Cultures & Traditions

Hinduism

Hinduism is a complex system of beliefs. It incorporates many religious texts and many local and village gods, along with the principle triad of the gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Hinduism includes the belief that opposing forces are aspects of one eternal truth, the belief in reincarnation, and the practice of good deeds in hopes of being reborn into a higher caste. Through trade and cultural connections, Hinduism became a major cultural influence in many places throughout Asia, such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

The conventional triad of Hindu deities includes Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Shiva the Destroyer. In principle, these gods are equal in power and influence, representing three aspects (creation, preservation, and destruction) of One Divine Power.

In one Hindu creation story, Brahma was responsible for all of creation. Hindu cosmology records the time of creation in terms of the days and years of the life of Brahma. His four heads symbolize the four Vedas, Hindu’s oldest scriptures, and the goose or geese he often rides represent knowledge. These themes add to the perception of his role as counselor and teacher of the gods. However, Brahma has lost popularity in the modern era and is rarely worshiped by Hindus today.

Instead, Devi, a figure who embodies all Hindu goddesses, has become the third most popular figure in the Hindu pantheon of gods and goddesses. Devi is short for Shri Devi, which means “the great goddess.”

Excerpt from
"Hinduism," DMA Connect, 2012.

Related Multimedia

Boshell Family Lecture Series on Archaeology; Dr. Anne Bromberg, the DMA’s Cecil and Ida Green Curator of Ancient and Asian Art, discusses works in the DMA collection that illustrate the Hindu nature of love.
Gallery talk by Melia Belli, Assistant Professor of Art History, The University of Texas at Arlington
Learn about the role of Hinduism in Indian culture.

Web Resources