Who are Gandharvas Hindu Mythology

Indian mythology

Indian mythology is largely based on the ideas of Hinduism. It can be traced back to the hymns of the Rig Veda (from 1200 BC), the epics such as the Mahabharata (400 BC to 400 AD) and the Ramayana as well as the Puranas.

The Indian heaven of gods However, it has definitely undergone a change. The ancient Vedic gods like Indra, Agni and Varuna were supplanted by Shiva, Vishnu and Krishna over time. Vishnu is already mentioned in the Veda, but did not have this high status, Shiva is mentioned under the name Rudra and the name Krishna, which is popular today, only appeared later.

Hinduism is based on the idea of ​​permanent rebirth (reincarnation), the eternal cycle of becoming and passing away (samsara). This idea also applies to the appearance of the gods. The gods manifest themselves in the earthly world in the form of incarnations (avatars). They come into the world to protect the Dharma (cosmic law). The best example is Vishnu, who is worshiped in ten incarnations. The most popular of the Indian heroes, Rama, for example, is, like Krishna, an incarnation of the god Vishnu who appears in human form.

The highest Indian gods form the Trimurti or Trinity. There are the three gods Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the sustainer) and Shiva (the destroyer). Her wives are Sarasvati (goddess of wisdom), Lakshmi (goddess of happiness) and Parvati, who is also worshiped as Durga or Kali (the black woman). Ganesha, the popular elephant-headed god, is the son of Shiva and Parvati. Maya is the goddess of illusion. In Shaktism, God is worshiped in the feminine form (Shakti) as the highest.


The most common works of Indian mythology are the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the various Puranas, with each Hindu faith having its own main works, such as followers of Vishnu and Krishna the Bhagavatapurana and followers of the goddess the Devi Bhagavata and Markandeyapurana. Officially, these works do not have the status of the Vedas and Upanishads, but in practice they are what impart all religious knowledge to the believers. Superficially, the mostly fairytale stories tell of battles and adventures of the past, of gods, heroes and demons - of innumerable human fates. For those who seriously get involved, however, the complexity opens up a source of deepest wisdom in simple language. Much of these stories may come from the imagination - but at the core there is a lot of historical information: They pass on the history of the country and the ancestors and glorify their deeds. Orally carried on throughout the Indian subcontinent through the centuries, they are still very much alive today. Where the children used to hear the old stories from their parents and grandparents, today it is television that shows them countless times or colorful comics in sequels. All branches of art deal with these works again and again.


Hindu mythology has a rich imagery, it has countless symbols that recur and allow countless explanatory models, historical, philosophical and psychological as well as esoteric. One example is the lotus flower: As a water symbol, it stands for the origin of life and for purity, opening the leaves in the sunshine is reminiscent of the opening of the mind through the divine light - which makes it a symbol of wisdom and knowledge. The different stages of flowering are reminiscent of the stages of evolution and their beauty is proverbial. It is one of the most commonly used features of Hindu imagery, and many depictions of gods are associated with it.

Weapons can be found again and again in the symbolism. The sword, for example (knife, ax, lance), like all weapons of war, is not only a sign of death, but also of redemption: the goddesses Durga and Kali as well as the god Shiva with his trident destroy demons on a mythological level and thus save them Universe. On the spiritual and psychological level, on the other hand, they smash confusion, ignorance, ties - and thus clear the way to knowledge.

Effective symbols cannot be chosen arbitrarily, nor are they invented; Hindus assume that seers and saints experienced it in meditation and passed it on in a tradition that goes back thousands of years. The Puranas with their ancient stories of the gods explain many, but there is no uniform explanation. Each faith group sees in it its own theological system. The same symbols can thus be steps towards a higher understanding in different ways. They provide the link between the often defamed 'popular belief' and philosophy. An example of this is the Bhagavadgita, part of the epic Mahabharata. Although part of mythology, it contains the most important philosophical statements of Hinduism. For the German scholar Wilhelm von Humboldt it was “... the most beautiful, perhaps the only truly philosophical poem that all of the literatures known to us have to show”.

The essence of the gods portrayed personally is best recognized by their attributes; not only what you hold in your hands is important, but also the hand position (mudras) itself, companion animals, hairstyle, clothing and seat. The iconography of these so-called 'murtis' is laid down in the Puranas down to the smallest detail. Nevertheless, they cannot be clearly explained. No teaching can be derived from it, but the admirer knows the message: The right raised hand with the inner surface directed at the admirer promises protection and comfort, the hand pointing downwards, for example with Lakshmi, the goddess of happiness, is an expression of her grace and promises spiritual as well as material gifts. These images also do not have any binding explanatory models. But to those who can read them, they poetically express complex, spiritual truths that no explanation could put into words.

Apasmara | Abhimanyu | Aditi | Adityas | Agni | Airavata | Amrita | Andhaka | Apsara | Ardhanarishvara | Arjuna | Asura | Daksha | Deva | Diti | Gandharva | Garuda | Indra | Kadru | Kashyapa | Meru | Milky Ocean | Naga | Navagraha | Nirriti | Radha | Ravana | Rakshasa | Rudra | Sita | Soma | Trimurti | Varuna | Yama

Apasmara (Sanskrit, m.,, Apasmāra, "ignorance", mental delusion, originally: "epilepsy") is a dwarf demon in Indian mythology.

