Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world, dating back thousands of years. In that time, Hinduism transformed into a localised belief system into a major religious sect that incorporates many countless gods and deities, with some Hindus believing that there are, in fact, millions of different gods in the pantheon, each with their own story to tell.
Hinduism is also a religion that has spread across the world, and millions of people that don’t live in India but still practice the religion make sacred pilgrimages every year.
These are the major gods that everyone should know before making a pilgrimage.
The second deity of the trinity in Hinduism, Vishnu is known as the Preserver. It’s believed that he sustains life through a number of principles that he adheres to, namely: truth, order, and righteousness.
Following Vishnu means practising compassion and kindness to all creatures both big and small.
He is commonly depicted with four arms to represent his omnipresence and his omnipotence, and it’s common to see him seated upon a coiled snake.
Brahma, who is at the head of the Hindu trinity, is considered to the god of creation. Brahma created everything that we see today, including the cosmos and all of the beings that inhabit it.
He symbolises intellect and the mind as he is considered the source of all knowledge in the universe. Brahma is most often depicted with four faces, with sympathising a part of his knowledge, along with four arms that represent an aspect of humanity: mind, ego, consciousness, and intellect.
Brahma is held in very high regard, and there are many temples throughout India that are devoted to him and his belief system.
The final deity of the trinity is Shiva, who is also known as the Destroyer. Shiva is said to protect his followers from anger, lust, and greed, along with the ignorance and misbelief that stands in the way of enlightenment.
He is responsible for all death, and is tasked with destroying the living in order to bring new life and rebirth into the universe. Shiva is depicted with a serpent around his neck, with represents the life energy known as Kundalini.
Perhaps one of the most well known deities in the Hindu pantheon, Ganesha is easily recognisable thanks to his elephant head. Ganesha is said to bring good fortune and wisdom, and can remove obstacles from a person’s life, while also being associated with science and art. It’s common to pray to Ganesha before any large ventures, such as a new project, a wedding, or even just to win at a casino on internet.
There are a number of stories as to why Ganesha has an elephant head, but it’s most commonly thought that the image calms a rational mind and is many doubts, while trying to encourage believes to see beyond outer appearance.