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Hindu deities are the gods and goddesses in
Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion and ''dharma'', or way of life. It is the world's third-largest religion, with over 1.25 billion followers, or 15–16% of the global population, known as Hindus. The word ''Hindu'' is an exonym, and wh ...
. The terms and epithets for deity within the diverse traditions of Hinduism vary, and include Deva,
Devi Devī (Sanskrit: देवी) is the Sanskrit word for 'goddess'; the masculine form is ''deva''. ''Devi'' and ''deva'' mean 'heavenly, divine, anything of excellence', and are also gender-specific terms for a deity in Hinduism. The concep ...
,
Ishvara Ishvara (Sanskrit: ईश्वर, IAST: Īśvara) is a concept in Hinduism, with a wide range of meanings that depend on the era and the school of Hinduism.Monier Monier Williams, Sanskrit-English dictionarySearch for Izvara University of Colog ...
,
Ishvari Ishwari (Sanskrit: ईश्वरी, IAST: Īśwarī) is the Divine female counterpart of Ishwara. It is shakti and infinite strength represented in a form as an all-powerful, sovereign Goddess who reigns over all the worlds. The description q ...
,
Bhagavān Bhagavān (Sanskrit: , ) or Bhagwan (translated as "Lord") is an epithet for a deity, particularly for Krishna or Vishnu in the Vaishnavism and for Shiva in Shaivism.James Lochtefeld (2000), "Bhagavan", The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduis ...
and
Bhagavati Bhagavatī (Devanagari: भगवती, IAST: Bhagavatī), is a word of Sanskrit origin, used in India as a polite form to address or as an honorific title for female deities in Hinduism. The male equivalent of Bhagavatī is Bhagavān.Sarah C ...
. The deities of Hinduism have evolved from the
Vedic era#REDIRECT Vedic period {{R from other capitalisation ...
(2nd millennium BC) through the medieval era (1st millennium AD), regionally within
Nepal Nepal (; ne, नेपाल ), officially Nepal, is a sovereign country in South Asia. It is mainly in the Himalayas, but also includes parts of the Indo-Gangetic Plain. It is the 49th largest country by population and 93rd largest country by ...
,
India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the second-most populous country, the seventh-largest country by land area, and the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Oce ...

India
and in Southeast Asia, and across Hinduism's diverse traditions.Nicholas Gier (2000), Spiritual Titanism: Indian, Chinese, and Western Perspectives, State University of New York Press, , pp. 59-76Jeaneane D. Fowler (2012), The Bhagavad Gita, Sussex Academic Press, , pp. 253-262 The Hindu deity concept varies from a personal god as in Yoga school of Hindu philosophy, to 33 Vedic deities,George Williams (2008), A Handbook of Hindu Mythology, Oxford University Press, , pp. 90, 112 to hundreds of Puranas, Puranics of Hinduism. Illustrations of major deities include Vishnu, Lakshmi, Shiva, Parvati (Durga), Brahma and Saraswati. These deities have distinct and complex personalities, yet are often viewed as aspects of the same Ultimate Reality called Brahman. From ancient times, the idea of equivalence has been cherished for all Hindus, in its texts and in early 1st millennium sculpture with concepts such as Harihara (Half Vishnu, Half Shiva) and Ardhanarishvara, Ardhanārīshvara (half Shiva, half Parvati), with myths and temples that feature them together, declaring they are the same. Major deities have inspired their own Hindu traditions, such as Vaishnavism, Shaivism and Shaktism, but with shared mythology, ritual grammar, Theosophy and visual arts, theosophy, axiology and polycentrism.Julius J. Lipner (2009), Hindus: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, 2nd Edition, Routledge, , pp. 371-375 Some Hindu traditions, such as Smartism from the mid 1st millennium AD, have included multiple major deities as Henotheism, henotheistic manifestations of Saguna brahman, Saguna Brahman, and as a means to realizing Nirguna Brahman.Michael Myers (2000), Brahman: A Comparative Theology, Routledge, , pp. 124-127 Hindu deities are represented with various icons and anicons, in paintings and sculptures, called Murtis and ''Pratimas''.Klaus Klostermaier (2010), ''A Survey of Hinduism'', State University of New York Press, , pp. 264-267PK Acharya
An Encyclopedia of Hindu Architecture
Oxford University Press, p. 426
Some Hindu traditions, such as ancient Charvakas, rejected all deities and concept of god or goddess,John Clayton (2010), Religions, Reasons and Gods: Essays in Cross-cultural Philosophy of Religion, Cambridge University Press, , p. 150 while 19th-century British colonial era movements such as the Arya Samaj and Brahmo Samaj rejected deities and adopted monotheistic concepts similar to Abrahamic religions. Hindu deities have been adopted in other religions such as Jainism, and in regions outside India, such as predominantly Buddhist Thailand and Japan, where they continue to be revered in regional temples or arts. In ancient and medieval era texts of Hinduism, the human body is described as a temple,Jean Holm and John Bowker (1998), Sacred Place, Bloomsbury Academic, , pp. 76-78 and deities are described to be parts residing within it, while the Brahman (Absolute Reality, God)For dualism school of Hinduism, see: Francis X. Clooney (2010), Hindu God, Christian God: How Reason Helps Break Down the Boundaries between Religions, Oxford University Press, , pp. 51-58, 111-115;
For monist school of Hinduism, see: B. Martinez-Bedard (2006), Types of Causes in Aristotle and Sankara, Thesis - Department of Religious Studies (Advisors: Kathryn McClymond and Sandra Dwyer), Georgia State University, pp. 18-35
is described to be the same, or of similar nature, as the Atman (Hinduism), Atman (self, soul), which Hindus believe is eternal and within every living being.R Prasad (2009), A Historical-developmental Study of Classical Indian Philosophy of Morals, Concept Publishing, , pp. 345-347 Deities in Hinduism are as diverse as its traditions, and a Hindu can choose to be polytheistic, pantheistic, monotheistic, monistic, agnostic, atheistic, or humanist.Julius J. Lipner (2009), Hindus: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, 2nd edition, Routledge, , p. 8; Quote: "(...) one need not be religious in the minimal sense described to be accepted as a Hindu by Hindus, or describe oneself perfectly validly as Hindu. One may be polytheistic or monotheistic, monistic or pantheistic, even an agnostic, humanist or atheist, and still be considered a Hindu."


