Hinduism is the third-largest religion in the world with over 1.3 billion active followers, majorly living in India. This ancient religion is believed to have started somewhere around 2300 B.C, making it the oldest surviving religion to date. Being so ancient, it has numerous fascinating things that sometimes make us wonder about it. One of them is the 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.
Thus by now, we have clearly understood the fact that in ancient times, polygamy must have been a matter of personal choice in India. However 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 philosophical knowledge that was intentionally inserted in the stories by the ancient sages of India. 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 top seven hindu gods and deities who had more than one wife, but with a blend of their marriage backstory.
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. Even though he is counted as one of the main trinity (Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva) he is hardly worshiped by hindus. His stories are also mostly found in scriptures rather than in actual temples or inside people’s homes. In fact, there’s only one temple of him available in the entire Indian subcontinent.
He is primarily known for his association with the creation and preservation of the knowledge of Vedas. 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 – Devi Saraswati and Gayatri.
Devi 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, saying this is only for the depiction of abstract ancient philosophy.
Lord Vishnu [ 3 Wives ]
Lord Vishnu also comes under the umbrella of the trinity or Trimurti in Hinduism. However he has a significant upper hand when considering who is the holiest and most worshiped than 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 Vaishnavism.
According to an estimate done by Johnson and Grim in 2010, the Vaishnava tradition (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, Sarasvati, and Ganga.
Now you may wonder, how could Devi Sarasvati be his wife as she’s already a wife of Lord Brahma. Good question! I also had the same doubt just like you. 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 hindusism. 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 when his daughter wanted to marry Lord Shiva, he got very angry and insulted Lord Shiva in front of his daughter, telling her to never come back again.
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 Dev 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 Lord Brahma’s fifth head which Lord Shiva chopped off once for Lord Brahma’s uncontrollable lust for his own daughter.
There is also an interesting story between Shani Dev and his second wife, Damini. Once when Shani Dev did not pay much attention to her second wife while performing an important Yajna, she cursed him to always have his eyes turned down. And whoever comes in front of his sight would receive misfortune in return.
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. So, you can relate if you’re from a different religion.
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 ]
Lord Kartikeya is the hindu 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.
Now if we talk about his wives that 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.