The Hindu iconography knows the Apasmara mainly in connection with the dancing god Shiva Nataraja, the "king of dancers". In the popular depiction of the four-armed Shiva in a circle of flames, he lies under the feet of the dancer. The picture contains a complex symbolism, whereby the dance with its dynamics stands for creation as well as for destruction. In doing so he destroys the Apasmara, personification of delusion, mental indolence and all evil. Believers recognize in this representation the work of redemption of the divine. The mythology tells that people called Shiva for help against the demon, whereupon he came and killed the Apasmara while dancing with his left foot.

Abhimanyu (Sanskrit, m., Abhimanyu) was a mighty warrior and the son of Arjuna, the hero from the Bhagavad Gita, who was killed by the Kauravas in the great battle of Kurukshetra.

He plays a supporting role in the Mahabharata, which also includes the Bhagavad Gita (6th book).

Aditi (Sanskrit, f., Aditi, "the limitless") is in the Vedic phase of Hindu mythology the personification of the infinite, mother of the heavenly gods and the day deity. She embodies the infinite nature of being. She is the daughter of Daksha and mother of the Adityas. It sustains heaven, sustains all existence and nourishes the earth.

The Adityas are a group of twelve deities in the Vedas, but apart from Vishnu they are of little importance in today's Hinduism. The goddess Aditi is considered to be her mother.

They are considered deities who are not based on natural phenomena but on ethical concepts. Sometimes the twelve different aspects of the sun are assigned to them over the course of twelve months. Aditya is one of the names of the sun and therefore they can be seen as gods of light. The twelve are: Aryaman, 'destroyer of enemies' - Bhaga,' the giver '- Surya,' sun ', - Daksha,' the skillful '- Mitra,' friend '- Varuna,' who binds' - Amsa, 'who Generous 'tolerant' - Tvastri, the designer - Savitri, an aspect of the sun before its rise - Pushan, 'the breadwinner' - Saktra, 'mighty' - Vivasvat, 'radiant' and Vishnu, 'penetrator'.

Agni (Sanskrit m., Agni "fire", "god of fire") is the fire form of the divine in Hinduism and was one of the most important gods of the Vedic religion. He is considered to be the mediator between people and gods, since he brings them the sacrifices (offering messenger), which is why he is also called the "eater of the offerings".

Agni in its earthly manifestation, fire

Many passages in the Vedic hymns, the most important scriptures of the Hindus, call him “the all-pervading spirit”, whose manifestations are the devas, the gods. Agni manifests as fire on earth, but as lightning in the air - then it is Indra and as sun in the sky - then it is Surya.

Measured by the number of hymns addressed to him, he takes second place in the Rigvedasamhita, eight of the ten song circles (books) of the Rigvedasamhita begin with the Agnis award. Agni also symbolizes fire as a male power, as it probably existed in all early Indo-European cultures alongside the original idea of ​​a factual fire (Germ. Fiur, Greek pyr) (cf. Latin ignis, Russian ogon, both etymologically related to agni). As such a power, Agni was thought to be omnipresent, for example in the sun, or as a digestive fire (jataragni) in the stomachs of people.

In the post-Vedic period, Agni became less important. Nevertheless, it plays an important role in today's religious life of the Hindus: On certain occasions, especially when it comes to cleaning ceremonies such as the inauguration of apartments, shops or the like, the priest ritually lights the holy fire. Agni is worshiped in the fire offering, now also called Homa or Havan. At the inauguration of an apartment, for example, the priest or owner carries the bowl with the smoldering fire through all the rooms in a blessing. Especially with all samskaras, the Hindu sacraments, the living presence of the divine in its flame form is necessary in all cases:

A Hindu couple marries by walking around the fire seven times together.

During the cremation of the dead, the priest quotes: “May Agni take you where you have to go!” And with mantras he asks: “O Agni! When the body is burned, bring the spirit to its ancestors! ”.

At that time, the Yajna fire offering was probably the most important sacrificial ritual in which the offerings were thrown into the sacred fire.

Pictorial representations show Agni as an old, two-headed man with three legs, seven arms and six eyes, four horns, he wears red clothes and the "sacred cord" around his upper body. Its flag is smoke and its companion is a ram. However, this anthropomorphic form is mainly important for mythology, in ritual it is present in fire.

Airavata (Sanskrit, m.,, Airāvata, also Airavana) is a white, holy elephant in Hindu mythology, the first created of all elephants and the mount (Vahana) of the creator god Indra. In the Indian culture, Airavata and his descendants are a symbol of luck and a rainbow. He is mostly depicted with three heads and four tusks.

Of central importance for Indian mythology is the creation myth of the whisking of the milk ocean, from which Airavata arose; told in different versions in the epics Mahabharata, Ramayana and some Puranas. Ancient Indian elephant customers, Matangalila, Hastyayurveda and relevant chapters of Manasollasa from the 12th century are dedicated to the mythical Airavata and the earthly elephants.

Amrita (Sanskrit,, immortality, ambrosia; from mṛ = to die) is in the oldest Hindu texts a life-prolonging drink, an elixir of life, which gods and humans need in the same way.

In Hindu mythology, Amrita is the name of an elixir that brings extraordinary power and the continuation of life or security from danger of death. It is identified with the Soma potion from the Rigveda.

