Madhwa has the taratamya - that assigns ranks to about 100 deities. More recent scriptures have ratings baed on Kalas - a deity with 64 Kalas being supreme.

Have there been such detailed comparisons (not merely that "deity A is superior" or "deity A gave birth to deity B" etc.) of deities before Madhwa?


There are some statements in the vedas which might give scope to an interpretation of the existence of ranking among deva-s.

Aitareya brahmana 1.1.1

agnir vai devānām avamo Viṣṇuḥ paramas, tadantareṇa sarvā anyā devatā

Agni is the lowest of the deva-s and Vishnu is the highest. Between them are all other deva-s.

Madhvas interpret the above statement as a ranking among the deva-s.

A similar statement is found in Taittiriya samhita -

When about to consecrate himself, he offers to Agni and Visnu on eleven potsherds; all the deities are Agni; the sacrifice is Visnu; verily he lays hold of the deities and the sacrifice; Agni is the lowest of the deities, Visnu the highest; in that he offers to Agni and Visnu on eleven potsherds, the sacrificer envelops the gods on both sides and wins them.

In the above, the talk of enveloping the Gods on both sides may hint at the other Gods being in between Agni and Vishnu.

That Agni is the lower end of the Gods and Vishnu is the upper end, and all other Gods are in between, is also hinted at in Satapatha brahmana -

And on the following day he prepares a cake on eleven potsherds for Agni and Vishnu, and offers it in the same way as the (regular) ishti: this indeed is just what that approved initiation-offering to Agni and Vishnu is there 2. Now Agni is all the deities, since in Agni one offers to all deities; and Agni forsooth is the lower end, and Vishnu is the upper end: 'May I be consecrated, after thus encompassing all the deities, and after encompassing the whole sacrifice!'

  • OMG - "agniravamo" again. The bolding in your citation is misleading. It is just the order in which the offerings to the Gods are to be placed for the rite @also ran – S K Apr 5 at 21:58
  • Agni islast deveatha ..PUshakara is the last of tattvabhimani devatha.. – Prasanna R Apr 6 at 6:33
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    Sri Appayya Dikshitar in his 'Anandalahari', a short metrical work with his own commentary,has taken up this 'agnirvai...' mantra and demonstrated that it is not at all about ranking of deities but the order of the deities who arrive, one after the other, to receive the oblation. Sayanacharya has also similarly stated in his commentary to that mantra. The images for Appayya Dikshitar's commentary are here: 1.adbhutam.files.wordpress.com/2021/04/anandalahari-36-a.png 2nd adbhutam.files.wordpress.com/2021/04/anandalahari-36-b.png – v subrahmanian Apr 6 at 11:44
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    Here is the Sayanacharya commentary for 'agniragre prathamo...' where too the 'first' nature of agni and the 'uttama' nature of Vishnu is stated: adbhutam.files.wordpress.com/2021/04/sayana-agniragre.jpeg – v subrahmanian Apr 6 at 11:52

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