems, water supply systems, clusters of large non-residential buildings, new techniques in handicraft and metallurgy; the large cities of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa likely grew to containing between 30,000 and 60,000 individuals, the civilisation itself during its florescence may have contained between one and five million individuals.
Gradual drying of the region's soil during the 3rd millennium BCE may have been the initial spur for the urbanisation associated with the civilisation, but also reduced the water supply enough to cause the civilisation's demise, to scatter its population eastward. The Indus civilisation is known as the Harappan Civilisation, after its type site, the first of its sites to be excavated early in the 20th century in what was the Punjab province of British India and now is Pakistan; the discovery of Harappa and soon afterwards Mohenjo-Daro was the culmination of work beginning in 1861 with the founding of the Archaeological Survey of India during the British Raj. There were however earlier and cultures called Early Harappan and Late Harappan in the same area. By 2002, over 1,000 Mature Harappan cities and settlements had been reported, of which just under a hundred had been excavated, there are only five major urban sites: Harappa, Mohenjo-daro, Ganeriwala in Cholistan and Rakhigarhi; the early Harappan cultures were preceded by local Neolithic agricultural villages, from which the river plains were populated.
The Harappan language is not directly attested, its affiliation is uncertain since the Indus script is still undeciphered. A relationship with the Dravidian or Elamo-Dravidian language family is favoured by a section of scholars; the Indus Valley Civilisation is named after the Indus river system in whose alluvial plains the early sites of the civilisation were identified and excavated. Following a tradition in archaeology, the civilisation is sometimes referred to as the Harappan, after its type site, the first site to be excavated in the 1920s. A section of scholars use the terms "Sarasvati culture", the "Sarasvati Civilisation", the "Indus-Sarasvati Civilisation" or the "Sindhu-Saraswati Civilisation", because they consider the Ghaggar-Hakra river to be the same as the Sarasvati, a river mentioned several times in the Rig Veda, a collection of ancient Sanskrit hymns composed in the second millennium BCE. However, recent geophysical research suggests that unlike the Sarasvati, whose descriptions in the Rig Veda are those of a snow-fed river, the Ghaggar-Hakra was a system of perennial monsoon-fed rivers, which became seasonal around the time that the civilisation diminished 4,000 years ago.
In addition, proponents of the Sarasvati nomenclature see a connection between the decline of the Indus civilisation and the rise of the Vedic civilisation on the Gangetic plain. The Indus civilization was contemporary with the other riverine civilisations of the ancient world: Egypt along the Nile, Mesopotamia in the lands watered by the Euphrates and the Tigris, China in the drainage basin of the Yellow River. By the time of its mature phase, the civilisation had spread over an area larger than the others, which included a core of 1,500 km up the alluvial plane of the Indus and its tributaries. In addition, there was a region with disparate flora and habitats, up to ten times as large, shaped culturally and economically by the Indus. Around 6500 BCE, agriculture emerged on the margins of the Indus alluvium. In the following millennia, settled life made inroads into the Indus plains, setting the stage for the growth of rural and urban human settlements; the more organized sedentary life in turn led to a net increase in the birth rate.
The large urban centres of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa likely grew to containing between 30,000 and 60,000 individuals, during the civilization's florescence, the population of the subcontinent grew to between 4–6 million people. During this period the death rate increased as well, for close living conditions of humans and domesticated animals led to an increase in contagious diseases. According to one estimate, the population of the Indus civilization at its peak may have been between one and five million; the Indus Valley Civilisation extended from Pakistan's Balochistan in the west to India's western Uttar Pradesh in the east, from northeastern Afghanistan in the north to India's Gujarat state in the south. The largest number
Brahmin is a varna in Hinduism specialising as priests and protectors of sacred learning across generations. The traditional occupation of Brahmins was that of priesthood at the Hindu temples or at socio-religious ceremonies and rite of passage rituals such as solemnising a wedding with hymns and prayers. Theoretically, the Brahmins were the highest ranking of the four social classes. In practice, Indian texts suggest that Brahmins were agriculturalists, warriors and have held a variety of other occupations in the Indian subcontinent; the earliest inferred reference to "Brahmin" as a possible social class is in the Rigveda, occurs once, the hymn is called Purusha Sukta. According to this hymn in Mandala 10, Brahmins are described as having emerged from the mouth of Purusha, being that part of the body from which words emerge; this Purusha Sukta varna verse is now considered to have been inserted at a date into the Vedic text as a charter myth. Stephanie Jamison and Joel Brereton, a professor of Sanskrit and Religious studies, state, "there is no evidence in the Rigveda for an elaborate, much-subdivided and overarching caste system", "the varna system seems to be embryonic in the Rigveda and, both and a social ideal rather than a social reality".
