Anyone with a basic knowledge of Hinduism knows that in Hinduism there is a trinity of gods presiding over the creation, preservation, and destruction of the universe. Brahma for creation, Vishnu for preservation, and Shiva for destruction. I can’t but think there’s something rather odd about the concept.
Think about it, the forces of creation, destruction, and preservation are divided into three gods, but this is somewhat pointless because Shiva’s destruction is also said to lead to creation, so invariably Shiva is a creator and destroyer in one. Not to mention, Brahma doesn’t have that great a role in Hindu mythology after creation, beyond granting boons to various characters in Hindu texts. As far preservation, Vishnu isn’t even the only one preserving the universe or saving the world from evil demons. Shiva, Durga, and other gods do by and large the same thing (maybe in different ways though), and Vishnu has an avatar called Kalki who is said to bring on the end of the world, while in the same lore Shiva is the destroyer (though I do consider the Kalki story mere end times lore).
The Hindu faith itself sees creation and destruction as two sides of the same coin, or dual facets of the same force, so coupled with Shiva’s creative role, why even have the Trimurti? Of course, I’m not going to stop others from venerating their trinities, it just means I won’t be making use of the Hindu trinity.
I’ve been doing some research and some thinking, and I am realizing that there isn’t any hope for me and Hindu philosophy. I have had trouble reconciling Hinduism with individualism, and I think the reason for this is because individualism is simply not present in Hindu philosophy.
The first reason for this is because of the obvious values of devotion to God and self-abnegation or self-sacrifice. Individualistic philosophies place emphasis on the individual, and thus the self. Hindu philosophy, meanwhile, values the surrender of the self to God, the abandoning of desire and want, and the cessation of the self and the idea of the individual, and Hindu rishis often describe individualism as a path that leads nowhere, thus marking what is actually anti-individualism. I find that Hinduism’s emphasis on this idea of self-surrender inescapable, as is their emphasis on God, and I can’t find any hope of bringing individualism into it.
Then you have the concept of Dharma. If Hinduism is not a religion, then it is a way of life based on this concept of Dharma, which is about duty (which I have traditionally seen as an artificial moral obligation imposed by others), drawing close to the family and family traditions, and thus family values (which I see as little more than social conservatism), and sacrifice. Again, I find this easily contradicts the spirit of individualism, since individualism is about you, yourself, and your freedom to walk your own path, as opposed to following society, thus it goes against any communal attitudes. I don’t follow the traditions of my family, I follow what I believe and for myself.
The fact is, individualism isn’t very big in Indian philosophy, or that matter many Eastern societies. In the West, we are quite familiar with individualism as a philosophy which values the individual as free to walk his own path (though this is not to say Western society has always valued the individual, or even honestly values the individual today), but many Eastern societies such as India and China valued family and clan more than the individual (China in particular traditionally values social harmony over the individual). In Indian society, there was much importance given to family and the group, only rarely did the individual take centre stage.
I still love Hindu mythology, lore, symbols, gods, and art, and still adore the force known to their culture as Shakti (which I find is related to the horned force, or the raw primal force, or Chaos), but I cannot subscribe to the Hindu philosophy and I cannot identify as Hindu. Ultimately I am a Satanist, and a pagan, because that is where my beliefs and philosophy lie, all I can do is venerate Hindu gods my own way, or in a much more pagan sense. And I like to think I still have a connection to the lore but not the philosophy. Although, I still have some interest in Tantra, and I have no major beef with Carvaka, despite its atheism and materialism (which I find to be rather dull especially for Indian philosophy).
Of course, it could be possible that those who wish to surrender themselves to a higher force simply have the wrong idea of how to approach the force of Shakti, as a dear friend of mine tells me.
There is an immeasurable number of deities in Hinduism, and in Hindu lore quite a few gods come to earth to fight and destroy evil.
One of the most common deities associated with the destruction of evil is Shiva.
