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Hinduism is the dominant and native/original religion of the Indian subcontinent. It comprises four major traditions, Vaishnavism, Brahmanism, Shaktism, Shaivism, whose followers consider Vishnu, Brahma, Shakti(Devi) and Shiva to be the Supreme deity respectively. Most of the other deities were either related to them or different forms (incarnations) of these deities. Hinduism has been called the "oldest religion" in the world, and many practitioners refer to Hinduism as "the eternal law". (San?tana Dharma). Given below is a list of the chief Hindu deities followed by a list of Hindu deities (including demi-gods).
Smartism, an older tradition and later reestablished by Jagadguru Adi Shankaracharya, invites the worship of more than one god including Shiva like that, Vishnu, Brahma, Shakti and
Ganesha (the elephant god) among other gods and goddesses. It is not as overtly sectarian as either Vashnavism,
Brahmanism or Saivism and is based on the recognition that Brahman (God) is the highest principle in the universe and pervades all of existence.
The Hindu trinity consists of Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Shiva the Destroyer. Their feminine counterparts are Saraswati, the wife of Brahma, Lakshmi, the wife of Vishnu, and Parvati the wife of Shiva. The followers of the last two form two major sects.
Cults of goddess worship are ancient in India. In the Rigveda, the most prominent goddess is Ushas, the goddess of dawn. In modern Hinduism, goddesses are widely revered. Shaktism is one of the major sects of Hinduism. Followers of Shaktism believe that the goddess (Devi) is the power (Shakti) that underlies the female principle, and that Devi is the supreme being, one and the same with Para Brahman. Shakti has many forms/manifestations like Parvati, Durga, and others but there are also goddesses that are parts of Shakti such as Lakshmi and Saraswati. Devi is believed to manifest in peaceful forms, such as Parvati the consort of Shiva and also in fierce forms, such as Kali and Durga. In Shaktism, Adi Parashakti is regarded as Ultimate Godhead or Para Brahman. She is formless i.e. Nirguna in reality, but may take many forms i.e. Saguna. Durga and Lalita Tripurasundari are regarded as the Supreme goddess in the Kalikula and Srikula systems respectively. Shaktism is closely related with Tantric Hinduism, which teaches rituals and practices for purification of the mind and body. Some different parts of Shakti (Devi) the Mother Goddess:
Santoshi Mata, considered to be the goddess of happiness and long life
Sati(first wife of lord Shiva), a goddess of boons who is considered to be the incarnation of Lord Shakti who is widely worshiped in south India.
Shaivism is one of the major Hindu sects. Adherents of Shaivism believe that the god Shiva is the supreme being. Shiva is the destroyer god among the Trimurti, and so is sometimes depicted as the fierce god Bhairava. Shaivists are more attracted to asceticism than adherents of other Hindu sects, and may be found wandering with ashen faces performing self-purification rituals.
Some alternative forms of Shiva (and Bhairavs) are listed below:
According to Hinduism, Brahma is the creator of the entire cosmic universe. Although he is the creator, he is not worshipped in Hinduism. According to common lore, once Lord Brahma & Lord Vishnu wanted to find who is the best of the two and went to Lord Shiva to settle the argument. Lord Shiva advised the two that the first one to find the start and end of his celestial body would be considered the greatest. Lord Brahma & Lord Vishnu accepted the challenge and started their journey from the centre of Lord Shiva's body. Lord Brahma travelled towards Lord Shiva's head & Lord Vishnu travelled towards the feet. The two gods travelled for ages across the universe, but couldn't find the head or feet of Lord Shiva. On his journey, Lord Brahma came across an aloe vera flower falling from Lord Shiva's head. On querying the distance to Lord Shiva's head, the flower said it had been falling down from his head for eons. Lord Brahma thus realised that it was impossible to reach Shiva's head and decided to cheat. Lord Brahma asked the flower to testify that she had seen Lord Brahma reaching Lord Shiva's head. Lord Brahma went back to Shiva and informed him that he had visited his head (with a testimony from the flower), and requested he be declared as the greater of the two. As an eternal being, Shiva realised that Lord Brahma was not truthful and cursed him that he would not be worshipped by the gods or mortals. Lord Shiva also decreed that aloe vera flowers should never be used for Shiva puja.
