The Devas are the Gods usually associated with Hinduism and its lush, expansive history. They have existed from the beginning of time, and despite many deaths and reimagining’s, they are arguably the oldest pantheon in existence. As one God perishes or fades away, another one rises to take his place.
Amongst their peers, they are the most widely worshipped in the modern world. This is a blessing and a curse-it allows them great sway in the mortal world, while at the same time setting them up as objects of great jealousy from rival pantheons. Scions of the Devas are particularly blessed: Hindu holy texts abound with stories of avatars, demigods and Godly reproduction, so the role of a Scion of this pantheon is almost commonplace. A Scion of the Devas may rise to the stature of a local God, with temple and worshippers, in a relatively short time. On the other hand, a mischievous God may decide to try the life of a Scion and live as an avatar in the World – much to the chagrin of his divine children or rival pantheons.
Virtues: Endurance, Harmony, Intellect, Order
Agni AKA: Atar
Agni, the Sacred Fire, is one of the most ancient of the Devas. He bridges the gap between the Gods and their worshippers by providing a conduit for sacrifice-an all-consuming fire that cleanses as much as it purges. As the messenger of the Devas, he carries the prayers of mortals to divine ears and the word of the pantheon from immortal lips. Like the flame that he tends within each soul, Agni’s life is “re-lit” each day, keeping him forever youthful. Seven fiery tongues dart out from between sharpened golden teeth surrounded by two young faces. Like the fire he represents, his skin is a deep red. Lightning crackles amidst his unkempt black hair as if dancing in a night sky. Often astride a chariot, he is more inspiring than terrifying.
In coordinating the efforts against the Titans, Agni is busier than ever. With each raging monster a thousand prayers are offered, and with each broken promise between pantheons a thousand trips must be made to make amends. His chariot snaps across the sky in a tireless journey to keep the world together and his fires burning brightly. When he takes a break from his work, it is not for long and it is with a distinct purpose-whether fathering Scions to help his efforts or acting upon something that requires a mortal touch. He has piloted a stealth bomber and been a Wall Street bike courier; he has been a pyrotechnics expert in Bollywood and a communications officer on a nuclear sub. Scions of Agni are consummate facilitators. Masters of written and verbal communication, they often choose careers that marshal those around them into giving their all. They bring people together in a way that no one else can, whether through reason or inspiration. Some who follow the path of Agni are motivational speakers and pharmaceutical salesmen. Others moonlight as amateur cryptologists and internet radio disc jockeys. Whatever the case, their expertise always outpaces their young age as Agni’s fiery chariot outpaces the sun’s light.
Brahma is the creator-God of the universe. In the primeval waters, Brahma laid a cosmic egg, the Hiranya-garbha, which divided itself into the heavens and the earth. Along with Shiva and Vishnu, Brahma forms the important triad representing the life cycle: Brahma is the creator, Vishnu’s the preserver and Shiva is the destroyer. Together, every day consists of this cycle of birth, preservation, destruction and rebirth. All of eternity exists as a single day for Brahma, and once the day is over, the physical and spiritual world will be destroyed by Shiva, who will sit on the primeval waters until existence is created once more. Despite his importance in the Devas, Brahma is not a popular God among his followers. Many of the other Devas feel that Brahma’s work is complete; Creation was formed and he can now rest easy. Brahma spends his time withdrawn from the World, usually occupied in creating it again every day. Other times, Brahma occupies his time with creating new Gods who spring forth from his mind (much to the dismay of his wife, Sarasvati, who stopped keeping track of them a long time ago). Brahma is red, with four faces that watch the World from all angles. He has four arms, usually holding his bow Parivita, a scepter, a bowl of water and some holy texts (which he is constantly reading).
In modern times, Brahma is the least likely to visit the World, often too concerned with his duties as creator to meddle with his own creation in the first place. When he does visit the World, he can be found on the streets of any major city sitting at a park bench, lost in his thoughts and feeding the ducks. Sometimes, Brahma is a farmer, tending his crops and livestock (especially chicken farms); other times he is tending a booth at a major festival, selling simple wares and trinkets with a smiling face.
The Scions of Brahma are thoughtful and quiet. They are usually inveterate loners who are silently intuitive and resourceful. Brahma’s Scions tend to come from modest backgrounds and similarly low-key environments, but it is not unlikely for them to be successful (if reclusive) artists, filmmakers and poets: creative types like their father.
