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Thread: How does devotion to multiple gods work?

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    How does devotion to multiple gods work?

    First off, thanks to everyone for their input on my question regarding how you view the gods. I found the answers instructive and illuminating.

    In a follow-up question, I'm curious to understand how devotion to multiple gods works. I have noticed that many of the fine posters on these forums are either devoted to Lords Krishna, Vishnu, or Shiva. I personally feel a connection to/attraction for Lord Shiva, but also for Lord Ganesha. I feel that I would like to follow Smarta practices and worship the five primary forms of God, with Lord Shiva in the center, but am new to Hinduism and don't really know what I'm doing. Also, Advaita philosophy makes a lot of sense to me, and therefore I believe that Brahman, the Ultimate Self, is far beyond all the gods. Basically, my understanding is that we are on different levels of consciousness but Brahman is beyond all; not this, not this...

    So in practical terms, how do others practice their devotion? If you meditate, do you do so only on one god or multiple gods? If you pray, do you pray only to one god or to multiple gods? Do you do these things simultaneously, or one god at a time?

    As a footnote, I am of course referring to goddesses as well here, just using 'god' as blanket term for the sake of brevity. (Although I don't think this post could be called brief--apologies for the length.)

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    Re: How does devotion to multiple gods work?

    Quote Originally Posted by andrewoberg View Post
    First off, thanks to everyone for their input on my question regarding how you view the gods. I found the answers instructive and illuminating.

    In a follow-up question, I'm curious to understand how devotion to multiple gods works. I have noticed that many of the fine posters on these forums are either devoted to Lords Krishna, Vishnu, or Shiva. I personally feel a connection to/attraction for Lord Shiva, but also for Lord Ganesha. I feel that I would like to follow Smarta practices and worship the five primary forms of God, with Lord Shiva in the center, but am new to Hinduism and don't really know what I'm doing. Also, Advaita philosophy makes a lot of sense to me, and therefore I believe that Brahman, the Ultimate Self, is far beyond all the gods. Basically, my understanding is that we are on different levels of consciousness but Brahman is beyond all; not this, not this...
    There is only one God. However, that one God appears in different forms, much like one beam of light shone through a prism appears to be different colours. There are some Hindus (most notably ISKCON) that say that only Lord Krishna is God and that all other Gods are His servants, like ministers under a Prime Minister, but most Hindus do not think like this.
    So in practical terms, how do others practice their devotion? If you meditate, do you do so only on one god or multiple gods? If you pray, do you pray only to one god or to multiple gods? Do you do these things simultaneously, or one god at a time?
    The majority of Hindus worship several Gods on their altar. Lord Ganesha is always worshipped before any other God. Most Hindus are not sectarian and may worship Krishna alongside Shiva (indeed, our temple has Deities of Krishna and Shiva). Many Hindus, though, have one God whom they worship the most and that is their particular form of God. For me, it is Durga Ma. Such a God is called one's ishta devata.

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    Re: How does devotion to multiple gods work?

    Hi Scott
    Good reply! May I ask how do you (or others) worship Goddess Ma whilst seeing Her as the One God? I wonder if one keeps Her in mind only or if there is any technique or method if any at all? In other words how does one worship Her form as the One God?

    Thanks

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    Re: How does devotion to multiple gods work?

    Vannakkam:

    Again, there will be great variety. Your style will be yours a yours alone. It would be rare, I think to pray to all Gods at the same time. That would be like looking at a choir of Gods, or a group picture. So even in temples, with the possible exception of the traditional Smarta design, there are separate shrines for each god.

    So usually it is prayer to one God at a time. This can very well depend on the nature of the prayer, yet still up to the individual devotee. For example, for visas and moves, one might pray to Hanuman. There has been some recent strong anecdotal evidence that this works for clearance of red tape in immigration matters.

    if you want to pray for success in school, you might pray to Lord Ganesha. For any 'obstacle removing' type of prayer, He would most likely be the one as well.

    If you want to pray for deeper meditation, Murugan might be the choice.

    if you want to clear the mind of unwanted memories or negative feelings, you might ask Siva to 'dissolve' this unwanted stuff.