Ancient texts describing community-oriented Vedic yajna rituals mention four to five priests: the hotar, the adhvaryu, the udgatar, the Brahmin and sometimes the ritvij. The functions associated with the priests were: The Hotri recites invocations and litanies drawn from the Rigveda; the Adhvaryu is the priest's assistant and is in charge of the physical details of the ritual like measuring the ground, building the altar explained in the Yajurveda. The adhvaryu offers oblations; the Udgatri is the chanter of hymns set to melodies and music drawn from the Samaveda. The udgatar, like the hotar, chants the introductory and benediction hymns; the Brahmin recites from the Atharvaveda. The Ritvij is the chief operating priest. According to Kulkarni, the Grhya-sutras state that Yajna, dana pratigraha are the "peculiar duties and privileges of brahmins"; the term Brahmin in Indian texts has signified someone, good and virtuous, not just someone of priestly class. Both Buddhist and Brahmanical literature, states Patrick Olivelle define "Brahmin" not in terms of family of birth, but in terms of personal qualities.
These virtues and characteristics mirror the values cherished in Hinduism during the Sannyasa stage of life, or the life of renunciation for spiritual pursuits. Brahmins, states Olivelle, were the social class; the Dharmasutras and Dharmasatras text of Hinduism describe the expectations and role of Brahmins. The rules and duties in these Dharma texts of Hinduism, are directed at Brahmins; the Gautama's Dharmasutra, the oldest of surviving Hindu Dharmasutras, for example, states in verse 9.54–9.55 that a Brahmin should not participate or perform a ritual unless he is invited to do so, but he may attend. Gautama outlines the following rules of conduct for a Brahmin, in Chapters 8 and 9: Be always truthful Teach his art only to virtuous men Follow rules of ritual purification Study Vedas with delight Never hurt any living creature Be gentle but steadfast Have self-control Be kind, liberal towards everyoneChapter 8 of the Dharmasutra, states Olivelle, asserts the functions of a Brahmin to be to learn the Vedas, the secular sciences, the Vedic supplements, the dialogues, the epics and the Puranas.
The text lists eight virtues that a Brahmin must inculcate: compassion, lack of envy, tranquility, auspicious disposition and lack of greed, asserts in verse 9.24–9.25, that it is more important to lead a virtuous life than perform rites and rituals, because virtue leads to achieving liberation. The Dharma texts of Hinduism such as Baudhayana Dharmasutra add charity, refraining from anger and never being arrogant as duties of a Brahmin; the Vasistha Dharmasutra in verse 6.23 lists discipline, self-control, truthfulness, Vedic learning, erudition and religious faith as characteristics of a Brahmin. In 13.55, the Vasistha text states that a Brahmin must not accept weapons, poison or liquor as gifts. The Dharmasastras such as Manusmriti, like Dharmsutras, are codes focussed on how a Brahmin must live his life, their relationship with a king and warrior class. Manusmriti dedicates 1,034 verses, the largest portion, on laws for and expected virtues of Brahmins, it asserts, for example, A well disciplined Brahmin, although he knows just the Savitri verse, is far better than an undisciplined one who eats all types of food and deals in all types of merchandise though he may know all three Vedas.
John Bussanich states that the ethical precepts set for Brahmins, in ancient Indian texts, are similar to Greek virtue-ethics, that "Manu's dharmic Brahmin can be compared to Aristotle's man of practical wisdom", that "the virtuous Brahmin is not unlike the Platonic-Aristotelian philosopher" with the difference that the latter was not sacerdotal. According to Abraham Eraly, "Brahmin as a varna hardly had any presence in historical records before the Gupta Empire era", when Buddhism dominated the land. "No Brahmin, no sacrifice, no ritualistic act of any kind even once, is referred to" in any Indian texts between third century BCE and
Deva means "heavenly, anything of excellence", is one of the terms for a deity in Hinduism. Deva is a masculine term. In the earliest Vedic literature, all supernatural beings are called Asuras; the concepts and legends evolve in ancient Indian literature, by the late Vedic period, benevolent supernatural beings are referred to as Deva-Asuras. In post-Vedic texts, such as the Puranas and the Itihasas of Hinduism, the Devas represent the good, the Asuras the bad. In some medieval Indian literature, Devas are referred to as Suras and contrasted with their powerful but malevolent half-brothers, referred to as the Asuras. Devas, along with Asuras and Rakshasas are part of Indian mythology, Devas feature in one of many cosmological theories in Hinduism. Deva is a Sanskrit word found in Vedic literature of 2nd millennium BCE. Monier-Williams translates it as "heavenly, terrestrial things of high excellence, shining ones"; the concept is used to refer to deity or god. The Sanskrit deva- derives from Indo-Iranian *daiv- which in turn descends from the Proto-Indo-European word, *deiwo- an adjective meaning "celestial" or "shining", a vrddhi derivative from the root *diw meaning "to shine" as the day-lit sky.
