For the most part, the Buddhist position on the God question is neither yes nor no. Although some Buddhists consider themselves to be atheists, and some (sorta kinda) conceptualize the buddhas and bodhisattvas as godlike beings, the Buddha taught that belief in Gods is irrelevant. Believing in God or not believing in God will not help you realize enlightenment. However, within the story of Buddha, many hindu gods make appearances, however, they are different within Buddhism, and Buddhists do not worship these gods, although there are Buddhist shrines to them, especially in Thailand.

List of Gods Edit

God/Goddess Hindu Name Buddhist Name Title of Worship


Brahmā   (Sanskritब्रह्मा) Phra Phrom  (พระพรหม)


Vishnu (Sanskrit: विष्णु) Phra Nārāyṇ̒ (พระนารายณ์)


Shiva  (Sanskrit: शिव) Bhairava 


Buddhist ganesh

Ganesha (Sanskritगणेश) or Gupati

Vināyaka (Mahayana)

or Phra Phiḳhneṣ̄wr (Thai:พระพิฆเนศวร)


 Garuda (Sanskrit: गरुड Garuda (Pāli'garuḷā or 'supaṇṇa)
  • Vishnu's Vehicle (Hinduism)
  • Enormous predatory birds with intelligence and social organization, combining the characteristics of animals and divine beings, and may be considered to be among the lowest devas.  (Buddhism)


 Māyā   (Sanskrit:  माया) Vipallasa (Pāli: Vipallasa)
  • Goddess. Maya has multiple meanings, usually quoted as "illusion", centered on the fact that we do not experience the environment itself but rather a projection of it, created by us. (Hinduism)
  • lllustion, the false way we perceive this world created by temptations and desires. (Buddhism) 


Shakti   (Sanskrit: शक्ति) None


Mātaṅgī  (Sanskritमातङ्गी) None
  • Goddess of the spoken word and supernatural powers (Hinduism)


Annapurna None


Bhuvaneshvari  (Sanskritभुवनेश्वरी) None
  • Supreme goddesses who creates everything and destroys all the unnecessary evils of world (Hinduism)


Saraswati  (Sanskritसरस्वती) None
  • Goddess of Knowledge, Arts, Music, and Science (Hinduism)


Kali  (Sanskritकाली) None


Durga (Sanskritदुर्गा) None
  • Goddess of Victory/Good over Evil (Hinduism)


Lakshmi (Sanskrit: लक्ष्मी) None  Goddess of wealth, prosperity, fortune, and the embodiment of beauty (Hinduism)


Indra (Sanskritइन्द्र) 
  • Śakra  (Pāli:Sakka)
  • 帝释天 (Chinese: 釋提桓因, pinyin: shì dī huán yīn, Korean: "Je-seok-cheon" or 桓因 Hwan-in, Japanese: "Tai-shaku-ten", kanji: 帝釈天)
  • Phraxinthr̒ (พระอินทร์) 
  • King of Gods/God of Rain (Hinduism)
  • The ruler of heaven. In China, Korea, and Japan, he is known by the characters 帝释天 (Chinese: 釋提桓因, pinyin: shì dī huán yīn, Korean: "Je-seok-cheon" or 桓因 Hwan-in, Japanese: "Tai-shaku-ten", kanji: 帝釈天). In Japan, Indra always appears opposite Brahma (梵天, Japanese: "Bonten") in Buddhist art. Brahma and Indra are revered together as protectors of the historical Buddha (释迦, Japanese: "Shaka", kanji: 釈迦), and are frequently shown giving Shaka his first bath. Although Indra is often depicted like a bodhisattva in the Far East, typically in Tang dynasty costume, his iconography also includes a martial aspect, wielding a thunderbolt from atop his elephant mount. (Buddhism)


Hanuman (Sanskrit: हनुमान्)
  • H̄numān หนุมาน
  • Hanumān ハヌマーン
  • 哈努曼 Hā nǔ màn


Krishna  (Sanskrit: कृष्ण)  Krishna (Buddhism)


Ram or Rama
  • Phrarām (พระราม)
  • Yama (Burmese )
  • Lā mǎ (拉马) 
Naga Naga
  • Deity or class of entity or being, taking the form of a very great serpent (Buddhism) (Hinduism)


Siddhārtha Gautama

(Sanskritसिद्धार्थ गौतम बुद्धPaliSiddhattha Gotama)

Siddhārtha Gautama 

(Sanskritसिद्धार्थ गौतम बुद्धPaliSiddhattha Gotama)


Yama  (Sanskritयम
  • Vimānapeta (विमानापता)
  •  Yan (Chinese: t: 閻, s: 阎, p: Yán)
  • Shinje (Tibet)


Hinduism is generally associated with a multiplicity of Gods, and does not advocate the worship of one particular deity. The gods and goddesses of Hinduism amount to thousands or even millions, all representing the many aspects of only one supreme Absolute called “Brahman”.

Therefore, to believe that the multiplicity of deities in Hinduism makes it polytheistic is erroneous. The Rig Veda says: "Ekam sath, Vipraah bahudhaa vadanti" (The Truth is one). However, to equate “Brahman” with “God” is imprecise. It is neither the “old man in the sky” concept, nor the idea of something capable of being vengeful or fearful.

The doctrine of Spiritual Competence (‘Adhikaara’) and that of the Chosen Deity (‘Ishhta Devata’) in Hinduism recommend that the spiritual practices prescribed to a person should correspond to his or her spiritual competence and that a person should have the freedom to choose (or invent) a form of Brahman that satisfies his spiritual cravings and to make it the object of his worship.

