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  1. #1

    330 million

    I was recently on a thread in a Christian forum where a member inquired as to how to convert a Hindu friend. One of the responses provided a link to a site, which among other things, talked about Hinduism having 330 million gods. Now, I've heard that many times before from Christian sites arguing against Hinduism , but not until I visited this forum today and found an article from the Baptist Press in the "Politics - Current Affairs" forum stating the same thing ("He noted that Hindus claim there are 330 million gods.") did I get an idea of how prevalent this misconception really is.

    I know the number itself is a symbolic one to represent the various forms of Brahman, but I'm not aware of the verse that led to this misinterpretation. If someone could assist me in finding more about this, I would be much obliged.

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    Re: 330 million

    Quote Originally Posted by indianx View Post
    I was recently on a thread in a Christian forum where a member inquired as to how to convert a Hindu friend. One of the

    I know the number itself is a symbolic one to represent the various forms of Brahman, but I'm not aware of the verse that led to this misinterpretation. If someone could assist me in finding more about this, I would be much obliged.
    Do you believe when a fundamental christian tells you "Jesus is the only way' ? Otherwise rest of us go to hell?
    You are not going to make them understand the concept of miillions of Gods and neither they can make you understand Jesus is the only way.
    I guess there is truth in each that something each one has to find on our own and that is the truth that sets us free from these hangups.

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    Re: 330 million

    Namaste,

    I'm far from orthodox anything (as y'all might have figured out) ..

    But it seems to me that there are as many forms/namas of Godz as there are preceptors of Godz ... sooo... for Hindu Godz, state the population of India, and there ya go, wrt numbers of Godz.

    Godz is many in unity ... whatever number y'all choose to ascribe to infinite or a whole lot or whatever ... this is the number of Godz, which also is Zero.

    No disrespect intended but to ascribe a number ti Godz is itself antipathy for recognition of Godz, IMO.



    ZN
    yaireva patanaM dravyaiH siddhistaireva choditA .
    shrI kauladarshane chApi bhairaveNa mahAtmanA .

    It is revealed in the sacred doctrine of Kula and by the great Bhairava, that the perfection is achieved by that very means by which fall occurs.

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    Re: 330 million

    1. Bansi Pandit says that the number 33 crores or 330 million refers to the count of living beings believed to exist in ancient times. Since God is immanent in them all, the number of gods (note the small 'g') became 33 crores. (http://www.koausa.org/Gods/)

    2. Sarabhanga says, "The Rigveda’s 33 categories of shining Aditya, as expressed in the Hindu population of the newly independent Republic of India, was swollen to 33 crore of liberated Jivas in 1947." (http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/sho...p?t=105&page=3)

    3. There is another view that the number 33 crores indicate the total population of the devas that include the group of Gandharvas, Apsaras, Kinnaras, Vasus and many others. (http://voi.org/books/tfst/chii43.htm) It should be noted that this number does not change as (I think) even spiritually advanced humans are not promoted t the status of devas though devas themselves took birth as human beings.

    I am inclined to agree with the third view. These 33 crore gods are honoured in pujas and festivals but never worshipped in the mUrti (image) form, though they are forms of Brahman the one God. Hindus on new moon days offer water and sesame to our deceased ancestors of three generations calling them vasus, adityas and rudras but these names are only symbolic, I think, and the deceased don't become the members of the deva clans of these names.

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    Re: 330 million

    Hari Om
    ~~~~~
    Quote Originally Posted by indianx View Post
    I was recently on a thread in a Christian forum where a member inquired as to how to convert a Hindu friend. One of the responses provided a link to a site, which among other things, talked about Hinduism having 330 million gods.
    Namaste Indianx,

    I think we can assist you with some info.
    There is only One - Tad Ekam, That One.
    Yet this number of 330 million or 330 thousand or 330, etc.
    The rishi Yajyavalkya discusses this:
    Yajyavalkya Kanda - Sakalya Brahmana, in the Brihardarayanka Upanishad
    If we look in the Sakalya Brahmana ( Part of the Yajyavalkya Kanda) there is a questioning ( more of an interrogation) of Yajnavalkya muni. This was in the court of king Janaka, wishing to find out the most learned brahman of Kuru and Panchala, that he had assembled.
    The question is asked ' how many gods are there' ? He starts with "three and three hundred and three and three thousand."
    These are expressions of Brahman. When he finishes his discourse, as the questioning continues to ask "how many are there really?" Yajyavalkya says there is just One. And the questioners (Sakalya) asks, "Which is the one God", Yajyavalkya answers - "The cosmic vital force. That is Brahman. They (the wise is inferred here) denote It by the term tyat , (THAT)."


