The One Supreme God (Atman)Edit
Contrary to prevailing misconceptions, Hindus all worship a one Supreme Being, though by different names. This is because the peoples of India with different languages and cultures have understood the one God in their own distinct way. Through history there arose four principal Hindu denominations—Saivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism and Smartism. For Sai-vites, God is Siva. For Shaktas, Goddess Shakti is supreme. For Vaishnavites, Lord Vishnu is God. For Smartas—who see all Deities as reflections of the One God—the choice of Deity is left to the devotee. This liberal Smarta perspective is well known, but it is not the prevailing Hindu view. Due to this diversity, Hindus are profoundly tolerant of other religions, respecting the fact that each has its own pathway to the one God.
One of the unique understandings in Hinduism is that God is not far away, living in a remote heaven, but is inside each and every soul, in the heart and consciousness, waiting to be discovered. This knowing that God is always with us gives us hope and courage. Knowing the One Great God in this intimate and experiential way is the goal of Hindu spirituality. Hinduism is both monotheistic and henotheistic. Hindus were never polytheistic, in the sense that there are many equal Gods. Henotheism (literally "one God") better defines the Hindu view. It means the worship of one God without denying the existence of other Gods. We Hindus believe in the one all-pervasive God who energizes the entire universe. We can see Him in the life shining out of the eyes of humans and all creatures. This view of God as existing in and giving life to all things is called panentheism. It is different from pantheism, which is the belief that God is the natural universe and nothing more. It is also different from strict theism which says God is only above the world, apart and transcendent. Panentheism is an all-encompassing concept. It says that God is both in the world and beyond it, both immanent and transcendent. That is the highest Hindu view. Hindus also believe in many Gods who perform various functions, like executives in a large corporation. These should not be confused with the Supreme God. These Divinities are highly advanced beings who have specific duties and powers—not unlike the heavenly spirits, overlords or archangels revered in other faiths. Each denomination worships the Supreme God and its own pantheon of divine beings. What is sometimes confusing to non-Hindus is that Hindus of various sects may call the one God by many different names, according to their denomination or regional tradition. Truth for the Hindu has many names, but that does not make for many truths. Hinduism gives us the freedom to approach God in our own way, encouraging a multiplicity of paths, not asking for conformity to just one.
There is much confusion about this subject, even among Hindus. Learn the right terms and the subtle differences in them, and you can explain the profound ways Hindus look at Divinity. Others will be delighted with the richness of the Indian concepts of God. You may wish to mention that some Hindus believe only in the formless Absolute Reality as God; others believe in God as personal Lord and Creator. This freedom makes the understanding of God in Hinduism, the oldest living religion, the richest in all of Earth's existing faiths.
The Trinity Edit
The one supreme god Atman or Brahman has three major forms known as the trinity. All of existence is also a form of god, as he created creation from himself. The Hindu trinity is of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. They are respectively the creator, preserver and destroyer of the universe. They are also aligned as the transcendent Godhead, Shiva, the cosmic lord, Vishnu and the cosmic mind, Brahma. In this regard they are called Sat-Tat-Aum, the Being, the Thatness or immanence and the Word or holy spirit. This is much like the Christian trinity of God as the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The trinity represents the Divine in its threefold nature and function. Each aspect of the trinity contains and includes the others. Each God in the trinity has his consort. To Brahma is Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge. For Vishnu is Lakshmi, the Goddess of love, beauty and delight. For Shiva is Kali (Parvati) , the Goddess of power, destruction and transformation. These are the three main forms of the Goddess, as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are the three main forms of the God. The three Goddesses are often worshipped in their own right as well as along with their spouses.
List of GodsEdit
The Hindu trinity consisted Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma, the followers of the first two formed two major sects.
