Samhain Gods – Yama – Hindu

Yama


Yama or Yamarāja is a god of death, the south direction, and the underworld, belonging to an early stratum of Rigvedic Hindu deities. In Sanskrit, his name can be interpreted to mean “twin”. In the Zend-Avesta of Zoroastrianism, he is called “Yima”.

According to the Vishnu Purana, Yama is the son of sun-god Surya and Sandhya, the daughter of Vishvakarma. Yama is the brother of Sraddhadeva Manu and of his older sister Yami, which Horace Hayman Wilson indicates to mean the Yamuna. According to the Vedas, Yama is said to have been the first mortal who died. By virtue of precedence, he became the ruler of the departed, and is called “Lord of the Pitrs”.

Mentioned in the Pāli Canon of Theravada Buddhism, Yama subsequently entered Buddhist mythology in East Asia, Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka as a Dharmapala under various transliterations. He is otherwise also called as “Dharmaraja”.

Hinduism

In Hinduism, Yama is the lokapala (“Guardian of the Directions”) of the south and the son of Surya. Three hymns (10, 14, and 35) in the 10th book of the Rig Veda are addressed to him. In Puranas, Yama is described as having four arms, complexion of rain cloud with wrathful expression, surrounded by garland of flames, protruding fangs, dressed in red, yellow or blue garments, holding noose and mace or sword, and riding a water-buffalo. He wields a noose with which he seizes the lives of people who are about to die.

According to Hindu itihasa, Yama is the son of Surya and Saranyu. He is the twin brother of Yami, brother of Shraddhadeva Manu and the step brother of Shani. His wife was Goddess Dhumorna and his son was Katila.

Buddhism

In Buddhism, Yama (Sanskrit: यम) is a dharmapala, a wrathful god or the Enlightened Protector of Buddhism that is considered worldly, said to judge the dead and preside over the Narakas (“Hell” or “Purgatory”) and the cycle of rebirth.

The Buddhist Yama has, however, developed different myths and different functions from the Hindu deity. In Pali Canon Buddhist myths, Yama takes those who have mistreated elders, holy spirits, or their parents when they die. Contrary though, in the Majjhima Nikaya commentary by Buddhagosa, Yama is a vimānapeta – a that has a mixed state.

In other parts of Buddhism, Yama’s main duty is to watch over purgatorial aspects of Hell (the underworld), and has no relation to rebirth. His sole purpose is to maintain the relationships between spirits that pass through the ten courts, similar to Yama’s representation in several Chinese religions.

He has also spread widely and is known in every country where Buddhism is practiced, including China, Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Bhutan, Mongolia, Nepal, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, and United States.

China

In Chinese texts, Yama only holds transitional places in Hell where he oversaw the deceased before he, and the Generals of Five Paths, were assigned a course of rebirth. Yama was later placed as a King in the Fifth Court when texts led to the fruition of the underworld that marked the beginnings of systemizations.

Japan

Yama can be found in one of the oldest Japanese religious works called Nipponkoku Genpō Zenaku Ryōiki, a literary work compiled by the Monk Keikai in 822. Yama was introduced to Japan through Buddhism, where he was featured as a Buddhist divinity. He holds the same position title as other works depict him – a judge who imposes decisions on the dead who have mistreated others.

Naraka (Hindu)

Naraka in Hinduism serves only as a temporary purgatory where the soul is purified of sin by its suffering. In Hindu mythology, Naraka holds many hells, and Yama directs departed souls to the appropriate one. Even elevated Mukti-yogyas and Nitya-samsarins can experience Naraka for expiation of sins.

Although Yama is the lord of Naraka, he may also direct the soul to a Swarga (heaven) or return it to Bhoomi (earth). As good and bad deeds are not considered to cancel each other out, the same soul may spend time in both a hell and a heaven. The seven Swargas are: Bhuvas, Swas (governed by Indra), Tharus, Thaarus, Savithaa, Prapithaa, and Maha (governed by Brahma).

