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How many Hindu gods are there?

To demonstrate that in Hinduism there is truly only one god.

by Lucy Fletcher

Suitable for Key Stage 2

Aims

To demonstrate that in Hinduism there is truly only one god.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need some large illustrations of the Hindu gods described in this assembly: Ganesh, Hanuman and Lakshmi. These can be obtained from www.hindunet.org/ or use smaller images on PowerPoint or whiteboard. Or children could design some.
  • More information about the Hindu gods can be found from: www.sanatansociety.org/hindu_gods_and_goddesses.htm

Assembly

  1. With the illustrations behind you, ask the children how many gods Hindus believe there are. Say that you will be looking at some of them and then you will tell them how many gods there actually are.
  2. Do they know any of them already? Introduce the children to the following Hindu gods, by naming and describing the pictures you have. You can often spot Hindu gods in pictures as they are usually coloured blue.

    Ganesh
    Ganesh or Ganesha is a very well-known god. Hindus believe he is the chubby, gentle and wise elephant-headed god. He is the first god people recognize or see in the Hindu temple. He is known as the lord of success and remover of obstacles, so he does not let things get in your way. He is very wise, as he is also the patron (special god) of learning; he usually has his broken tusk in his hand for writing with. He often has a pot belly, as he loves to eat sweets. People leave sweets for him in the Hindu temple. Hindus believe that Ganesh celebrates life and enjoys its pleasure, such as music and food. Ganesh’s strange looks show that it’s not what is on the outside that counts; more important is what is in the inside.

    Hanuman
    You may already know Hanuman, the monkey god, from the Divali story of Rama and Sita. Hanuman is known for his courage, power and faithful service. He is very loyal, as is shown in the Divali story where he rescues Rama’s wife Sita from the evil Ravana. He is a bit of a super-hero, as he can fly and grow 100 times taller than normal when he needs to be. Hindu stories tell how he once flew to the tallest mountains called the Himalayas and carried back a mountain of herbs to cure Rama's wounded brother Laksmana. He also set his tail alight to help him escape when he was captured by demons. Hanuman is the James Bond of the Hindu gods!

    Lakshmi
    Lakshmi, Hindus believe, is the goddess of light, beauty, good fortune and wealth. She stays in places where there is hard work (such as our school!), and bravery. But she does not like people who only worship her for their own greed, and she will not stay around lazy or dirty people. Lakshmi is a favourite goddess with Hindu women and is worshipped at home as well as in the temple. She is usually a beautiful woman standing on a large lotus flower, often holding flower buds, which stand for beauty, purity and new life. She also shows off her wealth with gold coins and jewellery. Lakshmi is particularly worshipped during Divali. Two days before Divali, a festival called Dhantares is celebrated to seek her blessings. During this time, Hindus buy gold and silver and start new businesses.
  3. These are just three examples of Hindu gods and goddesses. There are thousands, some say millions, more. So it’s easy to see these different examples and think that there are many gods in Hinduism, but there aren’t. In fact the answer to the question ‘How many Hindu gods are there?’ is: ONE!
  4. Adjust the following to fit your circumstance:

    My name is (give your own name that the children know you by); in school I am called by this name and I am a teacher who is expected to do his/her job. At home my daughter calls me Mummy and needs me to do certain things for her. My dad calls me Lucy and I am his daughter, and he sees me in a different way. Different people call me by different names and I have different roles or jobs to fulfil towards those people. But I am still the same person; there is still only one of me!
  5. This is a bit like the gods in Hinduism. Hindus believe that there is only one god, Brahman, who created everything and who is everything. The different gods we have talked about are all different representations (pictures) or sides of Brahman. People go towards Lakshmi when they need her understanding, as she is the female side of Brahman. People call on Hanuman when they need power and strength, and Ganesh can help you when you need wisdom or are starting something new. All these gods are just different names for the same god, Brahman. They are all the same god.
  6. So next time somebody tells you that there are lots of different Hindu gods, you can say that in fact there is really only one.

Time for reflection

Reflection

Let us think of all the people and things that we can turn to when we need to.

When we need love we can look to our family and friends.

When we need wisdom we have our parents and teachers to show us the way.

And when we need strength we can find it from within ourselves.

Where do you find love, wisdom and strength?

Wherever you find it, let it stay with you for ever.

 

Prayer

Dear God,

Thank you for the exciting and magical stories of Hinduism.

Amen.

Song/music

‘He’s got the whole world in his hands' (Come and Praise, 19)

Publication date: February 2007   (Vol.9 No.2)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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