God in Hinduism

In Hinduism the concept of God is complex and depends on the particular tradition. The concept spans from absolute monism all the way to henotheism, monotheism and polytheism. In majority of Vaishnavism traditions, He is Vishnu, God, and the text identifies this being as Krishna, sometimes referred as svayam bhagavan.

The term isvara - from the root is, to have extraordinary power. Some forms of traditional sankhya systems contrast purusha (devine, or souls) to prakriti (nature or energy), however term of sovereign God, ishvara is mentioned six times in the Atharva Veda, and is central to many traditions. For Sindhi Hindus, who are deeply influenced by Sikhism, God is seen as the omnipotent cultivation of all Hindu gods and goddesses.

In short, the soul paramatma of all Gods and Goddesses are the omnipresent Brahman and are enlightened beings.

Characteristics of God

One set of attributes (and their common interpretations) are:

  • Jñāna (Omniscience), defined as the power to know about all beings simultaneously
  • Aishvarya (Sovereignty, derived from the word Ishvara), which consists in unchallenged rule over all
  • Shakti (Energy), or power, which is the capacity to make the impossible possible
  • Bala/Bela (Strength), which is the capacity to support everything by will and without any fatigue
  • Vīrya (Vigor), or valour which indicates the power to retain immateriality as the supreme being in spite of being the material cause of mutable creations
  • Tejas (Splendor), which expresses his self-sufficiency and the capacity to overpower everything by his spiritual effulgence; (cited from Bhakti Schools of Vedanta, by Swami Tapasyānanda.)

A second set of six characteristics are:

  • Jñāna (Omniscience)
  • Vairagya (Detachment)
  • Yashas (Fame)
  • Aishvarya (Sovereignty, derived from the word Ishvara)
  • Srī (Glory)
  • Dharma (Righteousness)

Other important qualities attributed to God are Gambhīrya (grandeur), Audārya (generosity), and Kārunya (compassion).

Chanted prayers, or mantras, are central to Hindu worship. Many mantras are from the sacred Vedas, and in Sanskrit.


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