Gods and Goddesses of Ancient India

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For those familiar with world theology, Hinduism shares something in common with the Chinese religions and Japanese Shinto. All three are known as polytheistic religious faiths as there are multiple deities to be worshipped. In a sense, they can be linked with Buddhism, which like Hindu, also had come from India. The gods in the Chinese religions and Japanese Shinto are considered to be Buddhas. Buddha simply means “enlightened one.”

Hindu is no different. Keep in mind that much of Buddhism has been influenced by Hinduism. Siddharta Gautama, who became the first Buddha, was brought up by Hindu parents. Still, the deities in Hinduism could be considered Buddhas as well. As the god of life and creation is known in Buddhism as the Buddha of life and creation. But, in Hinduism, they are known as devas and devis. Deva is defined as a god while a devi is defined as a goddess.

However, devas and devis are considered to be incarnations of one god or the same God.

There are many deities within the Hindu faith.

Agni is known as the god of fire and the one that accepts sacrifices. He is forever young and immortal. Fires can be relit every day which brings forth a new and young flame. Because of that, Agni remains ageless. Of course, a fire will die down. But, a new fire can be lit the next day. The Hindus depict him two heads, three legs, and between two or seven hands. Agni is also depicted to have seven fiery tongues. While Agni is the god of fire, he is known to be the messenger for the gods.

Indra is the god of war and weather. But, he also has the title of the king of the gods. In a sense, Indra is the Hindu equivalent to the Greek god Zeus. But, he seems to be a combination of Zeus and Ares. Zeus was the Greek god war thunder and the king of the gods. Ares is the god of war. He constantly leads the gods to fight against demons known as the Asuras.

Savitr is known as the god of the Sun. He is considered to be the god that brings light.

 

Vayu is the god that guards all directions. He is mounted on an antelope.

Varuna is known as the god of sky, rain, and the ocean. But, he also acts as the god of law and the underworld. He was once known as an Asura. This god is concerned more about moral and social affairs rather than nature.

Rudra is known as the god of the storm, the wind, and the hunt. In a sense, he is the Hindu version to the Greek goddess Ceres. Ceres is considered to be the goddess of the hunt.

Vishnu in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism is the supreme God. He is known as the essence of all beings and all aspects of time. In short, Vishnu is one that brings and sustains life and one that takes and destroys life.

Brahma is the god of philosophy and wisdom. While Brahma is one of the major gods in the Hindu faith, not many worship him. But there are many stories as to why this is the case.

Prithvi is the goddess of the earth. She is also considered to be the mother of all Hindu gods and goddesses. Perhaps the name of “Mother Earth” comes from Prithvi.

Dyaus Pita is known as the Sky Father.

Prajapati is the god of procreation and life. At best, he can be considered as the god of fertility.

Durga is considered to be the supreme goddess and the wife of Shiva.

Sarasvati is known as the goddess of knowledge, music, and arts. Also, she is deemed to be one of the consorts to Brahma. Perhaps, she is also known as the river goddess due to the name of the Sarasvati River.

Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth and prosperity.

There is Kali who is the goddess of creation and destruction via time.

In a nutshell, there are numerous gods and goddesses throughout the Hindu faith. Since Hindu has been part of India’s culture since ancient times, the devas and devis are the gods and goddesses of ancient India.

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