Hinduism is a religion with diverse views on the concept of God. Different Hindu denominations have different conceptions of God, including henotheism, monotheism,panentheism, ;pantheism, monism, and sometimes atheism or non-theism (see advaita) are found in a minority of Hindu denominations. It is often aptly termed monistic theism and even open monotheism by some scholars, and is not polytheistic as outsiders perceive it to be.
Hinduism has often been considered to be pantheistic because of one leading denomination, Smartism, which follows the Advaita philosophy of absolute monism, and includes worship of all kinds of personal forms of God. Absolute monists see one unity with all personal forms of God as different aspects of one Supreme Being, like a single beam of light separated into colors by a prism. Thus Smartas consider all personal forms of God as equal including Devi, Vishnu, Siva, Ganesh and Skanda but generally limit the recognized forms to be six. Other denominations of Hinduism don’t adhere to the Smarta viewpoint, but are quite unlike Western perceptions of monotheism. Additionally, like Judeo-Christian traditions which believe in angels, Hindus also believe in other less powerful entities, such as devas. In some cases, as in conservative Dvaita Vaishnavism, the conception of God is purely monotheistic.
Contemporary Hinduism can be categorized into four major sects: Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism, and Smartism. Vaishnavism, Shaivism, and Shaktism worship Vishnu, Shiva, and Devi – the Divine Mother, as the Supreme Being respectively, or considering all Hindu deities as aspects of the Supreme Being or Brahman (see advaita, or impersonalism). Other minor sects such as Ganapatya and Saura focus on Ganesha and Surya as the Supreme.
Even the earlier Mandalas of Rig Veda (books 1 and 9), which contain hymns dedicated to devas, arethought to have a tendency toward monotheism. Often quoted isolatedpada 1.164.46 of the Rig Veda states (trans. Griffith):