Rarely, one may come across Indic gods in Buddhist temples. Do Buddhists worship these Indic gods and are they Hindu deities?
In Buddhist Cosmology, Buddha is worshipped by both humans and gods as Sasta Deva Manushyanam or Teacher/Ruler of all Gods and Humans. Therefore, any Hindu deities one may find in a Buddhist temple (very rare) are depicting the Buddha as Highest in the Cosmology - the One worshipped by both Gods and Humans. Buddhists do NOT worship Hindu deities. But Vedic deities worship the Buddha. This is the belief of ALL Buddhists.
“The Oldest depiction of Buddha are the Bimaran Casket and Kanishka casket - both show Buddha worshipped by Brahma and Indra - leader of the Indic deities. This is also a recurring theme in the oldest extant art depictions of any religion anywhere in the world. In museums, ancient artworks ONLY show Buddha as worshipped by all gods - NO OTHER BEING CAN CLAIM THIS TITLE.
Buddhists ONLY worship Buddha and Buddhist deities (especially in the Mahayana and Vajrayana sects of Buddhism like Tendai, Jodo and Shingon). Buddhists NEVER worship any other deities that are not directly mentioned in Buddhist texts, and they NEVER follow any other religious texts, be them Hindu or Christian. To do so is strictly prohibited by Buddha.
Buddhists don't worship Hindu gods - Vedic gods worship Buddha.
Rarely, in Buddhist temples, you will find Indic deities like Brahma and Indra and even rarer, Vayu and Varuna. None of these deities is worshipped in any Hindu temple anywhere in the world, and so they cannot be called Hindu deities. Hindus worship deities like Durga, Kali, Rama, Krishna, Shiva and Ganesha and none of these deities is worshipped in ANY Buddhist temple anywhere in the world. Similarly, NO Buddhist deity is worshipped in ANY Hindu temple anywhere in the world -- as both Buddhism and Hinduism are fully separate. That said, some moderate Hindus (not Hindutva, there is a big difference) do worship at Buddhist temples if they happen to see one, more out of cultural respect, than any religious tradition. Many Hindus keep Buddha statues in their Puja rooms and Indians have a right to honor Buddhism which was the original religion of India. Hence, Hindus may bow before Lord Buddha under the belief "Truth is One, Sages call it by various names". However, Buddhists do NOT believe in this tenet. The Cardinal Buddhist texts are unequivocal, "Buddhists ONLY take refuge in Buddhism and CANNOT honor any other religious practice". Some New age or secular Buddhists may teach that all religions are the same - but this is NOT what the Buddhist sutras teach and EVERY Buddhist master in Asia is unequivocal, like Ambedkar, that Buddhists MUST NOT worship any non-Buddhist deities that are not mentioned in the Buddhist sutras.
Buddhism demands EXCLUSIVE allegiance
“Do not follow a single verse of any other religious text... or ever follow practices of the Tirthika heretics. (Hindus & non-Buddhists)” -- Buddha, Vaipulya Sutras
Buddhists respect all religions and try to respect all peoples and cultures. But they are NOT ALLOWED to worship any deities beyond the BUDDHIST PANTHEON (Shinto deities are also accepted as they are subordinate to Buddha and seen as Bodhisattvas). Therefore, in the Buddhist Cosmology. Buddhists do NOT worship Hindu deities, but all Hindu deities worship Buddha as the Supreme Being. When Hindutva propagandists say Buddhists worship Hindu gods, it is offensive to Buddhists, for in Buddhism, Hindu deities are lost in samsara like humans -- they themselves are seeking guidance and wisdom from Buddha and Buddhist deities.
Be Authentic, Seek Truth.
A person can have many friends, but only one wife. Similarly, you can be friends with people of different faiths, but never follow the religious practices of any other religion. Lying about a religion to be popular is not good Karma. Buddhist saints and sutras do not mince words -- Buddhists can ONLY worship Buddhist deities sanctioned by Buddhist sutras. No exceptions. Furthermore, Buddha is not allowed in the altar of ANY Hindu temple -- and with the rise of the Hindutva, Buddhism is being attacked as a non-Hindu faith. While we wish to foster dialogue and amity between Buddhists and Hindus, the false propaganda that "Buddhists worship Hindu gods" does the exact opposite and is a non-negotiable deal-breaker.