Saturday 22 December 2012

The Dwaitha hierarchy of gods

Some time ago, a friend of  my uncle, Dr. M.S. Prasad, had come to our house in Jayanagar, Bangalore.
Dr. Prasad is a food scientist of Mysore and he had held a high position in the Central Food Technology and Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysore.  He had gone on an assignment to the Food University near Amsterdam, Holland and one of the food scientists from Holland had come to visit India.
The food scientist, whose name is a mouthful and I can only spell and write his last name-Whitte-came to our house for a day. He seemed to be genuinely interested in India and in Hindu religion.
He was particularly fascinated by Yoga, Yogasana and of course the innumerable Gods and Goddesses. A little hesitantly, he asked me whether we had 33 crore gods and whether we prayed to all of them.
He said Christians, whether they are Protestants or Catholics had accepted one person either as God or as Prophet. How then had the Hindus managed to accept so many gods?, he asked.
He asked me about our customs and traditions and I told him that we are Madhwa Brahmins. He then wanted to how many of the 33 crores Gods we worshipped and whether we remembered the names of all those whom we worshipped.
I told him politely that for Madhwas, the one God is Hari or Vishnu. He is the supreme being and all the others come after him. Mr. Whitte looked all the more confused and he did not understand the rationale of having one supreme being in a pantheon of 33 crores.
I then decided to simplify things for him. I took him (and of course I was accompanied by my wife and my uncle) to Lalbagh, I showed him the trees and birds and asked him whether they are all the same. Mr Whitte looked surprised and said they are classified in botany and zoology under different categories. Exactly, I exclaimed. This is how we have classified our gods. Vishnu is the head of this classification and all others are lesser gods and there are lakhs of God like beings.
Just as Botany classifies trees, zoology classifies animals and the Periodic table the elements, we too have classified our Gods.
I told him we worship those who have helped us and they include the Sun, Moon, Earth, Wind, Fire and Water. These are elements of life and there is no harm in acknowledging them and giving them our respect.
Mr Whitte looked a little convinced and he then started off on a new tangent. “You spoke about the hierarchy of Gods. Tell me about it”, he said.
I then decided to tell Mr. Whitte about the Dwaitha hierarchy of Gods.
I educated him about Madhwacharya and his philosophy and he looked suitably impressed about the philosophy of dualism. He had read about philosophers Kant and Emanuel and he could immediately connect to the philosophy of Madhwa and his stout denial of the philosophy of  illusion.
We spoke on Indian philosophy and its many streams and the influence it had on English, French and German philosophy.
Finally, before leaving for Holland, he asked me for a chart of the Dwaitha hierarchy of Gods. I prepared one for him and I though this blog would be an appropriate forum to post it.
The Dwaitha hierarchy or Taratamya of Devathas is as follows:         
The first of the Gods is Paramathma. He is also known as Hari Vishnu (Sarvottama; Purusha). Next comes Rama Devi, Mahalakshmi (Avyaka Tatva; Mula prakruti). The founder of  the Universe, Brahma, is third along with Vayu Devaru.
Fourth is Saraswathi, who is also the wife of  Brahma and Bharathi who is the wife of Vayu (Mahadavyaktha)
Garuda, Shesha and Rudra (Ahankara Tatva) come next, followed in the sixth place by Nila, Bhadra, Mitra Ninda, Kalandi, Lakshna, Jambavathi and Tulasi.
The seventh in the hierarchy is Swuparni or Garuda Pathni, Varuni or Shesha Pathni and Parvathi or Rudra Pathni. Next to them is Indra and Kama (manaswathva). The ninth in the hierarchy is Ahamkarika Prana (Tyjasahamkara, Tvagindriya). They are followed in the tenth place by Daksha (Panindriya), Aniruddha and Kamaputra, Rathi and Kamapathni, Swayumbhuva Manu (Upastheindriya) Brihaspathi (shabda), Sachi and Indra pathni.
Next comes Pravahavayu (Vayutatva, Bhutavayu) followed by Surya (Chakshurindriya), Shataroopa or Swayambhuva Manupathni, Chandra (Shotendriya) and Yama.
In the thirteenth position is Varuna (Aaptatva, Rasanendriya). Then comes Sage Narada followed by Prasootha Devi, Bhrigu and Pradhnagni (Vagindriya, Tejotatva).
After these Gods come the Sapta Rishis, Prahlada and Vyvaswathamanu. Then comes Mitra, Pravahi Devi and Tara, the wives of  Brihaspathi.
In the 18th place are Vishyaksena, Ashwini Devatas  (Pranenindriya), Ganapathi (Akasha Tatva) Kubera and Shata Devatas.

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