Among his traits is the destruction of evil and ignorance, and he is also said to protect his devotees from evil and to protect all that is good. At one time, he also appeared as a terrifying beast named Sharabha to pacify Vishnu in the form of Narasimha, after he became berserk, so that he may be calm and harmonious again.
Speaking of Shiva, his wife, Shakti, also fights against evil. Not only that, but in many forms, such as Durga and Kali. In fact, in Hinduism, Durga is very much a symbol of the triumph of good over evil, as well as feminine power. Shakti is also said to be assisted by seven mother goddesses of war and emancipation known as the Matrikas. They are Brahmani, Vaishnavi, Maheshvari, Indrani, Kaumari, Varahi, and Chamundi.
Vishnu also fights against evil, usually in the form of his avatars.
My favourite example is Varaha, the boar-headed third avatar of Vishnu who came to save the earth (or a goddess represneting earth) from an evil demon named Hiranyaksha, who stole the world and hid it in the primoridial waters. He slew Hiranyaksha and rescued the earth from the primordial waters she was hidden in, and thus the world is saved.
Other avatars were sent to fight evil, including Narasimha (who was sent to kill an evil demon who could not be killed by man or deva and so had to be killed by an animal-like entity), Rama (who defeated a evil demon king named Ravana who could not be killed by god or demon and, despite his noble and honorable character, was too arrogant and prone to evil deeds), Krishna (who was said to come to earth to destroy evil demons), and Kalki (who is said to come and destroy evil in the future, though Kalki’s presence as a bringer of the end and judge of mortals does not make sense in Hindu philosophy).
Some question the validity of the actions of some avatars. For instance, Vamana, the avatar who is a dwarf or young brahmin. He is said to come to earth to take back the three worlds from Mahabali, who supposedly stole them. But it could also be said he merely wanted to test Mahabali and remove his pride and bring him to “perfection”, which he was close to at the time he seized heaven. Then there’s Parashurama, who pretty much went around killing every member of the Kshatriya caste, guilty or innocent, and somehow gone unpunished. And often times, some of his avatars, including Kurma, Mohini, and Vamana, might just be assumed merely to win a competition with the rivals of the devas, the asuras.
Vishnu is also said to preserve righteousness in the form of Nara-Narayana, and there are depictions of Vishnu that have him holding a sword among other objects.
Other gods often worshiped to destroy evil and for protection include Ganesha, who is sometimes worshiped as a destroyer of evils, perhaps related to his role as the lord and destroyer of obstacles, Hanuman, who is a courageous god believed to be a destroyer of evil spirits and is often worshiped as a protector, and Murugan (a.k.a. Kartikeya) who is seen as a destroyer of evil and protector of good.
Hindu gods also appear in Buddhism, especially in Japanese Buddhism, often as deities who destroy and/or protect from evil as well as protecting the home, protecting from illness, and protecting the Buddhist teachings.
To be fair plenty of deities in Hinduism (as well as Buddhism) have symbolism pertaining to war, combat, destroying evil, and protecting the innocent or good, or at least there are many depictions, variations, or forms of said gods.
Perhaps themes here include, besides the triumph of good over evil, strength and driving out fear (since aggression drives out fear).
Perhaps these deities come to the world to punish and destroy those who roll the dice too many times, those who are so evil that truly they deserve to be wiped from the earth, those who threaten the world with their excess and their malice, those who oppress, and those who corrupt themselves and the world. In a way, in fighting evil, they encompass justice, war, power, and balance if you consider that much evil happens when one stops thinking about the need to control yourself by applying balance and thought to ones actions.
While I may have been glamorizing the idea of Hindu paganism last month, mostly due to the relation between some Hindu practices, the almost timeless status of the god Shiva, and the relation between the divine pair of Shiva and Shakti and the pagan cult of Bel and Astarte/Ishtar, I’m starting to think I am still unworthy of identifying as a Hindu.
