In the Aryan Vedic period, the deities of nature became the gods in all worship and rituals. But soon the idea of one Supreme God became established. In the Creation Hymn, the Nasadiya Hymn of the Rig Veda, the single primordial principle tat or that has been described. This Vedic Hymn points to the abstract, formless, transcendental, and all-pervading principle of pure consciousness.
Common man then, however, as perhaps now, was not yet ready to understand the abstract God so easily. Hindu seers came forth with the idea of the Trinity of Gods, the Trimurti. Three Gods, with different faces, were projected, and each was mythological in origin. The three Gods were each given a human face for easy acceptance.
The Trinity of Hindu Gods consists of Lord of Creation, Brahma; Lord of Preservation, Vishnu; and Lord of Dissolution, Shiva, who is also called Mahesh. In Hindu philosophy, however, this envisages one continuous chain of events. For example, the destruction of the morning is the creation of the evening, and the destruction of the evening is the creation of the night, and so on. Even death in Hindu thought is merely an interlude from one event to another. Destruction or death is the dissolution, which is again followed by creation.
Hindu theology has often been labelled as one that harbors multiple gods. However, the concept of One Supreme God was clearly mentioned in the earliest of Hindu scriptures-the Rig Veda:
Ekam sad vipra bahudha vadanti.
(One alone exists; sages call it by various names.)
In the later scriptures, the Upanishads, this ancient philosophical thought came to the forefront, overshadowing the idea of multiple gods, who were then considered simply as the manifestations of the One transcendental Supreme Divine.
In modern times, this concept of God has been adopted more vigorously, given the existence of many religions and sects around the world. It is interesting to note that the Supreme Court of the United States recommended using the term “Supreme Being” in place of “God” in the Constitution of the United States, after hearing the plea in which the aforementioned quotation of the Rig Veda was presented.
In contemporary times, the thought of different gods for different religions and communities, competing and often quarrelling over the names of gods, is gradually being disfavored. More understanding people around the globe believe that God is but one, but names can be many!