Elemental Deities: Of Wind Gods and Water Gods
India’s ancient traditions include the worship of elemental gods. Is it possible for the elements to actually take on manifestations, or even a human form? Sadhguru discusses the creation of energy forms relating to the five elements.
Q: Sadhguru, the ancient Indians worshipped the elements like Indra, Vayu, Surya, Varuna...
Sadhguru: No, Indra is not an element.
Q: Indra is not an element, but he masters thunder and rain. Can these elements actually take on manifestations? Because there are stories surrounding these elemental gods…
Sadhguru: It is not that elements take a human form. It is just that consecration can be done for elements. At one time, we were thinking of setting up five element temples in iii (Referring to the Isha Institute of Inner-sciences). Suppose we manifest this. We are not going to have a balloon for air, okay? You put a balloon there and worship it because anyway it is air – no. We will create an energy form, which a human being can relate to. Being in the yogic system, we generally do not go for a human form. We go for an ellipsoid because we know it is one form which will last longest with least maintenance. Even Devi, who is a woman, we made her like an ellipse. Nobody likes a woman like that. We made her like this because maintenance is simple once she has that form, and radiance is highest because it is nearly ellipsoid.
Lingas for Each Element
If we make five elements, because of the yogic system and understanding of the science, we would make five different lingas of five different types. Actually in southern India, these five elemental temples already exist. The air temple is in Andhra Pradesh, Srikalahasti, and the other four temples are in Tamil Nadu. These are all different types of lingas consecrated for that purpose.
So will air manifest in the form of an ellipsoid? If you look at it in a very rudimentary way – no. But if you look at it more profoundly – yes. In the sense, we can make a linga which suggests movement. Va-yu means that which moves. We can create a linga which is suggesting dynamism and movement, and that is seen as the linga for vayu. Similarly we can create lingas for the other elements. Can we create this in a human form? Yes. Even when they create deities, the entire deity may not function as a deity or as an energy form. Usually, within the deity, they will make a small yantra.
If you were from Tamil Nadu, you might know that there was a big uproar a few years ago all over the state because in the Srirangam temple, which is one of the famous temples of Vishnu in Trichy or Tiruchinapalli, there used to be a copper yantra on his heart. Because of some controversy, they decided to pull out that yantra.
The moment they pulled out the yantra, people said – “Ranga has left.” He was so intimate to them, they refer to him in first name. He is Ranga for them. So they said, “Ranga has left the temple,” which is in a way true. The entire deity is made for people to relate to. All these hands, legs, eyes are made for people to relate to. There are deities where the entire thing works like a yantra, but then too much geometry is involved. This is why the Thanjavur bronzes are so precious and valued, because they got the geometry so perfect.
Crafting the Right Form
If you want to create a human form and want to make the entire form, including the little finger, as a yantra, then you will have to get the geometry so perfect. Generally, doing that with a stone idol is very difficult. People would prefer metal casts to do that. Normally, what they do is make a deity as it is appealing to that culture and fix a yantra in a certain part of the body which works as the deity, which is the real energy behind the deity.
So you can create a yantra for different elements and install it in human forms and make them function like an element god. Of course if he is fire, he has a fiery look. If he is air, he has got an airy look. Those things are done for people to relate to because, psychologically, being open and relating to it is as important as the energy. If people do not relate to it, then they will not sit there. People will not experience, and they will not do what they are instructed to do. If there is a linga and I say, “This is air,” and with another linga I say, “That’s fire,” when you look at them they may both look the same. Then you will not do what is required to be done.
But if I say, “This is Vayu deva.” He is standing with his hair flying. Now you will do it. So, an important part of creating a deity is also that people should be able to relate to it. Even if it has the necessary energy, if people do not relate to it they will not make use of it. In that context, can an elemental god be created? Yes, it can be created. Can they come alive? Yes, they can come alive and walk with you and live with you if it is properly done – these are energy forms. But is there some wind god sitting up there in the sky, and one day he will come down to you? No, that is not the way it is.
Editor’s Note: Find more of Sadhguru’s insights in the ebook “From Creation to Creator”, available at Isha Downloads. Pay what you wish and download it. Enter “0” or click “Claim for free” for a free download.