The elephant-headed son of Shiva and Parvati is the most popular of the Devas. As the God of good luck and wisdom and the remover of obstacles, his name is invoked before any major undertaking, even before the names of Vishnu, Brahma or Shiva (a fact that particularly rankles his father). Ganesha is a hearty and robust figure, a survivor after many brushes with other deities (both Gods and demons). He received his elephant head shortly after birth, when a malevolent demon cursed the young Ganesha by wishing his head out of existence. Shiva replaced the head with the nearest one available: an elephant’s. (Ganesha later broke one of the elephant tusks in a tussle with his father while protecting his mother’s bathing ritual). Ganesha is also known for his scholarship, at which he excels above all the Gods. From his studies, he is often sought after as guru and advisor, using his vast knowledge to aid others in overcoming any problems. Ganesha has four arms, often seen holding his noose, conch, lotus and modaka (a sweet rice-ball, his favorite treat), while riding a giant rat, his preferred steed.
Ganesha is often seen in the mortal World, particularly at the many festivals devoted to him throughout the year among Hindu communities. When not celebrating himself, Ganesha can be found as anything from a successful life coach to a visiting scholar at a university, from a demolitions expert to a pastry chef.
The Scions of Ganesha are usually scholars of the same magnitude as their father: obsessive devotees of knowledge and information. Other Scions are generally those with a natural string of good luck, either born winners and horse-racing aficionados or young upstarts rising through the ranks of major corporations with ease.
Cyclical change is inherent in the Devas’ belief structure. Supernatural might wanes and waxes naturally even among the most powerful and eternal of the deities. Indra, the God of war and weather, was once King of the Gods and Lord of Heaven, his power unmatched as the greatest of all warriors. Foes fear his scourging lightning bolt, Vajra, and allies rejoice in his ability to revive those slain on the battlefield. With his complexion reddened by the Soma he imbibed, he bravely the devas entered battle against Vritra, the Titan of Drought. The powerful ichor-infused drink strengthened his power. From atop the great white elephant Airavata he carved open the Titan’s belly in a killing blow, releasing all of the waters of the world back to their rightful place. Indra’s importance diminished with the rise of the Trimurti of Vishnu, Brahma, and Shiva. His strength, while still apparent to those who looked upon his massive form, had fallen into disuse before the Titans were again released.
Until recently, overseeing a timely downpour of rain onto the Earth’s soil was a more regular occurrence for him than leading forces into battle. With the return of his nemesis Vritra, Indra is once again preparing himself for war. The rest of the Devas hope that he will heed their pleas to join them after lying relatively dormant for centuries.
In preparation for another battle with Vritra, Indra has been very active reacquainting himself with the modern World and its tactics, as well as siring Scions where he can. He has been a storm chaser on the prairie and a lieutenant general in the USAF. Indra has worked on ever-smaller microchips as an electrical engineer, won several skeet-shooting national championships and been on the board of several major corporations.
Children of Indra are similarly disposed. They are boisterous, but resentful when they aren’t utilized to their fullest. Like any proud offspring, they look back to the glorious times in their father’s life and realize that he earned respect and followers through his magnificent displays of power. They seek to showcase their own power and tend to choose careers accordingly. Indra’s Scions can be found as investment bankers and illegal street racers, as paramilitary specialists and formidable politicians.
“The Black One” is truly terrifying. She is divinity distilled in a half-naked, four-armed figure loosely circled by a belt interwoven with human heads and a necklace made of human skulls. A third red eye strengthens her fearsome stare. In many ways she is cremation personified-a burning, insatiable psyche raging from inside an emaciated and blackened body that consumes all in her path by swinging both a sickle and a sword.
Kali is the Goddess of annihilation, the fiercest of the Devas and perhaps most feared amongst any pantheon fighting the Titans. While her prowess in battle is seldom tested, even by the most powerful demons, her divine power is derived from her sway over time itself. She, in her various incarnations throughout history, is the end of the cycle of karma. Kali brings death to all so that the cycle of life can continue. The terrible demon Raktabija once resisted all attempts to destroy it by springing forth a clone of itself from each drop of its blood that touched the ground. Kali bested the demon by sticking out her long and hungry tongue to drink up all of its blood. She then placed the remaining copies of Raktabija in her mouth and ate him.
