Scanning Around With Gene: Hindu Gods and Goddesses
Despite taking a world-religion class in college, I’m afraid I’m woefully ignorant of most faiths, especially the eastern variety, which seem particularly complicated and full of interesting characters. But I love a lot of the imagery, so was glad to find a series of postcards from India during a recent trip to a shop called The Thrifty Hippy in Petaluma, California.
The cards, which may or may not be vintage, depict what appear to be a somewhat random series of Hindu Gods and Goddesses – my research determined there are many, many more, so this is just a small taste. I probably have this wrong, but if I understand things correctly, there is really only one supreme God, or Brahman, and all of these different characters are manifestations of that same God. There can be as many Gods as there are devotees – so everyone can have their own favorite, and it means a wide variety of interesting images. Some Gods are more popular than others, and these are obviously among the more popular ones – at least popular enough to merit their own postcard. Click on any image for a larger version.
And even though these particular postcards are from India, the connection is to the Hindu faith, not necessarily the specific culture. But I think if you showed them to most people they would say they were “Indian” because we think of this style as particular to that country. These images are of Krishna, the 8th avatar of Vishnu.
One of my favorites is Hanuman, an ape-like God known for assisting Rama. Hanuman is the monkey deity renowned for his courage, power and faithful, selfless service.
Yashoda, here, is shown with the young Krishna. Yashoda, wife of Nanda, became Krishna’s foster mother for reasons I don’t quite grasp. Krishna is often depicted as a young child, sometimes shown with a flute.
Another great image is this one of Kali, Goddess of time and death. That’s followed by Surya, God of the sun.
Durga is a fierce deity, shown with ten hands holding a variety of weapons. Durga in Sanskrit means “invincible.”
I grew up in the Catholic church where we had many images of saints, each also with a particular unique characteristic, sometimes pictured with animals or demons. But we only had three manifestations of God – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
From a purely artistic standpoint, I think I like Hinduism better – these images, even the fierce ones, seem overall to be peaceful, positive and very colorful. I’d have a hard time picking my favorite God or Goddess – I’m hoping you’re allowed to have more than one.