For starters, I don’t believe in reincarnation, and if the Indian faiths are right, then I wouldn’t really want to reincarnate. I’d rather be in a heaven of my own. Then there’s the more serious problem, Hinduism, or at least religious Hinduism (or perhaps just Hinduism in its current form), places too much emphasis on renunciation, altruism, and merging oneself with God for me to want to identify with it. Despite the supposed flexibility of Hinduism, the goal is eventually to merge with Brahman/God, and this is not my goal. And I don’t much care for the whole renunciation ideal.
Then there’s Buddhism, which is similar to Hinduism or at least has similar ideas. Like Hinduism, Buddhism seems to value renunciation, the rejection of desire, and believes that all desire and craving must be eliminated before one can escape a seemingly endless cycle of life, death, and rebirth. And their idea of Nirvana is described as ultimate liberation through complete extinction (probably the extinction of the self).
To be honest, in my personal practice, I use Hindu, Buddhist, and other Asian deities, names, symbols, and sometimes terms and ideas, but in the end I don’t fully identify with the Hindu and Buddhist teachings (and I don’t really follow Hindu texts or believe in the authority of the Vedas), and those can’t really call myself either.
In the end, I’m a pagan, or a Satanic Pagan, not Hindu. And actually, I’m alright with that. Besides the downsides of the Hindu and Buddhist labels I already mentioned, I find the label I have more flexible and comfortable, more allowing of my practice.
I still think there can be a connection between the pagan and the Hindu. For instance, Shiva is a Hindu deity, my favorite deity in mythology, and I see some connections with the god Baal (or Bel), due to his association with masculine power, fertility, and the phallic object of worship (the lingam is the closest Hindu equivalent to an obelisk), his divine animal vehicle (or vahana) is the bull, and his roots are a horned god (his crescent moon still calls to the horns of old). Baal has horns, he is linked with male fertility and power, and his animal is the bull. His wife, Shakti, is female power and fertility is also associated with love, and her divine animal vehicle is a lion or female tiger. Astarte/Ishtar is also associated with female power and sexuality, and is associated with the lion or lioness. It might be coincidence, but it seems to me like there might be a connection.
Anyway, going back to the point, as a Satanic Pagan who loves Asian myth, I pretty much uses Asia deities, symbols, often ideas as a part of my practice. Shiva and Shakti are not the only Hindu deities. Two examples include Agni and Kartikeya, and another example is an appropriation of Asura as an individual deity. Buddhist entities I incorporate include Mahakala and Mara. There is probably more, but I just wanted to list generic examples. With both Hinduism and Buddhism, there are entities I may not venerate or work with, but still appreciate.
In the end, this doesn’t make me a Hindu. It just makes me a pagan and Satanist who uses stuff from Asian religion.
However, I would like to add that if I engage in Tantric practice alongside Satanism and Pagan, and incorporate it as a major element, then I can probably add Tantric to the Satanic Pagan label. It’d still count for something, though either way, it’s hard for that label to account for the Chaos part of my beliefs (unless what I said about Satanism and Chaos counts for something), or for the fact that my own instincts and gut beliefs are very much at play. Truly, it is difficult for one label to account for everything.
When talking about Hinduism and Hindu beliefs, people often mention the caste system, and often associate and lump the caste system in with Hinduism, as though it was actually religiously mandated. In reality, this is far from the truth.
The Indian caste system is actually a social idea, mandated by Indian society, not religion. It was never sanctioned by Hindu texts, despite what some in the West may believe. While Hindu texts do mention a system of social stratification that divides people based on class, work, and other things, it is merely described, not advocated or mandated. Some even think the caste system is an invention of the British colonialists, but this is debatable, and some question the idea as little more than revisionist history.
Not only is the caste system a societal creation rather than divine or religious mandate, and not associated with Hinduism, it’s also not even unique to India to begin with. Lots of societies had social stratification back then, and sadly still do today. In the Indian subcontinent alone, the idea of a caste system is also practiced by small groups of Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists, though keep in mind I do mean small groups.
