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The nature of God
Krishna & Radha
Rama & Sita
Hindu deity family tree
• Brahman refers to the supreme spirit of
• All other deities are personifications of
aspects of Brahman.
• Brahman is eternal without beginning or
end, without form, without gender.
• Take a glass of water. Add some salt – it
will dissolve into the water and you won’t
be able to see it or remove it. Now taste
the water and you will taste the salt in
every drop of the water.
• In this analogy the water represents the
world and the salt represents Brahman,
though invisible Brahman is omnipresent
• Atman is the term used in Hinduism to
describe the soul.
• The Atman is derived from Brahman.
• The Atman is indestructible and after the
death of the body the soul either achieves
Moksha or is reborn into another body.
Rebirth is determined by the law of
samsara and karma.
The Tri-murti. The tri-murti refers to the three main deities
in Hinduism.
BRAHMA the creator VISHNU the preserver SHIVA the destroyer
BRAHMA the creator
Brahma (not to be confused with Brahman ) is
the creator God. He has four heads which allow
his to see all four corners of the world.
It is very unusual nowadays for Brahma to be
the object of worship.
Brahma’s consort is Saraswati the goddess of
creative acts such as music.
VISHNU the preserver
Vishnu is recognisable by the objects he holds, a discus, a mace, a
lotus flower and a conch shell.
Vishnu has 10 avatars (incarnations) who visit the Earth to save it in
times of danger. 9 avatars have already visited the earth and
Hindus expect one more. The avatars are
1. Matsya; a giant fish who saved the world from a flood
2. Kurma; a tortoise who carried the whole world on his back
3. Varaha; A boar who lifted the world out of deep waters using his
4. Narasimha; half man- half lion. Killed a demon
5. Vamana; A dwarf who saved the world from an evil demon king.
6. Parashurama; Rama with an axe
7. Rama; a Prince whose adventures are in the Ramayana
8. Krishna; a Prince who had many adventures
9. Buddha; A Prince who gave up his wealth and started Buddhism
10. Kalki; will come as a warrior on a white horse to end the ‘age of
SHIVA the destroyer
Shiva has three forms.
Maha yogi shows Shiva sitting cross-legged with a
trident beside him. He has a cobra round his neck, a
tiger print loin cloth and the River Ganges flowing
through his hair. The story tells that when the River
Ganges came down to Earth it would have
destroyed the Earth if it had not flown through
Shiva’s hair.
Nataraj Is the Lord of the Dance who is shown
dancing on a dwarf who represents ignorance. It is
said that it is Shiva’s dancing which keeps the world
Lingum is a phallic symbol which represents
fertility and over which milk is poured as an
• Shakti refers to the female goddess.
• The main goddesses are
• Durga the goddess of war. Worshipped at
• Saraswati goddess of music, creativity and
• Kali the goddess of death.
• Lakshmi the goddess of good luck.
Krishna & Radha
• Krishna is an incarnation of Vishnu
who saved the world by drinking
poison (this is what turned him blue.)
Krishna is known a cheeky character
who stole butter and hid the clothes
of the cowgirls (Gopis) who were
bathing in the river and then climbed
up a tree to see them as they came
• Krishna is a cowherd who is
recognisable from his flute. He is
also known as Govinda (cowherd).
• Krishna is particularly associated
with the festival of Holi when people
play tricks on each other.
Rama & Sita
The story of Rama & Sita is found in
the Ramayana. Rama is an
incarnation of Vishnu & Sita his wife is
an incarnation of Lakshmi.
Rama is recognisable by his blue skin
and his bow and arrows. He is often
shown with his brother Lakshman and
Hanuman the monkey King.
Sita’s faithfulness to Rama makes her
the perfect wife in the eyes of Hindus.
The story of Rama & Sita is central to
the festival of Diwali
• Hanuman is the King of the Monkeys in
the story of the Ramayana. When sent by
Rama to collect some herbs from a
mountain, Hanuman brought the whole of
the mountain. He is therefore held up as
an example of how devoted to God Hindus
should be.
• Ganesh is the elephany headed deity. He
is the child of Shiva and Parvati.
• He is the god of good luck and the remover
of obstacles, because of this he is often
prayed to in the Mandir before other
deities. He has a swastika symbol to
represent good luck.
Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth and good
luck. Her vehicle is a lotus flower and she is
shown holding lotus flowers and pouring
coins out of her hands.
Lakshmi is worshipped at Diwali the Hindu
new year when Hindus hope that Lakshmi
will bless them with good fortune in the
coming year.
Sita and Radha are both incarnations of
• Atman – refers to the soul which is part of
• Brahman – the supreme spirit
• The Tri-murti – the three main deities,
Brahma, Vishnu & Shiva.
• Vishnu has 10 incarnations including
Rama & Krishna.
• Shakti refers to the female goddess.
Hindu deities
(suptreme spirit)
(good luck & wealth)
(Lord of the dance)
Son of Shiva & Parvati
10 incarnations
of Lord Vishnu
in human or
animal form
Buddha and
Kalki (still to
GANESH (good luck)
(fertility symbol)