Hindu mythology is rich, multifarious, and inclusive. It portrays the
terrible alongside the benevolent, the trivial alongside the cosmic, and the
grotesque alongside the sublime. The earliest source of Hindu mythology is
the Vedic literature, the oldest texts of which are the four Vedas, or "Books
of Knowledge": Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda, and Atharvaveda. These
books are the oldest Indian documents and represent the religion of the
Aryan invaders of the subcontinent over the period from 1400 to 500 BC.
Because it integrates a variety of heterogeneous elements, Hinduism
constitutes a complex but largely continuous whole; and, because it covers
the whole of life, it has religious, social, economic, literary, and
artistic aspects. Hinduism thus resists a precise definition, but a common
core of characteristics most Hindus share can be identified.
Religion with Various Gods and Goddess
According to Hinduism, three Gods rule the world. Brahma: the creator;
Vishnu: the preserver and Shiva: the destroyer. These three Lords have
consorts and they are goddesses too. Consort of Brahma is Sarasvati; goddess
of learning. Vishnu's consort is Lakshmi; goddess of wealth and prosperity.
Shiva's consort is Parvati who is worshipped as Kali or Durga.
Besides these there are a number of other Gods and Goddesses. To name a
few, there is Ganesh, who has an elephant's head and he is also a son of
Shiva and Parvati; Hanuman, who is an ape; Surya Lord of sun; Ganga Ma,
Goddess of river Ganges; Samundra, Lord of the sea; Indra, king of the Gods;
Prithvi, Goddess of earth; Shakti, Goddess of strength.
Hindu Mythology and the Living Gods
Heroes of epics like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana are immortalized and
are still alive in the day-to-day existence of the common people. The gods
of Hinduism are at once super-human and human and there is distinct feeling
of warmth and familiarity towards them.
Rama, the hero of the Ramayana, represents qualities such as honour,
courage and valour and is held up as a model of manliness. His wife Sita is
the prototypal Indian wife who is carried off by Ravana, the king of Lanka,
while Rama and Sita are on exile. Sita's eventual rescue by Rama, his
brother Lakshmana, and Rama's faithful monkey-general Hanuman are all woven
into this engrossing tale. Stories from this epic have been passed down
orally from one generation to the next. Religious fairs, festivals and
rituals have kept these legends alive, and there is never an occasion that
does not offer an opportunity to retell the old stories.
The stirring verses of the Mahabharata tell the story of the dynastic
struggle between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, who were close cousins. Lord
Krishna plays a very important role in this Great Epic. He is a friend,
philosopher and guide to Arjuna, one of the Pandavas, and he helps Arjuna
overcome his hesitation to kill his close relatives in the battlefield. The
wise philosophy of Krishna and his teachings have been embodied in the
Bhagwad Gita. Although the popular image of Krishna is that of a god who
steals butter as a child, and who, as a youth, plays the flute and entices
cows and cowherd girls alike; in his mature years he is depicted as the wise
philosopher with a more serious side to his nature.
God, Many Names
Some gods have more than one name. Shiva is also known as Shankar, Mahadev,
Natraj, Mahesh amongst others. His worshippers also worship images of bull
called Nandi, who was Shiva's carrier and a unique stone design connected to
Shiva called the Shiva-Lingham. Ganesh is also called Ganpati. Lord Vishnu
went about preserving the world by incarnating 10 times in human forms in
times of crisis, and in his every appearance he had a different form which
are also worshipped as Gods. Among his appearances, he appeared as Rama,
Krishna, Narsimha, Parsuram and Buddha. Krishna also has different names,
Gopal; Kishan; Shyam and other names. There are also Gods who can change
their forms, such as Parvati who can change into Kali or Durga.
Not all of these Gods are worshipped by all Hindus, with some Hindus
worshipping specific Gods or Goddesses, and some of these have predominance
in some regions. Hindus also worship Gods according to their personal needs;
those engaged in wrestling, body building and other physical sports worship
Hanuman, who in Hindu legends was an ape with lot of physical strength; and
those in business worship Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth.
Though these Hindus worship different idols, there are many Hindus who
believe in one God and perceive in these different Gods and Goddesses as
different images of the same one God. According to their beliefs, idolatry
is the wrong interpretation of Hinduism.
Unique and Encompassing Religion - Hinduism
A unique and all-encompassing characteristic of Hinduism is that one
devotee may be worshipping Ganesha while a friend worships Siva or Vishnu or
Kali, yet both honor the other's choice and feel no sense of conflict. The
Hindu religion brings us the gift of tolerance that allows for different
stages of worship, different and personal expressions of devotion and even
different Gods to guide our life on this earth. You will thus find Hindu
temples for different Gods and Goddesses in near proximity to each other.
Indeed, you will find places of worship for many different faiths in close
proximity to each other. About 80% of the population are Hindus, thus by far
the most common religion in India.
of South India
Duration : 13 Nights / 14 Days
Places Covered : Chennai (Madras) - Thanjavur -
Velanganni - Madurai - Trivandrum - Kollam (Quilon) - Kottayam -
Cochin - Kozhikode (Calicut) - Mumbai (Bombay) - Goa
to Vaishno Devi & Other Shrines
Duration : 6 Days
Places Covered : Delhi, Jammu, Katra, Darshini Darwaja,
Banganga Temple & Bridge CharanPaduka Temple, Adikumari,
Hathimatha Ascent & Holy mother Shrine
Duration : 12 Days / 11 Nights
Places Covered : Haridwar - Syana Chatti - Yamunotri - Uttarkashi - Gangotri - Rudraprayag - Badrinath