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Hindu Deities 2

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Hanuman

Hanuman, whose image is in the form of a monkey, is particularly associated with the Ramayana, the story of Rama and Sita.

In the story, Sita, Rama's wife, is kidnapped by the evil, ten-headed demon Ravana who carries her off to his fortress in the island of Lanka. At great risk to his own safety, Hanuman finds Sita and then returns to help Rama build a bridge over to the island to rescue Sita.

During the ensuing battle, Rama's brother Lakshmana was fatally wounded. Hanuman was sent to fetch healing herbs which grew on a particular mountain. Unable to identify the herbs, he uprooted the whole mountain and brought it back to the site of the battle thus saving Lakshmana's life. Images of Hanuman often show him holding the mountain in his hand. As a model for human devotion to God, he is often depicted with paws clasped together in reverence.

He is a symbol of strength and loyalty and represents the concept that animals are also a creation of God.

Hanuman is also regarded as a god in his own right and as the son of the wind god he is able to fly and change shape at will. He is one of the few gods without a consort.

The worship of Hanuman, therefore, symbolizes the worship of the Supreme Lord, for acquiring knowledge, physical and mental strength, truthfulness, sincerity, selflessness, humility, loyalty, and profound devotion to the Lord.

 

Kali

Kali, which means black, represents the terrifying aspect of the Mother Goddess, whose kindly or benign aspect is reflected in the goddess Lakshmi. She is usually depicted naked or wearing a tiger skin, with disheveled hair and eyes rolling with intoxication. She has fang-like teeth, and her lolling tongue dripping with blood hangs from her mouth. Around her neck is a necklace of skulls.

She is usually shown with four arms, two of which hold severed heads while the other two hold a dagger and a sword. A strangling noose also features in some of the images. She dances on the body of her consort Shiva.

Though her hands are blood stained, one is often raised in a gesture of protection or assurance in the midst of destruction. Kali reflects the Indian tradition of bringing together seemingly contradictory aspects of life and some see a link with the ancient worship of the Great Goddess as an Earth Mother whose power was shown both in the fertility of the earth and in the receiving of the bodies of dead.

Kali represents the realities of life and death. Kali, the devourer of time (kala) stands for the frightening, painful side of life which all who desire to progress spiritually must face and overcome.

 

 

 

Krishna

Krishna, 'one who attracts or draws' people, or 'one who drains away' sins is the eighth and most important avatar of Vishnu, embodying joy, freedom and love. He also often appears as a god in his own right. In the Bhagavad Gita he is the divine instructor of Arjuna and the supreme Deity. In later tradition he is Krishna the cowherd, who, from being a wonderful and mischievous child, grows into a youth loved by the gopis, the cowherd girls.

His involvement with the gopis in amorous dance becomes the model of passionate union with God. Some images show him in dance mode, playing his irresistible flute to summon the gopis. He is also shown in images of power, e.g. destroying the evil snake, Kaliya, who has poisoned the life-giving waters of one of India's sacred rivers.

He is typically depicted with blue-black skin, wearing a yellow loin cloth and a crown of peacock feather.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Krishna as a Baby

A model of the baby Krishna features in the Hindu festival of Janamastami which celebrates the birth of Krishna. The baby Krishna is ceremoniously swung in his cradle/hammock at midnight in the midst of feasting and singing.

Janamastami is celebrated during August/September.

 

 

 

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Last updated: 08/15/08

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