Vaishnavism is the sect within Hinduism that worships Vishnu, the preserver god of the Hindu Trimurti ('three images', the Trinity), and his ten incarnations. It is a devotional sect, and followers worship many deities, including Rama and Krishna, both considered as incarnations of Vishnu. The adherents of this sect are generally non-ascetic, monastic and devoted to meditative practice and ecstatic chanting. Some alternate names of Vishnu the Preserver:
- Dasavatara, the 10 incarnations of Vishnu
- Matsya Avatar - Lord Vishnu in the form of Fish
- Kurma Avatar - Lord Vishnu in the form of Turtle
- Varaha Avatar - Lord Vishnu in the form of Boar
- Narsimha Avatar - Lord Vishnu in the form of Humanoid Lion
- Vamana Avatar - Lord Vishnu in the form of a Dwarf
- Parshurama Avatar - Lord Vishnu in the form of a Brahmin
- Rama Avatar - Lord Vishnu in the form of the King
- Krishna Avatar - Lord Vishnu's eighth avatar as Lord Govinda
- Buddha Avatar - Founder of Buddhism and Spiritual Awakener
- Kalki Avatar - Lord Vishnu as "Eternity"
Saivism is the Hindu sect that worships the god Shiva. Shiva is sometimes depicted as the fierce god Bhairava. Saivists are more attracted to asceticism than adherents of other Hindu sects, and may be found wandering India with ashen faces performing self-purification rituals.Some alternate names of Shiva:
Cults of goddess worship are ancient in India. The branch of Hinduism that worships the goddess, known as Devi, is called Shaktism. Followers of Shaktism recognize Shakti as the power that underlies the male principle, and Devi is often depicted as Parvati the consort of Shiva or as Lakshmi the consort of Vishnu. She is also depicted in other guises, such as the fierce Kali or Durga. Shaktism is closely related with Tantric Hinduism, which teaches rituals and practices for purification of the mind and body. Some alternate names of Shakti (Devi) the Mother Goddess:
- Bhadrakali, a peaceful form of Kali
- Brahma, the creator of the universe, created by Vishnu and rarely worshiped today
- Parvati, a form of Shakti and the wife of Shiva
- Ganesh, son of Shiva and Parvati and was also called Ganapathy, the Ganapatya sectary worshipped Ganesh as their chief deity
- Subramanya, son of Shiva and Parvati and was also called Muruga, Karthik, Kumara or Shanmukha, the Kaumaram sectary worshipped Subramanya as their chief deity
- Ayyappa, son of Shiva and Mohini and was also called Shastha
- Saraswati, also known as Gayatri, is the wife of Brahma
- Lakshmi is the wife of Vishnu
- Shesha Naga, the serpent devotee of Vishnu
- Mohini, female incarnation of Vishnu
Krishna is often associated with His beloved Radha, and hence also known as Radha Krishna. Krishna was also manifested as Lord Jagannatha. People of Eastern India consider Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to be his re-incarnation. Krishna is the chief deity of the Iskcon Hare Krishna and other sects.
Tridasha Gods Edit
The Rigveda speaks of Thirty-three gods called the Tridasha ('Three times ten'). They consisted of the 12 Adityas, the 8 Vasus, the 11 Rudras and the 2 Ashvins. Indra also called Śakra, lord of the gods, is the first of the 33 followed by Agni. Some of these brother gods were invoked in pairs such as Indra-Agni, Mitra-Varuna and Soma-Rudra.
- Mitra, the patron god of oaths and of friendship,
- Varuṇa, the patron god of water and the oceans,
- Śakra, also called Indra, the king of gods, and the god of rains
- Bhaga, god of wealth
- Vivasvat, also called Ravi or Savitṛ,
- Tvāṣṭṛ, the smith among the gods,
- Pūṣan, patron god of travellers and herdsmen, god of roads,
- Dhātṛ, god of health, also called Dhūti
- Yama, god of Dharma(moral ethics), of death and of justice.
Assistants of Indra and of Vishnu
- Agni the "Fire" god, also called Anala or "living",
- Vāyu the "Wind", the air god, also called Anila ("wind")
- Dyauṣ the "Sky" god, also called Dyeus and Prabhāsa or the "shining dawn"
- Pṛthivī the "Earth" god, also called Dharā or "support"
- Sūrya the "Sun" god, also called Pratyūsha, ("break of dawn", but often used to mean simply "light"), the Saura sectary worshipped Sūrya as their chief deity.
- Soma the "Moon" god, also called Chandra
- Aha ("pervading") or Āpa ('water' or ether), also called Antarikṣa the "Atmosphere" or "Space" god,
- Dhruva ("motionless") the Polestar, also called Nakṣatra the god of the "Stars",
They are the 8 personifications of god Rudra and have various names.
- The Ashvins (also called the Nāsatyas) were twin gods. Nasatya is also the name of one twin, while the other is called Dasra
List in Alphabetical Order Edit
List in alphabetical orderEdit
Most of the Hindu temples are dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu (including his incarnations Krishna and Rama), Shakti (the mother goddess, hence including the forms of Durga and Kali and the goddesses Lakshmi and Saraswati), Ganesh and Hanuman. The Hindu scriptures claimed that there were 33 Crore or 330 million (1 Crore = 10 million) gods. The number might be figurative but there are several names and forms for the multitude of gods. Given below is an incomplete list of deities.
- Acyutah, another name of Vishnu.
- Adimurti one of Vishnu's avatars.
- Aditi is mother of the Devas.
- Adityas, are the offspring of Aditi.
- Agni* is the god of fire, and acceptor of sacrifices.
- Ammavaru goddess who laid the egg that hatched Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu.