The best-known myth related to Amrita is the whisking of the milk ocean, which is narrated in the Mahabharata. At the command of Vishnu and Brahma, the serpent Shesha (Ananta) moves out the world mountain Mandara (Meru), which the god Vishnu, in his incarnation as a turtle, takes on his shell. The serpent prince Vasuki is put around the mountain as a rope, and gods and demons make him turn, pulling Vasuki at both ends. After a long whisking, the Amrita and the white elephant Airavata emerge, which Indra takes possession of.

For the Amrita there is now a battle between the gods (devas) and the demons (asuras). The former win and now have the life potion. Garuda is made his mount by Vishnu after he has fetched the Amrita.

In addition to its meaning as a life drink, the term Amrita is also used in the actual sense of the word, namely immortality.

Andhaka (Sanskrit, m., Andhaka, "blind") is the asura / demon of blindness, ignorance and darkness in Hinduism.

Andhaka originated, it is said, from a tear of Shiva and was given by him to the childless demon king Hiranyanetra. But when he was passed over in the hereditary monarchy of demons because of his blindness and descent, he practiced an asceticism that lasted 10,000 years in solitude, standing on one leg, with arms raised. After it failed, however, he would cut out a piece of meat every day and burn it in a sacrificial fire until it consisted only of bones and tendons. Since this tremendous willpower aroused fear in the gods, Brahma was induced to grant him three wishes: mastery over the demons; the divine, all-seeing eye and the certainty that he could neither be killed by gods, demons, demons, humans, snakes, nor by Vishnu or Shiva; but that only the best woman would be his undoing (he was denied absolute immortality, since nothing and nobody is immortal).

Then, however, Andhaka coveted the goddess Parvati, Shiva's wife, who declared that she would only belong to the most powerful, whereupon he challenged Shiva to battle. In the course of this fight Shiva wounded Andhaka, but every drop of the blood flowing out of the wound was transformed into a new Andhaka, with the same strength, which in turn attacked Shiva, which brought him into serious distress. Finally, however, Shiva pierced his opponent with a trident, while the goddess Yogeshvari licked up the drops of blood from Andhaka and Vishnu destroyed the doppelgangers with his discus; Andhaka was slowly bleeding to death.

Andhaka is mostly depicted as a terrible, very ugly, eyeless figure, with 1000 heads, 1000 arms and great strength.

Apsaras (Sanskrit, apsaras, Pali, Accharā, Chinese Feitian or Tiannu, Japanese Tennyo) are half-human, half-divine women in Hindu and parts of Buddhist mythology who live in the palace of the god Indra. Apsaras are also considered to be the "spirits" of clouds and waters and in this respect are comparable to the nymphs of Greek and Roman mythology.

In the Rigveda, which began around 1200 BC. An apsara is called the companion of Gandharva, who is a personification of the light of the sun and who prepares the soma, the drink of the gods.

In later writings the number of apsaras increases. Created by Brahma, they are “ladies-in-waiting” in the heavenly palace of the god Indra. As heavenly dancers, they are the companions of the Gandharvas, now also mentioned in greater numbers, who are described as heavenly musicians. The main task of the Apsaras and Gandharvas is to entertain the gods and goddesses. Some myths also tell of the fact that Apsaras became their companions after the death of particularly deserving heroes or kings.

Among all apsaras, according to tradition, a total of 26 inhabit the heavenly palace, Rambha, Urvashi, Menaka and Tilottama occupy a special position. These four are repeatedly sent out by Indra to the people on earth in order to seduce and dissuade sages who, with their abstinence and their striving for spiritual perfection, threaten to become a danger to Indra or other gods supremacy. For example, in Ramayana the story is told of how Indra sends the Apsara Menaka to the Brahmin Vishvamitra in order to distract him from his meditation, which she also succeeds in doing.

The names of many of the Apsaras known from the great Indian epics Mahabharata and Ramayana are popular women's names in India; including, for example, Urvashi (the most beautiful of the Apsaras), Menaka, Rambha, Parnika, Parnita, Subhuja, Vishala, Vasumati (Apsara "of incomparable splendor") and Surotama.top03.gif

Ardhanarishvara (Sanskrit, ardhanārīśvara, ardha = half, nari = woman, ishvara = lord, "the lord who is half woman"), also called Ardhanari, is the name for the Hindu god Shiva, who forms a figure with his wife Parvati who is half man and half woman.

In representations, the left half of the body is shown as a man, the right half as a woman (from the perspective of the beholder). The idea of ​​the aeons-long copulation of Shiva and Parvati developed into that of a bisexual creator god. This was suggested by the approx. 4th century AD. Shaktism, which started in India and places the female power (Shakti) alongside the male reproductive power on an equal footing and emphasizes that the male element alone is powerless. First Parvati make the "corpse" (Shava) the god Shiva. In the further course of the cosmogonic process it is Shakti, which - guided by the consciousness of Shiva - acts.

Representations of the Ardhanarishvara can only be found in shactic and tantric temples. Some bronzes depict the Ardhanarishvara with three arms.

In Shiva-Purana the legend of Ardhanarishvara is told: This is how the god Brahma could not shape his creation because his creatures did not multiply. He asked Shiva for help, and Shiva appeared in his half-male, half-female form. Thereupon he divided into Shiva and Parvati, and Parvati took over the function of fertility.

