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Hinduism and Hindu Gods

A majority of Indians are Hindus (nearly 80 percent). Hinduism originates from the Indian subcontinent and is considered the oldest and the 3rd largest religion globally in terms of adherents. Hinduism has about 1 billion followers, with more than 905 million of them being Indians. Many of its practitioners refer to it as the “eternal law.”

The Hindu name comes from “Sindhu” which refers to the Indus river that goes through Pakistan. History says that the name was used for people who had settled on the Indus river banks.

The religion comprises a variety of systems of beliefs, philosophies, rituals, traditions, and obligations. Another factor that defines the path of Hinduism is the knowledge of its sacred texts and scriptures.

These ideas and beliefs go above and beyond to prove that Hinduism is not just but a system of beliefs- it’s a way of life.

The 3 main traditions are Shaivism, Vaishnavism, and Shaktism; their adherents are referred to as Shiva, Vishnu, and Shakti respectively. The roots of the religion can be traced back to the 1st millennium BCE to the female terra-cotta figurines that are found ubiquitously in excavations of sites that are found along the Indus valley.

The general nature of the religion

What makes Hinduism strikingly different from other religions is its pluralistic nature; it accepts different realities from different sources. This expansiveness is brought about by the fact that the truth cannot be encapsulated in any creedal formulation and, therefore, has to be sought from multiple sources.

According to Hinduism, one’s view of the truth is basically determined by the specifics of time, gender, state of mind, attainment, and state of consciousness.

All these factors function to expand a view of religious truth rather than minimize it. As a result, you will find that most Hindus believe intolerance as the foremost spiritual virtue. Another way in which Hinduism differs from other religions is that it has no founder and no prophets.

Although Hindus believe in a universal God called Brahman, who is the cause and foundation of all that is in existence. They also believe that he takes many different forms that may be worshiped as Indian gods. Some of the common Hindu gods’ names are Vishnu, Shiva, Lakshmi, and Saraswathi.

Devotional Sects

Indians refer to their gods as “deva” and “devi”. The former is masculine (gods) while the later is feminine (goddesses). All Hindus believe in the concept of the sacred Trimurti; Lord Brahma is the creator; Lord Vishnu is the sustainer; Lord Shiva is the destroyer. The four distinctive sects in Hinduism are:

1. Shaivism

The followers of this sect are referred to as Shaivas. They worship Lord Shiva together with all his incarnations. The Shaivas believe that Shiva is the creator, sustainer, revealer, concealer, and destroyer of the entire universe. There are several sub-sects under Shaivism.

2. Vaishnavism

The followers of this sect are referred to as Vaishnavas. They worship Lord Vishnu, all his ten incarnations, as well as the Vishvaroopa. The Vaishnavas believe that Lord Vishnu is the creator, destroyer, sustainer, revealer, and concealer of the universe. Similar to Shaivism, Vaishnavism also has several sub-sects.

3. The Shakti

The followers of the Shakti sect are known as Saktas; they believe in the divine feminine energy. Saktas translates to worshippers of the mother goddess. The Saktas believe that Shakti is the consort of Lord Shiva, and they control the universe together.

The Shakti sect believes that masculinity is incomplete without femininity and the two are needed for the completeness of the universe.

4. Smarta Sampradaya

The Smarta Sampradaya orthodox sect has followers from the Hindu Brahmin families that consider the Hindu scriptures to be the most authoritative texts of Hinduism. Since they believe in the Smrtis (the scriptures), the followers are referred to as the Smartas.

The Smartaz only worship 5 divinities which they believe to be the animate forms of Brahman itself: Shiva, Vishnu, Devi, Ganesh, and Surya- the Sun god.

The goals of human life

In Hinduism, there are four goals for human life that a believer can attain through his actions while they are alive. A person is expected to fulfill all these goals to lead a fruitful life and to get free from the cycle of reincarnation. 

These goals make up the Hindus way of life. The 4 goals are collectively referred to as the purusarthas and they include:

1. Dharma

Dharma relates to a person’s religious duties. This goal refers to the life code that involves respecting one’s elders and marriage.

2. Artha

Artha relates to a person’s prosperity. This second goal represents the pursuit of wealth and material gains by lawful means.

3. Karma

This goal gives a person the chance to reincarnate to a higher level through good and pure acts. Karma relates to the pleasures we give ourselves and how they affect our afterlife.

4. Moksha

Moksha translates to spiritual liberation. It’s referring to the final release of the soul from the cycle of reincarnation

Reincarnation

Hindus believe that the soul is an eternal entity and exists through multiple lifetimes. The soul gets into a new creature after the previous body dies; it may be reborn as a person, an animal, or sprout as a plant. They do believe that everything that is living has a soul.

Reincarnation goes on and on until all the soul’s beliefs are realized. Afterward, the soul achieves some form of “freedom” that Indians refer to as Moksha.

There are four different paths to take to achieve this freedom. They are:

  1. The path of knowledge
  2. The path of devotion
  3. The path of meditation
  4. The path of good works

Also, Hindus believe that how the soul comes back is dependent on karma. They argue that any challenges that you experience in your current life are as a result of how you acted in your previous life. They, therefore, live their lives cautiously to earn a better life after their soul is reborn.

Worship and Pilgrimage

Daily worship is a mandatory part of Hinduism. They often at home, to a shrine, such as statues, a unique alter, a particular room, and even pictures. Believers gather on the weekends at the temples (Mandirs) to worship together.

Hinduism facts also tell us that pilgrimage is also an important part of the religion. The most important one being the Chaar Dhaam; this should be done at least once during a person’s lifetime.

Other major Hindu pilgrimages are the Barah Jyotirlinga Yatra, and Kumh Mela. The later is held after every three years and is a mass pilgrimage whereby the believers meet at a sacred river and bathe.

The holy scriptures

The Hindu Holy Scriptures comprise of multiple works that are divided into Sruti and Smrti. In general, the scriptures talk about theology, mythology, and religious philosophies.

The Sruti (revealed) scriptures describe Hindu rituals and practices and are made up of the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Aranyakas, and the Brahmanas. On the other hand, the Smrti (remembered) scriptures define sacred thoughts and are made up of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata among others.

Three holy scriptures: Bhagavad Gita, Mahabharata, Ramayana

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The Illustrated Mahabharata - Click for details!
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The main Hindu Gods

As we saw earlier, Brahman is the Hindu Supreme Being. Some other Hindu/Indian gods and goddesses represent Brahman’s different aspects. The foremost among them is the Indian god Shiva and the Indian gods, Ganesh.  All these gods are special to Indians in their unique way.

It’s about time we have a look at the different Hindu deities and what they represent. Below is a list of the major Indian gods and goddesses that everyone should familiarize with before making a pilgrimage trip to India. We have narrowed down the list to make it easy for you to wrap your head around the deities.

1. Lord Shiva

Shiva is one of the principal Hindu deities worshipped as the creator, maintainer, and destroyer; he represents death and dissolution. Other names used to refer to Lord Shiva are Mahadeva, Nataraja, Pashupati, Vishwanath, and Bhole Nath. He is the Supreme Being that protects and maintains the universe;

Shiva maintains balance by death and destroying worlds so that Brahma can bring rebirth and recreate them. He is also said to offer protection for his followers from anger, greed, ignorance, lust, and other traits that stand in the way of divine enlightenment. Shiva is usually being depicted as a phallic symbol referred to as the Shiva Lingam.

hindu gods and their stories
Shiva Linga pooja (credit: Nevil Zaveri )
Hindu god stories
Shiva Linga ritual (credit: India Ministry of Culture )

According to the Shaivism sect, the highest form of Shiva is a formless and limitless soul of the universe. Shiva means “nothingness,” translating to omnipresent; this means that he is present in the form of one’s consciousness.

In addition to that, Shiva is also considered the master of dance and regeneration. He is one of the most complex Indian gods. He’s the benevolent herdsman of souls and the wrathful avenger, one who can kill or injure the forces of darkness.

Shiva often wears a crown of skulls and a snake around his upper arms and neck. It symbolizes that he has power over the most deadly of creatures.

The head represents the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. As a destroyer, he is dark and terrible.

Lastly, Shiva is often depicted with a third eye, which symbolizes higher consciousness. Whenever necessary, the eye can be used to destroy his enemies with fire.

2. Lord Vishnu

Vishnu is the second deity of the Hindu trinity and is known to be the preserver and sustainer of life representing the principles of truth, order, and righteousness.

Lord Vishnu

He is also referred to as Jagannath, Vithoba, Narayana, and Hari. Hindus, who pray faithfully to Lord Vishnu, are referred to as Vaishnavas. They believe Vishnu will come to their rescue to restore peace in times of disorder.

Vishnu is believed to preserve life through his adherence to truth, order, righteousness, and order. He is known to encourage his followers to always be kind and compassionate to all creatures.

He is commonly depicted with four arms that represent his omnipotence and omnipresence.

It’s not uncommon to see Vishnu seated upon a coiled snake. It means the ability to stay calm in the face of adversity, chaos, and destructive forces.

Vishnu is worshipped in the forms of incarnations that are also referred to as avatars. The ten embodiments (collectively known as Dashavatara) are:

2.1 Matsya: The Fish

Matsya, the fish. The first avatar is said to have rescued man and other creatures from great floods. It gave humanity a warning about the coming floods and asked him to carry grains and other living creatures in a boat. Matsya then held onto the ship through the turbulent waters all night until the storm ended. Afterward, Brahma created the present world.

54mm round Matsya MANU Fish
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Matsya the fish - Lord Vishnu incarnation

It’s often depicted as a giant golden fish or a human torso connected to a fish’s tail.

2.2 Kurma: The Tortoise

The Kurma avatar is the incarnation that relates to the myth of churning the ocean to obtain the treasures dissolved in the ocean of milk.

stories of hindu gods
Indian gods - Lord Vishnu incarnation - Kurma the tortoise

In this myth, the giant tortoise was sent to help support the world on his back to prevent it from sinking in the ocean. Kurma kept the land until the nectar of immorality emerged.

2.3 Varaha: The Boar

Varaha the boar (credit: G41rn8 )

Varaha saved the earth by raising it from the bottom of the sea, where it had been dragged by the demon Hiranyaksha during a battle that had taken 1,000 years. He dived into the ocean and pulled the world out, using his tusks and his massive snout.

This avatar is depicted as a full boar and sometimes takes a boar’s head on top of a human body.

2.4 Narashima: The Man-Lion

The legend tells of a tyrant demon that had become too arrogant because it could not be harmed or killed by any means.

Hindu god of rebirth
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Narashima, the man-lion

As a result, he started causing trouble both on earth and in heaven. Vishnu took the form of a man-lion, Narashima, to slay the demon that had turned against his son Prahlada.

2.5 Vamana: The Dwarf

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To destroy the demon king Bali, Vishnu took the form of a dwarf. Once he had already taken the form of a dwarf, he visited Bali, who had already taken over the universe and caused other gods to lose their power. Vamana asked Bali to give him just three feet of land.

After his wish was granted, he transformed from a dwarf into a giant and took the whole earth with the first foot. With the second step, he took over the heavens, and with the third, he pushed down Bali’s head to the underworld.

hindu stories of gods
Indian god Vamana the dwarf

2.6  Parashurama: The Angry Man

Parasurama appeared to protect humanity and restore social order, corrupted by an arrogant warrior, Kshatriya. He is depicted as an angry man carrying an ax. For this reason, he is sometimes referred to as Rama with an ax.

Bhagawan Parashurama With Shiva Linga
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Parashurama, the angry man

This avatar destroyed the bad kings of the earth who had become autocratic and started to harm and harass the people.

2.7 Rama: The Perfect Man

Lord Rama is often depicted with blue skies, in an upright position with a bow and arrows. He is considered to be a compassionate man who is the perfect embodiment of humanity. He represents reason, courage, devotion, and adherence to Dharma.

Antique Majapahit Style Bronze Javanese Rama Statue - Click for details!

Rama came to earth to fight Ravana, the demon with multiple heads. The bow and arrow that he carries are a symbol of his readiness to fight and destroy even for the sake of protecting righteousness. Hindus celebrate him as Ramayana during Diwali.

2.8 Krishna: The Divine Statesman

The eighth avatar of Vishnu is Lord Krishna, one of the most widely revered deities in Hinduism and is kept close to the believers’ hearts. He is also the most powerful incarnation. Hindus view Lord Krishna as a hero and a leader and as a teacher and a friend.

This beloved Hindu god is the destroyer of sins and an embodiment of joy, happiness, and love. Krishna is commonly depicted as a statesman who changes the rules shrewdly. He also takes a variety of other forms due to the many stories surrounding him.

Krishna - Large Vintage-style Indian Hindu devotional poster print
Krishna - Large Vintage-style Indian Hindu devotional poster print - Click for details!
Brass Radha Krishna Statue
Brass Radha Krishna Statue - Click for details!
Indian gods - Lord Krishna
Lord Krishna with Arjuna, a famous scene from the Mahabharata

He’s portrayed as having blue skin, wearing a crown of peacock feathers with a yellow loincloth in pictures. Krishna is often drawn with a flute that he uses for his seductive powers. The following YouTube video is Bhajan, Love songs to Krishna, by Meera Bai.

2.9 Balarama: Krishna's Elder Brother

Balarama is often portrayed as having pale skin in contrast to that of Krishna, which is blue. He said to have engaged in many adventures together with his brother.

Balarama God Painting
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Balarama, Krishna's elder brother

In several versions of myths, Balarama is not commonly worshipped as an independent entity. The stories usually focus on his prodigious strength.

2.10 Kalki: The Mighty Warrior

Kalki is the last incarnation of Vishnu. His name also translates to “eternity.” He is expected to come to the very end and come carrying a fiery sword and riding on top of a white horse. Kalki comes to do away with the world of oppression by unrighteous rulers.

Hindu stories about gods
Kalki, the last incarnation of Vishnu

3. Ganesh - The Remover of Obstacles

Ganesh, also known as  Ganapati, Binayak, Vinayaka, or Pillaiyar, is a chubby pot-bellied god with an elephant head and is said to be the son of Shiva and Parvati. His features make him very easy to identify.

All Hindu sects worship Ganesha; they believe that he’s the god of wealth, success, and knowledge. It makes him a significant god, perhaps the most important of them all.

Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi Idol - Hindu God Brass Statue
Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi - Hindu God Brass Statue - Click for details!
Original, Ganesha and Krishna, Original Handmade Painting - Click for details!

