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Hindu Gods and Goddesses

Travel pictures from Nepal

by Günther Eichhorn


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The following is mostly from Wikipedia:

The Hindu religion is Hinduism is the predominant religion of the Indian subcontinent, and one of its indigenous religions. Hinduism includes Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Śrauta among numerous other traditions. Among other practices and philosophies, Hinduism includes a wide spectrum of laws and prescriptions of "daily morality" based on karma, dharma, and societal norms. Hinduism is a conglomeration of distinct intellectual or philosophical points of view, rather than a rigid common set of beliefs.

Hinduism is formed of diverse traditions and has no single founder. Among its direct roots is the historical Vedic religion of Iron Age India and, as such, Hinduism is often called the "oldest living religion" or the "oldest living major religion" in the world.

One orthodox classification of Hindu texts is to divide into Śruti ("revealed") and Smriti ("remembered") texts. These texts discuss theology, philosophy, mythology, rituals and temple building among other topics. Major scriptures include the Vedas, Upanishads, Purāṇas, Mahābhārata, Rāmāyaṇa, Bhagavad Gītā and Āgamas.

Hinduism, with about one billion followers, is the world's third largest religion, after Christianity and Islam.

Hinduism refers to a religious mainstream which evolved organically and spread over a large territory marked by significant ethnic and cultural diversity. This mainstream evolved both by innovation from within, and by assimilation of external traditions or cults into the Hindu fold. The result is an enormous variety of religious traditions, ranging from innumerable small, unsophisticated cults to major religious movements with millions of adherents spread over the entire subcontinent. The identification of Hinduism as an independent religion separate from Buddhism or Jainism consequently hinges on the affirmation of its adherents that it is such.

Hinduism grants absolute and complete freedom of belief and worship. Hinduism conceives the whole world as a single family that deifies the one truth, and therefore it accepts all forms of beliefs and dismisses labels of distinct religions which would imply a division of identity. Hence, Hinduism is devoid of the concepts of apostasy, heresy and blasphemy.

Prominent themes in Hindu beliefs include (but are not restricted to), Dharma (ethics/duties), Samsāra (the continuing cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth), Karma (action and subsequent reaction), Moksha (liberation from samsara), and the various Yogas (paths or practices).

There are many Gods in Hinduism, some are common to all areas, some are more local deities.

Hindu worship is not congregational, but is done individually. You can frequently see a person standing at a small shrine of in front of a temple and pray. Worship is also often done at home with small statues of various Gods or Goddesses.

Hindu Legend of Creation

This is just one of many versions, they differ greatly in different areas.

In the beginning Vishnu alone was there. When Vishnu thought about creation, Brahma was created from a lotus that came from the navel of Vishnu, who was resting on the cosmic serpent, Ananta (Shesha).

After meditation Brahma created 14 planetary systems and many living beings came there in 8400000 kinds of material bodies according to their past desires. Brahma received Vedas from Om, and he is transmitting knowledge from Om Himself to Earth.

Hindu Temples

There are LOTS of Hindu temples in Nepal. They reach from very large and elaborate ones like the Chandeshwari Temple, to small shrines on the roadside. This was even more apparent in Nepal than in India. The temples are usually dedicated to one, sometimes to several, of the Hindu deities. From what I saw, Shiva had the most temples decdicated to him, while Ganesha had the most small shrines dedicated. Temples are almost always decorated lavishly. The red paint is used everywhere, on statues and pictures, in all the temples and shrines.

One aspect of temple decorations that are unexpected for Westerners are the erotic statues on some of the temples. They show very explicit acts in all variations. I saw some of those in India as well.

Pictures of Hindu Gods and Goddesses

Following is a listing of the Hindu Gods and Goddesses for which I have pictures. Some of the pictures are from bronze statues that I got in India, and some from ceramic tiles that I got in Nepal. The pictures of statues, shrines, and temples are from my trips to India in February 1999, to Việt Nam and Cambodia in 2003, and to Nepal in October 2012.

Brahma - The Creator

brahma_statue_2Bronze statue of Brahma with the four heads. (346k) hindu_godsStatues of the Trimurti (Divine Trinity) in Varanasi, with Shiva on the left, Brahma in the center, and Vishnu on the right. (680k) picture trimurti divinePicture of the Trimurti, the divine Hindu trinity of Brahma (left), Vishnu (center), and Shiva (right), each standing on a Lotus, on the Shiva temple in Dhulikhel. (505k) statue shiva templeStatue at the Shiva temple on the way to Nagarkot. This statue of a Hindu God is quite unusual. He has the four heads of the Hindu God Brahma. He holds Shiva's Trishula (trident) and the Damaru (drum). He also holds Vishnu's Shanka (conch shell) and Chakra (spinning disk), so he represents all three parts of the Trimurti, the Divine Trinity. (618k) brahma_statueBrahma Statue from the Chăm Kingdom in the Chăm museum in Đà Nẵng. (279k)