    So it is like that. But there are no codes or rules. it depends on your gut (intuition), and since you have already been able to make some choices it seems that you are doing just that.

    Aum Namasivaya

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    Re: How does devotion to multiple gods work?

    namaste andrewoberg.

    The first thing you have to understand that in his post no.4 EM does not mean to say that Gods like hanumAn, gaNesha, murugan and shiva are ear-marked for specific prayers only or that their powers and potency are restricted to only fulfilment of such prayers.

    You would surely have understood as ScottMalaysia has mentioned that God is one and the many Gods are his forms--even as a human is known by different names and perceptions to different people--so it is easy to follow that any Godform can be prayed to, for anything sought in life.

    Generally, our prayers are of two kinds:
    kAmyArtha--for our personal desires, and AtmArtha--for the Self in us.
    Any Godform may grant us both kinds of our prayers.

    For example,
    we may pray to God hanumAn with the following shloka for fulfilment of a personal desire:

    asAdhya sAdhaka svAmin asAdhyam tava kim vada |
    rAmadUta kRpA sindhO matkAryam sAdhaya praBhO ||

    O Lord, who accomplishes the impossible, tell me what is impossible for you;
    O RAmA's Envoy, ocean of mercy, Lord, make my task successful too.

    And we may pray to the same God for Atma-sAdhana, thus:

    buddhir-balaM yasho dhairyaM nirbhayatvam arogata |
    ajAdyaM vAktaTutvaM cha hanUmat smaraNAt bhavet ||

    When we remember and pray/meditate on God hanumAn, we will be blessed with:
    intelect and strength--buddhir-balaM,
    fame and courage--yasho dhairyam,
    fearlessness--nirbhayatvam,
    freedom from ailments--arogata,
    wisdom--ajAdyaM,
    and diplomacy in speech--vAktaTutvaM.

    What more do we need to sustain our Atma-sAdhana for AtmAnubhava--Self-Realization?
    In this same way, we can pray to many if not most of our Gods, that is, Godforms.
    रत्नाकरधौतपदां हिमालयकिरीटिनीम् ।
    ब्रह्मराजर्षिररत्नाढ्यां वन्दे भारतमातरम् ॥

    To her whose feet are washed by the ocean, who wears the Himalayas as her crown, and is adorned with the gems of rishis and kings, to Mother India, do I bow down in respect.

    --viShNu purANam

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    Re: How does devotion to multiple gods work?

    There was a time when I became very confused about this. I was praying and saw someone whom I realized as Father. This conflict stayed for many days until one day as I pray I heard the word our. When it was said, it was said as one with many voices. He is the One with many Voices...they speak to different colors...lifestyles...personalities.

    Each a stream, until they reach the ocean where then those streams are simply the One...ocean.

    I worship Three now, Three whom are One.

    Om Guru Brahma, Om Guru Visnu, Om Guru Devo Maheswara.

    The creator, sustainer, the returner.

    The returner is Beloved to my heart. I find myself lost for hours simply saying His name.

    As far as Beautiful Beloved Mother Goddess...

    This is how I worship Her.

    SIVA PARVATI 2.JPG

    She is so Beautiful<3

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    Re: How does devotion to multiple gods work?

    Vannakkam Nayasurya

    Nice picture. I've never seen it before. I have seen Aardhinarivara statues. In fact we have one.

    Aum Namasivaya

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    Re: How does devotion to multiple gods work?

    Pranam

    Quote Originally Posted by Eastern Mind View Post
    Vannakkam:

    if you want to pray for success in school, you might pray to Lord Ganesha. For any 'obstacle removing' type of prayer, He would most likely be the one as well.

    Aum Namasivaya
    As well as Maa Sarsvati, the goddess of learning and speech, off course as Saidevo says these are not specific prayers -------------

    Generally in India Ganesh and Sarasvati are invoked for the success in studies, i hope you don't mind me adding this.

