Friday, April 1, 2016


Uncommon Understanding of the Unknown, His Controllers  and their worship
(Compilation for a discourse By N.R. Srinivasan, Nashville, TN, USA, April 2016)


Confusion Prevails in  understanding Deva (God)   Devatas, (Demi-gods/deities) and Devis
We come across two terms Deva and Devata in several Mantras repeated from Vedas in  Mahanarayana Upanishad (MNU). Initially Deva is described as the  Cause of the Universe—“Yasmin   Deva aadhi visve nishedhuh Here Deva means the Unknown called  Brahman or the Supreme Being in whom all the universe existed together and into which all dissolves. We don’t know when the world existed in IT as Vedas only say “Yathaapoorvam akalpayat”Creation started as before. It also refers to resplendent Sun –deva as the son of Parabrahman—“Yo devebhya aatapati”.  It also refers to Mother Earth as Devaa (feminine form of Deva)--Aditir devaa.  MNU also says that GOD is ONE—Deva Ekah. We come across yet another word in Veda mantras of MNU Devata. Rudra and Vishnu are referred as Devata in Devataa praananiroopana mantra.  Similarly  Aditya as Devata   in Adityadevataah Mantra.   Look at Mantra:  Sarvaa devataah aapah all deities are water. Here this term refers to all the 33 Vedic deities and not Brahman, the God.  Thus there was a clear definition of God as Deva and Devataah   the 33 which includes all controllers of Brahman who are often translated as Vedic Gods. Unfortunately in all Hindu scriptures this clear distinction between Deva and Devatas is often not given proper attention   and so confusion prevails even in our religious thinking and worship.  Devi is   the term used for the power aspect of both Deva and Devata as Sakti which word is feminine in Sanskrit.  When we talk of Deva and Sakti together, we talk of Nirguna Brahman (Un-manifested or Unknown) who manifests as Saguna Brahman. May I draw your attention to the title of the specific Mantras in MNU—Bhudevataa-Ka-mantrah; Sarvadevataa Aaapah Mantrah and Vaisvadevamantraah.  MNU mentions Viswadeva and   Aditi devaa. So Deva is Masculine and Devaa with long “a” is feminine in Vedic Sanskrit. It is only later the word Devi to mean Goddess in classical Sanskrit was brought in for female devatas who were also raised to Goddesses status.   Earlier to Christianity Goddesses were worshiped in many traditions.  Though Christians and Muslims worship together Mary (Maria in Islam) Mary is not considered as Goddess and Holy Mother while Holy Father is included in all Prayers. This is nothing but male chauvinism. Hinduism considers   Parasakti, even shade better as the power (Sakti) aspect of Parabrahman who is often considered as Saguna Brahman in her manifested form.
Influence of Purana on Bhagavad  Gita can be visualized from the following text in7-23: devaan deva-yajo yaanti mad-bhakta yaanti maam api ||  Those who worship Devas (gods) go to gods  but my devotees come to me. In due course of time all the Vedic deities have been raised to the status of Devas and therefore ‘Me’ referring to Bhagawan as Supreme Being should be even beyond Deva or God. It may be Bhagavad Gita has gone with the meaning of Deva to mean Devata from Purushsukta--“Tena Deva ayajanta saadhya rishayascha ye”—by the divine act of Gods, Celestials and Rishis.
Unfortunately, you  can see the confusion and indiscriminate use  of the terms Deva, Devaa and Devataa  can also be seen in MNU since its Manras are from different  Vedas. In Gayatri mantra “Bharghodevasya” --deva refers to Parabrhaman.  An  ancient  authority has paraphrased the idea contained in the Gayatri  by the following verse: Yo Devah savitaasmaakam dhiyo dharmaadi gocharaah | Prerayettasya yad bhargastadvarenyam upaasmahe || Here The term Deva refers to Supreme Being clearly.  Look at another mantra in MNU-- “Tapasaa devaah devataamagra aayan” --In the beginning the gods attained godhood. Here   the term Deva refers to Vedic gods and Devataa to Brahman. Bhagavad Gita also refers to Devaah to mean various Gods and indicates Brahman is beyond Devas and is the unknown-“Devavrataah Devaan  Yaanti….. madyaajinopi Maam”—worshipers of Devas go to Devas and those who worship Me come to Me alone. Here Brahman is one who is above Devas undefinable.   It seems to be logical to go by the term Deva to mean Brahman and Devatas to mean all others--Vedic Gods or Brahman’s controllers, Puranic avatars and deities as well as Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva as emanations of Brahman in Vedas and the three Puranic Gods responsible for Creation,  Sustenance and dissolution. If this difference is strictly maintained in our scriptures and their translation we will be followers of Monism only to our critics. But who will bell the cat?
Bhagavad Gita says world needs different religions, cults and deities to meet the vastly different needs of individuals looking at the   practices and conditions then prevailing. This is clear from the later efforts of Sankara to reform various traditions and complex ways of worship and come out with his philosophy of Advaita, Monism drawing support from the very Gita itself. In spite of the definition of Deva from Vedas as above Gita says Devavrataah   Devaan yaanti, Madhyajinopi Maam”Worshippers of Gods go to Gods and those who worship Me alone, they surely come to Me”    Here Bhagawan is The Unknown or Parabrahman. During Gita time itself Individuals started different religions coining the word religion (mata in Sanskrit) and defining the  Unknown as Manifest--GOD, G standing for Generation or Creation, O for Operation   or Sustenance and D for Dissolution. Sankara is known as Shanmata sthaapaka —  promoter of six religions. Of course English language did not exist then and people thought in terms of understanding the Unknown as Trimurti responsible for Srishthi (Creatiion), Sthiti (Sustenance) and Laya (Dissolution), in the Vedic Concept of Brahma or Prajaapati or Manu; Vishnu; Rudra or Siva. When English language and Christianity arrived on the scene guided by the wisdom of Vedas it coined the word GOD with the above definition based on three letters and not any root source like in Sanskrit Language. You can find this definition of   GOD in the Webster Dictionary.

Temple Traditions
Let us look at the Temple Traditions today! The drawing of the square Vastumandala is a ritual pre-requisite to the making of the temple.  Vastumandala contains 81 squares based on   Smarangansutradara and Tantrasamuchekaya.  The central square is Brahmasthana. It is the vital center, a place assigned to Brahma, the Lord of Creation and the place for realization of Brahman. In Puranic tradition this position is assigned to the Major Hindu Gods Vishnu and Siva who were only Devatas in Vedic worship while Brahma became subordinated as you read in Siva Purana and  so  he is not be found  in Brahmasthana.  Both Siva and Vishnu who are Vedic  Devatas  before   are made to represent Universal Brahman in their respective system  of belief and worship. Vedas Speak of 33 Koti Devatas. Here Koti in Vedic Sanskrit means kind and in classical Sanskrit Crore (Karod) representing huge number.  So 33 Koti Devatas mean 33 varieties of Devatas and not 330 million of which we are accused off.  This only needs proper understanding and explanation.   In Vastumandala the rest 32 Devatas are accommodated as Pada-Devatas.  They are the Gods of Vedic pantheon and are assigned subsidiary position in the Mandala as regents. They include eight Dikpalas, Indra, Agni, Yama, Niriti, Varuna, Vayu, Soma and Isana whom you can see in Kanchipuram and Tanjavur temples.  Thus the word Brahman equivalent of God in other Religions’ Expressions and Brahma, Vishnu and Siva the three Devatas raised to the status of Devas in Puranas as emanations of Brahman are the only Devas occupying the Garbhagriha spot in Temples. Them the religious followers worship as Trimurti or Trinity connecting to Saguna Brahman in his three functions of Creation, Sustenance and Dissolution.    Even the most popular Ganesha is only Devata or demi-God. Your worship to him has to pass through Siva to reach Brahman.  Strictly speaking he is not a candidate for Brahmasthana or Garbhagriha. You can then very well imagine the struggle through which others who worship minor deities and others go through. This is what Gita talks about.  Therefore the wise spiritualist directly meditates on Parabrahman.
[Let us understand the rest of the discourse with this understanding of Deva,   Devata and Devi or Devaa (feminine for Deva) which can be roughly translated as God, Demi-Gods and Goddesses. The word GOD should have no plural then. If devas are projected from Deva, the word assumes plural role—Demi-gods and Goddesses from GOD.   These demigods are often referred as Gods in our confusion and installed also in temples in Brahmasthana ].
