the ancient times, religion played an important part in the lives
of the people and many different types of gods were worshipped.
Why was there the need of a god? What was the importance of a god?
the Aryans of ancient India, they worshipped gods of Nature around
them. This was because they could not understand or control the
elements and hence, invested them with divinity and personified
them For instance, Indra was the war god (thunder and rainmaker)
and the most honoured of the Aryan gods. Surya was the sun god.
Agni was the fire god; the power to heal, save, defend or destroy.
It was a very important god, as fire was a very important element
used in the sacrifice of animals. Marriages were also solemnised
in the presence of fire. Male gods were dominant. There were 33
gods where there was no hierarchy. The Aryans did not ignore the
unity of god; they did believe in a supreme god where all others
Mayas believed that nature was closely related to the world of the
supernatural. Thus, they worshipped many different types of gods
that were too, like those of the Indians, related to nature. One
example was the sun god called Kinich Ahau. They also believed that
they could communicate with the gods who dwell in heaven through
prayers, visions, and sacrifice. Another god of nature that they
worshipped was the World Tree, which they believed was a giant blue-green
tree that connected the world of humans to the supernatural world
of spirits and gods. Gods were portrayed as men, women, animals,
or creatures that looked like either a person or an animal. Each
day, month and number was associated with a god. For example, the
number 4 was associated with the sun god and the number 10 was associated
with the death god. Which number do you think the rain god represented?
gods were important too in ancient Greece. Every god and goddess
had his or her own religious festival, and there were more than
sixty festival days each year. The people offered sacrifices on
the altar outside the Parthenon, the largest and most splendid of
the temples, before going in to pray to the goddess Athena, the
patron goddess of the city. Private devotion was important, as well.
Houses had their own altars where families could place offerings
to the gods, hoping to receive blessings or avert punishments. Athenians
also asked their gods and goddesses for advice about the future
through oracles, or fortune-tellers.
Egyptians worshipped a number of gods and goddesses, most of which
were believed to possess a human form, although some had the heads
of birds and animals. There was Ra, the sun-god, who was believed
to journey across the sky each day with the sun in a boat. There
was Osiris, ruler of the underworld, who was said to judge all dead
people, to determine if they would be allowed to enter the afterlife.
There was the goddess Isis, wife of Osiris and mistress of magic
and Horus, son of Isis and Osiris, and god of the sky. Horus was
often pictured with the head of a falcon, and it was believed that
he had the power to enter into the very body and soul of the pharaoh.
The pharaoh was therefore a very unique being - a link between god
and man. Since he was thought to communicate with the other gods,
the pharaoh also served as the high priest who officiated at major
Sumers worshipped many gods as well. The most important god was
Anu, the father of all gods and the lord of heaven. There was also
Enlil, the god of earth and Enki, the god of the waters. Other gods
of nature included gods of the rivers and mountains, sun, moon,
winds, storms, and planets. There were also personal gods. Sumerians
believed that it was their duty to feed and shelter their gods and
thus, built numerous temples for the gods to live in.
ancient Chinese too, believed in gods of nature - in mountains,
rivers, forests, trees and rocks. (Why do you think gods were associated
with nature in the past? Hint: Consider how the occupation of most
of the people in the past. How did they obtain their food?) They
also worshipped the souls of dead rulers for protection and blessings.
today, some Chinese still pray to the souls of the dead, especially
to their ancestors for the same reasons as in the past: protection
and blessing. Most Chinese still pray to certain gods of nature
such as the earth god and Chu Jung, god of fire. In addition, the
Chinese believe in other gods too, such as the god of wealth, the
goddess of mercy and the god of war. The god of wealth is an important
god to the present-day Chinese, especially to Chinese merchants
and businessmen, as they believe that praying to the god of wealth
would enable their businesses to prosper and their wealth to increase!
are still worshipped in other parts of the world today as well.
For instance, Indians today, who believe in Hinduism, a religion
which will be covered in the next article, still worship Hindu gods
such as Brahma the Creator, Shiva the Destroyer and Vishnu the Preserver
are the gods that the people of your country worship? What is the
importance of the gods that they worship?
temple in honor of the supreme god Amen-Ra was erected at El Karnak
by Ramses III, one of the rulers of the 20th dynasty, who reigned
during the 12th century BC. The view is from the top of a pylon
into the main hall of the temple.
of the black god Vishnu are preserved in an Indian epic poem.
18th-century Kangra painting depicts Shiva and Ganesa, left, stringing
together skulls of the dead while Parvati, right, looks on. Ganesa,
their son, is the god first invoked at the beginning of worship
or any new undertaking. Nandi the bull, behind the tree, is one
of Shiva's chief attendants..
Egyptian Fresco of the God Anubis .
19th Century Illustration of Chinese Gods China