    Jai Shree Krishna
    Rig Veda list only 33 devas, they are all propitiated, worthy off our worship, all other names of gods are derivative from this 33 originals,
    Bhagvat Gita; Shree Krishna says Chapter 3.11 devan bhavayatanena te deva bhavayantu vah parasparam bhavayantah sreyah param avapsyatha Chapter 17.4 yajante sattvika devan yaksa-raksamsi rajasah pretan bhuta-ganams canye yajante tamasa janah
    The world disappears in him. He is the peaceful, the good, the one without a second.

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    Re: How does devotion to multiple gods work?

    Vannakkam Ganeshprasad and Saidevo

    Of course I wasn't insinuating each God is limited to only doing certain aspects. I was merely pointing out how individuals might pray, based on their own sectarian beliefs. It is clearly a 'gut' matter for each person. Within each tradition, there is faith in certain things. This varies throughout our religion. Taking Ganeshprasad's example further, it might depend on which temple is available as well. At my temple Goddess Saraswati isn't enshrined, although she does have a niche on the outside of the moolasthanam walls. People here do buy archanas for Ganesha on birthdays, before resuming studies, and the like. But if there was a handy temple for her, I'm sure some people would go there for that prayer. But as I said before, there is no standard code for all Hindus. Because of all the rich geographic, sectarian, and linguistic variety, that's just the way it is. Most North Indians haven't heard of Murugan, so you won't find too many praying to Him. But if you believe in the power of Gods, then any prayer for any God, but even then there are different personal takes on it. Look at Ganeshprasad's and my closings. One is Jai Shree Krishna, and the other is
    Aum Namasivaya. Both are correct.

    Aum Namasivaya

  10. #10

    Re: How does devotion to multiple gods work?

    Quote Originally Posted by andrewoberg View Post
    First off, thanks to everyone for their input on my question regarding how you view the gods. I found the answers instructive and illuminating.

    In a follow-up question, I'm curious to understand how devotion to multiple gods works. I have noticed that many of the fine posters on these forums are either devoted to Lords Krishna, Vishnu, or Shiva. I personally feel a connection to/attraction for Lord Shiva, but also for Lord Ganesha. I feel that I would like to follow Smarta practices and worship the five primary forms of God, with Lord Shiva in the center, but am new to Hinduism and don't really know what I'm doing. Also, Advaita philosophy makes a lot of sense to me, and therefore I believe that Brahman, the Ultimate Self, is far beyond all the gods. Basically, my understanding is that we are on different levels of consciousness but Brahman is beyond all; not this, not this...

    So in practical terms, how do others practice their devotion? If you meditate, do you do so only on one god or multiple gods? If you pray, do you pray only to one god or to multiple gods? Do you do these things simultaneously, or one god at a time?

    As a footnote, I am of course referring to goddesses as well here, just using 'god' as blanket term for the sake of brevity. (Although I don't think this post could be called brief--apologies for the length.)
    Namaste andrewoberg,

    I struggled for a while with this question as well. You might want to check out this thread, which is kind of relevant to this: http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showthread.php?t=5828

    Lord Krishna is my ishta-deva and the majority of my prayers go to Him. However, I also pray to Lord Rama, Lord Hanuman, Lord Shiva, and Lord Ganesha. I just view them as different aspects of Brahman, but Lord Krishna is the most supreme aspect, in my opinion. I've been called a Vaishnava, a Smarta, a Smarta leaning towards Vaishnavism, and nonsectarian all by different people. As you can see, there are different viewpoints, but ultimately such labels don't matter.

    I also agree with what Eastern Mindji said about praying to different forms of God for different things. I rarely pray to the feminine aspect of God, but I always say a prayer to Goddess Saraswati before studying or taking an exam. Again, it is in no way limiting those aspects of God. I pray to my ishta-deva Lord Krishna for everything, and to Goddess Saraswati only for studying or taking exams. But I don't view Goddess Saraswati as incomplete or anything, and I still love and respect Her. There are others who may pray to Her as their ishta-deva and rarely if ever pray to Lord Krishna. That is the diversity and beauty of Sanatana Dharma.

    Jai Sri Krishna

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