Devas and devis

Deities in Hinduism are referred to as Deva (masculine) and
Devi Devī (Sanskrit: देवी) is the Sanskrit word for 'goddess'; the masculine form is ''deva''. ''Devi'' and ''deva'' mean 'heavenly, divine, anything of excellence', and are also gender-specific terms for a deity in Hinduism. The concep ...
(feminine).Monier Monier-Williams, A Sanskrit-English Dictionary" Etymologically and Philologically Arranged to cognate Indo-European Languages, Motilal Banarsidass, p. 496 The root of these terms mean "heavenly, divine, anything of excellence".Monier Monier-Williams, A Sanskrit-English Dictionary" Etymologically and Philologically Arranged to cognate Indo-European Languages, Motilal Banarsidass, p. 492 According to Douglas Harper, the etymological roots of ''Deva'' mean "a shining one," from *div- "to shine," and it is a cognate with Greek dios "divine" and Zeus, and Latin deus (Old Latin deivos). In the earliest Vedic literature, all supernatural beings are called Asura (Hinduism), Asuras. By the late Vedic period (~500 BC), benevolent supernatural beings are referred to as ''Deva-Asuras''. In post-Vedic texts, such as the Puranas and the Itihasas of Hinduism, the Devas represent the good, and the Asuras the bad. In some medieval Indian literature, ''Devas'' are also referred to as Suras and contrasted with their equally powerful, but malevolent half-brothers referred to as the Asuras.Encyclopædia Britannica
/ref> Hindu deities are part of Indian mythology, both Devas and Devis feature in one of many cosmological theories in
Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion and ''dharma'', or way of life. It is the world's third-largest religion, with over 1.25 billion followers, or 15–16% of the global population, known as Hindus. The word ''Hindu'' is an exonym, and wh ...
.