Recently, Kali has been a citizen standing triumphantly atop a crumbling Berlin Wall with a worn pickaxe in hand. She’s been a drug-fueled child soldier in Africa, a plastic recycling mogul and an arson expert. She is always a catalyst for change, whether it affects politics, social norms or even life itself.
The Scions of Kali always have a powerful personality born from a healthy respect for death and an unusual disregard for their own bodies. Whether that disregard is a personality-changing addiction, purposeful neglect or a willingness to jump in harm’s way, it is always present. They can be found as the strangely charismatic leaders of underground punk bands, efficient and enthusiastic pest control agents or as deep-jungle revolutionaries.
Lakshmi is the Goddess of good fortune and beauty, and is a daughter of the primordial waters. Lakshmi was originally born to a maharishi-one of the great seers in the celestial heavens-who cursed all celestial beings (his daughter included). Hiding from his wrath in the primeval waters before creation, Lakshmi was reborn to the World on a lotus flower, her divine beauty in full view to all of creation. Because of this second birthing, Lakshmi is viewed as a Goddess who can bestow good luck and fortune upon others. This may be one of the reasons that Vishnu chose her as his wife. For every incarnation of Vishnu in the World, from Rama to Krishna, Lakshmi has appeared at his side as his beloved. In the eternity of their divine nature, Vishnu and his divine wife are inseparable as lovers and companions in whatever form they currently hold. Lakshmi is a very beautiful Goddess with four hands and a shining visage, usually with a lotus flower in one hand while the other holds the hand of her beloved, Vishnu.
In modern times, Lakshmi can be found whenever Vishnu is in the World in one of his incarnations. But she is more than a trophy wife. Oftentimes, Lakshmi is more outgoing in the World than her husband, whether she is an attractive concierge for exclusive resorts, hostess of a television game show or an heiress endowing her fortune to charitable foundations.
Scions of Lakshmi, though rare, nevertheless have a tendency of sharing her magnanimous personality and outgoing nature. Generally coming from wealthier backgrounds, they are very forthright and generous people, giving their time to aid those less fortunate than themselves. Lakshmi’s Scions are beautiful people not just from the outside, but from the inside as well, and their kind nature overwhelms their personality, almost to a fault.
Parvati exists as the ultimate incarnation of shakti, the concept of feminine energy that encompasses all aspects of the feminine Devas. From Kali’s furious annihilation to Sarasvati’s productive inspiration, shakti exists as the benevolent and malicious faces of the feminine ideal. Parvati wields it with the utmost skill. Shiva’s daring wife and Ganesha’s mother, Parvati has used her skill at adaptation to further her agenda for millennia. Originally dark-skinned, she underwent a thousand penances to earn a favor from her beloved husband Shiva in order to gain a power great enough to change her own complexion to light. She is an expert mediator and a devoted spouse, an unimpeachable ascetic and an active partner in love. Parvati is always bathed in pure white, symbolizing her flawless knowledge. She carries a blue lotus at all times, which she ponders with her three eyes.
In modern times she is reluctant to birth Scions of her own, only doing so at the behest of Shiva. She complements all that she encounters and delights in that role. She’s been a calming doctor and an elementary teacher, a deft consultant and a soccer captain. Her beautiful form wafts through the world effortlessly-she gets her way without you ever doubting her intentions.
What few Scions she has actively rejoice in the generative energy of their personality. They thrive in a cooperative setting as subtle manipulators of their peers who are equally eager to self-sacrifice. They are soft-spoken spiritual leaders and the first firemen into an inferno. They work tirelessly in non-profit housing advocacy groups and eagerly take up the banner of the death-row public defender. Parvati’s children tend to see the truth behind a mortal’s hidden intention and they exercise an admirable ability to forgive them for it.
The daughter and wife of Brahma, Sarasvati is worshipped in virtually every Hindu town. However, her inspiration is sought on a much larger scale by every desperate artist, developing intellect and person feeling even the faintest hint of an epiphany in their everyday life. She is the prolific muse of the Devas. Wise and creative, Sarasvati’s energy extends deep within the veins of painters, actors and musicians. She is often depicting as a flowing river-a manifestation of her ability to endlessly supply society with the most powerful and essential elements of knowledge and inspiration.
