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On the origin and significance of a number of divine names and symbols used in Hindu worship

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On the origin and significance of a number of divine names and symbols used in Hindu worship Empty On the origin and significance of a number of divine names and symbols used in Hindu worship

Post by Seva Lamberdar Mon Apr 04, 2022 9:29 am

The Sun was recognized by humans long ago as being very important to life and also a great source of energy. A number of important divine attributes for God (Brahman in Hinduism) were inspired by the Sun and named accordingly (with respect to Sun's enormous importance, power and energy).

The name used for Brahman in the extra-terrestrial region (heavens) is Savitar (applicable during day and night) or Surya (applicable especially during day).

There is also a hymn in the Rig Veda which states that Vishnu (one of the important names for Brahman) gets important cooperation from Savitar and Indra, implying that Savitar and Indra (names for Brahman in the extra-terrestrial region and the mid-air, respectively) complement Visnu in preserving the world.

This perhaps long ago also led to Visnu's representation in art and worship etc. as Chatur-bhuja (four-armed and anthropomorphically). Thus, two arms and hands of Chatur-bhuja Visnu in art show the attributes of Savitar: Sudarshan chakra (Solar disc) in one hand (depicting enormous energy of Savitar / Surya) and Padma (Lotus flower) in the other hand (depicting importance of Surya's light to life and vegetation). Similarly, the remaining two hands of Chatur-bhuja Visnu in art show the attributes of Indra: Gada (Mace) in one hand (depicting Indra's thunderbolt) and Sankha (Conch shell) in the other hand (depicting the sound of thunder).

Incidentally, the two vertical white / yellow lines, joined together in the form of 'U' symbol, adorned on the foreheads by Visnu's devotees also could have originated according to the union of attributes of Savitar and Indra's in Visnu, with Savitar (Surya) and Indra manifesting their energies separately (as two separate light lines) from above (space / sky) as the white or yellow light (sunshine in the case of Surya and lightening in the case of Indra).

Further to this discussion on Brahman's names in different regions, Brahman in the terrestrial region is called Agni. Agni obviously has the powers of generating, sustaining and annihilating. Shiva represents the powers of Agni and is worshiped as Shiva-linga (auspicious symbol used for live flame in Vedic yajna). Shiva devotees, due to their long ago association with Agni worship (using fire in Vedic yajna where the ash was important part / byproduct), regularly smear ash on their bodies and adorn horizontal ash lines on their foreheads. Note, the live fire of yajna used for offering worship and libations to Agni and the linga (symbol in the shape of flame) used for worshiping Shiva and pouring libations serve the same purpose in religious rituals.
Seva Lamberdar
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https://docs.google.com/document/d/1bYp0igbxHcmg1G1J-qw0VUBSn7Fu

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Post by Seva Lamberdar Tue Apr 05, 2022 10:09 am

Note 1: In the sustenance / preservation of life, water and sunlight play critical roles. Moreover, water (as rain) is the gift from Indra (name for Brahman in the mid-air) and sunlight comes from Savitar / Surya (name for Brahman in the heavens).

It is obvious thus that Indra and Savitar (Surya) assist in the work of Vishnu in preserving life in the world. Vishnu therefore, while he preserves life, is implicitly accompanied by Indra and Savitar (as a hymn in the Rig Veda alludes).

Consequently, the art related to Vishnu (such as Chatur-bhuja form of Vishnu used in worship / prayer) depicts him also possessing (in arms / hands) the potencies of Indra (Indra's thunderbolt / thunder associated with rain, as Gada and Sankha) and Savitar (e.g. Surya's solar disc associated with sunlight, as Sudershan chakra and Padma), as explained earlier.

Note 2:  Agni (the name for Brahman in terrestrial region) was worshiped in yajna using live fire which, during Vedic times, was often difficult and time consuming to start by rubbing sticks and stones etc. and without the help and ease of current match sticks. Moreover, the person starting and maintaining the fire / flame in yajna, especially during wet / rainy weather, had to struggle hard in carrying out his task and needed to be hard working, tough and strong. 

Thus, to make things easy, simple and quick during Agni worship,  a solid symbol (linga) in the image of life fire / flame -- called shiva-linga (meaning in Sanskrit  'auspicious symbol') -- was introduced during post-Vedic era, while replacing the live yajna fire / flame with similar looking solid symbol (shiva-linga) made of stone etc. The post-Vedic use of shiva-linga (meaning originally auspicious symbol, shiva meaning auspicious) to worship Agni led over time in acquiring the new name for deity, as Shiva, and the original Agni worship (using live yajna / fire) transforming into Shiva worship (using Shiva linga).
Seva Lamberdar
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Post by Seva Lamberdar Thu Apr 07, 2022 8:33 am

Additional reference (Subhash C. Sharma):

"Saivite and Vaisnava interpretations of Brahman," (2010), http://creative.sulekha.com/saivite-and-vaisnava-interpretations-of-brahman_497382_blog
Seva Lamberdar
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Post by Seva Lamberdar Sat Apr 09, 2022 6:43 pm

While people appear to worship the Sun, mountains and rivers etc. (including the Ganges river), it is the power (Divinity) associated with or controlling them (the Sun, mountains and rivers) which is the  real object of devotion and holy offerings. Thus, even though the libations are poured by devotees in  fire (yajna) during worship of God  (Brahman), it's not worshiping the fire but making use of fire (agni) to assist in the worship of Brahman (God) as Agni (not the same as agni).

"Know that whatever is beautiful and good, whatever has glory and power is only a miniscule portion of God's own radiance." (The Bhagavad Gita: Ch. 10 - V. 41)
Seva Lamberdar
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Post by Seva Lamberdar Mon Apr 11, 2022 7:56 am

Likewise, people bowing in reverence or making an offering of water towards the Sun is a form of symbolic worship of Brahman, while conveniently using the Sun (or surya, the source of sunlight on Earth) as the external symbol for worshiping Savitar / Surya (Brahman in heavens, specifically) as the real power behind the Sun / surya (not Surya).
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