Characteristics of Vedic-era deities

In Vedic literature, Devas and Devis represent the forces of nature and some represent moral values (such as the Adityas, Varuna, and Mitra), each symbolizing the epitome of a specialized knowledge, creative energy, exalted and magical powers (''Siddhis'').Bina Gupta (2011), An Introduction to Indian Philosophy, Routledge, , pp. 21-25 The most referred to Devas in the Rig Veda are Indra, Agni (fire) and Soma (deity), Soma, with "fire deity" called the friend of all humanity, it and Soma being the two celebrated in a yajna fire ritual that marks major Hindu ceremonies. Savitr, Vishnu, Rudra (later given the exclusive epithet of Shiva), and Prajapati (later Brahma) are gods and hence Devas.Hajime Nakamura (1998), A Comparative History of Ideas, Motilal Banarsidass, , pp. 26-33 The Vedas describes a number of significant Devis such as Ushas (dawn), Prithvi (earth), Aditi (cosmic moral order), Saraswati (river, knowledge), Vāc (sound), Nirṛti (destruction), Ratri (night), Aranyani (forest), and bounty goddesses such as Dinsana, Raka, Puramdhi, Parendi, Bharati, Mahi among others are mentioned in the ''Rigveda''.David Kinsley (2005), Hindu Goddesses: Vision of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Traditions, University of California Press, , pp. 6-17, 55-64 Sri, also called Lakshmi, appears in late Vedic texts dated to be pre-Buddhist, but verses dedicated to her do not suggest that her characteristics were fully developed in the Vedic era.David Kinsley (2005), Hindu Goddesses: Vision of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Traditions, University of California Press, , pp. 18, 19 All gods and goddesses are distinguished in the Vedic times, but in the post-Vedic texts (~500 BC to 200 AD), and particularly in the early medieval era literature, they are ultimately seen as aspects or manifestations of one Brahman, the Supreme power. Ananda Coomaraswamy states that Devas and Asuras in the Vedic lore are similar to Twelve Olympians, Angels-Theoi-Gods and Titan (mythology), Titans of Greek mythology, both are powerful but have different orientations and inclinations, the Devas representing the powers of Light and the Asuras representing the powers of Darkness in Hindu mythology. According to Coomaraswamy's interpretation of Devas and Asuras, both these natures exist in each human being, the tyrant and the angel is within each being, the best and the worst within each person struggles before choices and one's own nature, and the Hindu formulation of Devas and Asuras is an eternal dance between these within each person.Nicholas Gier (1995)
Hindu Titanism
Philosophy East and West, Volume 45, Number 1, p. 76, see also 73-96


Characteristics of medieval-era deities

In the Puranas and the Itihasas with the embedded Bhagavad Gita, the Devas represent the good, and the Asuras the bad. According to the Bhagavad Gita (16.6–16.7), all beings in the universe have both the divine qualities (''daivi sampad'') and the demonic qualities (''asuri sampad'') within each. The sixteenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita states that pure god-like saints are rare and pure demon-like evil are rare among human beings, and the bulk of humanity is multi-charactered with a few or many faults. According to Jeaneane Fowler, the Gita states that desires, aversions, greed, needs, emotions in various forms "are facets of ordinary lives", and it is only when they turn to lust, hate, cravings, arrogance, conceit, anger, harshness, hypocrisy, violence, cruelty and such negativity- and destruction-inclined that natural human inclinations metamorphose into something demonic (Asura).Christopher K Chapple (2010), The Bhagavad Gita: Twenty-fifth–Anniversary Edition, State University of New York Press, , pp. 610-629 The Epics and medieval era texts, particularly the Puranas, developed extensive and richly varying mythologies associated with Hindu deities, including their Genealogies of Genesis, genealogies.Greg Bailey (2001), Encyclopedia of Asian Philosophy (Editor: Oliver Leaman), Routledge, , pp. 437-439Gregory Bailey (2003), The Study of Hinduism (Editor: Arvind Sharma), The University of South Carolina Press, , p. 139 Several of the Purana texts are named after major Hindu deities such as Vishnu, Shiva and Devi.Ludo Rocher (1986), The Puranas, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, , pp. 1-5, 12-21 Other texts and commentators such as Adi Shankara explain that Hindu deities live or rule over the cosmic body as well in the temple of human body. They remark that the Sun deity is the eyes, the Vayu, Vāyu the nose, the Prajapati the sexual organs, the Lokapalas the ears, Chandra the mind, Mitra the inward breath, Varuna the outward breath, Indra the arms, Bṛhaspati the speech, Vishnu, whose stride is great, is the feet, and Māyā is the smile.Alain Daniélou (1991), The Myths and Gods of India, Princeton/Bollingen Paperbacks, , pp. 57-60


