Hinduism, one of the world’s oldest and most diverse religions, is rich in mythology and symbolism, offering a unique view of spirituality and human life through its many gods and goddesses. These deities represent universal aspects and forces, providing guidance and inspiration in the quest for knowledge, self-realization and connection to the divine. In this article, we will explore the most important gods of Hinduism,
What are the most revered Gods in Hinduism?
Brahma is a fundamental deity within Hinduism, being one of the three main gods of the religion along with Vishnu and Shiva. According to Hindu tradition, Brahma is the creator of the universe and all that composes it, as well as the father of the four Vedas, the sacred texts of Hinduism.
In most representations, Brahma is shown as a man with four heads and four arms. Each head represents one of the four directions of the universe, symbolizing Brahma’s omniscience. In addition, in his four hands he holds a rose, a prayer book, a thread and a scepter.
Although he is considered one of the main gods of Hinduism, Brahma is not worshipped as often as Vishnu or Shiva. In fact, he is often seen as a somewhat forgotten figure within the religion, largely because his creative role was fulfilled at the creation of the world, and he has since been in the background.
In Hindu stories and myths, Brahma is shown as a wise and peaceful being, with a clear mind and knowledge of all beings. He is often seen in the company of Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and creativity, and their union is said to be what brought about the creation of the universe.
According to Hindu scriptures, Brahma created the universe from his own body, meaning that everything that exists is a manifestation of Brahma. It is said that in the beginning, the universe was just an infinite, undifferentiated substance, and that Brahma created light, air, water and earth, and everything that exists from that substance.
The creation of the universe was a complex process and required a lot of work from Brahma. He first created the sky and the earth, then the oceans and rivers, and then living beings, such as plants, animals and humans. It is said that, in creating human beings, Brahma gave them the knowledge of the arts and sciences, so that they could live and prosper in the world he had created.
Despite his importance within the religion, the figure of Brahma has been the subject of controversy in some sectors of Hindu society. Many have questioned his role as the creator of the universe and have argued that the true creation of the universe is the result of cosmic energy and natural law, and that Brahma is simply a symbol of this force.
Vishnu is the preserver of the universe and is credited with maintaining the balance between good and evil. He is a very popular deity in India and throughout the world, and is worshipped in numerous temples and festivals.
In Hindu mythology, Vishnu is described as a four-armed figure, holding a conch shell, a discus, a mace and a lotus flower in each of his hands. He is depicted as a dark blue-skinned man, with a crown on his head and a beaded necklace around his neck. He is also often drawn riding a garuda (a mythical bird) or a snake called Shesha.
The word “Vishnú” is derived from the Sanskrit “vish“, meaning “pervading” or “omnipresent“, and “nu“, meaning “to protect” or “to liberate”. This suggests that Vishnu is a god who is present everywhere and who protects and delivers his devotees from hardship and suffering.
One of the best-known stories about Vishnu is that of the avatar Krishna, who is considered an incarnation of the god. According to Hindu mythology, Krishna was born in the city of Mathura in the 4th century BC and is described as a young shepherd and warrior. Many feats are attributed to him, such as killing the demon Kamsa, protecting the inhabitants of Vrindavan from a flood and fighting many other demons and enemies.
Another famous incarnation of Vishnu is Rama, the hero of the Hindu epic Ramayana. Rama is described as a righteous and wise king who faces all kinds of trials to protect his beloved wife Sita from the demon Ravana, who is holding her hostage. Rama is said to be an embodiment of goodness and virtue, and his story is highly revered in India and around the world.
One of the most important characteristics of Vishnu is his role as the preserver of the universe. According to Hindu mythology, the universe was created when the god Brahma awoke from a dream and began to create the world. But after Brahma created the world, he found that he could not maintain it on his own. It was then that Vishnú offered to preserve the world and maintain the balance between good and evil.
Vishnú is said to intervene in the history of the world when necessary to protect the righteous and eliminate the wicked. He is credited with many heroic deeds, such as slaying the demons Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu, who had terrorized the gods, and saving the world from destruction in the Great Flood.
