Religious Beliefs

Do Hindus believe in angels?

Nothing in Hindu lore corresponds exactly to the spiritual beings known in some traditions as angels. But a host of lesser deities (called devatas) and spirits make up the entourages of many of the major deities. These versatile beings are often grouped in families whose mission is to do their deity’s every bidding. Like the angels in some traditions, lesser deities fill the spiritual air around the major deities. In popular spirituality devotees often consider the need to render an account to these divine vanguards nearly equal to their duties to the central deity, for the lesser deities preside over essential areas of life such as fertility, childbirth, and disease. Those that wield more positive energies have their darker counterparts that need to be appeased in order to hold evil at bay. Among the more common beings of this rank are the “door guardians” (dvarapalas) who keep undesirable elements out of temples and away from the shrines of the deities to whom they are assigned. Door guardians are often depicted with iconographic clues very similar to those of their major deities. So, for example, guardians in a Vaish-navite temple typically have four arms and are equipped with Vishnu’s conch shell, discus, and mace.


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