Kuber: The Lord of Riches

About the Hindu God of Wealth and Treasures

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Kuber - Hindu God of Riches. ExoticIndia.com

Kuber (also called Kubera or Kuvera), the lord of riches and treasures, is a demi-god in Hinduism. Kuber does not occupy a very conspicuous position in Hindu mythology except for his frequent mentions in the epic Ramayana as the God of gold and wealth.

Kuber's Countenance and Iconography

The meaning of the name ‘Kuber’ in Sanskrit is ‘ill-shaped’ or ‘deformed’ although some say that his name is derived from ‘kumba,’ which means ‘to conceal.’ The former has bearings in the description of Kuber in later Puranic texts, where he is seen as fat and dwarf wearing a lot of jewelry and carrying a bag of gold coins, a club, and sometimes a pomegranate.

His deformities include three legs, eight teeth, and one eye.

Kubers’ Parentage and Background

According to myths, Kuber was Lord Brahma’s 'mental' grandson, who deserted his father Vaisravana, and went to his grandfather. Brahma, as a reward made him immortal, and appointed him to be the god of riches, with Lanka for his capital, and the car Pushpak for his vehicle. This car was of immense size, and moved at its owner's will at a marvelous speed; Ravana took it by force from Kuber, at whose death it was restored by Rama to its original possessor.

Kuber: A Guardian of the World

In the Ramayana, Kuber is mentioned as one of the four guardians of the world. As Rama says:

"May he whose hands the thunder wield [Indra], / Be in the East thy guard and shield: / May Yama's care the South befriend, / And Varuna's arm the West defend; / And let Kuber, Lord of Gold, / The North with firm protection hold."

When eight guardians are spoken of, the additional four are these: Agni has charge of the South-East, Surya of the South-West, Soma of the North-East, and Vayu of the North-West.

When Ravana had risen to the summit of his power, he made the gods perform various offices in his house: thus Indra prepared garlands, Agni was his cook, Surya gave light by day and Chandra by night, and Kuber became his cash-keeper.

Kuber: The Glutton God

Kuber is also called the King of the Yakshasas—savage beings who, because the moment they were born said, "Let us eat," were called Yakshasas. These beings were ever on the watch for prey, and ate those they slew in battle.

Throughout the Ramayana there are brief references to Kuber as the giver of riches, and also to the beauty of his palace and gardens. Thus Saint Bharadwaj, desirous of giving Rama and Lakshman a fitting reception, said: "Here let Kuvera's garden rise, / Which far in Northern Kuru lies; / For leaves let cloth and gems entwine, / And let its fruit be nymphs divine."

The Mythical Garden of Kuber

Kuber’s garden is a place "where the inhabitants enjoy a natural perfection, attended with complete happiness, obtained without exertion. There is there no vicissitude, nor decrepitude, nor death, nor fear; no distinction of virtue and vice, none of the inequalities denoted by the words 'best,' 'worst,' and 'intermediate,' nor any change resulting from the succession of the four Yugas. There is neither grief, weariness, anxiety, hunger, nor fear. The people live in perfect health, free from every suffering, for ten or twelve thousand years. We also find that as Sugriva was sending forth his armies to search for Sita, he spoke of this garden to Satabal, the leader of the army of the North in the story of Ramayana.

Kuber’s Family Tree!

Kuber married Yakshi or Charvi; and two of his sons, through a curse of the sage Narada, became trees, in which condition they remained until Krishna, when an infant, uprooted them. As the story goes, Narada met with them in a forest, bathing with their wives, in a state of intoxication. The wives, ashamed of themselves, fell at Narada's feet and sought for pardon; but as their husbands, i.e., Kuber’s sons disregarded the presence of the sage, they suffered the full effects of his curse, and remained trees!

Kuber’s Credit to Vishnu

As the legend goes, Kuber loaned some money to Lord Venkateshwara – as Lord Vishnu is known in South India – for his marriage with Padmavati. So, devotees making a pilgrimage to Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh often donate money to the 'hundi' or donation pot of Lord Venkateshwara to help him repay the money to Kuber.

Kuber Worship

Hindus worship Kuber as the treasurer of wealth and bestower of riches, along with Goddess Lakshmi before Diwali on the Dhanteras day. This custom of worshiping Lakshmi and Kuber together is in prospect of doubling the benefits of such prayers.

The Kuber Gayatri Mantra

“Om Yaksharaajaya Vidmahay, Vaishravanaya Dhimahi, Tanno Kubera Prachodayat.” This means: “We meditate on Kuber, the king of the Yakshas, and son of Vishravana. May that god of wealth inspire and illumine us.” This mantra is often uttered to gain Kuber's blessings in the form of prosperity and acquisition of wealth.

SOURCE: This article contains excerpts from Hindu Mythology, Vedic and Puranic, by W.J. Wilkins, 1900 (Calcutta: Thacker, Spink & Co.; London: W. Thacker & Co.)