Who is the biggest god in India?

India is home to a rich diversity of faiths and religious traditions. Hindus make up the religious majority, comprising about 80% of the population. Hinduism recognizes many gods and goddesses, with three major deities considered most prominent: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.


In Hinduism, Brahman is considered the supreme, ultimate reality. Brahman is formless, eternal, infinite, and all-embracing. Brahman is the unchanging reality behind the changing universe. Brahman is considered too infinite and great to be captured in any human conceptions of gods or deities. Brahman transcends all attempts at human understanding. The closest one can get to describing Brahman is through neti neti or “not this, not this.” In this sense, Brahman is the greatest divinity in Hinduism, not in the sense of being a personal deity, but as the ultimate formless, boundless, eternal truth of the universe.


The Trimurti refers to the triad of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, the three major deities of Hinduism who are considered different manifestations of the supreme reality Brahman. Each deity personifies one aspect of Brahman:

  • Brahma, the creator
  • Vishnu, the preserver
  • Shiva, the transformer or destroyer

These three deities makeup the triad of the most important gods in Hinduism. Each has a significant following among different Hindu sects.


Brahma is the creator god, symbolizing the creative power of Brahman to manifest the cosmos. Brahma brought the universe into being and fashioned the physical world. He is associated with rajas guna, the quality of passionate action and motion. Brahma has four heads and four arms. His consort is Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, music, and the arts. Brahma is not widely worshipped by Hindus today. There are very few temples dedicated solely to Brahma.


Vishnu is the preserver god, representing the quality of Brahman to sustain and maintain creation. Vishnu is associated with sattva guna, the quality of purity, knowledge, and stillness. The most famous avatars (incarnations) of Vishnu include Rama and Krishna. Vishnu is one of the most popular and widely revered gods in the Hindu tradition. Major sects like Vaishnavism are dedicated to the worship of Vishnu and his avatars. Vishnu is associated with light and the sun. He sustains the universe and preserves cosmic order. Vishnu’s consort is Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, fortune, and prosperity.


Shiva is the transformer god, symbolizing change and transition. Shiva represents Brahman’s power to destroy the universe in order to recreate it. Shiva is associated with tamas guna, the quality of darkness, obstruction, destruction, and chaos. Major sects like Shaivism are dedicated to the worship of Shiva as the supreme being. Shiva has many fierce forms and is depicted as dwelling in cremation grounds. But Shiva is also depicted in benevolent forms, such as in a household with his wife Parvati and sons Ganesha and Kartikeya. Shiva is sometimes depicted as half man, half woman, representing the unity of masculine and feminine energies in the universe. His power to destroy paves the way for recreation and new possibilities.

Vishnu vs. Shiva

Vishnu and Shiva likely have the largest mainstream followings among Hindus today. Which deity is supreme depends on the particular Hindu sect. Vaishnavite sects consider Vishnu supreme, while Shaivite sects consider Shiva supreme. Smarta Hindus acknowledge both as forms of Brahman.

Vishnu’s Popularity

There are several reasons for Vishnu’s widespread popularity:

  • Vishnu sustains and preserves the universe. This aspect resonates with those who seek stability in a chaotic world.
  • Vishnu is associated with light, warmth, and life-giving forces.
  • Vishnu descends to earth through his avatars to defeat evil and champion righteousness, exemplifying virtues like courage, fidelity, and self-sacrifice.
  • Vishnu worship is open to all without gender, caste, or birth restrictions.
  • Vishnu’s avatar Krishna, in particular, is tremendously beloved for his playful nature, charming personality, and profound teachings.

Shiva’s Popularity

Shiva is also hugely popular. Reasons for his popularity include:

  • Shiva represents renunciation and asceticism, which has long been held in high regard.
  • Shiva’s cosmic dance destroys ignorance and ushers in wisdom and new beginnings.
  • Shiva is moved by love and compassion. His grace helps devotees overcome troubles.
  • Shiva dwells in cremation grounds, reminding devotees of impermanence and non-attachment to the material world.
  • Shiva’s appearance is uncomplicated and raw, appealing to those seeking a deity unconstrained by social mores.
  • Shiva accepts devotees from all walks of life, even those considered marginalized or unorthodox.