Lord Ganesh is portrayed as riding a rat that helps him remove any barriers that hinder one’s success. The rat is capable of gnawing through any obstacles on the way. Ganesh also bestows wisdom on how to acquire fortunes.

Hindus pray to Ganesh before a big venture or ceremony such as a wedding or investment in a business. Authors and poets also invoke him as patron of letters at the start of their books.

The statues of Ganesh are a common sight in most towns. Indians place the image of Ganesh in locations where they plan on building a house.

Ganesh is depicted as a red being with four arms, a single task, and playing a musical instrument. The fact that he has one broken tusk attributes to his last name, “Ekadanta,” which translated to “one-tusked.”

He, at times, maybe holding a noose that is called Pasam, a pot of rice, an elephant goad, or laddus, which are his favorite sweets. In images, his characteristic belly is usually bound by a cobra that acts as a reminder that Ganesh is Shiva’s son.

4. Hanuman - The Monkey God

Hanuman is yet another Indian god that is easily distinguishable. He is the son of Anjana and Kesari and the son of Vayu, the wind god.

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Hanuman, the monkey-facedn Hindu deity

The monkey-faced Hindu deity symbolizes courage, power, devotion, physical strength, perseverance, and selfless service. Hanuman is also a symbol of resistance to persecution, inner self-control, faith in a cause, and the ideal combination of heroic initiative and assertive excellence.

Worshippers often call upon Hanuman in trying times and in times of trouble as he teaches them the unlimited power within them.

Hanuman helped Lord Rama when he battled against evil forces, as described in Ramayana. Hanuman’s owers include his ability to become significant at will. He could easily fight the elephant by assuming a much larger form.

5. Kali - The Dark Goddess

Kali, also referred to as Kalika, Shyama, or the dark mother is perhaps the fiercest deity. She is Shiva’s other wife and appears as a four-armed woman with a protruding blood-soaked tongue, blue or black skin, a skirt of bones, and a garland of skulls.

Sculpture Carving of Kali Hindu Deity Goddess of Renewal
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most dangerous Hindu god
Kali, Most dangerous Hindu god

These features symbolize the ego’s death and act as a reminder for people that their bodies are only in a temporary state.

The goddess image portrays her standing atop her husband, Shiva, who remains calm under her feet. Kali’s eyes are red in absolute rage and filled with intoxication from Raktabija’s blood. She also has fangs in between which the tongue rolls.

In her most famous legend, when Durga and her assistants injured Raktabija in an attempt to destroy him, they noticed that they had only made the situation worse.

Each one of his blood droplets produced a clone of Raktabija. Kali was summoned to handle the situation of the multiplying demon. She consumed Raktabija and all his duplicates; she spread her tongue across the battlefield and licked all the blood falling from the demon before it hit the ground.

To celebrate, Kali performed a wild dance on the battlefield and adorned herself with several heads’ garland.

6. Devi

Devi is the Hindu goddess of existence; the masculine version is Deva. Generally, she is the sum of all mother forms, including Durga, Kali, Lakshmi, and Jagannatha.

While in some forms, she is gentle, in others, she is ferocious. In short, she is the one, and at the same time, she is the many. Under several other aspects, Devi is also viewed as a cosmic force, a gracious donor of wealth, a heroine, a protector, and as a semi-divine force that manifests through fertility spirits.

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Handcrafted Annapura Devi
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In most legends, Devi is depicted as an ideal wife and a mother. She is a divine feminine figure with a strong presence in Hinduism. Devi is the central and supreme being in the Shakta and Saiva Hindu traditions. In Smarta, Devi is among the five primary forms of Brahman.

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Devi, goddess of existence

Saiva Hindu traditions. In Smarta, Devi is among the five primary forms of Brahman. In Hinduism, Devi is symbolized as a cow since cows nourish us and give us endless resources.

Kamadhenu, the sacred and divine cow, is a deity of Devi and is often regarded as a pure mother who sustains human life and grants us our wishes.

It is in her that all the other gods are said to reside; she represents Dharma itself. Hindus love, protect, and respect cows because they sustain the life of many different species. It is contrary to popular belief that they worship cows.

For the longest time, eating beef was considered a sin in India. Cows were kept for milk and other dairy products and for their dung that was used as fuel and as manure. Hinduism encourages eating vegetarian food. However, civilization has changed the man-bovine relationship in India. There are several slaughterhouses around the country where cattle are slaughtered and sold for consumption.

7. Lakshmi

Lakshmi is the goddess of fortune, wealth, and both material and spiritual prosperity. She’s also known as Shri or Laxmi and is the wife of Vishnu. The name Lakshmi is derived from Laksya, which translates to the goal.

This beautiful goddess is depicted as a golden complexion woman with four-arms and wearing a red silk dress. She’s either seated or standing upon a massive dew-drenched lotus blossom while holding a lotus bud. Lakshmi symbolizes purity, beauty, and domesticity.

Antique Thai Style Lakshmi Statue
Antique Thai Style Lakshmi Statue - Click for details!
Lakshmi, goddess of fortune

Her image adorns most homes and business establishments of the faithful. Each one of her four arms represents the four goals of human life. People must appreciate and respect all the laws of life and the wonders of existence to realize them.

Although she’s often described as restless, Lakshmi is maternal and has her hands raised, ready to bless. Today Lakshmi is worshipped as the goddess of wealth and luxury who holds the promise of contentment and material fulfillment. Festivals such as Diwali and Sharad Purnima are celebrated in her honor.

8. Durga - The Invincible

Durga is the ultimate representation of the Divine Mother. She symbolizes the fiery powers of the gods. She is the protector of humankind and the destroyer of evils such as jealousy, ego, and hatred. The Hindu goddess Durga is portrayed with eight arms holding onto a myriad of weapons and riding a lion. The weapons show that Durga is always protecting humanity from all directions.

Durga Statue - Antique Javanese Style
Durga Statue - Antique Javanese Style - Click for details!
Hindu god of happiness
Durga, the Divine Mother

Durga is sublime and contains within her a combination of the power of all Hindu gods. She’s immune to the weapons of all those who seek to subjugate her- she always triumphs. In her most ferocious form (when she is furious), Durga Metamorphoses into Kali.

9. Parvati - Daughter of the Mountain

Parvati is also referred to as the Divine Homemaker- the goddess of marriage, motherhood, and family. She caused Shiva to become a family man who still stuck to his old ways as a hermit.

925 Sterling Silver God Shiva and Parvati pendant
925 Sterling Silver God Shiva and Parvati pendant - Click for details!
Parvati, goddess of marriage, motherhood, and family

After the death of his first love, Shiva isolated himself from the world and went to live in a dark cave in the Himalayas. Later on, Parvati was born. She would visit Shiva’s cave to clean and decorate it with flowers. She also brought him fruits.

After a while, Shiva took Parvati as his wife, for she melted his heart with affection. Parvati had a son by herself without the aid of her husband. His name was Ganesh.

10. Saraswati

list of Hindu gods
Saraswati, goddess of art, music, learning, and knowledge

Saraswati is the goddess of art, music, learning, and knowledge. She is the daughter of Shiva and Durga, who represents the free flow of consciousness. Saraswati endows human beings with the powers of speech and understanding.

She is mostly depicted as a beautiful woman seated on a white lotus playing the lute. Saraswati is portrayed in images dressed in pure white.

The color white symbolizes her purity; she neither wears jewelry nor paints herself with bright colors. She has four arms that hold different items: a water pot, a Pustaka, which is a script, a musical instrument, and a mala, which is a rosary.

The water pot represents the ability to differentiate between right and wrong. The Pustaka represents all forms of learning that bring divine knowledge.

The musical instrument, which is a lute, represents all the creative arts and sciences. Lastly, mala represents the power of meditation. Some Indians celebrate the festival of Vasant Panchami in her honor. They commemorate this day (the 5th day of spring) by teaching children to write the alphabet.

Foreigner's perspective about Hindu Gods

Because Hinduism has so many divinities and is full of different sects and spiritual practices, many people think Hinduism is polytheistic. It could not be further from the truth. Even though Indians believe in multiple gods and follow different paths, it’s clear that their main goal is to reach the Supreme Being, Brahman. To Hindus, all the other gods are but manifestations of eternal power.

Hindus refer to their religion as “Sanatana Dharma,” a term that translates to a law that does not have a beginning or an end. It is this aspect that gives Hinduism its own unique identity. A Hindu can worship any one of the 300 million gods, depending on his/her choice.

Hinduism and Buddhism are often hailed to be two of the oldest religions of the world. While Hinduism comes from Sanatana Dharma, many believe that Buddhism is nothing but a branch of Hinduism. However, it is necessary to determine that these are two different branches with various similarities and differences. 

 

Both religions believe in the concept of reincarnation, dharma, and Moksha. However, certain differences make them two different religions all at once. Here, we compare the two most significant religions of the world, Buddhism and Hinduism. 

1. Hinduism and Buddhism: country of origin

Hinduism and Buddhism are believed to have been born around the Ganges in northern India during the “second urbanization,” which took place around 500 BCE. As stated above, they have similar beliefs yet are different from each other. 

Hinduism is, however, a very new term for the Britishers coined it. However, it is necessary to note that this is an ancient religion. Some sources cite Hinduism as one of the ‘earliest or oldest’ surviving religions of the world. This comes from the evidence of the texts and books supposedly written around the 3rd-2nd millennium BCE.

Hinduism’s sacred texts written in vernacular languages or Sanskrit were responsible for spreading the religion in Southeast Asia. The transmission has had a huge role and has been predominantly existing in Southeast Asia since the 4th century BCE. 

 

Buddhism, too, was founded in India. Although it was founded quite earlier, it wasn’t until Buddha Charita’s discovery that we knew Buddhism. 

2. Hinduism and Buddhism: time of origin

The exact date of the origin of Hinduism isn’t known. But, it is anticipated to be one of the oldest religions of the world. Most Hinduism’s sacred texts are anticipated to have been written around the 3rd to 2nd millennium BCE.

It is expected that Hinduism has been existent since the times of Indus Valley Civilization. However, it became a major religion in Southeast Asia in the 4th century CE. 

 

Unlike Hinduism, Buddhism was founded much later, around the 6th century BCE. This, too, is held to be one of the most important religions in the world. Gautama Buddha founded Buddhism when the concept of Karma, renouncing family, and the importance of truth were considered the essential Hinduism ideals. 

Buddhism and Hinduism similarities and differences

3. Hinduism and Buddhism: founder of the religion

Hinduism and Buddhism differ in terms of Hinduism. Both are essential religions in Indian culture, but there is a huge difference between the two. 

 

Although there are several Hindu Gods, some even suggest 36 million Hindu Gods, but there is no one God. Hinduism, by many, isn’t considered to be a religion but a way of life. Hence, Hinduism is not founded or developed by anyone but by the mixing or fusion of many beliefs surrounding it.

When the Indo-Aryan people started to settle around the Indus Valley, their language and culture began to blend with indigenous people. This intermingling and further advance resulted in the growth of the religion. 

Gautama Buddha is the founder of Buddhism. The founder, Buddha, was born as a Prince on the foothills of Himalaya in Lumbini. He was kept aloof from the pain and sufferings of the world and led a lavish life. However, according to Buddhism symbols and teachings, during his visit to the nearby villages, the prince, Siddhartha Gautama, was brought one-on-one with the world’s pains and sorrows. 

 

This brought about the awakening, and he set out on his search for truth. Eventually, he started his teachings around Sarnath (Benares). It is said that Gautama Buddha achieved enlightenment around Bodh Gaya under the renowned Bodhi tree. 

4. Hinduism and Buddhism: goals of the followers

The goals of the followers in Hinduism and Buddhism are very much similar. The final aim in both the religion is Moksha or salvation. Both religions believe in the concept of Dharma and Karma. 

4.1 Dharma

Dharma stands for the true purpose in an individual’s life. It deals with the sense of duty and action every individual takes. Every Hindu and Buddhist has his or her agenda that needs to be fulfilled during life dutifully. The followers want to be free from the cycle of birth-rebirth, known as samsara. Hence, they must practice good Karma to attain this. 

4.2 Karma

Karma in Sanskrit means “to do” and is a word that explains activity or action. It is one of the most commonly used terms to describe effect or cause. The word Karma and its importance have been described widely in many religions, such as Buddhism and Hinduism. 

 

Karma is extremely important in Buddhism as it is directly related to the person’s thoughts, actions and words. In Buddhism, it is believed that a person’s quality of life and words will bring about good or bad Karma. This further leads to the development of sila. However, the Buddhist teachings are slightly different from that of the pre-Buddhist concepts of Karma. 

4.3 Moksha

The concept of Moksha, salvation or being free from the cycle of birth-rebirth, is extremely important in Hinduism and Buddhism. In both religions, the main goal of followers is to achieve salvation and be free from samsara. 

 

Hindus and Buddhists aim at being free from the birth-rebirth cycle by doing good deeds or Karma. Hence, the actions of one’s previous and current lives will have a massive role in determining whether one will receive the freedom or not. Thus, as per the belief, every Hindu should work towards breaking the cycle. 

Hinduism and Buddhism

5. Hinduism and Buddhism: supreme gods

While Buddhism follows only one God and the rest are Gurus or teachers, Hinduism exists far more. There are several Gods in Hinduism. 

 

The Holy Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara or Shiva is hailed to be the most important Gods in Hinduism. It is believed that the male Gods or Yakshas are all a part of creating the three main male gods. Hindu goddesses Saraswati, Parvati, and Lakshmi, are the most important ones.

As per popular belief, Brahma is the creator of the universe, Vishnu is the preserver, while Shiva is the one who destroys it. Some of the standard terms or names given to the Hindu gods include Daiva, Ishvara, Bhagavan, or Bhagvati. 

Param Brahma is considered to be the supreme God of Hinduism. However, it is necessary to note that Param Brahma isn’t Brahma. The Hindus worship the Supreme being through different names. Hence, this difference of worshipping the Supreme God in different ways gave birth to the concept of Shaktism, Vaishnavism, Smartism, and Shaivism. 

In Vaishnavism, Maha Vishnu is the Supreme God. In Shaktism, Goddess Shakti is the supreme being. In Shaivism, Lord Shiva is the supreme being. However, on Smartism, all deities are considered to be the reflection of one God. Hence, it is up to the devotee in Smartism, who they want to follow or worship as the supreme being. 

