The Meaning of Hindu Gods, Goddesses and Myths

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Item Code: NAC360
Author: Sailen Debnath
Publisher: Rupa Publication Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 2009
ISBN: 9788129114815
Pages: 248 (15 Color Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.8 Inch X 5.8 Inch
Weight 480 gm
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Book Description
From the Jacket

The Meaning of Hindu Gods, Goddesses and Myths endeavours to bring to light the scientific concepts which he hidden in the penumbra of the icons and legends of the deities belonging to the Hindu pantheon. Owing to its thematic novelty, depth and pervasiveness, the book is the first of its kind. It explores fields as diverse as Hindu philosophy, mythology, aesthetics and art to substantiate and supplement the arguments put forth. The book deals with the relevant studies of the human brain, nervous systems and the endocrine glands in connection with the multifarious dormant scientific and spiritual ideas like the Purnakumbha, Siva, Samudra Manthan, Ganesh, Saraswati, Yama, Chitragupta, Kalpavriksha, etc. The discussion of the co ncepts of Akashgarbha and Chetanagarbha is altogether new and is capable of stimulating research of this hitherto undiscovered aspect of Indian religious philosophy. It has to be agreed that this book is unique as it deals with complex issues in an extremely lucid manner. It is, beyond doubt, an invaluable addition to the treasure of knowledge on Hindu philosophy and art.

Sailen Debnath, M.A., Ph.D., Reader and Head of the Dept. of History, Alipurduar College, has been engrossed in the study of spirituality, religion, philosophy, physiological psychology, meditation, Yoga and intellectual history. He was awarded Ph.D. in 1988 by the University of North Bengal. There are four books on different aspects of Indian history and philosophy to his credit.



In the preface to this book, The Meanings of Hindu Gods, Goddesses and Myths, only some indications may be given as to the purpose and the depth of the themes being discussed, whether they be religious, philosophical, scientific, or psychological. One thing that has to be kept in mind while of reading this book is that whatever scientific disquisitions the ancient Indians undertook, were invariably concerned with the basic questions, complexities, nature and purpose of life. Their anxieties were born out of their repeated reverses in the face of the forces of nature and sufferings. In that situation, they did not distinguish science from commonsense and the day-to-day knowledge of things which they came in contact and confrontation with. Naturally, therefore, they developed a blend of beliefs and sciences. Hence, in order to understand the trends which the ancient sciences—specifically physiological knowledge in association with spirituality—followed, one can research the link between the scientific ideas and the icons of the pantheon. In this field, the book is perhaps the first attempt to unravel the scientific roots of the apparent symbols of the Hindu gods, goddesses and metaphors beneath which, ancient scientific ideas lie hidden.

A proper analysis brings us to the brink of the realisation that most of the myths have incorporated scientific discourses through metaphors and allegories. To qualify as the theme of this book, the word ‘scientific’ may seem exotic, unnecessary and emotional to many critics and readers. Notwithstanding the rational, logical and scientific process of the analysis which originated in the remote past, any criticism, including this one, should be highly appreciated for its contribution to the advancement of the analysis of the themes. As a whole, this book has utilised scientific tools and processes of analysis in order to grasp the dimensions of the scientific knowledge lying hidden in religious symbols, icons of gods, goddesses and myths. This present work, after all, is a primary research both in history and religious philosophy, in the light of our present scientific knowledge of the human body and of the universe about which, even the ancient thinkers were not ignorant. They developed these ideas through imagination, conjectures, some even through direct experiences. The laboratory-based experimental knowledge is possible only today. [he perusal of the book certainly will change the attitude and ideas of the readers about the meanings of the 1-lindu gods, goddesses and myths.

The questions often raised about Hinduism are, ‘What are the names and meanings of the universally common Hindu gods and goddesses? What are their interpretations or philosophical connotations and what are the spiritual implications of the myths? What are the meanings of the symbols associated with the Hindu gods and goddesses? Is there any science hidden behind the core of the pantheon and the myths?’ There is no denying the fact that there are multiple misgivings, promiscuities and obscurities about the Hindu pantheon and their connotations. Therefore, there is no universal understanding of the gods and goddesses. In the Vedas, all things animate and inanimate are considered to be Devas and ostensibly, therefore, it is difficult to cull out the names of the real gods and goddesses with deeper symbolic and scientific meanings. As there is no organisation of the Hindus akin to the Buddhist Sangha or the Christian Church, reasonably, there has been no guardian of the 1-lindus maintaining a common system for all. Since the early times, Hinduism has passed through unsystematic proliferation with the adoption of numerous gods and goddesses at different levels and in different periods of time. Many of these gods and goddesses do not admit to any logical interpretations and meanings.

There have been gods and goddesses of folk origin, but of course, even with them new symbols were added to augment the meanings and new mantras and incantations were composed. [he priests, whose religious aim often was the propitiation of unseen destiny on the part of worshippers, thought it better to accommodate most of the new gods and goddesses. Many people, not knowing the subtle philosophy of 1-linduism, claimed their own gods and goddesses as parts of the Hindu pantheon. Even now, any person worshipping any image can claim that he is worshipping a Hindu god or goddess provided there is a similarity between that imagined god or goddess and any god or goddess mentioned in the Hindu scriptures. Recently, a growing trend of profaning the purpose of worship has been witnessed. Worship originally meant the realisation of the meaning of various icons. This profanation has been noticed more amongst the city dwellers, with the introduction of the worship of their popular movie or cricketing stars. The matter of concern is that on such occasions, priests too are being called in and the priests oblige the mass euphoria. Such things are diluting and diverting the already scruffy purpose of the Hindu deities which are actually seeped in psychological scientific and philosophical connotations and consequentially knowledge.