Both Vishnu and Shiva have large, devoted followings who revere their chosen deity as the greatest and supreme. But among most scholars and modern Hindus, Vishnu and Shiva are seen as equals, with both playing crucial cosmic roles.

Other Prominent Hindu Gods

While Vishnu and Shiva likely have the most followers, Hindus also widely revere and worship other deities:


The Devi (divine feminine energy) is revered in her manifold forms, such as Lakshmi, Saraswati, Durga, and Kali. The Devi represents the shakti (power) of Brahman to create, nourish, and destroy. She is worshipped both independently and as the consort of major gods. Goddesses play an important role for many Hindus.


Ganesha is the beloved elephant-headed god, son of Shiva and Parvati. He is the remover of obstacles and patron of sciences and arts. Ganesha is invoked before any major undertaking. His devotees believe he grants success, prosperity and protection against adversity.


Surya is the sun god who rides across the sky in a chariot drawn by seven horses, bringing light and life to earth. Surya represents luminosity, energy, fame, and power. Many Hindus begin the day with prayers and offerings to Surya.


Hanuman is the monkey god and loyal devotee of Rama. He symbolizes strength, courage, and devotion. As Rama’s faithful ally in the fight against evil, Hanuman underscores the importance of unity, selflessness, and service.

Regional Hindu Gods

Alongside pan-Hindu gods, numerous regional deities dating back centuries are venerated by Hindus in specific villages, towns, or communities. These gods are seen as powerful local manifestations of Brahman.

Examples include:

  • Goddess Yellamma, worshipped in parts of South India
  • Goddess Manasa, worshipped in Northeast India
  • God Ayyappan, worshipped in South India
  • God Khandoba, worshipped in Maharashtra

While considered Hindu, these localized deities may transcend religious barriers, with veneration extending to non-Hindus in their region too.

Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism

Other major Indian religions emerged as offshoots of Hinduism or in reaction to it:


Buddhists do not accept the notion of a supreme creator god. The historical Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) is certainly the most important personage in Buddhism. He gained enlightenment through meditation and taught the way to enlightenment. Buddhists take refuge in the Buddha, the teachings (Dharma) and the community (Sangha). Buddhist schools have different divinities, like Guanyin and Tara, who represent virtues like mercy and compassion.


Jains reject the idea of a creator god and do not have a supreme being or deity. Jains take refuge in the Jina (“spiritual victors”), particularly the 24 Tirthankaras, who achieved liberation through asceticism. While not gods, these beings are revered for their spiritual greatness.


Sikhs worship one formless God. The word “Guru” is used to refer to the divine teacher. The 10 Sikh Gurus are highly revered for their spiritual enlightenment and teachings. The scripture Guru Granth Sahib is also revered as the eternal living embodiment of the Guru. Sikhs reject worship of idols or gods.


In summary, there is no single biggest “god” in Hinduism analogous to an all-powerful creator deity. Brahman is the greatest spiritual concept, but Brahman transcends human qualities and attributes. Among personal deities, Vishnu and Shiva are widely revered by their respective devotees as the supreme deity. Other gods like Devi, Ganesha, Surya, regional gods, and more also play an important role for many Hindus. For other Indian faiths, notions of god and divinity take shape differently from Hinduism. Buddhism and Jainism do not have a supreme deity, while Sikhism worships one formless God.

The diverse Indian religious landscape has room for many spiritual paths and conceptions of the divine. For most Hindus, the ultimate reality of Brahman transcends any single deity or doctrine. There is no definitive answer, therefore, to the question of the “biggest” god in India. The plurality of Hindu gods and practices reflects the rich mosaic of Indian religion and philosophy.

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