Explain why Hindus might feel that many different gods and goddesses

Leana Parham

Module 6 writing #3

Andre Key

Question: Explain why Hindus might feel that many different gods and goddesses are

necessary to provide different symbolic lenses for them to think about ultimate reality.

"There can be as many Hindu Gods as there are devotees to suit the moods, feelings,

emotions and social backgrounds of the devotees." So in some ways Hinduism is a polytheistic

religion. There is an exceedingly wide variety of gods to choose from to worship with statues

and symbols to pay homage before. If one wants to pray for acquiring knowledge and

understanding, he would pray to the god, Sarasati, for example. One might pray to the god,

Moksha, to obtain God's grace. Many Hindus worship their own village god or goddess.

However, to say that Hinduism is a polytheistic religion with an unknown and unnamed number

of Gods would be incorrect. Many Hindus view the religion as a monotheistic religion with only

one Supreme Being who is formless and impersonal. All other gods and goddesses are simply

facets of this one God. This Supreme Being is viewed as the god of all other religions and equal

to all existence or the ultimate reality. In the Hindu faith, there is a trinity as in the Christian

faith, where God is in three persons: Brahma: is the creator of all reality, Vishnu or Krishna is

the preserver of all of the creations, and Shiva is the destroyer. There are some major divisions in

the Hindu faith. Many see Brahman as the ultimate deity. Others see Vishnu or Krishna as the

Supreme Being and another sect see Shiva as their ultimate reality. Hinduism is a religion which

does recognize a single supreme deity but is tolerant of all other religions and gods or goddesses

as forms or manifestations of this one single deity or Supreme Being. Their philosophy is that,

although they believe there is but one truth, there are different "Sages" or spiritual leaders who

call the truth by different names.

Besides these Gods and Goddesses there are a number of other Gods and Goddesses. To

name a few of them, there is Ganesh; who has an elephant's head and he is also a son of Shiva

and Parvati, Hanuman; who is an ape, Surya; Lord of sun, Ganga Ma; Goddess of river Ganges;

Samundra; Lord of the sea, Indra; king of the Gods (but he isn't an important God), Prithvi;

Goddess of earth, Shakti; Goddess of strength. The Hindus call their Goddesses 'Ma' meaning

mother. Not all of these Gods are worshiped by all Hindus. Some Hindus worship only Vishnu.

Others worship only Shiva. Others worship only the Goddesses and call these Goddesses

collectively as Shakti meaning strength. Many of these Goddess worshipers worship Parvati in

her images as Kali or Durga. People who worship Shiva or Vishnu also worship characters and

images connected with these Gods. Vishnu worshipers (Vaishnaites) also worship his

appearances. Shiva's worshipers (Shaivites) also worship images of bull called Nandi, who was

Shiva's carrier and a unique stone design connected to Shiva. There are also Hindus who worship

all the Gods. There are some Gods who are worshiped all over India like Rama and Krishna and

other Gods who are worshiped more in one region than the other like Ganesh who is worshiped

mainly in west India. Hindus also worship Gods according to their personal needs. People who

engage in wrestling, body building and other physical sports worship Hanuman, who in Hindu

legends was an ape with lot of physical strength. Businessmen worship Lakshmi, Goddess of


Though these Hindus worship different idols, there are many Hindus who believe in one

God and perceive in these different Gods and Goddesses as different images of the same one

God. According to their beliefs idolatry is the wrong interpretation of Hinduism. Hindus believe

in reincarnation. The basic belief is that a person's fate is determined according to his deeds.

These deeds in Hinduism are called 'Karma'. A soul who does good Karma in this life will be

awarded with a better life in the next incarnation. Souls who do bad Karma will be punished for

their sins, if not in this incarnation then in the next incarnation and will continue to