KULA DEVATHA OR TUTELARY/FAMILY DEITIES:
ORIGIN AND CONCEPT
113. Prior to sending the souls to earth, Lord Brahma requested Parabrahman to split the divines into various categories to manifest and remain invisible in the spaces earmarked for them even before human souls reached there. He himself (Lord Brahma) would also ensure that some of the humans turn into divine over long period of time. The divines would appear gradually as folks gained knowledge and belief to accept the divines. In short, Lord Brahma’s creations included the following category of divines to guide and guard the humans on earth.
• Prime divines who directly appeared from Parabrahman
• First line of divines manifested from the Prime divines, some of whom turned into Tutelary deities or Ishta Devathas
• Second line of divines released either by Prime divines or by the first line of divines all of whom became Tutelary and Family deities at later stage
• Third line of divines who were cursed deva ganas from Parabrahman Loga, take birth in human race, penance on land and turn into Village deities, Guardian deities etc. They assist the first and second line of divines for certain period of time. Some in them become Tutelary and family deities much later.
• Fourth line of divines who were sinned or cursed in deva Loga, take birth as humans or animals, penance on land and assisted the first, second and third line of divines for certain period of time before becoming angels, good spirits, or village border guardian deities.
• Fifth line of divines were evil spirits and bad Ghosts. They would ultimately get destroyed by the divine forces in many ways to show to the folks the power of divine.
114. The First line of deities were divines who manifested from Prime divines in some form and settled in worship places or temples. They are shortly called mirror images of the Prime divines, but appear in different other form with dual role to play. They become tutelary and family deities in the places earmarked for the tutelary deities and enjoy enormous divine powers to bestow or grant favours to the prayers of those who worshipped them regularly and in sincerity. They could enter any space on earth or air space, land or sea to protect the folks who pray to them in sincerity. Besides they also protect the sub divines working under them whenever their existence was threatened. They were also empowered to manifest in any form whenever and wherever needed to annihilate the evils and war mongering Asura and Draconian forces even if it lay beyond their area of control.
115. The first line of divines’ possessed unlimited territories to manifest and exercise their divine powers, however without defacing the basic norms of Lord Brahma’s scripts of creation. The first line of divines are the very same prime divines in different appearances and names, the classic example being Lord Shiva in the shape of Shiva Ling in many temples addressed in several names. To quote few are Lord Murutheeswarar, Lord Kapaleeswarar, Lord Vaitheeswara, Lord Chokkanathar and Lord Kumbeswarar etc all appear in the form of a Shiva Ling. The female Goddess Parvathi is represented in the name of Goddess Tripurasundari, Goddess Lalithambigai, Goddess Kamatchi, Goddess Karpagambigai, Goddess Rajarajeswari etc. Lord Mahavishnu appears in the forms of Lord Venkatachalapathi, Lord Sarangapani, Srirangam Ranganathaswami, Puri Jagannath etc, etc. Normally all of them do not turn into tutelary deities. Some of them become Kula Devatha/Tutelary/Family deities.
Kashiswar Bhairava or Kashiswara Jiu is a banalingam
established by Kashiswar Dutta Chowdhury in mid-17th century AD,
after he discovered it in the Saraswati River. The God is the
guardian deity of Dutta Chowdhury family, Andul, Howrah.
116. Can the first line of divines unilaterally grant boons or favours to those who were under the care of other Kula Devatha or Tutelary and Family deities? While the clear answer is ‘No’, they can certainly grant general boons or favours to anyone except to those who are under the guard of some Kula Devatha or Tutelary and Family deities. However if they desired to grant boons or favours to those under the Kula Devatha or Tutelary and Family deities, they can also do it only after consulting the Kula Devatha or Tutelary and Family deities of those folks. They cannot infringe into the right of tutelary deities who were already functioning in the area.
117. The Second line of divines are the shadow divines of first line of divines. They are sent to represent the first line of divines. The second line of divines too have enormous divine powers because they are also energy rays of Prime divines only but emanated through the first line of divines. They could exercise their authority and divine powers fully to guide and guard the families under their command.
118. However there exist a rider for second line of divines while exercising the powers. While answering the prayers or punishing the folks who have accepted them (the second line of divines) as Ishta Devatha though were under the control of another Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity, the second line of divines would have to ensure that granting of boons would not be detrimental to the interests of other families under the control of the same tutelary deities. If for genuine reasons it becomes necessary for them to either punish or reward those folks under the command of a Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity, first they would have to inform and take concurrence from the Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity under whose command those folks lived.
119. What is the actual difference between first and second line of divines? Not much difference except that the secondary line of divines were mostly manifestations from the first line of divines and rarely released from the body of Parabrahman at the request of Lord Brahma. Though the divine powers vested in them would also be same on par with the first line of divines, the scope of their authority would be restricted to limited areas or for specific groups of folks only.
