Puranic encyclopaedia

by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222

This page describes the Story of Deva included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).

Story of Deva

Gods or deities.

General information.

From time immemorial belief in Devas has existed in every country and all religions have lauded their superior nature and power. It was the Hindus and the Buddhists who first applied the term 'Deva' to certain very subtle beings recognised in all religions. The Pārsi religion (Zaratuṣṭra) has spoken about seven Devarājans and their attendants. 'Ameṣ pentas' is the actual term used for the Devarāja. The Christian religion refers to nine sects of Devas like Srāfi, Kherubi, Dominion, Angel etc. Īslam refers to four chief Devas viz. Gabriel, the presiding Deva over revelations, Mikhayel of protection, Asriyal of death and Israfin of resurruction. An important section of the Ṛgveda is Sūktas about Devās like Indra, Mitra, Varuṇa, Agni etc. In Yajñas etc. Devas occupy a very important place. The Kenopaniṣad states that the conceited and haughty Devas were taught a lesson by God. The subject matter of the Kaṭhopaniṣad is the advice given by Yama to Naciketas. The Muṇḍakopaniṣad says that the Devas, man and birds originated from God.* There are references about Deva worship in the Smṛtis. The Purāṇas and Upapurāṇas contain scientific discussions, about the origin, work or functions, classes, etc. of Devas. The Mantraśāstra and Tantraśāstra deal also about the various sects and class of Devas, their nature, and the worship to be offered to them etc.

Christian Devas, Satan and devils.

Christian religious books commonly use the term Mālākhas for Devas. Greek mythology contains a story about the Mālākhas, who did not obey the orders of Jehovah and how He cursed them, turned them into devils and flung them into hell. And, in hell they organised a revolutionary party to fight Jehovah. Many leaders talked on the subject of how to take vengeance on Jehovah. It was nearabout this period that Jehovah created with the dust on earth Adam as his beloved son and settled him in the garden of Aden. God created from the ribs of Adam the woman called Eve, and they lived in Eden quite happily.

Satan and other leaders in hell decided that the greatest revenge that could be taken upon Jehovah was to create troubles for his dear son, Adam in Eden. Accordingly Satan went to Eden and made Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit with the result that Jehovah cursed and turned them into human beings and turned them out of Eden. Milton in his reputed poem Paradise Lost has told the above story in inimitable language.

Indian Devas.

Most of the Indian Devas are the sons of Kaśyapa Prajāpati by Aditi, daughter of Dakṣa Prajāpati. The total number of Devas is 33 crores. The Devas are divided into many classes or sections like Ādityas, Viśvadevatas, Vasus, Tuṣitas, Ābhāsvaras, Anilas, Mahārājikas, Sādhyas, Rudras, Vidyādharas, Pitṛdevas etc. There are further divisions like Apsaras, Virūpākṣas, Bhadras, Gandharvas, Kuṃbhāṇḍas, Rākṣasas, Nāgas, Aśvinīs, Kinnaras, Kiṃpuruṣas, Piśācas, Guhyakas, Siddhas, Cāraṇas, Matṛs, Kūśmāṇḍas, Bhūtas, Vetālas, etc. Yet another division is into Lokapālas, Lipikas etc. The Devas are classified with special reference to bhūtagaṇas like Pṛthvī etc. and are, therefore, referred to as Bhūdevatās, Agnidevatās, Vāyudevatās, etc. The presiding spirit of Bhūdevatās is Kubera, that of the Jaladevatās is Varuṇa, that of the Agnidevatās, Vāyubhagavān and that of the Ākāśadevatas, Indra. And, under them there are various sets of Devas in charge of different departments. Sādhyas, Vasus, Ādityas, Apsaras etc. are Ākāśadevas, Maruttas and Gandharvas, Vāyudevas. Yakṣas and Yakṣīs are servants of Kubera. Virūpākṣa, Bhadra etc. are Bhūdevas. Virūpākṣa supports the earth according to the Vālmīki Purāṇa. Those who protect nidhis (treasures) may also be considered Bhūmidevas.

There are 33 bosses or presiding spirits for the 33 crores of Devas. Dvādaśādityas (12) Ekādaśarudras (11) Aṣṭavasus (8) and Aśvinīdevas (2) are the 33 chiefs of Devas. Indra is the chief of all of them.

The term Deva.

The word Deva means light and also play. Devas shine forth, they are also playful. Thus the name is quite apt for them. (See Grāmadevatā).

*) Tasmācca devāḥ bahudhā samprasūtāḥ sādhyāḥ manuṣyāḥ paśavo vayāṃsaḥ.

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