Our next series of posts will be about the Hindu Gods & Goddesses. The yoga that we practice today is very different from the yoga that has been on this planet for thousand's of years.
We began to cover that within our first few posts providing the context of yoga in how we practice it and its origins. The practice of yoga or "union" has deep roots within the Hindi Tradtion as well as many other's including buddhism, christianity, etc.. As we have covered, one of the aims of yoga is contemplation, concentration, meditation, and so on. These practices are found in many religious texts. They have been practiced by many sages, saints, & other religious figures & idols.
One religion or tradition that highlights yoga as a main principle is Hinduism. Now, I invite you to place on your scholarly hat as we dive deeper into some different themes. The next theme we are going to discuss are the deities of Hinduism. Like I expressed in the Crown Chakra post, I look at these ideas from a philosophical perception. I view the Gods and Goddesses as a reflection of God that is within all of us. Here is an example of this is in Christianity. We are taught that Jesus is a reflection of God the Father. We are also taught that Jesus lives within us as his spirit & energy. That is how I like to also work with these energies or deities of other systems.
I trully find joy learning about these Gods & Goddesses because I find them very empowering as there are both feminie & masculine. Alot of traditions that have birthed within the last two centuries have a very big focus on God as being masculine and that feminity is generally sin or temptatious. The Hindu Tradition is very focused on the balance of feminine and masuline or Shiva & Shakti. With one there has to be the other to have balance in the universe. Masculine cannot exist with Feminine and vice versa.
We will start simply with the names & desciption of "God" in Hinduism.
Brahman is the Godhead. "The divine ground of existence."
In Christianity this would be God the Father or creator.
Atman is the divine core of personality. The Self with a big S.
This could also be described as our soul or spirit. The subtle force or energy that is in us & around us. That which connects us to source.
Vishnu is, according to the Bhagavad Gita," the preserving or sustaining person of the Hindu Trinity... usually looked upon as an incarnation of this aspect of God." He reincarnates as avatars as an intervention to re-establish or bring back balance into the universe. Examples of this would be krishna, buddha, & jesus.
Brahman is the creator-Vishnu is the sustainer- and then Shiva is the Destroyer.
These are represented in every cycle we see in the universe. Begininning, middle, & end. With each end there is a new beginning. We see this pattern in every living being.
We also see this is with the cycle of Aum.
*A = Brahma, creation
*U = Vishnu, sustaining force
*M = Shiva, Destruction
So who is Shiva? Shiva is the inner masculine. He is conciousness, awareness, tranquility, stillness, unlimited, wholeness, compassion, & the unknown. Shiva cannot be perform his cosmic function without Shakti the feminine construct. According to Awakening Shakti, " Back at the dawn of time, the great Goddess who creates the world and then lives in the world, is asked to incarnate as Sati (She who is) in order to make the sacred marriage with her eternal consort, Shiva. Without her presence, Shiva cannot act in the World. He sits on a mountain lost in meditation. Disdaining to perform his cosmic function."
Sati is feminity, creativity or Shakti. Shakti is personality, emotions, physicality, manifest, the known & sensuality. Shakti is the driving force behind the creation of the universe, life-forms and all things. Shakti also needs Shiva. This is the divine balance of the universe. The feminine is grounded by the masuline quailities of awareness.
The Hindu God's & Goddesses are incarnations of these feminine & masculine energies. Each having its consort to keep that sacred balance. Each feminine energy has a sacred marriage to a maculine energy.
Our next series of posts will go over some of the main deities of Hinduism in more detail.
Awakening Shakti by Sally Kempton
The Bhagavad Gita Introduced & Translated by Eknath Easwaran