Thursday, 17 Jun 2021

DIVINITIES OF THE ORIENT (CHINESE, JAPANESE, HINDU)

– Japanese names for Hindu gods
In Japan today there are hundreds of shrines to Goddess Saraswati alone, along with innumerable representations of Lakshmi, Indra, Brahma, Ganesha, Garuda and other gods from the Hindu pantheon. But the names have changed and they have their own name. As for rituals, many in India would be surprised to know that the Hindu ritual of a “homa” or “havan” (Goma in Japanese) is performed with the same regularity in Japan. A havan is a ritual conducted during the worship of the Fire/Agni, and it is performed with the same mantra’s and with the utterance of the word “Swa-ha”. Which should make an Indian feel right at home in a Japanese Temple. There are some similarities between Hindu and Chinese mythology, references to Yama, the Lord of Death. Both mythologies share this idea, though in Chinese mythology, he’s also known by other names
However, I’m sure there are a couple of more similarities. Hanuman and Sun Wu Kong, for example. Apparently, Sun Wu Kong is partly based on Hanuman but Wikipedia wasn’t of any more help than that.

Deities of Japan
-Many divinities native to Japanese beliefs and religious traditions are from the Shinto religion, while some are from Buddhism or Taoism. These deities are integrated into Japanese mythology and folklore. Japanese deities are an important aspect in the culture and history of Japan and its people.
Jizo
Outside of Japan, Jizo is known as Ksitigarbha (from Sanskrit), and he is a Bodhisattva—a practitioner of Buddhism who has deferred their own enlightenment to help others along the path. As a guardian of travelers, small statues of Jizo can be found alongside roads or at temples. Jizo is also a notable guardian of children, particularly those who have died before their parents.
Raijin & Fujin
Raijin is a kami of lightning, thunder and storms, and Fujin is the kami of wind. They are often depicted together, with Raijin on the left—typically carrying a hammer, surrounded by drums—and Fujin on the right—holding a bag of wind, hair wildly askew.
Anyo & Ungyo
This pair of Buddhist deities are known as Nio, benevolent guardians who stand watch at the entrance of temples, which are often referred to as nio-mon (literally “Nio Gate”).They represent the cycle of birth and death. Agyo is typically depicted bare-handed or wielding a massive club, his mouth open to form the sound “ah,” which represents birth. Ungyo is also often depicted bare-handed, or else holding a large sword. His mouth is closed to form the sound “om,” which represents death.
Inari
the kami Inari is a Shinto deity of many important things—rice, sake, tea and prosperity. The kami is sometimes depicted as a bearded man riding a white fox, though Inari has also been depicted as a long-haired woman carrying rice.
Kannon
Kannon is another Bodhisattva, one who presides with Amida Buddha in the Pure Land, which is often depicted as a mountainous island paradise. She is the goddess of mercy and compassion, and has several distinct depictions, including that of Senju Kannon—or the 1,000-armed Kannon—as well Juichimen Kannon, who has 11 faces.
Benzaiten
Also referred to as Benten, Benzaiten is a Buddhist patron deity of the arts and femininity, and was often venerated by geisha. She is also the only female among Japan’s “Seven Gods of Fortune,” and is worshipped as a goddess of luck.
Izanagi & Izanami
Izanagi no Mikoto and Izanami no Mikoto are the Shinto deities at the center of Japan’s creation myth, and the mother and father of all gods. Unsure of how to create order from chaos, they plunged a jeweled spear into the primeval gulf between heaven and earth. The drops that fell from the tip of the spear created land.
Ebisu
Ebisu, sometimes referred to as Yebisu, is the patron deity of fishermen and tradesmen, and another of Japan’s “Seven Gods of Fortune.” He is often depicted as a plump, happy fisherman who carries a fishing rod in one hand and a red snapper in the other. The snapper also symbolizes fortune, as its name in Japanese, tai, is phonetically similar to the word for an auspicious or celebratory occasion, omedetai.