Arjuna (Sanskrit, is one of the most important heroic figures in the Indian epic Mahabharata. He is Krishna's dialogue partner in the Bhagavad Gita, probably the most widespread holy text of Hinduism in the West.

Arjuna is the son of the heavenly god Indra and Queen Kunti, who lives in a polygamous marriage with Prince Pandu and his concubine Madri. Pandu cannot father children because of a curse; therefore his two wives bear him sons, begotten of gods. They are called pandavas after him.

Arjuna develops into an excellent archer and Agni gives him the magic bow Gandhiva. He and his four brothers live in polygamy with Draupadi. The Mahabharata tells that by mastering the bow he was able to win her as a woman, but due to a misunderstanding by his mother Kunti he had to "share" the princess with his brothers.

After losing a game of dice against their opponents, the Kauravas, the five Pandavas are forced to go into the woods with Draupadi. There they should live according to the conditions for twelve years and then spend the thirteenth year unrecognized in society. If they were discovered, they would have to be exiled for another twelve years. Therefore the Pandavas hire themselves out in various professions at the court of the king of the Matsyas. Arjuna poses as a eunuch, lives in women's clothes, has braided his hair and wears arm and ankle rings made from sea shells. He taught the women at court in dance, singing and playing musical instruments.

One day there is a battle between the attacking Kauravas and the army of the Matsyas. Arjuna and his brothers fight in disguise at first, but the thirteenth year of exile comes to an end during the fighting and Arjuna is able to reveal himself. He is the strongest fighter and hero of his time and defeats all heroes of the Kauravas. But for King Duryodhana he breaks the crown in two as a sign of humiliation.

Although the Pandavas have fulfilled their debt from the game of dice with the thirteen-year exile, the Kauravas are not prepared, contrary to the agreements, to give half of the kingdom back to their cousins. After long negotiations, the decisive battle of Kurukshetra takes place. Arjuna is ready to do his warrior duties. However, when he sees his numerous relatives, his teachers and people on the other side whom he values, he despairs and does not want to fight. At this moment it is his friend and charioteer Krishna who shows him the right way to right action and reveals himself to him as the highest in a great vision. This conversation, which is said to have taken place between the two armed armies, went down in history as the Bhagavadgita.

The Pandavas win the battle and the older brother Arjunas, Yudhisthira becomes king of the land. Abhimanyu son of Arjuna had also fallen. After his death, his wife Uttara gave birth to a son named Parikshit, who later became an important king.

Asura: The term asura can mean

Asura (Hinduism), demonic heavenly beings

Asura (Buddhism), jealous heavenly beings

Ashura, or Ashura, Shiite day of mourning

Daksha (Sanskrit,) is a god figure in Hindu mythology, which, however, does not play a role in the life of faith. In mythology he appears as the goat-headed son of Brahma and he is the father of Sati, Vinata, Aditi, Diti and Kadru.

Deva (Sanskrit) is an Indian term for the "God-serving" gods, the heavenly ones or the shining ones. They are on a higher plane than humans. Deva can be translated as gods, demigods, angels or supernatural beings. As heavenly, they do not stand outside the cycle of rebirths (samsara), but are integrated into it. They play a role especially in Hinduism and Jainism. Although Deva is often translated as “God”, it must be taken into account that the term is not used for the highest deities (e.g. Ishvara or Narayana).

The term can be used as follows:

adjectival: divine, heavenly, luminous, turned towards the light;

substantive: consecrated man or divine being of the higher dimensions, opponent of the Asuras (demons).

Deva is also an addition to the name of enlightened people who have reached the divine consciousness striven for in the yoga path. The word is also used to address kings ("Majesty"). The feminine word is Devi and can either denote the Goddess as a manifestation of the Supreme or is the honorable address of a woman.

Devas are comparable to angels or the angelic hierarchy of Christian teaching.

In Buddhism, the devas are referred to as "heavenly beings" or "gods". They live in the six realms of being in a "happy sphere", but just like humans they are subject to the cycle of being born, aging and dying.

The word comes from the same Indo-European word root as Latin deus (god), ancient Greek. Zeus and germ. Ziu or Tyr.

Diti (Sanskrit) is a night goddess in Hindu mythology, daughter of Daksha, wife of Kashyapa and mother of Daityas and Maruts. It is of no importance for the life of faith.

According to the tradition of the Ramayana and the Puranas, Diti, who wants to give birth to a son who is supposed to destroy the Indra, receives the information from the sage Kashyapa that she will have one after a hundred years of pregnancy. With Rudra she fathered this son and realized the centenary pregnancy through magic. But Indra thwarts her plan by using his vajra (thunderbolt) to divide the embryo in her womb into 49 parts, which then become deities, the Maruts.

A Gandharva (Sanskrit,, gandharva) in the Hindu Vedas is a deity who knows and reveals the secrets of heaven and divine truth. He is a personification of the light of the sun. Its job is to prepare the soma, the drink of the gods.

The companions of the Gandharvas are the Apsaras. In the later performances, the Gandharvas (demigods) became singers and musicians who took part in the banquets of the gods; in this sense the term is also used in Buddhism. In some Mahayana and Vedanta scriptures, the term “city of the Gandharvas” (skrt .: gandharva nagaram) also serves as a metaphor for a deception or illusion.

