Dievas

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Lithuanian Dievas, Latvian Dievs, Prussian Deywis, Yotvingian Deivas[1][2] was the supreme god in the Baltic mythology and one of the most important deities together with Perkūnas. Dievas is a direct successor of the Proto-Indo-European supreme god *Dyēus of the root *deiwo-.[3] Its Proto-Baltic form was *Deivas.[4][5]

In English, Dievas may be used as a word to describe the God (or, the supreme god) in the pre-Christian religion of Balts, where Dievas was understood to be the supreme being of the world. In Lithuanian and Latvian, it is also used to describe God as it is understood by major world religions today.[6] Earlier *Deivas simply denoted the shining sunlit dome of the sky, as in other Indo-European mythologies.[3] The celestial aspect is still apparent in phrases such as Saule noiet dievā,[7] from Latvian folksongs. Curiously, in Hinduism any deity is known as Deva.[8]

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Lithuanian conception of divinity

The conception of divinity in the old Lithuanian religion still is not always clear to modern scholars. A number of them suggest, that Lithuanians applied a pantheistic concept for their religion. This concept, according to the ideas of modern researchers, had to include the following:

  • recognition of a single Divine Being, that is the core entity of the Universe.
  • recognition of multiple divine beings, that are on a different level of the main God or, in other words, hypostases of the single God.
  • recognition of direct participation of the single God in lower levels in shape of lower beings (of manifestations of the God). The known later sources give exclusively human shape of God, but it may be a limitation added by Christianity. The told manifestations of the God have features of modesty, fairness, chastity, delicacy etc., that show some moral priorities of ancient Lithuanians.

However, this understanding excludes conception of a pantheon or of some other possible council of gods in the old pagan Lithuanian religion.

Many well established sources concerning Lithuanian mythology do not contradict this conception, although there is not much data available. The lack of data leaves a wide gap for interpretations, and as a consequence, many scholars do not agree on all of the points above.

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