Hindu pantheon is very complex, organized and hierarchical. Without proper introduction into Hinduism, it is very difficult to understand the complexity surrounding the Hindu gods and goddesses and make sense of their numerous names, aspects, emanations and manifestations. The gods and goddesses belong to one large family of gods, headed by Supreme Brahman on one side as Purusha or Isvara and Para Shakti or Mother Goddess as His dependent or independent aspect on the other.
Overtime, the pantheon of gods and goddesses underwent many changes, additions and deletions, resulting in further complexity. In the early Vedic period, the Vedic gods occupied a place of prominence, with Agni, Indra, Vayu, Soma, Varuna, Adityas, Maruts, Visvadevas, Brahma, Prajapati, Pusan, Asvins etc. playing a central role in the sacrificial rituals.
The Brahmanas, Kshatriya, Vaisyas, who formed the original divisions of Vedic society, worshipped their own classes of gods. Individually, when the Brahmanas performed sacrifices for themselves in the domestic rites etc. they made offerings to their own gods. But when they officiated for the sacrifices where the Kshatriyas and Vaisyas were patrons or hosts of sacrifices (yajamanas) they made offerings to the gods their patrons worshipped. Thus in the Vedas you find invocations to numerous deities.
The Kshatriyas worshipped gods of kshatra power, namely Indra, Varuna, Soma, Rudra, Parjanya, Yama, and Isana. The Brahmanas worshipped gods of Sattvic nature, namely Agni and Surya and later Adityas, or aspects of the Sun, chief among whom were Savitr and later Vishnu.
The Vaisyas worshipped the gods of vis or commonality, namely Vasus, Rudras, Visvadevas and Maruts. The sudras worshipped, Pusan, an Aditya, and several local and village deities some of whom were outside the pale of Vedic tradition.
These divisions of gods are stated in the Chandogya Upanishad (1.4.11-13). With the decline of the original Kshatriya clans, probably due to wars and internal squabbles, the worship of their gods declined and were replaced by the deities worshipped by a new class of rulers such as the Nandas, Mauryas, Sakas, Kushanas, Pahlavas, Barashivas, Kanvas etc. They hailed from different social and caste backgrounds, and worshipped different gods, some of whom were unknown to the early Vedic people and never mentioned in the early Vedic literature.
Presently we have many gods and goddesses in Hinduism. Although numerically they were said to be hundreds and thousands, Hindus worship chiefly a few gods namely Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, Sarasvathi, Lakshmi, Parvathi, their manifestations, incarnations and emanations.
Chief among the incarnations of Vishnu are Rama, Krishna, and Narasimha. His prominent image formations (arcavataras) are Lord Venkateswara, Ranganatha, Pandarinatha, Vittalnatha and Jagannatha. Prominent manifestations of Siva are Dakshinamurthy and nine Jyotirlingas. The goddesses also have various aspects.
Prominent among the attendant deities are Lord Ganesha, Kumara, Nandi, Hanuman, Garuda. Apart from them, Hindus also worship many saintly persons such as Dattatreya, Chaitanya, Mantralaya Raghavendra Swami and Shirid Baba.
Although Hindus worship many gods and goddess, strictly speaking Hinduism is not a polytheistic religion. Hinduism has elements of both monotheism, polytheism and sometimes classified as "henotheism or kathenotheism - a belief in single gods, each in turn standing out as the highest."1
This is well illustrated in a conversation between Yajnavalkya and Vidagdha Sakalya as quoted in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (3:9). When Sakalya asks how many gods are there, Yajnavalkya begins the conversation saying, "as many as mentioned in the offerings made to the gods of the universe, namely three hundred and three, three thousand and three." When Sakalya keeps on asking the same question, Yajnavalkya reduces the number to thirty three, then to six, then to three, then to two, then to one and half and finally to one When asked who is the one, he replies that he is the immortal person (Self) who is in the body. Thus, in Hinduism the concept of one God acting as many or manifesting as many dates back to early Vedic period. One God manifests as many. He is the sum total of all things in the universe.
