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Shiva, Hanuman and Ganesha--the most popular gods among Hindus: Pew Research

Almost all Indian’s (97 percent) surveyed said that they believe in God and 79 percent said they believe in God with absolute certainty.

June 30, 2021 / 05:08 PM IST
Representative image (Source: Moneycontrol)

Representative image (Source: Moneycontrol)

Among the many gods and their manifestations that Hindus across India believe in or worship, Shiva is the most associated deity, reveals a survey finding. About 44 percent of Hindus interviewed in a survey said they feel close to Shiva, followed by Hanuman (35 percent), Ganesha (32 percent) and goddess Lakshmi (28 percent), according to a recent study by Pew Research Center, a Washington D.C based nonpartisan think-tank.

The survey also revealed regional variation in feelings of closeness by Hindus to specific gods across the country. For instance, 46 percent of Hindus in India’s West feel close to Ganesha, but only 15 percent feel this in the Northeast. While 46 percent of Hindus in the Northeast feel close to Krishna, compared to just 14 percent in the South.

Closeness for Lord Ram is strongly felt (27 percent) in the country’s central region, followed by the north (20 percent).

The Pew report titled titled ‘Religion in India: Tolerance and Segregation’ surveyed 29,999 Indian adults--including 22,975 who identify as Hindu, Muslim (3,336), Sikh (1,782), Christian (1,011), Buddhist (719), Jain (109 ) and 67 people belonging to other religion or as religiously unaffiliated. Face-to-face interviews were conducted under the direction of RTI International from November 17, 2019 to March 23, 2020.

The survey asked Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains who say they believe in God which god they feel closest to, seeking to measure the concept of personal god or ‘ishta devata’. During the survey, respondents were shown 15 images of gods as possible options (though they could also name other deities), and they could select up to three gods, the report said.

Overall, 97 percent of the Indian’s surveyed said that they believe in God and 79 percent said they believe in God with absolute certainty.

“Majorities among all major religious groups believe in God. However, one-third of Buddhists do not believe in God at all, and fewer than half of Buddhists believe with absolute certainty (43 percent),” the report states.

About 61 percent Hindus and 54 percent of the Jains surveyed, said there is “only one God with manifestations”, while on the contrary, Muslim (66 percent), Christians (68 percent), Sikhs (57 percent) and Buddhists (39 percent) say “there is only one God.”

Additionally, 69 percent of Indian’s surveyed, believe that god can be manifested in nature, such as mountains, rivers and trees.

About 62 percent say that god can appear in people and the same share of people agree that god can manifest in animals as well. “Hindus are much more likely than those in other religious communities to believe that each of these manifestations is possible,” the report said.

Moneycontrol News
first published: Jun 30, 2021 05:08 pm