Garuda (Sanskrit) in Indian mythology is a snake-killing half-human, half-eagle-shaped mount of Vishnu, son of Kashyapa and Vinata. In Asian mythology, the Garuda also has the meaning of a divine messenger who brings people messages and instructions from the gods. In many Asian countries (for example Thailand and Indonesia) the Garuda is also used as a national emblem or official seal by the authorities of the government.

In primeval times, the old creator god and father of creatures, Kashyapa, the "old turtle man", once had two wives: Vinata, the sky, and Kadru, the earth. Kadru gave birth to a wide variety of eggs from which all kinds of nagas hatched. Vinata, however, only laid three eggs.

Jealous of Kadru and her numerous offspring, she broke the first egg. The being in the egg, however, had not yet taken shape: the lightning was created. The second egg contained a radiant youth. Also a premature birth he had no legs. It was Aruna, the dawn of dawn, the charioteer of the sun god Surya. Arun was not so enthusiastic about his handicap, he cursed his mother and made her the slave of her rival, the snake mother Kadru.

When the third egg hatched, the mighty Garuda hatched. He immediately asked for his mother to be released. In return, the Nagas asked for the immortality elixir Amrita, which Garuda then had to steal from the gods.

This explains the eternal enmity between the Nagas and the Garuda. The spiritual contrast between bird (eagle) and snake is also known to us in the west from the ancient Sumerians (see e.g. in Nietzsche's Zarathustra, also in the coat of arms and flag of Mexico).

Quote: The bird is called "snake killer" or "naga killer" (nagantaka) or "snake eater" (nagasana). Its real name is Garuda, from the root gri, "to gobble down". As a ruthless destroyer of snakes, he is above the effects of poison with mystical power.

Indra (Sanskrit) is a Hindu deity, which, however, is of little importance in today's religious life. In the early Indian, Vedic religion Indra was presented as the highest, warlike god of the sky, the god of storm and rain, "without whom no victory is possible, whom one invokes in battle ..." (Rigveda 2.12.9) was the god of warriors, the Kshatriya caste. According to the Vedic scriptures, it is he who kills who prevents the water from flowing; he is the serpent (ahi) and the smasher of all resistance. He kills the dragon with his club and frees the cows from the rock. Indra has strong anthropomorphic traits. He is the great conqueror, drinks Soma, an intoxicating drink, and he makes material flourish, gives prosperity and punishes lies. Other Vedic gods are Agni and Varuna.

Indra is considered in the Vedas as the "King of the Gods", who appears in many forms and meanings in Indian myths. His mount is the giant elephant Airavata, the heavenly ancestor of all Indian elephants, "the animal-shaped archetype of the rain-pouring monsoon cloud." His weapon is the thunderbolt, vajra. He lives as lord of the "heavenly world" (svargaloka) in a palace on the top of Mount Meru.

Kadru (Sanskrit, Kadru, lit. "the brown one") is a figure in Hindu mythology. She embodies the earth in contrast to Vinata, which stands for the sky.

Kadru is the daughter of Daksha. In the creation story, she is the wife of Kashyapa, the ancient creator god and father of creatures. Kadru gave Kashyapa a variety of eggs from which various kinds of nagas hatched.

Since Vinata, also a woman of Kashyapa, only laid three eggs, she became jealous of Kadru and her numerous offspring and broke the first egg. However, the being in the egg had not yet taken shape, so the lightning came about. The second egg contained a radiant adolescent who, due to the premature birth, had no legs. It was Aruna, the dawn, the charioteer of the sun god Surya.

Kashyapa is a divine seer and lord of the North Star in Indian mythology. He was married to Vinata and Kadru. He is the father of Garuda, Aruna and a thousand many-headed giant snakes (Nagas) .top03.gif

Mount Meru (Sanskrit) forms the center of the universe according to Hindu and Buddhist cosmology.

The unimaginably high mountain Sumeru, residence of gods and protective deities, rises in the center of the universe. The sun and moon, stars and planets revolve around it, influencing the course of day and night, the coming and going of the seasons and thus ultimately the well-being of people.

According to ancient Thai texts, Mount Sumeru rises 84,000 yojana above the surface of the earth, it extends a further 84,000 yojana into the depth. It is 84,000 yojana thick and its girth is 252,000 yojana.

According to Hindu tradition, the Meru is surrounded by four concentric chains of continents. According to Buddhist cosmology - such as B. in the Thai opus Traiphum Phra Ruang from the 14th century presented in detail - it is surrounded by seven concentric mountain ranges that get lower and lower towards the outside. Each mountain range is separated from the next by a deep ocean, the Sidantara Ocean. This entire system is bounded on the outside by another, insurmountable mountain range, the Cakkavala mountain range ("iron mountains"). Beyond the iron mountains there is nothing.

Between the iron mountains and the seven mountain ranges that surround Mount Meru, in the great salt ocean, there are four continents: Pubbavideha to the east, Uttarakuru to the north, Aparagoyana to the west and the Jambu continent to the south. In the north of this continent, on the slopes of Mount Meru, lies the Himaphan Forest, home to many mythical animals. Each of these continents is surrounded by 500 smaller islands. Between the 4 major continents there are four smaller continents, called Yupara. This is the land where Garuda live. People live on the Jambu continent.