The idea of caste being religiously or spiritually mandated probably comes from a major misunderstanding on the part of Westerners, particularly those who have confused social mandates with religious ideas.
One of the most famous entities in Hinduism is Krishna, the eigth avatar of the deity known as Vishnu. He is variously hailed as a great teacher, a manifestation of God, even just God. Except that this is nonsense.
OK, before I begin with my criticisms, I feel I must mention things I like about him. He’s certainly a beautiful deity, he has a good way with women, very playful, and for someone who doesn’t look so strong he is capable of some impressive feats, like dropping a solar disk from the sky, and facing off against someone who threw an entire freaking mountain at him. Holy shit! It seems power and strength and beauty go very well together in Indian lore.
But, you’re not here to see me praise Krishna. You’re here so I can show you the bad side of him.
For starters, I find he’s for the most part an avatar of Vishnu who thinks himself “God” almighty. And in the Bhagavad Gita, he asks that you surrender yourself unto him so that he can “deliver you from sinful actions”. Am I the only one who thinks this is the same attitude as YHWH or Allah? Seems to me that Krishna is just the Hindu expression of the monotheistic (mainly Abrahamic) idea of God.
There’s a some hypocrisy too. Krishna proclaims lust to be a gateway to hell, and preaches for the destruction of desire, passion, and lust. So why is he playing around with all those beautiful girls? In fact, he thinks any form of desire is sinful except his own, since he calls pleasing yourself a sin but pleasing Krishna a form of love. What kind of bull crap is this? He also seems to advocate the destruction of ego or self, and seems against ego, lust, strength, anger, and pride (Bhagavad Gita chapter 16 verse 18), when in reality he has got to have the most overblown sense of self-worth in all of Hindu lore. And why do we have someone who is against strength? Especially someone who kills monsters and demons and survives all kinds of powerful attacks on a regular basis?
Also, this guy denounces lust, but finds himself having tons of girls flock to him like a rock star and even steals the clothes of gopis, and he gets away with it because he’s supposedly “God” while the average man can’t. And that’s what bugs me, he can do whatever he wants regarding women and get away with it, but denounces lust, self-pleasure, and desire, and would probably make sure you don’t get away with it. What the fuck kind of deity is that?
All-in-all, despite all the good I’ve said of him, Krishna is simply not appealing to me or worthy of any of his excessive praise.
Real quick, I wanna mention ISKCON for a bit, since they glorify Krishna so much. They are not Hindus. They’re just Indian Christians or monotheists with Hindu mythology and ideas. It doesn’t help that they sometimes advocate separation from non-devotees (kinda like how Christianity and Islam advocate hostility towards or shunning of non-believers).
And lastly, to borrow a phrase from a good friend, why should the destroyer of the universe take orders from a blue Justin Bieber?
I would first like to lay out the pagan spirit of Hinduism. Hinduism venerates the divine force behind nature, and projects that force and nature into through deities or “god-images”. This idea is at the heart of paganism, and so is the sacred attention given to sexuality in Hinduism.
The pagan way works with energy, specifically sexual energy, the energy of creation, and the energy of the world, and a love of nature is a given. This is the pagan way, and the Hindu way. They’re almost pretty much the same.
Of course, it should be noted that not all regions shared the same the same customs and traditions, so the ways paganism is expressed in different parts of the world is different, but even if they don’t call it pagan, the spirit is still there. Also, different parts of the world worship different deities with different names, but the general principle behind the worship is usually the same.
Now for the differences between this pagan mode of spirituality and the Abrahamic mode of religion.
The Abrahamic mode of religion is based on the idea of a “Supreme Deity” or “One True God” who must be obeyed, and the idea that we must prostrate ourselves in submission, surrendering the self. This mode of religion is very dogmatic, denies individualism, and demands faith and obedience. It denies nature, denies life, denies the mystic understanding in favour of pure, blind, sheepish worship. It probably needs a better word than Abrahamic, but the term has its uses.