The feminine form of *deiwos is *deiwih2, which descends into Indic languages as devi, in that context meaning "female deity". Deriving from *deiwos, thus cognates of deva, are Lithuanian Dievas, Germanic Tiwaz and the related Old Norse Tivar, Latin deus "god" and divus "divine", from which the English words "divine", "deity", French "dieu", Portuguese "deus", Spanish "dios" and Italian "dio" "Zeys/Ζεύς" - "Dias/Δίας", the Greek father of the gods, are derived, it is related to *Dyeus which while from the same root, may have referred to the "heavenly shining father", hence to "Father Sky", the chief God of the Indo-European pantheon, continued in Sanskrit Dyaus. The bode of the Devas is Dyuloka. According to Douglas Harper, the etymological roots of Deva mean "a shining one," from *div- "to shine," and it is a cognate with Greek dios "divine" and Zeus, Latin deus "god". Deva is masculine, the related feminine equivalent is devi. Etymologically, the cognates of Devi are Greek thea; when capitalized, Devi or Mata refers to goddess as divine mother in Hinduism.
Deva is referred to as Devatā, while Devi as Devika. The word Deva is a proper name or part of name in Indian culture, where it refers to "one who wishes to excel, overcome" or the "seeker of, master of or a best among"; the Samhitas, which are the oldest layer of text in Vedas enumerate 33 devas, either 11 each for the three worlds, or as 12 Adityas, 11 Rudras, 8 Vasus and 2 Asvins in the Brahmanas layer of Vedic texts. The Rigveda states in hymn 1.139.11, Some devas represent the forces of nature and some represent moral values, each symbolizing the epitome of a specialized knowledge, creative energy and magical powers. The most referred to Devas in the Rig Veda are Indra and Soma, with "fire deity" called the friend of all humanity, it and Soma being the two celebrated in a yajna fire ritual that marks major Hindu ceremonies. Savitr, Vishnu and Prajapati are gods and hence Devas. Parvati and Durga are some goddesses. Many of the deities taken together are worshiped as the Vishvedevas. Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, Shiva the destroyer, Ganesha the god of intelligence, Hanuman the god of protector and bhakti, Kartikeya the god of wars, Narada the god of news, Vishwakarma the god of architect, Dhanvantari the god of doctors and ayurveda, Kubera the god of wealth, Dyaus the god of sky, Vayu the god of wind, Varuna the god of water, Agni the god of fire, Samudra the god of sea, Kamadeva the god of love, Bariyadeva the god of diseases, Chitradeva the god of art, Indra the king of gods and rain, Surya the god of sun and light, Chandra the god of moon and night, Mangala the god of Mars Budha the god of Mercury, Brihaspati the god of Jupiter and teacher of gods, Shukra the god of Venus and worship, Shani the god of Saturn and deeds, Rahu the god of Neptune, Ketu the god of Uranus, Yamaraja the god of Pluto and death and one of the shivagana.
In Vedic literature, Deva is not a monotheistic God, rather a "supernatural, divine" concept manifesting in various ideas and knowledge, in a form that combine excellence in some aspects, wrestling with weakness and questions in other aspects, heroic in their outlook and actions, yet tied up with emotions and desires. Max Muller states that the Vedic hymns are remarkable in calling every single of different devas as "the only one, the supreme, the greatest". Muller concluded that the Vedic ideas about devas is best understood neither as polytheism nor as monotheism, but as henotheism where gods are equivalent, different perspective, different aspects of reverence and spirituality, unified by principles of Ṛta and Dharma. Ananda Coomaraswamy states that Devas and Asuras in the Vedic lore are similar to the Olympian gods and Titans of Greek mythology. Both are powerful but have different orientations and inclinations, with the Devas representing the powers of Light and the Asuras representing the powers of Darkness in Hindu mythology.
