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Deva is the Sanskrit word for "god, deity". In Hindu mythology, the devas are opposed to the demonic Asuras.


The word is from PIE *deivos, originally an adjective meaning "celestial" or "shining", a vrddhi derivative from a root *div "to shine", especially of the daylit sky. The feminine is Devi "goddess" (PIE *deivih2). The cognate word in Avestan] is daeva. In Zoroastrianism and the [Avesta]], the ahuras are supreme, while the daevas are demonic. This has been forwarded as an argument of a religious split between early Indo-Aryans and Iranians, but it should be noted that in early Vedic religion, some Asuras are still worshipped, so that it seems more likely that the Indo-Iranians, and probably already the Proto-Indo-Europeans (the Germanic Aesir are cognate to the Asuras) worshipped two classes of gods, without any moral dichotomy. Not to be confused is the PIE proper name *Dyeus which while from the same root, may originally have referred to the sky itself, and hence to "Father Sky", the chief god of the Indo-European pantheon, continued in Sanskrit Dyaus, Germanic Tiwaz.

Vedic religion

The main deva addressed in the Rigveda is Indra. Agni (fire) and Soma represent modes of sacrifice, but personified are also seen as devas. All gods taken together are worshipped as the Vishvadevas.

Classical Hinduism

Nature devas are responsible for things as fire, air, rain and trees. Higher devas control much more intricate tasks governing the functioning of the cosmos and the evolution of creation. Mahadevas, such as Lord Ganesa, have such tremenduous tasks under their diligence that they are sometimes called themselves gods under the Supreme One God.

They are functionally equivalent of angels who serve God in Judaeo-Christian tradition. There are also many other lesser celestial beings in Hinduism such as Gandharvas or celestial musicians.

Vayu or the Lord of the wind is an example of an important deva. Also, Death is personified as the deva Yama.

Devas and Asuras are also cited in traditional Buddhist cosmology. For information on this subject, see six lower realms.

Devas, in Hinduism, are celestial beings that control forces of nature such as fire, air, wind, etc. They are not to be confused with God or His personal form, Saguna Brahman which is visualized as Vishnu or Shiva. God or Brahman is the ultimate controller. A famous verse from the Katha Upanishad states: “From fear of Him the wind blows; from fear of Him the sun rises; from fear of Him Agni and Indra and Death, the fifth, run."

According to Vaishnavites, another verse that confers the Devas' subordinate status comes from the Vishnu sahasranama, whose concluding verses state: "The Rishis (great sages), ancestors, the Devas, the great elements, in fact, all things moving and unmoving constituting this universe, have originated from Narayana." (i.e.,Vishnu), expressing that in Vaishnavism, the Devas are subordinate to Vishnu or God.

See also

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Document Source

  • This page was originally sourced from Thelemapedia. Retrieved May 2009.