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Introduction

 

A discussion of bhakti and the worship of deities leads to a consideration of the gods and goddesses in Hinduism. In practice, Hinduism acknowledges and honors literally thousands of gods and goddess. Some say that the number of deities in Hinduism is 300 million! It is impossible to say if this number is to be taken literally or whether it is just a figurative way of saying there are more than can be numbered. Keep in mind, however, that some would say that no matter how many deities there are in Hinduism, they all reflect the same divine reality. (It may be similar to Christians maintaining that there is one God manifest in three persons).

We noted previously that the earliest Vedas focus on gods such as Indra, Agni, and Soma. Today, these gods are acknowledged, but most HIndus devote themselves to the goddesses Durga or Kali, or to the gods Vishnu or Shiva. The key point here is the notion of devoting oneself to the deity. These gods are the object of the intense love and devotion known as bhakti.

 


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