Hinduism is the dominant and indigenous/original religion of the Indian subcontinent. It includes four main traditions, Vaishnavism, Brahmanism, Shaktism, Shaivism, whose followers consider Sri Vishnu, Lord Brahma, Goddess Shakti / Devi and Lord Shiva to be the supreme deities respectively. Most of the other deities were either related to them or different incarnations/Avatars of these deities. Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world, and many practitioners refer to Hinduism as “the eternal law”. (Sanatana Dharma).
Given below is a list of the Main deities followed by a list of deities including sub-deities. Smartism, an older tradition and later reestablished by Jagadguru Adi Shankaracharya, invites the worship of more than one god including Lord Shiva like that, Lord Vishnu, Lord Brahma, Goddess Shakti and Sri Ganesh among other gods and goddesses. It is not as overtly sectarian as either Vaishnavism, Brahmanism or Saivism and is based on the recognition that Brahman is the highest principle in the universe and pervades all of existence.
The Trimurti / Trinity consists of Lord Brahma the Creator, Sri Vishnu the Preserver, and Lord Shiva is the Destroyer. Goddess Saraswati is the wife of Brahma, Lakshmi Devi is the wife of Sri Vishnu and Goddess Parvati is the wife of Lord Shiva.
Goddess Devi / Shakti:
Communities 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 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 to Tantric Hinduism, which teaches rituals and practices for purification of the mind and body. Some different parts of Shakti Devi the Mother Goddess:
- Parvati and her Navadurgas, Matrikas, and Mahavidyas.
- Kali (a form of Parvati) as Bhadrakali, an auspicious form of Kali and Bharavi/Chamundeshwari often known as Chandi, as a ferocious form of Parvati.
- Bhumi, the Mother Earth is known as Prithvi.
- Lakshmi and her Ashtalakshmi, goddess of wealth and wife of Lord Vishnu.
- Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom and music and also the first wife of Lord Brahma.
- Gayatri, the supreme life-giving goddess and second wife of Lord Brahma.
- Ganga, the goddess personification of the Ganges River, she later married King Shantanu as his first wife and gave birth to Bhishma Pitamah in the Mahabharat era.
- Narmada, the daughter of Shiva, also the goddess of river Narmada.
- Annapoorna (incarnation of Goddess Parvati), the goddess of food.
- Nindra, goddess of sleep.
- Yami, the sacred river Yamuna and goddess of life.
- Santoshi Mata, considered to be the goddess of happiness and long life.
- Sati(first wife of Lord Shiva), the Adi Parasakti early life of Parvati.
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 Lord Shiva (and Bhairavs) are listed below:
- Sri Manjunatha
- Maha Kaleshwara
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 center of Lord Shiva’s body. Lord Brahma traveled towards Lord Shiva’s head & Lord Vishnu traveled towards the feet. The two gods traveled 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 realized 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 testimony from the flower), and requested he is declared as the greater of the two. As an eternal being, Shiva realized 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 pooja.
Other Names for Lord Brahma are:
Vaishnavism is the sect within Hinduism that worships Sri Visnu, 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:
- Adi Narayana
- Venkateshwara, as Vishnu is known in parts of South India
- Vaikuntha Chaturmurti
- Vaikuntha Kamalaja
- Sri Lakshmi Narayan
- Dasavatari, the 10 incarnations of Vishnu
- Ananta Shayana
- Upulwan, another name for Sri Vishnu in Sri Lanka.
- The 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 deity.
- Kartikeya, son of Shiva and Parvati and was also called Muruga, Karthik, Kumara or Shanmukha, the Kaumaram sectary worshipped Subramanya as their chief deity. He’s also the brother of Lord Ganesha.
- Ayyappan, son of Shiva and Mohini and was also called Manikanta since he has mani(Rudraksha) in Kanta(neck).
- Hanuman is one of the incarnations of Shiva and devotee of Rama (incarnation of Vishnu) and was also called Anjaneya since his mother is Anjana.
- Ganga holy river in Hinduism.
- Hansa, the swan the Vahana of Lord Brahma.
- Garuda, the eagle the Vahana of SriVishnu.
- Nandi, the bull the Vahana of Lord Shiva.
