When reading certain excerpts from Vedas, I felt like these gods like Agni, Rudra, Indra, etc are actually not beings but anthropomorphized versions of stuff like fire, Sun, wind, clouds, etc. In Bhagavad Gita, during Viswarupa Darsana Yoga, Krishna says the terrifying form of him is 'time'. In Puranas like in Brahma Purana, Vishnu says he is every god, every object, everything, and then shows his form with 4 hands holding conch, chakra, etc. In some places, I have seen people saying that the 4 faces of Brahma represents 4 Vedas and the 4 dogs of Shiva represents 4 Vedas.

So...are the gods, be it Agni, Indra, etc as well as Shiva, Vishnu, Krishna, Devi, Kali, etc all completely intended to be metaphorical?

2 Answers 2


They are real according to Yogic testimony.

The party entered holy Benares by boat along the Ganges. When Sri Ramakrishna's eyes fell on this city of Siva, where had accumulated for ages the devotion and piety of countless worshippers, he saw it to be made of gold, as the scriptures declare. He was visibly moved. During his stay in the city he treated every particle of its earth with utmost respect. At the Manikarnika Ghat, the great cremation ground of the city, he actually saw Siva, with ash covered body, and tawny matted hair, serenely approaching each funeral pyre and breathing into the ears of the corpses the mantra of liberation; and then the Divine Mother removing from the dead their bonds. Then he realized the significance of the scriptural statement that anyone dying in Benares attains salvation through the grace of Siva.

The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna translated by Swami Nikhilananda, Introduction


The scriptural journey is across three dimensions in which the Rishis (Ṛṣi) divided the Vedic context: adhibhautika (physical); adhidaivika (Divinity/Deva); and ādhyātmika (Yogic union with cit).

Since you mentioned Vedic deities like Rudra and Agni, they being structures of the human mind (anthropomorphized) superimposing themselves with the Divine. You also compared with Gita's Vishvarupa, let's go further back and contrast it with the Vedic Ṛṣis, who addressed the Vedic Rudra as Viṣvarūpam and described with his color/hue, hair, eyes, throat, count of Rudra, and more in at most detail. (Source Link)

They reached details as to where they lived, with whom, how they dressed, how they operated, and more. (Source Link)

But they went into the metaphorical essence as they related them with the cosmic phenomenon like the example you shared about Time. Here is a link that describes this in the Vedic sense using Agni and Rudra. (source link)

So, the answer to your question is that human experience is all psychological, which is linked with senses and chemicals. Humanity does not have a common perspective, nor a single reality. So the Vedic Rishis (Ṛṣi) divided the Vedic context into adhibhautika (physical); adhidaivika (Divinity/Deva/cosmic phenomenon); and ādhyātmika (Yogic union with cit). So when you read scriptures, we have to keep in mind as to its context.

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