While some say that Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are actually pagan faiths, or were once pagan, I fell compelled to disagree. It is possible that they took something from the pagan world which did surround them, or simply used pagan ideas, ultimately, they are not pagan, for they deny everything that characterises paganism, they rejects the pagan spirit and ideas, and are very different from paganism, as anyone without a one world one religion agenda can see.
For a long time, I’ve been trying to blend Hinduism, Buddhism, and Asian stuff, with Satanism, Left Hand Path philosophy, and general paganism, and the root of this comes from my own personal values and my interest in all of them. I also want to add in influence from Shin Megami Tensei, my chief source of inspiration for my path.
For starters, I am beginning to see the Abrahamic mythology, particularly the God versus Satan conflict, as a metaphorical vehicle or device for conveying Order versus Chaos, a conflict between the way of subjugation and slavery versus the way of freedom and power, in addition to being resembling of the Abrahamic versus Pagan ideals. Satan (Beelzebub), obviously refers to Chaos, freedom, and power. It’s very fun to interact with, but I can’t take it too seriously, or it might cause some trouble.
Then, you have Paganism. At its essence, Paganism is the veneration of nature through the projection of Nature into deity images, and different people can deify in different ways and through different expression. And that’s totally something I believe in. Not just Nature, but concepts, and one’s own soul too. Then you have my whole idea of paganism, and its values, thus the reason I’d want to identify with it, though it might be the impression from Biblical ideas of paganism. The chief pagan idea is the veneration of a force, and the projection of deity images to link to Nature, seasons, celebrations, concepts, and other things, even parts of you yourself.
On to Hinduism, Buddhism, and other Asian stuff. This comes from my love of and affinity for Hindu and Buddhist art, Japanese and Chinese myth, culture, and aesthetic, and the warrior deities found in Tibet and Japan. The idea of Shakti is important in this case, as a raw force related to Chaos, a chthonic force, and the ideal of personal power. Using Hindu/Buddhist deities as symbolic of something related to my ideals, and various concepts and forces of nature, it could be valid. Karma could relate to my idea of justice, except it is meted out by you yourself rather than meted out by the cosmos. Also, I can’t say anything about reincarnation.
Now for the insertion of Satanic and Left Hand Path philosophy, or as I call it, Satanizing. What this involves is adding a Left Hand Path filter to things that would never normally have that bent. This means that instead of advocating submission into a higher being, it places value on the self, and the individual as having the potential to be a god, create one’s own world from one’s own individually discerned principles and ideal, and transcend the limits of the world. And it goes without saying that looking into Tantric systems might be of use. If I could look into Hindu and Buddhist spirituality and concepts, give them and LHP blend and removing RHP influence, it might just suffice, same for other Asian stuff. For example, it could also mean that Hindu and Buddhist deities would have any symbolism related to asceticism and destroying self and desire either removed or changed, both to suit LHP ideals and goals.
In my system, I relate deities to my own personality, or parts of it, and other concepts as well. Besides my six personal deities, I could easily have various deities as symbolic of various things, and recommend warrior deities for things like power and the warrior’s spirit.
The deities Bel and Ishtar, while from Canaan, can be used as symbolic of principles of male and female sexuality and power, maybe you can draw from them.
Ultimately, my system composes of the general pagan principle of deity images and veneration of a primal force (in my case, probably Chaos or Shakti or some chthonic force), and the Satanic and LHP spirit of freedom, personal power, and even godhood through that force, all with a hopefully Asian flair, and my own ideals. I must, in the end, use my heart to do the work. Maybe some meditating.
And as always, remember the inner/chthonic flame, the will, the power in you. Don’t give it away to some “God” or higher being.
On Friday night, a thought came to me: “What if the iconography and depiction of Shiva and that of Tibetan Buddhist deities are linked?” I thought about the imagery, iconography, and depiction of the Buddhist deities in Tibet, Nepal, and the Himalayas, is inspired by Shiva.
If you want to know why, take a look at this Himalayan artwork.
