Part 1 – The Hindu Deities
The religions of Wicca and Hinduism seem, to most, to be different as night and day. The similarities in philosophy and practice, however, reveal to us that they are closely related in many more ways than they are different. This makes Hinduism, kown as Sanatana Dharma in its native land, a perfect religion to merge with the ways of modern witchcraft. In fact, there are many practicing witches that work with the Hindu pantheon and here I will cover the ways in which that can be done effectively.
The Hindu Pantheon in Wicca
Just as many integrate the Greek or Norse pantheons into Wicca, so too can one integrate the Hindu deities with the same ease. Although, culturally speaking, the gods and goddesses of Hinduism seem to be less related to the Lord and Lady than those of European heritage there are such striking similarities that one can easily include them in their practice. Lets examine these in detail.
Shiva as Pashupati – Shiva is the supreme Lord of the Hindu pantheon, at least in Shaiviam, and one of his aspects is that of an ancient deity named Pashupati. This ancient horned god is what is thought to be the proto-Shiva, the god from which Shiva developed. A seal was discovered in the ancient city of Mohenjodaro, dated to around 2900-1900 BCE, of a horned god of the Indus civilization. The seal is strikingly similar to the image of Cernunnos on the Gunderstep Cauldron as both are horned, sitting in a yogic posture and are surrounded by animals. With this it is an easy transition from the Horned God of Wicca to Pasupati and Shiva. Shiva has also been known to frequent the cremation grounds, giving him an association with The Lord of the Underworld, and is a meditating ascetic, setting an example for every witch. Nandi, Shivas mount, in the form of a bull, has obvious associations with the bull horned Pashupati.
Durga – Durga is the Supreme Mother in several sects of Hinduism. She is considered the universal mother. From her sprang the dark goddess Kali and some consider Saraswati, the goddess of learning and knowledge, and Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, to be her aspects as well. One story claims that the goddess Parvati shed her skin and Durga was revealed in order to defeat a demon. With Parvati being the consort of Shiva, and what has been mentioned about Shiva, we can easily relate this, and even convert this, to The Lord and Lady of Wicca. She is the embodiment of Shakti, the universal creative power and the goddess of tantra with the most basic definition being spiritual science and secret knowledge given to the practitioner by initiation.
Ganesha – In Hindu ritual homage is given to Ganesha before the worship of any other deity and this holds true no matter the sect of Sanatana Dharma practiced. Ganesha is the bridge that spans the whole of Hinduism and is even worshiped by Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists. His popularity is all encompassing yet his origins and rise to prominence are still, to this day, a bit of a mystery. He arose in his present form sometime around the 4th century CE and may have existed in other forms or as a tribal deity although no one knows for sure. In Hinduism Ganesha is The Lord of Obstacles, both placing and removing. In this form he can be seen as The Lord of the Gates, allowing one to pass or not. This is apparent in one of his creation stories, where Parvati created him to guard the entrance to her dwelling. Ganesha would not even let Lord Shiva past.
Kali – The dark goddess Kali deserves special mention here as she would be considered a dark goddess as those of Wicca. Likened to this dark aspect and as a warrior goddess who was born from Durga with the purpose of fighting demons no other god could defeat, she is similar in some ways to the Morrigan and connected similarly to other war goddesses of other pantheons. She is seen in Bengal, and some other parts of India, as a loving mother goddess and the supreme deity.
Navagrahas – The Navagrahas are planetary dirties associated with the Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn, as well as positions in the sky, Rahu (north or ascending lunar node) and Ketu (south or descending lunar node). Their influence on daily human life is calculated through Vedic astrology. Of these, those most easily associated with Wicca and Witchcraft would be Surya, the sun god and Chandra the god of the moon.
So as you can see, though the deities of Hinduism may look and sound strange to the modern practitioner of witchcraft they are in fact very similar to those that most witches work with on a regular basis. Of course, one should take the time to study the cultural and mythological background of these gods and goddesses before working with them so as to fully understand their powers and associations so that you can work with them in harmony and guided intent. With some effort and study, as well as a bit of time to get to know them, you can be working side by side with the Hindu gods.
Next we will examine the similarities in Hindu ritual and practice as well as some of the more esoteric aspects of the Hindu religion and how the modern witch can incorporate these into their daily practice of ritual and magic.