Hinduism is the world’s third-largest religion, with over 1.3 billion active practitioners, the majority of whom live in India. This religion is very old and is thought to have begun around 2300 B.C., making it the oldest surviving religion to date. Hinduism has many fascinating cultures that make us wonder about it, such as the polygamy culture of Hindu deities.
Polygamy Culture Of Hindu Deities
While most deities or gods in other religions do not have spouses, this is not the case in Hinduism. Here, a large number of deities are depicted with not just one, but multiple spouses, implying that polygamy was common in ancient India.
Let me give you a quick overview of polygamy if you’re unfamiliar with it. Polygamy occurs when a man marries multiple women. However, it had to be a personal choice, as various Hindu texts indicate that it was mostly practiced by kings, warrior castes, and wealthy merchants.
It was more of a status symbol, as well as a social, moral, and religious obligation at times. Despite this, the concept of polygamy in Hindu gods is frequently regarded as controversial. Even though it’s been mentioned on multiple occasions in several Hindu scriptures like epics and puranas.
According to most Hindu scholars, these are not actual terms for wives, but rather manifestations of feminine energy. The depiction of Hindu gods having more than one wife, therefore, contains abstract knowledge that might have purposefully been inserted into the epic stories by the sages of ancient India.
Scholars believe that the goddesses are actually pure universal energies who help their male counterparts uphold the laws of dharma. They don’t have physical bodies, but they can take on human form if they want to. In any case, we are not experts in Hindu mythology and thus cannot vouch for their theories or authenticity.
Lord Brahma – 2 Wives
According to several Hindu scriptures, Lord Brahma is the creator of the entire cosmic universe, including all living and non-living beings. He is best known for his involvement in the creation and preservation of the Vedas. Despite being a member of the main trinity (Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva), he is rarely worshiped by Hindus.
In fact, there is only one temple dedicated to him in the entire Indian subcontinent. He is frequently referred to as Svayambhu, which means “self-created”. Nothing is said to have existed before him, and there was an absolute void before he appeared.
When it comes to his wives, he had two: Saraswati and Gayatri. Saraswati was his first daughter, whom he created as the goddess of knowledge and wisdom. She was said to be so stunning that everyone was captivated by her immense beauty.
Despite Lord Brahma being the creator of her, he 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 claim this is only for the representation of abstract ancient philosophy.
Lord Vishnu – 3 Wives
Lord Vishnu also comes under the umbrella of the trinity, or Trimurti, in Hinduism. However, he is considered the holiest and most worshiped of 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 different religious structure, beliefs and customs, which they call 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.
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. Lord Shiva is said to be the destroyer in Hindu beliefs, destroying all 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. Sati, listening to the insulting words of her father, 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, and sorrow into people’s lives. Because of his nature, he is not called “Lord” before his name. In Hinduism, people are often horrified by this particular deity. They believe that if Shani once enters 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 the law and the 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 most well-known and most worshiped deities 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’ lives 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 worshiped 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.