Meru is sometimes located differently from region to region. Mountains in China, Japan and Bali are also identified with Meru or other sacred mountains of Buddhism. Mythological explanations for this are z. B. Moves of supernatural beings, the flight of the mountain or cosmological explanations. In Southeast Asia in particular, symbolic replicas show the center of kingdoms.top03.gif

Milky Ocean (Sanskrit :) is an ancient sea of ​​Hindu mythology. According to this, the middle level of the cosmos consists of concentrically arranged continents, separated by huge oceans of various liquids. The innermost ocean contains salt water, the outermost is the milk ocean.

Associated with this is the popular Hindu creation myth “The whisking of the ocean of milk”, which occurs in various versions in many scriptures, in the great epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana as well as in some Puranas. It provides the basis and explanation for countless other myths. In many cases it was changed, supplemented or only reproduced in excerpts. Since it is embedded in a much larger story comprising many part episodes, the introductions to the various versions differ considerably. In any case, however, Vishnu is the central deity and always savior. Tradition reports that he rests on the serpent Shesha in cosmic sleep in the Milky Ocean during a world night, the time between two creations. The four-headed Brahma is enthroned on the lotus blossom emerging from his navel, and he brings forth a new creation on his behalf.

Subject of the story of the "Swirls of the ocean of milk“Is the search for the immortality potion, Amrita, which both gods and demons desire, but which is hidden in the ocean of milk inaccessible to all. Only the common whirling of the primeval water, which is said to have lasted a thousand years of gods, allows the longed-for elixir to emerge after many obstacles.

Naga In Indian mythology (Sanskrit) denotes a snake being or a snake deity. There are different forms of representation, either with a complete snake shape, as people with a snake's head, or with a human body that ends in a snake shape. Often there are also representations with multi-headed snakes or a multi-headed cobra hood.

Nagas are known as magical beings, with the ability to assume human form at any time. Occasionally they are supposed to leave their realm and mingle with the people. They are seen as guardians of crossings, thresholds and doors, especially in a symbolic sense. The nemesis of the Nagas is Garuda, Vishnu's companion. Representations of the giant bird often show it with nagas in its claws.

Very often the words for snakes, snake demons, nagas, half-human, half-serpentine beings are indistinguished. However, several important snakes have names. In Hindu mythology, for example, it is Shesha ("the one who remains, the rest") who carries the earth, another word is Ananta ("the infinite"), the serpent lying on the water, on which Vishnu in his form as Narayan rests in cosmic sleep. In Buddhist mythology, however, the Naga king Mucalinda protected the Buddha from rain and storms in his meditation lasting several weeks by spreading his many heads over him like an umbrella.

In the southern Indian folk religion, Nagas, who are to be understood as chthonic deities of pre-Hindu religious traditions, are often the object of cultic veneration. These cults fit more or less strongly into the classical Hindu traditions, for example spatially and institutionally as in the adjacent illustration: This cult site, which was laid out at the foot of an overgrown tree, is located on the site of the Vishnuit Vaigunda Perumal temple in Kanchipuram and is apparently also cared for by its priests.

In South India women often draw intricate patterns in front of the doors, so-called kolams. Its purpose is to invite the snake deity Naga to develop its protective, auspicious and fertile powers for the residents of the house.

Navagraha Hindu astrology describes Navagraha (Sanskrit, navagraha, nine planets or nine realms) the nine "planets" in personified celestial figures. In contrast to Greek astrology, all planetary gods in Hinduism are male.

Surya Sun

Chandra moon

Mangala Mars

Budha Mercury

Brihaspati Jupiter

Shukra Venus

Shani Saturn

Rahu Head of the serpent demon

ascending lunar node

Ketu Tail of the serpent demon

descending lunar node

"Nava"means" nine "." Graha "is sometimes translated as" planet ", but the sun, moon and Rahu and Ketu are not planets in the sense of today's astronomy. Sometimes" Graha "is also translated as" heavenly bodies ", but Rahu and Ketu are in the sense of western astronomy also no celestial bodies. A third translation would be demigod, but Rahu and Ketu are asuras, not devas. All Navagrahas have in common that they move relative to the fixed zodiac signs in the background.

Navagraha temples are common in some regions of India. One of these agglomerations is near the city of Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu, and another in Assam.

Nirriti (Sanskrit) is a goddess in Hindu mythology. She is the personification of destruction, suffering and death. Their messengers are owls and doves and their habitat is the south, as this is viewed in Hinduism as the area of ​​death. She is the sister of Lakshmi and the mother of Baya. Sometimes she is also seen as the wife of Adharma.

In late Hinduism, she is counted among the Ashta-Dikpala (eight guardians of the cardinal points) and embodies the southwest there.

Nirriti is not just the name of a goddess, but generally the term for destruction, evil and dissolution.

Radha (Sanskrit) is the eternal companion and lover of Krishna in Hindu mythology.

Radha was one of the gopis (cowherdesses) who, according to the stories, lived in Vrindavan, the place of Krishna's childhood, and is mentioned in the Puranas and in the Mahabharata. In the Hindu movement of the Gaudiya Vaishnavas, Radha is regarded as the personified power of the unlimited love of God (Hladini-Shakti). She is the incarnated goddess Lakshmi, who stands by her husband Vishnu in every incarnation.

Radha and Krishna are considered the classic lovers of the Hindu religion and still play an important role in all branches of Indian art.

