Deva (god)

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Deva ( Sanskrit देव deva ) is an Indian name for gods . They are on a higher plane than humans. Deva can be translated as "gods", "demigods" or "supernatural beings". In the narrower sense, they stand for the Vedic gods, who especially in the Vedic period, i.e. H. before classical Hinduism , and whose mythology and worship rites were passed on in the Vedic hymns of the Rig (approx. 1500 BC), Yajur , Sama and Atharvaveda as well as the accompanying commentary and ritual literature of the Brahmanas . As heavenly ones they are not outside the cycle of rebirths ( samsara ), but are integrated into it. They play a role in Hinduism , Buddhism and Jainism .

The word comes from the same Indo-European word root as Latin deus (god), ancient Greek Zeus and Germanic Ziu or Tyr.


Vedic gods

The Vedic gods and goddesses had great structural similarities with deities of the other Indo-European religions and cultures. The Vedic gods were largely a matter of natural forces and phenomena such as the sun, wind or heaven and earth, who were worshiped as gods and goddesses, and their favor through the offering of offerings (Yajna; Sanskrit: यज्ञ yajña m . ) was asked. The supreme god was Indra , others were the fire god Agni , the sun god Surya , the moon god Soma , who also named the intoxicating potion Soma of the Vedic poets, the wind god Vayu , the father of heaven Dyaus Pita , the mother earth Prithivi , the sea god Varuna as well Ushas , the goddess of the dawn. Less concrete concepts embody the god of the dead Yama , the Ashvins , who are both worshiped as divine healers , the mother of the gods Aditi and Nirriti , the personified perdition.

The original Vedic deities, if they are still significant, all took part in a process of change, but most of them have been more and more forgotten in the course of development. In their place came the new Hindu high gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and their wives Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Parvati as well as their various manifestations such as Durga and Kali.

Hindu gods

The most famous manifestations of Ishvara are the triad Brahma , Vishnu and Shiva . It forms a trinity (Trimurti), i.e. a trinity: Brahma creates the universe, Vishnu receives it, Shiva destroys or transforms it in order to free it from evil. Sarasvati, the wife of the god Brahma, became the mother of creation, but she is also the goddess of knowledge and learning. Lakshmi is known as the goddess of luck and is Vishnu's wife. It is the power that sustains creation. Parvati , the kind, is Shiva's companion. She is considered the benevolent mother, but can also appear as the avenging goddess Kali or Durga to fight evil.

The lower gods include Apsaras , Gandharvas , Yakshas , Maruts and Vidyadharas , while the terms Ishvara or Narayana contain a higher concept of God.

The term can be used as follows:

  • adjectival: in the sense of "divine", "heavenly", "shining", "facing the light"
  • substantive: in the sense of “consecrated man” or “divine being” of the higher dimensions, opponents of the Asuras (demons).

Deva is also an addition to the name of enlightened people who have reached the divine consciousness strived for in the yoga path. The word is also used to address kings ("Majesty"). The feminine word is Devi and can either denote the Goddess as a manifestation of the Supreme or is the honorable address of a woman.


In Buddhism , the devas are referred to as “heavenly beings” or “gods”. They live in the six realms of being in a "happy sphere", but - unlike Buddha himself - are just as subject to the cycle of being born, aging and dying as humans.

See also


  • Alain Danielou: The Myths and Gods of India , The Classic Work on Hindu Polytheism. Inner Traditions, Rochester (Vermont) 1991, pp. 143-145, ISBN 978-0892813544

Individual evidence

  1. Monier Monier-Williams, A Sanskrit-English Dictionary “Etymologically and Philologically Arranged to cognate Indo-European Languages, Motilal Banarsidass, page 492
  2. Deva | religious being. Retrieved December 7, 2019 .
  3. Nyantiloka. Buddhist Dictionary ; P. 60, "Deva"