God, Soul and the World

The four major denominations or sects of Hinduism: Saivism, Vaishnavism, Shaktism, and Smartism have a wide range of religious beliefs that are connected to God, soul, and the world. Though there are a lot of similarities in these beliefs, there exist quite a few differences as well.

The primary deity in Saivism, for example, is Siva. He is both transcendent and immanent and represents compassion and love. In Shaktism, the primary deity is Shakti or Shri Devi has both terrifying and compassionate attributes attached to her and is fully satisfied by submission and sacrifice. For Vaishnavites, the Supreme God is Vishnu and his incarnations, Krishna and Rama. The best way of communion in Vaishnavism is by chanting the holy names as many times as possible. In Smartism, the devotees believe in all gods, including Siva, Vishnu, Ganesha, Skanda, and Surya. Smartas or the followers of Smartism believe both god and man are, in reality, Brahman or the Absolute; though they appear to be different.