 Unknown or Tadekam (That One) or Brahman or Holy Spirit
The word Brahman is neuter gender in Sanskrit. That means Brahman is beyond the concept of gender considerations. For our convenience and since the word it in English may mean lifeless or eunuch we address Brahman often as He. The term sex in spirituality is in reference to the Sanskrit concept of rasa, the original spiritual relationships. In the material world this rasa is best reflected as mundane sex. But even in this there are many gradations according to the degrees of covering by the three modes. The Taittiriya Upanishad describes the degrees of enjoyment among the different human species, from the common man, to the Gandharva, Apsara, Siddha, Deva, Devadeva, Devendra, Brahma, etc.-- each being one hundred times greater or more complete than the previous. In the spiritual world, people are not very attracted to sex life, due to their exalted devotional attitude. Practically speaking, there is no sex life in the spiritual world, but even if sometimes it does occur, there is no pregnancy at all.  Sun is a Vyahriti (emanation) of Brahman and is also worshiped as a symbol of Brahman.   
The same confusion prevails as to   Aatman and Paramaatman. This has been made clear and Bhagavad Gita as well as in Svetasvatara Upanishad.  The Yajna (sacrificial Mantras) in MNU clearly says Aaatmane swaahaa and Paramaatmane swaaha. If Self and Brahman are the same why there should be different oblations to Fire God? This confusion has given rise to three distinct philosophies in Hinduism—Advaita, Vishishthadvaita and Dvaita by Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva.  Sankara was the earliest to come with his theory of Advaita based on the need at that time as Hinduism was being threatened. Other two philosophies came much later. Had Sankara lived that long he too would have changed his mind! Sankara later in his life realized that the Self within him and Paramaatman are not one and the same standing before Lord Viswanatha. Unfortunately   Advaita philosophy has been ruling the World for such a long time before the arrival of Ramanuja and Madhva it dominates the Hindu Schools of Philosophy today. Even Swami Vivekanada was a strong protagonist of Advaita who influenced the Western World with his Advaita Vedanta philosophy and today it is not possible for Hindus to remain with one philosophy. Here again it is defended as Unity in Diversity with umpteen traditions and 330 Million Gods!  Of late Bhakti Vedanta has made some progress but they go with the concept of Krishna Consciousness forgetting the fact that Krishna was also a historic figure like Buddha who used to spend his long early hours in his meditation on Paramaatman as recorded in Srimad Bhagavatam. In fact Rama also meditated on Aaaditya as Parabrahman (Aaditya Hridaya) before starting the war.
Ancient sages bogged down by suffering and death raised their voice to the unknown in the earliest Rigveda mantra:
Asato maa sadgamaya, Tamaso maa jyotir gamaya, Mrityor maa amritam gamaya ||
Oh the Unknown! Lead us from ignorance to knowledge! From darkness to light and from death to Immortality!
From the beginning of times humans believed in a higher power, something bigger and more powerful than themselves. They needed to believe in someone who had inconceivable powers and was so much bigger than themselves and also to answer the big mysteries of the world. So they worshiped the Sun, the Moon, fire, and even created gods of the Seas and Mountains. Anything explainable was considered an extension of the holiness of God; even love and beauty intrigued humans and they made goddesses of love and beauty. Initially the Vedic sages   started worshiping “Tadekam” that one responsible for Srishthi, Sthiti, Laya—Creation, Sustenance and Destruction as no one could avoid death however good or bad one may be.  They were bound by certain Manava (Human) Dharma which they called Sanatana Dharma and were guided by the Vedas that flashed back in their Consciousness.   They recognized a mystic voice from within. They started chanting the Mantra: “Om aapo-jyiti-rasah amritam Brahma Om bhur bhuvah suvah Om”. They recognized that which is denoted by Om is Brahman that is ever expanding beyond individuals and ever present within and everywhere. It is water, light, flavor, ambrosia and also the three worlds (Trilokas) they could roam around.  Narada was globe trotter in all the three worlds as we learn from Puranas. They felt water is the ambrosia they were looking for in their earliest prayer that is Amritam.  We all know water is the most essential liquid for sustenance and the human body keeps functioning because of water which constitutes around 70%. They saw the flash of light within called Jyoti. Its light for them was the brightest and concluded that the Sun, Moon, Stars, Fire all got their light from that source only (tasya bhaasa sarvamidma vibhaati). They recognized the five elements within in the Microcosmic form and also all around in Macro Cosmic form. Of these elements fire appealed to them as the most visible and fascinating form providing the warmth they needed. They started praying to it and poured ghee to it to enhance the glow and thus started the Yajna form of fire worship. Cow was   part and parcel of their life and also they enjoyed the benefit from it the fuel from dung and the food as milk and ghee.
Their inner voice sounded a mantra in which they had a revelation of 33 Koti Devatas.  Div  in  Sanskrit means to shine  and so  they called the unknown as Deva. Koti means kind in Sanskrit. What is devata then?—that which has the component of Deva (devatva) or emanation of Deva. Each of these thirty three Devatas being emanation of Deva or Brahman were as good as worshiping as Deva himself in one form or other. They preferred Devatas to the Unknown and Unseen because of their visible form or they could feel like in the case of Vayu.  This is the Unknown Moses visualized as Jyoti (Fire) in the wilderness and received the Ten Commandments.  Today we say there are thirty three Vedic Gods. They are in fact thirty three controllers in the administration of the vast Universe by Brahman. On this basis let us learn more about these thirty three modern puranic Gods who are in reality are regents of   Brahman. Knowing the minds of the sages the Vedas proclaimed: “Eko Viprah bahudaa       vadanti—the One Pundits call by many names.  Later Religions   also came out with this monotheistic concept and in English Language they introduced a coined word as GOD to represent Brahman. Unlike other words this word has no root but only a   three letter word like AUM (OM). G in God stands for Generation or Creation, O in God stands for Operation or Sustenance and D stands for Destruction as Dissolution which in Sanskrit means Srishthi, Sthiti and Laya as mentioned before, the three functional facets or aspects of Brahman. You always open your mouth with the first letter A in Sanskrit which indicates the beginning, U symbolizes continuity and M crisply ends and symbolizes closure, when you close the mouth. Thus the word AUM stands for Creation, Sustenance and Dissolution which should have motivated other cultures to coin the word GOD in a language understood by all.  This has been even included in dictionaries. They turned back and said we are Monism and charged us back for being apparently Polytheistic.

Before discussing   the present day deities of worship in temples let us go back to Vedas which came out initially with 33 Koti Devatas.  No temples existed then. Worship started as Yajna or Fire Sacrifice to 33 kinds of devatas or Gunas or characteristics.   In Sanskrit Koti means kind.  Rishis Saw   these thirty three devatas  in recognizable form  and so called  them as none other than  Saguna Brahman (in its unperceivable or unmanifest form that  was Nirguna Brahman)  as Vyahritis or emanations or  functional forms.  May be they said Brahman needed 33 controllers in his management of Macrocosm and Microcosm. Let us now examine what these 33 Vedic Gods are:
The Vedas   do not refer to 33 crore Devatas but 33 types (Koti in Sanskrit) of Devatas. They are explained in Shatpata Brahmana and many other scriptures very clearly.
"Yasya Trayastrinshad Devaa Ange Sarve Samaahitaa, Skamma Tam Bruhi Katamah Swideva Sah”. --(Atharva Veda 10-7-13)
Which means: with God’s influence, these thirty-three (supporting devatas) sustain the world.
In Brihadaranyaka Upanishad while discussing Brahman, Yajnavalkya is asked how many gods are there. He says that there are three hundred and three and three thousand and three gods. When the question is repeated? He says, thirty three. When the question is again repeated he says, six. Finally, after several repetitions he says ONE. (Chapter I, hymn 9, verse 1)
The number 33 comes from the number of Vedic gods explained by Yajnavalkya in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad – the eight Vasus, the eleven Rudras, the twelve Adityas, Indra and Prajapati. (Chapter I, hymn 9, verse 2)
They are: 8-Vasuss, 11-Rudra, and 12-Aadityas, 1-Indra and 1-Prajaapati.
Eight Vasus: Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether, Moon, Sun, and Star. They are called Vasus, because they are abode of all that lives, moves or exist. (Refer also to Mahabharata, 1/66/18)
Eleven Rudras: The ten Pranas (Praana, Apaana, Vyaana, Samaana, Udaana, Naag, Kurma, Krikal, Devadutta and Dhananjaya) i.e. nervure forces which live in the human body. The eleventh is the human soul. These are called ‘Rudras’ because when they desert the body, it becomes dead and the relatives of the deceased, consequently, begin to weep. Rudra means one who makes a person to weep. Rutaat trayarte iti Rudrah-  the one who saves you from miseries.  {Refer also to Harivansha 13/51-52})
Twelve  Adityaas ---the twelve deities of the  months of a year called Adityaas; they cause the lapse of the term of existence of each object or being. {Refer also to   Mahabharata 1/65/15-16}
One Indra:   is also known as the (all-pervading) electricity, as it is productive of great force.
