Hindu Gods

An Overview of the Four Major Hindu Gods

There are many Hindu gods and goddesses and each individual, or family, will choose which particular gods or goddesses they wish, or need, to worship. Each god or goddess may be worshipped continuously or when a particular need must be met.

Lakshmi, for example, might be called upon when a family wishes for prosperity while a different situation could warrant Parvati for fertility, love, and devotion.

Brahman

In the Hindu religion, Brahman is the supreme God of all things. Hindus believe in Brahman as the almighty while other gods are not separate gods at all but different expressions of the one God Brahman.

The most fundamental of the Hindu gods are the Trinity, or Trimurti, of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Herein is a brief overview of the three gods of the trimurti:

Brahma

Brahma is a four-headed god and the first head of the trimurti. He is the creator of the world and everything in it. Brahma is rarely worshipped by Hindus nowadays, although the reasons for this are disputed. One suggestion is simply that Brahma has completed his task and his role of creator is over. However, there is a story in which Brahma’s craving for flesh and away from the soul caused Shiva to punish him by a curse to stop people from worshipping him. In this story, Brahma sprouted heads in every direction in order to gaze at Shatarupa, a woman whom Brahma had created, until he had four heads. He then grew a fifth which Shiva had cut off. It is believed that the Vedas, which are the four most ancient Hindu texts, came from Brahma’s four heads.

Vishnu and Lakshmi

Vishnu

Vishnu is the second god of the Hindu trimurti. His role is one of preserver of creation and to keep the balance between good and evil. Vishnu has four arms which carry a conch, a chakra, a lotus flower, and a mace. Each of these items, in turn, symbolises the sound of creation, the mind, liberation, and strength. There are some people who worship only Vishnu, known as Vaishnava. Vaishnava believe in Vishnu as the supreme God with any other gods regarded as demi-gods. Hindus believe that Vishnu has been reincarnated nine times and there will be one more reincarnation of him near the time that the world ends. Two of Vishnu’s incarnations were Rama and Krishna, who are also worshipped as gods by some Hindus.

Shiva

The third god of the trimurti is Shiva. Shiva is usually depicted with a blue face and a third eye. He is the destroyer, although Hindus believe this to be constructive rather than detrimental. Shiva destroys things in order to make way for new ones. Shiva achieves and maintains balance through his relationship with his wife, Parvati. Shaivism is the sect in which Shiva is worshipped as the primary God. 

Different Aspects of the Same Being

Brahman and the trimurti are the four major gods of the Hindu faith. There are a number of minor gods including Rama, Ganesh, Krishna and Hanuman. Hindus, however, generally believe that each god or goddess is the same divine being with many forms, the preferred form being chosen by the individual or family for any given purpose, or simply through preference.

More information can be found at sanatansociety.org and bbc.co.uk. 

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