This article includes a list of general references, but it remains largely unverified because it lacks sufficient corresponding inline citations. (August 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
|Part of a series on|
Polytheism is the worship of or belief in multiple deities, which are usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own religions and rituals. Polytheism is a type of theism. Within theism, it contrasts with monotheism, the belief in a singular God, in most cases transcendent. In religions that accept polytheism, the different gods and goddesses may be representations of forces of nature or ancestral principles; they can be viewed either as autonomous or as aspects or emanations of a creator deity or transcendental absolute principle (monistic theologies), which manifests immanently in nature (panentheistic and pantheistic theologies). Polytheists do not always worship all the gods equally; they can be henotheists, specializing in the worship of one particular deity, or kathenotheists, worshiping different deities at different times.
Polytheism was the typical form of religion before the development and spread of the universalist Abrahamic religions of Christianity and Islam, which enforce monotheism. It is well documented throughout history, from prehistory and the earliest records of Ancient Egyptian religion and Ancient Mesopotamian religion to the religions prevalent during Classical antiquity, such as ancient Greek religion and ancient Roman religion, and in ethnic religions such as Germanic, Slavic, and Baltic paganism and Native American religions.
Hinduism cannot be exclusively categorized as either pantheistic or polytheistic, as some Hindus consider themselves to be pantheists and others consider themselves to be polytheists. Both are compatible with Hindu texts, and the right way of practicing Hinduism is subject to continued debate, with many Hindu schools regarding it as a henotheistic religion. The Vedanta school of Hinduism practices a pantheistic version of the religion, holding that Brahman is the cause of everything and the universe itself is the manifestation of Brahman.