“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” wrote George Orwell in ‘Animal Farm’, and that is pretty much how the world is run. The gods, however, get away with more than even the most equal of humans could. Take a look:
1. They married their siblings and offspring
Gods throughout the world have thought nothing of shacking up with their brothers, sisters and kids. In Greek mythology, Titans were married to their siblings, like Cronus and Rhea, and Nyx and Erebus. Cronus and Rhea’s children Zeus and Hera also married each other and became ruling deities. Norse, Egyptian, Chinese, Druid and many other myths display the gods’ tendency to ‘keep it in the family’.
2. They tricked people
If the gods liked one thing, it was screwing with those who prayed to them. People would spend years in devoted service and then when they asked for a boon, the gods would teach them the error of ignoring the fine print. Take the asura Hiranyakashipu, who asked Brahma for a pretty airtight boon and met in his end at the hand of Narsimha, a half man-half lion-full god form of Lord Vishnu.
3. They took revenge for petty acts
According to one of the stories behind the shivalingam, Brahma and Vishnu once went to see Shiva. Shiva’s guards tried to stop them but they pushed them aside and went in. Unfortunately, Shiva was involved in the act of love-making with his consort Parvati, and he didn’t stop for the gods. After waiting for a while, the gods became angry and cursed Shiva, saying he would be remembered for his genitalia.
4. They killed those who were more popular
The gods don’t like it when other people get praised. Not one bit. Take the case of Mahabali, the generous king who managed to possess all the lands on Earth, who was tricked into not only giving up his land but also his life when Lord Vishnu disguised himself as a dwarf ascetic and begged him for three feet of land. Taking a gigantic shape, he took everything the king owned.
5. They had sex with just about anyone
The gods didn’t care what their relationship with a woman was if they wanted to have sex with her. Indra is known for having had sex with Pandu’s and Gautam’s wives; Shiva had sex with his devotee Madhura who came to Kailash to worship him; Zeus took the form of Artemis to seduce Callisto and then turned her into a bear, who was killed in a hunt by Artemis.
6. They changed genders whenever it pleased them
The gods weren’t limited to one physical form and they took full advantage of that. We, who live a very gendered existence, would probably be shocked at them switching genders willy-nilly. Perhaps this would not get them into legal trouble everywhere, but it would earn them society’s disdain. Whether it was Vishnu turning into Mohini or Shiva and Parvati appearing as Ardhanarishvara, they’d probably get negative reactions.
7. They ogled, stalked and seduced women
The gods have been very, very naughty. Not one to control their baser feelings, they have made some women’s lives hell. There was once a beautiful woman named Medusa, who was a celibate priestess at Athena’s temple. The sea god Poseidon seduced her; for this Athena cursed her, turning her into an ugly monster with snakes for hair. Zeus’ seduction of Leda is more well-known.
8. They performed unlicensed surgeries
Thankfully, the gods were skilled. But can you imagine them roaming around and just performing complex surgeries as and when the need arises? They’d be facing lawsuits even if they managed to save the patient. Of course, with the hundreds of fake doctor degrees circulating around, maybe it would have been easy for them to get their hands on one too.
9. They walked around naked
We humans like our clothes; we like them so much that we spend insane amounts on the tiny tags that come attached with the clothes. The gods would be in big trouble if they landed in our midst. Think of Bhikshatana, a form of Shiva, who walks around naked with a begging bowl or of Kali, who rides a tiger and doesn’t see the need to cover herself up while doing so.
10. They discriminated against certain people
The gods don’t know what it means to be fair; they claim to have created the world and everything in it, yet they don’t stop from discriminating against their own creations. The god of the ‘Old Testament’ felt concern for just one lot of people, he couldn’t care less about the others. Likewise, shudras were treated unfairly simply because of the family they were born into. Poor Karna didn’t stand a chance, did he?