It is an intuition ingrained in the Hindu psyche to inhabit our entire environment – celestial, physical, vegetable, animal, and human – with innumerable Gods and Goddesses. Some of these divinities are installed in temples as icons, and worshipped with well-defined rituals. Some others are worshipped as and where they are invoked. Hindu shastras, saints and sages have paid homage to many Gods and Goddesses in many sublime hymns.
The Sky which forms the firmament, and permeates the whole universe as space including the interstices in human and animal and vegetable anatomies, is a great God. It is the abode of all sounds. And it harbours in its vastnesses many other Gods such as the Sun and the Moon and the Stars, and Goddesses such as the Dawn and the Dusk. These celestial Gods and Goddesses are worshipped in their own right, particularly the Sun and the Moon and the Dawn.
The Air which fills the hollow between the sky and the earth, which rages as storm and blows as breeze, and which sustains the respiratory system in all that is alive, is also a great God. It is not visible to the eye but it manifests itself by its power to touch and turn.
The Earth which bears all burdens, which bestows boundless bounties from beneath and above its surface, and which is the symbol of forgiveness and forbearance, is also a great Goddess.
The mountains which soar up till they become snow-capped are the abodes of Gods and Goddesses. So are the forests which are full of flowers and fruits and varied wealth. Some creepers and plants and trees are veritable Gods and Goddesses, harkening us to pay our homage to them.
The Water which is clustered in the clouds, which pours down as rain, which flows in rivers and springs, which gets stored up in tanks and lakes and seas and oceans, which showers itself as snow and gets settled as ice on mountain tops, is also a great God. It washes all dirt and slakes all thirst. It nourishes our field crops and our forests. It becomes the sap in all vegetables and fruits, and circulates as blood in all animals and humans.
Lakes like the Mãnasarovara are specially sacred because Gods and Goddesses play their games in and around them. Rivers like the Ganga and the Godavari are themselves Goddesses.
The Fire which blazes in the sun, which heats up every hearth, and which is stored as energy in all fuels, is also a great God. It manifests itself not only as heat but also as light which shines in the stars, which reveals itself in a riot of colours, which endows everything with form, and which lends vision to every eye.
It maintains every metabolism as vital heat without which nothing can remain alive. The Fire God is worshipped daily in the family hearth, is regarded as the ambassador of Gods in every sacrifice, and is a witness to the sanctity of all sacraments.
The birds, the fishes, and the animals are the venerable vehicles of Gods and Goddesses, and are revered as much as their riders.
The GaruDa is the vehicle of VishNu, the bull that of Šiva, the lion that of Durgã, the mouse that of GaNapati,the swan that of Sarasvatî, and the owl that of Lakshmî.
The horse is yoked in the chariot of Indra as well as that of the Sun.The snake is nãga-devatã. And the cow is sacred above all, a Goddess par excellence.
Nearer home, the mother is a Goddess and the father a God, to be obeyed while they are in their prime and served when they grow old. They are to be remembered with reverence, and their protection is to be sought after they pass away and become pitris.
The wife who looks after the family welfare, who brings up the children, and who participates in all sacraments, is a Goddess. The Guru who is the repository of wisdom and learning, is also a God to be propitiated with gifts as profuse as one can afford.
The Guest who comes to our home by chance is a God deserving of our warmest hospitality. The King who protects us from evildoers and presides over the welfare of his prajã is also a God.
And so on, the roster is endless. Every family has a kula-devatã, every community a jãti-devatã, every village a grãma-devatã, every city a nagara-devatã, and every region a janapada-devatã.
The Bhãratamãtã who came to be worshipped as rãshtra-devatã in more recent times, and who inspired the national song, Vande Mataram, is a projection of the same Hindu psyche which sees a God or a Goddess in everything, everywhere. It is a belief common among Hindus that the Gods and Goddesses worshipped by them add up to thirty-three crores.
The Hindu psyche has always harboured a deep sense of sanctity towards all elements and forces of Mother Nature, in all their forms and transforms. It worships these elements and forces not only outside the human body but also within it.
Infact, it sees the human body as a magnificent mansion in building which all these elements and forces of Mother Nature have participated, and feels grateful towards what it greets as great Gods and Goddesses.
What is more significant, this Hindu psyche intimates that as all that is without is also within, all that is within must also be without (yathã piNDe tathã brahmãNDe). It, therefore, invests everything outside with life, with consciousness, with thought and feeling, and also with will.
The inanimate thus becomes animate, the unconscious becomes conscious, the thoughtless becomes thoughtful, the insensitive becomes sensitive, and the inert becomes active.
Thus Spoke Sita Ram goel