Most of the gods we know can be sorted into gods, demi gods, lesser gods, asuras, devas, rishis and the super gods. Buddha and Mahavira are more of saints than proclaimed gods.
The hierarchy starts with us humans being, the lesser mortals at the bottom, higher up are the lesser gods who are the gandharvas, kinnaras, vidhyadharas and apsaras. Their lords are the yakshis and yakshas - fertility goddesses and nature gods. Shalabhanjikas are fertility goddesses often depicted against trees with one leg bent up and one hand holding a branch. They are believed to be virgins who were capable of making a tree bear flower.
Nagas have a similar standing on this plain. Snakes are associated with water, the underground, and fertility. They were adopted into Hinduism as emblems of Shiva (perhaps reflecting Shiva's own origins from earlier nature cult), and were adopted into Buddhism as protectors of Buddha.
Above them are the rishis, devas, and demi gods etc who would be weather gods and their sons. Ganesha, the proclaimed son of Lord Shiva is the lord of the Ganas . Finally we have the super gods like Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma and to a certain extent the Mother Goddess.
All gods have vehicles or vahanas and various hybrid creatures like griffins scattered through out the pantheon.
Now lets have a closer look at the lesser known demi Gods:
They are wisdom bearers. always seen with a small garland, who fly above the heads of gods. The garland symbolizes the attainment of supreme (spiritual) wisdom.
They are "Fragrances," celestial musicians and husbands of the apsarasas.
They are celestial dancers, most famous being urvashi, the lead dancer in indra's court.
Kinnaras, who in Hindu mythology, are heavenly musicians who are the followers of Vaisravana also known as Kubera, their lord, who is a yaksha also popularly known as the lord of wealth. They have human heads and the bodies of birds or horses. The Kinnaras were either the sons of Kasyapa, or sprang from the toe of Brahma. They are often identified with the Kimpurushas, whose appearance is the exact opposite and who are also followers of Kubera. Essentially they are entertainers.
Here are a few verses from the Bhagavat Gita where reference is made to kinnaras.
"The mention of upadeva-vara refers to inferior demigods like the Gandharvas, Kinnaras and Uragas, who are not exactly demigods but between the demigods and human beings."
"From the description given in this verse, Garuda appears to belong to the Kinnara planet. The inhabitants of the Kinnara planet have the same features as Garuda. Their bodily features are like those of a human being, but they have wings. The word gita-kirtih indicates that the inhabitants of Kinnaraloka are very expert in singing the glories of the Lord. In Brahma-samhita it is said: jagad-anda-koti-kotisv asesa-vasudhadi-vibhuti-bhinnam. In each and every universe there are different types of planets, and each planet has distinctive features. On the strength of this verse, we can understand that in Kinnaraloka the inhabitants can fly with their wings. There is also a planet, known as Siddhaloka, where the inhabitants can fly even without wings. ."
These are celestial couples who are a common motif across temples both buddhist and hindu. They are believed to exert an influence which is both auspicious and magically protective.
In the next level are:
Gods or celestial beings, they are the residents of heaven. These Devas are also called ‘Suras’ - those with soma, the wine or ambrosia of heaven. Soma is the elixir of ecstasy, joy and contentment. The heavens are divided into three parts, the realms of desire, the realms of form, and the realms of formlessness.(picture is of devas pulling the serpent to churn the ocean at Angkor wat)
Demons, rivals and enemies of Sakra Devendra (Indra) and the Devas (Gods) with whom they are constantly at war. The Asuras dwell in the oceans (the atmospheres, the realms of turbulence) whereas the gods (Devas) dwell in the serene palaces of heaven. Asura literally means ‘one without the ambrosia of heaven (soma)’ - that is, they are restless, without the bliss, joy and contentment of heaven - they must ever struggle in the realms of strife and turbulence. They appear in many forms, including Nagas (water spirits), Yakshas (earth spirits), Daityas (genies), Dasyus (barbarians), Kalakanjas (stellar spirits), Kalejas (demons of time), Khalins (threshers), Nivata-kavacas (wearers of armor), Pisacas (flesh eaters), Raksasas (night wanderers) and a host of others forms. There are four classes, according to their manner of their rebirth: no.1 egg-born no 2 womb-born no 3 metamorphosis born no 4 water/spawn born. They are the competitive forces of nature that are forever battling for dominance over one another. In human nature they represent the assertion & clash of rival egos.
(Literally 'Devourers') The king of birds, with golden wings, living below heaven but above the highest trees of the earth. The Garudas are associated with the legends of the Roc and the Phoenix, and they are said to be able to travel a hundred thousand miles in a single day. They are the enemies and devourers of serpents (Nagas). They are called 'The Wings of Speech', and they represent the spiritual power and magic of the spoken word, which conquers nature, invokes and inspires the mind and carries it far and wide. The god of knowledge (Vishnu) is said to ride on the Garuda's back and the Garuda is said to carry the 'Wish-Fulfilling (Cintamani) Gem' around its neck.
Demons shaped like boas or pythons, with large bellies; also called ‘human but not human’. Demons of reptilian personality.
These spiritual beings can all be forces for good and spiritual enlightenment when embracing the Sutra and the teachings of the Buddha. In embracing and protecting the Sutra, they are known as the Naga Kings, Yaksa Kings, Gandharva Kings, etc.