As you notice, this deity is surrounded by a ring of fire, sports a third eye, wears animal skins, and tramples upon diminutive figures representing ignorance in his divine, ecstatic dance, just as Shiva, in his fiery cosmic dance, tramples the dwarf of ignorance, sports a third eye, wears animal skins, and dances in fire. The deities also wield tridents, like Shiva does, though they often have more arms and weapons. The garland of heads also takes a cue from Kali, the goddess who is often seen as Shiva’s wife.
You can also see this spirit of the Nataraja in fiercer deities.
Heruka, also known as Chakrasamvara, is a good example of some symbolism of Shiva. Chakrasamvara’s name translates to “Supreme Bliss of the Wheel”. Shamvara, or Shambara, means ecstasy, the bliss that is the result of Buddhist Tantric practice, and it is related to an epithet of the Hindu god Shiva, who is addressed as Shambo, usually translated to mean Auspicious One. And Shiva’s moon adornment is said to appear on Heruka’s topknot, and in his activity form he wields a trident.
You can argue that, since the deities and their dance is inspired by Shiva, that there is Tantric influence here, especially Tantric influence that comes from Hinduism. One can understand as Buddhism was taught in India and places like Tibet and Nepal, and Buddhist gurus and saints often travelled to Tibet and brought their ideas with them, which would probably have included some Hindu traditions and concepts. And Buddhism tended to incorporate various cultural and regional concepts, traditions, and ideas as it spread far and wide across Asia.
I think it is very fitting that Shiva resonates in Tibetan Buddhism, and makes sense, given the idea of spiritual power and the destruction of ignorance resonates in the deities.
Did you ever notice know how a lot of religions talk about oneness or unity with “God”, or seem to revolve around the concept of assimilation? This concept of assimilation refers to the idea of the assimilation of the individual soul with “God” or a higher consciousness, or in some cases merging all individual consciousnesses into one greater consciousness or super-intelligence. Yep, I don’t like it one bit.
This assimilation naturally means the dissolution of ego and selfhood and entering a state of no identity, individuality, or self. Which would suck royally if you ask me. And yet not only do most religions (or at least what nearly all of what we call right-hand-path religions) shill this concept seemingly non-stop, but we keep buying into it for some reason.
In Christianity, one way of seeing heaven is a place where all are united with “God”, and given the god of the Bible, that doesn’t sound like a good thing at all. Hell, Jesus and other Biblical figures are sometimes referred to as shepherds, leading “flocks” or sheep. Some Christians in the modern world world embrace the idea of eternal unity with “God” while trying to replace Hell with either eternal death or eternal separation from “God” depending on who you ask, since as we all know each Christian seems to interpret their own holy book wildly differently (how else do we have 30,000+ denominations of the same faith).
In Buddhism, the goal is to attain enlightenment, exit the cycle of death and rebirth, and reach a state called Nirvana. This often involves the dissolution of the ego, desire, and self, and Nirvana is often a place where an existence without suffering or desire is the highest happiness. It’s similar in Hinduism, where the goal is to remove ego, self, and desire and attain unity with “God” (or Brahman), the key difference being Hinduism generally believes in a God of some sort while Buddhism almost always does not.
Many New Agers believe that there will come a time where all individual consciousnesses merge into a “greater consciousness”, and they believed this date was December 21st 2012. They even went out of their way to interpret this as what happens at the end of the Mayan calender. Flash foward Dec 21st last year, and we all know what happened instead (read: nothing at all).
Similar to the New Age idea is a transhumanist belief that we should merge into one super-intelligence.
The point is, the idea of assimiliation is overrated, and while other people managed to believe it, I don’t. How is submitting the self to a “higher” power or consciousness any different to conforming to a mass of people? The submission of the self to some “God”, or the merging of all souls into one consciousness is the ultimate form of conformity, because you are conforming to “God” himself, or to the very universe itself, rather than having a self. To extinguish the self is the ultimate form of self-denial, because you are negating your own self. And I can’t agree to that philosophy.