Naraka (Sikhism)

The idea of Naraka in Sikhism is like the idea of Hell. One’s soul, however, is confined to 8.4 million life cycles before taking birth as a human, the point of human life being one where one attains salvation, the salvation being sach khand. The idea of khand comes in multiple levels of such heavens, the highest being merging with God as one. The idea of Hell comes in multiple levels, and hell itself can manifest within human life itself. The Sikh idea of hell is where one is apart from naama and the Guru’s charana (God’s lotus feet (abode)). Without naama one is damned. Naama is believed to be a direct deliverance by God to humanity in the form of Guru Nanak. A Sikh is hence required to take the Amrit (holy nectar/water) from gurubani, panj pyare (khanda da pahul) to come closer to naama. A true Sikh of the Gurus has the Guru himself manifest and takes that person into sach khand.

Naraka (Buddhist)

Naraka is usually translated into English as “hell” or “purgatory”. A Naraka differs from the hells of western religions in two respects. First, beings are not sent to Naraka as the result of a divine judgment and punishment; second, the length of a being’s stay in a Naraka is not eternal, though it is usually very long. Instead, a being is born into a Naraka as a direct result of his or her previous karma(actions of body, speech and mind), and resides there for a finite length of time until his karma has exhausted its cumulate effect.

East Asian mythology

Mandarin Diyu, Japanese Jigoku, Korean Jiok, Vietnamese Địa ngục literally “earth prison”, is the realm of the dead or “hell” in Chinese mythology and Japanese mythology. It is based upon the Buddhist concept of Naraka combined with local afterlife beliefs. Incorporating ideas from Taoism and Buddhism as well as traditional religion in China, Di Yu is a kind of purgatory place which serves not only to punish but also to renew spirits ready for their next incarnation. This is interchangeable with the concept of Naraka.

In Japanese mythology, Enma-O or Enma Dai-O judges souls in Meido, the kingdom of the waiting dead. Those deemed too horrible are sent to Jigoku, a land more comparable to the Christian hell. It is a land of eternal toil and punishment. Those of middle note remain in meido for a period awaiting reincarnation. Others, of high note, become honored ancestors, watching over their descendants.

Related concepts

Yama and Ymir

In a disputable etymology, W. Meid (1992) has linked the names Yama (reconstructed in Proto-Indo-European as *yemos) and the name of the primeval Norse frost giant Ymir, which can be reconstructed in Proto-Germanic as *umijaz or *jumijaz, in the latter case possibly deriving from PIE *ym̥yos, from the root yem “twin”. In his myth, however, Ymir is not a twin, and only shares with Yama the characteristics of being primeval and mortal. However, Ymir is a hermaphrodite and engenders the race of giants.

In Iranian mythology

A parallel character in Iranian mythology and Zoroastrianism is known as Yima Xšaēta, who appears in the Avesta. The pronunciation “Yima” is peculiar to the Avestan dialect; in most Iranian dialects, including Old Persian, the name would have been “Yama”. In the Avesta, the emphasis is on Yima’s character as one of the first mortals and as a great king of men. Over time, *Yamaxšaita was transformed into Jamšēd or Jamshid, celebrated as the greatest of the early shahs of the world. Both Yamas in Zoroastrian and Hindu myth guard hell with the help of two four-eyed dogs.

It has also been suggested by I. M. Steblin-Kamensky that the cult of Yima was adopted by the Finno-Ugrians. According to this theory, in Finnish Yama became the god cult Jumula and Joma in Komi. According to this hypothesis, from this cult, the Hungarians also borrowed the word vara which became vár ‘fortress’ and város ‘town’. (ibid)

In Javanese culture

There is Yamadipati in Javanese culture, especially in wayang. The word adipati means ruler or commander. When Hinduism first came to Java, Yama was still the same as Yama in Hindu myth. Later, as Islam replaced Hinduism as the majority religion of Java, Yama was demystified by Walisanga, who ruled at that time. So, in Javanese, Yama became a new character. He is the son of Sanghyang Ismaya and Dewi Sanggani. In the Wayang legend, Yamadipati married Dewi Mumpuni. Unfortunately, Dewi Mumpuni fell in love with Nagatatmala, son of Hyang Anantaboga, who rules the earth. Dewi Mumpuni eventually left Yamadipati, however.