Deities of China
China is an ancient country full of mysteries in which many Chinese deities and immortals can be found. The ancient Chinese believed in these gods, goddesses, magical beings, dragons, and ghosts and prayed to them for help.
Pan Gu – The God of Creation
Also known as P’an Ku or Pangu, he is given the title as the god of creation and the first man. He is as well a central figure for the Taoist teaching (The way which famously recognized with Yin and Yang). According to Chinese mythology, Pan Gu is pictured as a man-sized a dwarf, adorned with horns and tusks, and said to have a hairy body.
Nüwa – The Goddess of Humankind
Nuwa, also known as Nu Wa or Nugua, is born centuries after the world perfected and said to have the upper body of a human and the lower half of a dragon.
Fuxi – The God for Knowledge
He is said to be the husband of Nuwa, and as his wife is pictured, he is often given the body of half human and half dragon in many writings and paintings. He is also regarded to be the bearer of human civilization along with his wife who first molded human beings into existence.
Guanyin- goddess of Mercy and Compassion
Guan Yin is pictured as a lady wrapped in elegant white attire, carrying a baby in her arms to symbolize her great compassion and empathy for humanity, and standing on a lotus bud to show her root as once human.
Gonggong – The Water God
Gonggong, also famous with the name of Kanghui, is one from the many Chinese water gods. However, in comparison of other water gods, his figure is prominent in Chinese mythology and he is notorious for the war he created that broke the pillar which holds heaven. He is portrayed as a figure crowned with red hair, and having the serpent tail which suited his image of war enthusiast highly.
Yu the Great-The demigod
As a demigod, he had the capability of shape-shifting to anything he wished to be, from the scary dragon to the simple human being. He is regarded as the first one to decent his status as a ruler and is the founder of Xia dynasty.
Hou Yi – The God of Archery
There are two main version of Hou Yi legend in which the first one regards him as the mortal who helps the god and the second one regards him as a god. Either way, Hou Yi was a great archer with a good heart to help the people and the husband of the infamous Chang’e.
Chang’e – The Moon Goddess
Chang’e, also known as Chang-O in some literature, is the beautiful wife of Hou Yi. She is a figure in many Chinese mythologies, although the most famous is her myth with her husband.
Sun Wukong – The God of Mischief
In Chinese mythology, he is also the infamous god of mischief which is indeed implanted in his character: undoubtedly mischievous, naughty, and greedy. Yet, he was also joyful and loyal to those he respects. He got the immortality of being a god by tricking the gods to give him the peach which granted anyone the eternal life, very mischievous indeed.
Chi Lin – The Unicorn’s Prophecy
Chi Lin is said to be a peaceful animal which owns the ability of prophecy. Hence, he is deemed as sacred since he bears the information of the far future.

