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Hindu Universe > God, Sages and Gurus > God in Hindu Dharma and Representation in Temples > Concept of God in Hindu Dharma > Ishta Devata or Personal God

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God can be worshipped and prayed in the form of a chosen deity (Ishta Devatã) in the temples and in home shrines.  Being a God-loving religion and not a God-fearing one, Hindu Dharma relies upon self-knowledge through yoga and meditation rather than on dogma or blind faith.

Ishta Devata is that aspect of God which a follower of Bhaktiyoga chooses for worship and contemplation. Once chosen either willingly by oneself or at the. behest of the Guru it should not be changed.

The name of the Ishta Devata is 'Mantra'. The Mantra usually includes Pranava (Om) and often has additional letters called Bija (seed letters) also. These Bijaletters are different for different deities.

Pranava or the syllable `Om' comprising the three basic sounds a, u and m is considered as the origin of all sounds and all words, and hence of all created objects, by our scriptures. That is why it has been given the status of the, highest or best symbol of God.

The Mantra concerning the Ishtadevata has to be received by the disciple from the Guru is a ceremonial way, the rite itself being known as Diksha.

When the mind is able to flow in a constant and continuous stream like the oil that is being poured from one vessel into another towards the Ishtadevata, it is called Dhayana.

Japa is the repetition of the divine name or sacred formula, received from the Guru through Diksha. However, this repetition should be done with full faith and knowledge of the Mantra.

Based on Hinduism Through Questions and Answers and Bansi Pandit, Hindu Dharma

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God and Gods of Hinduism
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Communicating with God and the Gods
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Toward Ultimate Communion- Yoga
God and the Gods of Hinduism was created and published by Himalayan Academy, 107 Kaholalele Road, Kapaa HI 96746.