Hinduism is a collection of religious ways not already labeled as Buddhism, Jainism, or Sikhism on the Indian subcontinent (Fisher, 2005). The practice of Hinduism is believed to be one of the oldest existing religions. Hinduism, also known as Santana Dharma, is made up of many different beliefs and practices. Santana is eternal or ageless while dharma can be translated as religion. The religious paths arising from the original Santana Dharma beliefs continue to thrive in present-day India (Fisher, 2005).
Hindus worship many deities. These deities can be categorized into three major groups. They are the Saktas, the Saivites, and the Vaishnavites. Those that worship a Mother Goddess are known as Saktas. There are approximately 50 million Hindus that worship some form of a goddess (Fisher, 2005). Saktas worship goddess in many forms. Durga is often referenced to a beautiful woman. Durga is believed to vanish demons and “the blazing splendor of God incarnate, in benevolent female form” (Fisher, 2005, pg. 83). The goddess known to be the destroyer of evil is called Kali. She is often represented by carrying a sword, dripping with blood, and carrying a severed head (Fisher, 2005).
The Saivites worship the god Siva. Siva is known as the consummate destroyer. Brahma, the Creator, Vishnu, the Preserver, and Siva, the Destroyer are the three major aspects of deity. However, many Saivites refer to Siva as creator, preserver, and destroyer. Siva is the symbol for asceticism, which is the practice of self-denial to obtain a higher spiritual and moral state (Dictionary.com, 2010).
Vaishnavites worship the god Vishnu. Vishnu is thought to be the preserver of the universe. Vaishnavites believe Vishnu to be a tender, merciful deity (Fisher, 2005). According to Alan Hefner (2006) Vishnu has a higher ranking among deities than Shiva, placing him second behind Brahma among the Hindu followers. According to Hefner (2006), “Vishnu is portrayed as blue or black...