Avatars, Gods and Goddesses of Vedic Culture

Understanding the Characteristics, Powers and Positions of the Hindu Divinities

by Stephen Knapp

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        Understanding the assorted Divinities or gods and goddesses of the Vedic or Hindu pantheon is not so difficult as some people seem to think when it is presented simply and effectively. And that is what you will find in this book. This will open you to many of the possibilities and potentials of the Vedic tradition, and show how it has been able to cater to and fulfill the spiritual needs and development of so many people since time immemorial. Here you will find there is something for everyone.

        This takes you into the heart of the deep, Vedic spiritual knowledge of how to perceive the Absolute Truth, the Supreme and the various powers and agents of the universal creation. This explains the characteristics and nature of the Vedic Divinities and their purposes, powers, and the ways they influence and affect the natural energies of the universe. It also shows how they can assist us and that blessings from them can help our own spiritual and material development and potentialities, depending on what we need.

        Some of the Vedic Divinities that are explained include Lord Krishna, Vishnu, Their main avatars and expansions, along with Brahma, Shiva, Ganesh, Murugan, Surya, Hanuman, as well as the goddesses of Sri Radha, Durga, Sarasvati, Lakshmi, and others. This also presents explanations of their names, attributes, dress, weapons, instruments, the meaning of the Shiva lingam, and some of the legends and stories that are connected with them. This will certainly give you a new insight into the expansive nature of the Vedic tradition.

COVER PHOTO: A print of Lord Narayana (Vishnu) and Goddess Lakshmi (the Goddess of Fortune). Lord Vishnu, in His bluish complexion, holds His mace, disc or Sudarshan chakra, a conch shell, and a lotus. Lakshmi holds two lotus flowers and blessings. The Om is in the center. (This print is from the author’s personal collection.)

Numerous color prints and photographs of the various Vedic Divinities can be seen, downloaded or printed for your perusal, meditation or use from the author’s website at: www.stephen-knapp.com.

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Contents

INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER ONE
WHY SO MANY GODS?
Two Ways to View the Vedic Divinities

CHAPTER TWO
SRI KRISHNA
Differences in Realization and Perception of the Supreme * Who is Sri Krishna * What Sri Krishna Says About Himself * The Mistake of Accepting Krishna As a Representation of Something Higher * Krishna is the Source of all Creation * Krishna is the Source of all Avatars of God * Why Lord Krishna Descends into this World * How Lord Krishna Took Birth in the Material World * Janmastami–Krishna’s Birth Festival * Misunderstanding the Activities of Lord Krishna * The Beauty of Krishna * How to Understand God * The Result of Failing to Know Krishna * Krishna’s Eternal Spiritual Abode

CHAPTER THREE
THE AVATARS OF LORD KRISHNA
The Lord Appears in Each Universe * The Main Avatars of the Supreme Being * The Manu Avatars * The Yugavatars * The Shaktyavesha-Avatars * Conclusion

CHAPTER FOUR
LORD VISHNU
Lord Vishnu is an Expansion of Lord Krishna * The Functions of Lord Vishnu

CHAPTER FIVE
LORD BRAHMA
Brahma’s Main Function * How Brahma is Manifested From Lord Vishnu * Brahma and the Dawn of Creation

CHAPTER SIX
THE IDENTITY OF LORD SHIVA AND GODDESS DURGA
Krishna Devotees are Dear to Shiva and Shiva is Dear to Them * Lord Shiva’s Position * How Lord Shiva Appeared in this World * Shaivism * The Shivaratri Festival * The Shiva-Lingam * The Goddess Durga * The Identity of Durga and Difference Between Mahamaya and Yogamaya * The Two Energies of Material and Spiritual * The Shaktas and Tantrism * The Tantras * How Shiva and Durga are Considered the Mother and Father of the Universe * How Lord Shiva Assists in the Universal Destruction * Lord Shiva’s Ultimate Spiritual Advice

CHAPTER SEVEN
THE GODDESSES
Lakshmi * Sarasvati * Meaning of Navaratri * Gayatri * Srimati Radharani

CHAPTER EIGHT
GANESH AND MURUGAN
Ganesh * Murugan * Ayyappan

CHAPTER NINE
THE REMAINING DEMIGODS
Adityas * Agni * Asvins * Indra * Kubera * Maruts * Soma * Varuna * Vasus * Vayu * Visvadevas * Yama * The Navagrahas * Surya * Hanuman

CONCLUSION

APPENDIX ONE
SRI CAITANYA MAHAPRABHU: THE MOST RECENT AVATAR

APPENDIX TWO
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF DEITIES AND DEITY WORSHIP

APPENDIX THREE
DEITY WORSHIP FROM THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO

REFERENCES

GLOSSARY

INDEX

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ORDERING INFORMATION

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[More information at  www.stephen-knapp.com]

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