Hindu Gods & Goddesses

By Matt Baker email   Updated 8 Jan 2013

There are four main sects within Hinduism: Shaivism, in which Shiva is worshipped as the main god; Vaishnavism, in which Vishnu is the main god; Shaktism, in which the female aspect of god is primarily worshipped; and Smartism, in which six main gods are worshipped: Shiva, Vishnu, Shakti, Ganesh, Murugan and Surya. See also our Greek Gods Family Tree.

THE TRIMURTI (Hindu Trinity):SHAKTIS (female aspects):
Hindu god Brahma
Click photo to enlarge


The Creator

Vehicle: swan

has 4 heads, 4 arms, and a reddish complexion

not commonly worshipped

not to be confused with Brahman (the ground of all being) or the Brahmin (priestly caste)


Goddess of knowledge, music, and the arts

Vehicle: swan

wife of Brahma

sits on a white lotus playing a veena

Hindu goddess Saraswati
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Hindu god Vishnu
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The Preserver

Vehicle: garuda (bird)

has 4 arms, a blueish complexion, and rests on a snake

was incarnated (born as an animal or human) nine times with one more still to come

is the main god of Vaishnavism


Goddess of wealth and prosperity

Vehicle: owl

wife of Vishnu

usually shown bestowing coins and flanked by elephants

Hindu goddess Lakshmi
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Hindu god Shiva
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The Destroyer / Transformer

Vehicle: bull

has matted hair, a third eye, a blue throat and a trident in his hand

often worshipped in the featureless lingam form

is the main god of Saivism


The Divine Mother

Vehicle: lion

the reincarnation of Shiva's first wife

has many forms, such as the popular Durga and Kali (see below); often shown together with Saraswati and Lakshmi as the tridevi ('triple goddess')

Hindu goddess Parvati
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Hindu god Ganesh
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God of the intellect and the remover of obstacles

Vehicle: mouse

son of Shiva & Parvati

has an elephant's head


God of war

Vehicle: peacock

son of Shiva & Parvati

popular in Tamil areas

also known as Skanda

Hindu god Murugan
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Hindu goddess Durga
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A fiercer form of Parvati

Vehicle: tiger

has ten arms holding many weapons


Goddess of time and death

Vehicle: donkey

usually portrayed as dark and violent

Hindu goddess Kali
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Hindu god Rama
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The 7th avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu

the central figure in the epic story Ramayana


The 8th avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu

usually portrayed as a child and a prankster; often shown playing the flute

Hindu god Krishna
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Hindu god Hanuman
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an ape-like god known for assisting Rama


God of the Sun

pulled on a chariot by horses

Hindu god Hanuman
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