Radha's epithet Gaurangi means the color of gold in Sanskrit.top03.gif

Ravana or Ravan (Sanskrit :), the mythical demon king of Lanka (today Sri Lanka), is in the epic Ramayana the king of the Rakshasas and antagonist of the divine Rama.

Ravana is the son of Vishravasa and Kaikasi and the father of Mandodari. He was considered immortal or should only be able to be killed by the gods, although he was immune to the weapons of Vishnu. In the beginning he was the guardian of the first water sources, but later lost them. Mythology said that like any rakshasa he could take any shape he wanted, although he preferred that of a tiger. He is often depicted with 10 heads and 20 hands. Ravana also occurs in the Thai culture, where it is called Tosakanth.

In the Ramayana (the famous Indian epic) he stole Sita, the wife of Rama. With the help of Hanuman, however, it was possible to win them back. After a long struggle, Rama managed to kill Ravana.

The Rakshasa (Sanskrit) are demons from Indian mythology.

They live in a world of their own and even form entire states, but often they break into the human world and this in the most varied of forms. They are often depicted as animals, e.g. vultures, dogs or tigers, or as particularly ugly people. They often have large, bloody fangs in these depictions. The female form of these demons are the Rakshasi.

They are said to have fixed eyes without blinking and that they cast no shadows. They eat human flesh and lustfully after women, but the rakshasi are said to be dangerous for pregnant women and spread disease.

Both like to live in trees, preferably fig trees, or generally near cremation sites. According to legend, people become rakshasa / i after death if they have eaten from a human brain during their lifetime. Overall, they are evil spirit beings, similar to the devils of the European imagination. They are supposed to represent an opposition to the bright world of the gods.

In order to fight them, the god Vishnu embodies himself again and again on earth, in the form of Rama, his seventh incarnation, he also fights against Rakshasa, among other things. This can be read in the verse epic Ramayana.

see also: Asuras

Rudra (Sanskrit Rudra, literally: "the howling or roaring") is a Vedic god and probably the predecessor of Shiva.

In the Rigveda, Rudra is the god of storms and the father and ruler of the Rudras and Maruts. He is closely connected with Indra and with Agni, the fire god. He is also related to Kala, the time, the all-devouring one, with which he is later identified. Although Rudra is regarded as a destructive deity whose terrible arrows bring death and disease to man and beast, the term "Shiva", the benevolent and benevolent, is also used for him. Healing powers are attributed to it as it dispels fumes and purifies the atmosphere. In the Rigveda he appears as an angry red archer who is implored to spare the family.

in the Atharvaveda is he the wild hunter, the master of the forest animals. He himself lives between cattle and snakes. His weapons are lightning and poison, fever and cough. He embodies fear and fear, spreads horror and ruin.

According to the widespread belief that the bringer of evil can also cease his dreaded activity and avert the evil, his grace and mercy are also often implored in the Rig Veda. The god who sends the disease is called a doctor. His healing herbs can save people and animals, so he can also be a helpful and blessing God.

On the one hand he steals the cattle and lets them die, on the other hand he can spare them, hence his name Pashupati, master of the cattle. Rudra receives the remains from other offerings as offerings. He receives his share so that he does no harm. His residence is in the high mountains in the north, while the other gods are located in the east.

The term "Shiva", which is not used as a name in the Veda later becomes a name. Rudra loses its connection with the storms and becomes a dissolving and reintegrating principle.top03.gif

Sita (Sanskrit, Sītā, lit. “furrow”) is a daughter of the earth (Bhumi) and the wife of Rama, the hero of Ramayana, in Hinduism. Even today, Sita is considered the epitome of the faithful and morally impeccable wife.

King Janaka finds Sita in a furrow and accepts her as his daughter. Janaka only wants to give his daughter to a man who manages to draw the great bow of Shiva. In contrast to the other kings, Rama apparently manages this effortlessly.

After Rama Sita got married, they lived in a hermitage. The demon king Ravana wants to kidnap Sita and with the help of a ruse he succeeds: the demon Maricha turns into a beautiful gazelle. Sita falls in love with this dazzling animal and asks Rama to catch it for her. When Rama kills the gazelle, the demon calls for help in Rama's voice. Lakshmana immediately rushes to help his brother Rama. Ravana approaches in the form of a mendicant monk and kidnaps Sita to Lanka. Ravana asks Sita to give herself to him; she refuses with disgust.

With the help of the monkey god Hanuman, Rama manages to save her. Rama, however, doubts the loyalty of his wife and says: "Which man of honor would submit to his passion and take back a woman who lived in someone else's house?" Sita protests her impeccable way of life. In her desperation, she undergoes a trial by fire: she mounts the blazing pyre, but is given back to Rama by the fire god Agni because of her innocence.

In the last (later added) book of the Ramayana, Rama doubts again, he casts off Sita and she gives birth to twins in the wasteland of Valmiki. There she raises her (and Rama's) sons, Lava and Kusha. Years later, Rama again calls on Sita to take an oath in the presence of the gods. Sita protests that she has never thought of another man and asks Mother Earth to open her lap for her. A throne appears and Sita disappears into heaven. Rama then hands over the rulership to his sons and is united with Sita in heaven.