It is associated with many sacred symbols and objects in Hindu mythology. For example, the conch shell he holds in one of his hands is considered a symbol of the creation of the universe, and is used in many Hindu religious ceremonies. The disc he holds in another of his hands represents the destruction of evil, while the mace is a symbol of his power and strength. The lotus flower, which is another thing he holds, is considered a symbol of purity and spiritual enlightenment.
He is also known for his numerous avatars, or incarnations. According to Hindu mythology, Vishnu has had ten avatars, who are considered divine incarnations to protect humanity from evil and restore balance in the universe. The ten avatars are Matsya (the fish), Kurma (the turtle), Varaha (the boar), Narasimha (the half-man, half-lion), Vamana (the dwarf), Parashurama (the warrior), Rama (the king), Krishna (the shepherd and warrior), Buddha (the enlightened one) and Kalki (the rider on the white horse).
Each of Vishnu’s avatars has its own story and purpose. For example, the avatar Matsya is described as a fish who saved Manu (the progenitor of mankind) from the Great Flood, while the avatar Varaha is a boar who saves the Earth goddess Prithvi from the demon Hiranyaksha. Avatar Rama is a righteous and wise king who faces many trials and hardships to protect his wife Sita from Ravana, a demon who has kidnapped her, while avatar Krishna is a young shepherd and warrior who protects the inhabitants of Vrindavan from a flood and fights against many demons and enemies.
In India, Vishnu is worshipped in many temples and festivals. One of the most important festivals is Janmashtami, which celebrates the birth of Krishna. During this festival, ceremonies are performed and bhajans (devotional songs) are sung in honor of the deity. Another important festival is Rama Navami, which celebrates the birth of Rama.
Shiva is considered “the destroyer” and is described as a complex and multifaceted figure who represents both creation and destruction, renewal and transformation.
The image of Shiva is depicted as a man with three eyes, a third eye on the forehead symbolizing divine wisdom. He is also depicted with a crest of tangled hair, known as a jata, and a crescent moon on his forehead. He is often depicted seated in a meditative position on a tiger skin, holding a trident, a snake and a drum in his hands.
Shiva is known for his role in the creation, maintenance and destruction of the universe. In Hindu mythology, Shiva is said to be the god of destruction, which is often mistaken for an evil force. However, his role in destruction is considered necessary for the creation of something new and improved. As such, Shiva is often regarded as the god of change and transformation.
Shiva’s wife is the goddess Parvati, who is known for her beauty and intelligence. Together, they are considered the divine couple of Hindu mythology, and their children include Ganesha, the elephant-headed god, and Kartikeya, the god of war.
He is associated with a number of sacred symbols. The trident he holds in one of his hands represents the destruction of the three types of pain: physical, emotional and spiritual. The serpent coiled around his neck is considered a symbol of divine energy, while the drum represents the primordial sound of the universe. The crescent moon on his forehead is considered a symbol of purity and divine wisdom.
In India, Shiva is worshipped in many temples and festivals. One of the most important festivals is Maha Shivaratri, which is celebrated in honor of Shiva in the month of Phalguna (February-March). During this festival, ceremonies and worship rituals are performed at Shiva temples throughout the country.
In addition, Shiva is associated with a number of religious practices, such as meditation and yoga. Meditation is considered a way to connect with Shiva’s divine energy, and many people who practice yoga do so as a way to worship Shiva and obtain his blessing.
He is also associated with music and dance, and is described as a god who can undo evil and negativity through his music.
In some parts of India, Shiva is worshipped as a deity associated with fertility and sexuality. Shiva’s divine energy is believed to be responsible for the creation and maintenance of life in all its forms. As such, he is associated with sexual energy and fertility.
In Hindu mythology, Shiva is said to have communicated with his devotees through various means, such as dance, music and speech. Nataraja, the form of Shiva as the Lord of Dance, is believed to symbolize the cosmic dance of creation, maintenance and destruction of the universe.
