Often it is said that Hinduism has 33 crore gods. Yes, Hindus are not monotheistic, they are polytheistic in a every detailed way. And yet can this be true that they have 33 crore gods in all? Couldn’t this be just a consequence of a linguistic fallacy? Hindus indeed do refer to 33 “koti” devtas but the word “koti” stands for both, crore and types. So actually they do refer to 33 crore gods of 33 types of gods?
There goes a theory which says that there are indeed 33 types of gods while no trace of any such list of 33 crore gods is found. These 33 type of gods are 12 Aditya (Anshuman, Aryaman, Indra, Twashta, Dhatu, Parjanya, Pusha, Bhag, Mitra, Varuna, Vivaswana, Vishnu), 8 Vasu (Aap, Dhruva, Soma, Dhar, Anil, Anal, Pratyusha, Prabhasa) and 11 Rudras (Shambhu, Pinaki, Girish, Sthanu, Bharga, Bhava, Sadashiva, Shiva, Hara, Sharva, Kapali). In addition to these 31 gods, Indra and Prajapati are two prominent gods. While Prajapati is Brahma, the supreme god, Indra is also the first among all devtas. Thus the list completes as having 33 types of gods.
Not that above drawn theory is not being challenged fiercely. A Hindu saint-scholar Shribhagavatananda Guru, for instance, rips it apart and firmly maintains that there are indeed 33 crore gods in Hinduism not 33 types of gods. He criticizes the 33 type argument itself to begin with by saying that if “koti” is type then there can’t be even 33 type of gods. If Aditya is a type, then all twelve Aditya gods will fall in only one category not in twelve different categories. But how can 3 types of gods can amount to 31 if we go by the “type” logic itself?
The second argument he makes is that it is a flawed assumption to say that the word “koti” here means type and not crore. Devta is a “yoni” just like Manushya is a yoni. In Manushya Yoni there can be many sub-categories like Indian, American, Russian, Chinese and all. Same goes with the Devtas. They are not and cannot be reduced to just 33 types. There are many sub-gods too like Yakshas as Manibhadra, Gandharvas as Chitrarath, Tumburu, Apsaras like Urvashi, Rambha, Pitras like Aryama, Saptarshis like Vashishtha, Prajapatis like Dakshas and Kashyapa, Nagas like Vasuki and so on. As for, Shukla Yajurveda and Atharva Veda, natural entities like Agni and Vayu are also gods. None of these are part of above mentioned types and categories and yet they are worshipped like gods. And this just goes on and on and on.
Shribhagavatananda Guru further argues that there are 5 main categories of Bhagwati Durga and in each category there are 64 yoginis. There are 52 Bhairvas too. There are countless other Yoginis, Apsaras, Yakshinis. There are 49 kinds of Marutganas and 56 kind of Visvadevas. Shiva is also Rudra and there are many Ansh-Avtara of his including Hanumana. In what categories they will be included?
In Hindu mythology Sati is also Parvati and she is also Durga. There are nine Durgas and ten Mahavidyas. Vishnu has 24 avtaras. His Shesha Naga also has his own many incarnations. Brahma is also called Prajapati. One of his many Manas Putras was Kashyapa. From his many wives Kashyapa had many offsprings. All above mentioned 12 Aditya, 8 Vasu, 11 Rudra are offspring of Kashyapa himself. If all Rudra are Shiva then can Parvati be called the wife of Hanumana too? Can Sita be called the wife of Krishna just because Rama and Krishna both are incarnations of Vishnu?
And how about those countless Gramadeva, Kuladeva, Kshetrapalas? In above mentioned 33 gods, even Ganesha, Kartikeya, Veerbhadra, Agni, Vayu, Kubera, Yama etc prominent gods are being left out, how can that list of gods be deemed complete? In Vedas, thousands of gods are mentioned. Valakhilya gods alone are 60000. There are Garuda and Nandi. Even Ganesha has many Vinayaka and Vakratunda forms. It just goes on. There are indeed 33 crore gods of Hindus, there should be no doubt in it.