Embracing impermanence; Kuber's rise to divinity
As a way of life, Hinduism unfolds profound life philosophies by embodying them through a pantheon of divinity and divine human beings. Within this spiritual tapestry, the absence of double standards becomes evident, where a common set of principles applies to demons, deities, and humans, all bearing the inherent constraints of their respective birthplaces and planes of existence.
In the diverse shades of Hindu philosophy, a core tenet – the impermanence of all things offers hope and inspiration. This foundational belief signifies that transformation is accessible to everyone, regardless of whether we stand among the divine, the demoniacal, or the human. Throughout Hindu lore, there are numerous compelling instances of individuals, be they humans or demons, ascending to god-like status through unwavering dedication and exceptional practice. Conversely, these narratives also reveal gods who have fallen from their divine pedestals due to a wavering commitment to Dharma and the allure of unguarded desires and indulgences.
Kuber is one of the gods who befits the example of transformation- from Guhayaka to God. He has been referred to variously as Guhyakadhipa - Lord of Guhyakas, Yakshadhipati ( king of yakshas), Nara Rahman- one who is drawn by spirits or humans; he is also Bhutesha ( king of spirits ). He is also known as Ekaksipingala(one with one yellow eye) after Goddess Lakshmi cursed him as he secretly observed or interfered when Lord Shiva and Goddess Lakshmi were having private time. He is also called Yaksharajan ( king of Yakshas) and kinnar raja (Lord of kinnars). At some time, he was also Dhanadhipati (Lord of wealth) and Raja Raja ( king of kings), probably because he controlled the world's material riches. In Atharv Veda, he is mentioned as the chief of the spirit of darkness. There are different stories of his origin. He was believed to be the son of Pulastya, the mind-born son of Brahma and IIlavida (or Idavida). Kuber deserted his father, Pulastya, and went to Brahma and worshipped him. Moved by his deep meditation, Brahma made him immortal, appointed him the God of Riches, and gifted Pushpak- Vimana.
Kuber is one of the revered gods in Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. He is one of the Dikpala or Lokpaal, the Guardians of Direction. Kuber is the guardian deity of the North. In Ramayan, he is mentioned as the God of Gold and wealth. As the wealthiest God - Dhanadhiapati- a story associates him with Tirupati Balaji temple. According to famous lore, it is believed that Lord Kuber lent money to Vishnu's incarnation, Shrinivas, so that he could marry Padmavati ( incarnation of Lakshmi ), the daughter of kings of seven hills.
Shrinivas (Lord Venkateshwara), born into a humble family, falls in love with Princess Padmavati. The girl's father puts a pre-condition of a massive sum of money for marriage. Shrinivas, Lord Vishnu's incarnation, approaches Lord Kuber to take a loan for the same amount. The loan amount was so huge that Shrinivas could not repay it quickly. The devotees of Tirupati Balaji temple are still helping Lord Vishnu ( incarnated as Shrinivas) repay the loan through their donations. Lord Venkateshwara is believed to stay in the hills of Tirumala (Tirupati temple) until the loan is not repaid. As per the belief, the loan amount gets repaid at the end of Kali Yug.
Hinduism applauds coexistence and inclusivity between Gods, demons, humans & ecology. The above story of Kuber lending money for Shrinivas and Padmavati offers an insight into belief in the philosophy of coexistence. This story of Kuber lending money to Vishnu's incarnation reflects life's undeniable truth; interdependence for existence. When even the divine seeks the collective help of humanity to fulfil their purpose, then to think of ourselves as invincible is akin to insanity.
Kuber was not recognised as a God in Vedic times. The earliest references show him as the leader of the spirits, and he was considered the king of Yakshas in major Indian-origin religions like Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. In Jainism, he was the attendant Yaksha of 19th Trithankara Mallinatha. In Buddhism, Kuber is Vaisravana, and like the Hindu Kubera, he is the regent of the North, a lokapala and the Lord of yakshas. However, by the time of Purana and epics, Kubera had acquired the status of God. Lord Kuber strongly emerged as a Dikpal or Lokpal in the Puranic period. Lord Kubera is known as the ruler of northern quarters and is considered its guardian deity.
The story of Lord Kuber unveils a profound truth about the changing nature of situations and roles. Kuber's journey is a testament to the transformative power that resides within every individual. He had remarkably progressed from the leadership of evil spirits to the throne of the Yakshas, ultimately achieving divine status.
According to Legend, the kuber was driven out of Lanka by Ravan and even his Pushpak- Viman was stolen by Ravan. Faced with such extreme life challenges, Kuber then went to Kailash and underwent deep meditation. Moved by his penance, lord shiva blessed him with his company and the status of a Demigod. Kuber then went on to build a beautiful city of Alaka, (Alka puri) and his heavenly garden, caitharth, was frequented by several Gods, including Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. After his association with Lord Shiva increased, he also became associated with Goddess Lakshmi, Goddess of Fortune and auspiciousness. Many believe that Goddess Lakshmi appointed him as treasurer for material wealth. For all kinds of material wealth, Kuber started being associated with Goddess Lakshmi, who was much more than the Goddess of material wealth.
The story of Lord Kuber resounds with the deep-rooted philosophy - the acknowledgement of the impermanence that underlies all aspects of existence. It's a narrative that reminds us how every role can change and every soul can evolve towards more incredible spiritual and emotional refinement. The story brings the profound message home that in embracing impermanence, we find hope, not despair. It is a reminder that there are no fixed compartments or immovable barriers in life. Our existence in this world offers us many opportunities, an invitation to break free from the limitations that bind us and evolve towards higher realms of understanding. Embracing inherent impermanence is the key to higher spiritual and intellectual rise.