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How many Gods in Hinduism
Posted By Sarin on Jun 02, 2012     RSS Feeds     Latest Hinduism news

Well, if we ask this question to a common Hindu, then some will say thousands, some will say millions while some will say Hinduism have uncountable numbers of gods. Is this true? Do we have infinite number of gods?
Obviously not. According to our religious scriptures, saying millions of god is just the example of ignorance and lack of knowledge of that person about his faith.

Check the graphical explanation of this article in the below video.

Our religious scriptures say that there is only one god and the remaining all other creations are his Manifestations. Let me first go through the verses to prove this point:
Sanskrit: "Ekam evadvitiyam"
Translation: "He is One only without a second."
        [Chandogya Upanishad 6:2:1]1
Sanskrit:  "Na casya kascij janita na cadhipah."
Translation:  "Of Him there are neither parents nor lord."
    [Svetasvatara Upanishad 6:9]2
Sanskrit:  "Na tasya pratima asti"
Translation:  "There is no likeness of Him."
  [Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:19]3
Sanskrit:  "Na samdrse tisthati rupam asya, na caksusa pasyati kas canainam."
Translation:  "His form is not to be seen; no one sees Him with the eye."
        [Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:20]4
Sanskrit:  "na tasya pratima asti”
Translation:  "There is no image of Him."
  Yajurveda 32:3]5  
Sanskrit:  "shudhama poapvidham"
Translation:  "He is bodyless and pure."
[Yajurveda 40:8]6
Sanskrit:  "Ma cid anyad vi sansata sakhayo ma rishanyata"
Translation:  "O friends, do not worship anybody but Him, the Divine One. Praise Him alone."
[Rigveda 8:1:1]10  

