ishta devata
   Ishta devata (desired divinity) is an important concept in theistic Hinduism. It is understood that each person has a divinity that best fits his or her personal inclinations and way of life. Usually, the ishta devata will be chosen within the sectarian context—a person who has grown A woman worships her personal divinity (ishta devata) at the Ganesh shrine in Belur, Bengal. (Gustap Irani) up in a Shaivite family, for example, is likely to chose a Shaivite divinity, for example Subramu-niya, youngest son of SHIVA, as one’s personal favorite.
   It is not infrequent, however, for people to choose divinities outside their sectarian context. A Bengali Vaishnavite (devotee of VISHNU) might chose KALI, the fierce goddess, as ishta devata. This was precisely what Sri RAMAKRISHNA did.
   Further reading: Klaus Klostermeier, Survey of Hindu-ism (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994); Thomas Hopkins, Hindu Religious Tradition (Encino, Calif., Dickenson, 1971).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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