- Anala "fire" in Sanskrit, equated among Agni.
- Anilais one of the Vasus, gods of the elements of the cosmos. He is equated with the wind god Vāyu, Anila being understood as the name normally used for Vāyu when numbered among the Vasus.
- Anumati ("divine favor" in Sanskrit, Devanagari: अनुमति), also known as Chandrama, is a lunar deity and goddess of wealth, intellect, children, spirituality, and prosperity. Her vehicle is Krisha Mrigam or Krishna Jinka (Blackbuck).
- Ap In Hinduism, it is also the name of the deva, a personification of water, one of the Vasus in most later Puranic lists.
- Apam Napat is an eminent figure of the Indo-Iranian pantheon. In Hinduism, Apām Napāt is the god of fresh water, such as in rivers and lakes. In Zoroastrianism, Apąm Napāt is also a divinity of water, see also Burz.
- Aranyani is a goddess of the forests and the animals that dwell within them.Aranyani has the distinction of having one of the most descriptive hymns in the Rigveda dedicated to her, in which she is described as being elusive, fond of quiet glades in the jungle, and fearless of remote places.
- Aravan also known as Iravat (इरावत्, Irāvat) and Iravant, is a minor character from the Hindu epic of Mahabharata. The son of Pandava prince Arjuna (one of the main heroes of the Mahabharata) and the Naga princess Ulupi, Iravan is the central god of the cult of Kuttantavar (Tamil: கூத்தாண்டவர்) —which is also the name commonly given to him in that cult—and plays a major role in the cult of Draupadi.
- Ardhanari is a composite androgynous form of the Hindu god Shiva and his consort Parvati (also known as Devi, Shakti and Uma in this icon). Ardhanarishvara is depicted as half male and half female, split down the middle. The right half is usually the male Shiva, illustrating his traditional attributes.
- ArdraThe Hindu myth associated to Ardra is that of Taraka. Taraka is an asura who is granted invulnerability by Brahma.
- Arjuna-(pronounced [ɐrˈɟunɐ] in classical Sanskrit) (lit. 'bright' or 'silver' (cf. Latin argentum)) is the third of the Pandavas, the sons and princes of Pandu, who with Krishna, is considered to be the hero of the Hindu epic Mahabharata.
- Aruna is a personification of the reddish glow of the rising Sun, which is believed to have spiritual powers. The presence of Aruṇá, the coming of day, is invoked in Brahmin prayers to Surya.
- Arundhati is the wife of the sage Vashista, one of the seven sages (Saptarshi) who are identified with the Ursa Major. She is identified with the morning star and also with the star Alcor which forms a double star with Mizar (identified as Vashista) in Ursa Major.
- Aryaman is one of the early Vedic deities (devas). His name signifies "bosom friend". He is the third son of Aditi. He is an Aditya, a solar deity. He is supposed to be the chief of the manes and the Milky Way is supposed to be his path.
- Ashapura -Mata no Madh is one of aspect devi. Her temples are mainly found in Gujarat.
- Aslesais the 9th Nakshatra among the 27 Nakshatras in Hindu astrology. Ashlesha is also known as the Clinging Star or Nāga. It is known as Hydra. It extends from 16:40 to 30:00 Cancri.
- Asura(Sanskrit: असुर, Sanskrit ásu - "life force". Compare: Æsir. Also see: Ahura Mazda) are non-suras, a different group of power-seeking deities besides the suras, sometimes considered naturalists, or nature-beings. They are the forces of chaos that are in constant battle with the Devas.
- Asvayujau is a goddess of good luck, joy and happiness.
- Aswiniis the first nakshatra (lunar mansion) in Hindu astrology, corresponding to the head of Aries, including the stars β and γ Arietis. The name aśvinī is used by Varahamihira (6th century). The older name of the asterism, found in the Atharvaveda (AVS 19.7; in the dual) and in Panini (4.3.36), was aśvayúj "harnessing horses"
- Ayyappan is a Hindu deity worshiped in a number of shrines across India. Ayyappan is believed to be an incarnation of Dharma Sasta, who is the offspring of Shiva and Vishnu (as Mohini, is the only female avatar of the God Vishnu) and is generally depicted in a yogic posture
- Ayya Vaikundar
- Bahuchara Mata
- Budhi Pallien
- Dharma Shasta
- Dyaus Pita
- Ganesha (see also Ashtavinayaka)
- Guardians of the directions
- Madurai Veeran
- Mahesh, another name for Shiva
- Veer Mhaskoba
- Rohini Nakshatram
- Raj Jain
- Santoshi Mata
- Shakti Peethas
- Shiva (see also Astamurti)
- Sai Baba
- Sai Baba