One Prajaapati: also called the “Yajna” because it benefits mankind by the purification of air, water, rain and vegetables and because it aids the development of various arts, and in it the honor is accorded to the learned and the wise.
The master of these 33 Devatas is the   Ishwara (Saguna Brahman) who alone is to be worshipped as per 14th Kanda of Satapata Brahmana.
[Based on Bhakti Vedanta Concept Provided by courtesy IndiaDivine.Org and Bhagavad Gita by   Prabha Duneja]
Koti also means crores and 33 Kotis correspond to 330 million. Inspired by the basic 18 Puranas  later sages and Gurus came out with more  number of Puranas and even Upanishads. Taking advantage of the meaning of the Vedic word Koti to also mean number   they invented independent 330 million Gods. To understand the actual position of the Absolute Truth we must take guidance from the divine words of the shastras.
In the ancient text known as Brahma Samhita we find the following definition of God:
ishvarah paramah krishnah sac-cid-ananda vigrahah  |
anadir adir govinda sarva karana-karanam ||
“The Supreme Controller is Krishna. He possesses a spiritual body composed of eternality, knowledge and bliss. He has no beginning, yet He is the first. He is the cause of all causes.”
Here Krishna does not refer to the later incarnation of Vishnu as eighth Avatar but Paramaatman alone. MNU also mentions in its Mantra, which is an earlier text before the dissension of Krishna as Varahenja Krishnena satabahunaKrishna with 100 arms similar to   sahasraseerishah one with thousand heads referring to  Purusha or Brahman in Purushasukta. Here Krishna means one who delights the world with his presence or it may mean Krishna-varaaha,   Black boar and not Krishna, the eighth Avatar.
To a question from devotee as to why there are 33 Gods even in Vedas Jahnava Nitai Das of Bhaktivedanta gave the following answer. Only he wants us to recognize Brahman as Krishna. He understands Bhagawan in Gita as Krishna while I understand Bhagawan as Virat Purusha in Viswaroopa:  “The first line, ishvarah paramah krishnah, establishes that he is the ultimate controller.  The Vedic texts describe 330 million devatas, or universal controllers, but we should not confuse these beings with God. God is beyond the purview of the material universe. The devatas are controllers of various aspects of nature within the material realm. For example, the scriptures describe a personality named Agni who is in charge of the element of fire. Likewise, there is the description of the personality named Indra who controls the rain. And finally there is the greatest personality Siva (Maha-deva) who is in charge of material destruction. All of these controllers (Isvaras) belong to God’s natural system of material administration. Within the material realm God has arranged a hierarchy of control for automatic administration of nature. Each of these personalities (numbering 330 million) can be called a controller (Isvara) as they are each in charge of a particular aspect of nature. They are actually secondary controllers. It is exactly like a government that has many levels of control, such as Prime Minister (national controller), Chief Minister (state controller) and District Magistrate (district controller). To an uneducated person, the District Magistrate is supreme. If one gets his blessings, any governmental work one needs to be get done, will be accomplished. But he is only supreme within his district. Above him there is a higher controller, who controls the entire state. If one surrenders to the state controller and receives his blessings, one need not fear the district controller. Thus one may think the Chief Minister of a state is actually supreme. But above him is the Prime Minister, who controls the entire country. According to one’s level of knowledge, one will identify a particular level of supremacy. But factually there is only one supreme authority situated above all others. Thus this verse begins with the words ishvarah paramah krishnah “The supreme controller among all controllers is Parabrahman. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad Gita as follows:
mattah parataram naanyat kinchid asti dhananjaya |
mayi sarvam idam protam sutre mani-ganaa iva || 7-7 ||
“There is nothing else besides Me. Everything rests upon me like cluster of gems strung on a thread.” says Bhagawan.
Na me viduh sura-ganaah prabhavam na maharshayah | aham adirhi deva maharshieenaam cha sarvasah ||10-2 ||
“Neither the hosts of devatas nor the great sages know my origin or opulence, for, in every respect, I am the source of the devatas and the great sages.” says Bhagavan.
As  Paramatman, God is present within every atom, within the heart of all living entities, and between. 
Aa-brahma-bhuvanal-lokah punar-aavartino ‘rjuna  | mam upetya tu kaunteya punar janma na vidyate
“From the highest planet in the material world, Brahma Loka, down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains my abode never takes birth again.” says Bhagawan.
The second line of the Brahma Samhita verse, sat-chit-aananda vigrahah, further defines what differentiates Brahman from the other devatas. Brahman has a spiritual body composed of sat (eternality), chit (complete knowledge), and ananda (spiritual bliss). Within this material world everyone takes birth according to one’s karma. When we take birth within matter, we are conditioned and bound within a body composed of material elements (earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence, and false identification). By combination of these elements we have a body of skin, blood, bones, vital organs, etc. Our true identity is as a spirit soul, completely independent from the material body. The nature of this body is actually opposite from the qualities of the soul. The soul’s nature is sat (eternality), chit (complete knowledge) and aananda (bliss), but the qualities of the material body are asat (temporary), achit (full of ignorance), and nirananda (full of suffering).  This is what separates Brahman from 33 Koti Devatas.  The devatas, though very powerful entities, are ultimately embodied beings just as we are. The various devatas are actually posts of control, and not individual eternal entities. According to one’s karma, one is situated within the universe either in higher or lower planetary realms. Those who are highly qualified with goodness (sattva guna) take birth in the higher realms of existence as devatas. They attain a post as controller within the material realm. But that post, being within the purview of the material energy, must ultimately come to an end. Just as we are an eternal spirit soul, covered by a human body due to illusion, in a similar way, even Indra, Ganesha and Brahma are eternal spirit souls covered by a devata body due to illusion. The only difference is the quality of illusion that is conditioning us. We are conditioned more by the lower gunas of rajas (passion) and tamas (ignorance) whereas they are conditioned by the higher quality of sattva guna (goodness). Everyone within this material world (including the devatas), up to the topmost planet of Brahma Loka must ultimately face death. In the Gita this is described as follows:
This is the definition of God. He must be situated beyond time. The higher controlling devatas (Agni, Ganesha, Subrahmanya, etc.) have a life span of one Kalpa (4,320,000,000 years). Brahma, the topmost material entity, has a life span equal to the life of the universe. When the universe is destroyed by Lord Shiva, even Brahma must face death and his karma, as all living entities do. Despite their tremendously long lives, still, having taken birth, they must also face death. 
The final two lines of this verse further describe the qualities of God:
anadir aadir govinda sarva kaarana-kaaranam
He is anaadih, without beginning. Brahman is situated beyond the limitations of time and space. Yet he is also aadih, the source of everything. In the Vedanta-sutras, the absolute truth, Brahman, is defined as janmaadyasya yathah – “From whom everything emanates.”
In the Gita Bhagawan also confirms this as follows:
Aham sarvasya prabhavo mattah sarvam pravartate | iti matva a bhajante maam budhaa  bhaava-samanvitaah ||
“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from me. The wise who perfectly know this engage in my devotional service and worship me with all their hearts.” says Bhagawan.
Brahman is the cause of all causes, sarva karana-karanam. Within a government each level of administration is providing facilities to the citizens, but ultimately all of the facilities are coming from the central government. The state administrator may be providing roads and other facilities, but the funds have been allocated from the central government. The ultimate cause is the central government, and the immediate cause is the state government. Brahman is   the ultimate cause of all causes, and the Devatas are the immediate causes.  
Why then people resort to various devatas without focus on Deva? Those who have a very limited vision think the immediate cause (Devatas) to be Supreme, and thus they create a cult of devotion around a particular deity and proclaim them to be the Supreme Absolute Truth.   Bhagavad Gita describes such people as follows:
Antavat tu phalam teshaam tad bhavaty-alpa-medhasam  | devaan deva-yajo yaanti mad-bhakta yaanti maam api || 7-23
“Men of small intelligence worship the devatas, for their fruits are limited and temporary. Those who worship the devatas go to the planets of the devatas, but my devotees ultimately reach my supreme abode.” says Bhagawan.