Vishnu - The Protector

lord krishna consortLord Krishna, and his consort Radha, on a temple in Dhulikhel. (639k) lord vishnu lakshmiLord Vishnu, and Lakshmi, his consort, seated on the Shesha, on a temple in Dhulikhel. (476k) picture trimurti divinePicture of the Trimurti, the divine Hindu trinity of Brahma (center), Vishnu (left), and Shiva (right) on the Shiva temple in Dhulikhel. (505k) lord vishnu protectorLord Vishnu, the Protector. (637k) lord krishna playingLord Krishna, playing the flute, on a temple in Patan. (573k)
lord krishna playingLord Krishna, playing the flute and herding cows, on a temple in Patan. (512k) statue lord vishnuStatue of Lord Vishnu, holding a Padma (lotus flower), a Gada (mace), a Shanka (conch shell) and Chakra (a spinning disk weapon), at the Kumbheshwor Temple in Patan. (563k) garudanarayan stature lordGarudanarayan, a stature of Lord Vishnu (with the Gada, the Mace, and the Chakra, the spinning disk) and Garuda, his vehicle, in a temple in Patan. (682k) vishnu_statueBronze Vishnu statue. (332k) paint_vishnu_1 Painting in Orchha in India, of Vishnu resting on Shesha, the king of all nagas, with his consort Lakshmi at his feet. (727k)
paint_vishnu_2 Painting in Orchha in India, with Varaha, an Incarnations of Vishnu as a boar (right in blue). (931k) hindu_godsStatues of the Trimurti (Divine Trinity) in Varanasi, with Shiva on the left, Brahma in the center, and Vishnu on the right. (680k) statue shiva templeStatue at the Shiva temple on the way to Nagarkot. This statue of a Hindu God is quite unusual. He has the four heads of the Hindu God Brahma. He holds Shiva's Trishula (trident) and the Damaru (drum). He also holds Vishnu's Shanka (conch shell) and Chakra (spinning disk), so he represents all three parts of the Trimurti, the Divine Trinity. (618k) narasimha lion-headed godNarasimha (Lion-headed God, an incarnation of Vishnu) in front of the 55 Window Palace. It dates from 1698. (672k) lord narasimha half-manLord Narasimha (half-man, half-lion incarnation of Lord Vishnu), devouring the demon Hiranyakashipu, dating from 1673, in the palace in Kathmandu Durbar Square. (669k)


Vishnu's Symbols (Garuda, Padma (lotus flower), Gada (mace), Shanka (conch shell) and Chakra (spinning disk weapon)):vishnussymbols

two garudas frontTwo Garudas in front of the Vishnu temple in Dhulikhel. The lower one is the traditional Garuda, the upper one is one in Indonesian tradition. (588k) garuda vehicle vishnuThe Garuda, the vehicle of Vishnu, in front of a Vishnu temple in Patan. You can see from the fresh decorations that it is actively worshiped. (755k) garuda front vishnuGaruda in front of the Vishnu temple Trailokya Mohan in Kathmandu Durbar Square. (612k) shanka conch shellThe Shanka (Conch Shell) at the Dattatraya Temple in Bhaktapur. (546k) chakra spinning diskThe Chakra (spinning disk) is on the left, together with the Damaru, the drum, one of Shiva's symbols. On the right is the Shanka, the conch shell, next to Shiva's trident. (618k)
close-up disk vishnuClose-up of the disk of Vishnu at the Dattatraya Temple in Bhaktapur. (536k) vishnu shanka conchVishnu with the Shanka (Conch Shell, lower left), Padma (lotus flower, upper left), the Chakra (spinning disk weapon, upper right), and the Gada (mace, lower right). (563k) narasimha fourth incarnationNarasimha, fourth incarnation of Vishnu with a lion's head, holding the Chakra (spinning disk weapon, upper left), and the Gada (mace, upper right). (672k)