That highest God of Hinduism is known as Brahman who is extolled in the Vedas as the Supreme Universal Self. He is both manifested and unmanifested, Being and Non-Being, Existence (sat) and non-existence (asat).
According to the Paingala Upanishad, His reflection in the quality of sattva is considered Isvara, in Rajas Hiranyagarbha and in tamas Viraj. These three aspects, Isvara, Hiranyagarbha and Viraj are also identified with Vishnu, Brahma and Siva respectively in their roles as the preserver, creator and destroyer respectively. In the early Upanishads, such as Chandogya, Viraj is often described Death, for whom the entire creation is food.
All the numerous gods and goddesses are the eyes, ears, hands and feet of Brahman only. In their individual aspects they represent diversity and His numerous duties (dharmas); but in their unified and highest aspect they represent Brahman, the Supreme Self.
Thus Hinduism is neither monotheistic nor polytheistic, but represents elements of both. The following is a brief description of the numerous gods and goddesses of Hinduism, i have list down some
Atman and Brahman
Atman and Brahman represent two eternal realities ever present in existence. Their relationships is the subject matter of discussions in numerous schools of Hinduism. Following is a brief description of the two.
Brahman: As stated already, Brahman is the highest God of Hinduism. He is supreme, universal Self who is eternal, indestructible and infinite, who is described in the Vedas as both manifested and unmanifested, and Being and Non-Being. He has numerous aspects. In the early Vedic descriptions He is often symbolized as the Sun. Those who attain liberation reach His world and become immortal by the northern path (Uttarayana).
Atman: Atman is the individual Self. He is the lord of the microcosm (body). He is described in the Upanishads as the immortal, transcendental, imperishable Self, who cannot be reached through senses or the mind, but only in a non-dual state of self-absorption. Like Brahman, Atman is not worshipped in temples or public places, but only internally through concentration and meditation.
The highest gods of Hinduism
Brahman, Vishnu and Shiva are the highest gods of Hinduism. These gods do not form part of the early Vedic pantheon. They rose to prominence subsequently, during the eastern and southern expansion of the Vedic religion in the Indian subcontinent. A brief description of the three deities is presented below.
Brahma: Brahma is the creator god. He is originally known as Prajapati. He is the first born, father of the gods, humans and demons. He is also their teacher, who taught them about the nature of Self and the importance of virtue. He is also the revealer of the Vedas to the mankind. He has several mind born sons. In the early Upanishads and Vedic hymns he is credited with incarnations and described as the Cosmic Person (Purusha) as well as Isvara, Hiranyagarbha and Viraj. In some verses, he is also described as Prakriti or Nature. Brahma enjoyed an exalted position in ancient times, when the original Kshatriyas ruled the land. With their decline, his popularity declined. He is presently worshipped only in a few temples, mostly located in the areas, adjoining or forming part of the ancient Sindhu Saraswathi region, where the Kshatriyas ruled in ancient times. His abode is calledBrahmaloka.
Vishnu: He is currently the most popular god of Hinduism. Vaishnavism is also currently the most popular and dominant sect of Hinduism, with several sub sects and independent teacher traditions. Devotees of Vishnu worship Him as the highest supreme Brahman. In popular Hinduism he is considered the preserver responsible for the preservation and maintenance of creation. He goes by several names, such as Narayana, Adita, Padmanabha, Ananatasayana etc. He has also manifested upon earth as incarnations (avataras), manifestations (vyuhas), partial incarnations (amsavataras) and aspects such as Jagannatha, Panduranga, Ranganatha, Varadaraja, Venkateswara etc. India is dotted with numerous temples of Vishnu and His numerous aspects and incarnations. His abode is known as Vaikuntha.