Symbolism

Edelmann states that gods and anti-gods of Hinduism are symbolism for spiritual concepts. For example, god Indra (a Deva) and the antigod Virocana (an Asura) question a sage for insights into the knowledge of the self. Virocana leaves with the first given answer, believing now he can use the knowledge as a weapon. In contrast, Indra keeps pressing the sage, churning the ideas, and learning about means to inner happiness and power. Edelmann suggests that the Deva-Asura dichotomies in Hindu mythology may be seen as "narrative depictions of tendencies within our selves".Jonathan Edelmann (2013), Hindu Theology as Churning the Latent, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Volume 81, Issue 2, pp. 439-441 Hindu deities in Vedic era, states Mahoney, are those artists with "powerfully inward transformative, effective and creative mental powers". In Hindu mythology, everyone starts as an Asura, born of the same father. "Asuras who remain Asura" share the character of powerful beings craving for more power, more wealth, ego, anger, unprincipled nature, force and violence. The "Asuras who become Devas" in contrast are driven by an inner voice, seek understanding and meaning, prefer moderation, principled behavior, aligned with ''Ṛta'' and ''Dharma'', knowledge and harmony.Nicholas Gier (1995)
Hindu Titanism
Philosophy East and West, Volume 45, Number 1, pp. 76-80
Stella Kramrisch and Raymond Burnier (1986), The Hindu Temple, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, , pp. 75-78 The god (Deva) and antigod (Asura), states Edelmann, are also symbolically the contradictory forces that motivate each individual and people, and thus Deva-Asura dichotomy is a spiritual concept rather than mere genealogical category or species of being. In the Bhāgavata Purana, saints and gods are born in families of Asuras, such as Mahabali and Prahlada, conveying the symbolism that motivations, beliefs and actions rather than one's birth and family circumstances define whether one is Deva-like or Asura-like.Jonathan Edelmann (2013), Hindu Theology as Churning the Latent, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Volume 81, Issue 2, pp. 440-442


