It is the biggest misconception about Hinduism that Hindus worship 330 million Gods making Hinduism a polytheistic religion, but in fact, Hinduism believes in only one God but allows its followers to worship the God in many forms such as nature (including trees, sun, idols, animals, etc.) and persons (Lord Krishna, Lord Rama, Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, etc.). These persons are called devas (deities) and are often confused by calling Gods. Devas are celestial beings that control forces of nature such as fire, air, wind, etc., which is same as Christians worship Jesus and Buddhist worship Lord Buddha as messengers of God. They are not to be confused with the One and the Supreme God. The God is a different thing and deity is a different thing. These words should not be confused together.
In Vedic Hinduism, there were 33 devas, which later became exaggerated to 330 million devas. In fact, all the devas are themselves regarded as more mundane manifestations of the One and the Supreme Brahman (God) for devotional worship. The Hindus do not literally worship 330 million separate gods. The Sanskrit word for “ten million” also means “group”, and “330 million devas” originally meant “33 types of divine manifestation.
Concept of God by Hindu Scriptures:
Vedas and Bhagvad Gita are considered as most sacred scriptures of Hinduism. Following are a few lines where they talk about the God.
1. “Ekam evadvitiyam” meaning” He is One only without a second.
[Chandogya Upanishad 6:2:1]
2. “Na casya kascij janita na cadhipah” meaning “Of Him there are neither parents nor lord.”
[Svetasvatara Upanishad 6:9]
3. “Na tasya pratima asti” meaning “There is no likeness of Him.”
[Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:19]
4. “Na samdrse tisthati rupam asya, na caksusa pasyati kas canainam” meaning “His form is not to be seen; no one sees Him with the eye.”
[Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:20]
Vedas refer to God as “Brahman.” Brahman is the unchanging, infinite, immanet, and transcedent reality, which is the Divine Ground of all matter, energy, time, space, being, and and everything beyond in this universe. It is the Supreme Cosmic Spirit or Absolute Reality (often confused as God Brahma) and is said to be eternal, genderless, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and ultimately indescribable in human language. Noteworthy thing is that Hindus believe that God is genderless whilst most of other religions generally believe God as male.
The Brahma Sutra of Hinduism is:
“Ekam Brahm, dvitiya naste neh na naste kinchan” which means
“There is only one God, not the second; not at all, not at all, not in the least bit.”
But it is true that in practice, Hindus worship the Almighty in several different forms. Therefore, it is interesting to understand the concept of God in Hinduism and how the other Gods developed over the time and became popular.
According to Shiv Purana, The Brahman created Lord Shiva. Then, Lord Shiva created Lord Vishnu, and Lord Brahma was born from the lotus originated from the naval of Lord Vishnu. These three Gods were assigned three different jobs to run this universe systematically:
Lord Shiva – The Destroyer
Lord Vishnu – The Protector
Lord Brahma – The Creator
Lord Brahma created the universe and he recreates it after every destruction called Mahapralaya (Armageddon).
All other demi-Gods are creation or incarnation of these three. In the process of protecting the people, Lord Vishnu needs to reincarnate on the earth. Hindus worship these all 10 reincarnations of Lord Vishnu and their other forms also.
Concept of God according to Bhagvad Gita:
Bhagvad Gita is an important Hindu scripture according to which Lord Krishna is the incarnation of Supreme Being and hence everybody should worship Lord Krishna only. Worshiping other deities would give you worldly benefits and you would have to suffer for those gains afterwards.