Shiva - The Destroyer

painting shiva shivaPainting of Shiva in the Shiva temple in Dhulikhel. (542k) picture trimurti divinePicture of the Trimurti, the divine Hindu trinity of Brahma (center), Vishnu (left), and Shiva (right) on the Shiva temple in Dhulikhel. (505k) lord shiva destroyerLord Shiva, the Destroyer. (620k) lord shiva destroyerLord Shiva, the Destroyer on a small shrine in Patan. (551k) picture shiva dePicture of Shiva de Destroyer on a house in Panauti. (589k)
colorful shiva statueColorful Shiva statue and fountain next to the Jagannarayan Temple in Patan Durbar Square. (626k) shiva_statueBronze statue of Nataraja, the dancing Shiva. (419k) statue shiva templeStatue at the Shiva temple on the way to Nagarkot. This statue of a Hindu God is quite unusual. He has the four heads of the Hindu God Brahma. He holds Shiva's Trishula (trident) and the Damaru (drum). He also holds Vishnu's Shanka (conch shell) and Chakra (spinning disk), so he represents all three parts of the Trimurti, the Divine Trinity. (618k) hindu_godsStatues of the Trimurti (Divine Trinity) in Varanasi, with Shiva on the left, Brahma in the center, and Vishnu on the right. (680k) stone_shivaStone figure of Hindu God Shiva on a temple in Khajuraho, India. (856k)
kailashnath mahadev worldsKailashnath Mahadev, the world's tallest Shiva statue (44 m (144 ft)) in Sanga, near Bhaktapur. (480k) statue kala bhairabStatue of Kala Bhairab (one of the incarnations of Shiva, the Destroyer) at the Lion Gate in Bhaktapur Durbar Square. (683k) relief kala bhairabRelief of Kala Bhairab (one of the incarnations of Shiva, the Destroyer). It was carved in the 6th - 7th century, found in the jungle in the 17th century and established in Kathmandu Durbar Square. (591k) ardhanarishvara_statueBronze statue of Ardhanarishvara, half Shiva, half Parvati. (338k)


Shiva Lingam

shiva lingam foregroundShiva Lingam in the foreground and Nandi, the bull, the carrier of Shiva behind it. This is in Pokhara at Davis Falls. (795k) shiva lingam nextA Shiva Lingam next to the Indreshwor Mahadev temple in Panauti. (585k) shiva lingam shivaShiva Lingam in the Shiva temple in Dhulikhel. (561k) large shiva lingamLarge Shiva Lingam in Panauti. (560k) shiva lingam bangalamukhiA Shiva Lingam near the Bangalamukhi Temple in Patan. (490k)
very elaborate shivaVery elaborate Shiva Lingam in the temple on the way to Nagarkot. (545k) elaborately decorated shivaElaborately decorated Shiva Lingam near the Shiva temple on the way to Nagarkot. (936k) shiva_lingamShiva Lingam Statue from the Chăm Kingdom in the Chăm museum in Đà Nẵng in Việt Nam. (315k) shiva_lingaShiva Lingams in a stream in Cambodia. (331k)


Shiva's Symbols (Nandi (bull), Trishula (trident), Candraśekhara (crescent moon), Damaru (drum)):shivassymbols

nandi shivas vehicleNandi, Shiva's vehicle, the bull, in front of the Shiva temple near Nagarkot. (507k) statue nandi bullStatue of Nandi, the bull, vehicle of Shiva in Patan. It is protected in a cage. Apparently, art theft is a big problem in Nepal. (740k) nandi bull vehicleNandi, the bull, the vehicle of Shiva in front of a Shiva temple in Patan. (564k) nandi bull shivasNandi, the bull, Shiva's mount, in front of the Yaksheshvara Temple in Bhaktapur Durbar Square. (599k) roof decoration yaksheshvaraRoof decoration on the Yaksheshvara Temple in Bhaktapur Durbar Square, showing Shiva's Trishula, the trident. (342k)
shivas trishula tridentShiva's Trishula, the Trident at the Dattatraya Temple in Bhaktapur. (431k) statue nagarkot showingA statue near Nagarkot, showing Shiva's Trishula (trident, on right) and the Damaru (drum, on left). He also holds Vishnu's Shanka (conch shell, on right) and Chakra (spinning disk, on left). (618k) painting shiva showingPainting of Shiva, showing the Trishula (trident) and the Damaru (drum) on the right. He has the cobras around his neck, the third eye on the forehead, and the Candraśekhara, the crescent moon on his head. He has long, matted hair, with the Ganges river flowing from his matted hair. On his raised hand is a lingam. (589k) shiva statue showingShiva statue showing the Trishula (trident) and the Damaru (drum), the cobras around the neck, and the Candraśekhara, the crescent moon on his head. (480k)


Saraswati - Goddess of Knowledge, Music, and Art

goddess saraswati goddessGoddess Saraswati, the Goddess of Knowledge, with the Sitar and a book, on a temple in Dhulikhel. (496k) goddess saraswati goddessGoddess Saraswati, the Goddess of Knowledge, with the Sitar and a book, on a temple in Patan. (574k) goddess saraswatiGoddess Saraswati. (649k)


Parvati - Goddess of Fertility

painted tile picturePainted tile with picture of Parvati in Dhulikhel. (576k) painting parvatiPainting of Parvati. (645k) statue parvati dhulikhelStatue of Parvati in Dhulikhel. (559k) ardhanarishvara_statueBronze statue of Ardhanarishvara, half Shiva, half Parvati. (338k)


