KULA DEVATHA OR TUTELARY/FAMILY DEITIES:
ORIGIN AND CONCEPT
41. As said earlier, after Parabrahman released the Cosmic and allowed sufficient period of time to make it livable, he released principle divines through whom the other divines, especially Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deities needed in the Universe could be released. Once omnipresent formless Parabrahman began his act, prime divines like Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma emerged from one side of Parabrahman and Goddess Parvathi, Goddess Mahalakshmi and Goddess Saraswathi came out from the other side of his body. However this is disputed by some who claim that only a male deity-Lord Shiva came out from one side of Parabrahman, from whom instantly came out Lord Vishnu from whose nave emerged Lord Brahma. Thus three male deities appeared one after the other from one side of Parabrahman.
42. Simultaneously from the other side of Parabrahman emerged Goddess Parvathi (Sakthi) and from her instantly emerged two more female divines -Maha Lakshmi and Saraswathi. However as per few other folk-lore, once Goddess Parvathi, possessed with the female energies of Parabrahman emerged, she released from her body Goddess Mahalakshmi and she in turn released Goddess Saraswathi.
Three theories float in this aspect. They are:-
(a) The Shaivites say that Lord Shiva is supreme from whom the other two divines emerged. (Ref: Linga Purana, Chapter-3)
(b) The Vaishnavites say that Lord Vishnu appeared first from whom the other two divines emerged. (Ref: Narayana Suktham of Yajur Veda and Narayana Upanishad)
(c) The third view has been that Lord Brahma appeared first from the Cosmic Egg broke by Parabrahman after which the other two divines emerged.
(d) The fourth view –Shaktism- says that matter came first as the Goddess, and from her came the mind, releasing three male forms: Brahma, the priest; Vishnu, the king; Shiva, the ascetic (Ref: Shrimad Devi Bhagavata Purana and Tantric purana texts)
Whatever is said and believed, the basic fact that the three main male divines emerged from Parabrahman were Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma and from them only came Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deities much later in stages.
43. Once Parabrahman released the Cosmic, in a wink of an eye, two principle divines –male and a female energies of Parabrahman merged into one to establish Shiva Sakthi and to reveal the concept that Parabrahman was embodiment of combined male and female energy called Parasakthi. The invisible Shiva-Sakthi appeared in the form of a Shiva ling, and in the next flash of moment, Parasakthi in the form of Shiva Ling, split separately to become Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi from whom the other divines emerged.
44. Since Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma came out of the divine rays of Lord Shiva who was from the male energies of Parabrahman, and Goddess Mahalakshmi and Goddess Saraswathi came out of Goddess Parvathi who was from the female energies of Parabrahman, the Shiva Ling not only represented Lord Shiva and Goddess Sakthi, but also revealed that it was embodied with the aspects of other two divines namely Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma with their consorts who were inside the body of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi. The upper portion of the Linga is like an egg and represents the cosmic egg. Shiva Linga signifies that the creation is effected by the union of Prakriti and Purusha, the male and the female powers of Nature.
45. Thus, after three male divines and three female divines from Parabrahman emerged, they became partners to each other as Lord Shiva – Goddess Parvathi, Lord Mahavishnu – Goddess Mahalakshmi and Lord Brahma – Goddess Saraswathi.
46. Once the three partners appeared, Lord Brahma was assigned the task of creation, Lord Vishnu the act of protection and Lord Shiva the act of dissolution. Interestingly among the three partners, only two partners namely Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi and Lord Vishnu and Goddess Mahalakshmi were authorised to release several divine forces who would at later stage turn into Kula Devatha or Tutelary/ Family deities to protect the creations to be released by Lord Brahma.
47. Why were only four divines – Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Goddess Parvathi and Goddess Mahalakshmi authorised to release the sub divines- semi, demi divines- which included the Kula Devatha or Tutelary/ Family deities? The acts and tasks of the Prime divines which were Creation, Guarding & guiding and Destruction, are comparable to that of a production unit wherein the goods are manufactured by one group, scrutinized to separate good and rejects which is sent to another group to remold or get them destroyed and the third either to remake material afresh from rejects or destroy them thus keeping the cycle of ongoing manufacturing process moving continuously.
48. Since the students and teachers cannot be the same, Lord Brahma and Goddess Saraswathi as duo creators (Students) were not authorised to release any divines (Teachers) from their body. Therefore, Lord Brahma engaged himself in the task of releasing souls with cycles of birth-death and rebirth and sent them in bulks to different parts of the universe.
49. He perform his act with the knowledge gained from the power of wisdom- goddess of knowledge Goddess Saraswathi.
50. Next task of guiding & protecting the created and scrutinize them for destruction was assigned to Lord Vishnu. Since in the vast land he alone cannot perform the act of guiding & protecting the souls with cycles of birth-death and rebirth continuously released by Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu needed fleet of assistants to assist him in several ways. Lord Vishnu perform this act with the support of Goddess Mahalakshmi who was the aspect of fertility, health and longevity.
FOUNDATION LAID FOR
KULA DEVATHA OR TUTELARY/FAMILY DEITIES
51. What was the role of the divines released by Lord Vishnu? The human souls spread in the vast universe needed to be guided and guarded by bringing them under the umbrella of spiritual protection. The divines released by Lord Vishnu was meant to act like a teacher to the folks who would be driven into the path of discipline and honesty so that they could live in peace and prosperity for long period of time. Further the teacher like divines would guard them like a shield against all evil forces and unwanted hardships. This is where the concept of Kula Devatha or Tutelary /Family deities was seeded.