    I know you know this, but perhaps worth mentioning. The expressions of Brahman is His creation.... the sun, moon, flowers, all this has this intelligence in it. It is easy to see that one of Sanatana Dharm may appreciate His creation in multiple ways. So, in some cases we see Him as the remover of Obstacles ( Ganesh), or the greatest of yogi's ( Siva), or as Divine Inspriation , Saraswati, or as abundence ( Lakshmi) - like that. It is all Tad Ekam, One without a second.


    I think of it like a painters work... I like Monet's work. His work shows all different 'feelings' and perspectives e.g. Sun Setting of the Sea, in pastel, Towing of a boat, The Beach, House of Parliament (sunset). Like that, differnt flavors of life.
    This is the view from a Sanatana Dharm view - His work, all different types, yet the same Painter, the Universal Painter, Brahman.

    Hope this assists you... ask more questions and we will be here to help.


    some additional HDF posts: http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showthread.php?t=815



    pranams,
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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    Re: 330 million

    Namaste InX,

    Some excellent answers have been given already. There are actually many ways to analyze this number 330 million Gods. Here are two that I am most familiar with:

    1. 330 million is not symbolic, but the actual number of Mahadevas in the causal plane, the highest plane of existence. Just as there are billions of humans and animals in the physical world, there are trillions of Devas in the inner worlds, and 330 million Mahadevas in the causal plane who function through their causal bodies. They exist for the sole purpose of guiding and helping lower beings toward realization. This does not negate oneness, as no being in any plane of existence is separate or separable from the Supreme Being. This is summarized from the teachings of Sivaya Subramuniyaswami.

    2. 330 million is a play on the number 33, which is the number of Gods in the Veda (Brahmā + Indra + 12 Adityas + 11 Rudras + 8 Vasus). In the Indian numeral system, the number 330 million (330,000,000) is written as 33,00,00,000 and pronounced 33 crore in Indian English or 33 karod (karoD) in Hindi or 33 koti (koTi) in Sanskrit. The idea that there are 33 koti Gods comes from the Rigveda. The term koti, however, has two important meanings. In one sense it means ten million (crore), but in another sense it means angle or edge. If we understand the term koti in the second sense, then the Rigveda is telling us that there are 33 angular Gods. In other words, the wholeness is to be visualized as a polygon with 33 sides or 33 angles. Each God is one side, one angle, one part of that polygon of wholeness. This idea gives us also new insight into the Rigvedic statement: 'Truth is one, wise call it many', and gives us a new appreciation as to why the Vedic hymns are addressed to many Gods. This is summarized from what I learned from a knowledgeable scholar of Sanatana Dharma.

    OM Shanti,
    A.



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    Re: 330 million

    Namaste All,

    Koti means number.

    Yajvan Ji and Agni Deva have explained well. Brahmā + Indra + 12 Adityas + 11 Rudras + 8 Vasus.

    Christians should be taught the the word EKO of Rig Veda. And Christians should also be taught that EKO is ANEK -- all. Similar is the misconception, aided by many Hindus, about Linga that Linga means Phallus and that Hindus are phallus worshippers. Linga means 'indicatory mark'.

    Om Namah Shivaya
    That which is without letters (parts) is the Fourth, beyond apprehension through ordinary means, the cessation of the phenomenal world, the auspicious and the non-dual. Thus Om is certainly the Self. He who knows thus enters the Self by the Self.

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    Re: 330 million

    Hari Om
    ~~~~~
    Quote Originally Posted by atanu View Post
    Namaste All,

    Koti means number.

    Yajvan Ji and Agni Deva have explained well. Brahmā + Indra + 12 Adityas + 11 Rudras + 8 Vasus.

