One interesting Twitter feed to which I subscribe is Godchecker, which features humorous but generally accurate information on many different deities. The site’s creator has a book out, which I don’t own, but I’d like to. Anyway, a few days ago, the featured god was Kubera, the Hindu god of wealth. I hadn’t heard of him before, but he sounded like someone who might merit further research.
He’s generally depicted as an overweight dwarf with three legs, eight teeth, and one yellow eye.
When you have money, though, who needs looks?
Since he had trouble moving around with his body as it was, Brahma had the architect god Vishwakarma design and build a chariot for him. This chariot, known as Pushpak, was the size of a city, and could move on its own power. Actually, “Pushpak” sounds like it would make a good brand name for a wheelchair or something.
Interestingly, early mentions of Kubera portray him as evil, the ruler of the spirits of darkness and patron of criminals. He also had a gig as King of Sri Lanka before his half-brother Ravana took the throne from him.
“With all these heads, I make a MUCH better king!”
Later, he gained a more respectable position as treasurer of the gods and keeper of the treasures of the world. As such, I suppose he’s as rich as God. Not that that expression makes any sense, because even though an omnipotent being could technically create as much money as He wanted, what would He use it for? Also, could God create a unit of currency that He couldn’t spend? So many questions! Anyway, getting back to Kubera, he lives on Mount Mandara in the Himalayas, where he has a magnificent garden, and might or might not swim around in his money.
He rules over the Yakshas, semi-divine beings with fat bellies and legs who guard the wealth found inside the earth. A lot like the Nomes in the Oz books, really, although they’re said to have skinny legs. Kubera has fallen out of favor somewhat in Hinduism, but he’s successfully broken into Buddhism and Jainism.