Sunday, 5 August 2012

33 Crore Gods ????

The very distinguishing factor that makes Hinduism stand out from other Abrahmic religions is our Polytheism and the splendid variety in the Gods we worship. Every Hindu might be having some or the other God which is totally unique to his area and culture. Not to forget the highly appraised freedom in Hinduism which permits us to worship any God that we like provided his worship falls within the prescribed rituals in the Purans and the Brahmanas.
       According to the popular belief, Hinduism consists of 33 crore Gods which are worshiped in various forms or other. But they really are of that huge number? I will start sweating till I reach a count of 50 or 60. Forget 33 crore..!!!!
Different Gods at Vishvaroop Darshan. But are these 33 crore in number?

 The fact of the matter is, there exist NO 33 crore Gods.. The exact word that occurs in the Vedas for 'crore' is Koti (कोटी) which in many languages like Marathi literally indicate the numerical value of crore. But are we really to take that meaning?
If we go deep in the language of Sanskrit, we understand that the word Koti indeed does mean 'crore' but more correctly, it means 'types'. So 33 Koti Gods means 33 types or families of Gods.
Accepting this, then who are those 33 'families' of Gods which we have?  Plus, do Gods like Durga, Gnpati, Skanda,etc have any place in that?

So here are the 33 families of Gods- 12 Adityas + 11 Rudras + 8 Vasus + 2 Ashwini Kumar = 33 Families
The last two families of Ashwini Kumar are replaced by Indra and Prajapati sometimes. But this seems improbable since Indra or Prajapati was a general post with many people being named as Indra or Prajapati at many times.

Let us see these people in detail-
12 Adityas or द्वादशादित्य are the sons of Aditi and hence called Adityas. The names of these 12 Adityas are Tvashta (त्वष्ट), Pusha (पूषा ), Vivasvan (विवस्वान), Mitra (मित्र ), Dhata (धाता), Vishnu (विष्णू), Bhaga (भग), Varuna (वरुण), Savitru (सवितृ ), Shakra (शक्र ), Ansha (अंश ) and Aryama (अर्यमा). The Rigveda has just eight of these Adityas with certain Brahmanas mentioning all 12 of them. The Puranas unanimously mention the number to be 12. Their mother Aditi along with these are praised in the Rigveda as proper Gods. These were the sons of Kashyapa rishi. One of these Aditya, Vivasvan was the father of Vaivasvat Manu from whom the genealogies of kings started.

11 Rudras or एकादशरुद्र are those Rudraganas who are said to have originated from Brahmadeva's anger. Their names are Manyu (मन्यु), Manu (मनु), Mahinas (महिनस ), Mahan (महान ), Shiv (शिव ), Rutudhvaj (ऋतुध्वज ), Ugrareta (उग्ररेता ), Bhava (भव), Kaal (काल ), Vamdev (वामदेव) and Dhrutavrat (धृतव्रत). Their names vary in different scriptures but the number remains same.

8 Vasus or अष्टवसू are sons bron from Dharma rishi and Vasu. Their names are Drona (द्रोण ), Pran (प्राण ), Dhruva (ध्रुव ), Aka (अक), Agni(अग्नी), Dosha (दोष), Vasu (वसू) and Vibhavasu (विभावसु ).

The 2 Ashwini Kumars were born from the Sun and were the doctors of the Devas. These tow had helped Chyavan Bhargav rishi to regain his youth.

If we see, many scriptures do clarify on the truth of these 33 families of Gods. If one observes, major Gods like Brahma, Vishnu, Ganpati, Shakti,etc don't find place in here. It seems these 33 families of Gods were the oldest and were worshiped but got replaced by Gods having a larger role to play in our lives. But over time the meaning of 'koti' got changed and we started to believe that there were indeed 33 crore Gods.
With time, we believed a cow has 33 crore Gods residing in it.

But does that really matter ? Because looking at the current state, we have at least 100 Gods which are worshiped in some form or other. THAT is our real asset- Our Polytheism and the overwhelming tolerance of people worshiping different Gods. This ability of ours has led us to believe that the whole world is ours. Because, after all, Every type of worship leads to the same thing- Paramatma or Brahman..

|| एकं सत् विप्र बहुदा वदन्ति ||


  1. i have been hearing of the fact that there are 33 Million Gods in Hinduism... a few months back i was watching a news channel and happened to hear to one of our netajis making a statement that there are 33 Million Gods in Hinduism and i thought how it could be possible even if count all the gods and probable gods we don't even reach any where close to the number... it raised me a question, so i decided to do some research and i was fortunate that i found this page...

    i have been doing some research since i had initially read this article... i was not able to get any lead... but accidentally i happened to punch in the words "the secrets of Mahabharata" in Google where i got a link of a quite popular Indian news paper 'Daily Bhaskar'... here i am sharing the link for you to refer...

    this is what it says : "According to Dharma Granthas, there are 33 main Gods. One of them is Ashtha Vasu. He was born as Shantanu and Ganga’s son. Their 8th son was called as Bhishma." i was pity amazed as i got to confirm it... i will do more research and find more confirmation on this....

    It is soo foolish of us that we make false statements without understanding the ground reality and this information needs to be educated to our fellow leaders who make false statements and make fool of themselves and us too...

  2. Please do not call us polytheistic, we are pluralistic. Pluralism means many ways to approach the divine.

  3. I tend to agree with shriram. Because we do say that god is one. So one can't be many.
    Even the trinity is in actuality is originated from a single entity be it Shiva, Vishnu or Shakti.
    That does tend to mean that supreme is one param Brahma and from him emitted different entities which further brought forth more entities and when that whole great net of gods were created, came the term of the lowest level of the entities that is the aatma, which are
    We the living. But Great article nonetheless