Lesser Gods

The transition from Vedic gods to the Puranic gods led to the TRIMURTI or the Hindu Trinity gaining more importance in the post Vedic period. Gradually the Vedic gods other than AGNI, VAYU and SURYA took second place to the Hindu Triad. At the same time personification of nature like rivers, heroes who proved their utmost faith to the legendary heroes of the Puranas and served them were elevated to the status of gods.

Although these gods are not individually worshipped expect for some they have a special place in the Hindu mythology and are often seen in temples or in paintings or pictures beside the main three triads and their various manifestations.

HANUMAN – the monkey god – devotee of Rama
INDRA – King of the abode of gods
YAMA – the god of death
GAYATRI – personification of the Vedic hymn
GANGA – personification of the holy river
KAMADEVA – god of love
KUBERA – god of wealth
NARADA – the wandering seer who features in almost all the Puranas
VARUNA – the god of oceans
SOMA – the moon god
VISHWAKARMA – the divine architect of the universe

Other than these lesser gods there are a host of celestial beings. These are often mentioned in the various Vedas and Puranas and are much a part of the Hindu mythology as the lesser gods.

Celestial beings:

APSARAS: These are beautiful ladies, who dance in the court of Indra. Indra also uses them to lure the saints and sages who by their severe penance endanger his superiority as the ruler of Swarga (Paradise of Indra). In the Vedas they were personification of vapor and in the Puranas the ballet girls in Swarga. RAMBHA, URVASI and MENAKA are the most celebrated of them.

GANDHARVAS: Gandharvas are the celestial musicians who play in the court of Indra and also when some divine act of the gods had been completed in the interest of humanity. They are said to have a great partiality for women and are said to be exceptionally handsome.

KINNARAS: are mythical beings, with a body of a man and head of a horse. They are singers at the court of Indra. They are also sometimes said to be the minstrels of Kubera’s palace at Mount Kailasa, which is also the abode of Shiva.

SIDDHAS: are classes of spirits of great purity and holiness, who dwell apart in the sky or mid-air between earth and heaven.

YAKSHA: They are the guardians of wealth and attendants of Kubera, employed to guard his gardens and treasure. They live in ALKA-PURI (yaksha-puri). The female of Yaksha is known as YAKSHINI.