In Buddhist temples

In the Buddhism of the Far East, Yama is one of the twelve Devas, as guardian deities, who are found in or around Buddhist shrines (Jūni-ten, 十二天). In Japan, he has been called “Enma-Ten”. He joins these other eleven Devas of Buddhism, found in Japan and other parts of southeast Asia: Indra (Taishaku-ten), Agni (Ka-ten), Yama (Emma-ten), Nirrti (Rasetsu-ten), Vayu (Fu-ten), Ishana (Ishana-ten), Kubera (Tamon-ten), Varuna (Sui-ten) Brahma (Bon-ten), Prithvi (Chi-ten), Surya (Nit-ten), Chandra (Gat-ten).

 

 

Source

Wikipedia

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The Study of Pagan Gods & Goddesses: Brahma, The Hindu Creator God

brahma

Brahma

The Hindu Creator God

 

Brahma is the Hindu Creator god. He is also known as the Grandfather and as a later equivalent of Prajapati, the primeval first god. In early Hindu sources such as the Mahabharata, Brahma is supreme in the triad of great Hindu gods which includes Shiva and Vishnu.
Brahma, due to his elevated status, is less involved in picturesque myths where gods take on human form and character, but is rather a generally abstract or metaphysical ideal of a great god. In later Puranas (Hindu epics) Brahma is no longer worshipped and other gods are assigned his myths, even if he always maintains his status as the Creator god. Brahma’s epithet is ekahamsa, the One Swan. His vahanam (‘vehicle’) is a peacock, swan or goose. He is still honoured today with an annual ceremony at the pilgrimage site of Pushkar in Rajasthan, India and he remains a popular figure in South-east Asia, especially in Thailand and Bali.

 

BRAHMA THE CREATOR
In the beginning, Brahma sprang from the cosmic golden egg and he then created good & evil and light & dark from his own person. He also created the four types: gods, demons, ancestors, and men (the first being Manu). Brahma then made all living creatures upon the earth (although in some myths Brahma’s son Daksa is responsible for this). In the process of creating, perhaps in a moment of distraction, the demons were born from Brahma’s thigh and so he abandoned his own body which then became Night. After Brahma created good gods he abandoned his body once again, which then became Day, hence demons gain the ascendancy at night and gods, the forces of goodness, rule the day. Brahma then created ancestors and men, each time again abandoning his body so that they became Dusk and Dawn respectively. This process of creation repeats itself in every aeon. Brahma then appointed Shiva to rule over humanity although in later myths Brahma becomes a servant of Shiva.
Brahma had several wives, the most important being his daughter Sarasvati who, after the Creation, bore Brahma the four Vedas (Holy books of Hinduism), all branches of knowledge, the 36 Raginis and 6 Ragas of music, ideas such as Memory and Victory, yogas, religious acts, speech, Sanskrit, and the various units of measurement and time. Besides Daksa, Brahma had other notable sons including the Seven Sages (of whom Daksa was one), and the four famous Prajapatis (deities): Kardama, Pancasikha, Vodhu, and Narada, the latter being the messenger between gods and men.

 

BRAHMA CREATES WOMEN & DEATH
In the myths told in the Mahabharata, Brahma created women, the source of evil amongst men:
A wanton woman is a blazing fire…she is the sharp edge of the razor; she is poison, a serpent, and death all in one.
The gods feared that men could become so powerful that they might challenge their reign, therefore, they asked Brahma how best to prevent this. His response was to create wanton women who ‘lusting for sensual pleasures, began to stir men up. Then the lord of gods, the lord, created anger as the assistant of desire, and all creatures, falling into the power of desire and anger, began to be attached to women.’ (Mahabharata in Hindu Myths, 36).