 

In Buddhism, the devotees want to achieve Nirvana through the path created by their God, Lord Buddha. However, unlike Hinduism, there isn’t a concept of personal God. According to Buddhism, nothing in this world is permanent or fixed, as everything is temporary, and change can occur anytime. 

6. Hinduism and Buddhism: scriptures

The Holy book of Buddhism is known as Tripitaka. As it was written in Pali, Tripitaka is also referred to as Pali Canon. Pali is one of India’s oldest languages, and it is said that Buddha himself spoke the language. 

 

The Tripitakas are also referred to as Three baskets of wisdom, which is said to be divided into three sections:

          • Vinaya Pitaka or the book of discipline 
          • Sutta Pitaka or The Teaching Basket
          • Abhidhamma Pitaka of the Higher doctrine basket that talks about the teaching of Buddha’s. 

 

The three types of scriptures in Buddhism

          • Sutras or the discourses
          • Vinaya that states the discipline of monastic life.
          • Abhidharma that talks of the analytical texts

According to Theravada Buddhism, Pali Sutras are closely associated with the original words of Buddha. Hence, the Mahayana Buddhist texts are very similar or high in spirits as Buddha’s actual teachings. 

Unlike Buddhism, there are several holy texts or scriptures of Hinduism. There are usually two different categories of the texts: the revealed and the remembered. The revealed texts of Hinduism that are essential to the culture are known as the Vedas. The Vedas are further divided into four different sections known as Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Vedha, and Atharva Veda.

The Upanishads come after the completion of Vedas and are referred to as Vedanta. Vedas are often studied less than other Hinduism texts, but they are considered one of the most critical or sacred scriptures. 

 

All the remembered texts are post-Vedic texts. These post-Vedic texts are two important texts: Mahabharata and Ramayana. The Bhagavad Gita is one of the most important texts of Hinduism and is a part of Mahabharata. The text focuses on the teachings of Lord Krishna. Another essential scripture in Hinduism is Dharmasastras, which consists of all important about dharma and the aphorisms of dharma. 

7. Hinduism and Buddhism: perception of human nature

Hinduism and Buddhism differ in terms of the perception of human nature. Hinduism believes that the concept of human nature is different from what is perceived easily.

Accordingly, human beings are divided into two parts: the ahankara and the Atman. As per the Hindu scriptures, ahamkara is the pride of worldly manifestation within a person. It is the description of worldly possessions, physical characteristics, and social structures. 

The concept of atman believes in other-selves. It is said that we are all connected, and it is necessary to stay away from the concept of ego or ahamkara. Unlike popular belief, atman isn’t the concept of consciousness but the subject of consciousness.

It brings forth the reflection of oneness or unity. However, Hinduism believes that ignorance of reality is one of the main problems of human nature. 

 

In Buddhism, humans are essential as they help perceive nature and quality of life, further determining the enlightenment achievement properties. Unlike Hinduism, Buddhism believes that humans are essential as they are indispensable sentient beings. Hence, they think that Manushya or humans are animals with brains. 

 

Enlightenment is a fundamental concept in Buddhism. Hence, humans tend to be important in Buddhism, too, for they are considered the essential brings believed to have the power to achieve enlightenment. According to the teachings of Buddhism, “Buddhas, however, are always humans.” One can experience Bodhisattva at different times of his life. 

8. Hinduism and Buddhism: practices

The difference between Hinduism and Buddhism practices is because of pre-existing beliefs and practices. To understand the difference between the two, it is necessary to look at Digha Nikaya and Samannaphala Sutta. In the Sutra, the teachings of Buddha are listed.

The text has been empathizing with what the new faith was not. There is a stark contrast between the two. 

 

One of the significant differences in practice is in their worship of Gods. While Hinduism identifies several deities, Buddhists deny the existence of so many gods. Although Buddhists believe in one God’s concept, they consider it unnecessary to seek God. 

Hindus practice meditation for spiritual, mental, and physical benefits. Their main goal is to gain control over the mind. However, Buddhists do not believe in the concept of God for meditation. They believe or consider meditation to be an essential aspect of religion. While Buddhism’s main aim is to achieve control of the mind, Buddhists aim to achieve Nirvana or self-realization through Hinduism. 

Hinduism and Buddhism similarities

9. Hinduism and Buddhism: clergy

Clergy are the formal leaders in particular religions. However, the roles and traditions will vary for each religion. The individual clergy is referred to as clergymen, but monks are the clergy in Buddhism. However, in Hinduism, the priests are the clergy. 

The Buddhist clergy is known as Sangha and is made up of female and male monks. There are two schools of Buddhism- Mahayana and Theravada. Each of them is described and culturally adaptive. However, it is the Mahayana school of Buddhism that is more innovative with forms and culturally adaptive.

The Theravada school of Buddhism is practiced in Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka. It isn’t as adaptive as the Mahayana school of Buddhism. The broad differences further brought about the major Buddhist monastics through the Early Buddhist Schools. 

 

The Hindu priests are the clergy in Hinduism. They are known as Pujari. In Hindu temples, a purohit is often the family priest who comes from the Brahmin varna and belongs to India’s different parts and have different functions. 

10. Hinduism and Buddhism: place for worship

The sacred place of worship for Hindus is known as mandir or temple. The temple is dedicated to a particular deity or God. It is believed in Hinduism that a temple is a place where God resides on Earth. Being home to God, the temple is treated with the utmost respect in Hinduism.

Many temples forbid the devotees from entering wearing modern clothes or leather belts and shoes. According to the rules, one must open their shoes on the temples’ gates as they enter God’s home. 

The sacred place of worship in Buddhism is a monastery. The followers of Buddhism, Buddhists visit the monastery from time to time to reflect their love of God.

They are made of different structures such as chaitya, the stupa, wat, and vihara. The concept of the monastery is different for different countries. It is the pure environment where Buddha resides. Hence, one must treat the place with the utmost respect. 

11. Hinduism and Buddhism: life after death

According to Hinduism and Buddhism, there is a life after death or rebirth. The life after death, however, will be influenced by one’s Karma of the previous birth. According to Hindus, the cycle of birth-rebirth can be broken through the cycle of samsara. The enlightened cycle can only be broken if one follows good Karma. 

Both Hindus and Buddhists believe that after the physical body’s death, the Atman or soul is transferred to a different birth. In both religions, it is believed that one may or may not have rebirth directly. Some people often believe that the soul travels to different realms before being reborn.

According to Hinduism, the soul enters the swarg or narak (heaven and hell, respectively) before being born again. However, the soul’s stay in Heaven and Hell is limited for a particular time period. 

Good and bad deeds influence the form of birth. The positive and negative merit will further influence the rebirth of atman. Many Hindus and Buddhists believe that one may be reborn as an animal only if he (or she) has done negative deeds. Furthermore, this may be valid if they’ve not learned the lessons from their negative deed while in their human birth. 

 

However, living life in proper merit and as per the scriptures will lead to attaining Moksha or salvation. 

Buddhism and Hinduism compare and contrast

12. Hinduism and Buddhism: rituals

The Buddhist and Hindu rituals are very different. However, Mahayana Buddhism in Japan follows the Shingon Fire ritual or urabon, which is very similar to Hindu traditions. 

 

Furthermore, the Tibetan rituals of Buddhism also find their roots in the Hindu culture. The rites and rituals of purification of homa or yagna or havan are found in Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism. Both cultures believe in offering prayers to the ancestors and deceased soul for their purification and peaceful departure. 

 

13. Hinduism and Buddhism: festivals

While there are limited celebrations or festivals in Buddhism, Hindus have many of them. Since Hinduism has so many branches, the number of festivals are huge. Diwali, the festival of lights, and Holi, the festival of colors, are some of Buddhism’s major festivals.

However, there is a range of other major celebrations in Hinduism, such as Ganesh Chaturthi, Rama Navami, Makar Sankranti, Onam, Maha Shivaratri, and more. 

Vesak is, however, one of the most important Buddhist festivals. Vesak has no fixed date and is held on the first full moon day of May. It is also observed as Buddha Jayanti. However, Buddhist festivals are celebrated accordingly around different countries.

Some of Buddhism’s common festivals include Uposatha, Kathina Ceremony, Madhu Purnima, Loy Krathong, The Elephant Festival, The Ploughing Festival, Asala Puja, and Magha Puja. 

14. Hinduism and Buddhism: symbols

The Hindu symbols are one of the holiest aspects. Over the years, the identity of Hinduism has only developed because of its iconic symbols. These iconic symbols have become a part of the Hindu iconography, which further imbibe the scriptures’ sense. Some of the common symbols of Hinduism include

 

          • Shiva Lingam
          • Swastika
          • Vibhuti
          • Tilaka
          • Rudraksha
          • Om 
          • Lotus
          • Sri Chakra Yantra

The Buddhist symbols are a major part of Buddhist art and represent dharma. In Buddhism, there are eight auspicious symbols. These essential symbols include

 

          • Lotus Flower
          • The endless knot or the mandala
          • Golden Fish
          • Treasure Vase
          • Wheel of Dharma or the Dharma Wheel
          • Parasol
          • Conch Shell
          • Victory Banner

 

15. Hinduism and Buddhism: art

Buddhist art is referred to as the artistic practices, which is an important part of Buddhism. The art media reflects the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and are essential. Mandalas are an essential part of the Buddhist culture. Buddhist art is an essential part of Central Asia and Eastern Asia. 

 

Hindu art is eventually determined with its paintings, architecture, and sculptures and reflects the Indian subcontinent’s idea. 

16. Hinduism and Buddhism: political presence

Both Hinduism and Buddhism are in favor of the Democratic regime method. The Buddhist societies are democratic and support the concept of free-thinking through autonomy support. 

17. Hinduism and Buddhism: worldwide distribution

While Hinduism is widespread in India, hence, it is for this reason, India is also referred to as Hindustan. Buddhism is widespread around SouthEast Asia. Hinduism is found around India and Nepal. 15% of the world’s population are Hindus. 

 

As per the records, around 500 million of the world practice Buddhism. Hence, 7-8% of the world’s population are Buddhists. Buddhism is the dominant religion across Tibet, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, Bhutan, Cambodia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka. 

18. Hinduism and Buddhism: conversion

Buddhism is one of those religions that people can adopt with their minds and hearts without being involved in critical thinking. However, there are no hard and fast rules for converting to Buddhism. If you find the religion in you, one is welcomed in Buddhism. 

 

Similar to Buddhism, there are no proper rules for entering Hinduism. Religion is not based on ornaments or certificates. Anyone can become a follower of Hinduism by dedicating their soul and heart to that. However, one must be ready to embrace the puja rituals and ceremony.

Hindu culture follows the concept of Moksha. Moksha means liberation. According to India’s culture, the cycle of life, birth, and death occurs once one gets Moksha or liberation. 

In the Hindu religion, when someone dies, instead of Rest In Peace, it is customary to say “Om Shanti” or “Aatma ko Sadgati prapt ho” (May your soul attain Moksha). In India culture, sadgati means liberation and salvation. There’s a huge concept of Moksha in the Hindu death rituals. 

What is the death according to Hindu?

According to Hindu mythology, death is a phase that one undergoes after the individual passes. In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, death is described as the passion of the soul. 

If the soul departs from the body, the breath and life that follows end and so do the organs. The soul is the one endowed with consciousness, and the body eventually goes into consciousness. After death, the soul relishes knowledge, work and past experiences. There’s a difference between acts of good deeds and negative good deeds. 

According to Hinduism, there are four courses that a person follows after death. The first stage is known as Devayana and is the spiritually involved. The second stage is known as the Pitriyana, describing the way of fathers. 

As per Hinduism, death is the ultimate truth. It brings about a huge range of things. According to the Hindu scriptures, many souls are born as humans after death. The different stages of death help to boost the belief. It is said that these courses help to warn people against the neglect of self-knowledge, which can eventually bring about eternal peace, happiness and immortality. 

As per the Bhagavad Gita, “For whatever objects a man thinks of at the final moment, when he leaves the body- that alone does he attain, O son of Kunti, being ever absorbed in the thought thereof.”

Hindu rituals after death
Gathering around the body

What is the Hindu ritual after death?

In the Hindu symbols, there’s a comprehensive set of rituals that are to be followed. Just like birth, Hindus believe that a set of rituals need to be formed after death. 

According to the Hindu death rituals, the body should be kept at home until the cremation is done. The cremation is done only after 24 hours. Owing to Hindu cremation’s short time frame, the embalming process is often considered unrequited. However, it is necessary to hold a prayer ceremony at home after death by friends and family to observe individuals’ peace. Furthermore, the friends and family should visit the home of the deceased to offer sympathy. 

hindu rituals after death of mother
The first part of the body, which is lit, is the face

Unlike other cultures, Hindus believe in keeping the dead body in a casket. The body donation completely depends on the individual. The length of service, however, depends on the individual. In Hindu death rituals, no recording devices are allowed, and the source of the reading is Mantra.

One needs to observe at least 10 to 30 days of mourning. Many people follow thirteen days of mourning where they do refrain from eating non-veg food. Furthermore, the sons are expected to cut their hair and devote it to the deceased.

Hindu Funeral- What is it exactly?

Funeral in Hinduism is known as Antyeshti or last sacrifice. The Antyeshti ceremony is completely dependent on gender, caste, and age. As per Antyeshti, the body needs to be cremated. Furthermore, it is also known as antim sanskar.

The open casket is carried to the crematorium for the Hindu funerals with the feet entering the first, and the mourners recite the prayer. According to Hindu rituals, the casket is kept open so that the guests can view it. The Hindu priests and family members will carry out the cremation ceremony known as Mukhagni. 

hindu death rituals and beliefs
Above the corpse are flower ornaments and above them is a straw to allow combustion

In Hindu culture, Mukhagni is done by men. However, in modern times, even women are allowed to attend women, which initially wasn’t done. Once the funeral pyre is lit, the ashes are scattered on Ganga, which is considered to be one of the holiest rivers as per Hindu symbols. Apart from that, as per the last wish of the deceased, his/her ashes may also be spread over the place of their choice. 

In the Hindu funeral rites, the priests chant mantras or even the eldest son of the bereaved. The eldest son or priest brings about friends and family to conduct the different rituals of Hindu funeral.

The commonly performed Hindu death rituals include

          • Washing the dead body using holy water, ghee, honey, and yogurt
          • Place the essential oils on the deceased’s head (for females, turmeric is preferred, and for male, sandalwood is preferred)
          • The big toes are tied together, and palms are placed in the position of prayer.
          • Dress the deceased in contemporary clothes and tie the body with a white sheet known as kafan
          • Place a garland around their neck.
          • Light a Diya near the head of the body and sprinkle water over the dead body

What happens during the Hindu funeral?