Thus, Hindus have a multitude of gods and goddesses. Deities are represented by a complexity of images and idols symbolizing divine powers. Many of these idols are housed within ornate temples of unparalleled beauty and grandeur. Hindus also worship spirits, trees, animals and even planets.

The most fundamental of Hindu deities, is the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva - creator, preserver and destroyer respectively. Other popular deities include Ganesha, Krishna, Hanuman and a number of Goddesses.

Buddhism: What Buddha Didn't Say About God Edit

"As far as I can tell, there are Western Buddhists out there who believe God doesn't exist. Period. Some even go so far as to say that the Buddha said so, too. My challenge is: how do you know? I mean, do you really know what the Buddha said on the matter? I have to say, after doing some research on this topic, I don't have any idea, and I'm surprised that so many American Buddhists are completely certain.

"Did the Buddha say 'There is no God,' directly? No, he did not, but it's important to understand why that is true.

The concept of God as a unique and supreme transcendent being and creator of the world appears to be the work of Jewish scholars of the mid-1st millennium BCE. For example, the familiar creation story in Genesis probably was written in the 6th century BCE, according to Karen Armstrong's A History of God. Before that, Yahweh was just one tribal deity among many.

This development in Judaism was happening at about the same time as the life of the Buddha, but in a different part of the world. The timeline suggests to me that it was unlikely any teachings about the Abrahamic God as is understood today ever reached the Buddha or the Buddha's disciples. If you were to have asked the Buddha if God exists, he might have said, "Who?"

Yes, there is a "complex pantheon of Brahmanic gods" (quoting another blogger) in the Pali texts. But the role they play in what we call "Buddhism" is very different from the role of gods in standard polytheistic religions.

Most of the time, in what we might call "classic" polytheism, gods are beings who have charge of specific things, such as the weather or harvests or war. If you wanted to have many children (or vice versa) you would make offerings to a fertility deity, for example.

But the Brahmanic gods of the Pali texts aren't in charge of anything connected to humans. It makes no difference whether one believes in them, or not. There is no point in praying to them, because they rarely interact with humans and aren't interested in your prayers or offerings. They are characters who live in other realms and who have their own problems.

(Yes, one can find examples of Asian laypeople relating to icons of Buddhism as if they were polytheistic deities. In many parts of Asia, laypeople for centuries were taught very little about the dharma except to keep the Precepts and give alms to monks, and people "filled in the blanks" with local folk beliefs and bits of other Vedic traditions. But that's a whole 'nother post; let's stick to the teachings of the Buddha for now.)

The tantric deities of Vajrayana are something else again. Of these, Lama Thubten Yeshe wrote,

"Tantric meditational deities should not be confused with what different mythologies and religions might mean when they speak of gods and goddesses. Here, the deity we choose to identify with represents the essential qualities of the fully awakened experience latent within us. To use the language of psychology, such a deity is an archetype of our own deepest nature, our most profound level of consciousness. In tantra we focus our attention on such an archetypal image and identify with it in order to arouse the deepest, most profound aspects of our being and bring them into our present reality." (Introduction to Tantra: A Vision of Totality [1987], p. 42) So when you speak of God or gods in Buddhism, it's important to not define the word "god" as westerners usually do but to understand the word in the context of Buddhism. And when you wade into Mahayana, asking if God exists is a double non-starter. Never mind what you mean by God; what do you mean by "exist"?

Akasaskye continues,

"I think the gist is that the Buddha did not say anything about a creator deity existing or not. He did mention what he does and doesn't declare about the nature of existence, but he does not mention the existence or non-existence of a God." The Buddha did not speak of a creator deity, but he did speak of creation. The Buddha clearly taught that all phenomena are "created" by means of cause and effect determined by natural law. Further, the course of our lives is determined by karma, which we create. Karma is not being directed by a supernatural intelligence but is its own natural law. This is what the Buddha taught. For more explanation, see "Dependent Origination," "Buddhism and Karma," and "The Five Niyamas."

So while he did not specifically say there is no creator god, in Buddhism there is nothing for a creator god to do. God has no function, no role to play, either as an original source or as an instigator of current events. Every task that God does in the Abrahamic religions was assigned to various systems of natural law by the Buddha.

So, while the Buddha never explicitly said "There is no God," it's not incorrect to say that God-belief is not supported by the Buddha's teaching.

Awhile back I wrote a blog post called "Determining the Dharma," which addressed a line from the Vimalakirti Sutra -- determine the dharma according to the dharma. A commentary on these lines attributed to Sangharakshita said,

"For us in the West it means, not determining, not understanding the Dharma, according to Christian beliefs, whether conscious, unconscious, or semiconscious. It means not determining or understanding the Dharma in accordance with modern secularist, humanist, rationalist, scientific, modes of thought. It means not determining or understanding the Dharma in accordance with the fanciful ideas of the worthy, but woolly-minded people who organize such things the Festival of body, mind and spirit." In the Abrahamic religions, the existence and nature of God are all-important. In Buddhism the existence and nature of God (as usually understood in the Abrahamic religions) make no sense, and shoe-horning God-belief into Buddhism just makes a mess. If you want to understand Buddhism, if you are trying to "determine the dharma," you must put aside Christianity or Judaism, and you must put aside Sam Harris and Deepak Chopra. Make no assumptions about what things "mean" in any other context. Determine the dharma according to the dharma.

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