Ishvara

Another Hindu term that is sometimes translated as deity is
Ishvara Ishvara (Sanskrit: ईश्वर, IAST: Īśvara) is a concept in Hinduism, with a wide range of meanings that depend on the era and the school of Hinduism.Monier Monier Williams, Sanskrit-English dictionarySearch for Izvara University of Colog ...
, or alternatively various deities are described, state Sorajjakool et al., as "the personifications of various aspects of one and the same Ishvara". The term ''Ishvara'' has a wide range of meanings that depend on the era and the school of Hinduism.Monier Williams, Sanskrit-English dictionary
Izvara
Sanskrit Digital Lexicon, University of Cologne, Germany
Dale Riepe (1961, Reprinted 1996), Naturalistic Tradition in Indian Thought, Motilal Banarsidass, , pp. 177-184, 208-215 In ancient texts of Indian philosophy, ''Ishvara'' means supreme soul, Brahman (Highest Reality), ruler, king or husband depending on the context. In medieval era texts, ''Ishvara'' means God, Supreme Being, personal god, or special Self depending on the school of Hinduism.Mircea Eliade (2009), Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, Princeton University Press, , pp. 73-76Ian Whicher, The Integrity of the Yoga Darsana, State University of New York press, , pp. 82-86 Among the six systems of Hindu philosophy, Samkhya and Mimamsa do not consider the concept of ''Ishvara'', i.e., a supreme being, relevant. Yoga (philosophy), Yoga, Vaisheshika, Vedanta and Nyaya schools of Hinduism discuss Ishvara, but assign different meanings. Early Nyaya school scholars considered the hypothesis of a deity as a creator God with the power to grant blessings, boons and fruits; but these early Nyaya scholars then rejected this hypothesis, and were non-theistic or atheists. Later scholars of Nyaya school reconsidered this question and offered counter arguments for what is Ishvara and various arguments to prove the existence of omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent deity (God).Francis X. Clooney (2010), Hindu God, Christian God: How Reason Helps Break Down the Boundaries, Oxford University Press, , pp. 18-19, 35-39 Vaisheshika school of Hinduism, as founded by Kanada in 1st millennium BC, neither required nor relied on creator deity.Klaus Klostermaier (2007), A Survey of Hinduism, Third Edition, State University of New York, , p. 337 Later Vaisheshika school adopted the concept of ''Ishvara'', states Klaus Klostermaier, but as an eternal God who co-exists in the universe with eternal substances and atoms, but He "winds up the clock, and lets it run its course". Ancient Mimamsa scholars of Hinduism questioned what is ''Ishvara'' (deity, God)?FX Clooney (1997), What's a god? The quest for the right understanding of devatā in Brāhmaṅical ritual theory (Mīmāṃsā), International Journal of Hindu Studies, August 1997, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp. 337-385 They considered a deity concept unnecessary for a consistent philosophy and moksha (soteriology).P. Bilimoria (2001), Hindu doubts about God: Towards Mimamsa Deconstruction, in Philosophy of Religion: Indian Philosophy (Editor: Roy Perrett), Volume 4, Routledge, , pp. 87-106 In Samkhya school of Hindu philosophy, ''Isvara'' is neither a creator-God, nor a savior-God. This is called one of the several major atheistic schools of Hinduism by some scholars. Others, such as :no:Knut A. Jacobsen, Jacobsen, state that Samkhya is more accurately described as non-theistic. Deity is considered an irrelevant concept, neither defined nor denied, in Samkhya school of Hindu philosophy. In Yoga school of Hinduism, it is any "personal deity" (Ishta Deva or Ishta Devata) or "spiritual inspiration", but not a creator God.Lloyd Pflueger, Person Purity and Power in Yogasutra, in Theory and Practice of Yoga (Editor: Knut Jacobsen), Motilal Banarsidass, , pp. 38-39 Whicher explains that while Patanjali's terse verses in the Yogasutras can be interpreted both as theistic or non-theistic, Patanjali's concept of ''Isvara'' in Yoga philosophy functions as a "transformative catalyst or guide for aiding the yogin on the path to spiritual emancipation". The Advaita Vedanta school of Hinduism asserted that there is no dualism (Indian philosophy), dualistic existence of deity (or deities).:no:Knut A. Jacobsen, Knut Jacobsen (2008), Theory and Practice of Yoga : 'Essays in Honour of Gerald James Larson, Motilal Banarsidass, , p. 77 There is no otherness nor distinction between ''Jiva'' and ''Ishvara''.William Indich (2000), Consciousness in Advaita Vedanta, Motilal Banarsidass, , p. 5 God (Ishvara, Brahman) is identical with the Atman (soul) within each human being in Advaita Vedanta school, and there is a monism, monistic Universal Absolute Oneness that connects everyone and everything, states this school of Hinduism.John Koller (2012), Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Religion (Editors: Chad Meister, Paul Copan), Routledge, , pp. 99-107Lance Nelson (1996), Living liberation in Shankara and classical Advaita, in Living Liberation in Hindu Thought (Editors: Andrew O. Fort, Patricia Y. Mumme), State University of New York Press, , pp. 38-39, 59 (footnote 105) This school, states Anantanand Rambachan, has "perhaps exerted the most widespread influence". The Dvaita sub-school of Vedanta Hinduism, founded in medieval era, ''Ishvara'' is defined as a creator God that is distinct from ''Jiva'' (individual souls in living beings). In this school, God creates individual souls, but the individual soul never was and never will become one with God; the best it can do is to experience bliss by getting infinitely close to God.Thomas Padiyath (2014), The Metaphysics of Becoming, De Gruyter, , pp. 155-157


Number of deities

Yāska, the earliest known language scholar of India (~ 500 BC), notes Wilkins, mentions that there are three deities (''Devas'') according to the Vedas, "''Agni'' (fire), whose place is on the earth; ''Vayu'' (wind), whose place is the air; and ''Surya'' (sun), whose place is in the sky". This principle of three worlds (or zones), and its multiples is found thereafter in many ancient texts. The Samhitas, which are the oldest layer of text in Vedas enumerate 33 devas, either 11 each for the three worlds, or as 12 Adityas, 11 Rudras, 8 Vasus and 2 Ashvins in the Brahmanas layer of Vedic texts. The Rigveda states in hymn 1.139.11,


One or one-ness

Thirty-three divinities are mentioned in other ancient texts, such as the Yajurveda, however, there is fixed "number of deities" in Hinduism there are only 33 gods a standard representation of "deity" ; the number 33 crore came due to mis translation of Sanskrit word Koti which means type and not crore. Most, by far, are goddesses, state Foulston and Abbott, suggesting "how important and popular goddesses are" in Hindu culture. Scholars state all deities are typically viewed in Hinduism as "emanations or manifestation of genderless principle called Brahman, representing the many facets of Ultimate Reality". This concept of God in Hinduism "God, the universe, human beings and all else is essentially one thing" and everything is connected oneness, the same god is in every human being as Atman (Hinduism), Atman, the eternal Self.Jeffrey Brodd (2003), World Religions: A Voyage of Discovery, Saint Mary's Press, , p. 43 Parallels between Allah in Islam or Ein Sof in Kabbalah and Brahman have been drawn by many scholars in the past as well as in recent times.


