Why do we have so many Gods in Hinduism?

Do you know how many chromosomes there are in your body in total? Have you ever wondered how one cell develops into this very complex body? It is because it is programmed to do so, but it is just one cell.
If you go to a pastry shop, how many types of pastries are available there? Many, or is there just one pastry? Why? It is because the nature of the spirit is to love diversity. If God wanted you to have only one kind of fruit, he would have made only bananas and asked everyone to eat and go bananas! But no, the Divine loves diversity. Consciousness loves diversity.
With the same wheat, we make so many types of pastries. Similarly, there are so many types of pizzas and pastas. With rice, we make rice cakes, dim sums, pulao, and so many things. Why? Because nature loves diversity!
Do you think God, who loves diversity, will come in just one form every day? That God would also love to express himself or herself in diverse ways. This is what the ancient people in the Vedic times, the Hindus, thought. God loves diversity, so he can express himself in as many forms as he could, so 108 names and 108 forms or 1008 names and 1008 forms were expressed, but there is only one material – Divinity.
So, just like that, is the sun's rays one or many? There is only one sun, but when its rays passes through the prism, it splits into seven colors – VIBGYOR. Similarly, they say, there is one Param Atma, or Para Brahman, one divinity, but it expresses itself in many different ways.

If you go to a Catholic church, there is an altar for mercy, and an altar for healing, isn’t it? It is the same Mother Mary and the same Jesus Christ, but are there not many altars? This is present in old churches. Why have they kept so many. For different purposes!
Similarly, in this room, the chairs, tables, doors, and podium are all made of wood. But you cannot use the podium as the floor and nor can you use the door as a chair. So, for functional usage, they are different. In the same way, in Hindu tradition, it is said, 'Ekam Sat Vipra Bahudha Vadanti' – there is only one God, but it is perceived in many forms for different purposes. So, if you find obstacles, you go to Ganesha, the elephant God. You know, elephants never change their route if there are any obstacles. It never deviates from its path – never walks like a chicken. It walks with strength, so if you have obstacles, you go to Ganesha because that energy will help you in the difficulty you are currently having.
You know, one single human DNA strand contains the genetic code of all the other animals on the planet. With one human DNA strand, you can create any animal on the planet, but not vice-versa (laughter). That means, inside you, all these vibes are already present.
So, our ancients, I tell you, were tremendously intelligent. I have made a small booklet on the symbolism of all these Gods and Goddesses. Just read it. It is mind-boggling and fascinating. How could they put such a big elephant on a small rat? (Lord Ganesha and his vahana – the mouse) Any child would ask this question. And what does a rat symbolize? It symbolizes logic. The job of a rat is to cut the net – this is logic. On logic rides the power of knowledge, which is the elephant.
Similarly, Mother Divine is riding on the tiger. The tiger is the most brutal animal, so its cruelty on one hand, and the softness of the Mother on the other hand that are seen together for us to appreciate how opposite values complement each other. When compassion reigns over cruelty—when compassion is in control of the beast tendency—what reigns is motherhood. You can conquer cruelty not with another cruelty but with motherhood, with patience, with love. That’s the symbolism of Mother Divine riding on the tiger or lion.
Lion is the most powerful. Whenever society seems powerful and cruel, remember there is a compassionate element that is much more powerful and which rides on top of it. This is what the goddess being carried by a lion or tiger signifies.
So, if you go to the depth of it, you find each of the symbolisms startling and greatly beneficial.

You Are Responsible For Your Own Happiness

If you are sensitive and your intention is not to hurt anybody, that is good enough. But sometimes in spite of you being so cautious, some people get hurt. There is nothing that you can do about it. Some people feel that anything you say will hurt them. You compliment them and they think you are taunting them. You give them an honest feedback and they think that you are cruel and rude.
So there are some people who are in that mindset, they may feel upset anyway.
If you invite them for a party, they are unhappy because they think you are showing off. If you don’t invite them then of course, they feel that you don’t care for them. What do you do! So, you don’t worry about it. They have to deal with their hurt.
From your side, you don’t use harsh words. From your side be courteous. From your side be caring. That is all you can do. Don’t worry about what is going on in their minds because there are millions of people around and their minds are all going in different directions. You have no say over it. You cannot make everybody happy.
If two people don’t like each other and you talk to one of them, the other becomes your enemy automatically! If you are simply talking to one person, that can irritate somebody else because you spoke to them. And that is what is happening in the world today.
What is happening in Gaza? If you show sympathy for Gaza, or say something about it like, 'Oh it is wrong, so many children are dying', then Israel will get upset with you. And if you say, 'Israel is right', then Gaza will get upset about you. What do you do? That is why in this world you can’t make everyone happy. You listen to your conscience and see that to the maximum extent, from your side you have no intention to hurt anybody. That is good enough. You cannot be a football of so many people’s emotions and feelings; what they feel, what they don’t feel.
There is a saying in Sanskrit, 'There is no giver of happiness of misery. You create your own happiness and you become miserable on your own, and nobody can stop you from being miserable'.