During the Hindu funeral, a comprehensive set of regulations is followed. Once the death occurs, those around are advised not to touch the body because it is considered impure. 

The preparation of the funeral starts immediately. The funeral, as suggested, should be completed within the next dawn and dusk. The priest is called to help with the decision-making process and directs the Hindu-friendly funeral process. Organ donation is also accepted in Hindu laws. Embalming is acceptable as well, but it is not necessary. 

Last chance to say goodbye to the dead

Close friends and family members wash the body. Many Hindus consider this to be an important part. While washing the deceased, the head should be placed southward. The lamp should be lit. As suggested, the body should be washed in purified water using a mixture of yogurt, ghee, and milk.

However, while the body is being washed, the priest recites the mantra. After the body is washed, the two toes should be tied together and shrouded with a white sheet. However, if a married woman dies before her husband, she should be wearing a red dress. 

According to Hindu culture, there should be a proper brief of cremation. The body is kept in a simple, inexpensive casket. The chandanam or vibhuti is applied on the man’s forehead, and turmeric should be applied for women. 

Along with a garland, holy basil should also be kept around the casket. During the wake period, family and friends surround the casket and chant hymns. However, when the wake is finished, the body is removed for the cremation process, and the ‘pinda’ or rice balls are kept near the casket. When the casket is being removed, the feet should be brought first to the place of cremation. 

hindu death rituals 12th day
Attending the funeral

As per the Hindu culture, cremation is done near the Ganges river. The body is placed on a funeral pyre and burnt. The Karta, or one who lights the funeral pyre, takes three rounds across the body. For Hindus living outside the country, many companies work on shipping the body to the country, with a proxy Karta to conduct the ceremonies. After the cremation is done, the ashes are taken home or scattered in the river.

After the cremation is done, the family members return home, bathe and change into fresh clothes. They gather for a meal, and the priest lights an incense stick.

Hindu Ashes Scattering Ceremony

It is always a traumatic experience to lose a loved one. According to the Hindu culture, the dead body should be cremated within 24 hours of death. The ashes are then taken to the sea or a water body and scattered into it. However, many people also scatter the dead body’s ashes in the deceased’s favorite place only if they wish to do so. 

As per the Hindu death rituals, the cremated ashes may either be sprinkled or dispersed in the ocean or the water that flows into it. It is believed that immersing or dispersing ashes into the water body will only help them to transport the soul to their afterlife. 

In India, it is believed that scattering the ashes into the Ganga will either help the deceased have a comfortable afterlife or attain Moksha.

Hindu Rituals after the death of Mother

The Hindu death rituals vary for that of the mother and father. Hindu culture pays heed to the Hindu Gods, and it is said that the souls after death become divine beings too and are treated accordingly. 

According to the Garuda Purana, the family members become unclean or a-swachh after their loved ones’ death. Hence, it refrains the family members from visiting a temple because they are impure. 

After the death of the mother, the sons and daughters are expected not to consume milk. Furthermore, if the mother dies before the father, she should be adorned in her wedding clothes or red saree. The sons are expected to light the funeral pyre.

Hindu rituals after the death of the father

According to the Hindu death rituals for the father, the body needs to be burnt, and the children are advised to give up consumption of bananas and curd. The rice balls are to be placed near the dead body, and holy water is expected to be spread over the dead body. Furthermore, the holy basil leaf should also be placed on the dead body. 

Many Hindu families observe 16 days of mourning after the father passes away. The son needs to shave his head. 

The Hindu death rituals need to be performed accurately to elevate the mind, soul, and body. It is said that doing so rightly can help change the nature of an object and give it a new look.

hindu rituals after death of father
Lighting the fire

Hindu Baby Death Rituals

As stated above, in Hindu culture, the dead bodies are cremated. However, the crematorium may not be valid for the corpses of children under three. Many Hindus cite that the corpses of these children should be submerged in holy rivers or buried. 

When the child is dying, he or she is not placed on the ground but is allowed to expire in the mother’s arms. For such children, no special death rites are performed. In the Hindu tradition, it is believed that the child becomes a victim of such karma because he or she must have been a monster or done evil deeds in their previous birth. 

The funeral ceremony of a dead child is shorter and lasts for three days. However, in the case of high-caste people like Nagaras, if the pregnant woman dies, the dead fetus is removed and buried in the same place where the mother is being cremated.

hindu baby death rituals
Death and life in the same frame

What is the dress code in the Hindu funeral?

People visiting the funeral must wear white clothes. The clothes should be traditional and nothing modern. White symbolizes peace, and it is believed that wearing so during a funeral might bring peace to the deceased. 

The dress code for men as well as women is casual. It is customary to cover the head. The women should be dressed conservatively, and the arms and knees should be covered. However, while many women refrain from wearing jewelry, this practice is still acceptable.

Hindu funeral dress code
Foreigners (non-Hindu) are not allowed to participate in the ceremony

Hindu funeral etiquette

As per the Hindu culture, one should be dressed in white while visiting the deceased. The mourners are expected to dress casually at the service. One should be silent during the funeral process. Many people prefer calling and offering condolences to the loved ones after a loved one passes in their family. 

Many Hindu families hire women to cry at the ceremony. Although absurd, it is showing respect to the deceased. This culture of hiring a group of women to cry at the funeral service is predominant in Rajasthan. While the people visiting the deceased are expected not to carry anything to the funeral space, many carry fruits and flowers to space.

What is Mundane and why it's done after death?

Shaving the head is known as mundane. The sons usually do Mundan. Monday is usually done after the death of an elderly member. It is said that shaving off the hair only helps men to let go of their ego. 

Shaving the head is a sign of them taking up the responsibility and reminds the men to be obedient. This helps them become more selfless while conducting their deeds. 

Moreover, for outsiders, mundane also shows that an unanticipated event has taken place within the family. Many people believe that shaving the hair also helps to prepare the person regarding what lies ahead. Shaving the head acts as a mark of respect to the deceased and reflects the highest satisfaction.

Hindu Death Condolences

When someone dies in the family, condolences are offered. Rest in peace is not a tradition, but it is to attain Sadgati and Moksha. Instead, in Hindu culture, people say ‘Atma ko Sadgati Prapt ho’ and ‘Om Shanti.’ 

If someone is in your known circle, you should call the loved ones and offer them condolences and strength. You should send love and prayers. May God give you the strength and comfort to mourning the loss. 

One of the most common condolences you can give to your loved one is: 

“May you find rest and comfort in the love and hope of God and others that surround you.”

“May God and the caring love and thoughts from others help you to get through your sorrow.”

Hindu Mourning Period

According to Hindu mythology, the mourning period ranges from 10 to 30 days. However, a year is considered to reach purity. In this period of mourning, the families keep the picture of their loved ones in the display, and the picture is adorned with flowers. Throughout these days, visitors are welcomed and prayed with a garland of flowers.

after death rituals in Hindu religion
Hindu death ritual

Hindu Death Rituals 10th day

As per the Hindu rituals, they are barred from consumption of non-vegetarian food, oil, and salt. The food consumed should be bland. While some people follow it for 13 days, some follow it for ten days as well.

What is called the 12th day after death?

The 12th day after the death is referred to as Sapindikarana, where the Hindu death rituals are conducted to help the soul transcend to the pitru Loka. In the pitru loka, the soul of the deceased merges with the forefathers. On the 12th day after the death, all close friends and family members are called to the Sapindikarana.

This ceremony is often conducted on a large scale among many Hindu families. As per Hindu beliefs, many people conduct donation drives to donate food and money as a mark of respect for the deceased.

Why are there 13 days after the death?

The 13th day after death is known as tehravin or the thirteenth. A large scale ceremony is conducted where the death is mourned. The community function is organized for the people of the locality in memory of the dead person. The tehravin is performed at a large scale if the person was popular in the locality or are socially prominent. 

Earlier, the cause of death was unknown. Hence, it was tough to find if the cause of death was a virus or infection. Apart from the religious explanation, the thirteen days were also observed scientifically to keep the family isolated.

Hindu death rituals after a year

On the death anniversary, an acknowledgment ceremony is conducted to pay homage to the deceased. Many people perform puja at home as a mark of respect. Here are the common Hindu death rituals after a year

          • Visit the final resting place of the deceased.
          • Hold a special remembrance or ceremony.
          • Express a loving sentiment.
          • Feed the poor.

Takeaway

The Hindu death rituals aren’t complicated, but they’re very rigid. It is necessary to perform these rituals with proper diligence. A priest needs to be called for conducting the rituals. The family members can observe a period of mourning.

In Indian culture, Aum or Om is a very sacred sound. It is a spiritual Hindu symbol often associated with the Gods. Before the beginning of any auspicious activity in Hinduism, Hindu people prefer saying Om.

It is believed that saying Om or Aum helps redefine the aura and positively impact the mind, body, and soul. However, it is necessary to note that Om isn’t used only by the Hindus but is significantly used in Jainism and Buddhism.

What does the Om Symbol mean in Hinduism?

In Hinduism, Om is one of the most spiritual symbols. It is said that chanting Om can radiate positive vibrations, which will further eradicate negative feelings. 

In Hindu mythology and culture, Om stands for atman or the soul, which is the universe’s ultimate truth. It is the divine knowledge and cosmic spirit. Om is one of those syllables found not only in the Vedas but also in Upanishads and all holy Hindu texts.

It is a spiritual incantation that is sacred and holy. Om is recited before and after the readings of the holy Hindu texts. Apart from that, Om is also used during Pujas and private prayers. Apart from religious activities, Om is also chanted during yoga. 

The Hindu symbol or syllable of Om is also known as Pranava, Omkara, or Ankara. Hence, in Hinduism, Om stands for the ultimate truth of the universe, which is the sound that gave birth to the universe. It is also known as the root mantra.

History of the Om Symbol

Other words used to describe Om are known as Akshara or Eksara. The om syllable connotes the beginning of the female divine energy.  

The word Om had first been used in the Upanishads, one of Vedanta’s most important texts. Om is often related to the divine sound or the cosmic sound, something that is the mystic syllable and acts as the “affirmation to something divine.” All the spiritual concepts of the Upanishads are related to the Hindu symbol Om.

Om has constantly found its mention in the old layers of the Vedantic texts. The Sama Veda or the poetical Veda considers Om to be the audible sound that is the source of the numerous variations and acts to extract the musical meters from it. 

The syllable Om revolves or finds its origin across many abstract ideas of the Upanishads. Various scholars have considered Om to be a “tool for meditation” and also state how this syllable can help to uplift the mind of those meditating from the artificial and senseless world to that of the “highest concepts such as the cause of the Universe, essence of life, Brahman, Atman, and self-knowledge.”

Om and Hindu Gods

There’s a whole new concept of Om in the Puranas, which is expanded to their theistic sects. According to the Vayu Purana, Om stands as the representation for the Hindu Gods, the Trimurti.

Om and Trimurti

In Indian culture, the Trimurti is the union of three Gods. Since Om is also known as AUM- A stands for Brahma, U stands for Vishnu, while M stands for Shiva. The three sounds echo the Vedas’ sounds, suggestively, Rigveda, Samaveda, and Yajur Veda accordingly. 

Om has always been associated with Lord Shiva. As per the belief of Hindus, Shiva is Om and Om is Shiva.

Om and Brahma

The Vedas offer a different insight into the Vedic texts. The Brahmana layer of the Vedic texts starts Bhur-bhuvah-shah with Om. The Bhur-bhuvah-shah symbolizes the whole Veda. The Brahmanical layers of Veda bring different meanings of Om. 

The sound of Om is said to be the vibration that created the world. It further relates to the Hindu belief that the creator, God Brahma’s thoughts, started the vibration, which eventually turned into Om. Hence, Om is suggested to be related to the creation of God. 

Om or Pranava refers to the control of one’s life force. Many Hindus adorn the jewelry featuring Om, reminding them that it is necessary to breathe and focus. Om is considered to be a peaceful symbol that is essential for yoga and meditation. Changing Om helps to calm the mind and also rejuvenates the body.

Om and Ganesha

Om stands as a representation of the Hindu God, Ganesha, as it is a loose representation of elephant form. The curve on the symbol’s left stands for the head and belly. However, the curve on the right stands for the trunk for Ganesha. 

Worshipping Ganesha will eventually help to remove obstacles and stands in correlation to Ohm. One must get over the struggles for reaching the absolute stage.

Is Om a religious symbol?

It is necessary to note that Om is not only a symbol but more than that. Since it is a sacred symbol, it is considered problematic and disrespectful to place this symbol near the Hindu faith’s feet or private parts. 

Om is indeed a religious symbol and needs to be bestowed accordingly. Om is an essential Sanskrit mantra that is found in different religions. 

Why is OM so important?

Om is the sound of the universe. It acts as the essence of reality and is used for signifying the ultimate truth. It is said that Om unifies everything in the universe. 

Om is an embodiment of the divine energy and three major components that stand for liberation, preservation, and creation. Chanting the mantra can help to bestow a creative power that is ultimately spiritual. Chanting Om helps to practice mindfulness. It is the rhythmic pronunciation that has calming effects on the body.

Music of Om

The vibrations produced from changing Om can have a significant positive impact on the body. As stated earlier, chanting Om will have a deep impact on physical and mental health. Furthermore, it has deep spiritual powers that help to symbolize purity.

When one chants the music of Om, the vibrations will be felt throughout the body. This holy mantra can indeed have several benefits. Many have developed Om therapy because of the positive effects, which are further used for treating different diseases.

          • Chanting Om gives you a sense of detachment from the world, which plays an important role in releasing tensions and worries.
          • Regularly chanting Om gives you peace of mind and helps form a pious connection, further enabling you to fight anxiety and depression.
          • Many research has shown that chanting Om can help to strengthen the spinal cord. However, to get this benefit, it is necessary to practice chanting Om under proper guidance.
          • Chanting Om helps to regulate blood flow and relieves hypertension. It helps to normalize breathing, respiration, and heartbeat.
          • Music of Om can play an important role in boosting sleep. It is necessary to chant Om regularly so that you can have a sound sleep.

How is OM used on the day today?

Om is used for chanting during yoga. In yoga, om chanting begins at the beginning of the class. The meditation mat is laid out, and Om chants begin to transcend into the reality of time and space. However, Om chanted at the end of a class signifies that the practice has ended and it is time to come back to reality. 