Iconography and practices

Hinduism has an ancient and extensive iconography tradition, particularly in the form of ''Murti'' (Sanskrit: मूर्ति, IAST: Mūrti), or ''Vigraha'' or ''Pratima''. A ''Murti'' is itself not the god in
Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion and ''dharma'', or way of life. It is the world's third-largest religion, with over 1.25 billion followers, or 15–16% of the global population, known as Hindus. The word ''Hindu'' is an exonym, and wh ...
, but it is an image of god and represents emotional and religious value.Jeaneane D Fowler (1996), Hinduism: Beliefs and Practices, Sussex Academic Press, , pp. 41-45 A literal translation of ''Murti'' as idol is incorrect, states Jeaneane Fowler, when idol is understood as superstitious end in itself. Just like the photograph of a person is not the real person, a ''Murti'' is an image in Hinduism but not the real thing, but in both cases the image reminds of something of emotional and real value to the viewer. When a person worships a ''Murti'', it is assumed to be a manifestation of the essence or spirit of the deity, the worshipper's spiritual ideas and needs are meditated through it, yet the idea of ultimate reality or Brahman is not confined in it. A Murti of a Hindu deity is typically made by carving stone, wood working, metal casting or through pottery. Medieval era texts describing their proper proportions, positions and gestures include the Puranas, Agama (Hinduism), Agamas and Samhitas particularly the Shilpa Shastras. The expressions in a ''Murti'' vary in diverse Hindu traditions, ranging from ''Ugra'' symbolism to express destruction, fear and violence (Durga(Parvati, Kali), as well as ''Saumya'' symbolism to express joy, knowledge and harmony (Parvati, Saraswati, Lakshmi). Saumya images are most common in Hindu temples.Gopinath Rao
Elements of Hindu Iconography
Madras, Cornell University Archives, pp. 17-39
Other Murti forms found in Hinduism include the Linga.Stella Kramrisch (1994), The Presence of Siva, Princeton University Press, , pp. 179-187 A ''Murti'' is an embodiment of the divine, the Ultimate Reality or Brahman to some Hindus. In religious context, they are found in Hindu temples or homes, where they may be treated as a beloved guest and serve as a participant of Puja (Hinduism), Puja rituals in Hinduism.Michael Willis (2009), The Archaeology of Hindu Ritual, Cambridge University Press, , pp. 96-112, 123-143, 168-172 A murti is installed by priests, in Hindu temples, through the Prana Pratishtha ceremony, whereby state Harold Coward and David Goa, the "divine vital energy of the cosmos is infused into the sculpture" and then the divine is welcomed as one would welcome a friend. In other occasions, it serves as the center of attention in annual festive processions and these are called ''Utsava Murti''.James Lochtefeld (2002), The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: A-M, The Rosen Publishing Group, , p. 726


