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330 Million Gods In Hinduism - Reason - Meaning - Symbolism Of 33 Crore Devi Devata

Does Hindus worship 330 million gods? The number 33 koti (crore) is constantly heard when any discussion regarding the gods in Hinduism take place. Koti does not mean 330 million it means virtuous. But the initiators of the discussion, who are mostly totally unaware of Hindu religion and wants to take a dig, deliberately skip the symbolism of the numerous Hindu gods - devi devatas. The symbolism of the 330 million is that it represents the Brahman, which has different names, forms, activities, attributes and powers owing to differences of function. All animate and inanimate and those yet to appear is nothing but a manifestation of Brahman.


Number 33 In Hinduism

It is a known fact that it is impossible to worship the 330 million gods. But, why the number 33?

The number 33 comes from the number of Vedic gods explained by Yajnavalkya in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad – the eight Vasus, the eleven Rudras, the twelve Adityas, Indra and Prajapati. (Chapter I, hymn 9, verse 2)

In Brihadaranyaka Upanishad while discussing Brahman, Yajnavalkya is asked how many gods are there. He says that there are three hundred and three and three thousand and three gods. When the question is repeated? He says, thirty three. When the question is again repeated he says, six. Finally, after several repetitions he says ONE. (Chapter I, hymn 9, verse 1)

Now to this 33 was added the maximum number of zeros that the ancient people thought were the number of living beings.

The Padma Purana says Indra, the king of Devas, sat upon his divine golden throne surrounded by the assembly of 33 crore of gods - that's 330,000,000. There are many sacred water bodies in India in which 33 crore gods take holy dip and sanctify the water body.

It is believed that during Samudra Manthan, or churning of the ocean, 33 crore gods held on side and the other side was held by 66 crore demons.

Reason - Meaning - Symbolism Of 33 Crore Devi Devata

So when someone mentions about 330 million gods in Hindu Religion, it consists of the person mentioning it and those listening plus all living and non-living beings. In fact, if the ancient seers were to create the same symbolism today they will be counting it in billions.

When there was 33 virtuous forces - there was 66 evil forces too.

Millions or billions, it is nothing but the manifestation of the ONE God and Hindus call it Brahman.

Lord Krishna explains thus in the Bhagavad Gita
  • I am the goal, the supporter, the Lord, the witness, the abode, the refuge, the friend, the origin, the dissolution, the foundation, the substratum, and the imperishable seed. (Chapter 9, Verse 18)
  • I am the origin or seed of all beings, O Arjuna. There is nothing, animate or inanimate, that can exist without Me. (Chapter 10, Verse 39)
  • O Arjuna, know Me to be the eternal seed of all creatures. (Chapter 7, Verse 10)
This is what Hindus worship in the numerous forms.

The innumerable symbols or images are merely external aids for the soul to attain self realization.

When the veil of ignorance is removed all human concepts of million, trillion, crore...images falls off. What then exists cannot be explained by words.

All human creations including numbers and forms are attempts to understand the Supreme Truth. When they are external paths we end up in the world of duality - confused without finding proper answer. But when they are used as internal paths they lead us to bliss - self realization.