Most people prefer chanting Om in groups so that it can unify and create a sense of community. As you keep chanting, you get to feel vibrations on your own. This helps you feel one with you and your classmates. It also helps you become one with the universe. 

As far as vibration is concerned, chanting Om can be helpful. Before the beginning of any religious practice or Puja, people sit in groups and chant Om.

The 4 Parts of Om

Om is divided into different sections. While the four stands for AUM_, the fourth point is not actually a sound. 

Om usually stands for the four states of human consciousness. From the modern and ancient eras, Yogis believe that the world begins and is sustained and destroyed. The one sound is related to the beginning of supreme reality. Om is the symbol of what is, what was and what it shall be. 

The four states of human consciousness reflected through Om include the following:

Waking state

The waking state or A of Aum stands for Jagrat. In this situation, consciousness is reflected in that of the outer or external world. It is all about experiencing the overall materials with the help of the senses. The waking state helps to maintain the consciousness of emotional and mental health.

Dream state

The Dream State or U of Aum stands for Swapna. Svapna literally translates to dream. In the dream state, one is turned to the inner world. In this state, the mind can fulfill all its desires, wishes, and attractions, even those wishes that cannot work out in the external or real world.

Deep Sleep State

The deep sleep state is the M of Aum, and it stands for the unconscious state or Prajna. In this state, one has no desire or dream sequence. It is the state in which the impressions of the mind are sowed like seeds. If the conditions are met, these actions may either turn to the dream State or eventually become a reality of actions in the waking state.

Pure consciousness

Pure consciousness is the final stage of Aum or the ‘_’ part. It is also referred to as turya. In this state, one is neither conscious towards the out or the in. It is the amalgamation of the previous three states. In the Turya stage, one begins to observe the panorama of consciousness or define the different levels of it being played.

Why do we chant Om 108 times?

In the Hindu culture, one can observe the chanting of Om around 108 times. It is considered to be a holy practice. The number 108, when observed individually, stands for 1, 0, and 8. It reflects that there’s nothing and eventually everything (8 signifying infinity) in the universe. 108 is indeed the ultimate reality of the universe, something for which the Chant Aum stands. 

108 signifies one, emptiness and infinite. In Hinduism and yoga practices, 108 is considered to be a sacred and holy number. The males, prayer beads also have 108 beads. The mala is used for chanting mantras repeatedly. Many devout believers keep the mala and chant the mantra throughout the day to gain peace and ultimate Shanti. 

108 also finds its importance in the Vedic culture. It is considered as the state of wholeness of existence in the Vedic culture. The numbers are also associated with the solar bodies, especially, Sun, Moon, and Earth. How? If you calculate the sun’s distance and the moon from the earth, the outstanding result is 108 times in respect to the diameters (of the moon and the sun). 

Furthermore, as per the Yogic tradition, India has 108 pithas or sacred and religious places. A body has 108 religious or sacred places. Moreover, in Hinduism, there are 108 mantras and 108 Upanishads.

What is the most powerful Hindu mantra?

The Gayatri Mantra is regarded as the holiest and the most powerful Hindu mantra. It is believed that the Gayatri Mantra invokes Brahma or the principle of knowledge and leads to the primordial Sun. 

It is regarded to be the most representative way of prayer in Hinduism. In many Hindu households, this mantra is recited daily. It is said that chanting this mantra can promote a spiritual feeling, and imbibing and dwelling sound will eventually have a positive impact. 

The Gayatri Mantra is taken from the 10th verse of Hymn 62 from Book III of Rig Veda.

Conclusion

Om or Aum is discussed in several religious Hindu texts. In the Mandukya Upanishad, it brings out the concept of one, which is considered significant. However, in the Puranas, the syllable is kept together for sectarian use. 

If you want to feel Om’s vibrations and the power of the universe, you need to chant it aloud every morning. Not only will it be a great start to your day but also a significant yogic practice that will help you move further in life.

In Indian culture, Goddess Kali goes by different names such as Kalika, and Shyama. She is one of the most prominent Goddesses who is responsible for creation, destruction, power, and time. She is the chief of the Mahavidyas and a form of Mother Goddess Parvati.

Hindu Goddess Kali is the destroyer of evil forces. She is regarded or hailed to be the strongest form of Shakti. She goes out to the lengths of killing all evil forces to protect innocent children. In the tantric sects, Hindu Goddess Kali is seen as the Divine mother figure or the Mother of the Universe. It is for this reason that sometimes she is also referred to as Adi Parashakti and Adti Shakti. She is the divine power that gives moksha.

Hindu Goddess Kali is mostly worshipped around India and Nepal. She is portrayed as the standing consort in a dancing form while Lord Shiva lies calm underneath her.

What is Kali the Goddess of?

Kali is the Goddess of doomsday and death. She is the Black Goddess who is hailed as the female form of black of time-doomsday and death. In Sanskrit, Kali is referred to as ‘She Who is Black’ or ‘She Who is Death.’

Kali's history and how it evolved as a God in Hinduism

It is likely the history of Kali is rooted in the history of mankind. Hindu Goddess Kali is first mentioned in the Atharva Veda that is anticipated to be published around 1200-1000 BCE. But, not many considered her to be a Goddess, she was considered to be one with a fierce black tongue, one of the seven belongings of Agni, the God of fire.

Again in 600 CE, Kali makes her appearance in the Devi Mahatmya, as the Goddess of wrath, a form of Durga. She is shown as someone with a frightening core and who is colored black. She is portrayed as the Goddess wearing animal skins and carrying khatvanga. She carries a skull-topped staff which is often associated with that of tribal shamans.

Kali is menitioned once again in the Linga Purana (circa 500 to 1000 CE) where Lord Shiva described how Devi Parvati, tried to defeat the Hindu Demons Daruka. With Parvati merging with Lord Shiva, Goddess Kali appeared who finally kills the demon.

However, it is only in the latter times, that her bloodlust becomes uncontrollable. Eventually, Shiva intervenes in order to calm her down., written around 900-1100 CE, there’s a different legend. According to the Vamana Purana, when Lord Shiva addresses Parvati as the Black one or Kali, she loses her calm and is offended.

In order to get rid of the dark complexion, she goes on to perform authorities which eventually leads to Kali becoming a different entity. Lord Shiva and Kali are often considered to be one. Hence, she is regarded as the power or Shakti of Shiva. Even in Puranas, there is a close mention of Shiva and Kali being associated to each other.

12 Forms of Kali

There has been controversy regarding the different forms. While many Puranas mention eight, other holy texts consider that there are twelve forms of Kali.

1. Kali

Kali art print
Kali goddess art - Click for details!

This is one of the most significant forms. According to the Hindu mythology, the blood of the demons intoxicated the Goddess, and mistakenly she stepped on Lord Shiva, her husband, who was lying around with the corpses.

Realizing the mistake that she committed, she stuck out her tongue, portrayed in all her images.

This form of the Dark Mother or Goddess Kali is known to face the South and is known as Dakshina Kali. She is also referred to as Chamunda, for she is the ferocious slayer of the two naughty demons, Chanda and Munda. 

Chamunda has blood flowing down her tongue. All this while, Lord Shiva stands in admiration of his wife while she continues slaying the demons.

2. Chhinnamasta

Chhinnamasta is one of the weirdest Gods in Indian culture. As per the Hindu culture, Chhinnamasta stands for beheaded.

According to the culture and folklore, she holds her own severed head and drinks the blood that flows from the throat stump. Her feet stands for the heat of passion. Chhinnamasta is the God of Death as well as creation.

Kali goddess incarnation Chhinnamasta
Chinnamasta

3. Bagala Kali

Bagala Kali is the ferocious or violent God who is extremely beautiful. Compared to the natural form, she has a light complexion and stands for someone who pulls out the tongues from the demons.

4. Matangi Kali

Matangi Kali is the angry or violent reincarnation of the Goddess of Knowledge, Saraswati. She is the tantric Goddess who resides on the edges of the organized Sanatan Dharma or Hindu religion.

She is not entirely black but has a sparkling emerald green color. She is the Goddess who is offered stale food from the emerald or left hand. Matangi Kali is also referred to as Chandalini. According to the rules of Hinduism, one cannot worship Goddess Matangi at home.

The Goddess Kali - Matangi
Brooklyn Museum - The Goddess Matangi

5. Shamsana Kali

As the name suggests, Shamsana Kali is the Goddess who presides over the affairs of Shamsan or crematorium. She is worshipped only in Hindu crematoriums. She has a very human-like figure but with strange two hands and no protruding tongue unlike the other versions of Goddess Kali.

6. Tara

Maa Tara is one of the most prominent forms of Goddess Kali worshipped mostly in West Bengal, India.

One of the most important aspects that makes Tara Maa different from other forms of Hindu Goddess Kali is the light blue color. She is portrayed as naked till the waist and then covered in a tiger skin.

The Maa Tara Chandi Temple attracts thousands of devotees every year, located in Sasaram, India

7. Bhairavi Kali

Goddess Bhairav

In the Indian scriptures and culture, Bhairavi Kali stands as the harbinger of death. She is the Mother figure who defends and protects all her children and drives away the evil. Bhairavi Kali is hugely worshipped in Tripura, India.

8. Kamala Kali

Kamala Kali is the tantric form of Goddess Lakshmi. She is considered to be the symbol of wealth and prosperity. In Southern India, Goddess Kali or Kamala Kali is worshipped as ‘Gaja Lakshmi’. This is mostly because she has two elephants on either of her sides.

9. Shodoshi

Shodoshi is the seductress form of Goddess Kali. She rises from the navel of Lord Shiva and is an adolescent girl. As per the mythology, the essential Hindu Trinity of Vishnu, Brahma and Mahesh pay respect to Shodoshi.

10. Dhumavati

Not many Indians know, but Dhumavati is one of the essential forms of Goddess Kali. Dhumavati is an exceptional representation of Goddess as the window.

She is probably the only widowed God of Hindu mythology.

Dhumavati is often referred to as the spirit of smoke or Smoke Goddess. Dhumavati is the exact opposite of Goddess Lakshmi, who stands for good and auspicious.

It is for this reason that Dhumavati is also known as Alakshmi. People often worship Dhumavati or Alakshmi to go away from their houses.

Goddess Dhumavati, One of the Mahavidya
Goddess Dhumavati, One of the Mahavidya

11. Siddhi Kali

Siddhi Kali is mostly worshipped in Nepal. There’s a temple dedicated to the Goddess in Nepal known as the SiddhiKali temple. Siddhi Kali is hailed as the goddess of Astamatrika.

12. Samhara Kali

Samhara Kali is also referred to as Vama Kali, who stands as the power or symbol of destruction. According to Hindu mythology, she is one of the dangerous and powerful forms of Kali. Samhara Kali finds an important place in the Tantric texts.

According to Hindu mythology, Samhara Kali is the one who steps out with left foot and has a sword in her right hand. She is the Goddess of death and destruction. In India, mostly Indians worship tantric. Samhara Kali is responsible for providing liberation from the cycle of life or moksha.

As per Mahakala Samhita, Samhara Kali is black in complexion and has two arms. She stands on the corpses and has a freshly cut head on her hands while the dripping blood from the head is collected on the plate.

Kali and Shiva

Kali is the wife of God Shiva. Hindu Goddess Kali and Lord Shiva reflect the two aspects of transcendental reality: the silent (Shiva) and the dynamic (Kali). However, truth is not complete without the two.

According to the Upanishads, “That is far, and at the same time, that is near. That moves and that moves not. That is within, and that is without. It moves, and it moves not.” Hence, when Kali performs her duties, the reality is moving, and when Shiva performs his duties, the reality is silent.

Goddess Kali and Lord Shiva

But, when they come together to perform, it becomes a really underwhelming aspect. Our human consciousness will not be able to understand it; our divine consciousness will eventually observe it.

Lord Shiva and Kali together bring us two different forms of reality. They together fulfill the highest Supreme, and the reverses remain on both the coins. Our ordinary human eyes observe them as two separate entities, but our divine self will eventually observe them as the same.

Kali's "relations" with other Gods

Mother Kali is the wife of Lord Shiva and a reincarnation of Shakti. It is for this reason that the merged form of Kali and Shiva is known as AdiShakti. Kali’s motherhood is often hailed as the ceaseless creation. She is the divine and supreme being, and her white teeth are symbolic of purity.

She is creative, and the red tongue stands for what she stands. Kali and her attendants are said to dance to the rhythms of Lord Shiva. Kali adorns a skull garland. She is connected to other Gods in different forms. In one of her forms, Shodoshi is worshipped by the Holy Trinity of the Indian culture- Maheshwar, Brahma, and Vishnu.

Is Kali Goddess evil?

Often Kali is considered to be the Goddess of evil. However, she is not. She is the force that drives away all the evil.  Goddess Kali is said to eradicate evil from the world to save her children. She is the protector who sets out to the world to kill all demons and eventually protect the innocent children.

Kali mythology- Stories about Kali

Kali makes her appearance even in Mahabharata (verse 10.8.64). In the verse, she is referred to as Kalaratri (dark blue night). She appears in front of Pandava soldiers’ dreams and then appears during the fight while Drona’s son Ashwatthama is about to blow an attack.

One of the most famous legends of Kali is that she is the slayer of one of the Hindu Demons, Raktabija. Raktabija was blessed that his new incarnation will be formed every time a drop of blood falls on the ground. In one of the legends, Kali’s assistants, the Matrikas set out to wound the demon, Raktabija.

The Goddess Ambika Leading the Eight Mother Goddesses in Battle Against the Demon Raktabija
The Goddess Ambika Leading the Eight Mother Goddesses in Battle Against the Demon Raktabija

They do so to kill him. However, with every blood dropping on the ground, a new clone of Raktabija is formed. As a result, the battlefield becomes filled with the clones or duplicates of Raktabija. It is then that her assistants and Ambika summon Hindu Goddess Kali to help them kill the demon.

According to The Devi Mahatmyam

Out of the surface of her (Ambika’s) forehead, fierce with frown, issued suddenly Kali of terrible countenance, armed with a sword and noose. Bearing the strange khatvanga (skull-topped staff), decorated with a garland of skulls, clad in tiger’s skin very appalling owning to her emaciated flesh, with gaping mouth, fearful with her tongue lolling out, having deep reddish eyes, filling the regions of the sky with her roars, falling upon impetuously and slaughtering the great asuras in that army, she devoured those hordes of the does of the devas.