People from different traditions to-day pray to god in different forms, one as Siva, another as Vishnu, and third as Sakti. Brahma is nowhere to be seen.  This is not convincing while Veda always talks about “Tvam…..rudrastvam vishnutsvam…...brahma   prajaapatih” --Thou art Rudra, Vishnu, Brahma the progenitor Prajapati.
The very minimal definition of God must include “Supreme”. In Sanskrit God is described as “asamaurdhva which means “none equal and none above”. There can never be the existence of two Supremes, as they would mutually contradict each other’s supremacy.
The Supreme is enshrined in the hearts of all.  He alone is the Supreme Reality. So renounce and rejoice in Him and covet not. In the Vedas, we find nowhere any such mention which may be concluded to show that Hinduism believes in more Gods than one. Vedas, Upanishads and all other authorized scriptures clearly speak of One God and the only God that permeates the Universe. But we need to understand what is going on with Hindus today.
Later in Vedic culture they started worshiping 33 Devatas (Vedic Gods) as Emanations of Brahman.  There were no temples for multitude of devatas that we address as God today during Ramayana or Dwapara Yuga. Even Rama, though an avatar of Vishnu, only meditated on the Vedic God Surya. Krishna began his day meditating in early hours. Thus they both showed in their human Avatar what is the right way to worship Brahman?  You may kindly recall how  Krishna even stopped  traditional annual festival of Indra Worship  and advised people to worship Nature as Macrocosm (Brahman), Govardhana Puja.   It is interesting to note here only from Parasurama Avatar onwards there had been Avatars on planet Earth. The previous avatars took place on other planets. We also worship along with these human Avatars their spouses who are also born on Earth.  In the worship of earlier Avatars we include only Lakshmi as consorts to them as of Vishnu since no fresh Devi incarnation took place exclusively for them then.
Avatar concept with the misinterpreted term of 33 Kotis referring to number in turn brought   multitudes   of deities in animal, man animal and   human forms some of which I have explained above. With human avatars, each avatar brought in its family members, attendants and even accessories as minor Gods. We have temples today for the entire family on one platform for Rama, Krishna and Jaganntaha Parivars apart from the wedded couple deities and even love bird pairs (Radha-Krishna). In order to remind all such worship is directed to Brahman only Jagannath idols are identified with Brahma Padartha.  It all started with 33 Vedic deities, Hayagriva, Varaaha, (Uddhritena varaahena), Trivikrama and Upendra hailed in Vedas. Lakshmi, Uma, Aditi, Rudra Ganas, Viswaksena and Garuda etc., are also mentioned in Vedas.  Later, Lakshmi was made  consort to Vishnu and Uma for Rudra  in Puranas. Holy men were also raised to the status of Devatas and even considered as minor Avatars.  For example we have twelve Azhwar Vaishnava Saints who are all identified with Vishnu’s accessories and attendant Garuda. Sankara is worshipped as an avatar of Siva, Ramanuja as Adisesha avatar and Madhva as Vayu avatar.   Initial Concept of Brahman worship as Macrocosm or Nature worship  has also led to    the worship of Vedic Deity  Rudra,  who  is named by Purana as Siva and made auspicious, in five elemental forms. With the introduction of symbolism and support from Puranas, deities have been worshipped not only in Vyakata and Avyakta form (air) but also in vyakta-avyakta form as Lingas and Saligrams. This process of adding more and more deities has not ended even today as you see in the additions of Santotishi Maa, Mariammans, Saibabas and Swaminarayan. Hindus have always the wild guess argument that there can be as many gods as human population as the same Self exists in all based on Advaita Philosophy.  Here Vishishtaadvaita and Dvaita have better explanation to avoid the confusion sometimes.
Influenced by Puranas we are all accustomed  to worship deities in temple as Vishnu or his emanations or Avatars, Parivaras   like Subhadra, Pradyumna, Hanuman, Garuda, Viswaksena etc.,   or accessories like Sudarsana. This is also true for Siva or his emanations. Though people do not talk about Avatars of Siva, his temples for few avatars are very popular like Veerabhadra, Kala Bhirava etc. His Lingavatara (Vyaktaavyakta) is most popular.  Strangely there are neither isolated temples for Brahma nor he is found in Garbhgriha as the presiding  deity except in Pushkara, though his presence or worship can’t be avoided in all temples.  His idol is consecrated in the Northern wall of the sanctum for Siva or Vishnu in temples in an obscure corner.   Sarasvati who is glorified in Gayatri mantra is made the consort of Brahma along with Gayatri. Sarasvati   is also not popular in Moorti Upasana in temples though there is not a Hindu house without her photo hanging!  This is due to a rather silly mythological story told in Siva Purana for Siva being upset by Brahma for  telling a lie. Siva Purana raises the Vedic deity Rudra celebrated in Sata Rudriyam   and also as 11 Rudras in terrible form to auspicious and pleasant form of Siva elevated  to the status of Parabrahman, who is nothing but one of the facets of  Brahman in his role of Dissolution.  Rudra was only a Devata in the administration of Brahman.
My question here is can Brahma be so foolish as to tell a lie?  Why Brahma should be condemned and punished for this? Also why Vishnu  who  is also a Devata in Vedas like Rudra  be pushed to the level of subordinate deity in Siva Purana though its authorship is attributed to Vedavyasa who has gone with negative approach unlike in Puranas like Padma Purana. In all probability its author may not be Vedavyasa. It is rightly called also Tamasa Purana one that keeps us in darkness but in order to credit high status among Puranas, its authorship is attributed to him by Saivites. My own reasoning is that having been born our concern is more towards Sustenance and fear of Death. There are mantras in MNU that says Vishnu, Rudra, Brahma and Prajapati   are all but Vedic devatas who are nothing but Brahman himself--part presented for the whole. But there is one important Mrityunivarana Mantra in MNU which is prescribed for repetition throughout life to save oneself from death as important as the Mantra “Mrityor maa amritam gamaya”.  This Mantra which also appears along with “Traymabakam Yajaamahe” is as follows:  Namo Rudraaya Vishnave mrityur me   paahi”Salutation to Rudra, and to Vishnu. Guard me from death.   Here Brahma is not given importance and is not in the picture! So Hindus restrict themselves to the worship of Puaranic Devas Siva and Vishnu, their consorts and Parivars, Avatars, their attendants, accessories or dwelling places like Tulasi, Linga, Salagrama etc. It is clear from this MNU Mantra that people worship Vishnu for long life and prosperity; they fear   Siva for his intervention in life and the death call.   Siva is very generous and wants us not to   live long on earth accumulating more and more Karmas. He wants us to enjoy some time in Svarga or punished for short time in Naraka   and return back to earth to    exhaust accumulated Karmas with right approach. Probably we are more worried we will not be able to do that and so accumulate more bad karmas at the present status of the world! It is in our hands to do what we want. Rama has shown man can live up to 10000 years. Progressively it has come to around 130 years as shown by Krishna in Dwapara yuga which average is further being shortened in Kaliyuga.  Hindu mantras and prayers always talk about Saradassatam”, one hundred years only as life expectancy for humansn
Various Puranas and Hindu religious texts often come out with distinct slokas where unity and identity of Siva and Vishnu are brought to focus. I am not surprised because Vedavyasa is the compiler of all these Puranas. After editing controversial and conflicting Puranas from various authors he wanted to draw the attention of all that Brahma, Vishnu and Siva are none other than Brahman in his threefold function of Srishthi, Sthiti and Laya as well as Trigunas with which life started with various proportion of mixes. Creation started from pervading darkness (Tamas) of Siva motivated by Rajasic Brahma (red) and maintained by Satvic Vishnu (whiteness).  Another Saivite Upanishad Skandopanishad declares the identity of and Vishnu thus:  Yathaa Sivamayo Vishnur evam Vishnumayah Sivahas Siva pervades Vishnu so Vishnu pervades Siva.  There are many contradicting stories and details in Puranas though the authorship is ascribed to Vyasa. May be he believed in where you cannot convince confuse like me while editing scripts from various authors and not willing to offend them also.    
