Ganesha (Sanskrit: गणेश, IAST: Gaṇeśa; listen (help·info)), also known as Ganapati and Vinayaka, is one of the best-known and most worshipped deities in the Hindu pantheon. His image is found throughout India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Thailand, Mauritius, Bali (Indonesia), Bangladesh and Trinidad and Tobago. Hindu denominations worship him regardless of affiliations. Devotion to Ganesha is widely diffused and extends to Jains and Buddhists.
Although he is known by many attributes, Ganesha's elephant head makes him easy to identify. Ganesha is widely revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom. As the god of beginnings, he is honoured at the start of rites and ceremonies. Ganesha is also invoked as patron of letters and learning during writing sessions. Several texts relate mythological anecdotes associated with his birth and exploits.
Ganesha likely emerged as a deity as early as the 1st century CE, but most certainly by the 4th and 5th centuries CE, during the Gupta period, although he inherited traits from Vedic and pre-Vedic precursors. Hindu mythology identifies him as the restored son of Parvati and Shiva of the Shaivism tradition, but he is a pan-Hindu god found in its various traditions. In the Ganapatya tradition of Hinduism, Ganesha is the supreme deity. The principal texts on Ganesha include the Ganesha Purana, the Mudgala Purana, and the Ganapati Atharvashirsa. Brahma Purana and Brahmanda Purana are other two Puranic genre encyclopaedic texts that deal with Ganesha.
(/ˈhʌnʊˌmɑːn/; Sanskrit: हनुमान्, IAST: Hanumān) is a Hindu god and divine monkey (vanara) companion of the god Rama. Hanuman is one of the central characters of the Hindu epic Ramayana. He is a Brahmachari (life long celibate) and one of the chiranjeevi. He is also mentioned in several other texts, such as the epic Mahabharata and the various Puranas. Hanuman is the son of Anjani and Kesari and is also son of the wind-god Vayu, who according to several stories, played a role in his birth.
The evidence of devotional worship to him is missing in the texts and archeological sites of ancient and most of the medieval period. According to Philip Lutgendorf, an American Indologist known for his studies on Hanuman, the theological significance and devotional dedication to Hanuman emerged about 1,000 years after the composition of the Ramayana, in the 2nd millennium CE, after the arrival of Islamic rule in the Indian subcontinent. Bhakti movement saints such as Samarth Ramdas expressed Hanuman as a symbol of nationalism and resistance to persecution. In the modern era, his iconography and temples have been increasingly common. He is viewed as the ideal combination of "strength, heroic initiative and assertive excellence" and "loving, emotional devotion to his personal god Rama", as Shakti and Bhakti. In later literature, he has been the patron god of martial arts such as wrestling, acrobatics, as well as meditation and diligent scholarship. He symbolizes the human excellences of inner self-control, faith and service to a cause, hidden behind the first impressions of a being who looks like an Ape-Man Vanara.
Hanuman is stated by scholars to be the inspiration for the allegory-filled adventures of a monkey hero in the Xiyouji (Journey to the West) – the great Chinese poetic novel influenced by the travels of Buddhist monk Xuanzang (602–664 CE) to India.
(/ˈʃiːvə/; Sanskrit: शिव, ISO: Śiva, lit. ''the auspicious one'') also known as Mahadeva (lit. ''great god'') is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. He is the supreme being within Shaivism, one of the major traditions within contemporary Hinduism.
Shiva is known as "The Destroyer" within the Trimurti, the Hindu trinity that includes Brahma and Vishnu. In Shaivism tradition, Shiva is one of the supreme beings who creates, protects and transforms the universe. In the Shaktism tradition, the Goddess, or Devi, is described as one of the supreme, yet Shiva is revered along with Vishnu and Brahma. A goddess is stated to be the energy and creative power (Shakti) of each, with Parvati (Sati) the equal complementary partner of Shiva. He is one of the five equivalent deities in Panchayatana puja of the Smarta tradition of Hinduism.
According to the Shaivism sect, the highest form of Ishvar is formless, limitless, transcendent and unchanging absolute Brahman, and the primal Atman (soul, self) of the universe. There are many both benevolent and fearsome depictions of Shiva. In benevolent aspects, he is depicted as an omniscient Yogi who lives an ascetic life on Mount Kailash as well as a householder with wife Parvati and his two children, Ganesha and Kartikeya. In his fierce aspects, he is often depicted slaying demons. Shiva is also known as Adiyogi Shiva, regarded as the patron god of yoga, meditation and arts.
The iconographical attributes of Shiva are the serpent around his neck, the adorning crescent moon, the holy river Ganga flowing from his matted hair, the third eye on his forehead, the trishula or trident, as his weapon, and the damaru drum. He is usually worshipped in the aniconic form of lingam. Shiva is a pan-Hindu deity, revered widely by Hindus, in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.