The Holy Trinity in Hinduism

We believe the world is about to end, like we did a decade ago, and the decade before that and the several infinite decades before that. Just in case the proclamation does turn true this time, I would like us to at least be aware of the relevance that mythology offers. Hence, this is an article devoted to Hindu mythology’s Holy Trinity – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. In Hinduism, God is the omnipresent and the omnipotent that creates, protects and destroys the world and the beings. We worship the Creation function of God as Brahma, the Protective/sustenance function as Vishnu and the Destructive function as Shiva.

Brahma is the seed and the creator of all beings in the world. He is called Svayambhu because none created him, he created himself. That is to say, Brahmaan became Brahma, just the way He became Vishnu and Shiva. Even though he is closest to Brahmaan, he is not a popular god. It is said the reason for this is that his worship demands extreme concentration and dedication as token of devotion. Brahma is also a great spiritual teacher; he is the lord of scholarship. The four Vedas are said to have come from his mouth. From Brahma’s body came the four castes of the Hindus. The Brahmans or priests came from his mouth; the Kshatriyas or soldiers from his arms; the Vaishyas or traders from his thigh and the Sudras or menial workers from his feet. Today the most important temple of Brahma stands in Pushkar, Rajasthan.

Lord Vishnu is the Preserver and Sustainer of life with his principles of order, righteousness and truth and whenever these values are under threat, he emerges to restore peace and order on earth. Vishnu’s consort is Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. Maya is the primary intelligence of Vishnu and it is his Power. Vishnu’s earthly incarnations have many avatars and he is known by thousands of names. His ten avatars are Matsyavatara (fish), Koorma (tortoise), Varaaha (boar), Narasimha (the man lion), Vaamana (the dwarf), Parasurama (the angry man), Lord Rama (the perfect human of the Ramayana), Lord Krishna (the divine diplomat and statesman), and the yet to appear 10th incarnation called the Kalki avatar. Vishnu is often depicted as reclining on a Sheshanaga – the coiled, many-headed snake floating on cosmic waters that represents the peaceful Universe. This pose of Vishnu symbolizes the calm and patience he possesses in the face of fear and worries that the poisonous snake represents.

Shiva literally means “auspiciousness, welfare”. He is the third god of the Hindu Trinity, representing darkness. Because he is often portrayed as the “angry god” and the god of destruction, Lord Shiva is the one of the most feared and worshipped gods in Hinduism. He is said to play a complementary role to Brahma because he is protector of souls until they are ready for recreation by Lord Brahma. Shiva has eight forms: Rudra, Sharva, Bhava, Ugra, Bhima, Pashupati, Ishana and Mahadeva; which, according to the Shiva Purana, correspond to the earth, water, fire, wind, sky, a yogi called Kshetragya, the sun, and the moon respectively.

Shiva symbolically represents the tamasic quality. This happens to be one of the gunas in Hinduism, symbolizing inactivity. His body color, which is white, denotes his purity and association with the snowy mountains. His three eyes represent the sun, the moon and the earth, the three paths of liberation and the triple nature of creation. The third eye is actually the eye of wisdom or occult knowledge. Epithets note his distinctive hairstyle; he has matted hair which holds the flowing Ganges River and a crescent moon. Shiva is said to be the essence of the Vedas and the creator of the Word. He is also the creator of Dance. Shiva’s dance of anger is called the Roudra Tandava and his dance of joy, the Ananda Tandava. He dances both the dance of destruction and the dance of creation. The rhythms he dances to are that of a world continuously forming, dissolving and re-forming.

Today, we are faced by a multitude of problems of communalism, financial issues, ethical and humanitarian issues. It seems all problems have descended upon us all at once but I do not think this is the Kalyug. Human beings have shown immense ability to tide over tough times. It remains to be seen when Shiva will adorn the Natraj avatar and dance his dance of destruction.

Shravya Jain
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