Krishna is one of the most widely revered and most popular of all Indian divinities, worshipped as the eighth incarnation (avatar) of Vishnu and also as a supreme god in his own right. Krishna has became the focus of numerous bhakti (devotional) cults, which have over the centuries produced a wealth of religious poetry, music, and painting. Krishna is adored for his mischievous pranks.
Rama is the seventh incarnation (avatar) of Vishnu and the most widely worshipped Hindu deities. He is the embodiment of chivalry and virtue. Like Krishna, Rama is popular recipients of adoration from the bhakti (devotional) cults. Rama is conceived as a model of reason, right action, and desirable virtues. Rama’s name is a popular form of greeting among friends (“Ram! Ram!”), and Rama is the deity most invoked at death.
Shiva is one of the main deities of Hinduism, whom Shaivites worship as the supreme god. Among his common epithets are Shambhu (“Benign”), Shankara (“Beneficent”), Mahesha (“Great Lord”), and Mahadeva (“Great God”). Shiva is represented in a variety of forms: as the cosmic dancer (Nataraja), as a naked ascetic, yogi (Bhairava), and as the androgynous union of Shiva and his consort in one body, half-male and half-female (Ardhanarishvara). He is both the great ascetic and the master of fertility, and he is the master of both poison and medicine, through his ambivalent power over snakes. As Lord of Cattle (Pashupata), he is the benevolent herdsman.