Hinduism has always been an assortment of highly diverse beliefs and rituals. It has always been the belief in the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, also known as samsara, with various gods and goddesses responsible for a variety of situations throughout a Hindu’s life. Back when Hinduism was just beginning to emerge, the Hindu’s stressed personal devotion to a deity. These deities were gods and goddesses who could either help or harm the Hindu’s when asked. There is a variety of deities in the Hindu religion and Devi was considered their universal mother along with her legendary forms.
The Hindu religion consists of many gods and goddesses with a variety of powers and responsibilities. While there are many deities in the Hindu religion, a majority of these deities may be reincarnations of each other. This religion started out with three gods in the Hindu Trinity: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. The trinity began with Brahma, the creator of the universe. Brahma created the goddess Gayatri, also known as Saraswati, to be his other half in order to create the world and the human race ("Hindu Gods & Goddesses").
Next, in the trinity was Vishnu, the preserver and protector of the universe. Vishnu was the embodiment of goodness and mercy; he was the deity of the peaceful mood and he did not tolerate ego. Whenever the natural balance of good and evil became imbalanced by the evil forces, Vishnu would incarnate himself as a human to set the natural balance to its original equilibrium ("Hindu Gods & Goddesses"). Vishnu had to incarnate himself as a human numerous times. Five of those incarnations stood out amongst the rest. These five incarnations were Kurma, Vamana, Ram, Krishna, and Buddha. Kurma, Vishnu’s second incarnation, was the pivot that Mount Mandera, the churning stick, rested on at the Churning of the Ocean. Vamana, Vishnu’s fifth incarnation, was a dwarf who killed the demon Bali ("Hindu Gods & Goddesses”). Ram, Vishnu’s seventh incarnation, was talked about in the Ramayana epic where Ram killed the demon Ravana who had kidnapped his wife Sita, the reincarnation of Vishnu’s consort Lakshmi. Krishna, Vishnu’s eighth incarnation, killed the oppressive ruler Kansa. Finally, Buddha, Vishnu’s ninth incarnation, was to remove suffering from the world ("Hindu Gods & Goddesses”).
The final god in the Hindu trinity is Shiva (or Siva), the destroyer of the universe. Shiva’s power of destruction and death was for purification purposes. Shiva’s power was also used on a personal level to shed old habits, destroy ego, and to open up a pathway for new and improved beginnings ("Hindu Gods & Goddesses”). Shiva was not just the destroyer of the universe. Shiva had many forms, but Nataraj was his form where he dances in his wake of destruction. One sculpture at Brooklyn College showed this form of Shiva as Lord of the dance (Divinity).
As Hinduism continued to arise, the old Vedic gods began to fade. In their place, three monotheistic gods had become...