||The symbolism of Hindu Gods and Rituals
‘The Vedas, the very source of Hinduism, authoritatively proclaim
that the Reality is one and one alone ! Why then do Hindus pray to so
many gods ? Why do they not concentrate on one God, one ritual and one
practice like other religions ? Such questions have baffled even intellectuals.
The Hindus are not polytheistic. Hinduism speaks of one God that is the
supreme self in all, Atman, Brahman. The different gods and goddesses
of the Hindu Pantheon are mere representatives of the powers and functions
of the one supreme God in the manifested world.
Hinduism has thoughtfully brought in gods and goddesses, rituals and festivals,
ceremonies and celebrations. The master plan of the Hindu sages is to
divinise everything in this world since main attention has always been
upon the world. The plan has been drawn logically, scientifically, practically.
For instance, Hinduism has personified wealth and riches in the form of
the goddess Lakshmi. So a man who runs after material wealth is made to
remember the goddess in all his transactions. Thus a touch of divinity
is lent to his material pursuits. Everything is divinised from the cradle
to the grave.’ So says Sri A. Parthasarathy in his book ‘The
Symbolism of Hindu Gods and Rituals.’
The writer has explained in detail the symbolism behind the image of each
God like Ganesa, Subramanya, Siva, Nataraja etc.
For instance in his description of Lord Vishnu he explains why Vishnu
is blue in colour and wears yellow.
‘The blue colours of Vishnu indicates His infinite stature. Blue
is associated with the infinite like the sky or ocean. Yellow isusually
attributed to the earth for two reasons. One, the earth glows with a yellow
fire when introduced in a colourless flame, and two, anything that is
buried in the earth for a long period of time gathers a yellowish colour.
Vishnu, blue in colour and clothed in yellow, therefore, represents the
descent of the infinite, immeasurable, transcendental truth to the terrestrial
realm i.e., God in a human form.’
He also explains why Vishnu has to be prayed. ‘Goddess Lakshmi,
the consort of Vishnu, sits at his feet serving him. When man seeks the
higher truth and is disinterested in the world, the sense objects seek
him. When Vishnu is sought, Lakshmi necessarily follows the seeker. The
moment man runs after wealth, the object of desire leaves him. That is
The writer has elaborated on the Hindu epics, rituals and festivals too
in a lucid style. To quote just one festival Dassehra, he gives a graphic
description of how we should pray to the three Goddesses.
‘The nine days’ worship is divided into three days’
worship for each of the three Goddesses. The worship of Durga for the
first three days signifies the destruction of negative vasanas / tendencies
inherent in man. The next three days’ worship of Lakshmi signifies
the establishment of positive tendencies. The last three days dedicated
to Saraswathi is the gaining of knowledge of the supreme self. They indicate
symbolically the training at three levels physical mental and intellectual
to achieve the goal set for each type of worship. The victorious tenth
day Vijayadasami represents the day of enlightenment.’
The location of temple has its own significance. ‘The location of
the temple at a high altitude signifies that spiritual evolution is above
all mundane achievements in this world. The seeker has tso be single pointed
and consistent in his efforts. The single file footpath to the temples
indicates that the seeker of truth is all alone in his spiritual pursuit.’
There are many more such beautiful illustrations to every minute ritual
followed in Hinduism. This book should be read and digested by every Hindu
who follows Bhakti Marg.
Reviewed by: Smt. Madduri Rajyasri
Name of the book - The symbolism of Hindu Gods and Rituals
Writer’s name - Sri A. Parthasarathy
For copies - Sri A. Parthasarathy
Mumbai - 400 006.