Prof. Jeaneane Fowler of the University of Wales College, Newport has the answer of, “Why do Hindus have so many Gods?” He writes in his famous book entitled Hinduism: Beliefs, Practices, and Scriptures;
“The relationship between the many manifest deities and the unmanifest Brahman (or Supreme God) is rather like that between the sun and its rays. We cannot experience the sun itself but we can experience its rays and the qualities, which those rays have. And, although the sun’s rays are many, ultimately, there is only one source, one sun. So the Gods and Goddesses of Hinduism amount to thousands, all representing the many aspects of Brahman.”
The many Gods and Goddesses concept in Hinduism
According to Indian philosophy, all the deities we worship have different set of qualities attributed to them. Numerous permutations and combinations of qualities that serve us in our worldly affairs are classified into distinct deities with a touch of goodness and benevolence that concept of God is attributed to.
When we pray to Goddess Lakhsmi, we are meditating on wealth. But the very idea of a goddess being attached to the object of wealth, we mentally desist from wrong doing to attain/ spend the wealth. We seek power and glory, we meditate upon Shakti – Durga, Kali… with each set of qualities.
How we use the power is almost predetermined in our mind when we meditate upon the deities. It has to be only for good of others. Shakti attained through meditating on the qualities of Durga, the mind immediately attaches the power to fight evil, like she fought Mahisasura, and be a savior to the weak.
First some qualities are linked to the deity, and then a simple look or thought on the picture or idol of the deity lets the mind consciously or subconsciously project and process the qualities that have been pre-linked to the deity.
And just one insinuation changes things totally. No external counseling needed. No punishment required to turn minds upright. The large human society managed flawlessly without monitoring and micro managing. Sustainable societal well being ensured. This is the actual reason of “Why do Hindus have so many Gods?”
That sustainability is lost when each one of us tries to experiment and find our own path to societal wellness. Teach a child, do not do this, do not do that. How many rules can you effectively teach? One hundred ? More than that is not possible else we do not get the time to teach the child maths science history geography.
We only keep teaching what not to do. Miss one rule and we feed the child with the idea that it is permissible when actually it is not. Teach the child goodness with just a few set of godly qualities and his mind automatically spawns thoughts in similar lines. The wisdom of our forefathers, that managed human beings effortlessly.
If a mind seeks to elevate further into the realms of spirituality, we associate it to Shiva; to fathom the fathomless, the quality of the existence itself. Just at the sight of the Shivalinga our mind takes us into the journey into the vastness, eternity and nothingness of this existence.
Wisdom of our forefathers
Essentially, through just a few deities, our forefathers transferred their entire collective wisdom, their experiences and their techniques into the future generations. A child does not know nor does an adolescent mind; how it is being controlled and channelized into a desirable direction.
If the child grows up to find more insight into the transferred wisdom, it will do so in the later life. If not, it still is perfectly fine as the yeoman’s task of societal management has been achieved by it. If a rational mind, a high intellect cannot find the sensible, effective, robust, self spawning, utilitarian objectivities of our system, leave alone the spiritual factor, they lack wisdom, a key constituent of intellect.
Mind training is not possible through any constitution. Constitution tries preventing evil through punishments. Counseling tries to achieve it through rationalization only when a person voluntarily agrees to a session. But Indian civilization incorporated it into the system of the society.