is one of the world's most widely practiced religions,
although many people associate Hinduism with India.
People have come to other countries from India,
helping Hinduism to spread throughout Asia, including places
such as Nepal, Tibet, and Indonesia.
While a few of these countries have adapted and
changed Hinduism to make it more compatible with indigenous
cultures, the Gods and Goddesses that form the backbone of
Hindu mythology remain the same. These Gods and Goddesses often have a central character with
several different incarnations, each with its own distinct
some, it may seem like a contradiction but Hindus worship
many forms of God, yet each of these is believed to be part
of the same concept of God.
religion, somewhat like Christianity, is based on a
three-part God. In
Hinduism, the trinity is based on three Gods: Brahma,
Vishnu, and Shiva. These
three major figures each have a defining role.
Brahma is considered the lord of creation, having
said to grow as a lotus plant in the navel of Vishnu, the
protector of the world.
Brahma created himself a Goddess, named Gayatri, so
that he could create the world and human beings.
Brahma is generally depicted as a four-headed,
grandfatherly figure that often appears floating in the air
before praying supplicants.
His wife Gayatri is also known by many other names,
such as Saraswati, who is the Goddess of music, creative
arts, and knowledge.
considered the preserver and protector of creation.
He is said to be the embodiment of goodness and
mercy, and is the all-powerful force that works unseen to
maintain cosmic order or Dharma (a Hindi word and concept
meaning, "That which binds together").
Vishnu is most often seen resting on a coiled
serpent, with his consort Lakshmi rubbing his feet.
Additionally, Vishnu is usually represented as
resting because he never sleeps, keeping an ever vigilant
watch on the world. Vishnu
has nine separate incarnations, each with weapons to care
for and protect the world.
final deity in the Hindu trinity, is the destroyer.
However, Shiva is not seen as a figure of evil.
Instead, he makes change possible by destroying the
old elements and people in the world so they can be
reincarnated. Shiva is most often represented as traveling about on his
white bull Nandi, and can also be seen cross legged and with
his many arms in the air as he rests in his home atop Mount
Kailasa in the Himalayas.
of each Hindu God and Goddess are treasured art works for
many Hindus. It is by looking at the images and contemplating each
attribute of their higher being that Hindus find the peace
and strength necessary to tackle everyday life.
However, these icons, along with stories of the Gods
and Goddesses themselves, are becoming popular with art
collectors as well, and are now widely available throughout