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There are many gods in Hinduism and hence many questions would arise about gods of Hinduism. This post intends to decide, that whether we should make or create a canonical question on main site, in which the definition of god will be explained according to Hinduism.

The post will contain:

  1. Definition of God according to Hinduism.
  2. Who are the gods according to Hindu gospels? (e.g. Are devtas gods?)
  3. Can words "Lord" and "God" be used as synonyms?

Do you agree with creating a canonical question for future reference and also for clarifications?

Would this be on-topic and not a to-broad question?

If it is off-topic on main site, then can we create a question on meta?

  • I feel such questions would result in opinion based discussions and broad scoped answers so I feel we should post the question and answer on the main and turn the post into community wiki with the help of a mod – Mr. Alien Jun 20 '14 at 19:25
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    It would be best to define it based on different traditions in Hinduism. The monists, Advaitas, Vaishnavas can all add their perspectives, as long as they are well defined and separated. – cheenbabes Jun 21 '14 at 4:01
  • @Mr.Alien I think you are right about CW post. If you can post your comment as an answer, it would be good. That way, we will be able to know the verdict of community also, in the way of upvotes/downvotes. :) – DroidDev Jun 21 '14 at 5:31
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As I commented, I feel we should post a question on the main site and than turn the post to community wiki, as the title says it all.. The question is not off topic for the site but it will be opinion based as well as broad.

Marking an answer community wiki encourages others to edit it by lowering the reputation barrier required to edit. However, you will not gain any upvote reputation from it. This cannot be undone.

Its win win for all, no gain from broad/canonical questions and others can input their explanations as well.

So we will have an informative question as a wiki post for a reference, also I insisted to ask the question on main site as meta is especially for discussing and reporting bugs.

And as you suggested to do so, I would recommend you to ask a question with a note that the post will be Community Wiki and later, let the mod turn the post to wiki.

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In case we do we want a canonical question like that, here is my answer:

​The question of “god” is a complicated one in Hinduism, and depending on how the English word “god” is translated into Sanskrit, different ideas will emerge. If the word “god” is translated as “deva,” which refers to an individual deity, then there are literally millions of gods in Hinduism, most of whom are worshipped by some Hindu or the other. On a practical level, however, many devas are obscure, and any particular Hindu probably worships less than ten. These include Brahma, the creator, Vishnu, the preserver, and Shiva, the destroyer. In this sense, Hinduism can be described as polytheistic or even pantheistic religion. It should be noted that the devas do not correspond to the Judeo-Christian “angels;” since many individual devas have the attributes, such as immortality, omniscience, omnipresence, and the like, that are usually the hallmark of the one God in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

If, however, the word “god” is instead translated as “Brahman,” which refers to divinity in the abstract, then there is only one god in Hinduism. Brahman is one of the three substances that exist in the universe. The other two are chit and achit. Achit refers to all physical matter. Chit refers to nonphysical essence. Humans and animals possess an atma, meaning soul or self, which is made of chit. Both chit and achit were created by and depend upon Brahman. Achit is constantly being created and destroyed, so our physical bodies are mortal and life always comes to an end. The atma, on the other hand, is eternal and unchanging because it is made of chit. The gods are also immortal because they are made of Brahman. Only achit is transitory and imperfect. Since humans were created by the gods, the purpose of life is to please them, and the end goal is Moksha, end of the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, where one can reunite with the Brahman from which we came.

  • Only some animals possess atmas? What about the rest? – cheenbabes Jun 21 '14 at 4:01
  • @cheenbabes You're right, that's a questionable assertion. (This is actually something I wrote up a few years ago.) I was basically trying to say that modern science has come up with a particular technical definition of what does or doesn't count in Kingdom Animalia, and when Hindu scriptures say that animals have souls they're obviously not referring to the modern scientific definition of "animal", so some things that science calls an animal may not have a soul according to Hinduism, and vice versa. But that's just speculation, so I took it out. – Keshav Srinivasan Jun 21 '14 at 4:54
  • Thank you for explanation. But I asked this question so that so that we can decide, that weather this topic would be on-topic on main site or not and other things that I described in question. – DroidDev Jun 21 '14 at 5:28

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