Saraswati is a lithe, gorgeous woman often appearing with flawless pearl-tinted skin, finely-combed jet black hair and dressed in the purest white clothes. As a Goddess with the knowledge and experience of the culmination of reality, she exudes a confidence born of the fullest proficiency and understanding. Her demeanor inspires those that witness her presence even more than viewing her beautiful form does. For millennia she has provided the outlets for humanity’s most noble and selfish pursuits.
These days Sarasvati appears as an Emmy-winning indie actress, a librarian active in her community and a well-renowned food critic. She fills positions where she is needed most, when creativity has fallen to uninspired sequels, recycled plots and borrowed metaphor. She revels in being able to witness the fruition of the inspiration she has planted in the hearts of those she has touched.
Sarasvati’s Scions are bursting with creativity and delight in their ability to pass it along. They are thoughtful and observant, regularly recognizing patterns and phenomena in the world that others would pay dearly to know. Her children spend their days as powerful fiction editors and high-fashion models. They moonlight as spoken word artists and sensuous go-go dancers.
A part of the major triad of the Devas, Shiva is known as the destroyer God, the final arbiter of destiny. While Brahma is the creator and Vishnu is the protector, Shiva is the destroyer, representing the uncertainty and dread that accompanies the unknown. A fearsome force, Shiva is the God who will finally destroy the World and sit upon the remnants in the primordial waters until that time when it is formed again. Shiva is also a contemplative God, known as much for his mystical nature as his destructive one. He, along with his son Ganesha, is the chief God for yogic practices, an ascetic who goes for years without sustenance in order to better know the World through pain and suffering. When Shiva is not enthralled in his asceticism, he is the Nataraja, the cosmic lord of the dance. Through his motions comes the order of the universe, and while his dancing is alternately beautiful and fearful, it captivates all audiences, mortal and divine alike.
Shiva is a terrifying presence, unnaturally ugly and terrible in appearance. Horrible, evil creatures follow him while he is in the World, from goblins and ghosts to serpents and savage souls. With five heads and four arms, Shiva is an intimidating force, his upper two arms usually holding his war-drum and the ongoing fire of the World, while his lower two arms are empty. Shiva has a third eye in the middle of his forehead (when he chooses to have but one head), which he formed to save creation from darkness. In his divine form, Shiva always has the torana around him, an arch of flames engulfing his body.
When Shiva visits the World, bad things usually follow. He is known to haunt graveyards and sacred places with his fearsome followers in tow. But when Shiva is feeling particularly feisty, he can be found at the hottest nightclubs, tearing up the dance floor while his posse causes trouble at the bar. Fights are common wherever he goes, and he is always the last one standing. However, when Shiva is not looking for trouble (a rare occasion), he takes to the wilderness to complete his ascetic journeys. Sometimes, as a part of his ascetic quest, Shiva works part-time teaching yoga to enterprising students around the world. Usually, however, this is a ruse: As his wife Parvati often suspects, he is really out siring more Scions with his more impressive students.
Scions of Shiva are as ill-tempered and terrible as their father, usually bearing harsh grudges and prone to violent tantrums. They are never attractive people, but Shiva’s children do have a fierce drive and fortitude that others pick up on: They are natural leaders and trail-blazers, often with large groups of followers at their heels. But these Scions are also just as likely to retreat from those around them and live in seclusion for large periods of time. With this dual personality, many Scions of Shiva share the common symptoms of manic depression.
The sun God of the Devas, Surya is one of the oldest Gods of the pantheon. Practically dwarf-like in stature, Surya has copper skin and red eyes. He rides in the sky on his chariot, drawn by a seven-headed horse and steered by the Asvina, twin brothers who represent dawn and twilight. To those loyal to him, Surya is generous and open; to those who betray him who he feels are disloyal (which is most people, Gods and mortals alike), Surya is malevolent and cruel, his shining visage bearing down upon them with spite and enmity. At his best and most benevolent, the sun God is an enlightening presence for his followers. Through stimulation and instigation, he expects the best out of those dearest to them, and he will often inspire people to reach their highest potential. When they do not, they usually feel the full impact of his wrath. Surya has fathered many of the epic heroes of Hindu legend, including Karna and Sugriva (the monkey king). He does not mention the many others who he perceives as failures.
