Original Hindu deities

Aug 2013
956
Italy
#1
When, and where, was Hinduism born? What are the oldest Hindu deities which we know about? Are some of them of non-Aryan origin? Was there originally just ONE female divinity or principle, called Devi?

Do you think that the religion of the Indus Valley Civilization might have included proto-Hindu elements, mixed with indigenous, pre-Aryan/Dravidian creeds?
 
Sep 2012
8,843
India
#2
Hinduism is not a circumscribed unitary religion like other fixed religions , which are actually Faiths with belief in a Creator--God residing in heaven, a Supreme almighty being separate from Man and Universe. It is not ' Mata ' ( meaning Faith ). It is rather a ' Tattva ' or ' Satya ' meaning respectively ' Investigated Realizable Ultimate Reality ' and ' Truth '.
Thus Hinduism is Philosophy, Religion and Ethics combined.
' Religion ' is most commonly made equal / equivalent to the Sanskrit word ' Dharma '. But Dharma is a word of larger meaning.The word Dharma covers all aspects of Life and also those aspects connoted by the English word Religion. Incidentally Dharma also means innate Characteristics / Properties of not only living beings but also inanimate objects. It is the Dharma of Water to wet things or the Dharma of Fire is to burn.
Also known as Sanatan ( Eternal ) Dharma, or Vedic ( based on the Vedas ) Dharma, Manav ( related to Humans ) Dharma. Hinduism of the Dharma of Hindu s is said to as old as 8000 years.
As regards your query about deities and the female principle of the Universe called Shakti ( meaning Energy ) or Devi, all I can say , as far as my personal knowledge goes, is that the Vedic deities are Indra ( King of Gods ), Vayu ( the God of Winds ), Agni ( God of Fire ), even Prithvi ( The Earth ). But there is no mention of any Devi in the Vedas.
Subsequently in the Smriti s ( works like the Epics Mahabharat or Ramayan ) and Puranas ( Old Stories ), we find a far more proliferation of deities with detailed descriptions of their personal looks which are either akin to human males / females , only far more powerful / superlative in every sense.
For Clarity I may state that the Veda s and the Upanishad s are called ' Shruti s ' ( Heard or Revealed ). The Manusmriti or Ramayana or Mahabharat are called ' Smriti s ' (The remembered ) and the decidedly later scriptures are called Puranas ( Old Stories ).
( Based on the book ' Hinduism The Eternal Dharma ' written by Swami Mukhyananda, published by the Author in June 1986 with a second revised edition being published in September 2000. It does not have any ISBN but it can be obtained from Advaita Ashrama, 5 Dehi Entally Road, Kolkata 700014, India. )
 
Last edited:
Aug 2013
956
Italy
#3
Hinduism is not a circumscribed unitary religion like other fixed religions , which are actually Faiths with belief in a Creator--God residing in heaven, a Supreme almighty being separate from Man and Universe. It is not ' Mata ' ( meaning Faith ). It is rather a ' Tattva ' or ' Satya ' meaning respectively ' Investigated Realizable Ultimate Reality ' and ' Truth '.
Thus Hinduism is Philosophy, Religion and Ethics combined.
' Religion ' is most commonly made equal / equivalent to the Sanskrit word ' Dharma '. But Dharma is a word of larger meaning.The word Dharma covers all aspects of Life and also those aspects connoted by the English word Religion. Incidentally Dharma also means innate Characteristics / Properties of not only living beings but also inanimate objects. It is the Dharma of Water to wet things or the Dharma of Fire is to burn.
Also known as Sanatan ( Eternal ) Dharma, or Vedic ( based on the Vedas ) Dharma, Manav ( related to Humans ) Dharma. Hinduism of the Dharma of Hindu s is said to as old as 8000 years.
As regards your query about deities and the female principle of the Universe called Shakti ( meaning Energy ) or Devi, all I can say , as far as my personal knowledge goes, is that the Vedic deities are Indra ( King of Gods ), Vayu ( the God of Winds ), Agni ( God of Fire ), even Prithvi ( The Earth ). But there is no mention of any Devi in the Vedas.
Subsequently in the Smriti s ( works like the Epics Mahabharat or Ramayan ) and Puranas ( Old Stories ), we find a far more proliferation of deities with detailed descriptions of their personal looks which are either akin to human males / females , only far more powerful / superlative in every sense.
For Clarity I may state that the Veda s and the Upanishad s are called ' Shruti s ' ( Heard or Revealed ). The Manusmriti or Ramayana or Mahabharat are called ' Smriti s ' (The remembered ) and the decidedly later scriptures are called Puranas ( Old Stories ).
( Based on the book ' Hinduism The Eternal Dharma ' written by Swami Mukhyananda, published by the Author in June 1986 with a second revised edition being published in September 2000. It does not have any ISBN but it can be obtained from Advaita Ashrama, 5 Dehi Entally Road, Kolkata 700014, India. )
Thank you kindly for this interesting information.

