Hinduism is the third-largest religion in the world with over 1.3 billion active followers, majorly living in India. This religion is very ancient and believed to have started somewhere around 2300 B.C. Which makes it the oldest surviving religion to date. Hinduism has a vast array of fascinating cultures that sometimes make us wonder about it, like polygamy culture of Hindu deities.
Polygamy Culture Of Hindu Deities
While today, most deities or gods in other religions don’t have any spouse, in Hinduism it’s quite the opposite. Here a large number of deities are seen with not only one spouse but multiple of them. Which might have made the polygamy culture a common thing in ancient India.
Now if you don’t know about what polygamy is, then let me give you a quick overview. When a man marries multiple women, it’s called polygamy. However, polygamy must have been a matter of personal choice as various Hindu texts suggest that it was only being practiced mostly by the kings, warrior castes, and rich merchants.
It was more like a status symbol and at times a social, moral, and religious obligation. In spite of that, the same concept of polygamy in hindu gods is often considered controversial. Even though it’s been mentioned on multiple occasions in several hindu scriptures like epics and Puranas.
Most scholars of Hinduism strongly believe that those are not actual term wives but the manifestations of feminine energy. Therefore the depiction of hindu gods having more than one wife, hold an abstract knowledge that was intentionally inserted in the stories by the ancient sages of India.
You may read – Top 5 List Of Indian Hindu Gods Who Have Many Arms.
According to scholars, the goddesses are actually pure universal energies who assist their male counterparts to maintain the laws of dharma. They do not possess any physical bodies, though they can appear in human form if they want to. Whatever the case it is, we are not experts in hindu mythology, thus we can not vouch for their theories and authenticity. In this article, we’re only going to tell you about the gods who had more than one wife.
Lord Brahma – 2 Wives
According to several hindu scriptures, Lord Brahma is the creator of the entire cosmic universe including all living & non-living beings. He is primarily known for his association with the creation and preservation of the knowledge of Vedas. Even though he is counted as one of the main trinity (Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva) he is hardly worshiped by Hindus. In fact, there’s only one temple of him available in the entire Indian subcontinent.
He is often referred to as Svayambhu, which means he is self-created. It’s said that nothing really existed before him, and there was an absolute void before he came into existence. Now if we talk about his wives, he had two of them – Saraswati and Gayatri.
Saraswati was his first daughter, whom he created as the goddess of knowledge and wisdom. She was said to be so beautiful that everyone used to get immediately fascinated by her immense beauty. Despite of Brahma being the creator of her himself could not even control his lust for her, and eventually married his own daughter.
However this exact literal interpretation is often seen as inaccurate, since most scholars have a different take on it. They say that this is only for the depiction of abstract ancient philosophy.
You may read – 7 Hindu Gods Who Are Half-human Half-animal.
Lord Vishnu – 3 Wives
Lord Vishnu also comes under the umbrella of the trinity or Trimurti in Hinduism. However he is considered as the holiest and most worshiped among the other two in the trinity. He is widely known for his association with preserving the universe. Thus he’s also called the god of prosperity and preserver.
The devotees of Lord Vishnu have developed their own sort of a different religious structure, beliefs and customs, which they call it Vaishnavism. According to an estimate, the followers of Lord Vishnu is the single largest group within Hinduism itself constituting about more than 641 million or 67.6% of all Hindus across the world.
If we talk about the number of his wives, then he had a total of three wives – Lakshmi, Saraswati, and Ganga. Now you may wonder, how could Devi Saraswati be his wife as she’s already a wife of Lord Brahma. Good question! I also had the same doubt just like you.
However, a quick research on the Internet has given me the following explanation that I think somewhat justifies this weirdness. They say, as long as we interpret the gods and deities through our three-dimensional common sense, we will only be making fools of ourselves. These stories are said to be man made. Thus they exist only for the usage of carrying and preserving the invaluable abstract philosophical knowledge.
You may read – 5 Lost Traditions Of India That Were Forcefully Destroyed.
Lord Shiva – 2 Wives
Lord Shiva is also seen as one of the trinity or Trimurti in Hinduism. He is also widely known as Mahadeva or the great god. In hindu beliefs, Lord Shiva is said to be the god of the destroyer, who destroys all the material and external attachments from our minds.
He had two wives in total – Sati and Parvati. Sati was his first wife and the daughter of king Daksha, thus she is also called Dakshayini. Daksha was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu and always hated Shiva.
Therefore, when his daughter expressed her love for Lord Shiva, he got very angry and insulted him badly. Listening to the insulting words of her father, Sati was not able to tolerate the insult against Lord Shiva. She finally lost her control and jumped into the fire of the Yajna before her. This entire event made Lord Shiva very furious and violent. In the next moment, he ordered one of his great warriors veerbhadra to finish off Daksh.
As we have seen, the concept of polygamy is deeply rooted in Hinduism. It may seem like most of the hindu deities have more than one wife, which is not a very strange thing at all. Anyhow, we have covered the main three supreme gods of the trinity so far, now it’s time for the other lesser-known deities as well, who were also blessed with multiple wives.
Shani Dev – 2 Wives
Shani Dev is said to be the god of restrictions and misfortunes, who brings distress, depression, sorrow into people’s lives. Because of his nature, he is not called “Lord” before his name. In Hinduism, people often get horrified by this particular deity. They believe that if Shani once enters into someone’s life, misfortune and distress will always follow them for at least seven years.
According to various Paranas, and folk stories, Shani Dev is the eldest son of Lord Surya. People believe that since her mother always stayed busy serving her husband (Lord Surya), Shani Dev was born black. He had a total of two wives, Neelima and Damini. Neelima is said to have the power of Brahma’s fifth head which Lord Shiva chopped off once for his uncontrollable lust for his own daughter.
Lord Yama – 3 Wives
Lord Yama, also known as Yamaraja is the hindu god of death and justice. He also has another name – Dharmadeva, because of his personification of Dharma. He is responsible for the dispensation of law and punishment of sinners in his adobe, which is called Yamalokam. The concept of Yamalokam is very similar to the concept of hell in other religions.
He had three wives – Dhumorna, Syamala, and Hema-mala. However, it’s not a hundred percent accurate as various texts and scriptures tell different stories about the actual wives of Lord Yama.
Lord Ganesha – 5 Wives
Lord Ganesha is one of the well-known deities and most worshiped in the hindu pantheon. He is very popular as Ganapati and Vinayaka. Despite being a beloved deity, the entire world knows him as the elephant god. His main duties as a god, are to remove obstacles from his devotees and increase their level of intellect. According to various mythological stories, he had a total of five wives – Riddhi, Sidhi, Tushti, Pushti, and Shree.
Lord Kartikeya – 2 Wives
The ever youthful hindu god, Lord Kartikeya is the god of war and the younger son of Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati. He has other names as well – Skanda, Kumara, Murugan, and Mahasena. He is particularly popular and predominantly worshipped in South India, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia.
Lord Kartikeya is usually shown as an ever youthful man, who rides an indian peacock. According to various south indian traditions Lord Kartikeya has two wives – Valli and Devasena. However, there is no such mention of Valli available in hindu scriptures. But the story of Devasena is told in the Vana Parva of the Mahabharata.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Polygamy Allowed In Hinduism?
If we talk strictly in terms of religious beliefs, then yes! polygamy is allowed in Hinduism. According to various Hindu texts, it’s only allowed for kings, and Kshatriyas (warrior casts). But in today’s time, polygamy became illegal in India with the introduction of the Hindu Marriage Act in 1956.