 Confusion about  Brahman  in his role as Brahma the Creator
In Hinduism Manu is the actual progenitor of humanity who appears in the world to start each Kalpa with his creation after universal destruction. According to Puranas one among 14 Manus appear in each Kalpa and the period of each Manu is Manvantra (Rule of Manu).  We are now in Vaivasvata Manvantara. The word man in English and Manushya in Sanskrit are believed to be derived from Manu. Does it mean to say that Manu is a specific Devata responsible for the most important creation of humans alone or he is none other than Brahma who sprang from Narayana’s belly-button (Naabhi) on a lotus flower?  Scriptures say Manu and Prajapati is one and the same and Brahma is his title holding the portfolio of creation.   Later texts of Vedas say Brahma, Vishnu and Siva are the three facets of Brahman alone. Though Purans have adopted them as Trinity for worship they also talk of several other forms of Trinities like Dattatreya. It also implies Manu, Brahma, Indra etc., are only titles for the post they are holding. But for Vaivasvata Manu it gives an impression Manu is Brahma only holding the post.  The present Vaivasvata Manu is said to be closely related to Trinity Brahma. This also goes well with the fact that Brahma’s life span is 100 Brahma years and not  permanent where one day of Brahma is one human year! I wonder why Vedavyasa failed to remove all such confusions from Puranas which he compiled   coming from various authors. Probably out of modesty he did not want to disrespect them and    believed in “Vipravakyo Janardhanah”— whatever the pundits say are always   divine.
The story for present Manvantara goes as follows: Manu was the son of Vivasvaan (hence known as Vaivasvata Manu) who was the son of Kaasyapa, in turn son of Marichi, the off spring of Brahmaa the creator. He is associated with the creation of the world and establishment of order and religion in the world. We are now in Vaivasvata Manvantara.  I believe Matsya Purana and Bhagavata Purana refer to this Manu only as to the Matsyavatara story. It is then logical to conclude that when we speak of  Brahma  and Manu being  separate, we speak of  Puranic Brahma. The story in Satapata Brahmana associates Matsyavatara to Svayambhu Manu, the first among the 14 Manus. It is safe to conclude in line with Vedic statement “Yathapoorvam  akalpayat”—everything was created as before—that these avatars are repeated for each Yuga of the Kalpa.  It is therefore logical to conclude that the temple in Bangalore is the symbolic representation of Matsyavatara of Krityuga of Vaivasvata Manvantara. The first Matsyavatara refers to Svayambhu Manu and Svayambhu Manvantara.
 Modern Hindu Religion
“Today Hinduism has aligned more with world religions and resorts to popular temple worship   somewhat deviating from original mode of worship through sacrifices and meditation on Brahman. To-day it needs one or more deities from among 330 million as per individual needs-- obstacles, education, wealth etc., falsely assuming that their prayers will automatically reach Brahman.  I wish things could be as simple as this! Likewise Christianity also says that Jesus died for our sins and we have to just believe it only. This is some sort of confusion that leads to non-understanding of Hinduism as such. We take advantage of Gita which says that Hinduism gives full freedom to its devotees. Every individual is free to worship according to his own choice and liking.  They also forget that results are different.
“Hinduism is a more recent nomenclature given to a conglomeration of heterogeneous traditions and plurality of beliefs and worship with a long history of development from the Vedic (that which has originated from Vedas—the four ancient texts which contain the core of Hindu Philosophy and beliefs)sacrificial religion through the worship of epic and Puranic heroes and personal  deities, cults and sects, as well as philosophical  system rather than to a monolithic tradition or structure based on a single system of beliefs and worships or single text as scripture ” says Champaka Lakshmi in her book on The Hindu Temples. Today it draws lot of support from Bhagavad Gita which itself is a compendium of all Upanishads and philosophic thoughts.
Temple today has lost its focus on spirituality leading to Liberation.   It is need oriented and   availability of time.  However its contribution to the    development of the creative arts, such as architecture, sculpture, painting, music,  dance, drama, and the allied arts, such as the crafts of bronze-casting, jewelry making, and so on,  that are highlighted in a work of this kind. Rituals and festivals and the idea of pilgrimages, that created a network of temple-centers and a sacred geography, continue to emphasize the integrative role of the temple in the subcontinent” says Champakalakshmi.  Of late this tradition has also   found its way to foreign lands (as copy cats) where Hindus are settled in large numbers and where there is religious freedom to practice, by   way of Hindu Cultural Societies formation, and Temple building activities and Management.  
Philosophers like Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva tried very hard to bring in some orderliness to the state of confusion without upsetting the then practices.  Based on the Herculean efforts put in by our Philosophers we have to-day limited to six traditional forms of worship and the possibility of worshiping five different traditional deities together on the same platform with Agama or Sakta or Tantric forms of worship.   We can also group the traditions as Saiva, Sakta, Vaishnava, Smaarta and Arya Samaj. I have talked about all these at length in my various topics on Temple, Temple Worship and Traditions.
All said and done it is not possible to get out of Moorti Upaasana and Archana form of worship (Idol worship) for Hindus today. But it can be consolidated without upsetting current practices. Hindu Americans live as one group and they often have one temple to go in most places as migrants and  they have their have special needs. They need to satisfy the religious hunger of all traditions coming together for mass worship and also lead them spiritually as highly educated crowd. Learning from the wisdom of the work done by Sankara and Ramanuja on consolidation and without upsetting Agama and Tantric form of worship we could confine to few deities through whom to focus on Brahman. This could be Jaganntha Parivar as in Puri or Krishna Parivar as in Chennai or Ardhanarisvara with Aiyappan which fulfils the integrated religious needs of Vaishnavite, Saivites and Sakta followers. Even in Linga form of worship processional deity always accompanies Parvati. Lakshmi always occupies the prestigious position on the chest of Balaji or Venkateshwara. Here again he is seen with Sridevi and Bhoodevi in processional deities. I have already elaborated on it in a detailed discourse earlier. This consolidation is more important to focus on spirituality than being lost in multitude of deities for specific needs and multitudes of rituals and festivals, which can be left to individual’s choice at home as is in vogue even to-day. Even today many Hindus feel that all their religious aspirations are not met going to one single temple. They go to Agama Temple, Swami Narayan temple, ISKCON temple and also   participate in Sai Bhajan Mandals. Further Hindu Americans drawn from multi-traditions are highly educated with lot of common sense and can be convinced as to the consolidation within Hindu-fold worship.    In due course American couples in which one life-partner is a Hindu and who continues to practice Hindu Religion, may attend Gurudwaras,  Jain Temples, Churches, Buddhist Viharas, Mosques besides Hindu Temples.     Such changes are found in India too where inter-caste and inter faith weddings have taken place.  But they are not noticed in a vast crowd.  It is also not the same crowd we are dealing with here as in India.
God is the supreme Lord, the source and foundation of all Reality. Other religions believe in a number of divine beings known as angels, gods, divines, messiahs, prophets etc. Hindus believe that the universe is possessed of beneficial beings called Deva or Devatas.  Devatas are servant of Deva the Supreme Lord and we can propitiate them in need but we fully know and realize that devatas have their origin and sustenance in the Supreme Lord who sustains all beings. In Hinduism, Devata is a celestial power, particularly a manifestation of the Supreme but not at all a personification, of a natural power. It is generally benevolent and beneficent, if propitiated through offerings. Devatas   are not perennial and are appropriate to the eon or Yuga called Yuga Purushas.  The most popular Ganesha is of very recent origin, who is a Kaliyuga Purusha like Venkateswara, who is not even mentioned in Ramayana while his brother Kartikeya is glorified in one whole Sarga. Goddesses or Devis are mostly the feminine counter part of Devatas as their power, Shakti or energy in the cosmos. No god or goddess is identified with any sex or gender similar to Brahman and both male and female focus on Devi too as Parasakti the power aspect of Parabrahman.
 Earlier there had been no Temple worship and most ancient temples date back to few centuries before the birth of Christ. We have recently found out some archeological evidences to prove Rama and Krishna existed as historic human beings like Buddha. But there is no evidence as to the practice of temple worship in those days. Rama meditated on Sun as Parabrahman for his success in war against Ravana and Krishna meditated every day in his early morning hours on Parabrahman as recorded in Srimad Bhagavtam. They were incarnations in human form and accepted all pains, sufferings and pleasures like human beings to demonstrate to the world as human beings nobody is exempt from the laws of Karma. Even Christians should realize this from the crucifixion of Jesus Christ but they give a different interpretation.  Jesus had the divine power to transfer all karmas of humans into his body and so He willingly suffered.