    Christians should be taught the the word EKO of Rig Veda. And Christians should also be taught that EKO is ANEK -- all. Similar is the misconception, aided by many Hindus, about Linga that Linga means Phallus and that Hindus are phallus worshippers. Linga means 'indicatory mark'. Om Namah Shivaya
    Namaste atanu,
    I concur with the 33 devata , yet I still find the only reliable number that Yajnavalkya refers to in the Brihardarayanka Upanishad. He states that there are as many gods (devatata) that are stated in the nivaid, a set of hymns that invoke the devata, some say veshe-devata.


    So, I have heard of the 330 million number, but as of yet have not found this number in the shastra. If someone has this information and can point to it as a reference, it would be good to view.


    Yet , at the end of the day, its still Tad Ekam say the 'authorities' i.e. Yajnavalkya, That One, Brahman that is Reality. Of this there is no doubt in my mind as one studies and practices Vedanta.


    On the Christianity side, we can count the Father-Son-Holy Spirit - the 3 in One. We also know that there is a spiritual affinity to Mother Mary, St. Joseph, St. Christopher, and many more. As we have a symbol of the Divine albeit a lingam, a shaligrama-shila , etc. so do our Christian friends have the Cross, a metal of St. Christopher, breaking of bread-and-wine, candles in the church and the like.

    We are not so different... I look for the same-ness, the similarities, the blessings.


    pranams,
    Last edited by yajvan; 16 September 2007 at 02:39 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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    Re: 330 million

    Quote Originally Posted by yajvan View Post
    Hari Om
    ~~~~~
    We are not so different... I look for the same-ness, the similarities, the blessings.
    pranams,
    Namaste Yajvan Ji,

    That is so much the truth. Those who see the difference alone as the basis of denigrating the other, harm themselves. In such cases, the commonalities may be gently pointed to. Or the true meaning of scripture can be discussed.

    Om
    That which is without letters (parts) is the Fourth, beyond apprehension through ordinary means, the cessation of the phenomenal world, the auspicious and the non-dual. Thus Om is certainly the Self. He who knows thus enters the Self by the Self.

  10. #10

    Re: 330 million

    Quote Originally Posted by indianx View Post
    I was recently on a thread in a Christian forum where a member inquired as to how to convert a Hindu friend. One of the responses provided a link to a site, which among other things, talked about Hinduism having 330 million gods. Now, I've heard that many times before from Christian sites arguing against Hinduism , but not until I visited this forum today and found an article from the Baptist Press in the "Politics - Current Affairs" forum stating the same thing ("He noted that Hindus claim there are 330 million gods.") did I get an idea of how prevalent this misconception really is.

    I know the number itself is a symbolic one to represent the various forms of Brahman, but I'm not aware of the verse that led to this misinterpretation. If someone could assist me in finding more about this, I would be much obliged.
    There are 33 gods as seen in the discussion between Yagnyavalkya and sakalya in the Bridhararanyaka Upanishad. The 330 million is a figure we arrive when we also consider the various manifestation of these gods. Infact, the number is infinite, so to speak...

    Now, let us differentiate between God (cap 'G') and god.(small 'g'). The supreme God is Ishvara, who is the first cause of all creation and other gods. The gods are creations of the supreme God for the purpose of looking after the universe, as lokapAlas. The gods know the God to some extent, but they are not as wise or omniscient as the supreme Lord.

    For eg, the eight vasus are the abhimAni devata (gaurdian diety) for the elements. The ten rudrAs are the gaurdian dieties for the ten indriyas( karmendriya andjnAnendriya) and the principal rudra( who is a manifestation of the supreme being) is the diety for the mind. The twelve Adityas are 'sun' gods who reveal the pratyagAtma(buddhi) in its various stages.

    All these gods cannot be considered to be direct manifestation of the parabrahma(avatara) because they are assigned different levels of bliss and position in the cosmic scale. For eg, The Ananda valli section of Taittiriya Up grades it this way: Gandharva < Deva Gandharva < pitr < Karma devata < devata < indra < brihaspati< prajApati < brahma

    There is no scriptual evidence to hold that all gods mentioned in the vedas are just different direct infinite manifestations of Brahman. All gods except the parabramha are finite iconic representations of the infinite self - just like other beings on earth.
    He is the one on whom our hope depends. For if Hanuman survives, all we though dead are yet alive. But if his precious life be lost though living still we are but dead: He is our hope and sure relief -Jambavan (Yuddha Kanda. 74). Impossibility=Hanuman

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