In addition to his role in the Hindu religion, Shiva is also a cultural and historical symbol in India. He is mentioned in several literary and poetic works, and his image is found in many ancient works of art and sculptures. In modern popular culture, Shiva remains an iconic figure, and his image is often used in fashion, jewelry and home decor.
Ganesha is one of the most beloved and worshipped gods in Hindu mythology. He is widely revered as the remover of obstacles and the god of wisdom, intelligence and good fortune. His image is found throughout India and in Hindu communities around the world.
Ganesha is easily recognizable by his distinctive appearance. He has a human body and an elephant’s head, and is commonly depicted with a large round belly and four arms. His human body represents the human soul, while his elephant head represents intelligence and wisdom. The large belly symbolizes his ability to digest all that life presents to him, and in his four hands he holds different symbols, each with different interpretations.
The story behind the creation of Ganesha varies according to different versions of Hindu mythology. However, one popular version is that his mother, the goddess Parvati, created him from clay while she was home alone. She gave him life and made him her personal guardian. When his father, the god Shiva, returned home, he encountered Ganesha and refused to allow him into Parvati’s house. Enraged, Shiva beheaded Ganesha, but later regretted it when he realized he had killed his own son. Shiva then replaced Ganesha’s head with that of an elephant and granted him the status of a god.
He is invoked at the beginning of any important undertaking, and his presence is felt in all aspects of daily life. In many parts of India, a 10-day festival is held in his honor called Ganesh Chaturthi, during which rituals are performed and large statues of Ganesha are built to be worshipped and then immersed in water.
In addition to his role as the remover of obstacles and the god of wisdom, Ganesha is also considered the patron of the arts and sciences. He is often seen on the doors of schools and universities, and his image is found on many ancient works of art and sculptures. He is also worshiped as the god of good fortune, and is invoked to bring prosperity and success in business and personal life.
It is believed that Ganesha can help overcome any obstacle that comes in a person’s way. He is prayed to remove any barriers to success and happiness in life, and his image is often found in homes and workplaces as a form of protection and good luck.
Hanuman is one of the most popular gods in Hindu mythology, and is known to be a loyal devotee and a great warrior. He is depicted as a humanoid monkey of great strength and dexterity, and is an important character in many Hindu stories and legends.
Hanuman is considered to be the son of the wind, as it is said that his mother, Anjana, became pregnant through the blessing of Vayu, the wind god. From birth, Hanuman showed great strength and ability, and was said to be able to move mountains and perform incredible feats.
The best known story about Hanuman is found in the Ramayana, a Hindu epic written by the poet Valmiki. In the Ramayana, Hanuman is the loyal follower of Prince Rama, who is trying to rescue his wife Sita, who has been kidnapped by the evil King Ravana. Hanuman becomes an important ally of Rama in his quest, and is considered the hero of the story.
The story goes that Hanuman disguised himself as a messenger and managed to infiltrate Ravana’s palace to find Sita. After locating her, he returned to Rama and informed him of her whereabouts. Hanuman also participated in many battles against Ravana and his followers, and his bravery and fighting skills were instrumental in Rama’s victory.
Hanuman is credited with several incredible feats, such as his ability to change size and shape, and his ability to fly to great heights. In addition, he is said to possess knowledge of the Vedas and is a great healer. For these reasons, he is considered one of the most powerful and revered deities in Hindu mythology.
He has been used as a symbol of devotion in Indian culture. He is considered an example of loyalty and sacrifice, and is invoked as a source of inspiration for those seeking the strength to overcome obstacles in life. His devotion to Rama is considered a model for devotion to God, and his strength and skill are believed to be the result of his faith and devotion.
He is very popular with children and is a common character in children’s stories and cartoons. In addition, he is considered a symbol of strength and determination, and is invoked in times of difficulty and need.
Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated every year in the month of Chaitra (March-April) on the day of the full moon. It is a holy day for the followers of Hanuman, who congregate in temples and holy places to offer prayers and sing bhajans (devotional songs) in his honor.
