Sometime back, I’d written a post about super powered individuals who later came to be known as Gods, and how technology is perhaps taking us closer and closer to these versions of gods. And sometime back, Vimoh too wrote a very thought provoking post on the evolution of Hindu gods, and how, over a period of time, important Vedic gods like Indra, Varuna, Agni etc have lost their importance to a newer set who rose to prominence according to the stage of our civilisation – Ganesha, Saraswati, whose ‘hidden’ characteristics were brought to light. An evolution from gods “that govern the elements of nature to gods that govern abstract concepts of the mind”. He also hypothesises that in the future, the list will be further transformed when man realises that the universe is more of a network than a hierarchy and when he finds himself at par with the highest of gods and the lowest of forms, he will realise his divinity.
I’ve always wondered whether the original set of gods was a small number and as needs arose, historical characters were pushed into divinity, their stories exaggerated, and for later generations they served as gods. The original triumvirate – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva have remained more or less a constant in their importance, though Brahma lost out in terms of places of worship. But the evolution of gods is something I completely agree with. As our needs changed and the things we could control changed, it was perhaps inevitable that the things we attributed to them would change. More importantly, they also changed with out interpretations of good and evil. Since our gods have always been close to us, their character and behaviour also reflected this change in ethos. Huffington Post says they’re now pop culture, through Bollywood movies, for example. But yes, they were always more human, and ‘approachable’ anyway.
It does bring up a point though. I wonder how our current depiction of Hindu Gods would affect how later generations perceive them. The modern retelling, which sometimes adds layers hitherto absent. Imagine a future generation treating Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana the way we treat the vedas now simply because earlier sources may not stand the test of time. If they saw Sippy’s Mahabharat and also saw Jha’s Rajneeti, would they be able to grasp the parallel? Or would they miss it because they haven’t ‘lived’ with the gods like we have? ‘Sita’ in the television series was ‘Deepika’, the actress, who has also played other roles in serials and movies. So, without a context, it might be just another role she did. There is a reason I’m thinking this way. Any of the gods could be just a role play – incarnations/manifestations – different roles in different contexts at different times. We rely on certain images and certain texts which are possibly incomplete in their current form. And thus rises the question that invariably gets asked in such discussions – who created who?
Each age fills up the void of its unknown with its own versions of God or his opposite number. Like Vimoh states at the end of his post, the future explorer will be an amalgamation – with knowledge from many disciplines. For now, we pursue the mystery from among the tools we choose based on our interest, bias, and faith – science, religion, philosophy, and so on. The question is, will we ever reach a point when everything is known, and the God shaped hole would be finally filled with our knowledge. Maybe that’s the point when the current Brahma gets irritated and presses the ‘Delete All’ button, and the Brahman starts with the next Brahma.
until next time, divine grapevines