Shiva: In ancient times, Shiva was the most popular deity of Hinduism, worshipped in numerous form and diverse communities throughout the Indian subcontinent and even outside. While Saivism lost ground to Vaishnavism in the last century, it is still a very popular sect of Hinduism with dedicated followers. As in case of Vaishnavism, Saivism has several sects and sub sects. Followers of Siva worship Him as the Supreme Brahman who is responsible for the creation, preservation, and destruction of the worlds, besides delusion and liberation of the beings. In popular Hinduism he is considered the destroyer. He goes by several names such as Rudra, Ardhanariswara, Mahadev, Mahesvara, Isvara etc. He has also several aspects, manifestations, emanations and attendant deities. His abode is called Kails. He is worshipped in the temples and households in his anthromorphic form and in the form of Sivalinga. In Tantra, he is also worshipped in the form of symbols.
Trimurthis: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are considered the Trimurthis, often translated into English as the Trinity of Hindu gods. In reality, they represent the triple functions of Brahman in creation. In their highest aspect, they are said to be the same, but different in their functional aspect, each ruling over a particular sphere and participating in creation along with their attendant deities. They are often compared to the Isvara, Hiranyagarbha and Viraj aspects of Brahman. Brahma is the reflection of Brahman in rajas, Vishnu in sattva and Siva in tamas.
The main goddesses of Hinduism
Shakti: The practice of worshipping Mother Goddess was in vogue in Indian since the Indus valley civilization. Shakti means energy. Hindus worship Shakti, also known as Mother Goddess, Divine Mother, Prakriti, Maya and various other names. In creation she represents the materiality and objectivity. Hence she is also known as the Field (kshetra). In the beings, she represents the mind and body. If Brahman is the instrumental cause of creation, Shakti is the material cause. If Brahman represents the will and consciousness, Shakti represents the numerous objects, worlds and beings in which the will and consciousness of Brahman remains hidden. In the Tantra tradition, Shakti is considered the highest supreme reality itself, with Brahman remaining in the background as the passive witness consciousness. In Vedic tradition she is a dependent reality, but in tantra she is independent. As the companion of Shiva, Shakti is worshipped in numerous temples across India.
Saraswathi: Saraswathi is the goddess of knowledge and learning. She symbolizes our knowledge, virtue and creative intelligence. She is the consort of Brahma. As the source of knowledge, she is also the cause of knowledge, wisdom and liberation among the intelligent beings. She is responsible for refinement in speech, all artistic expressions and civilized behavior. Saraswathi means the flowing one. A river which flowed in the ancient past in the northwestern India is extolled frequently as Saraswathi. The civilization that thrived on the banks of the river and adjoining areas is known as Sindhu-Saraswathi civilization. The goddess is responsible for many crafts and skills. Some descriptions suggest hamsa or swan as her vehicle, while some mention peacock. She is usually depicted carrying a vina, an Indian musical instrument.
Lakshmi: Lakshmi is the goddess of abundance who is responsible for health, wealth, luck and happiness. She is the consort of Vishnu. She was born in milky oceans during the churning of the oceans and gifted to Vishnu. She is usually depicted with four or two hands, either alone or in the company of Vishnu. When alone she is shown either seated in a lotus or standing in it, with elephants in the background. She goes by many names, the most popular being Sri. She incarnated several times upon earth along with Vishnu and participated in his duties as the preserver. Owl is described as her vehicle. She has numerous forms. Worship of eight forms of Lakshmi, known as ashta-lakshmis is a very popular Hindu tradition.
Parvathi: Parvathi is the consort of Shiva and goddess of love, devotion, and destruction. She personifies numerous aspects of Mother Goddess and even equated with her in her role as the Mother of the Universe. She also figures prominently as Uma Haimavathi in the Kena Upanishad. She is also considered the second incarnation of Mother Goddess after the self-immolation of her first incarnation as Dakshayani or Sati. There are numerous shakti pithas installed in various parts of India to worship Sati. She goes by several names such as Haimavathi, Girija, Uma, Lalitha, Durga, Rudrani. She has both pleasant and fierce aspects. In some Puranas, she is described as the sister of Vishnu. In the images, she is depicted either alone or in the company of Shiva. In the Arthanariswra form, as Prakriti she is represented as one half of Siva, the Purusha. I can keep going on and on and on but i think that will be enough information. Peace be on you