How many gods in Hinduism?

The reason I ask is that I’m currently reading “A History Of God” by Karen Armstrong and this is focussed on Christianity, Islam and Judaism as the three great monotheistic religions. When I was in India [account of my trip here], I heard talk and saw representations of a great many gods and was told that Hinduism has 330 million gods – which seemed somewhat excessive.
So I’ve a search of the web and found this site which explains that:

“Hindu religion is often labeled as a religion of 330 million gods. This misunderstanding arises when people fail to grasp the symbolism of the Hindu pantheon. According to the Hindu scriptures, living beings are not apart from God, since He lives in each and every one of them in the form of atman. Thus each living being is a unique manifestation of God. In ancient times it was believed that there were 330 million living beings. This gave rise to the idea of 330 million deities or gods. Actually, this vast number of gods could not have been possibly worshipped, since 330 million names could not have been designed for them. The number 330 million was simply used to give a symbolic expression to the fundamental Hindu doctrine that God lives in the hearts of all living beings.”

So, really Hinduism is another monotheistic religion. In his book “The God Delusion” [my review here]. Richard Dawkins points out that, in the course of human history, the number of gods has been reduced to (in most cases) one and he simply goes one further. Personally, I agree.


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