HINDU DEITIES
Hinduism is a pantheistic religion: It equates God with the universe. Yet Hindu religion is also polytheistic: populated with myriad gods and goddesses who personify aspects of the one true God, allowing individuals an infinite number of ways to worship based on family tradition, community and regional practices, and other considerations.
Brahma – The Creator Among The Supreme Triad
Brahma, also one of the trinity gods of Hinduism, is the creator of the universe. He is often portrayed as the four-headed god, representing four directions. It is believed that Brahma in fact had five heads. Because of the pride of the fifth head.
Vishnu, the Preserver
He is also known as Narayan and Hari. Before the universe was created, Vishnu is believed to have been asleep in a vast sea of nothingness. Vishnu is famous for his incarnations known as avatars. Being the protector of the universe, his incarnations are responsible for protecting the world from evil powers and keeping peace and order.
Shiva, the Destroyer
Is also one of the trinity gods of Hinduism. He is popularly known as Shiva, Ashutosh, and Mahadev. He is the only god in the trinity who resides on Earth at Kailash. Mahesh is shown as a loving husband and father, and a yogi in his benign forms, while in his ferocious embodiments he is seen as the destroyer, slaying demons and Asurs.
Ganesh, the elephant god
Ganesha, also known as Ganapati and Vinayaka, is visually conspicuous by virtue of his elephant head. In the mythical narrative, he is the son of Shiva and Parvati, and as such is usually depicted as a jovial deity with a pleasant personality and plump physical attributes.
Krishna
Krishna, also known by the names Shri Krishna, Vasudeva, Govinda, Gopal, and Madhusudan, is the eighth incarnation of Vishnu and one of the most celebrated philosophers and warriors in Hinduism.
Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning
A feminine deity of wisdom, art, music, knowledge, and writing (alphabet), Saraswati (or Sarasvati – ‘she who possesses water or [later] speech’) was/is an important figure among the ancient Hindu gods and goddesses.
Rama
Rama is one of the most beloved Hindu gods and is the hero of the Hindu epic called the Ramayana. He is portrayed as an ideal son, brother, husband, and king and as a strict adherent to dharma.
Lakshmi- goddess of good fortune, wealth, and well-being.
The major deity of wealth, fortune, and prosperity among the Hindu gods and goddesses, Lakshmi was/is often depicted as the consort (as well as Shakti) of Vishnu. In the mythical narrative, Lakshmi was born from the churning of the primordial ocean (a process known as the Samudra Manthan), and after emerging from the vigorous water she chooses Vishnu as her eternal companion.
Durga Devil
Durga is one of the principal feminine deities among the Hindu gods and goddesses. Also known by her other names, including Amba, Bhavani, and the ubiquitous Devi, Durga (literally meaning ‘invincible’ or ‘unassailable’) is venerated as a warrior goddess tasked with vanquishing evil and thus protecting the scope of peace and prosperity.
Indra, the King of Heaven and lord of the gods
Indra (also known as Devendra) is often perceived as the Indian counterpart to European deities like Zeus, Perun, and even Odin and Thor. Indra is the king of heaven and the leader of the Devas. He is the god of rain. Airavat, an auspicious white elephant, is his vehicle or vahan. Another of his vehicles is a chariot drawn by 10,000 horses. His weapon, representing both a diamond and a thunderbolt, is called the vajra.
Agni- The Fire God
Agni, unsurprisingly, is the major deity of fire among the ancient Hindu gods and goddesses. To that end, it has been hypothesized that Agni was possibly the second most important of early Indian gods (after Indra)
Surya, The God of Sun
Surya (or Soorya) is a golden warrior arriving on a chariot pulled by seven white horses. Surya is the major solar deity among the Hindu gods and goddesses. Also known by synonymous epithets like Aditya, Ravi, and Bhaskara, the Sun God is revered as the sustainer of life (prakriti) in the Vedic literature, dating from circa 1500-1000 BC.
Varuna- The God of Sky & Oceans
Varuna (‘he who encompasses’) later symbolized the forces of oceans, clouds, and water. Pertaining to the latter, he was often depicted with his vehicle, the Makara – a hybrid sea creature which is often found in other ancient Indian motifs.
Yama- The God of the Underworld & Death
The major deity of death and the underworld among the Hindu gods and goddesses (and also the Buddhist pantheon), Yama was/is venerated as the patron god of the ancestors and the divine judge of the departed souls.
Hanuman, the monkey king and devoted servant
Hanuman is featured in the great Hindu epic the Ramayana. He earned his path to deification by performing feats of strength, devotion, and courage while helping Rama (an avatar of Vishnu) in countless exciting incidents.

References:
https://www.realmofhistory.com/2018/09/18/major-hindu-gods-goddesses-facts/
https://www.realmofhistory.com/2018/09/18/major-hindu-gods-goddesses-facts/
https://www.ancienthistorylists.com/india-history/top-10-hindu-gods-praised-hindus-around-world/
https://allabout-japan.com/en/article/2750/?fbclid=IwAR28cSahmUFfsrBs_HuVTyJRirmhKoSQ8NR3tJERQ5ifn2niL299CQYWwHY
https://topancienthistory.com/chinese-mythology-gods/history/?fbclid=IwAR31gxx9358lF0Tv_4azJidMj6q9vKCq7xXrQR2eM5tW41jN8W1lGMkovUw

Photo by Min An from Pexels

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