120. Sometimes peculiar situation may emerge. When the second line of deities released by some of the first line of divines were functioning as Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity in specific areas of land, in order to execute certain functions, if it becomes necessary for the first line of divines also to manifest in the same space which were under the control of the second line of divines released by them, what would be the status of both first and second line of deities? Certainly, there would not be clash of interest because the first line of divines would come in to the picture only when the situation needed a task to be performed that lay beyond the scope of the second line of divines released by them. But the manifested divines would not interfere in any manner in the act of second line of divines functioning as Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity.
121. Most of the second line of divines which emerged turn into tutelary deities or Ishta Devathas after assisting the first line of divines for some specific period of time. Some examples of the second line of divines include divines such as Lord Muruga in different names, Lord Ayyappa, Lord Rama, Lord Krishna in different names, Lord Veerabhadra, Lord Bhairava in different names, Lord Anjaneya, Lord Chakrapani, Lord Sarangapani, Lord Uppiliyappan, manifestations from Goddess Parvathi such as Goddesses Durga in different names, Goddess Akilandeswari, Goddess Mahishasura Mardini, Goddess Bhavani, Goddess Madurai Meenakshi and Goddess Lalithambigai in different names, several Mariamman group of deities in different names etc etc.
122. The third line of divines are sub divines functioning under second line of divines. They come from sinned or cursed Deva ganas, especially the one who accrued the maximum sin or cursed during their stay in Parabrahman Loga, but also include those who assisted the other divines in some war or other events. They also stand as the Guardian deities of the temples of prime divines. They manifest as human or as animals and then turn into Village deities, guardian deities and local deities. Once they become Village Deity, they assist all other divines who are present in those areas besides guarding the boundaries of space where all of them manifested. Some of the Village deities were also the incarnations of second line of divines who were cursed.
123. Village deities are deities worshipped by villagers as a part of a long, continuous tradition in rural India. The famous Village deity Kathavarayan is believed to be the incarnate of Lord Muruga who incurred a small curse from Lord Shiva and born as Kathavarayan to atone the sin. Another famous Folk deity called Madurai Veeran, a cursed Devagana from Devaloga is believed to protect city Madurai and Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple. He is also worshipped by many as their Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity. The other Village deity include Ayyanaar who is reportedly the incarnate of Lord Aiyappa. Sudalai Madan, Ezhu Kanniyar take the form of seven virgins and Kanakampikai Amman is the guardian goddess of the Vanni region n Srilanka and Sangali Karuppan etc.
124. How do they become Village/Guardian deities? Those of the Deva Ganas who come down to earth, born as human or enter into the body of human or animals, display heroic acts through them and at the end of the penance period they became Folk deities in the name of Village/Guardian deities. Once they became Village/Guardian deities, they were given some responsibilities and limited divine powers. Though the Folk deities with those limited powers cannot answer the prayers of devotees for personal benefits, they were noble enough to get the boons bestowed through their master Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity of that area. At the same time, even with those limited powers the Village/Guardian deities were able to prevent the evil spirits and demonic spirits (who carried sins in deva Loga and born to atone their sins) from entering into the village and drive them out from the village.
125. Over a period of time, the Folk deities appear in the dreams of some of the commoners and commanded them to accept them as their family god and worship them in a particular manner. The sufferings of those families who offered worship to the Folk deity when begin to recede, partly with the discreet support of the Folk deity’s master Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deities, more families began to consider the Folk deity as divines. In this manner the Folk deities slowly marched into the bandwagon of tutelary deities.
126. Though the Folk deities could effectively prevent the natural disasters causing destruction in the villages, the ghosts and evil spirits cannot be destroyed by them because they were created by Lord Brahma for certain reasons. However the Folk deities would be able to drive away the ghosts and evil spirits out of their area. As the performance of the Folk deities begin to increase, more and more powers as enjoined by a Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity were also continuously bestowed on them by Lord Brahma to fall into the line of divines.
127. The fourth line of divines are blessed ganas who enter into the body of humans and turn into angels or village guardian deities. On account of several good deeds acquired by some of the humans in the first Yuga in which they lived, few of them become angels. Such pious souls in the body of humans display mysterious acts through the divine powers they receive from time to time beneficial to the mankind in the village where they manifested. Over period of time in appreciation of their service, the human possessed with unknown good goblin or fairy angel or aspects of some divines begin to get respect from the locals. After the demise of those humans or animals through whose body the fourth line of divines functioned, they were buried, and a memorial pillar or inscribed stone blocks erected over them converting the spot into place of worship. The souls inside their body would settle in those sites in invisible manner and continue to protect the village as folk guardian deity or guardian angel because they carried some aspects of divine powers received from Prime divines who sent them to become angels.
128. Thus the sinned and cursed Deva ganas over period of time get recognition as Folk deities, and get their curses reversed to become Kula Devatha or Tutelary/Family deity through their master tutelary deities as originally scripted by Lord Brahma.
Part- 8 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.
(12) Several temple histories where divines manifested in human form to get curses revoked
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).