52. Lord Brahma’s creations were mixed bag of good and evil minded besides Asuric (demonic) forces. Due to their inborn qualities of evilness, naturally the evil souls would refuse to mend their ways easily and similarly the Asuric forces would continue to terrorize the folks of the land before getting eliminated from the universe.
53. Hence while at one end to guide and guard the folks, Kula Devatha or Tutelary /Family deities would be created, on the other end the evils need to be identified and put them under punishment in a long process of divine law. This task was given to several divines released by Lord Vishnu and his consort Goddess Mahalakshmi and most of the divines thus released by them turned into master teacher in the form of Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity much later. The important divines released by Lord Vishnu as his shadow divines could be seen in Dasavathar. One of the other most popular deity thus created by him was Lord Venkatachalapathi of Tirupathi who became the Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity for many especially to those folks whose Kula Devatha was not known to them.
54. In the third of the act, the principle divine Lord Shiva was assigned the task of destruction or dissolution which is essential to balance the birth-death and rebirth cycle. Unless those who are born meet death, there would be no space available to accommodate additional creations or even the existing creations. Since Lord Shiva alone cannot perform the act in the vast universe, he perform this act with the help of few divines created or authorized by him and also with the support of his female part Goddess Parvathi who possess the power of Sakthi and who released several female goddesses later.
55. Act of destruction is of two kinds. Physical elimination and removal of Ignorance to give wisdom and tread the path of spirituality to get freed of sins. In the act of physical elimination, Lord Shiva ensures that the sinners with life and death circle, face hardship till their life span is over or hand them over to the Yama Dharmaraja, a divine created by him to process the cases for death and rebirth after meting out due punishments or rewards in Yama Loga.
56. Secondly, the duo combine – Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi- released several semi, demi divine forces from their divine energies especially as the aspects of Goddess Parvathi such as Goddess Mahishasura Mardini, Goddess Lalithambigai, Goddess Kali, Goddess Nava Durga Devis, Dasa Mahavidya Devis, and Mariamman etc. Many of the divines thus released by the duo become Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity later.
57. Whenever the Asura (Demonic) forces surfaced, Lord Shiva either released several divine forces from him to engage and destroy the evil forces from the universe or he transferred his divine energies to other divines to destroy the evil and Asuric forces on his behalf. Many of the divines released by him include important divines such as Lord Muruga, 64 Lord Bhairavas, Lord Veerabhadra, Lord Sharabha, Ashwathama etc. Some of them too became Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity.
58. Besides the three major tasks given to the prime divines, as a permanent measure to carry on certain other important tasks, both the protector and destroyer divines (Lord Shiva & Lord Vishnu) released some most important divines for the universe such as Lord Devendra, Lord Yama, Lord Aiyappa followed by planetary Lords like Moon (created by Lord Dattatreya), Sun, Rahu, Kethu, Budh, Guru, and Sani besides Lords of Fire, Varuna and Vayu etc. Though the Lords Sun, Moon, Indira, Vayu and Lord Varuna were already released along with the Cosmic which was created by Parabrahman, they were in invisible and Lord Shiva & Lord Vishnu removed the shield of cover of invisibility and made them visible like any other divine.
59. Though Lord Brahma was not authorized to release divine manifestations, he was authorized to establish Deva Loga, Indra Loga and other heavenly abodes where the divines could live. Lord Brahma was assured that Devas and Deva ganas needed for guiding and guarding the souls in the universe would be released from the divine energies of Prime divines at appropriate period of time Lord Brahma would need them to appear and assist the Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deities when the standards for the Yugas would be set by him.
60. Release of numerous divine forces, semi and demi-gods, and Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity thus became the responsibility of the other two prime divines Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu with their consorts. It will be interesting to know that entire divines released by Lord Shiva did not become Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deities but only some of those who were meant to bestow wisdom to remove ignorance of folks such as Lord Muruga in different manifestations, his consort Goddess Valli Devi, etc became Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deities. The wisdom God Lord Dakshinamoorthi did not become Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity. Another important deity created by Lord Shiva was Lord Vaitheeswara who became the Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deities for many folks besides those whose family deities were not known to them.
61. Some of the spiritual masters suggest that once the Shiva Sakthi in the form of a Shiva Ling appeared, Lord Dattatreya a shadow form of Parabrahman too appeared for few seconds before the prime divines, entered into the Shiva Ling and disappeared.
62. After the cosmic was born, Parabrahman appeared in the universe during Kali Yuga in the form of Lord Dattatreya – to establish Guru Parambara and accord wisdom to many by removing their ignorance through the perfect spiritual masters who were his incarnates.
Part- 5 Continued…….
References:- Some of the information found in the following sites, folk lores, discussions with temple Pundits and elders of yester year generations helped me in compiling the above article.
Acknowledgement: I acknowledge with grateful thanks, Dr. V. Sankarkumar, consultant medical officer in USA, who edited my article with valuable inputs before publishing it. He has been writing articles of spiritual nature in both Tamil and in English and has contributed much in one of the Shirdi Saibaba blogger (https://shirdisaibabatamilstories.blogspot.com/-in which I was one of the two coordinators) by translating the English articles into Tamil. …..N.R. Jayaraman (email@example.com).