What is Deva?
Deva translates from Sanskrit to “heavenly” and “divine.” It refers to a benevolent deity. In contrast, bad deities or demons are called Asuras. The feminine equivalent of a Deva is Devi. Many of the Devas represent natural elements, moral values, or celestial beings. Their legends date back to ancient Indian texts and further evolved throughout Vedic and post-Vedic literature.
Who are the 12 Devas?
The 12 Devas are the principal deities of the Hindu pantheon. They are also known as the Adityas, and they preside over various aspects of human life and the cosmos. The 12 Devas are:
- Indra: chief of the Devas, god of rain and thunder
- Soma: god of the moon
- Agni: god of fire
- Vayu: god of the wind
- Varuna: god of water
- Kubera: god of wealth
- Brahma: creator god
- Vishnu: preserver god
- Rudra: destroyer god
- Durga: goddess of strength and power
- Lakshmi: goddess of wealth and beauty
- Saraswati: goddess of learning and wisdom.
The 12 Devas are often depicted riding on their respective animals, which are also considered to be sacred. Indra rides on an elephant, Soma rides on a chariot drawn by horses, Agni rides on a ram, Vayu rides on a deer, Varuna rides on a crocodile, Kubera rides on a donkey, Brahma rides on a swan, Visnu rides on a Garuda (a mythical bird), Rudra rides on a bull, Durga rides on a lion, Lakshmi rides on a lotus, and Sarasvati rides on a peacock.
The 12 Devas represent the different aspects of human life and the cosmos, and they are believed to be able to bestow blessings or cause harm. Devotees often perform rituals and offer prayers to the 12 Devas in order to request their assistance or protection.