There are many deities in Hinduism, but the three central gods are Brahma, the god who created the earth, Shiva, the destroyer god, and Vishnu, the god of life. Different people regard different gods as being the most important, and some Hindus assign different roles to Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu. Additionally, some of the gods have roles that may seem contradictory to non-Hindus. Shiva, for example, is the god of destruction, but it is precisely this destruction that creates the possibility for new life to emerge. Vishnu has a broad array of avatars, or incarnations, that figure prominently in Hindu theology. So not only are there many gods outside the three major deities, but the three gods have a multiplicity of meanings.
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