Hinduism is the dominant and native/original religion of the Indian subcontinent. It comprises three major traditions, Saivism, Brahmanism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism,whose followers considered Shiva, Brahma, Vishnu and Shakti (also called as Devi) to be the supreme deity respectively. Most of the other deities were either related to them or different forms (incarnations) of these deities. Hinduism has been called the "oldest religion" in the world, and many practitioners refer to Hinduism as "the eternal law". (San?tana Dharma). Given below is a list of the chief Hindu deities followed by a list of Hindu deities (including demi-gods). Smartism, a relatively modern Hindu tradition (compared to the three older traditions), invites the worship of more than one god including Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, Shakti and smart Ganesha (the elephant god) among other gods and goddesses. It is not as overtly sectarian as either Vashnavism or Saivism and is based on the recognition that Brahman (God) is the highest principle in the universe and pervades all of existence.
The Hindu trinity consists of Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Shiva the Destroyer. Their feminine counterparts are Saraswati, the wife of Brahma, Lakshmi, the wife of Vishnu, and Sati and Parvati, the wives of Shiva. The followers of the last two form two major sects.
Cults 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 (Shakti) that underlies the female principle, and that Devi is the supreme being, one and the same with Para Brahman. Devi is believed to manifest in peaceful forms, such as Parvati the consort of Shiva and Lakshmi the consort of Vishnu, 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 with Tantric Hinduism, which teaches rituals and practices for purification of the mind and body. Some different forms of Shakti (Devi) the Mother Goddess:
- Bhadrakali, an auspicious form of Kali
- Chandi, a ferocious form of Kali
- Ganga, the goddess personification of the Ganges River.
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 Shiva:
- Sri Manjunatha
The Brahmins follows to Brahma. As Brahma worships to Lord Shiva so following to him they also like Shaiva worships to Shiva. For them Brahma is the Parabrahaman and supreme being, they believe Vishnu and Shiva as children of Brahma and forms of him only. In Brahmanism they believe that Brahma is Creator, Vishnu is Preserver and Shiva as Destroyer. They believe Brahma as the Param-pita of the world and gods. He only Creates, Preserve and Destroy everything to create again. Some alternative forms of Brahma are:
- "Bhagya Vidhata"
Vaishnavism is the sect within Hinduism that worships Vishnu, the preserver god of the Hindu Trimurti ('three images', the Trinity), and his ten incarnations. It is a devotional sect, and followers worship many deities, including Rama and Krishna of the 2 epics, both considered as incarnations of Vishnu. 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: