Hinduism and the 7 Most Important Hindu Gods

There is one universal spirit in Hinduism, but there are innumerable aspects of it. Let us introduce you to the most important Hindu gods and to the basic concept of Hinduism.
Hinduism and the 7 Most Important Hindu Gods

Hinduism is the ancient religion of the Indian subcontinent, which developed out of Brahmanism. After Christianity and Islam, Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world with more than 1 billion followers worldwide. 

The Basics of Hinduism

Hinduism itself is difficult to define, since it consists out of a vast number of philosophies, connected by certain shared texts and rituals. It has evolved dynamically over millennia. The manifestations of Hinduism in Indian culture are manifold, from folk religiosity to the intricate rituals of the priestly caste, from simple meditation to advanced philosophical systems.

The foundation of the Hindu religious system is “sanatana dharma,” can be translated as eternal order, and encompasses the duties performed according to one’s spiritual identity of atman (meaning self, spirit, soul). 

For most Hinduists though, their religion is not a deep philosophical issue, but a constant endeavor which leads to their future incarnation in a hopefully better life, or to achieve complete liberation. 

n Hinduism, in addition to different philosophical aspects, also the worship of gods plays an important role as well as many rites and traditions. But with thousands of Hindu gods to choose from to worship, who are the most important ones?

Indians worshipping

Brahman – the Supreme Spirit with Many Forms

There is one eternal spirit in Hinduism, but there are innumerable manifestations of it. The origin of all that exists is Brahman, the transcendent being. Impersonal, elevated above space and time, without beginning and end, incomprehensible, unknowable, cannot be characterized by any quality. Brahman is the soul of the world.

All Hindu deities are manifestations and aspects of Brahman, the ultimate reality.  There are countless manifestations of Brahman, so we will focus only on the most important HIndu gods.

Trimurti: The Three Main Deities

Trimurti means “three forms” to which the 3 main deities belong: Brahma, Visnu and Siva. They are responsible for the creation, the preservation and the destruction of the universe.

Brahma, the Creator 

Brahma, not to be confused with Brahman, is the first being of the universe, the guardian of the binding force of passion, he is responsible for creation. According to Hinduism, he is the one who created all life forms that exist in the universe. His representation is depicted with 4 faces, symbolizing the four scriptures of Hinduism. 

Despite his central role as creator, there are only 6 Brahma temples in India. There are different theories about the why, but the most likely one is that Brahma was not always a role model for morality.

Vishnu, the Preserver 

Visnu is the preserver of the universe. He is also referred to as Narayana, the one who is in yogic slumber on the celestial waters.  Vishnu has come down to protect earth from evil  in several avatars and it is believed that he will do so at least once more before the end of the universe. Vishnu represents sattva, one of the three modes of existence, which stands for goodness, justice and peace. 

Vishnu is depicted as a young man with a light blue body and gold clothes. He holds a lotus in one hand, which stands for purity and transcendence, and a shell in the other. The sound of the shell symbolizes the original vibration of creation by which the Lord calls everyone to a higher reality. It also means the inner voice of man, which is the word of conscience. Visnu is one of the most popular gods in India.

Shiva, the Destroyer 

Shiva is the second most worshiped god in India. He is the inspiration for yoga, art and mysticism. At the same time, he directs destruction in the material universe and with that a new beginning. With his raging power he puts an end to the present Kali-Yuga era, the last of the four stages of our universe.

 His depiction is often depicted with matted hair, a crescent moon and a serpent around his neck. Another popular depiction is Shiva as Nataraja (the Lord of Dance).

shiva dancer statue most important gods of hinduism

Other Important Gods

Lakshmi, the Mother Goddess

Lakshmi, Vishnu’s wife, is the goddess of wealth and good fortune, she distributes the necessary goods among the people. She is considered the mother goddess and has many different aspects.  

She is often depicted sitting or standing on a lotus, symbolizing purity and knowledge.  Lakshmi also holds a lotus in two of her four hands, giving protection with her third hand, while nourishing with her fourth hand, not only materially but also spiritually. Her skin is golden, usually depicted with garlands of flowers.

Lakshmi is popular all over India and associated with one of India’s important celebrations: Divali, the celebration of light and prosperity. On this day the houses on this day are lit with countless lanterns and candles, for it is believed that wealth does not enter a dark house.

Laksmi’s mantra is “OM SHREEM MAHALAKSHMIYEI NAMAHA,” which, if repeated regularly, can bring prosperity and wealth into people’s lives. There are no temples that are dedicated exclusively to Lakshmi, but she is usually seen on the altars of Vishnu temples.

Krishna, God of Protection, Compassion, Tenderness and Love

Krishna is one of the incarnations of Vishnu, his eighth avatars. He is an important character in the Bhagavad-gita, which is one of the holiest texts of Hinduism. There different aspects of him are described, from being a prankster to being a divine hero. He is said to have lived on earth about 5000 years ago. 

He is depicted with a flute in his hand and a peacock feather in his hair, his skin is blue. Krishna approx. 

Krishna is the central figure of the Hare Krishna movement, a modern branch of Hinduism.

Ganésha, the God of New Beginnings 

Ganesha is a deity with a human body and an elephant head, who is present all over  in India and even Nepal, Thailand and Bali. He enjoys immense worship as the god of new beginnings, abundance and wisdom. He is also a remover of obstacles – be if for the start of a business or a trip. 

Ganesha’s favorite sweet is “Modak”, a coconut rice dumpling which is an essential delicacy enjoyed during Hindu festivals.

Durga, Destroyer of Demons 

We have already introduced Durga in an earlier article. She is the goddess of war, strength and protection. She protects the world against evil and demonic forces. That is why she is depicted not only as a beautiful female figure but also has 10 arms with weapons. She is often accompanied by a wild lion or a tiger. The Navratri festival is her celebration.

Understanding the Hindu pantheon, which in all its diversity has developed over thousands of years is not an easy task. We hope we could give you a little push in the right direction and a small introduction to the most important Hindu gods.

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