Kartikeya, also known as Murugan, is considered the god of war and victory, and is worshipped throughout India and in several other Southeast Asian countries.
According to Hindu mythology, Kartikeya is the son of the god Shiva and the goddess Parvati. He is said to have been born for the purpose of defeating the demon Tarakasura and restoring order to the universe. From an early age, Kartikeya demonstrated his strength and fighting skills, and became a skilled and feared warrior.
Kartikeya is depicted as a young man with six faces and twelve arms, riding a peacock. He is also often depicted with a spear in one hand and a bow in the other. His mount, the peacock, is said to symbolize wisdom and beauty, and his spear is said to represent the destruction of evil.
One of the most famous stories about Kartikeya is his victory over Tarakasura. It is said that Tarakasura had obtained a blessing from the god Brahma, which made him invincible except before a child. Shiva and Parvati decided to have a son to defeat Tarakasura, and thus Kartikeya was born. With the help of the gods and an army of warriors, Kartikeya fought Tarakasura for days and finally defeated him, restoring balance to the universe.
Another important story about Kartikeya is his marriage to the goddess Devasena. According to legend, Devasena was the daughter of King Indra, and had fallen in love with Kartikeya after seeing him in battle. However, Devasena’s father refused to allow her to marry a warrior, so Kartikeya had to fight him to win his approval. After a hard battle, Indra finally agreed to the union and Kartikeya and Devasena were married.
In India, Kartikeya is worshipped in various festivals and ceremonies. One of the most important is the festival of Skanda Sashti, which is celebrated in the Tamil month of Aippasi (October-November). During this festival, Kartikeya’s victory over Tarakasura is commemorated and prayers and offerings are offered in his honor. He is also worshipped in the festival of Thaipusam, which is celebrated in the Tamil month of Thai (January-February) and involves long processions and rituals of self-flagellation in his name.
In other Southeast Asian countries, such as Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Malaysia, Kartikeya is worshipped under different names and traditions. In Sri Lanka, for example, he is known as Kataragama Deviyo and is worshipped as the guardian of the city of Kataragama. In Indonesia, he is called Subramaniam and is worshipped in various temples in Java and Bali.
Indra is one of the oldest and most revered gods in the Hindu pantheon. He is considered the god of thunder and rain, and is worshipped for his ability to bring fertility to the earth. In Hindu mythology, Indra is described as the king of the gods and one of the main defenders of dharma, the divine order in the universe.
According to mythology, Indra is the son of the sun god Surya and the night goddess Kali. He is also considered the father of Arjuna, one of the heroes of the Hindu epic Mahabharata. In mythology, Indra is known for his strength, wisdom and bravery in battle.
Indra is often depicted with four arms, holding a sword, thunderbolt, bow and arrow. He is also depicted as riding a white elephant called Airavata, which is known for its great strength and beauty. The elephant is also a symbol of strength and fertility.
One of the best known myths about Indra is his battle with the demon Vritra. It is said that Vritra had stolen all the waters of the world and hid them in a cave in the Himalayas. Indra, aware of the importance of water for life, prepared for battle and killed Vritra with his sword and thunderbolt, releasing the waters for the world.
He is also known for his role in the celebration of the Hindu festival of spring, known as Holi. It is believed that Indra and his wife, the goddess Sachi, celebrated the arrival of spring by throwing colorful flowers and powder. This tradition has spread throughout the country and today, Holi is one of the most important festivals in India.
Another highlight is his love of music and dance. It is said that he plays an instrument called vina and sings hymns in praise of the gods. In many temples in India, concerts and dances are performed in honor of Indra and his love for the arts.
Despite being an important deity in Hindu mythology, Indra has lost his importance in modern Hinduism. Today, he is considered a minor deity and many temples in India do not specifically worship him. However, his history and role in Hindu mythology remain important for understanding the complexity and richness of the Hindu religion.
