16. What exactly is a deity or divine? It is a supernatural being in some form or appearance, possessed with supernatural divine powers which is worshipped by people who believe that it controls or exerts force over all aspects of the world. While in Hinduism, the deity is referred as Devatha, the Europeans coined it as Deity which is a Latin word- Deus, meaning god. ‘Deva’ in Sanskrit too refers to divine and ‘Kula’, the sect or generation.
17. The Hindu theistic believe in various paths of worship like henotheism (belief in single supreme God without disputing existence of other divine forces), monotheism (believe that only one supreme God exist), polytheism (belief in pantheon of divines, both male and female), panentheism (belief that divine exists everywhere in the universe, accessible to everyone), or monism (Only one God which is masculine and eternal) for spiritual enlightenment, to safeguard families and for progress in life. The worship of Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity concept falls as one in the said path. Every family/sect/lineage/generation had their own chosen deity of either male of female divine forms. Since generations, the ancestors of a family worshipped a specific deity as their Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity, there was always a bond between the family and the specific deity and hence it was custom for the family members to always offer first salutations to the said specific deity called their Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity after invoking Lord Ganesha in the rituals. Their belief was that any function, rituals or poojas including ceremonies performed will be incomplete unless the Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity is invoked or worshipped immediately after invoking Lord Ganesha. Most of the Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity temples are normally found in the family’s ancestral village/towns because several hundred years ago most of the folks lived in villages as a group or their relatives.
18. Those were the days when elders in the family used to be the head of a family, and everyone respected their command and obeyed their orders. Thus the deity, identified and worshipped by the elders became common deity turned into their Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity as pre-programmed by Lord Brahma to develop the system of worshiping Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity concept in their life. The successive lineages of the elders continued to worship the same deity as their Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity.
19. In the Vedic period the father was head of each family and none reversed his dictum nor felt ashamed of toeing their father’s line. It was priority to maintain the togetherness of the families, and those family members who disrespected or revolted against the unity of the family were either discarded or condemned by other family members. In the past, most of the families consisted of grandpa, son and grandson and almost everyone in the family lived under the same roof, or if the members were more and could not live in a small house, some of the family members along with their kids lived in nearby neighborhood so that on occasions of important events all of them could join together and celebrate  the function as one unified family. What the practice prevailed then was that after the demise of father, either his wife or the first son in that family automatically gained the status of family head.
20. From the great, great grandfather to the youngest grandson in their lineage, everyone worshipped  specific deity in a specific temple of their village which became their Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity. On  important days all of them together went to the temple and worshiped their Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity. The practice was continued by the succeeding lineage members. This is how the concept of worshiping the Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity of the first generation kept flowing down amongst the members of their lineages.
21. When humans gained knowledge and began venerating the deities, a majority of them lived in the villages along with their family members and relatives because it was a cohesive family knit engaged either in the agricultural activities or in the profession as priests or pundits attending to the rituals and functions performed by the rulers. There was hardly any well-developed township and every one of the  villages consisted of folks belonging to many castes and creed, but neither the caste nor creed had major role to play and everyone lived as a group of villagers in their region and together participated in each of the functions or rituals held in their villages and worshipped a common deity or deities enshrined in small worship center or found in open spaces. One of the deities became Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity  to some group and the other deities became Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity to the remaining. However few of the folks did not accept both the deities as their Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity and treated them as their Ishta Devatha means adapted deity.
22. In the above background, it is safe to assume that the Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity concept emerged from the worship of deities whose numerous idols and statues were found erected in the villages and venerated as part of the folk tradition in villages. One cannot find even one village without a statue of some deities addressed in many names.
23. This is the prime reason why over 95% of the Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity of one’s generation is found in one’s ancestral village. It is also interesting to note that out of those 95% deities, over 90 % were seen as Village deities- which were either second or third line of divines in the hierarchy of divines. This is explained under category of divines later. Over period of time, as migration from villages to towns began, the members of those families who relocated their place of stay to newer places used to visit their native villages whenever possible and continued offering prayers to their Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity in their ancestral home land.
24. The elders always maintained that without the blessings of ones’ Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity, nothing good will happen in the family, even if they offered prayers to any Ishta Devatha (favorite god) or their Guru {Head of the mutt (monastery)} to which the family is attached. It was custom to those families in south India who for some reason or the other did not know their Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity, adopted either Lord Vaidyanathaswamy of Vaitheeswaran temple or Lord Venkatachalapathi of Tirupathi as their Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity. Their belief stemmed from the fact that Lord Sri Venkateswara, an aspect of Lord Vishnu was believed to be the deity encompassed with the power of Trimurtis – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva -besides the power of Shakthi, the female divine energy of Parabrahman and he appears in whatever form the devotees worship and therefore is the root of all Gods, quite possibly their Kula Devatha too one amongst them. Similar is the case of Lord Vaitheeswaran, who is Lord Shiva in the form of a Shiva Ling. The Shiva Ling is believed to be embodiment of Shiva and Sakthi – One half of Shiva Ling is supposed to be the male divine energy of Parabrahman who created the cosmic and the other half is that of Shakthi- both embodiment of all divines.