 

In another myth Brahma’s first female is also Death, the evil force which brings balance to the universe and which ensures there is no over-crowding of it. The figure of Death is picturesquely described in the Mahabharata as ‘a dark woman, wearing red garments, with red eyes and red palms and soles, adorned with divine ear-rings and ornaments’ and she is given the job of ‘destroying all creatures, imbeciles and scholars’ without exception (Mahabharata in Hindu Myths, 40). Death wept and begged Brahma to be released from this terrible task but Brahma remained unmoved and sent her on her way to perform her duty. At first Death continued her protests by performing various extraordinary acts of asceticism such as standing in water in complete silence for 8,000 years and standing on one toe on the top of the Himalaya mountains for 8,000 million years but Brahma would not be swayed. So Death, still sobbing, performed her duties bringing endless night to all things when their time came and her tears fell to the earth and became diseases. Thus, through Death’s work, the distinction between mortals and gods was preserved forever.

 

BRAHMA IN ART
Brahma is often represented in red with four heads, symbolic of his creation of the four Vedas. Thus he is often called Caturanana/Caturmukha or ‘four-faced’ and Astakarna or ‘eight-eared’. Originally Brahma had five heads but when he lusted after his daughter Sandhya an outraged Shiva cut off the head which had ogled the goddess (or burned it with his central eye). Brahma is also represented with four arms. One right hand holds the brahma-tandram, an oval disk with a beaded rim which is perhaps a sacrificial ladle and used to mark men’s foreheads with their destiny. The other right hand holds a rosary made from rudraksham seeds. One left hand holds a cleansing vase and he sometimes holds his bow Parivita or the Vedas. Brahma may also be depicted sitting on the sacred lotus flower which sprang from Vishnu’s navel, a scene especially common in Cham art.

 

In Cambodian art, Brahma -known as Prah Prohm- is again represented with four heads and often riding a sacred goose, the hamsa (a popular form of depiction in Javanese art, too), and so the god may in this guise be referred to as Hansavahana. In Tibet, where Brahma is known as Tshangs-pa or White Brahma (Tshangs-pa dkar-po), he often rides a horse and carries a white bull and a sword.

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Brahma

The first god in the Hindu trimurti. He is regarded as the senior god and his job was creation.
Who is Brahma?
Brahma is the first god in the Hindu triumvirate, or trimurti. The triumvirate consists of three gods who are responsible for the creation, upkeep and destruction of the world. The other two gods are Vishnu and Shiva.

 

Vishnu is the preserver of the universe, while Shiva’s role is to destroy it in order to re-create.

 

Brahma’s job was creation of the world and all creatures. His name should not be confused with Brahman, who is the supreme God force present within all things.

 

Brahma is the least worshipped god in Hinduism today. There are only two temples in the whole of India devoted to him, compared with the many thousands devoted to the other two.

 

What does Brahma look like?
Brahma has four heads and it is believed that from these heads came the four Vedas (the most ancient religious texts for Hindus). Some also believe that the caste system, or four varnas, came from different part of Brahma’s body.

 

He has four arms and is usually depicted with a beard.

 

Brahma’s consort is Saraswati, goddess of knowledge.

 

Why is Brahma not worshipped so much?
There are a number of stories in the Hindu mythology which point to why he is rarely worshipped. These are two of them.

 

The first view is that Brahma created a woman in order to aid him with his job of creation. She was called Shatarupa.

 

She was so beautiful that Brahma became infatuated with her, and gazed at her wherever she went. This caused her extreme embarrassment and Shatarupa tried to turn from his gaze.