Some alternative names for Brahma are:
Vaishnavism is the sect within Hinduism that worships Vishnu, the preserver god of the Hindu Trimurti (the Trinity), and his many incarnations. It is a devotional sect, and followers worship many deities, including Rama and Krishna both the 7th & the 8th incarnations of Vishnu respectively. 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:
Yamuna, the life energy, the daughter of lord Surya and the goddess of kindness, humanity, beauty.
Ganesha, son of Shiva and Parvati and was also called Ganpati, the Ganapatya sectary worshipped Ganesha as their chief deity. He is the god of wisdom and remover of all obstacles. He is worshipped before any other devi or deiti.
The Rigveda speaks of Thirty-three gods called the Trayastrinshata ('Three plus thirty'). They consists of the 12 Adityas, the 8 Vasus, the 11 Rudras and the 2 Ashvins. Indra also called ?akra, 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.
The Ramayana tells they are eleven of the 33 children of the sage Kashyapa and his wife Aditi, along with the 12 Adityas, 8 Vasus and 2 Ashvins, constituting the Thirty-three gods. The Vamana Purana describes the Rudras as the sons of Kashyapa and Aditi. The Matsya Purana notes that Surabhi - the mother of all cows and the "cow of plenty" - was the consort of Brahma and their union produced the eleven Rudras. Here they are named: Nirriti, Shambhu, Aparajita Mrigavyadha, Kapardi, Dahana, Khara, Ahirabradhya, Kapali, Pingala and Senani. Brahma allotted to the Rudras the eleven positions of the heart and the five sensory organs, the five organs of action and the mind.
One theory is that the number 330 million (33 crore) gods refers to the total count of the then known population of all the humans and living beings that ever walked on this planet including the 84 lakh (8.4 million) jeeva rasi (living species) signifying that god exists in every living being. This is in line with the belief of Indians to respect all living beings as gods. It is estimated that the world population was around this number about a 1000 years ago when this number would have originated. It also explains the many gods (e.g. the grama devatas or village gods who were clearly living persons at one time and many of the other gods who were believed to have been persons, e.g. Rama and Krishna)
Another theory is that 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.
Anumati ("divine favor" in Sanskrit, Devanagari: ), 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, Ap?m Nap?t is the god of fresh water, such as in rivers and lakes. In Zoroastrianism, Ap?m Nap?t 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 (, Ir?vat) 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: ) --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 left half is usually the female Parvati, illustrating her traditional attributes and the right half, Shiva.
ArdraThe Hindu myth associated to Ardra is that of Taraka. Taraka is an asura who is granted invulnerability by Brahma.
Arjuna (pronounced [?r'?un?] 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 Aru?á, 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.
Asura (Sanskrit, 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 ? and ? Arietis. The name a?vin? 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 a?vayúj "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
Brodd, Jeffrey (2003). World Religions: A Voyage of Discovery. Saint Mary's Press. p. 45. ISBN978-0-88489-725-5.: '[..] many gods and goddesses (traditionally 330 million!) [...] Hinduism generally regards its 330 million as deities as extensions of one ultimate reality, many names for one ocean, many "masks" for one God.'
Brown, Joe David, ed. (1961). India. Time-Life Books. Time, Inc.: "Though the popular figure of 330 million is not the result of an actual count but intended to suggest infinity, the Hindu pantheon in fact contains literally hundreds of different deities [...]"
Knott, Kim (1998). Hinduism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press.
Nath, Vijay (2001). From 'Brahmanism' to 'Hinduism': Negotiating the Myth of the Great Tradition. Social Scientist. pp. 19-50.