Saturday, August 13, 2011


I've been to India 8 times and learned to love Indian traditional art!


I thought I'd share some of it with you...
The Indian Pantheon is very intricate.  The main representations are Krishna, Vishnu and Brahma--and their consorts, in order, Lakshmi, Parvati (and Kali and Durya, depending on the powers needed), and finally Shiva, a name more familiar to Westerners.  These are all "avatars" of God.

Then there are devis that are representations of the avatars (I think 33 altogether, though somehow in history it became 330 million to indicate eternity--are you getting the picture of how confusing this can be?) that are very powerful entities like Ganesh, Hanuman, Rama, Sita, (the Rama/Sita story is a romantic legend that involves Hanuman--very well known throughout the Hindi cultures) Indra, Agni, Viruna, Soma, Prajapati, Mitra.

Interestingly, the Krishna/Vishnu/Brahma depictions are the main aspects of God. It is called the "Trimurti" or "Tridevi" (like a Godhead?)  ("Tria" means 3 in Greek.)  There are no depictions of the ultimate God that I know of. Atman is name of the ultimate God--he is at the top.  God is everywhere and in everything.  I'm not sure but perhaps it is prohibited to depict God in Hindu religion as in Islam?
To add to the complexities of Gods, there are different sects of Hinduism.  I never got it all straight--and I doubt that few Westerners have (maybe even Hindus?!).  (Do you have all your religious  beliefs straight?)  The best way I can describe this pantheon (Greek word, by the way, meaning many gods) is that through the one God, Atman, (there's the word "man"; is that anglicized?  Atman--good name for a God.) there are aspects of power, of life, that are personified by different avatars or entities, like Saraswati who is intelligence, Agni who symbolizes psychological power or the power of the will (my favorite), Kali, who represents destruction and recreation. (She seems to be pretty popular.) And there are many more.  

Hindus can choose which ones to worship as their inclination or needs dictate.  (Kind of Catholic, no?)  Lots of icons used like Orthodoxy.  They say it helps the people to envision what they are worshiping.  (I think they have a point.) Unfortunately, it easily becomes the object that is worshiped, not the entity or idea.

I find it interesting that many of these names are also Greek words (Agni=pure; Mitra=womb; Soma=body).  Mmmm.  Does anyone know if there is a connection here?

Anyway, fascinating stuff!




THE MANY FACES OF BRAHMA (The Main Hindu Avatar)

If these depictions strike you as androgynous, don't feel like the lone ranger.  I think it is like creating an ideal of both sexes--the best of both.  Just my opinion...or the artists were gay...bah, just because they're artists, they're not gay, right?

Anyway, aren't they beautiful???  Or am I alone?

One of the times I went to India, I made sure to buy postcards replete with Hindi Gods and Goddesses.  (I sold many in Greece, but I still kept a stack just for me!)

Sometime, I will post on my experiences in India.  Are you interested?  Many times people have told me to write a book, because of my travels and experiences.  I don't have the confidence that such a book will be interesting to many people.  This blog is the closest I may get!  NAMASTE!

Addendum:  If I got any of this information wrong, feel free to correct me.  I don't want to be perpetuating myths about myths!

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