 

But in every direction she moved, Brahma sprouted a head until he had developed four. Finally, Shatarupa grew so frustrated that she jumped to try to avoid his gaze. Brahma, in his obsession, sprouted a fifth head on top of all.

 

It is also said in some sources that Shatarupa kept changing her form. She became every creature on earth to avoid Brahma. He however, changed his form to the male version of whatever she was and thus every animal community in the world was created.

 

Lord Shiva admonished Brahma for demonstrating behaviour of an incestuous nature and chopped off his fifth head for ‘unholy’ behaviour. Since Brahma had distracted his mind from the soul and towards the cravings of the flesh, Shiva’s curse was that people should not worship Brahma.

 

As a form of repentance, it is said that Brahma has been continually reciting the four Vedas since this time, one from each of his four heads.

 

A second view of why Brahma is not worshipped, and a more sympathetic one, is that Brahma’s role as the creator is over. It is left to Vishnu to preserve the world and Shiva to continue its path of cosmic reincarnation.

 

Reference
Mark Cartwright, Author
Ancient History Encyclopedia

BBC

The Charge of the Crone

Wiccan Priestess The Charge of the Crone

Hear the words of the Dark Goddess who stands within thecrossroads,
whose torch illuminates the Underworld:

I am the Queen of magic and the Dark of the Moon, hidden in the deepest night.
I am the mystery of the Otherworld and the fear that coils about your heart in the time of your trials.
I am the soul of nature that gives form to the universe;
it is I who awaits you at the end of the spiral dance.
Most ancient among gods and mortals,
let my worship be within the heart that has truly tasted life,
for behold all acts of magic and art are my pleasure and my greatest ritual is love itself.
Therefore let there be beauty in your strength, compassion in your wrath,
power in your humility, and discipline balanced through mirth and reverence.
You who seek to remove my veil and behold my true face,
know that all your questing and efforts are for nothing,
and all your lust and desires shall avail you not at all.
For unless you know my mystery, look wherever you will,
it will elude you, for it is written within you and nowhere else.
For behold, I have ever been with you, from the very beginning,
the comforting hand that nurtured you in the dawn of life,
and the loving embrace that awaits you at the end of each life,
for I am that which is attained at the end of the dance,
and I am the womb of new beginnings as yet unimagined and unknown.

 

 —Jim Garrison, Author

 

Deity of the Day for June 23 is Agni, The Fire God of the Hindus

Deity of the Day

Agni

The Fire God of the Hindus

 

Agni, the god of Fire, is one of the most prominent of the deities of the Vedas. With the single exception of Indra, more hymns are addressed to him than to any other deity.

The Origin & Appearance of Agni

Various accounts are given of the origin of Agni. He is said to be a son of Dyaus and Prithivi; he is called the son of Brahma, and is then named Abhimani; and he is reckoned amongst the children of Kasyapa and Aditi, and hence one of the Adityas. In the later writings he is described as a son of Angiras, king of the Pitris (fathers of mankind), and the authorship of several hymns is ascribed to him.

In pictures, he is represented as a red man, having three legs and seven arms, dark eyes, eyebrows and hair. He rides on a ram, wears a poita (Brahmanical thread), and a garland of fruit. Flames of fire issue from his mouth, and seven streams of glory radiate from his body.

The Many Hues of Agni

Agni is an immortal who has taken up his abode with mortals as their guest.

He is the domestic priest who rises before the dawn, and who concentrates in his own person and exercises in a higher sense all the various sacrificial offices which the Indian ritual assigns to a number of different human functionaries.

He is a sage, the divinest among the sages, immediately acquainted with all the forms of worship; the wise director, the successful accomplisher, and the protector of all ceremonies, who enables men to serve the gods in a correct and acceptable manner in cases where they could not do this with their own unaided skill.

He is a swift messenger, moving between heaven and earth, commissioned both by gods and men to maintain their mutual communication, to announce to the immortals the hymns, and to convey to them the oblations of their worshippers; or to bring them (the immortals) down from the sky to the place of sacrifice.

