There are many faces to Hinduism. It’s deities and gods are portrayed colorfully. Hinduism also has many sublime scriptures such as the yoga sutras, upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita.
Polytheism or Monotheism in Hinduism
Hinduism is host to diverse doctrines, philosophies, spiritual practices and deities. But, it is difficult to classify Hinduism as a polytheistic or monotheistic religion. It actually depends on one’s perspective. The many gods may seem to make the religion polytheistic. But, some Hindu scriptures say there is one divine being, making it monotheistic.
Atheism in Hinduism
The philosophical schools of Mimamsa and Samkhya desist from referring to a creationist god. So, atheism is also a part of Hindu philosophy.
Brahman and Ishvara
The vedas seem to concur about monotheism. The Rig Veda says that there is one truth, though it is known by various names. Therefore, the many gods of Hinduism are different facets of one divine being. Hinduism distinguishes between Ishvara (a personal god) and Brahman (the Absolute). Ishvara is a god with form, while Brahman is pure consciousness.
Different Paths for Different People
Hinduism synthesizes various spiritual traditions, tribal cults and religious sects. Thus, it a fascinating mixture of sophisticated, enlightened philosophies and superstitious, primitive beliefs. Seers and sages understand that different people need different paths, depending on their individual preferences and temparaments. Therefore, there are different paths such as Raja, Karma, Bhakti and Jnana yogas, as well as Hatha, Mantra and Tantra yogas.
Common Hindu Beliefs
Hindus commonly believe in the ideas of of samsara (cycle of birth, death and rebirth), moksha (attaining liberation), atma (the soul’s immortality) and karma (action and reaction).
Emphasis on Experience
Hinduism lays emphasis on realizing the truth through actual experience, and not on blind faith in religious dogmas. Therefore, spiritual practices such as meditation are encouraged.