  25. One cannot abruptly change their Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity or choose another at their will abandoning what their forefathers had worshipped through generations. Only by the act of nature, the worship of the specific Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity chain gets broken midway when the lineages had no male members or no children at all or some had only female children in the lineages.See below to understand it.

26. Unfortunately, the principle and canon of creation continue to flow through word of mouth stories only, preaching and teachings or transcripts from spiritual masters, lectures of seers, sages including divine prophets and messengers over the past several thousands of years. This is because major texts of original Rig Veda and other important puranic texts of pre and post Vedic period, reportedly kept scribbled on palm tree leaves remain untraceable till date or believed to have been destroyed by nature, so opine the spiritual masters. Hence many of the texts of Vedic period remained as word of mouth stories. However since the same texts have also been preached to the divine sages by the divine themselves on many occasions, they may have got percolated to the folks of the land by word of mouth stories and teachings.
27. Some of the spiritual organizations such as Brahmakumari Samaj, Gayathri Parivar, Dattathreya Parivar, Digambara and life stories of several Seers, Sadhus and Sannyasins hold these views strongly. It is also reportedly mentioned in a text called “Rahasya Sthuthi” meaning secret doctrine, that the principle and canon of creation has been narrated by Lord Vishnu himself to Sage Narada, but unfortunately the same text is also not available and floats only by word-of-mouth stories and folk tales.
28. Before we delve into the origin, concept and worship of Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity, we need to briefly understand the principle of creation of cosmic,  how much time was taken to make the earth livable, why it took billions of years to shape the universe embodied with certain characteristics by Lord Brahma after the cosmic was created, how the foundation was laid for the divines to function in specific manner and who created which divine for the same how the divines emerged, from when did the divines and  humans surface, when and how did the  Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity worship began etc.

Part- 3 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.

(2) https://shrigurumaharishi.org/2019/10/03/why-should-we-worship-our-kuladeivam-family-deity

(5) https://www.historydiscussion.net/history-of-india/early-vedic-period/the-early-vedic-period/6244
(7) https://karaikudiexpress.wordpress.com/2020/08/02/kula-deivam
(8) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Household_deity
(9) https://www.indiamart.com/proddetail/worship-of-family-deity-helps-you-in-your-hardships-22258447648.html
(10) https://www.tamilbrahmins.com/threads/brahmins-kula-devatha.3111/
(11) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_in_Hinduism
(12) https://sound-hindu-god-photo.blogspot.com/2009/08/god-of-kuladevata.html
(13) https://www.toppr.com/ask/question/who-was-the-head-of-family-in-old-family-trend/
(14) https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/334948462.pdf
(15) https://pune.gen.in/india/family-life-aryans-rig-vedic-period/4449/
(16) https://brainly.in/question/48649917
(17) https://blog.ipleaders.in/historical-perspectives-hindu-law-inheritance/
(18) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venkateswara

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 (nrj1945@gmail.com).