Temple and worship

In Hinduism, deities and their icons may be hosted in a Hindu temple, within a home or as an amulet. The worship performed by Hindus is known by a number of regional names, such as ''Puja''. This practice in front of a murti may be elaborate in large temples, or be a simple song or mantra muttered in home, or offering made to sunrise or river or symbolic anicon of a deity. Archaeological evidence of deity worship in Hindu temples trace ''Puja'' rituals to Gupta Empire era (~4th century AD). In Hindu temples, various pujas may be performed daily at various times of the day; in other temples, it may be occasional.Puja
Encyclopædia Britannica (2011)
Hiro G. Badlani (2008), ''Hinduism: A path of ancient wisdom'', , pp. 315-318 The ''Puja'' practice is structured as an act of welcoming, hosting, honoring the deity of one's choice as one's honored guest, and remembering the spiritual and emotional significance the deity represents the devotee.James Lochtefeld (2002), ''Puja'' in The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Volume 2, Rosen Publishing, , pp. 529–530 Jan Gonda, as well as Diana L. Eck, states that a typical ''Puja'' involves one or more of 16 steps (''Shodasha Upachara'') traceable to ancient times: the deity is invited as a guest, the devotee hosts and takes care of the deity as an honored guest, praise (hymns) with Dhupa or Aarti along with food (Naivedhya) is offered to the deity, after an expression of love and respect the host takes leave, and with affection expresses good bye to the deity.Diana L. Eck (2008), ''Darśan: Seeing the Divine Image in India'', Motilal Banarsidass, , pp. 47-49 The worship practice may also involve reflecting on spiritual questions, with image serving as support for such meditation. Deity worship (''Bhakti''), visiting temples and ''Puja'' rites are not mandatory and is optional in Hinduism; it is the choice of a Hindu, it may be a routine daily affair for some Hindus, periodic ritual or infrequent for some. Worship practices in
Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion and ''dharma'', or way of life. It is the world's third-largest religion, with over 1.25 billion followers, or 15–16% of the global population, known as Hindus. The word ''Hindu'' is an exonym, and wh ...
are as diverse as its traditions, and a Hindu can choose to be polytheistic, pantheistic, monotheistic, monistic, agnostic, atheistic, or humanist.


Examples

Major deities have inspired a vast genre of literature such as the Puranas and Agama (Hinduism), Agama texts as well their own Hindu traditions, but with shared mythology, ritual grammar, Theosophy (Blavatskian), theosophy, axiology and polycentrism. Vishnu and his avatars are at the foundation of Vaishnavism, Shiva for Shaivism, Devi for Shaktism, and some Hindu traditions such as Smarta traditions who revere multiple major deities (five) as henotheistic manifestations of Brahman (absolute metaphysical Reality).David Lawrence (2012), The Routledge Companion to Theism (Editors: Charles Taliaferro, Victoria S. Harrison and Stewart Goetz), Routledge, , pp. 78-79 While there are diverse deities in Hinduism, states Lawrence, "Exclusivism – which maintains that only one's own deity is real" is rare in Hinduism. Julius J. Lipner, Julius Lipner, and other scholars, state that pluralism and "polycentrism" – where other deities are recognized and revered by members of different "denominations", has been the Hindu ethos and way of life.


Trimurti and Tridevi

The concept of Triad (or ''Trimurti'', ''Trinity'') makes a relatively late appearance in Hindu literature, or in the second half of 1st millennium BC.Jan Gonda (1969)
The Hindu Trinity
Anthropos, 63/64, 1/2, pp. 212-226
The idea of triad, playing three roles in the cosmic affairs, is typically associated with Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva (also called ''Mahesh''); however, this is not the only triad in Hindu literature.GM Bailey (1979)
Trifunctional Elements in the Mythology of the Hindu Trimūrti
Numen, Vol. 26, Fasc. 2, pp. 152-163
Other triads include ''Tridevi'', of three goddesses – Lakshmi, Saraswati and Parvati in the text Devi Mahatmya, in the Shakta tradition, who further assert that Devi is the Brahman (Ultimate Reality) and it is her energy that empowers Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The other triads, formulated as deities in ancient Indian literature, include Sun (creator), Air (sustainer) and Fire (destroyer); Prana (creator), Food (sustainer) and Time (destroyer). These triads, states Jan Gonda, are in some mythologies grouped together without forming a Trinity, and in other times represented as equal, a unity and manifestations of one Brahman. In the Puranas, for example, this idea of threefold "hypostatization" is expressed as follows, The triad appears in Maitrayaniya Upanishad, for the first time in recognized roles known ever since, where they are deployed to present the concept of three Guṇa – the innate nature, tendencies and inner forces found within every being and everything, whose balance transform and keeps changing the individual and the world. It is in the medieval Puranic texts, ''Trimurti'' concepts appears in various context, from rituals to spiritual concepts. The Bhagavad Gita, in verses 9.18, 10.21-23 and 11.15, asserts that the triad or trinity is manifestation of one Brahman, which Krishna affirms himself to be. However, suggests Bailey, the mythology of triad is "not the influence nor the most important one" in Hindu traditions, rather the ideologies and spiritual concepts develop on their own foundations. The triad, with Brahma creating, Vishnu preserving and Shiva destroying, balances the functioning of the whole universe.