- Shani, the son of Sun
- Shesha, the king of Nagas
Avatars / Incarnations:
- Raja Rajeswari
- Lalitha parameswari
- Kanya Kumari
- Sataksi or Shakambhari
- Bhramari or Bhramarambha
Asta Matrika Matrikas:
- Vakratunda (Vakratunda) (“twisting trunk”), his mount is a lion.
- Ekadanta (“single tusk”), his mount is a mouse.
- Mahodara (“big belly”), his mount is a mouse.
- Gajavaktra (or Gajanana) (“elephant face”), his mount is a mouse.
- Lambodara (“pendulous belly”), his mount is a mouse.
- Vikata (Vikata) (“unusual form”, “misshapen”), his mount is a peacock.
- Vighnaraja (Vighnaraja) (“king of obstacles”), his mount is the celestial serpent Sesa.
- Dhumravarna (Dhumravarna) (“grey color”) corresponds to Siva, his mount is a horse.
- Shankar Avatar
- Veerabhadra Avatar
- Bhairava Avatar
- Khandoba Avatar
- Nataraja Avatar
- Ashwatthama Avatar
- Ardhanarishvara Avatar
- Muneeswarar Avatar
- Muthappan Avatar
- Pashupati Avatar
- Gangeshwar Avatar
- Rudra Avatar
- Lingam Avatar
- Dakshinamurthy Avatar
- Ravananugraha Avatar
- Vaidheeswara Avatar
- Lingodbhava Avatar
- Somaskanda Avatar
- Bhikshatana Avatar
- Sri Manjunatha Avatar
- Vaidhyanatha Avatar
- Mahakaleshwara Avatar
- Tryambak Avatar
- Bholenath Avatar
- Valki Avatar
- Kashyapa Avatar
- Sukra Avatar
- Kalidasa Avatar
- Chandra Avatar
- Samudra Avatar
- Jamvanta Avatar
- Agastya Avatar
- Durvasa Avatar
Sri Maha Vishnu:
- Matsya, the fish.
- Kurma, the tortoise.
- Varaha, the boar.
- Narasimha, the Half Man-Half Lion avatar.
- Vamana, the Dwarf.
- Parashurama, the cosmic Warrior Brahmin.
- Rama, the king of Ayodhya and the hero of the epic Ramayana.
- Krishna, the central character in the Mahabharata, the Bhagavata Purana and the Bhagavad Gita.
- Buddha, the founder of Buddhism.
- Kalki who is expected to appear at the end of Kalyug.
Sri Lakshmi Devi:
- Rukmini and Ashtabharya
- Aadi Lakshmi
- Aishwarya Lakshmi
- Vidya Lakshmi
- Dhana Lakshmi
- Santana Lakshmi
- Dhaanya Lakshmi
- Gaja Lakshmi
- Veera Lakshmi
- Vijaya Lakshmi
- Dhairya Lakshmi
- Vidya Lakshmi
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 Sakra, 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.
- Mitra, the patron god of oaths and of friendship.
- Varuna, the patron god of water and the oceans.
- Sakra, also called Indra, the king of gods, and the god of rains.
- Bhaga, the god of wealth.
- Vivasvat, also called Ravi or Savitr.
- Tvastr, the smith among the gods.
- Pusan, patron god of travelers and herdsmen, the god of roads.
- Dhat, the god of health and magic, also called Dhuti.
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.
Assistants of Indra and of Vishnu.
- Agni the “Fire” god, also called Anala or “living”,
- Varuna the “Water” god, also called Antarikṣa the “Atmosphere” or “Space” god,
- Vayu the “Wind”, the air god, also called Anila (“wind”)
- Dyaus the “Sky” god, also called Dyeus and Prabhasa or the “shining dawn”
- Prthivi the “Earth” god, also called Dhara or “support”
- Surya the “Sun” god, also called Pratyusha, (“break of dawn”, but often used to mean simply “light”), the Saura sectary worshipped Surya as their chief deity.
- Soma the “Moon” god, also called Chandra
- Samudra the “Sea” god, also called as “Sagar”
The Ashvins (also called the Nāsatyas) were twin gods. Nasatya is also the name of one twin, while the other is called Dasra.