Vedas mandate worship of Pure Conscious Awareness called Brahman, the Absolute, the One God without any attribute, formless, immortal and unborn. Christianity calls the same as Holy Spirit and Muslims Allah. Unfortunately some non-Hindu religions view the Hindu ideal in various hues suiting their designs as pagan practices but this oldest religion of the world remains still intact. Max Mueller was most confused. He addressed Hindu worship of God as Henotheism or Kathenotheism. He outwardly noticed that the different Vedas take up different gods from hymn to hymn and similarly many other Western Vedic scholars.  They often failed to focus knowingly or unknowingly these are emanations directly addressed to one and the only One God who is the Supreme God, the Eternal God. The then Christian rulers depended a lot   on Max Mueller’s help to propagate their religion and discredit the formidable Hinduism to push forward their own religious concept. They were fighting against an unshakable giant of   universal appeal. His early attempt was in search of uncommon Untruth than Truth. Later he realized his mistake and went back on many of his earlier thoughts. Sanskrit particularly Vedic   Sanskrit was not easy for right interpretation and understanding for Western Vedic Scholars. So criticism of such scholars may be due to their intentional or unintentional interpretations. While we often blame them we should also realize that we had neglected the study of Sanskrit and depended on their interpretations without turning to commentaries of scholars like Sankara, Ramanuja, Madhva, Sayana, Raghavendra, Rangaramanuja and others. These people had their Bhashyam also in Sanskrit which was difficult for the modern Western educated Hindu Scholars who mostly depended on Western Vedic scholars for translation and interpretation of Vedas. They are the main critics to-day. I am also not an exception but a victim of times, though I try hard to avoid them and go to the source through learned Sanskrit Hindu Scholars.
The Learned in the West has greatly been impressed by the Hindu thought of Monism. Gonda in “Vedic Literature” writes about Rig Veda and other Vedas as “Succinct and carefully worded, yet bold and poetical, it heralds highly important, systematically elaborated ideas of the later periods tracing all things to one principle and declaring opposites as day and night, death and continuance of life, to be self-enfoldment of this One, it expresses the quintessence of monism.” The British historian AL Basham says  ”The monism of Fichte and Hegel might never have taken the form they did if it had not been for Anqueitil-Buperron Translation of Upanishad and the work of their pioneer ideologists.”
Hindus must spiritually look at God (yo maam pasuyati sarvatra mayi eva sa pasyati) in everything animate inanimate, phenomenological moving not-moving.  As the intensity of such seeing increases one will get the experience of the ultimate truth and knowledge which is divine experience. This is the point that brings home god or the goodness is all pervading.
Hindus often claim they are not polytheist and are perfectly monist.   But what baffles other religions is the difference between precept and practice is wide apart.  It is true that the essence of Sanatana Dharma, the wisdom tradition (jnana path) of the rishis holds the view that there is only One Supreme God called Brahman. The Upanishadic rishis also have said that the way of realizing God is to approach a Teacher (Guru), who has realized God. This was the guidance for us by Upanishads, whose word meaning also means,  leading one to the Supreme.  Please recall the Veda Mantra Sahanaavavatu   here which we   employ in our 16-step Veda mantra.
Let us go by what our Gurus say today. They say for effective meditation we need   a mantra administered by a Guru. Each mantra has a deity, a   Chchandas and a Sage. Vedic Mantras even predate the early Sapta Rishis. To them the Guru was none other than Brahman himself as Purusha or Saguna Brahman. The earliest Veda Mantra reads as follows:  Om antaschariti bhooteshu guhaayaam viswamoortishu | Tvam yajnastvam, vashatkaarastvam Rudrstvam Vishnustvam Brahma tvam prajapatih ||”OM That Supreme Being moves inside the spiritual heart of created beings possessing manifold forms. Thou art Sacrifice, Though art the expression Vashat (the mantra pronounced while offering Oblation). Thou art Indra, Thou art Rudra, Thou art Brahma-Prajaapati” Here the word Brahma and Prajaapati both apply to the Creator or Progenitor that is Manu. The sage for this Mantra is Brahman himself. Let us go to the first Puranic Creation Matsyavatara glorified by Puranas in Dasvatara. The Gayatree Mantra for Matsya-Narayana is:  Om mam namo bhagavat matsyaaya Sri “—The Rishi is Brahma, Chchandas is Gayatri   and devata is Matsya-Narayana.   Here is the Gayatri Mantra for Hayagriva the earliest avatar glorified in Vedas and attributed to the emergence  of Vajasaneyi Samhita Om Vageesvaraya vidhaamahe Hayagrivaaya dheeemahi tanno Hamsa(th) prachodayaat.  Here the sage is Vaiswanara   Manu and the deity is Hamsa.  It clearly shows the Guru tradition started from Manu Himself.                                                                                             
We thus hear even today often in Veda mantras that sage or Rishi of the Mantra could be   Brahma, Vishnu or Rudra.  Actually Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra as Vyahritis of Nirguna Brahman started Guru Tradition and Yuga Cycles. Through the mythological stories, they were elevated   to  the status of Devas (Creating more than One God from the One only God)  or Devatas  (controllers of Brahman) to serve the interests of priests (Brihaspatis), who wanted to establish the temple tradition and worship of deities in order to promote their spiritual and social supremacy, whereas, in the wisdom path of the rishis related to Manu tradition, it is the enlightened Guru, who appears at every Yuga intervals and who is the spiritual authority who provides spiritual guidance to humanity. This system of spiritual guidance by the Preceptors (Gurus) was replaced by the Vaidika Priests in the Temple Tradition, in order to promote the community interest. Therefore, the system of worshiping devi-devatas was a later creation by the Vaidikas who took over the prime Guru or Gotrapati roles.  This sort of worship    does not reach the Supreme light of God. Such souls who worship the devi-devas become the food of these celestial beings. After enjoying heaven for a short period they are reborn again, without attaining Mukti. This has been mentioned by Bhagawan who is Paramaatman  in the Bhagavad Gita,  Yaanti Devavrataa devaan  pitrun  yaanti pitruvrataah,     bhootaani yaanti  bhootejyaa  yaanti madyaajino api maam)--Worshippers of the celestial controllers go to  the devas, the worshippers the ancestors go to the ancestors, and the worshippers of the ghosts go to the ghosts, but my devotees come to me (and are not born again).  In fact Sri Krishna tried to stop the worship of deities like Indra and advised the wisdom path for God realization. He instead advised Govardhan Puja, worship of Brahman in the form of elemental Nature. Krishna knew he was an incarnation of Vishnu and a Devata himself   and so used to meditate on Brahman every morning in the early hours as stated in Srimad Bhagavatam. Rama as Devata meditated on Aaditya as Vyahriti of Brahaman (Aditya Hrudayam in Ramayana). But ISKCON and Bhaktivedanta followers have taken out Krishnavatara from Dasavatara, say Krishna is Parabrahman based on the extreme devotion and Krishna Consciousness by  Jayadeva, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and of late Swami Prabhupada. Somebody may make Saibaba Parabrhaman too!
What makes Hinduism so strong? Although Hinduism has changed a lot over thousands of years it has the solid   foundation of Sanatana  Dharma which  taught all people in the world  “Eko Viprah bahuda vadanti”, “sarve janah sukhino bvhavantu”. “”atmavat sarvabhooteshu” and “Krinvanto viswamaryam”The One the Pundits call by many names; May all people live happily! See the same Self in All Beings!   Let us ennoble the whole world! Hinduism has aligned itself today with world religions to be recognized as world religion but it has not deviated from its basic principles derived from Sanatana Dharma which suits all religions.  That is why it has withstood all tsunamis over thousands of years; it not only survives but also leads in Happiness among religiously oriented population wherever it has moved and in whatever cultures it lives. One day it can be the Lodestar of all Religions based on UNIVOICE Vedanta.  A century before Vivekananda boldly pronounced on American soil "Vedanta is the Religion of the Future". Here Hindus are most suited and capable for starting the dialogue.      
It is difficult for Hindus in India to get out of the centuries long mode of temple worship and blind beliefs and integrate it with Spirituality.  Also present Religious heads are more ritual inclined and are not spiritually focused. Vast majority are influenced by musicians and Bhajan singers. Also majority of them are uneducated unlike American Hindus and   treat   religion casually and attend temples out of compulsion or for fulfilment of limited and immediate desires. But American Hindus are down-to -earth materialistic. It needs a long term evolution to   go back to the days of Vedic method of worship.  We have a nucleus in   Kerala Nambudaris and Arya Samajists who practice Vedic religion but they are very insignificant group and ineffective.  
