As soon as the world develops, it then takes on the deity of various forms. In the world, spiritual powers, divine power, etc. are all the same as the distinctions of this supreme lord. Generally, the deities are innumerable. But some of these principal powers or Gods have been taken for the offering.
The infinite powers are sparked in various forms that have many names, hence many names have been praised in the Vedas. In fact, through all the names, only the supreme God is being called and praised. Let’s try to know what is mention in RigVeda about the number of deities. I picked a few verses from the Rigveda to know the number of Devas.
In thy mysterious place, O Pavamana Soma, are all the Gods, the Thrice-Eleven. Ten on the fleecy height, themselves, self-prompted, and seven fresh rivers brighten and adorn thee.
Satapatha Brahmana 18.104.22.168
There are eight Vasus, eleven Rudras, twelve Âdityas; and these two, Heaven and Earth, are the (thirty-second and) thirty-third. And there are thirty-three gods, and Pragâpati is the thirty-fourth;–thus he makes him (the sacrificer, or Yagña) to be Pragâpati 2: now that 3 is, for that is immortal, and what is immortal that is. But what is mortal that also is Pragâpati; for Pragâpati is everything: thus he makes him to be Pragâpati, and hence there are these thirty-four utterances, called expiations.
Taittiriya Samhita 22.214.171.124
a Ye gods that are eleven in the sky,Eleven on the earth,Who sits mightily in the waters, eleven in number, Do ye accept this sacrifice?
However, in the one mantras of Rigveda 3.9.9, 3339 gods are mentioned.
Three times a hundred Gods and thrice a thousand, and three times ten and nine have worshipped Agni, For him spread sacred grass, with oil bedewed him, and established him as Priest and Sacrificer.
However, Sainacharya has written that the deity is only 33, but to show the great glory of the gods, 3339 gods are mentioned. The Niruktaar says that ‘God is one, even after being called by different names according to the law. It means that the rule is one and the development of this basic power is all deity. Yask has given an example –
“Nararashtramiv” means that even innumerable human beings are single identity at the individual level but at the national level, all innumerable humans are one. In the same way, deities may be many but they always represent single power. In the Rigveda verse 3.54, there are 22 mantras and subway end has the word “Mahadevanasamrutmakam”, which means – ‘The great force of God is the same. It is that the power of the gods is the same – not two. Due to the development of the superpower, the power of the Gods is not separate – it is not free.
Possibility of 330 Millions of GOD’s?
These verses have taken from Skanda Purana where “Koti” is mentioned in the verses which have two primary meanings. “Category and “Crore [10 million]”. Eventually, in some places, Crore has taken while interpretation. But in the above-mentioned verses from RigVed, “Koti” is not present. Direct 33 devas are mentioned. Vedas are primarily spiritual texts. There is the primacy of consciousness in it. The natural forces which were praised and appreciated by the Rishis, have appreciated their consciousness level. They didn’t differentiate this consciousness from the Supreme lord. They used to see God in every natural element. In the first mantra of the Rig Veda, they are praising the fire, but not regarding the fire as independent of God.
According to the Vedic rishis, virtually there are Gods or divine powers all around, outside, inside, everywhere. Rishis used to see the deities in everything, in the tree, in the branches of the tree, ocean, air, sky, etc. Vedic Rishis were seeing consciousness in everything. For them, everything has a life and one can express their love and feelings towards them. They evolve themselves to believe in “आत्मवत् सर्वभूतेषु” [Aatmvat Sarvbhutesu] which means “The one who sees all the beings as their own is the scholar”. In this way, they were free to believe Gods in everything, which can be the reason behind 330 million Gods and this is the beauty of Sanatan dharma. Every individual is free to worship in his own way. There is no obligation of any method.
Why 33 Devas in Rigved not less or more?
Why there are thirty-three Devas in Vedas, the exact reason for this is not known? However, thirty-three Devas are mentioned in plenty of verses in multiple scriptures.
Below are the thirty-three Devas as per scriptures
Eight Vasus (deities of material elements) – Dyauṣ “Sky”, Pṛthivī “Earth”, Vāyu “Wind”, Agni “Fire”, Nakṣatra “Stars”, Antarikṣa “Atmosphere” or “Space”, Sūrya “Sun”, Chandra “Moon”
Twelve Ādityas (personified deities) – Vishnu, Aryaman, Indra (Śakra), Tvāṣṭṛ, Varuṇa, Bhaga, Savitṛ, Vivasvat, Aṃśa, Mitra, Pūṣan, Dakṣa. This list sometimes varies in particulars.
Eleven Rudras, consisting of:Five abstractions – Ānanda “bliss”, Vijñāna “knowledge”, Manas “thought”, Prāṇa “breath” or “life”, Vāc “speech”, Five names of Śiva – Īśāna “revealing grace”, Tatpuruṣa “concealing grace”, Aghora “dissolution/rejuvenation Bhairava”, Vāmadeva “preserving aspect”, Sadyojāta “born at once”
Earth and Heaven
Nothing has been written in the Vedas without reason and there must have been some reason behind the thirty-three deities. According to me, might be, a thirty-three is a number in which all the elements of the universe are considered in some or other form and all other elements might be derivatives of these thirty-three elements. Perhaps Vedic rishis were well aware of this and that is why Vedic sages did not feel the need for more than thirty-three deities. This is completely my opinion.