The many names of God give voice to the paths of faith and understanding taken by various peoples on this beautiful planet earth, as spoken in their diverse tongues.
In the originally oral tradition of the Vedas on the Indian subcontinent, there are Indra, Soma, and Agni, among other names representing different aspects of God.
The latter part of the Rg Veda also yields one of the earliest human expressions of this multiplicity being subsumed into Unity. We'll hear more of that in a subsequent post.
Later, Vedantists abstracted the muliplicity into Atman in the writings of the Upanishads, then re-personified three aspects in the names Brahma, Visnu, and Siva, often given attributes of Creator, Preserver, Destroyer.
Siva means “auspicious”, and the name or persona derives from Rudra, the original Sanskrit name for thunder. Thus, duality is unified even within the name of Siva, the auspicious, the destroyer, which heralds both lightning and rain. The dual aspects are manifest in the destructive force of lightning and torrential monsoon rains, and in the auspiciousness of the life which springs forth in their aftermath.
Of course another form of duality within unity is represented by the male/female pairing of Siva and Sakti [pronounced Shiva and Shakti].
Notably along these lines, in the Nag Hammadi library from the ancient Middle East, there exists an extraordinarily powerful and beautiful declaratory prayer known as "Thunder ~ Perfect Mind."
This recitation is a beautiful statement of the resolution of opposites within the Unity of the Divine, the One. All of it is spoken in the voice of a female persona.
More on that in another post to come, as well.
In Tibetan vajrayana, or tantric buddhism, the dorje (vajra in Sanskrit) represents awakened mind. Dorje is most often translated as "diamond thunderbolt".
Yes, it all does come together....
In the samkhya yoga tradition of India the personification of the Manifest and the Void, of male and female aspects of the divine oneness, is represented by the names Purusa and Prakriti, much the same as in the Chinese yang and yin.
The Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota indians of the Great Plains have Wakan Tanka, usually translated as the Great Spirit, as their name for the One, the Creator.
This little essay, and those to follow, are just the tiniest windows on the Unity of the Reality from which all the many beautiful names of God derive and flow.