He accompanies the gods when they visit the earth, and shares in the reverence and adoration which they receive. He makes the oblations fragrant; without him the gods experience no satisfaction.

The Uniqueness of Agni

Agni is the lord, protector, king of men. He is the lord of the house, dwelling in every abode. He is a guest in every home; he despises no man, he lives in every family. He is therefore considered as a mediator between gods and men, and as a witness of their actions; hence to the present day he is worshipped, and his blessing sought on all solemn occasions, as at marriage, death, etc.

In these old hymns Agni is spoken of as dwelling in the two pieces of wood which being rubbed together produce fire; and it is noticed as a remarkable thing that a living being should spring out of dry (dead) wood. Strange to say, says the poet, the child, as soon as born, begins with unnatural voracity to consume his parents. Wonderful is his growth, seeing that he is born of a mother who cannot nourish him; but he is nourished by the oblations of clarified butter which are poured into his mouth, and which he consumes.

The Might of Agni

The highest divine functions are ascribed to Agni. Although in some places he is spoken of as the son of heaven and earth, in others he is said to have stretched them out; to have formed them, and all that flies or walks, or stands or moves. He formed the sun, and adorned the heavens with stars. Men tremble at his mighty deeds, and his ordinances cannot be resisted. Earth, heaven, and all things obey his commands. All the gods fear, and do homage to him. He knows the secrets of mortals, and hears the invocations that are addressed to him.

Why do Hindus Worship Agni?

The worshippers of Agni prosper, are wealthy, and live long. He watches with a thousand eyes over the man who brings him food, and nourishes him with oblations. No mortal enemy can by any wondrous power gain the mastery over him who sacrifices to this god. He also confers and is the guardian of immortality. In a funeral hymn, Agni is asked to warm with his heat the unborn (immortal) part of the deceased, and in his auspicious form to carry it to the world of the righteous.

He carries men across calamities, as a ship over the sea. He commands all the riches in earth and heaven; hence he is invoked for riches, food, deliverance, and in fact all temporal good. He is also prayed to as the forgiver of sins that may have been committed through folly. All gods are said to be comprehended in him; he surrounds them as the circumference of a wheel does the spokes.

Agni in Hindu Scriptures & Epics

In a celebrated hymn of the Rig-Veda, attributed to Visishtha, Indra and the other gods are called upon to destroy the Kravyads (the flesh-eaters), or Rakshas, enemies of the gods. Agni himself is a Kravyad, and as such takes an entirely different character. He is then represented under a form as hideous as the beings he, in common with the other gods, is called upon to devour. He sharpens his two iron tusks, puts his enemies into his mouth, and devours them. He heats the edges of his shafts, and sends them into the hearts of the Rakshasas.

In the Mahabharata, Agni is represented as having exhausted his vigour by devouring too many oblations, and desiring to consume the whole Khandava forest, as a means of recruiting his strength. He was [at first] prevented from doing this by Indra; but having obtained the assistance of Krishna and Arjuna, he baffled Indra, and accomplished his object.

According to the Ramayana, in order to assist Vishnu when incarnate as Rama, Agni became the father of Nila by a monkey mother; and according to the Vishnu Purana, he married Swaha, by whom he had three sons-Pavaka, Pavamana, and Suchi.

The 7 Names of Agni

Agni has many names: Vahni (who receives the hom, or burnt sacrifice); Vitihotra, (who sanctifies the worshipper); Dhananjaya (who conquers riches); Jivalana (who burns); Dhumketu (whose sign is smoke); Chhagaratha (who rides on a ram); Saptajihva (who has seven tongues).

Source: Hindu Mythology, Vedic and Puranic, by W.J. Wilkins, 1900 (Calcutta: Thacker, Spink & Co.; London: W. Thacker & Co.)

 

Reference