Yama is an iconic figure in Hindu mythology, as well as in other religious and mythological traditions of Asia, such as Buddhism and Jainism. This god plays a crucial role in the afterlife, being the judge and administrator of the afterlife.
He is an ancient god whose presence can be traced back to the Rigveda, one of the oldest sacred texts of Hinduism. He is considered the son of Surya, the sun god, and Sanjna, the goddess of consciousness. Yama has a twin sister, Yami, with whom he shares a close relationship.
In Hindu mythology, Yama is known as the first human being to die and cross over into the afterlife, becoming the ruler of the underworld and the judge of souls. After death, souls arrive in Yama’s realm, where he judges them based on their actions and thoughts during their lifetime. Based on this judgment, souls are sent to different realms of the afterlife, where they experience the fruit of their actions, either in the form of pleasure or suffering.
Yama is depicted as a dark-skinned god in red attire, riding a buffalo. In some depictions, he appears with a lasso that he uses to drag souls into the afterlife. He is also shown with a record of the actions of every human being, called“Agrasandhani,” which he uses to judge souls.
The buffalo, as the vahana or vehicle of Yama, symbolizes brute strength and endurance. The lasso represents Yama’s power to trap souls and take them to their final destination. Yama’s dark skin symbolizes death, while his red attire represents blood and life.
Yama is associated with other gods and mythical beings in different religious traditions. In Buddhism, he is considered one of the “Dharmapalas” or protectors of the teaching. In Jainism, Yama is one of the celestial beings responsible for the welfare of human beings and for maintaining order in the cosmos.
Chitragupta, the god who records the actions of human beings, is a helper of Yama. He assists Yama in the judgment of souls and in the administration of the afterlife. In addition, Yama’s two guard dogs, named Shabala and Sabalaksha, accompany souls on their journey to the underworld and guard the gates of Yama’s kingdom.
Varuna is an important god in Hindu mythology, being one of the oldest and most prominent deities in the Vedas, particularly in the Rigveda. As the guardian of cosmic order and lord of the waters, Varuna plays a fundamental role in maintaining balance in the universe and in the lives of human beings.
He is one of the oldest deities in Hindu mythology, with a significant presence in the Vedic texts, especially in the Rigveda. In these texts, he is considered to be one of the “Adityas“, the sons of the sun god, Surya, and his wife, Aditi. In addition, he is considered to be the brother of other important gods, such as Indra and Mithra.
In Vedic times, Varuna was a central figure in religion and mythology, being the god of the sky and the guardian of cosmic order, known as “rita”. He was the supreme upholder of the law and the punisher of those who transgressed its rules. Over time, however, his importance declined and he was largely replaced by Indra as the supreme god in later mythology.
Despite his decline in prominence, Varuna is still revered in Hindu mythology as the lord of waters and the protector of law. In this capacity, he is responsible for purification and fertility, as well as maintaining order in the natural and spiritual world.
Varuna is typically depicted as a light-skinned god, attired in yellow robes and riding a sea monster called Makara. He is often shown holding a noose or rope, which he uses to trap those who disobey the laws of cosmic order. He is also associated with the sun and the moon, as these stars play a crucial role in regulating order in the universe.
The Makara, as the vahana or vehicle of Varuna, symbolizes the god’s connection with the waters and dominion over oceanic forces. The lasso or noose represents his authority to maintain order and punish offenders. Varuna’s yellow robes symbolize sunlight and the vital energy that permeates the cosmos.
Varuna is associated with several other gods and mythical beings in Hindu mythology. As one of the Adityas, he has familial links with gods such as Indra, Mithra and Surya. In addition, he is associated with the god Agni, the god of fire, in terms of his role in purification and spiritual transformation.
He also shares a special relationship with the god Mithra, and together they are known as“Mitravaruna“. These two gods complement each other’s roles in Hindu mythology, with Mithra representing benevolence and friendship, while Varuna embodies authority and punishment. Together, they work to maintain balance and harmony in the universe.