Kali consumes Raktabija and all her clones and eventually dances on all the corpses lying around. According to the Devi Mahatmyam, Kali is the Matrika or Shakti or power of the Devi.

She is hailed as the Chamunda, one who slays Chanda and Munda. Chamunda is considered to be similar to Goddess Kali and has habits similar to it as well. According to the Tantric Kali Kula Shaktism, Kali is the main or supreme Goddess and is hailed to be the source of all Goddesses. According to the stories of Yogini Tantra, the Hindu Goddess kills Ghorasura and Kolasura.

Kali's Rituals

The Kali Puja is worshipped just like the Durga Puja. During the Kali Puja, the worshippers honor the sculptures of Goddess Kali. They are also worshipped in the pandals, which are either temporary shrines or open pavilions.

During the night, she is worshipped with the Tantric mantras and rites. Goddess Kali is offered sweet, rice, hibiscus flowers, and lentils. As per the rituals, one should meditate the entire night till dawn to worship the Goddess Kali.

Many households and pandals practice the Brahmanical rituals where Kali is dressed in her Adya Shakti form and adorned with all clothes. However, as per the Brahmanical practice, there is no requirement for animal sacrifice. 

Many places in Bhubaneswar, Kolkata, and Guwahati observe the worshipping around cremation grounds. The Durga Puja of Kolkata is considered to be the same as the Kali Puja of Barasat. People from different regions observe Kali Puja in its different forms. Kali Puja in Bengal is often observed as the time of theater, fireworks, and shows.

Kali puja
Kali Puja, also known as Shyama Puja or Mahanisha Puja, is a festival dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali, celebrated on the new moon day of the Hindu month Kartik especially in West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Assam and Bangladesh.

Goddess Kali is worshipped in different forms around the world. However, in the Kamakhya Temple of Guwahati, Kalighat Temple of Kolkata, and Kalikhetra Temple of Bhubaneswar, Goddess Kali is worshipped in the form of Lakshmi.

During these days, the Vaishnava Haldars is reflected in the worship of Goddess Kali. During these times, Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped in her three major forms, Maha Kamiz Maha Saraswati and Maha Lakshmi. Thousands of devotees visit these temples to pay their respect to the Goddess. One of the most prominent temples dedicated to Goddess Kali is Dakshineswar Temple, Kolkata.

Kali Worship in India and Nepal today

It is stated that Kali is one of the most misunderstood Gods in the Indian culture. In Nepal, Goddess Kali is worshipped in the form of Chamunda. The Siddhi Kali Temple is one of the most prominent Kali temples in Nepal. In Nepali culture, Goddess Kali is worshipped with animal sacrifices. Another prominent temple in the Indian culture is the Dakshin Kali Temple. 

Siddhi Lakshmi temple in Bhaktapur, Nepal

However, in India there are several temples dedicated to the Goddess Kali. West Bengal itself has innumerable temples in the states dedicated to Goddess Kali. The Kalighat Kali Temple and Dakshineswar Temple are some of the most prominent temples.

Lord Paramhansa was a great devotee of Goddess Kali. It is in the Dakshineswar temple that Lord Paramhansa performed all the rites dedicated to Goddess Kali.

Is Kali Goddess dangerous?

Many people believe that it is dangerous to worship Goddess Kali. Kali is the Mother Goddess, so she will forgive and protect the people. 

In general, Kali is not dangerous, but she is dangerous for those who rebel. She is the driving force that keeps away all the evils. Worshipping Kali can take us to the heights of success even when we have nothing. The fact that Goddess Kali is evil is an illusion. She is the one who is supposed to give us power and help us rise amongst all the evil.

Many people turn to Goddess Kali as a last resort. Even if there is nothing, she will help us out. Although she has a fearful appearance, she is actually a Mother figure who will help out her children. The devotees of Kali believe that she is there to help us, even when no God helps.

Nonetheless, Kali is a very difficult God to depend on. While she can take us to the heights of success, she can also bring us down. However, if we are ignorant, we will only ruin the chances, and Goddess might punish us, which will eventually be beyond repair. If you want to start your life and move in a positive direction, you should always turn to Goddess Kali.

Goddess Kali Mantra

Bija mantra

The Bija Mantra for Goddess Kali is chanted to keep away all the evil. Chanting this mantra will help drive away all the evil forces.

Om Krim Kali

The K here stands for full knowledge. The R symbolizes the fact that Goddess Kali is auspicious. The I stands for the fact that she is the one who blesses or bestows boon. The M stands for the freedom that she offers.

Om KlimKalika- Yei Namaha

It is said that chanting this Goddess Kali Mantra can bring you relief. It provides relief from the different kinds of problems. Irrespective of what the problem is, chanting the mantra can offer you relief.

Kali Gayatri

Or:

          • Om Mahakalyai
          • Ca VidmahesmasanaVasinyai
          • Ca DhimahiTanno Kali Prachodayat

This mantra signifies that Goddess Kali is the only one who is in the Ocean of life. She is also the one who brings down the world as one into the cremation grounds. She grants us with blessings and provides us the opportunity to dwell and focus on all our positive energies.

The Fifteen syllable Mantra

The Fifteen syllable Mantra is said to help one grow in terms of spirituality. Chanting this mantra can play an important role in enhancing our spirituality and help us grow.

In Hindu mythology, demons are often referred to as rakshasas. It is necessary to determine that these Hindu Demons are supernatural beings who are considered equivalent to humans and Hindu Gods. 

However, it is only in recent times that these Hindu Demons have been considered or incorporated into man-eaters in the Indian culture. Furthermore, they have also been widely accepted in Buddhism, as well. Rakshas are Hindu symbols of Nri-chaksas or kravyads.

The female demon is known as rakshasi. The female demons can take up the form of a human. In such situations, they may be referred to as rakshasa. Asuras and rakshasas both translate to Hindu Demons, and these terms may be used interchangeably.

The Creations of Brahma

According to Hindu mythology, humans, gods, and demons are regarded as the children of Brahma, the universe’s creator. However, the difference in their way of thinking and understanding Brahma’s teachings varied, eventually leading to one’s being considered evil and the other being considered the good. Although there are strong and intelligent demons in India’s culture, some are the creation of good and evil. 

As per the Vedic creation theory, Brahma is the supreme Lord of heaven. Brahma is further responsible for the creation of humans (manavas), Gods (devtas), and demons (asuras, rakshasas, and danavas). The demons are often referred to as daityas. While humans are the intermediary, Gods enjoy the light of heaven, and demons live in the lower region or patala and become a victim to the darkness. The world of demons is full of darkness. 

The demons represent the pain principle. It is said that humans consist of God and humans’ qualities, which is why they are subjected to pain and pleasure. It is just human kshetra. We only experience the force strongly that is the most existent among us. 

If the body becomes prone to demons, we tend to suffer a lot. Our body literally becomes hell with darkness all around. Humans become prone to pride, egoism, rajas, tamas, pride, delusion, and envy. With demons taking over our bodies, we tend to become prone to all impurities and negative thoughts.

Hence, humans should work on resisting the demonic forces. To keep away from the demonic influences, women should focus on virtue, dharma, knowledge, and work towards freedom and liberation.

Top Demons of India culture

According to the Hindu symbols, certain demons are powerful. But some demons are weak and not intelligent. But over the years, in Hindu culture, only strong demons have been looked upon.

1. Ravana

Ravana is one of the main Hindu Demons. The powerful demon King fought against Lord Rama. The demon King has twenty hands and ten heads. Ravana is often hailed as one of the strongest demons capable of changing planets’ alignment. Apart from being powerful, he was extremely intellectual who had mastered all the major scripts from Hindu mythology.

Ravana was a great devotee to Lord Shiva. Ravana abducted Sita, Rama’s wife, and in the war between the two, Rama killed Ravana (This story is the basis for the famous Hindu festival, Diwali). Ravana was one of the longest-living demons. Ravana was killed at the age of 12,00,000 years in the fight.

Hindu demons Ravana
A man in Ravana's costume

Apart from being a powerful demon, Ravana was also brilliant and often hailed to be the world’s first astrologer. Ravana was well-versed in warfare, arts, music, science, and spirituality. According to various Hindu mythology stories, Ravana once made a veena (musical instrument) whose strings were made out of his own intestine. Ravana adopted this practice to be blessed by the Lord. 

Ravana had the capability to clone him. He had 1 lakh (100,000) sons, but only 2 of them were real, and the rest were just his clone. As far as Ravana’s childhood is concerned, he never got to experience his teenage life. This is mostly because, at the age of 8 years, Ravana’s mother had requested his mother to turn their son into an adult. Ravana’s father’s expertise in this technique.

2. Hiranyaksha

The eldest son of Kashyapa and Ditti was an oppressive demon. He belonged to the category of danavas and was also known as Hiranyanetra. Hiranyaksha attacked heaven and also planned to destroy the Earth goddess from Hindu mythology. 

Hiranyaksha was an incarnation of one of the dwarapalas of Vishu, the Vijaya. Hiranyaksha was later on killed by Varaha, one of the forms of Lord Vishnu.

Hindu demon Hiranyaksha
Varaha save world from Hiranyaksha

3. Surpanakha

If you’ve read the Ramayana, you must know Surpanakha. However, if you’ve not, then let us tell you, Surpanakha is the sister of Ravana. 

Surpanakha is a wicked demoness. Although so ugly, she had the desire to be married to Lord Rama. Surpanakha was the wife of Dustabudhi.

As the name suggests, Dustabudhi is the one with the naughty brain. Dustabudhi was a greedy person who wanted to win over Ravana’s kingdom. When Ravana got to know about the intentions of Dustabudhi, the former killed him. Since then, Surpanakha returned to her brother and started living with them. 

A few years later, Surpanakha saw Lakshmana and Rama roaming around the forest. In their sight, she was attracted to them and wanted to marry them.

However, both declined the proposal, and she became agitated. To win over the love, she even attempted to attack Sita, wife of Rama and sister-in-law of Lakshmana. 

Because of this behavior, Lakshmana got very angry and chopped off her nose, post which a huge battle occurred between Rama and Surpanakha.

In the end, Surpanakha lost the battle. Rama emerged victoriously, and Surpanakha eventually left crying to complain about the incident to her brother, the Demon King, Ravana.

Valmiki's ramayana amazon
Valmiki's Ramayana - Click For Details!

It was only after a few years that Surpanakha passed away and her cause of death still happens to be a cause of mystery.

4. Mahishasur

His name consists of the word ‘asur.’ Mahishasur is a demon king who inherited a buffalo’s body but the upper part of a human. Mahishasur’s father was the demon king who gradually became attracted to a buffalo’s beauty and married her.

In their union, the buffalo gave birth to Mahishasur (Mahisha means buffalo, whereas asur means a demon). He was a devotee of Lord Brahma and eventually got a blessing from him. According to the blessing, no man on the planet would ever be able to kill him, and that a woman could only kill him. 

Hindu demons Mahishasura
Hindu demon Mahishasura

Mahishasur was extremely powerful, and it was his pride that led to his downfall. He was proud and overconfident about the fact that no man on this planet could kill him, and hence, he would be immortal.

At the same time, he was also very sure that no woman would be able to kill him because she wouldn’t match his strength. However, the prophecy was fulfilled when Mahishasur met death at the hands of Ma Durga. In a battle between the two, Goddess Durga killed him to prevent the huge ruckus he was causing.

5. Putana

The story of Putana is found in the stories of Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna, the divine being, is one of the most important Gods in Indian culture. As he was the supreme personality, he was responsible for killing all demons and protecting the devotees. 

Putana was a demon who learned the black magic art and knew how to kill infants. Putana’s black magic made her able to kill babies. Once Krishna was born, Kansa, his maternal uncle, had sent Purana to kill infant Krishna. 

Killing, Putana, Saraba - Wooden carvings - Vazhappally Temple

Putana dressed up as a beautiful lady and set out to meet Krishna. She had visited the house to kill him, but people thought that the beautiful lady praised the child, but that wasn’t true.

Putana entered the house and found the infant in his room. She took him on her lap. The wicked demoness had poisoned her breast and pushed the nipple in his mouth to breastfeed him the poisonous milk. She had planned that this would kill her. 

The plan went all wrong, and the infant sucked the life out of her. Eventually, the demoness returned to her normal form and died screaming of pain. On returning to her normal form, Putana’s body extended up to 12 miles crashing the trees and the village houses.

6. Mahabali

Not every demon in the Hindu mythology was bad. Mahabali is himself an example of one of the most generous demon kings. Everyone around was happy under the rule of Mahabali. He wished the best of his people and was completely devoted to the Lord.

One time, a Vamana came to his kingdom and asked the demon King to give him a piece of land that can be covered by his footsteps. It was Lord Vishnu who had disguised himself as the Vamana.

Hindu demon Mahabali
Hindu demon Mahabali

Being the generous demon king that Mahabali is, he promised to fulfill the wish of Vamana. On hearing this, the Vamana increased his size. The footstep covered the entire world, and Mahabali came to know who the Vamana was. 

To seek blessings from the Lord, Mahabali requested Vamana to put the third step on his forehead. On receiving the footstep, Mahabali met death. To celebrate the victory of good over evil, several places around the world celebrate Onam.

7. Kumbhakaran

Kumbhakaran is neither completely evil nor completely good. He knew that he wasn’t walking the right path, yet he chose to tread along the way for the sake of his brother.

Hindu demon Kumbhakarna
Kumbhakarna yawns as he is roused from sleep

Kumbhakaran, or the sleeping giant, was blessed with the capability to sleep for months. Moreover, he could also go on eating the entire world and yet won’t be satisfied. His body was huge.

Although a demon, Kumbhakaran was extremely learned and a great philosopher. Because of his learnings, he knew that all these were sins and never wanted to be indulged in one. 

Once Kumbhakaran’s brother, Lord Ravana, needed his sleep, he forgot his principles. It was considered impossible to wake Kumbhakaran.

When war broke out between Ram and Ravana, the latter’s army was skeptical of waking him up. But, Ravana wanted his strong brother to be on his side, for his other brother, Vibhishan, had already betrayed him.

To wake Kumbhakaran for the war, one thousand elephants were made for walking over his body. Eventually, Kumbhakaran woke up. Kumbhakaran was a man of principles and knew that his brother was on the wrong track.

He even tried to convince his brother that he was wrong. Eventually, Kumbhakaran sided with Ravana and waged the battle. Ravana waged war, and Kumbhakaran destroyed half the army of Rama. However, Rama killed Kumbhakaran. 