Hindu Americans are caught in the material world having been uprooted and so postpone their serious   thoughts on religion and spirituality to a much later date and want to focus after so called enjoyment in life like me.  It is a much later thought. One advantage we have is we are a group with high IQ.  But we have to give more serious thought to our infra-structure to guide the future generation caught in multi-cultural society and atheism.  We have one temple for many traditions with a cluster of deities even facing South and with a name of the presiding deity  for the Temple of the founders’ choice.   These temples are run with the help of imported priests from India who are mechanically trained with one side loaded sectarian outlook to run the Institution for the benefit of all people and carry out worships and rituals on behalf of devotees who also blindly repeat prayers and worships as directed by the priest.  I wonder why these are not just called Vishnu-Siva-Sakti Temples. I also wonder why Panchayatan Puja of Smarta Tradition as promoted by Adisankara Smaarta is not performed in these temples where there are so many deities. In fact they should only recruit Smaarta Priests and train them.  Luckily S comes before V in English and it is therefore always Siva-Vishnu Temple only and not Vishnu-Siva Temple.  Vishnu has been made a minor deity as Upendra in comparison to Indra even in Vedas.  Luckily in several mantras he is dealt with equal footing with Rudra and Brama.  He is the longest care-taker during our life-span.  Even in Puranas they have to fight for their seniority! Sometimes, there is dissatisfaction among traditional groups and they start their own temples also. What we need here for a limited Hindu population, an Ashram type of Hindu Temple with more spiritual direction. Fortunately our conventional worships and rituals are loaded with Veda Mantras which if properly explained and routed will divert the attention from blind belief and faith to spirituality. Here at least one priest should be trained in an institution like Arshavidya Gurukula, Chinmaya Mission, Ramakrishna Math etc. who have their base in USA. These priests should only be educated how to  make  mechanical Agama/Tantra worship done in hurry as routine more effective spiritually to elevate ourselves and make it convincing and attractive enough to younger generation.  They should be run with spiritual profit focus than material profit focus. Each Ashram type Temples should focus on Sanskrit studies, Veda Studies, Yoga and Meditation. In India in big cities such infra-structural facilities are available at different venues but unfortunately most of them run as spiritual business venture like temples. With small Hindu population overseas they should all be integrated at one place to run under the guidance of Spiritual Pundit or Guru or Spiritual Guidance Counselor directing other priests and instructors and devotees.
If migrant Hindus are not focused on Brahman, Sanatana Dharma and Spirituality, who are in negligent minority, there is a danger of them moving into major religious group of the country or turning atheists and losing their very identity. Hindu Americans can   successfully lead the country towards Spiritualism with their background and culture if they plan well.  The multi-cultured country like USA is moving towards atheism having been fed up with walled religions, beliefs and pagan practices. Here the major religious group of Christianity leads all others, almost one third among them being atheists. Hindu attraction in wed-locks is to this major religion. This is a very interesting turn which gives scope for Hindu Americans to lead the country to Spirituality having an entry into the major religion by physical relationship.    Otherwise progressively Hindu Americans too are more likely to join this group and turn atheists. First generation Hindus as well as others forget their mother tongue. Most of them have not read Sanskrit. By second generation, they forget their culture. By third generation they forget their religion. By fourth generation they are rootless and feel like rudderless ships. Since their parents are not trained in desired way having left their elders in India they also neglect most of their language and culture and are unable to help their children.  This confirms prophecies made in of Bhavishya Purana for Kaliyuga  that  predicts doom.  But this may not be an immediate threat in India for some more   time where they are almost 90%.  Religious, Yoga and Spiritual leaders still have some hold on them. Caste system may vanish in due course in India too as with Hindu Americans but along with it Sanatana Dharma too can vanish. Original caste system (VARNA) was   society welfare oriented and faith in wise men called Gotra-patis to guide the society. There were no kings or political systems to rule then! See what has happened to India today during the course of   long history of earliest  people on earth! We can't even keep track of Castes and the number of Castes brought under scheduled and backward castes for political gains today against which there  is a mild protest ! We pride being secular and firm believers in Unity in Diversity.  We have   found a good phrase to harp on and say we are happy!

"Thou art our father. thou art our mother.  Thou art our beloved friend.  Thou art the source of all strength; give us strength! Thou art that beareth the burdens of the Universe;  help me to bear the little burden of this life!" thus sang the Rishis of Vedas.

1.      Ramachandra Rao, S.K., Vishnu Kosha, Kalpataru Research Academy, Sankar Math, Bangalore, India.
2.      Ramachndra Rao, S.K., Indian Temple Traditions, Kalpartaru Research Academy. Sankar Math, Bangalore, India.
3.      Swami Harshananda, Hindu Gods and Goddesses, Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, India.
4.      Swami Vimalananda, Mahanarayana Upanishad, Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, India.
5.      Prabhu Duneja, Bhagawad Geeta, Goindaram Hasanand, Delhi, India.
6.      Srinivasn N.R., Multi-traditional Hindu Temples in USA and the need for spirituality and other topics on Hindu temples and   Worship, <>
7.      Jahnava nitai das, Gods, Demi-gods and Incarnations, IndiaDivine.Org
8.      Dr. Rajani Kant, More Gods than One in Hinduism, IndiaDivine.Org
9.      Chmpaka Lakshmi &Usha Kris, The Hindu Temple, Roli  & Janssen B.V. India
10.  Harry Bhalla, Beyond Religion the Gita Doctrine, International Gita Society, USA
11.  Swami Devirupananda, Mantrapushpam, Ramakrishna Math, Mumbai, India.

Being an unusual subject on which, the religiously faithful would not like to question and believe what is said in scriptures literally, I felt to circulate the draft for a month and invite comments from knowledgeable people. I had the customary appreciations and few comments  which seemed to be based on not going deep  into references deeply concealed  in Vedas  and Gita on which I contemplated, perhaps due to  further clarification needed from me.  I thought it better to  reproduce my reply to these comments by way of further clarification instead  of revising the draft circulated which was well received by knowledgeable people including spiritual leaders and Vedic scholars.    I received some very valuable feed-back as to what is going on in the minds of Majority of Hindus in India as well as in USA  and how they are happily settled on the terms Hindu,  Hinduism and Hindutva who at the same time often agitate for changing the names of cities like Baroda, Calcutta,   Madras, Benares, Trichy and happily continue with Banerji,  Chatterji, Mukherji-- anglicized surnames.  I have the following explanation to offer   drawing support from Vedas and  True history of India as published by enlightened writers that prompted me to come with the discourse under reference as well as “Why I am   wrongly  called a Hindu and my following Hinduism”   which is very popular with Global Readers.
Hinduism recognized as a World Religion, today occupies third position, though it can’t be defined as Religion in terms of dictionary meaning of the word "Religion".  Its apparent third position is due to its non-proselytize policy.  As I explained before the word Hindu is Sindhu in Sanskrit and also Indian connected to Sindhu while Hindu is the name mispronounced by Arabs who could not pronounce Sindhu. So is the word Indian. The suffix "–ism' added to Hindu to call it a religion  is to push it to a Third   Religion in comparison to Christianity and Islam which do not carry the suffix “ism” added to their names.  All other religions in English have this suffix "–ism" to give unique positions to Christianity and Islam as only Religions in true sense!  If the wrong pronunciation  is corrected Hinduism is Sindhuism which is a River  Valley  Philosophy which can be more appropriately called Sindhu Tattva or Sindhuttva or a Philosophy avoiding the suffix "--ism".  Majority  of us   think that the suffix "ism" used in Hinduism is not derogatory rather it implies the life style of Hindu taught by Sanatana Dharma.
 In English language we find the suffix “ism  is used in the sense cult  and not in a pleasant  meaning like Alcoholism, Atheism, Cannibalism ,  Colonialism, Hedonism,  Nepotism, Nihalism, Occultism  etc. on the other hand the suffix “ity” is always associated with higher values and pleasantness; Trinity, clarity, purity, prosperity, sanctity etc. One may think these are coincidental. But both Oxford Dictionary and Webster dictionary separately define the ending “ism” as “cult” and associate with all religious followings except Christianity and Islam.  Initially Islam was also called as Muhammadanism  but was replaced with “Islam” after some protests to mean the religion followed by Muslims. You can still find the word Muhammadanism   in some old  Indian history books escaping the wrath  of Islam.
Hindus are consoled to the situation Christianity and Islam are religions that has one book and wide range philosophies like Sanatana Dharma with their peaceful outlook and   spirit of tolerance.       and   feel the use of "ism" is accurate and respectful, not the other way around.