So it seems that the original Vedic deities were all male...But if Hinduism of the Dharma of Hindu goes back 8000 years, then prior to the Vedas there may have been a Female Principle such as Shakti or Devi. What is the earliest evidence we have for Hindu goddesses/female principles?
 
Sep 2012
8,843
India
#4
Thank you kindly for this interesting information.

So it seems that the original Vedic deities were all male...But if Hinduism of the Dharma of Hindu goes back 8000 years, then prior to the Vedas there may have been a Female Principle such as Shakti or Devi. What is the earliest evidence we have for Hindu goddesses/female principles?
Not all the Vedic deities are male. Prithvi or Earth is a female.
Since earliest known scriptures of Hinduism are the Vedas, there is no question of any deity prior to the Vedas. The earliest reference to the female deities of Hinduism can be found in the Smritis or
Remembered ' scriptures in the form of epics like Ramayana, Mahabharat and the compendium of the practice of Hinduism in the form of Manu Smriti.
 

kazeuma

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
2,366
#5
I would actually go with the case for that the Naga, Rakhsas, Yaksas, Kumbhāṇḍas, and the like - were the original deities of the local areas where each city had their own local deity. Then there was a change where regional deities came along, which transformed the Naga, Rakshas, Yaksas, kumbhāṇḍas, and the like into minor nature spirits or into various evil spirits to be crushed by the Vedic deities.
 
Oct 2013
5,897
Planet Nine, Oregon
#6
What about a pre-Vedic Shiva with Shakti consort?


The Bagjor Stone appears to represent an early Shakti yantra:

"The roots of Indian spirituality and religion stretch back into the stone age. As early as the Paleolithic, we find traces of it in forms that still resonate on the Indian subcontinent today. During the Upper Paleolithic, from 10,000 to 20,000 years before present (BP), there was fire worship and mother goddess worhsip.[1] At Baghor, in Madhya Pradesh, the feminine was worship 11,000 years BP using a triangle as a representation. A triangular stone was found incised with triangles, marked in red ochre, at an altar for a goddess. This practice continues even today in villages of the area, where similar stones, smeared in red and incised with triangles are offered to village deities.[2] Across the rest of India too, the triangular shape is the basis for creating yantras,[3] which are used for the worship of various deities. Archaeologists who excavated the site state that when the area's villagers saw the excavation, they told the archaeologists, “That’s one of our shrines. You must look after it properly.” After the archaeologists left, the villagers began worshipping at the shrine again.[4] "


"The Shiva-related tradition is a major part of Hinduism, found all over India, Nepal, Sri Lanka,[19][20] and Bali (Indonesia).[48] Its historical roots are unclear and contested. Some scholars such Yashodhar Mathpal and Ali Javid have interpreted early prehistoric paintings at the Bhimbetka rock shelters, carbon dated to be from pre-10,000 BCE period,[49] as Shiva dancing, Shiva's trident, and his mount Nandi.[3][50][51] However, Howard Morphy states that these prehistoric rock paintings of India, when seen in their context, are likely those of hunting party with animals, and that the figures in a group dance can be interpreted in many different ways.[52] Rock paintings from Bhimbetka, depicting a figure with a trishul, have been described as Nataraja by Erwin Neumayer, who dates them to the mesolithic.[53] "


"The cult of the mother goddess is treated as an indication of a society which venerated femininity. This mother goddess was conceived as a virgin, one who has given birth to all and one and was typically associated with Shaktism.[26] The temples of the Sangam days, mainly of Madurai, seem to have had priestesses to the deity, which also appear predominantly a goddess.[27] In the Sangam literature, there is an elaborate description of the rites performed by the Kurava priestess in the shrine Palamutircholai.[28] Among the early Dravidians the practice of erecting memorial stones “Natukal’'had appeared, and it continued for quite a long time after the Sangam age, down to about 16th century.[29] "
 
Jul 2017
182
USA
#7
When, and where, was Hinduism born? What are the oldest Hindu deities which we know about? Are some of them of non-Aryan origin? Was there originally just ONE female divinity or principle, called Devi?

Do you think that the religion of the Indus Valley Civilization might have included proto-Hindu elements, mixed with indigenous, pre-Aryan/Dravidian creeds?
We cannot draw simplistic lines but we can begin by saying that Hinduism is basically an umbrella term for all non-Abrahamic religions in India. Were some dieties of non Aryan origin? Possibly and in the Deep South, the Tamils worship all kinds of gods unconnected to the larger, more mainstream ones like Vishnu, Shiva etc. However, it is unknown if the Indus Valley was even Dravidian to begin with. Devi, btw sounds like an Aryan term and it probably is.