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Do Hindus Have 330 Million Gods

Do Hindus worship 33 million Gods?

The Vedas refer to not 33 crore Devatas but 33 types (Koti in Sanskrit) of Devatas. They are explained in Shatpath Brahman and many other scriptures very clearly.

“Yasya Trayastri nshad Devaa Ange Sarve Sama ahitaa, Skamma Tam Bruhi Katamah Swideva Sah”.(Atharva Veda) This means: with God’s influence, these thirty-threes (supporting devta) sustain the world.

In Brhadaranyaka 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 Brhadaranyaka Upanishad – the eight Vasus, the eleven Rudras, the twelve Adityas, Indra, and Prajapati. (Chapter I, hymn 9, verse 2)

They are: 8-Vasu, 11-Rudra, and 12-Aaditya, 1-Indra and 1-Prajaapati.

  • 8 Vasus are ~ Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether, Moon, Sun, and Star. They are called Vasus, because they are the abode of all that lives, moves, or exists. (also mentioned in Mahabharat, 1/66/18)

  • 11 Rudras ~ The ten Pranas (Praana, Apaana, Vyaana, Samaana, Udaana, Naag, Kurma, Krikal, Devadutta and Dhananjaya) i.e. nervauric 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 relations of the deceased, consequently, begin to weep. Rudra means one who makes a person weep. { also mentioned in Harivansha 13/51-52})

  • 12 Adityaas —the twelve months of a year called Adityaas, they cause the lapse of the term of existence of each object or being. (also mentioned in Mahabharat)

  • 1 Indra which is also known as the (all-pervading) electricity, is productive of great force.

  • 1 Prajapati, 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 Mahadeva or Ishwar who alone is to be worshipped as per the 14th Kanda of Shatpath Brahman.