Numerous times have we heard gurus, elders utter this sentence. In a simple sense, they could be talking about 33 million gods in Hinduism, or 33 crore gods, since Koti means crore. But if we dig deeper into Sanskrit and Vedas, Koti means type, not crore. So basically we are talking about the 33 types of God in Hinduism.
In Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 3.9.2, Rishi Sakalya & Yagnavalkya discussed the number of Gods.
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Yajnavalkya mentions the number of gods as 33; then he gives details of them.
According to Yajnavalkya,
स होवाच, महिमान एवैषामेते, त्रयस्त्रिंशत्त्वेव देवा इति; कतमे ते त्रयस्त्रिंशदिति; अष्टौ वसवः, एकादश रुद्राः, द्वादशादित्याः, ते एकत्रिंशत्, इन्द्रश्चैव प्रजापतिश्च त्रयस्त्रिंशाविति ॥ २ ॥
These are but the manifestations of them, but there are only thirty-three gods.
Which are that thirty-three type of Gods in Hinduism?
The eight Vasus, the eleven Rudras and the twelve Ādityas—these are thirty-one, and Indra and Prajāpati make up the thirty-three.
12 Adityas or द्वादशादित्य
They are the sons of Aditi and hence called Adityas. The names of these 12 Adityas are
- Tvashta (त्वष्ट)
- Pusha (पूषा )
- Vivasvan (विवस्वान)
- Mitra (मित्र )
- Dhata (धाता)
- Vishnu (विष्णू)
- Bhaga (भग)
- Varuna (वरुण)
- Savitru (सवितृ )
- Shakra (शक्र )
- Ansha (अंश )
- Aryama (अर्यमा)
These were the sons of Kashyapa Rishi.
The twelve months of a year called Adityaas, they cause the lapse of the term of existence of each object or being.
कतम आदित्या इति । द्वादश वै मासाः संवत्सरस्य, एत आदित्याः, एते हीदं सर्वमाददाना यन्ति; ते यदिदं सर्वमाददाना यन्ति तस्मादादित्या इति ॥ 5 ॥
Which are the Ādityas ? The twelve months (are parts) of a year; these are the Ādityas, for they go taking all this with them. Because they go taking all this with them, therefore they are called Ādityas.'
11 Rudras or एकादशरुद्र
They are those Rudraganas who are said to have originated from Brahmadeva's anger. Their names are
- Manyu (मन्यु)
- Manu (मनु)
- Mahinas (महिनस )
- Mahan (महान )
- Shiv (शिव )
- Rutudhvaj (ऋतुध्वज )
- Ugrareta (उग्ररेता )
- Bhava (भव)
- Kaal (काल )
- Vamdev (वामदेव)
- Dhrutavrat (धृतव्रत).
Their names vary in different skriptures, but the number remains same.
कतमे रुद्रा इति; दशेमे पुरुषे प्राणा आत्मैकादशः; ते यदास्माच्छरीरान्मर्त्यादुत्क्रामन्त्यथ रोदयन्ति; तद्यद्रोदयन्ति तस्माद्रुद्रा इति ॥ 4 ॥
Which are the Rudras?
The ten organs in the human body, with the mind as the eleventh. When they depart from this mortal body, they make (one's relatives) weep. Because they then make them weep, therefore they are called Rudras."
8 Vasus or अष्टवसू
They are sons born from Dharma Rishi and Vasu. Their names are
- Drona (द्रोण )
- Pran (प्राण )
- Dhruva (ध्रुव )
- Aka (अक)
- Dosha (दोष)
- Vasu (वसू)
- Vibhavasu (विभासु )
कतमे वसव इति; अग्निश्च पृथिवी च वायुश्चान्तरिक्शं चादित्यश्च द्यौश्च चन्द्रमाश्च नक्शत्राणि चैते वसवः; एतेषु हीदं वसु सर्वं हितमिति तस्माद्वसव इति ॥ ३ ॥
'Which are the Vasus?' 'Fire, the earth, the air, the sky, the sun, heaven, the moon and the stars—these are the Vasus, for in these all this is placed; therefore they are called Vasus.'
The 2 Ashwini Kumars
They were born from the Sun and were the doctors of the Devas. These two had helped Chyavan Bhargav Rishi to regain his youth.
The last two families of Ashwini Kumar are replaced by Indra and Prajapati sometimes.
कतम इन्द्रः, कतमः प्रजापतिरिति; स्तनयित्नुरेवेन्द्रः, यज्ञः प्रजापतिरिति; कतमः स्तनयित्नुरिति; अशनिरिति; कतमो यज्ञ इति; पशव इति ॥ 6 ॥
'Which is Indra, and which is Prajāpati?' 'The cloud is Indra, and the sacrifice is Prajāpati.' 'Which is the cloud?' 'Thunder (strength).' 'Which is the sacrifice?' 'Human Form.'