According to Coomaraswamy's interpretation of Devas and Asuras, both these natures exist in each human being, both the tyrant and the angel. The best and the worst within each person struggles
Shaivism is one of the major traditions within Hinduism that reveres Shiva as the Supreme Being. The followers of Shaivism are called "Shaivites" or "Saivites", it is one of the largest sects that believe Shiva — worshipped as a creator and destroyer of worlds — is the supreme god over all. The Shaiva have many sub-traditions, ranging from devotional dualistic theism such as Shaiva Siddhanta to yoga-oriented monistic non-theism such as Kashmiri Shaivism, it considers the Agama texts as important sources of theology. The origin of Shaivism may be traced to the conception of Rudra in the Rig Veda. Shaivism has ancient roots, traceable in the Vedic literature of 2nd millennium BCE, but this is in the form of the Vedic deity Rudra; the ancient text Shvetashvatara Upanishad dated to late 1st millennium BCE mentions terms such as Rudra and Maheshwaram, but its interpretation as a theistic or monistic text of Shaivism is disputed. In the early centuries of the common era is the first clear evidence of Pāśupata Shaivism.
Both devotional and monistic Shaivism became popular in the 1st millennium CE becoming the dominant religious tradition of many Hindu kingdoms. It arrived in Southeast Asia shortly thereafter, leading to thousands of Shaiva temples on the islands of Indonesia as well as Cambodia and Vietnam, co-evolving with Buddhism in these regions. In the contemporary era, Shaivism is one of the major aspects of Hinduism. Shaivism theology ranges from Shiva being the creator, destroyer to being the same as the Atman within oneself and every living being, it is related to Shaktism, some Shaiva worship in Shiva and Shakti temples. It is the Hindu tradition that most accepts ascetic life and emphasizes yoga, like other Hindu traditions encourages an individual to discover and be one with Shiva within. Shaivism is one of the largest traditions within Hinduism. Shiva means kind, gracious, or auspicious; as a proper name, it means "The Auspicious One". The word Shiva is used as an adjective in the Rig Veda, as an epithet for several Rigvedic deities, including Rudra.
The term Shiva connotes "liberation, final emancipation" and "the auspicious one", this adjective sense of usage is addressed to many deities in Vedic layers of literature. The term evolved from the Vedic Rudra-Shiva to the noun Shiva in the Epics and the Puranas, as an auspicious deity, the "creator and dissolver"; the Sanskrit word śaiva or Shaiva means "relating to the god Shiva", while the related beliefs, history and sub-traditions constitute Shaivism. The reverence for Shiva is one of the pan-Hindu traditions, found across India, Sri Lanka and Nepal. While Shiva is revered broadly, Hinduism itself is a complex religion and a way of life, with a diversity of ideas on spirituality and traditions, it has no ecclesiastical order, no unquestionable religious authorities, no governing body, no prophet nor any binding holy book. Shaivism is a major tradition within Hinduism, with a theology, predominantly related to the Hindu god Shiva. Shaivism has many different sub-traditions with regional differences in philosophy.
Shaivism has a vast literature with different philosophical schools, ranging from nondualism and mixed schools. The origins of Shaivism a matter of debate among scholars; some trace the origins to the Indus Valley civilization, which reached its peak around 2500–2000 BCE. Archeological discoveries show seals. Of these is the Pashupati seal, which early scholars interpreted as someone seated in a meditating yoga pose surrounded by animals, with horns; this "Pashupati" seal has been interpreted by these scholars as a prototype of Shiva. Gavin Flood characterizes these views as "speculative", saying that it is not clear from the seal if the figure has three faces, or is seated in a yoga posture, or that the shape is intended to represent a human figure. Other scholars state that the Indus Valley script remains undeciphered, the interpretation of the Pashupati seal is uncertain. According to Srinivasan, the proposal that it is proto-Shiva may be a case of projecting "later practices into archeological findings".
Asko Parpola states that other archaeological finds such as the early Elamite seals dated to 3000–2750 BCE show similar figures and these have been interpreted as "seated bull" and not a yogi, the bull interpretation is more accurate. The Rigveda has the earliest clear mention of Rudra in its hymns such as 2.33, 1.43 and 1.114. The text includes a Satarudriya, an influential hymn with embedded hundred epithets for Rudra, cited in many medieval era Shaiva texts as well as recited in major Shiva temples of Hindus in contemporary times. Yet, the Vedic literature only present scriptural theology, but does not attest to the existence of Shaivism; the Shvetashvatara Upanishad composed before the Bhagavad Gita about 4th century BCE contains the theistic foundations of Shaivism wrapped in a monistic structure. It contains the key terms and ideas of Shaivism, such as Shiva, Maheswara, Bhakti, Atman and self-knowledge. According to Gavin Flood, "the formation of Śaiva traditions as we understand them begins to occur during the period from 200 BC to 100 AD."
According to Chakravarti, Shiva rose to prominence as he was identified to be the