Most of the Brahmins in Bihar derive their religion from the Vedanta and
are apt to speak reverently of god or Brahma in the neuter. Being a Vedantist,
he concentrates his thought on the idea of pure substance and make his
deities - his Vedic gods - interchangeable. They all lack individuality
and flow into one another. Their pantheism is derived from the Upanishads
In Bihar, there is more Shaivite than Vaishnavite. The
old temple at Deoghar, the great temple at Bikatpur in Patna district,
the Matha at Gaya, the temple at Bazidpur in the Darbhanga district, the
Kuseshwara and Singheshwara temples-all testify to the popularity
of Shaivism in Bihar. People worship the symbol of reproduction, the Lingam
which is the symbol of Shiva. He is a god of reproduction. In 'Vedas'
he is the agent of promoting fertility in cattle. The bull is regarded
as the appropriate emblem of Shiva.
The group of twenty-two temples at Deoghar is dedicated
to Shiva. They form a centre of pilgrimage for Hindus from all parts
of India. The oldest of these temples called Vaidyanath Temple (1596)
is said to be one of the twelve oldest Jyotilingams of Shiva in India.
In the early hours of Kartik Purnima, millions of people in North Bihar
prepare to bath at the confluence of the Ganga and Gandak and offer the
holy Ganga water to Mahadev or the great God Shiva. During Shivaratri
prayers and Puja are offered in Shiva temples to Mahadeva and his Goddess
Vaishnavism has been one of the most important
Brahmanical cult in Bihar where even semi-literate village folks
are still heard reciting the Vaishnavite creed formula 'Om namo Bhagavate
Vasudevaya'. The growing prevalence of this cult seems to be due to the
popularity of the 'purana'. To a considerable number of these Puranas,
Vishnu is the highest God. A large number of epigraphic records of the
Gupta period refer to the temples of Vishnu in his various incarnations
such as Varaha, Vamana, Narasimha, Dasharathi
and Krishna. Vishnu
worship had established itself in Gaya three centuries earlier as
the Gadadhar temple was built in the 15th year of Nayapala's reign. One
should do one's duty without expecting any reward, this is an important
teaching of Vaishnavism. Vishnu's reincarnation as Rama is worshipped
by a large number of Bihari Hindus as he represents Indian manhood at
the noblest and his exploits in the service of justice is embodied
in the epic, Ramayana.
The worship of Vishnu is supported by several festivals
such as Janmashtami, Ramanavami, Vivahapanchami and thousands of shrines
are scattered throughout the state.