So, now the question arises if there is only one god then how come many gods are worshipped like lord Shiva, lord Vishnu, lord ganesha etc.  
To answer this let me again go to our religious scriptures:  
  1)    There is only one god and there is no image for him but he can take any form or can take many forms (Avatars). So, from this statement, lord Vishnu and his avatars (Krishna, Rama) are one and the same and so, is worshipable in any form.
Lord Krishna showing his vishwa swaroop darshan to arjuna. (vishwa swaroop means that the original form of the supreme god expands over the whole universe and so, in full, is not visible to anyone). If you see above, heads of all deities are attached to lord Krishna (Vishnu) head.  So, lord Krishna indicates arjuna that number of such deities attached in form of my head spans up to millions. Hence, my image in full cannot be seen by human. He also indicated that all deities are his manifestations and everything is derived from him.
  2)    There is only one god in Hinduism and millions of others are not god but deities (demi-god) with divine and supreme power. All these deities are the manifestations of one supreme God (Iúvara or Brahman). Gods like lord Shiva, lord Ganesha in reality are not god, they are just delegates or representatives of the true one supreme God and so, all these deities are rightly called as demi-god. These highly advanced demigods have been created by the supreme god to discharge specific duties by handling the different department of universe. For Ex: Lord indra Handles the department of rain, Lord Agni handles the department of fire, Lord varuna handles the water department and so on. Just like the Prime minister has various ministers to handles various department like “Railways, Finance, Defence etc, Similarly supreme god has created various demi-god(Deities) to handle various Departments(Elements) like Water, fire, earth etc. .
Lord vishnu with major demi-gods  
  3)    Lord shiva is known as mahadev. Maha means “Great, Supreme” and dev means “deity.” So, lord shiva is supreme deity (Supreme Demi-God) and not god. There is also a television serial coming in star plus called “devon ke dev, mahadev”. This translates to “Deity of all deities, Supreme deity (Shiva)”. So, this is sufficient evidence to show that lord shiva is the supreme deity and not the supreme god. However, due to lord shiva severe meditation and penances, some scriptures says that Lord vishnu considers lord shiva equal to him. Same is true for other gods. Lord indra is known as indra dev, lord Surya (sun) is known as surya dev, lord brahma is known as “Brahma Dev”. Dev attached at the end of the name is the proof that they are deity (Demi-God), not god.
4)    Vedas clearly specify that there is one and only One Ishwar (God).
The Vedas refer to not millions of dieties but 33 types (Koti in Sanskrit) of dieties. These are 8 Vasus (Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Sky, Moon, Sun, Stars/ Planets) that form components of universe where we live,
10 Life Forces in our body or Prana (Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana, Samaana, Naga, Kurma, Kukala, Devadatta) and 1 Soul called Rudra,
12 Aditya or months of year,
1 Vidyut or Electromagnetic force that is of tremendous use to us
1 Yajna or constant noble selfless deeds done by humans.
      Now praying to these deities is a matter of belief. Our scriptures say that the supreme lord has created these deities (demi-god) in nature and each such demi-god has the power of destroying the world or preserving the world. Ex: Air (Lord Pawan) is the necessity of every human being to live but the same air can turn into cyclone or bloomder to create great havoc and destruction. Same kind of destruction and necessity we have with fire (Lord Agni), water (Lord Indra) etc. So, each of these demi-god are also worshipped for their blessings so that they don't create any havoc on earth. It is further said that gods (demi-gods) on order of the supreme god comes, on earth in different forms so as to remove evil & fear and maintain truth, peace and harmony. Each of this human-born god forms are manifestation of the demi-god who themselves are the energies of the supreme lord and that is why, this human-born god forms are also worshipped. Over the time, many such human-born god forms came to earth through generations and all of them were worshipped, which ultimately resulted in millions of gods (Dieties). In addition to this, each human clan has their own deity which is called as ‘kul devi’ or ‘kul dev’ (Kul means “clan”) Each village of India has its own deity, which is called as Goan devi (meaning Deity of village). Also, even the natural elements like Rivers (Ex. Ganga), Mountains (Ex. govardhan) are considered as deity and worshipped in Hinduism. Additionally even animals like Snake(naag Devta), Vulture(Garuda Dev) etc are considered as deity and worshipped in Hinduism. Also Hindus believes that there is a god within us in the form of soul. God within us is the reason why we say aham brahmāsmi (I am Brahman (God)) or tat tvam asi (Thou art That). When enlightened, this soul merges with supreme god. This is why all pious souls like Lord Buddha, Sai Baba & enlightened sages are also worshipped in Hinduism
Considering all of the above, we see that everything in nature is considered as a form of god and that’s the reason why we have millions of demi-gods in Hinduism, but only one supreme god.
Lord Krishna with various demi-gods shown as his manifestations
  Following text from Rig-Veda will prove my point of one god:
Ek? sadviprâ bahudhâ vadanti Agni? Yama? Mâtariúvânam âhu? -RV (1/164/46). (God is one but people call Him by many names like Agni, yama, Mâtariúvâ etc.) 
Note: The Rig-Veda is globally recognized and accepted as the oldest book created by man. However, as per the religious belief, Vedas is said to be given to humans by gods.  
Also check out the meaning of god in Hinduism in my video section:
God in hinduism-Bhagavad gita
What is Om and god in hinduism
Concept of god in hinduism
Why it is then commonly said that there is millions of god in Hinduism?
From my point of view, I found the following reasons:
  1)    Foreign authors are not Sanskrit scholars. They often misinterpret between god and deity and so, often mistranslate “Deity” as God. I have rarely seen the word deity in English translation of Hinduism religious scriptures however in the Hindi version; you will always see the word “dev” and not god (Bhagwan).
2)    There are different sects in Hinduism, each one of them worshipping their own deity. Now, to honor their deity, they often used the word “god” and not “dev”. Even I always refer Shiva as “Lord shiva” instead of using “Maha dev”.
3)    Ignorance, Lack of religious belief and knowledge among Common Hindus is the most common reason for the wrong conception of millions of god in Hinduism.

God is one, but is called by different by different names. The practitioners of Hinduism have the freedom to find forms of divinity in anything, be it a stone, an animal, tree, the sun, the rivers and even an idol. This is something Non-Hindus don’t understand and they think that Hindus worship many gods. But actually, Hindus worship only one god though they approach God in their own way, encouraging a multiplicity of paths, not asking for conformity to just one.
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