An Overview of the Major Hindu Gods and Goddesses



1.     Vishnu

a.     Traditional representation with discus, lotus, mace, and conch shell

b.     10 Avatara, including:

                                                 i.      Krishna

1.     As youth

2.     As child

                                               ii.      Rama: of the epic Ramayana

c.      Saving the world from disorder, maintaining dharma

2.     Shiva

d.     A paradoxical god: mythology cycles between two central modes of being

                                                 i.      Lord of yoga, ideal world renouncer, celibate

                                               ii.      Householder: family, active sexually, maintaining the world

3.     The Goddess: Devi

e.      Embody the fundamental, female power that animates the universe Shakti

f.       Two types of manifestations in the goddess mythology of the potential of shakti

                                                 i.      Positive potential of shakti and the benign, nurturing goddesses

1.     Lakshmi, Sarasvati, Sita

                                               ii.      Negative potential of shakti and the destructive, warrior goddesses

1.     Durga and Kali



1.     Krishna

2.     Vishnu

3.     Siva

4.     Devi

5.     Durga

6.     Kali

7.     Sarasvati

8.     Laxmi

9.     Sita




1.     Explain the ways in which Lord Siva is a paradoxical god

2.     In what ways is Vishnu associated with dharma

3.     Describe the differences between the benevolent and terrifying goddesses