12 Common Gods in India, Japan, China, Tibet & Turkey

Vedas indicate that the supreme power is only one and its verbal description will always be incomplete.
So, all natural and supernatural phenomena are counted as his manifestations and called as ‘Deva‘s, with sanskrit root ‘Div‘ meaning ‘The Shining One‘.
That is how all devi, devata forms got their names based on their characterizations.
There are 33 main Devas who were the guardians of Nature and Cosmic Creation :

  • 12 Adityas or Solar gods including Indra, Surya, Varuna
  • 11 Rudras, the Manifestations of Lord Siva
  • 8 Vasus or Elemental gods such as Vayu, Agni etc
  • Brahma, the creator
  • Vishnu, the protector

Interestingly, these 12 Adityas were adopted into Japanese and Chinese Buddhism as Juniten.

12 Juniten in Japanese and Chinese Buddhism

They are guardians of 4 main directions, 4 corners of directions (ashta dikpalakas in vedas), above, below, sun and moon.

These 12 Gods are :

    • Bonten, 梵天 or Dai Bontenno, ruling Sky/Zenith – similar to Brahma who created the universe, with four heads for overlooking each of the four directions (although often shown with only one).
    • Taishakuten, 帝釈天, ruling East – similar to Indra, who governs all natural forces
    • Bishamonten, 毘沙門天, ruling North – (Sanskrit वैश्रवण, Sinhalese වෛශ්‍රවණ, who once ruled Lanka and was step-brother of Ravana) is Kubera the ruler of weath and also known as Namtösé in Tibet
    • Katen, 火天, ruling South East – similar to Agni the fire god. Invoked in Shingon fire rituals (Agni homa ritual)
    • Enmaten / Emmaten / Emma , 焔魔天 or 炎魔天, ruling South – similar to Yama the god of death and Hell
    • Rasetsuten / Rasatsu / Rasetsu, 羅刹天, ruling South West – similar to Nirrti or Rakshasa
    • Suiten, 水天、水神、水王, ruling West – similar to Varuna the god of water
    • Fūten / Fūjin , 風天, ruling North West – similar to Vaayu the wind god
    • Ishanaten / Daijizaiten, 伊舎那天 (Also known as Jizai Ten 自在天), ruling North East – similar to Isana or Siva
    • Jiten / Chiten / Kenrochijin, 地天, ruling downwards direction or Nadir – similar to Prithvi or Earth
    • Nitten / Dai Nittenno / Nikko, 日天 – is SUN adopted into Buddhism as a protector; said to be a subject of Taishakuten.
    • Gatten / Gakko, 月天 – is MOON who ppears as a Bodhisattv in Buddhism.
      In Japanese, Nikko = Suryaprabha (illumination of Sun) & Gakko=Chandraprabha (illumination of Moon)

We can notice Bonten having 3 visible faces like Brahma and Ishanaten carrying a Trident (Trisul) like Siva in his hand.

Similar 12 Gods are found on a rock-cut cave far away in YaziliKaya in Turkey.
This cave has multiple depictions of Gods and Goddesses that resemble Hindu Vedic Gods (Lion Headed man, Animal bodied man with human face etc).
Lower chamber in this cave shows a frieze with 12 gods carved onto it who were worshiped by Hittites, who were an Ancient Anatolian people who established an empire at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia around the 18th century BC.
This empire reached its height during the mid-14th century BC under Suppiluliuma I, when it encompassed an area that included most of Asia Minor as well as parts of the northern Levant and Upper Mesopotamia. After c. 1180 BC, the empire came to an end during the Bronze Age collapse, splintering into several independent “Neo-Hittite” city-states, some of which survived until the 8th century BC.

12 Hittites gods at Yazilikaya cave in Turkey

After 1180 BC, amid general turmoil in the Levant associated with the sudden arrival of the Sea Peoples, the kingdom disintegrated into several independent “Neo-Hittite” city-states, some of which survived until as late as the 8th century BC. The history of the Hittite civilization is known mostly from cuneiform texts found in the area of their kingdom, and from diplomatic and commercial correspondence found in various archives in Egypt and the Middle East.

After the Battle of Kadesh, which took place in the 5th year of Rameses (1274 BC), the power of both the Hittites and Egyptians began to decline yet again because of the rising power of the Assyrians.