If you ever thought about Hinduism as a monotheistic religion..
Some weird religious stuff from agnostic perspective
Monotheism comes from the combination of the Greek prefixes monos- “alone” or “single,” and theos- “god”. Monotheism is any religion that believes in one god. Buddhism, for instance, isn’t an example of monotheism because Buddha is not considered a god who created the universe. Monotheistic religion is e.g Christianity. Christianity believes in one god and respects only one. Polytheism is the belief that there are many gods, poly comes from the Greek word for “many,” and theism from the Greek word for “God’. The most popular example of polytheism in ancient times is ancient Greek Religion with many gods. Zeus, Apollo, Aphrodite, Poseidon and etc. –They were all gods and people believed in all of them. The gods were born and grew just like human beings, some of them were even married, but death never came to them. They had shape of a human but they were immortal. Everything had their own god, for example: Aphrodite was the god of love and beauty. Apollo was god of the sun and the music. Ares was the god of war; Queen of the Gods, Goddess of Marriage, Women and Birth was Hera and etc. Every god had his or her own place. The individual Hindu may revere one god, a few, or many, or none at all. Therefore; the problem whether is Hinduism polytheistic or monotheistic is very debatable. It seems more reasonable to state and argue that Hinduism is polytheistic.
Exactly, monotheism simply means the acknowledgment of one god. But what it means in the case of monotheistic religions is acknowledgment of only one god. This particular variety of belief in one god is absolutely alien to the Hindu view. Monotheism — at least is the concept that guides religions like Christianity and Islam. It is rooted in the idea of ‘only one’.
Once we get this point evident, it becomes clear that Hinduism does not worship ‘One God’. Instead, Hindu worship the unity of all gods and indeed, the harmony of everything existening. According to the tenets of Hinduism, God is one as well as many. In God’s highest aspect god is the unknown consciousness known as Nirguna Brahman or Brahman without qualities.
In Hinduism some of the gods have same purpose as pagan Greek mythology gods. For example, the god of death in Hinduism is Shiva and Hades/ in Greek. “Lord Shiva is responsible for change both in the form of death and destruction and in the positive sense of destroying the ego, the false identification with the form. This also includes the shedding of old habits and attachments.” writes philosopher Peter Manchard in his article about Hindu god-Shiva.
Hades is King of the underworld and the dead, and god of the earth’s hidden wealth, both agricultural produce and precious metals.
On the other hand, The Scholars are divided into two parts and one part thinks that Hinduism is monotheistic because it has the one most important god –the creator Brahman and all other gods are aspects of the Brahman and they are not real gods.
“…But in reality Hinduism is monotheistic. As it says, it is only one god who has manifested and taken many forms like one body with many different parts. Each part plays its own role though it is part of one Supreme Being. All the little Gods in Hinduism are representations of one Supreme God.
In short, Hinduism is monotheistic, with one Supreme Being. One cannot really describe this Supreme Being because as it has no form, it is beyond time, space, and causation and cannot be speech. God is neither male of female, or is both and beyond.” –Philosopher Swami Radhanandaji.
If Brahman is almighty god and all the other gods are the emanations of Brahman, why people worship for example: Shiva and Brahman equally and not adore Brahman more than other gods? In metaphorically, Brahman is human body and all inside human is whole universe. In spite of that people worship equally Brahman and other gods. Polytheistic means many gods and not many creators. God is not always a creator. Although Hinduism has, in essence, one creator, it implies belief in many gods. It is important to mention that even in polytheistic religions one god usually leads over the other gods, it is called henotheism.
If it is generally accepted that ancient Greek religion is polytheistic and we must envisage that Zeus in Greek mythology and Brahman in Hinduism are in the same position. Greek poet Hesiod, who lived around 700 B.C, mentions Zeus as “Father of Gods and men” and it can be considered as creator. On the other hand, according to another theory “Zeus is said to be born by the fusion of BIG BANG and SUN, considered to be one of the greatest energy and not an illusion”. Which even by contemporary science is recognized as the very begining of the entire universe, which allows us to contemplate that if Zeus was not a creator himself, he was the part of the creation.
Christianity is monotheistic because it has only one respected god, if Christianity would acknowledge the other gods except for the main one, it would change from monotheistic to polytheistic. Hinduism is polytheistic because it has not only one creator, but has great number of gods.