8. Raktabija

Raktabija is often hailed to be one of the strongest demons who had a very weird boon or blessing. As per the blessing, if one drop of Raktabija’s blood fell on the ground, from the same, a duplicate of him would be born. Hence, it was very difficult to defeat or kill Raktabija. Because of his blessing, no one even dared to challenge him. 

The Goddess Ambika Leading the Eight Mother Goddesses in Battle Against the Demon Raktabija

Every time Raktabija’s duplicate was formed, his power would be increased. It was Goddess Durga who came forward the undefeatable Raktabija. But, even she wasn’t able to defeat him. 

Raktabija’s blood spilled around during the battle, and from those blood spills, thousands of Raktabija were born. Eventually, the Hindu Goddess Kali came forward and pierced the demon. Even before a drop of blood fell on the ground, and new Raktabija could come up, Goddess Kali drank every drop of blood.

9. Tarakasura

The evil King Tarakasura was also a mighty demon. Being powerful that he is, Tarakasura was able to defeat all his challengers. Once the challengers were defeated, Tarakasura transformed them into his servants. He hailed the Gods and eventually received their blessing. Tarakasura turned to kill the King and innocent people too. Hence, he began to misuse his power. 

As per the boon, Tarakasura could only be defeated by the son of Lord Shiva. However, Shiva had no child. But, after Shiva’s marriage with Parvati, Kartikeya was born. Kartikeya fought Tarakasura and killed him. Not only that, Tarakasura’s brothers were killed in the battle. Tarakasura is often referred to as Murugun and is worshipped across different parts of the world.

10. Hiranyakshipu

The brother of Hiranyaksha, Hiranyakshipu, was the egoistic demon king. He believed himself to be equal to the Gods and wanted his people to praise him to the same level. The demon king considered himself to be the center of the world.

He believed that he was the creator of the universe who had the supreme power, and no one could control him. Although the whole kingdom worshipped him, his own son, Prahlad, refused to worship his own father as the Lord.

Hindu demon Hiranyakshipu
Hiranyakashipu wielding a mace against Narasimha

Prahlad was a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Out of jealousy, Hiranyakshipu tried his best to kill his son. After the failure of all his efforts, he asked his sister, Holika, to sit on fire with his son on her lap. However, this attempt failed too, and Holika caught fire. 

Eventually, Lord Narsimha, a form of Lord Vishnu, tore apart from the demon Hiranyakshipu and killed him. Hiranyakshipu symbolizes immortality and hate. However, his son stood up as the symbol of assurance and was a strong believer in God. The place where the demon resides is also the place where a believer grew.

11. Narakashura

Narakashura is yet another demon king. He was the ruler of Pradyosapuram. His people did not like him, for he tortured them. Once upon a time, he had kidnapped around 1600 women and tortured them only to gain pleasure. 

Narakashura was also responsible for killing sages and innocent people. His people were no longer able to keep up with the torchers with the demon king. As a result, all of them approached the supreme being, Krishna. 

Krishna Battles the Armies of the Demon Naraka

Krishna promised that he would fight and kill the demon king on their behalf. However, Naraksura was cursed. His curses stated that only a woman would be able to kill him.

Both Krishna and his wife fought the battle against Naraksura. Eventually, both of them emerged victoriously and killed Naraksura. Narak Chaturdashi is celebrated all around the world as a sign of Krishna’s victory against Naraksura.

12. Banasura

Banasura or Bana was the son of Mahabali, the demon KingKing. In India, there’s a hill named Banasura hill dedicated to Banasur. 

Banasura was the ruler of the large kingdom of Shontipur. He was one of the strongest demon kings. His influence and threat were so strong that even the lords feared him. Banasura was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. 

As per Hindu mythology, the Agnigarh hillock was constructed of Banasura to keep his daughter segregated from others.

Hindu demon Banasura
Krishna forgives Banasura

Conclusion

Although these demons were powerful, they weren’t all evil. Many of them practiced evil deeds, but many demons believed in serving the people. 

Hindu mythology has stories about many demons. These demons often considered themselves to be the equal of Gods, which often led to their downfall. 

There are many more who tried to step over and become God. But the Gods of heaven showed them their real place.

Diet in Hinduism differs from its sundry religions. The medieval and historic Hindu texts endorse ahimsa or non-violence towards all live organisms, including humans and animals, because they suspect that it decreases the risk of animal deaths.

Most of the Hindus stick to a healthy vegetarian diet that may or may not comprise dairy products and eggs. They believe eggs and dairy products are in a synchronized manner with nature and other life forms. 

People usually eat with those individuals who are of equal rank. It is believed that those people who go and eat everywhere are of deficient status. If an individual from one caste provides food to a member of another caste, then all the members of the initial caste are known to be of a higher caste. 

The majority of the Hindus practice Intermittent fasting for religious reasons on holy and festive days, but this practice varies according to their local customs and preferences. Some people forgo all the nourishment while others consume only juice and limit themselves to a single meal in a day.

Fasting is a physical and spiritual reset that enhances the human body’s condition. A successful religious fast should not lead to the urge to eat or be in a hurry whenever the fast is over. 

The Diet of non-vegetarian Hindus comprises meat, fish and poultry, and red meat to an extent. Some of them consume beef too in summation to dairy products and eggs and dairy products. For killing birds and animals for food, Non-vegetarian Hindus often make use of jhatka or quick death. 

Ancient Indian Culture texts report the whole creation as a massive food chain and the universe as a vast food cycle. Hindu sanyasis do not prepare their food. They rely either on charity or harvesting fruits from the woodlands, as they believe this decreases the harm caused to living creatures and nature. 

Hindu diet foods
Hindu diet in the streets

History Of Hindu Diet

Being the world’s third-largest and the oldest religion, Hinduism positively promotes simple and natural living as a way to spiritual and physical purity. The Hindu diet varies enormously as some people are strict vegetarians, while other individuals eat meat that is hunted locally.

Hindu dietary customs are dependent on the belief that the human body is made up of water, fire, earth, and air and that the food you consume can either throw them out of balance or balance these elements. 

Food In The Vedas

Ancient Vedic texts like the Rigveda state that Nanditha Krishna criticizes people who kill cattle, men and horses, and invokes Lord Agni to penalize people who kill. The Brahmanas state that squandering of beef from oxen and cows is a major sin. The Atharvaveda information that rice, beans, and barley are food items allotted for the Hindu community’s consumption. 

Food In Upanishads & Samhitas

The Upanishads structure the basis for Vedanta, the Vedas’ pinnacle, and Hinduism standard. They support abstaining from harming living organisms while proposing ahimsa as a requisite for salvation or Moksha or enlightenment. 

The Upanishad texts of Hindu culture inform about regular diet and appropriate nutrition. These Upanishad texts also invoke self-restraint theory in food affairs, while the Samhitas tell about what and when particular foods are suitable. Self-control in the diet is known as Mitahara, and this is studied in Shandilya Upanishad and Svatmarama as good quality. 

The Bhagavad Gita incorporates verses on self-control and diet in food in its chapters. It tells that a Yogi is supposed to eat too much nor too less neither. Also, he should neither sleep much nor too little. Observing and understanding one’s habits about sleeping, eating, and pleasure are known to be very important in the practice of yoga. 

Three Categories Of Hindu Diet Code:

According to Hindu mythology, all foods have separate possessions and features. Different food items create other effects on various parts of the mind or the brain. Consumption of meat, sparrow, eggs, fish, onion, and garlic creates passion in your mind and soul. Fruits and pulses make the serene, soulful, and calm. The properties of good food influence the healthy being of a person. 

Human beings have a desire for certain foods according to their temperament Guna. Our body is an instrument by which we can accomplish all our goals and purposes in the universe. Moreover, the horse takes an individual to his final goal or destination: liberation or Moksha. Therefore, the mind should be kept healthy, clean, and robust. 

Everything in this universe is threefold, and so are the food items. They are either Rajasic, Sattwic, or Tamasic according to their properties and effect on the mind and body. You can quickly learn about an individual’s character or temperament from the type of food he consumes. You can also find out your characteristics by the food you eat. You can know whether you are Rajasic, Sattwic, or Tamasic from your fondness for specific food items. 

1. Sattvic Food

Original food items increase the strength and liveliness of people. It also increases the flow of energy in the body and makes us fit and powerful. Sattvic food introduces calmness and mental satisfaction and helps people to enter into meditation.

This food can be very quickly eaten and absorbed while supplying the maximum energy level to the body. A sattvic person consumes juice, fruits, and vegetables that taste and nourish the body. Food items that are sattvic In nature are-

          1. Wheat and cereals. 
          2. Fruits, almonds, and dates. 
          3. Butter, milk, and ghee 
          4. Vegetables and pulses. 

You will be required to ban fish, eggs, and liquor from becoming a true sattwa. 

2. Rajasic Food

Items desirous in nature produce evil thoughts and restlessness in mind and cause pain and trouble to an individual. A Rajasic individual always prepares a lot to satisfy his hunger pangs and his dinner plate. He consumes chilies, salt, cloves, pickles, etc., in excess amount.

Tears would flow, and water would dribble from his nose, but he would still not leave the pungent and hot food. The person remains unhappy and unsatisfied till the stomach is not filled with hot and spicy things. Some Instances of Rajasic food are-

          1. Puri, kachori, and fried loaves of bread. 
          2. Beatles, tobacco, tea, and coffee. 
          3. Onion, garlic, lemon, and masoor daal. 
          4. Meat, fish, and eggs. 

Rajasic food items disturb the mind. To control this, you need to give up on salt. Abandoning salt helps in controlling hunger and also calms the mind and soul. Scorpion and snake bite sting will not affect an individual who has refrained himself from salt. Garlic and onions are even worse than beef and meat. 

3. Tamasic Food

Individuals who are Tamasic in nature consume food in the afternoon time. The food they consume is cooked on the previous day. Tamasic people like food that is half cooked or half burnt. The person and his children eat from the same dish that has been mixed into a mess. The food consumed by them is either stale or half-cooked. They highly drink liquor and are horrible individuals. 

Some of the instances of tamasic food are-

          1. Ganja, bhang, opium. 
          2. Charas and stale articles. 
          3. Overcooked or undercooked food. 
Diet in Hinduism
A typical sight in India

Hindu Vegetarian Diet

Lacto-vegetarianism diet is often followed by Hindus, which comprises milk-based food items and many other items that are not derived from animals. A typical vegetarian Hindi diet prohibits consuming eggs and meat. The two important reasons for this are

          • Non-violence or ahimsa against animals. 
          • The aim is to offer only vegetarian food to Hindu gods and then consume it again in prasad or blessings from Lord Shiva.

A classic Hindu vegetarian meal is a combination of rice, green vegetables, wheat, and other dairy products. Depending on the terrestrial region, the chief food items can include millet pieces of bread. Slaughtering of animals is avoided.

Many Hindus, who follow the Vaishnava tradition, hold themselves back on consuming garlic and onions during Chaturmas time ranging from July till November.

Hindu Non-vegetarian Diet

Although many Hindus are vegans, a large portion of people still consumes fish and eggs. According to research, 13% of the non-vegetarians in the nation are Hindus. Individuals who are non-vegetarians usually prefer fish, poultry, and seafood as their meat sources.

In Assam and West Bengal, fish is the Chief food of most individuals and communities. It is also a major food item in coastal regions of India. 

Hindus who consume meat often differentiate meat from beef. Respect for cows is a Hindu belief. Most of them prohibit the consumption of meat that is sourced from cows as they are treated as mothers and are often considered a family member—few Hindus who consume non-vegetarian food refrain from eating it during festivals Diwali, Janmashtami, and Dussehra. 

Hindu Food Rituals

In Hindu culture, many rituals are linked with food. Some of these rituals are

          • A child’s first and the foremost feeding ceremony is celebrated and remembered as a samskara and is popularly known as Annaprasana. 
          • The funeral rites and rituals consist of serving and offering food to the deceased soul. 
          • According to research, food that is regularly worshipped provides vigor and power to the mind and soul of human beings. Therefore, it is advised that a man who is born twice should always consume food with a focussed mind, and after he has eaten his food, he should cleanse his hands with water and get rid of the mouth’s cavities.

Hindus always observe a few main rituals before consuming food. These rituals are discussed below.

          •     Cleaning the Ground: You should always consume food in a clean place. Hindu law prohibits eating food in contaminated areas.
          •     Sprinkle water around the food-As soon as the food is served. You must sprinkle water around the plate, accompanied by prayers and mantras. This will purify the food and make it worth eating for the Lord’s.
          •     Food is offered to five breaths, namely apana, prana, udana, vyana, samanya, and the Brahmana instilled in the heart. Some individuals also make sure to provide food to the divinities before eating. 

Foods Forbidden In Hinduism

Consuming beef is strictly prohibited in typical orthodox Hindu culture. Hindus remain Lacto-vegetarian and drink cow’s milk, which is the only food-related to any animal. The habit of eating beef is highly encouraged in other religions, but Hindus consider beef and neglect it as much as they can.

Apart from consuming beef, there are many vegetables too that are abstained by an orthodox Hindu culture. Turnip, garlic, onion, etc., is a taboo in the list of these vegetables strictly prohibited from eating. Alcohol is not meant to be consumed and is strictly prohibited for Hindus.

Usually, the preaching sects of Hindus like Swaminarayan and Brahmin communities avoid drinking alcohol. They do not even take the roots of vegetables. They believe that it drains out all the spiritual beliefs and thoughts and builds and enhances Tamasic qualities inside an individual’s body. 

The most preferred and vital meat that Hindus generally opt for consumption is the meat of a goat. Note that they do not consume the flesh of pork as the animal is considered to be dirty. In India, individuals belonging to other castes consume the root of all types that also includes beef and pork. Hindus living in the same nation are prone to destroy it instead of avoiding it. 

The traditional Hindu religion never persuades or forces the Hindu followers to eat only vegetarian. Still, for the cause of “ahimsa,” Hinduism is always taught to be vegan and avoid meat. It is stated and described that whenever Hindus consume fish, eggs, seafood, and meat, there is a vibration of small creatures.

This vibration can pull down the nature of the human that consumes meat. Especially for this purpose alone, Hindus are refrained from consuming meat and other non-vegetarian food items. The majority of Hindus are vegetarian and avoid consuming meat and eggs. However, many Hindus consume chicken or fish. 

Can Hindus Drink Milk?