Symbols of Parvati

tiger carrier parvatiThe tiger is the carrier of Parvati, at the Chandeshwari temple. (421k) statue tiger vehicleA statue of a tiger, the vehicle of Parvati, at the Bangalamukhi Temple in Patan. (506k)


Durga - The Demon Slayer

stone carved figureStone carved figure of Durga, slayer of the Buffalo Demon, at the Lion Gate in Bhaktapur Durbar Square. (679k) stone figure durgaStone figure of Durga, the Buffalo Demon slayer on the Vatsala Devi Temple in Bhaktapur. (525k) statue durga slayingStatue of Durga slaying the Buffalo Demon in Dhulikhel. (559k) carving durga slayingCarving of Durga slaying the Buffalo Demon in a Shiva temple near Nagarkot. (742k)


Lakshmi - Goddess of Prosperity

goddess lakshmi consortGoddess Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu, on a temple in Patan. (607k) lakshmi consort krishnaLakshmi with her consort Krishna, one of the incarnations of Vishnu, seated on the Shesha, on a temple in Dhulikhel. (476k) lakshmi goddess wealthLakshmi, Goddess of wealth, raining golden coins, on a temple in Dhulikhel. (496k) paint_vishnu_1 Painting in Orchha in India, of Vishnu resting on Shesha, the king of all nagas, with his consort Lakshmi at his feet. (727k)


Symbols of Lakshmi

peacock symbol lakshmiThe peacock is the symbol of Lakshmi, at the Swayambhunath Stupa. (414k)


Kali - Goddess of Empowerment

close-up lu dhowkaClose-up of the Lu Dhowka (Golden Gate) in the palace in Bhaktapur Durbar Square, with the Goddess Kali in the center, flanked by two nymphs. (767k) goddess kali houseGoddess Kali on a house in Dhulikhel. (552k) goddess kaliGoddess Kali. (624k) kali_statueBronze statue of Kali. (345k) khajuraho_kaliStone figure of Hindu Goddess Kali on a temple in Khajuraho, India. (812k)


Ganesha - Remover of Obstacles

god ganesha godGod Ganesha, the God of Beginnings and Remover of Obstacles, on a temple in Dhulikhel. (513k) god ganesha godGod Ganesha, the God of Beginnings and Remover of Obstacles in Patan. (573k) small ganesha shrineA small Ganesha shrine in Patan, decorated with flowers and red paint. (719k) wood carved ganeshaWood carved Ganesha on one of the wooden support column in the Royal Palace in Patan. (572k) statue elephant godStatue of the Elephant God Ganesha in Panauti. (704k)
ganesha shrine kathmanduGanesha Shrine in Kathmandu Durbar Square. (680k) ganesha statues kasthamandapOne of the Ganesha statues in the Kasthamandap temple in Kathmandu Durbar Square. (529k) ganesha newer houseGanesha on a newer house in Bhaktapur. (522k) shrine dedicated ganeshaShrine dedicated to Ganesha in Bhaktapur. (614k) ganeshaGanesha. (684k)
ganesha_sculptureSmall sculpture of Ganesha. People have these sculptures in their houses on the mantle. (313k) ganesha_statueBronze statue of Ganesha. (353k) paint_ganeshPainting in Orchha of the Hindu God Ganesha. (694k) amber_door Entrance to the Amber Palace in Jaipur, India. Image of the Hindu God Ganesha above the door. (828k) stone_ganesh Stone figure of Hindu God Ganesha on a temple in Khajuraho, India. (998k)
ganesh_statueGanesha Statue from the Chăm Kingdom in the Chăm museum in Đà Nẵng. (309k) stylized ganesha carsThis stylized Ganesha was on many cars as a protector. (374k)


Hanuman - Devotee of Rama

picture hanuman protectorPicture of Hanuman the Protector on a house in Panauti. (689k) shrine monkey godShrine of the Monkey God Hanuman, the Protector of the king, in Panauti. (585k) monkey god hanumanMonkey God Hanuman, covered with red paint, on the Chandeshwari Temple. (611k) closer view hanumanCloser view of Hanuman in the Hindu shrine in Dhulikhel. The red color is used to decorate Hindu temples and shrines. After worship, people touch their forehead with the red paint. (725k) hanuman dhoka portalHanuman Dhoka Portal in Kathmandu Durbar Square, the entrance to the palace with a Hanuman statue, clothed, with garlands under an umbrella. The gate dates to 1672. (561k)
hanuman_statueBronze statue of the Monkey God Hanuman. (331k) paint_hanumanPainting of the Monkey God Hanuman in Orchha, India. (722k) hanuman_temple_1 Not all temples have to be big. This is a temple for the Monkey God Hanuman in India. (654k) hanuman_temple_2Monkey on the statue of the monkey God Hanuman in India. (598k)


All pictures are © Günther Eichhorn

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