Does Hindus worship 330 million gods? The number 330 million is constantly heard when any discussion regarding the gods in Hinduism take place. But the initiators of the discussion, who are mostly totally unaware of Hindu religion and wants to take a dig, deliberately skip the symbolism of the numerous Hindu gods. The symbolism of the 330 million that it represents the Brahman, which has different names, forms, activities, attributes and powers owing to differences of function. All animate and inanimate and those yet to appear is nothing but a manifestation of Brahman.
It is a known fact that it is impossible to worship the 330 million gods. But, why the number 33? In Brhadaranyaka Upanishad while discussing Brahman, Yajnavalkya is asked how many gods are there. He says that there are three hundred and three and three thousand and three gods. When the question is repeated? He says, thirty three. When the question is again repeated he says, six. Finally, after several repetitions he says ONE. (Chapter I, hymn 9, verse 1)
The number 33 comes from the number of Vedic gods explained by Yajnavalkya in Brhadaranyaka Upanishad – the eight Vasus, the eleven Rudras, the twelve Adityas, Indra and Prajapati. (Chapter I, hymn 9, verse 2)
Now to this 33 was added the maximum number of zeros that the ancient people thought were the number of living beings.
So when someone mentions about 330 million gods in Hindu Religion, it consists of the person mentioning it and those listening plus all living and non-living beings. In fact, if the ancient seers were to create the same symbolism today they will be counting it in billions.
Millions or billions, it is nothing but the manifestation of the ONE God and Hindus call it Brahman.
Lord Krishna explains thus in the Bhagavad Gita
- I am the goal, the supporter, the Lord, the witness, the abode, the refuge, the friend, the origin, the dissolution, the foundation, the substratum, and the imperishable seed. (Chapter 9, Verse 18)
- I am the origin or seed of all beings, O Arjuna. There is nothing, animate or inanimate, that can exist without
(Chapter 10, Verse 39) Me.
- O Arjuna, know Me to be the eternal seed of all creatures. (Chapter 7, Verse 10)
This is what Hindus worship in the numerous forms.