“ -ity” suffix in  contrast  in dictionaries is defined as  Quality, State, Degree—quality, theatricality, alkalinity.  Unfortunately besides Oxford dictionary Webster's dictionary also links "--ism"   to religion and means cult which is again used in derogatory sense. Actual quote from Webster Dictionary reads: {-ism= doctrine: theory: Cult (Buddhism)}.   That is the reason why you find my reasoning   as above. There are other authors also who have felt the way I have felt. I believe Sindhutattva  is the right word in place of Hinduism  which  connects more  to Sanatana Dharma. Indian Government has replaced Calcutta by Kolkata; Baroda by Vadodhra, Madras by Chennai etc. Why not then India and Hinduism both of which are known as wrongly pronounced words by Arabs and Greeks and convey no sense.   If they have are so concerned with wrong pronunciation of city names and surnames why not the fundamental wrongly pronounced Hindu and Hinduism. Hindus often compromise on major issues and fight for trivia! I have never seen a protest till today to change the History of India as taught in my days by the   British Government   and missionary run schools, but get excited to prove Ramayana and Mahabharata are historical forgetting  Harappa and Mohenjo Daro and Sarasvati Valley Civilization.
River valleys provided ground for the society to establish its roots. Therefore People of Sarasvati  Valley started Sanatana dharma and not the  later  named Sindhu River.  In the ten earlier rivers mentioned in Vedas  there  is no mention of Sindhu river although some rivers mentioned here  are  identified with tributaries of Modern Sindhu river.  I therefore strongly believe the word sindhu meant  only generic name river and not the later  Sindhu or Indus River with which Arabs associated us and later endorsed by Greeks Hindu-Indu-Indian.

Rigveda Mantra
“Imam me Gange,  yamune sarsvati  sutudri stomam sachataa parushniyaa |
Asikniyaa marudridhe vitasatyaarjikeeye srinuhyaa sushomaya”
“Oh Ganga, O Yamuna, O Sarasvati, O Sutudri, O Marudvridaha, O Aarjeekeeya , come  together and listen to this hymn along with Parushni, Asakni, Vitasta, and Sushomna.
Here no mention is made of Sindhu or Indus River. It is reasonable to conclude that no river called Sindhu existed at that time otherwise how they can include Ganaga and Yamuna and not Sindhu? The ten rivers mentioned there are the names of those rivers on the banks of which Rigvedic people settled at a very remote period. History today identifies Sushoma with Sohan, Vitastaa with Jhelum, Asikni with Chinab, Marudvrida with Maruwaardwaan, Parushni with Rabi and Suturdi with Sutlej.  Recent excavations have proved the presence of Sarasvati at one time  in Haryana  which supports the belief of Sarasvati in Sangam.
Probably Modern Sindhu portion was the later name given to one of the five river extensions as it merges with the sea.  It is  also  interesting to note in Triveni Sangam  notional Sarasvati is included and not  notional Sindhu (Indus) as Vedic culture is not familiar with the proper name Sindhu.
Unfortunately this important Vedic mantra did not find its way into our daily rituals and people falsely think the following later Aagama sloka as Vedic  Mantra in which river Sindhu is mentioned. Please look at the Sloka used in worships and rituals today:
Sloka Employed in Worships and Ritulas
Gange cha Yamuna chaiva Godavari Sarasvati |
Narmade Sindhu Kaveri jalesmin sannidhim Kuru ||
This is an invocation sloka praying to seven rivers considered sacred by Purnas a to come and have their presence in the water placed in a pot (Kumbha) and used in worship. Here Indus River is included.
I wonder why this sloka did not include Krishna, Tapati, Kshipra, Brahmaputra etc. which are all worshiped as sacred rivers?  Recently some Pundit replaced Sindhu here with Kshipra. Sindhu Kaveri may mean two separate rivers or River Kaveri where Sindhu means river in the above sloka. Hindus attach importance to number seven and therefore the sloka  invokes  holy rivers include seven rivers of choice in the order of sacredness.  It is also interesting  to note the sloka includes the mystic river Sarasvati of Triveni Sangam In Prayag.  Godavari, Narmada and Kshipra are celebrated in Ramayana blessed by Rama during his wanderings.
So   Sindhutattva is the right word and not    Hindutva  as is thought  today which the history  will speak to itself.  Many of us are consoled to the Indian History taught to us in British days and think Indian History is authoritative  and has  settled these arguments long time ago. Recently Himalayan Institute has published "The History of Hindu India" revising the History of India we learn   at school linking to Vedic  culture  on  Sarasvati Valley (Harappa and Mohenjad Daro) and not to Indus Valley.
It is   of course our main job   to spread the core message of Sanatana Dharma as  our knowledgeable  critic suggested  which is:
(1) God is one called Brahma (supreme soul). Modern science calls it Cosmic energy.
(2) Our existence is three part, birth, life and death. Such is universal truth for all matters in the universe.
(3) Lastly, soul (energy) never dies. Therefore it is recycled, which supports the theory of reincarnation.”


How to make Hinduism More Accessible to Hindu Americans Caught Between  Cross-Cultures 

Dr. Mittur Rama Prasad

Born we all are on this sanctified earth/with the wisdom that is  innately blessed with/ which is basically simple and forthright/to live happily every day and every night/till the day we complete our cycle of life/being aware that lease of life on this earth is brief/
Defining religion is like chasing light’s shadows/or trying to welcome sunrise of tomorrow/Futile it is trying to grasp theme of religion/which is like trying to bottle sunshine with vision/which is not practical and possible for the mortals/to become complete embodiment of any faith/just like trying to define the so called truth/
So in Hinduism first thing is there is no” ISM”/ It is only a way of life like seeing through a prism/which reflects the inner essence /enthralling the soul with all its reverence/which is constantly in evolution with rolling time/Not contained or constrained by anyone of millions of Hymns/and forever revealing the way to understand what life is/which is a group attempt by the souls born on river INDUS/
So those born on the banks of river INDUS are HINDUS/ and the children born into those families are HINDUS/It is only a way of life that Hindus choose to live/With rituals and customs that has been passed on for yore’s/in which they believe truly and sincerely to its core/some are scholarly learning in depths of legacy of Hinduism/Writing epics and thesis to be discussed and analyzed with egotism/ making it privileged and difficult for the common man to understand/whereby some follow it blindly with their familiar rituals and customs/ and many get exasperated and they look at it as something of phantom/getting confused and lost in the vastness of the Hindu culture/they will get discouraged to practice and to nurture/
So what is the answer to assure the confused souls/guiding them in a path to reach their goals/

                                                           BEGINNING AT BEGINNING
Life is all about taking one step at time learning as we go along like stringing pearls to form a necklace which has myriads of ways, so there is no one way to follow that enlightens everyone like the Sun and the Moon, as everyone’s acumen is different so one has to choose their ideal way and one is not better than the other, one is intellectual way Jnana Yoga, meditation way Raja Yoga, devotional way Bhakti yoga and lastly by doing their assigned duty Karma yoga.

Learning basic Hinduism by reading books listening to lectures is not the ideal way, one has to be exposed every moment of every day seeing the activities of Hindu culture and customs and rituals, listening to everyday conversations in all different ways, participating in Hindu cultural activities as a routine like breathing or beating of heart, not as a special event, and getting embraced by the culture of Hinduism, like in Hindu societies like in India or Nepal or in Caribbean islands.
So the drawback of children born to Hindu family living outside India is they are not exposed to Hindu culture everyday as their parents may not be practicing Hindu culture like they would have done if they were living in India. Going to Sanskrit classes or Vedanta classes over the weekend or listening to some lecture about Hinduism will not be adequate.
So it takes individuals interest to learn on their own with guidance that they get from the classes and the books. So it is the responsibility of the parents to expose their children to Hindu culture including the spirit of the language teaching their children to learn their language keeping it alive and creating atmosphere of Hindu society at home from the time they are born and teaching the Hindu culture gradually by reading the stories and explaining in simple terms the essence of Indian epics and slowly they will follow the rituals customs as they grow and impart the Hindu culture in their daily activity.
 And they should be explained some of the common customs rituals that all Hindus do every day. Among the millions of rituals and customs some of the basics like Salutation to the Sun, lighting the lamp, having prayer room at home, significance of Deities, having Tilak on forehead, different ways of showing respect to the elders by getting up when they come or touching their feet, meaning of Namasthe, ringing the bells in Temples, blowing the Conch in temples ,explaining the significance of the Hindu festivals, essence of Yoga meditation  meaning of saying Om Shanti three times meaning of prayers having open mind for all other religions and why importance of carrying out duties at different stages of life,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and then one can start learning deeper depth of whole philosophy .
And one should be proud of the heritage so much so he should be able to stand up to any pressure from anywhere and at any time. Each and every custom and ritual of Hindus has scientific social philosophical theological explanations which has been done many western scientists.
So if one has to start all over again go back in time and think of all the little things that was done at home .and become curious to know more about it and relive to get that spiritual experience and go  on  and on,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,then you will become  the most enlightened soul ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,