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

Brahma

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)

Saraswati

Goddess of knowledge, music, and the arts

Vehicle: swan

wife of Brahma

sits on a white lotus playing a veena

Hindu goddess Saraswati
Click photo to enlarge
Hindu god Vishnu
Click photo to enlarge

Vishnu

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

Lakshmi

Goddess of wealth and prosperity

Vehicle: owl

wife of Vishnu

usually shown bestowing coins and flanked by elephants

Hindu goddess Lakshmi
Click photo to enlarge
Hindu god Shiva
Click photo to enlarge

Shiva

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

Parvati

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
Click photo to enlarge

OTHER POPULAR HINDU GODS

Hindu god Ganesh
Click photo to enlarge

Ganesh

God of the intellect and the remover of obstacles

Vehicle: mouse

son of Shiva & Parvati

has an elephant's head

Murugan

God of war

Vehicle: peacock

son of Shiva & Parvati

popular in Tamil areas

also known as Skanda

Hindu god Murugan
Click photo to enlarge
Hindu goddess Durga
Click photo to enlarge

Durga

A fiercer form of Parvati

Vehicle: tiger

has ten arms holding many weapons

Kali

Goddess of time and death

Vehicle: donkey

usually portrayed as dark and violent

Hindu goddess Kali
Click photo to enlarge
Hindu god Rama
Click photo to enlarge

Rama

The 7th avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu

the central figure in the epic story Ramayana

Krishna

The 8th avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu

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

Hindu god Krishna
Click photo to enlarge
Hindu god Hanuman
Click photo to enlarge

Hanuman

an ape-like god known for assisting Rama

Surya

God of the Sun

pulled on a chariot by horses

Hindu god Hanuman
Click photo to enlarge

Buy this chart and more:

Buy Now
Download a 2-pg PDF
of the above chart (photocopiable)
$1.95
Buy Now
View our full list of PDF charts available for instant download
Buy Now
Buy a poster of the Greek god family tree
(24x36")
$24.95
Buy Now
View our full list of posters and charts for sale