Most Hindus believe in an immense unifying force that governs all existence and cannot be completely known by humanity. Individual gods and goddesses are personifications of this cosmic force. In practice, each Hindu worships those few deities that he or she believes directly influence his or her life. By selecting one or more of these deities to worship, and by conducting the rituals designed to facilitate contact with them, a Hindu devotee is striving to experience his or her unity with that cosmic force.
While scholars, philosophers, and priests debate the finer points of Hindu theology, lay worshipers call upon familiar gods to help with their everyday hopes and problems.