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Hindu Deities
The supreme existence
or absolute reality, the
font of all things
eternal, conscious,
irreducible, infinite,
omnipresent, spiritual
source of the universe
of finiteness and
• Symbol for
• Also for stages of
meditation or states
of consciousness
• “infinity” (or
“illusion”) separates
us from unity with
The Trinity: Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva
Lord Brahma
• Creator of the
universe, the
Supreme Being
• Least popularly
• Devotees he does
attract are typically
students, teachers,
scholars and
Brahma is recognized
as the four-faced god,
although sometimes
only three faces can be
seen. His four faces
represent the four
Vedas, symbolizing
that Brahma is the
foundation of all the
knowledge required
for the creation of the
He has four hands which may hold a
rosary (with which he counts,
represents time), a water pot, a book,
a sceptre, a spoon, a bow or a lotus.
As the whole universe evolves out of
water, Brahma carries water in a the
water pot. At times his hands may be
in a protective stance, while one
hand is usually there to bestow
His four hands represent the four
directions, symbolizing that Lord
Brahma is the omnipresent and the
His white beard represents wisdom.
Its length indicated that creation is a
never-ending process.
Lord Vishnu
Vishnu also known as Lord
Narayana and Lord Hari.
He is depicted with dark
complexion of water-filled
clouds and as having four
arms. He is shown as a blue
being, holding a padma (lotus
flower) in the lower left hand,
the mace in the lower right
hand, the conch in the upper
left hand and the discus
weapon in the upper right
Vishnu's eternal and supreme abode beyond the material universe is
called Vaikuntha, which is also known as Paramdhama, the realm of
eternal bliss and happiness and the final or highest place for liberated
souls who have attained Moksha.
Vishnu's other abode within the material universe is Ksheera Sagara (the
ocean of milk), where he reclines and rests on Ananta Shesha, the king of
the serpent deities, commonly shown with multiple heads.
The Avatars of Vishnu
Lord Vishnu's preserving,
protecting powers have been
manifested to the world in a
variety of forms, called
Avatars, in which one or
more of his divine attributes
were embodied in the shape
of a human being or an
animal or a human-animal
combined form, possessing
great and sometimes
supernatural powers.
These avatars are
ten in number.
Of the ten
recognized avatars,
nine have already
manifested whereas
the tenth is yet to
The 10 Avatars are the subjects of a 2008
animated film by Phoebus Studios
God Baby
One of the more
unusual images of
Vishnu is as a baby,
often identified as
the avatar Rama or
as Krishna.
The consort of Vishnu is
Lakshmi, goddess of wealth,
love, prosperity (both
material and spiritual),
fortune, and the embodiment
of beauty.
Here they are riding on a
Garupa, a mythical creature
that is a humanoid with birdlike features.
Shiva, the destroyer or
transformer, is in many
ways a paradoxical and
ambiguous god, and it
is impossible to offer a
single description.
Common attributes
• Trident = three powers of
knowledge, desire and
• Drum = origin of sound,
symbol of the Vedas
• Serpent = mastery of the ego
• Necklace = purity, mala
beads in right hand =
• Tiger skin = fearless,
• Moon on face = the master of
Common attributes
• Face on his head = the waters of
the sacred river Ganges, source of
all blessings, the flow of teachings
passed from one generation to
the next
• Dot on forehead = the third eye of
mystical knowledge, which
destroys evil and ignorance.
• Lines of white ashes on face = the
destruction of “maya” or worldly
• Water pot is made of a hollowed
pumpkin, signifying the
emptying of the self to become a
vessel of bliss.
• Shiva is considered the
god of mystics and
practitioners of yoga,
and as such is selfdisciplined and quite
• He is often depicted
seated in philosophical
• Became associated
with Agni, god of fire
Shiva is also depicted
as a householder, as
the ideal family man.
His wife is Parvati.
His two sons are
Ganesh and
The bull is his
traditional vehicle.
• Commander of the
gods, god of war
• Invoked by people
desiring to have a son
• Most common
weapon = lance,
sometimes a bow
• Peacock is his symbol
• One of the best-known and
most-worshipped of the
Hindu deities.
• Hindus worship him no
matter what their affiliation
• Remover of obstacles, “luck
• God of intellect, arts and
science, creativity
• Invoked for inspiration during
writing sessions
• The items in his hands represent
the need to cut off worldly
attachments and conquer emotions
• The swastikas are not Nazi
symbols, but much older lucky or
auspicious symbols.
• In sculpture the position of Lord
Ganesh's trunk has a symbolic
meaning. If the trunk turns to the
Ganesh's left, that is the direction
for success in the world. It is a
position associated with grihastas,
or householders. To his right, the
trunk represents moksha, for
renouncing the world.
• Shiva’s wife Pavati is also
worshipped as Kali, the
goddess of death and
• She is often depicted as
standing over Shiva’s
body--- Shiva lies in the
path of Kali, whose foot on
Shiva subdues her anger.
• She also considered the
goddess of time and
• Kali is almost always shown
with her red tongue
hanging out, often from a
mouth with fangs.
• She is garlanded with a
necklace of human heads
or skulls
• She holds a bloody scimitar
and a severed head, and a
bowl in which to catch the
• Mystically she symbolizes
primal energy,
In certain Yogic traditions
she is worshipped as KaliMa or Mahakali, who has
ten arms and ten legs.
Under this aspect, she is
considered the primordial
goddess from whom all
other deities came forth.
In spite of her seemingly
terrible form, Kali Ma is
often considered the kindest
and most loving of all the
Hindu goddesses, as she is
regarded by her devotees as
the Mother of the whole