Avatars of Hindu deities

Hindu mythology has nurtured the concept of Avatar, which represents the descent of a deity on earth.James Lochtefeld (2002), The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: A-M, The Rosen Publishing Group, , pp. 72-73 This concept is commonly translated as "incarnation", and is an "appearance" or "manifestation". The concept of Avatar is most developed in Vaishnavism tradition, and associated with Vishnu, particularly with Rama and Krishna. Vishnu takes numerous avatars in Hindu mythology. He becomes female, during the Samudra manthan, in the form of Mohini, to resolve a conflict between the Devas and Asura (Hinduism), Asuras. His male avatars include Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Parashurama, Rama, Krishna, Gautama Buddha in Hinduism, Buddha, and Kalki. Various texts, particularly the ''Bhagavad Gita'', discuss the idea of Avatar of Vishnu appearing to restore the cosmic balance whenever the power of evil becomes excessive and causes persistent oppression in the world. In Shaktism traditions, the concept appears in its legends as the various manifestations of
Devi Devī (Sanskrit: देवी) is the Sanskrit word for 'goddess'; the masculine form is ''deva''. ''Devi'' and ''deva'' mean 'heavenly, divine, anything of excellence', and are also gender-specific terms for a deity in Hinduism. The concep ...
, the Divine Mother principal in Hinduism. The avatars of Devi or Parvati include Durga and Kali, who are particularly revered in eastern states of
India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the second-most populous country, the seventh-largest country by land area, and the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Oce ...

India
, as well as Tantra traditions.Sally Kempton (2013), Awakening Shakti: The Transformative Power of the Goddesses of Yoga, , pp. 165-167Eva Rudy Jansen, The Book of Hindu Imagery: Gods, Manifestations and Their Meaning, Holland: Binkey Kok, , pp. 133-134, 41 Twenty one avatars of Shiva are also described in Shaivism texts, but unlike Vaishnava traditions, Shaiva traditions have focussed directly on Shiva rather than the Avatar concept.


Major regional and pan-Indian Hindu deities


See also

* Hindu denominations * Hindu iconography * Hindu mythology * Puranas * List of Hindu deities * Rigvedic deities


Notes


References


Citations


Sources

* Alain Daniélou, Daniélou, Alain (1991) [1964].
The Myths and Gods of India
'. Inner Traditions, Vermont, USA. . * Fuller, C. J. (2004).
The Camphor Flame: Popular Hinduism and Society in India
'. Princeton University Press, New Jersey. . * Harman, William, "Hindu Devotion". In:
Contemporary Hinduism: Ritual, Culture, and Practice
', Robin Rinehard, ed. (2004) . * Kashyap, R. L. ''Essentials of Krishna and Shukla Yajurveda''; SAKSI, Bangalore, Karnataka . * * Devdutt Pattanaik, Pattanaik, Devdutt (2009). ''7 Secrets from Hindu Calendar Art''. Westland, India. . * * * * * Swami Bhaskarananda, (1994). ''Essentials of Hinduism.'' (Viveka Press) . * Vastu-Silpa Kosha, ''Encyclopedia of Hindu Temple architecture and Vastu''. S. K. Ramachandara Rao, Delhi, Devine Books, (Lala Murari Lal Chharia Oriental series) (Set) * Werner, Karel. ''A Popular Dictionary of Hinduism''. Curzon Press, 1994. .


Further reading

* Chandra, Suresh (1998).
Encyclopaedia of Hindu Gods and Goddesses
'. Sarup & Sons, New Delhi, India. . * Devdutt Pattanaik, Pattanaik, Devdutt (2003).
Indian mythology: tales, symbols, and rituals from the heart of the Subcontinent
'. Inner Traditions / Bear & Company. . * Kinsley, David.
Hindu Goddesses: Vision of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Traditions
'. Motilal Banarsidass, New Delhi, India. .


External links



(with pictures)
Collection: "Hindu Gods and Goddesses"
from the University of Michigan Museum of Art
"Deities in Stone: Hindu Sculpture from the Collections of the Asian Art Museum" exhibition
at the San Francisco International Airport, SFO Museum
"Seeing the Divine in Hindu Art" exhibition
at the Museum of Art and Archaeology, Museum of Art and Archaeology at the University of Missouri {{DEFAULTSORT:Hindu Deities Hindu deities, Hindu mythology