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Thread: Gods, goddesses, and gender.

  1. #1
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    Gods, goddesses, and gender.

    Vannakkam: This is just a general question. Do all Hindu schools see God as a divine couple? i.e. Siva/Shakti, Lakshmi/Narayan, Radha/Krishna etc.

    Or are there bhakti schools that are fine with one gender or the other, and not necessarily a combination of both. Is this 'balance' thing necessary?

    Ganesha is generally portrayed alone, as is Hanuman, Murugan can be, etc.
    Is the 'other' gender always there somewhere, even if hidden?

    I'm not even sure if gender is the right word here, as surely it goes much deeper than that.

    Thank you in advance, for your opinions. Not looking to start an argument, just wanting to get a feel for the diversity within the umbrella.

    Aum Namasivaya

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    Re: Gods, goddesses, and gender.

    Namaste

    As far as vaishnavas are concerned Ganesha, Hanuman, etc are not comparable with the Supreme Lord because that would be like comparing jiva souls with the Supreme soul. They belong to two completely different categories of beings (jiva tattva versus vishnu tattva) that are not mutually comparable.

    Regarding the Supreme Lord, He has two constitutively principles, purusha and shakti. I'm saying "constitutively" because purusha and shakti are essential to Him, ie making Him what He is. Purusha principle is by definition a male and He is the Lord, and the shakti principle is female and is a power of the Lord. So even though they are different, one is male and the other female, they are essentially one being who manifests itself as two, purusha and shakti, the Lord (God) and His spouse (Goddess) who is His power (shakti). They manifest as eternal divine couple whose relationship is unbreakable and eternal, and they are always together. It is even said that when the Lord comes down to this world as avatara, the spouse follows Him. Thus we have divine couples Lakshmi Narayana, Sita Rama, Uma Sadasiva, Radha Krishna, etc.
    There are many statements in the scriptures that illustrate these points.

    This is what the scriptures say. It is quite another question whether all traditions recognize these points or not. Also it is quite another matter how traditions worship. Some traditions worship God alone without a spouse while some worship them together as a divine couple. I suppose in some traditions they worship only shakti as some Goddess while neglecting the Lord.

    regards

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    Re: Gods, goddesses, and gender.

    Namaste,

    Srivaishnavas, as far as I know, see God/ParaBrahmam as Lord Narayana only and not a combination of Lakshmi Narayan. However, He is eternally and inseperably with Lakshmi and infact identified by Sri in His Chest. Even the Lord is not seen as a male as per NamAlvar's verse -> An allan, peN allan, allA alliyum allan. This means He is not a male, female or neuter. But notice that Alwar still ends each tamil word by "an" which still indicates Personality. Sri Lakshmi is His eternal divine consort who mediates for the sake of world's creation, destruction and granting moksha for Her children.

    There is an opinion difference on the real svarupa of Lakshmi, however when it comes to the Upanishad Brahmam we all identifiy that only with Lord Narayana who walked as Rama in Treta yuga and Krishna in dwapara. The word "Purusha" has a lot of meanings like remover of sins, being complete in kalyAna guNams etc.
    Last edited by jignyAsu; 20 December 2013 at 09:30 AM.

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    Re: Gods, goddesses, and gender.

    Namaste Dear EM Ji,

    From what I have read, most Hindu schools following Monotheism or qualified monism speak of only One God/Goddess in ultimate transcendental form. That goes for Shaktism, Shaivism and Vaishnavism. They generally include words like Para/maha+(name of devi-devta) to represent absolute transcendental supreme form of the God/Goddess, a form in which nobody is at equal with God/Godess on which that school is based. But most of these schools have developed other forms of the God/Goddess in which they have a consort with them. These forms are represented by same name but para/maha is removed. For example parashakti is absolute supreme of this universe in shaktism but shakti is represented with Shiva. Mahavishnu could be described as Supreme but Vishnu is ever attached with Lakshmi. Ofcourse pure advaitic schools see brahman alone as only existent entity.
    When the light has risen, there is no day, no night, neither existence nor non-existence; Siva alone is there. That is the eternal, the adorable light of Savitri, - and the ancient wisdom proceeded thence (Svetasvatara Upanishad IV-18). :)

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    Re: Gods, goddesses, and gender.

    Namaste EM,

    This is my understanding as per Advaitic school I subscribe to :

    Nirguna Brahman doesn't do anything i.e. creation, sustenance or destruction when it is not associated with MAyA. For "creation" or for any action thereafter power of MAyA is required and that can be equated with the female power associated with God. That is why female aspect of God is also referred to as "Shakti" i.e. Power .... and what God is without His powers ??? That is why normally the male and female forms are shown together and being in love with each other.

    BTW, the ArdhanArishwar form of God (in case of Lord Shiva) does suggest that the completeness is attained when both the forms merge together.

    OM
    "Om Namo Bhagvate Vaasudevaye"

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    Re: Gods, goddesses, and gender.

    Vannakkam: Thank you, everyone, for the answers. I have concluded that it is either, both with, or without, but subject to conditioning of the devotee.

    Aum Namasivaya

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