Yes, Hindus consume milk products. A cow is described as a theomorphic animal in Vedas. So, Hindus refer to cows as their mother and as a God. Hindus consume products like yogurt, milk, ghee, and butter. As cows are regarded as mothers and God, Hindus don’t ever try to kill any Cow and bull for their food. A cow is also stated as Mother earth various times in the ancient Puranas. 

Lord Krishna, the holy avatar of Lord Vishnu, likes to consume milk, yogurt, and butter. Milk Products provide Sattva Guna while the flesh of animals provides Tamas Guna. Krishna worshippers have a special bond with cows because of Krishna’s role as a cowherd. Facts and Stories about his love for milk and butter are legendary. Lord Krishna is also known as “Makhan chor,” or butter thief.

Hindu diet restrictions
Masala chai tea, mix of black tea in milk and water with a mixture of aromatic herbs and spices

Hindus utilize dairy products and milk for religious purposes because it is believed to have refining qualities. Butter or ghee is used in lighting lamps Or diyas for rituals. Milk is used for bathing Hindu lords on unique festivals.

Sweets are also made from ghee or dairy, which are often used to offer to gods. Milk is also used in the funeral rites of the deceased ones. Hence, for this particular reason, most Hindus follow a Vegetarian diet.

Ghee spread on loaves of bread can be an excellent treat for the poor people. Buttermilk is a popular summer drink that refreshes and soothes your stomach.

In case you are in India, you can never escape the calorie-filled sweets prepared from milk. One important thing that is common across India is the morning cup of hot milk tea. Tiny street-side tea stalls Commence their work early morning with laborers and other individuals as their first customers.

Do Hindus Eat Pork?

Hindus who do not consume meat and chicken often differentiate all the meat items from beef. The respect for the holy cow is a part of Hindu belief and culture, and most of the Hindus avoid consuming meat that is sourced from a cow as they are treated like a motherly animal and a member of the family. 

The Hindus staying in Vietnam do not consume beef and pork. For the longest time in our country, pork eaters have been significantly less even though meat is consumed in large portions of the country like North-Eastern states, Karnataka, Kerala, and Goa, various other communities like the Kodavas and the Catholics. 

Takeaway

Hinduism is not just a culture, but it is more than a religion. It is an emotion and a way of life and behavior. According to Hindu symbols, many Hindus are Lacto-vegetarians who avoid eggs and meat.

However, some Hindus may eat chicken, lamb, or fish. Fats derived from animals such as lard are not allowed. The sayings are reflected in statements that are utilized by Hindus to inform about Hinduism- Sanatana Dharma, which means eternal faith. Unlike Jainism, Buddhism, or Sikhism, Hinduism has no founder.

Is there any Hindu symbol of love?

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Hinduism is one of the ancient religions in the world that has several Indian symbols that convey numerous meanings. One of the most powerful symbols is ‘Aum’/. When chanted, written, or painted, the Aum releases its energy into the surroundings. The vibrations that emit while chanting Aum are of high frequencies and can create harmony between the mind, body, and soul. But is Aum Hindu symbol of love?

So, we can get to see Aum being a part of many categories and sections in Hinduism. Exactly like Buddhism and other religions and Asian cultures, Hindus also follow certain symbols as a form of representation. 

Tibetan siging bowl
Om bowl - Click for details
Om bowl - Click for details

No temple or a religious center is complete without this symbol, and the Vedic Gurus have explained the benefits of chanting of Aum quite elaborately in their scriptures. Aum is also used as a meditational tool by a lot of Spiritual Gurus, and people recite Aum every day at their homes to create equilibrium in their bodies. 

Yoga associates itself with this symbol quite often, as the session on Yoga begins and ends with the chanting of ‘Aum.’ Aum is considered to be the sacred symbol of Hinduism. Every religion has its symbols and respective meanings to it. Likewise, Hinduism also associates itself with a lot of symbols that convey the meaning and power of love, power, wealth, luck, and prosperity.

Aum is the root of everything as it has its connection with the cosmic energy. It releases enormous amounts of blockages and increases positivity and optimism in an individual and yet, Aum is not THE Hindu symbol of love. 

Apart from Aum, there are a lot of other symbols in Hinduism, and we have tried our best to give you complete information on these symbols and their significance. Meditating, chanting, or even creating artistic pieces like Mandalas can help one to unleash the spiritual side in them

So, what is the symbol of Love in Hinduism?

We must understand that every symbol is unique, and they have their significance. In Hinduism, there isn’t one particular symbol for Love. When we look at Love from a spiritual perspective, the heart chakra has to open up, and that would happen by healing and mediation.

As there are different means and ways of meditation for opening up the Anahata or the Heart chakra, the usage of symbols isn’t restricted. One can focus on this chakra and chant Aum or any other symbols like Swastika, Lotus, etc.… The only way to find and radiate Love is by opening up the heart chakra, and the only way to do it is through meditation

Who is the Hindu God of Love?

According to legends, it is Kama Deva or Manmatha, who is the ‘Hindu God of Love.’ The kama translates to Love or Lust, depending on the context and circumstances. Manmatha represents the Hindu symbol of Love generally.

However, the usage of the word ‘Kama’ is quite debatable. However, Lord Ardhanareeshwara is looked upon as the symbol of true Love. Lord Shiva, in unison with his counterpart Parvati is one of the true symbols of Love, respect, and equality.

Likewise, there are a lot of such symbols that one must get to know. There are several such Hindu Gods prayed to invoke the feelings of Love.

Sri Chakra or Sri Yantra

Sri Chakra or Sri Yantra is one of the most popularly used Hindu symbols. A lot of people even make Mandalas of Sri Yantra and perform meditation. This symbol represents the union of masculine and feminine energies. 

One can see 43 smaller triangles, which are regarded as the abodes of the respective deities. Sri Chakra can be made as 2D or 3D, and when it is drawn in 3 dimensional, it represents Mt. Meru.

Mt. Meru is a mountain that has a lot of significance in the cosmic entity, and it brings a lot of energy and good vibes to everything that is connected to the Cosmos. Mt.Meru lies in the axis of the Universe; hence, a three-dimensional figure is considered to be much more powerful when it comes to the spiritual journey.

Trishul or the Trident

Trishul or Trident is yet another popular Hindu symbol. Considered as a weapon of Lord Shiva, the Trident shows the unison of the trinity. The Brahma, Vishnu, and the Shiva associating with the Creation, Preserving, and Destruction are represented using this symbol.

Also, the points of the Trident symbolically represent Desire, Action, and Wisdom. When you try connecting the dots with Spirituality, it shows us the connection between perception, affection, and conation. 

Shiva statue
Shiva statue in Lotus pose - Click for details
Standing Shiva statue - Click for details

There are many other connotations that one can infer from the Trident. They signify the three characteristics or the Gunas in Humans, Rajas, Tamas, and Satvik as well. Hence, the symbol Trishul in Hinduism holds a lot of significance. 

Peacock

Peacocks are yet another powerful representation of good luck and prosperity. Peacock is the vehicle of Lord Muruga, and it is regarded as God himself in the Indian subcontinent and also in the East Asian regions through the mandala.

This bird has a unique voice, and it is seen dancing in the rain with the wings open. This quickly connects us with prosperity as rain showers are going to bring in a lot of fortune to the land. According to Hindu mythology, the bird was born from the feathers of Garuda, the carrier of Lord Vishnu; thus, it is also represented to the cycle of time.

Shatkona or the six-pointed star

The six-pointed star is yet another powerful Hindu symbols and can be seen in a lot of religious and spiritual centers. This symbol again represents the union of masculine and feminine power and energies.

While the upper triangle denotes Shiva, the lower one denotes Shakti. Thus, meditating on this symbol is also known to relax and calm the mind. It also has the power to ignite your higher energies as well. Using these symbols in religious and spiritual institutions is pretty common.

Dhvaja

The flag is one of the most iconic Hindu symbols used in the Hindu religion. All the temples would have a saffron-colored flag hoisted on the top of the main sanctum sanctorum. Right from the ancient times, the saffron-colored flag has been used as a mark to represent the existence of temples. 

White Swan

A White Swan is the vehicle of Goddess Saraswathi. Hence, in Hinduism, there is high regard paid to this symbol too. You would find the mention of swans in Hindu scriptures and epics as well. Swan denotes learning and wisdom. 

It signifies music and knowledge too. One can also consider Swan as the representation of Love because, according to the Nala Damayanti tale, it was Swan that united the King with his queen. Thus, they are truly the messengers of Love as well. Also, Swans represent the Hindu symbol of Love and peace as well. 

Tilaka

This is one of the most common Hindu symbols that you would see in Hinduism. Everyone, especially people that are pious and have their association with temples, would always have a Tilaka on their forehead.

You can make tilaka using different materials, but the most popular one uses sandalwood and vermillion. Some people apply it in the form of a paste and a few in the form of powder in between the eyebrows.

The Agnya Chakra or the third eye chakra is the gateway of all the energies that penetrate inside our body. To protect the aura from bad sight and also receive positive energies, both men and women wear the tilaka.  

There are different shapes of Tilakas, some like to have it as one straight line, and a few would have three lines that look similar to the shape of the Trident. Both Vishnu and Shiva devotees wear Tilakas in their own ways. In some parts of India, you will even find women wearing Tilaka.

Rudraksha

Rudraksha seeds are one of the most popular and powerful beads that are useful in the Spiritual journey. People that are keen to enhance their spiritual learning will meditate using The Rudraksha. Pure Rudraksha seeds are pretty expensive, and you can find them only in the trees in Nepal. Indigenous to Himalayan ranges, Rudraksha is a favorite bead to Lord Shiva.

According to legends, the tears from the eyes of the Lord’s eyes have given birth to this tree; thus, it represents the existence of Lord Shiva. People that follow Rudra (Lord Shiva), the saints, and sages and almost all the spiritual Gurus wear Rudraksha beads around their necks.

There are a lot of benefits that one gets with these Rudrakshas. It can calm the mind down and give a lot of clarity. There is a strong belief that Rudrakshas is the shortest path to God’s Love.

Symbol of Elephant

We must have all observed Lord Ganesha’s face. The face of the elephant or elephant itself is of the highest significance in Indian traditions and customs. A strong belief that Lord Ganesha removes all the obstacles exists in Hinduism. Also, the elephant symbol represents a lot of luck, prosperity, and success.

One can also find the elephants guarding the Goddess Lakshmi in her Gaja Lakshmi incarnation. Most of the people keep idols of huge elephants in front of their homes to attract wealth and success.

Ganesha statue - Click for details

Tortoise

You may assume that Tortoise improves longevity and brings a tremendous amount of luck. Tortoise also represents one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu, and it is also associated with Goddess Lakshmi.

Hence, this is also one of the symbols that you will commonly find in Hinduism quite evidently. Most of the Hindu shrines will have the Tortoise symbol engraving on the interiors and the exterior walls. ‘

Conch

You can find Conches in every household. The sound that comes out of conches is equal to the vibrations of Aum according to the holy books of Hinduism. Almost all the Hindu Gods can be seen holding Conches in the Hindu religion.

Conches come in different forms and sizes, and they emit sounds at different frequencies. If you take a sneak peek of our epics, people blow Conches to initiate something, and it symbolizes a good start.

It wards off evil, and one can see Lord Krishna blowing his Conch to cast away the injustice. Also, when you look at the Conch, it again represents the entire Cosmos; people who meditate also make use of these conches largely.

Mace

Although not as significant as the Conch, mace is another important symbol that shows strength and the ability to conquer fears. It is one of the weapons that Lord Vishnu uses in almost all his Avatars and his original form. Although you do not find mace in the houses, it is pretty much seen in the temples and other religious centers.

FAQ

Hindu symbols have their meaning, and one of the most popularly used symbols is Aum, and it represents God himself. Likewise, there are several other Indian symbols for increasing wealth, prosperity, knowledge, Love, and other things too.

According to the Hindus, elephants, swans, tortoises, and the idol of Kubera or the Lord of wealth bring wealth and prosperity.

There are a lot of Hindu symbols that are put into practice. Some of the most commonly found symbols are Aum, Flag, Peacock, Conch, Elephants, etc.…

Mandalas represent the micro Cosmos within them. They are an artistic and pictorial form of representing the Universe in your creative ways and gain spiritual enlightenment.

Do mandalas have different meanings? 

Yes, every Mandala has its meaning, and it is completely dependent on the artist that makes it. There are mandalas that we make for learning purposes. Some mandalas are only for certain occasions and a few for meditation. Thus, every Mandala conveys different meanings.  

The symbol that looks like three represents the Trident or the Trishul.

Bringing both the palms together and establishing touch between them and placing them closer to the chest represents the Namaste symbol. 

These are some of the symbols that we often use in Hinduism and their meanings. Knowing all these things would help you to enhance your spiritual revelation. Connecting to the Cosmic Energy with these symbols is pretty easier.

We hope that this write-up has helped you in understanding the Hindu symbols and their meaning in a much broader perspective and applying all these things might also help you to discover your potential energies. 

Hindu symbols overview

Hinduism is made up of various religious, cultural, and philosophical practices that find their roots in different parts of India. This religion is brimming with symbolism. Some people actually believe that there is no other religion that employs the art of symbolism effectively as Hinduism.

While most of the symbols are invariably saturated with spiritual meaning, others represent their gods and goddesses, philosophies, teachings, and cultural traditions.

There are two main categories of Hindu symbols:
i. Murti – These symbols are inclusive of drawings and icons
ii. Mudra – These symbols re inclusive of hand gestures and positions of the body

The Symbolism of gods and goddesses- Why Do Hindus Worship Different Deities?

Deities and rituals are a huge part of Hinduism; they have great religious significance. All the deities found in Hinduism are symbols of the Supreme Being and point to a particular aspect of the creator (Brahman).

The Hindu Trinity is usually represented by three Hindu gods: Brahman, who is the creator, Vishnu, who is the protector, and Shiva, who is the destroyer.

Among all religions found in East Asia and across the globe, Hindus have the most freedom to worship their “idol” of choice who in turn offers their prayers to the creator. Each and every one of the Hindu gods and goddesses controls a specific force in nature that governs a person’s path of spiritual progress.

To achieve all-rounded spiritual perfection, he/she needs to gain favor with different deities who help stir up his/her consciousness to help him develop similar attributes as the gods.

Each Hindu deity has many characteristics, such as how they dress or what weapons they carry. These characteristics are represented by symbols that are used to identify the different gods and goddesses. For example, Krishna may be identified by the peacock feather worn on the head or by the flute he carries, which symbolizes divine music.