Surya makes many visits to the World in modern times, usually as some form of animal, enjoying the freedom of the wilderness. Surya prefers to spend his time in the deserts around the World, basking in his own glory at the height of his power. He is also known to be a referee for many sporting events, particularly cricket and soccer, with a tendency to draw unnecessary attention to his antics and outbursts against players while drawing heavy fines for questionable motives in many of his calls.
Surya’s Scions are as feisty and particular as their father. Noble and educated by nature, they expect nothing but the best from themselves and others in their vicinity; if this potential is not realized, the full brunt of their fury is quick to follow. In a way, these Scions share the personality of Surya perfectly: constantly feeling slighted and with a sharp edge to their spite, but only for those who they feel deserve it (which includes most people). When not dwelling on issues with their parents, Surya’s Scions are bright and pleasant people and are loyal to their friends and loved ones (but unpleasant and begrudging if they feel betrayed).
The third of the major triad, Vishnu is known as the Protector or Preserver of Creation. While Brahma is the originator and Shiva the destroyer, Vishnu represents all the good and benevolent forces in the universe. He is commonly known as the Narayana, or ever-present and pervasive spirit of the World, and sits on a lotus on the primordial waters while maintaining the steady flow of its waters. For many Hindus, Vishnu is a God of paramount importance, the chief deity of the pantheon. Yet, he is also known as the humblest of Gods, often serving his role as protector without fanfare or notice. Vishnu is constantly devoted to his wife, Lakshmi, and is rarely seen without her. Bearing a dark blue complexion with four arms and a star shape on his breast, Vishnu has a regal presence about him. Around his neck he wears the holy gem Kaustubha, and his four arms usually wield the weapons with which he defends the World.
Vishnu is unique among Gods in that his visits to the World are well known among mortals. Throughout history, Vishnu has visited the World as one of his avatars in order to defend creation against some malevolent force, whether it is the demon king Bali or the forces of unbelief in the Gods. Among his many incarnations, three are famous among mortals: Rama (the hero of epics), Krishna (his most important avatar) and Buddha (founder of Buddhism). Legends state that Vishnu will make one more grand appearance to the World as Kalki, riding a white horse; once this visit occurs, the world will be destroyed by Shiva until the Age of Darkness ends. Many mortals take this to mean that Vishnu has not wandered the World for ages: This is not true. Vishnu spends a lot of time among the mortals, only with a markedly less celebrated attendance. He prefers to spend his time among the poor and outcast, as either a public defender or community leader. He is known to run food banks and halfway houses, as well as militias and guerilla groups in third world countries.
Scions of Vishnu are overwhelmingly noble and beneficent. They devote their energies to defending others and protectors their loved ones. It is not uncommon for a Scion of Vishnu to go to great lengths (bordering on obsession) to help those in need. They are almost universally wise and beautiful as well, the paragon of virtue and modesty and successful, righteous living. For this reason, Scions of other Devas have a tendency to be jealous of Vishnu’s Scions, especially after the bounty of gifts bestowed upon his children during their first Visitation.
Yama’s power is born from an ancient, unenviable position: He was the first mortal to die. During his transition to death, he trudged his way to the immortal realms and laid his claim there to become the Lord of the Dead. Upon establishing himself as the watcher over an ever-increasing population, he took on the burden of assessing karma itself. For each living being he keeps exact records of their actions so that when they reach life’s end, they can be assigned to hell or heaven accordingly.
His gaze is unerring, his understanding unfathomable. His skin is tinted green and his body is draped with red clothes. He judges all life: Those that would attempt to escape his view, either holding on to a thread of life or ultimate ashamed of their actions, hear the thundering gallop of his buffalo mount and feel the inevitable cinch of the rope he uses to extract the soul of those that would foolishly try to avoid their fate.
Yama lacks humor altogether. He has fathered Scions only reluctantly, at the request of Shiva and Vishnu. On the rare occasions that he manifests apart from the realms of the Devas, he has been a county coroner and career bureaucrat, a stock analyst and a tenement superintendent.
His Scions are likewise taciturn, serious and dour. They pick professions that allow them to disassociate with their yearning empathy and treat life as a series of stark comparisons. They abhor venturing into any morally gray area. Yama’s sons have been hard-working principals and tollbooth operators, big-city bartenders and tow-truck drivers. They’ve seen it all and are unimpressed by the passage of life around them-somehow knowing the ultimate truth without addressing its implications for their own lives.