Soma (Sanskrit) is an intoxicating drink of the gods mentioned in the Rig Veda and goes back to the Aryans in the Indus valley around 1500 to 1000 BC. At first it was the intoxicating juice of a plant mixed with milk and flour and left to ferment for some time. The name denotes both a deity and a plant and the drink made from it.

The early Iranians, including the Persians, were familiar with the drink under the common Avestan name variant Haoma or Hauma. Haoma appears in the Avesta, where a Yasht is dedicated to him.

The original Soma / Haoma cult died out in India and Persia after the earlier religion of the Aryans was incorporated into Hinduism in India and reformed in Persia by Zarathustra. References to the Soma cult can be found above all in the post-Islamic, mystical-religious literature of Persia (see Sufism, Persian literature), in which the '' Jām-e Jam (جام جم), the goblet of the mythical King Jamschid, top03.gif is very popular as a significant symbolism for "becoming one with the divine"

Trimurti (Sanskrit: trimūrti; German: 'three forms'), is a concept of Hinduism, which is the union of the three cosmic functions of creation, maintenance and destruction / transformation, through the representation of the great gods Brahma as the creator, Vishnu as the sustainer Representing Shiva as the destroyer.

Trimurti representation at an Indian temple

The Trimurti symbolizes that all divine effects emanate from a unity, since the three aspects are mutually dependent and complement one another; it represents the formless Brahman and expresses the creating, sustaining and destroying aspects of this highest being. It is represented either by the three gods side by side, as a single figure with three heads or in a three-headed figure with six arms, which shows the now personal Brahma with a water jug ​​and prayer beads, Vishnu with throwing disc and shell and Shiva with his trident and the small double drum damaru.

Another representation of this Trimurti is Dattatreya, also called Datta-Atreya (Datta, son of Atri). He embodies the eternally youthful manifestation of the divine three-unity of Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva. Accordingly, it has three faces and is often accompanied by dogs.

The Trimurti is often explained by Indian philosophers from the three Gunas, the basic causes of the effects and activities:

Tamas means ignorance, indolence, spiritual darkness and are assigned to Shiva, who destroys them;

Rajas, Activity, passion and new beginnings, is associated with Brahma,

Sattva means clarity, goodness and harmony and is associated with Vishnu.

The Gunas are assigned colors: black for tamas, red for rajas and white for sattva. Similarly, the Trimurti is assigned the elements earth (Brahma), water (Vishnu) and fire (Shiva).

Shakti worshipers, the followers of the female form of God also know a female Trimurti, called Tridevi, with Saraswati the creator, Lakshmi the preserver and Kali the destroyer.

The Trimurti is the conceptual unity of the three-sided cosmic principle, similar to the Christian trinity, and no triad, i.e. no three different deities belonging together, as known from most polytheistic mythologies. The Christian concept of "Trinity" with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit differs from the Hindu in interpretation and religious philosophy.

Varuna (Sanskrit) is one of the highest and most revered Indian deities of the early Vedic period. He was considered the god of cosmic order; Sacrifice to him should ensure the maintenance of cosmic order. It was a reproduction of the sacrificial acts performed by the gods, which should be constantly renewed. Varuna was considered a terrifying, punishing god. In later times he took a back seat to the warlike Indra.

Varuna ("the enveloper") is originally the personification of the all-encompassing heaven and the highest of the seven Adityas. The songs to him are among the most sublime parts of the Veda and portray him as the all-wise creator, sustainer and ruler of the world, the all-knowing protector of good and avenger of evil, holy and just, yet full of mercy. In the later Brahmin period he became one of the eight lokapalas (world guardians).

In today's Hinduism, Varuna no longer plays a role in the life of faith.

Yama (Sanskrit: in India also: Yamarāja; Tibetan: gshin rje)

He embodies the Hindu god of death and the "Dharmaraja", the Lord of Dharma, of righteousness.

He hardly plays a role in the religious life of the Hindus, but mythology knows innumerable stories in which he appears to make his sacrifice. Yama is originally a Vedic deity who rules the underworld (and who himself still strives for enlightenment). Life and death are united in him (and his palace). Yama tells visitors to the underworld which of the five (six) paths of fate he has to follow, based on his karma, i.e. the sum of his good and bad deeds.

Yama is believed to be the first mortal to enter the heavenly world. The iconography depicts him as a richly adorned king, usually green, more rarely black. He carries a mighty club and a rope with which he catches and ties his victims, sometimes a sword and a shield. These attributes are also to be interpreted spiritually: The noose, for example, binds to the cycle of rebirths, the sword is often referred to in Hindu literature as the "sword of knowledge". Yama's characteristic companion animal is the buffalo, often accompanied by dogs with terrifying eyes and large nostrils. The buffalo as a multi-layered symbol, such as spiritual death, ignorance and all evil, is a frequent motif in Hindu depictions.

In the Vedas he is the god of the dead, with whom the spirits of the dead dwell. He himself was the son of the sun and had a twin sister, Yamī or Yamuna. You are considered the first human couple. In later Brahmanic mythology he is one of the eight Lokapālas, guardians of the south and ruler of the Yamadevaloka, and judge of the dead.

Decides in philosophy the consequences of the deeds, karma, as what an individual is reborn as, in mythology Yama appears as judge of the deceased, rewards and punishes. That is why he is also “Dharmaraja”, Lord of righteousness and righteousness