This book makes an honest attempt to throw light on the real and scientific meanings and purposes of the Hindu gods and goddesses, so that the pure connotative meanings of the pantheon can be unfolded and saved from internal vandalism initiated by people belonging to different folds of Hinduism and from external criticism hurled by those to whom the Hindu pantheon seems enigmatic. The readers should not be afraid of the conjoining of the two sets of words ‘internal vandalism’ and ‘some kinds of Hindus’; for our research has proofs to the end that some groups of Hindus themselves have been responsible for adulterating the meaning and psycho-spiritual purpose of the Hindu pantheon for their own pecuniary gains just as they have been responsible in maintaining inter-caste hatred and exclusiveness in the Hindu society, thereby vitiating the great purpose of human unity of the Hindus. It is partly because of them that Hinduism is derided upon by others in spite of the existence of scientific underlining of the pantheon, philosophical and psychological implications of its myths and the association of the high philosophy of the Upanishad with it. Though in spirit, Hinduism has been the confluence of ideas contributed by all types of Indians, Aryans and non-Aryans, the claim of some biased people have indicated that it was only because of the Aryans that this religion could come into existence and survive thousands of years. Sanatana Dharma has been a dynamic and prosperous set of human ideologies, with the determination that truth always embraces the higher way of life for the better realisation of the Supreme Being or Brahma in and beyond this universe.

The book with its scientific analysis is expected to initiate a new dimension of research in the world of Indian spiritualism based on the sciences of physiology, anatomy, bio-chemistry, Indian art, iconography and symbolism to arrive at the scientific meanings of the pantheon. My effort would greatly be rewarded if the readers find soothing pabulum in the book in order to advance further the purpose of liberating Hinduism from the custody of ignorance and those people who enjoy the privilege of misinterpreting this great religion.

One who comes to understand the true meaning of the Hindu gods, goddesses and myths, will find a new horizon of psychology, science and philosophy. There will then remain no question of polytheism and monotheism and of course, no question of worship, but realisation through pursuit. As a religion, true Hinduism has no quarrel with any other religion. The so-called secularists as well as the blind followers of Hinduism should at least know the scientific and spiritual aspects of Hinduism before they embark on either criticism or vindication of the religion. It is the only religion that considered the rhythmic relation of each being and entity with everything else in Nature which made it vivacious. Therefore, there were no discriminations. It is a pity that inter-caste hatred and exclusiveness as espoused and engendered by the privileged and the dogmatic and followed even by the low castes. This has damaged the very spirit of the Hindu spiritual universalism and the realised concept of the existence of divinity in all things, as has been said in the Upanishads, Sarbang khallidang Brahma, which means that the absolute being is in all things and everywhere. Hinduism even considered the infrahuman beings to be Devas and Devis and introduced the systems of evaluating all things in Nature in terms of life and on the basis of these qualities, symbolised them for worship so that these qualities which were considered to be the divine expressions of the hidden fabrics of wisdom would be revealed to human beings. Hindu pantheon lays the path of universal knowledge and unity of life. Moreover, the pantheon holds the key to cosmic consciousness through a consistent control and regulation of the endocrine glands and progressive change of the brain through an increasing process of decoding the power latent in the millions of cells.

This book through its course has focused on that symbolic and scientific wisdom and meaning of Hinduism which is dormant and implicit in the gods and goddesses. The interpretation in the chapters on The Philosophy of Samudra Manthan, The Meaning of Kalpavriksha, The Meaning of Chitragupta, The White Lotus and its Meaning, Purnakumbha, Akashgarbha and Chetanagarbha are new forays into the quest for a meaningful life and as academic interests. There is no reason for the reader to be surprised about the inclusion of scientific theories like the Big Bang and Evolution in the connotations attributed to the Hindu gods and goddesses. There is also the intricate analysis of the human brain, nervous system, endocrine glands and the means of man’s journey to be united with the fathomless ocean of Being-Consciousness-Bliss.




  Preface vii
1. The Origin of Religion 1
2. The Origin of Hindu Gods and Goddesses 9
3. The Science and Meaning of Siva 34
4. Gayatri and Om 72
5. Vishnu 78
6. Durga and Kali 90
7. Purnakumbha- The Jar Full of Wisdom 101
8. The White Lotus and its Meaning 116
9. Saraswati – The Goddess of learning 123
10. The Meaning of Kalpavriksha – As You Think, So You Become 129
11. The Philosophy of Samudra Manthan or the Churning of the Ocean 136
12. Yama- The God of Death and Justice 152
13. The Meaning of Chitragupta – The God-Witness for Justice 166
14. Ganesh 174
15. Sitala- The Goddess of Hygiene and Remedy 180
16. Akashgarbha and Chetanagarbha – The Depth of the Sky and the Ocean of Consciousness 186
17. Idealistic Purpose of Hindu Symbolic art and Aesthetics 214
  Bibliography 224
  Index 229

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