Myth – Hinduness has 33 Crore divinities?
Reality – Right from the Veda till recent commentaries, it has been clearly stated that there are only 33 Deva with a clear, scientific and logical definition as well as distinction of the same.
The Deva in Vedic thought are indicated to be 33 Koti in number. This has led to the common perception that there are 33 Crores or 330 Million divinities in Indian religion since the word Koti is the term popularly used in India for the number 1 Crore i.e 10 Million.
Even till a century ago, scholars and commentators seems to have been aware of the fact that the Deva are only 33 in number.
Our ancients too had clearly listed them to be 33 in number. Besides crore, the word Koti also means group, category, type.
33 IN THE VEDA :-
The sukta in Atharva Veda list the 33 Deva by describing each one in context with the Skamba, pillar.
33 IN THE UPANISHAD :-
The Veda itself has very clearly stated that there are only 33 Deva & not 33 Crore Deva.
9th Brahmana is a discussion on the 33 Deva in the cosmos. The 2nd sloka, verse asks how are the Deva 33 in number and provides the answer in the same sloka.
33 IN THE Ramayana :-
The historic work of India, the Itihasa called Ramayana, in its Aranyakand, lists 33 Deva only.
The notion of Koti changing from “type” to the number value “crore” was an outcome of various translations and interpretations of these works in other languages.
But this count of 33 has not deterred Indians from venerating every aspect of the cosmos, gross and subtle. They have sometimes called the same one by another name and sometimes diverged in categorization and so on, leading to being seen as a land of man.