Symbols and Meanings

Hindu Gods and Goddesses

Various religious practices now collectively called Hinduism worship a diverse group of gods (deva) and goddesses (devi).

In these practices the three aspects of existence—cosmic creation, preservation, and destruction—are commonly personified by the gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Their female counterparts—the goddesses Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Parvati, Durga, and Kali—complement these functions and represent their own aspects of knowledge, prosperity, and power. The gods are thought to be manifestations of the absolute, or Brahman. The goddesses are considered manifestations of the Great Mother Goddess (Mahadevi), who is seen as the counterpart to Brahman.

In most ancient Hindu traditions gods were imagined as natural forces and specific aspects of existence. Indra is originally the god of the heavens, rainfall, and storms, as well as the god of war and king of the gods in the Indic description of the universe (cosmology). The elephant-headed Ganesh is the remover of obstacles, popular in all of the many Hindu traditions.

Objects in the Exhibition