Trimurti literally means, “having three forms”, and refers to the gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. In Hinduism, the Trimurti reveals concepts of birth, life, and death and represents the Supreme Being. The Trimurti is portrayed as a three-headed figure with the faces and qualities of the three gods. This three-headed figure represents creation, preservation, and destruction, which are unified together to symbolize one Supreme Being. These three gods are equally essential for all aspects of life because nothing can be created, sustained, and destroyed without the consent of each god. The Trimurti alone can help answer vital questions dealing with cosmogony and eschatology as well. Although the individual Trimurti gods are unequal in recognition and worship, the meaning of the Trimurti has evolved from its origin and the role of the Trimurti in Hindu life and worship will forever be significant.
It is revealed in the earliest Hindu beliefs that there have been triads used to explain the wonders of nature. These Hindu beliefs date back to 7200 BCE when the first hymns of the Rg Veda were created. Due to fear of upsetting natural spirits, people started to worship these simple, natural wonders. The earliest known triad in Hinduism consisted of Varuna, Mitra, and Aryaman (Carnoy). This triad embodied some basic aspects of nature such as the earth and sky, day and night, light and darkness. As time went on, old concepts were constantly replaced by new ideological beliefs and the gods that existed in the triad changed quite often. The triad of the early Vedic gods was then focused on Agni, Vayu, and Surya. Since gods for the sun and sky have been established, Hindu’s then went on to establish this triad to give praise to fire, air, and energy. While these praises seem simple and mundane, worshipping the fire god can bring warmth and heat, worshipping the god of air can minimize storms and strong winds, and worshipping the energy and life god can increase the amount of positive energy given by the gods.
By Puranic times, there was less of a need to worship so many gods in order to cover every aspect of nature. As people started to attain more knowledge they became less frightened of the mysteries of nature. At the time, a certain god that Hindu’s worshipped could only affect a certain aspect of nature, making it difficult to sufficiently praise all the deities. This left a need for a superior being who could affect both nature and man. As a reaction, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva rose to the occasion. The Puranas claim that the Trimurti originated from Adishakti. Adishakti is a divine feminine who claims that all of cosmic life is a divine unity. This would explain Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva’s duties that are combined in one divine unity.
While the Puranas hold this belief to be factual, the more commonly accepted belief is that the Trimurti represents earth, water, and fire. All human beings are derived from the earth, which makes the earth a creator. This is why Brahma has received his position of the creator. Brahma is also known to represent passion, or rajo-guna. Of the Trimurti, Brahma is the only deity that is not commonly worshipped today. In fact, there are thousands of temples dedicated to Vishnu and Shiva, yet there are only a few temples that are dedicated to the worshipping of Brahma. Hindu mythology talks about several stories as to why Brahma is not commonly worshipped. One story argues that at the beginning of time in the cosmos, Vishnu and Brahma came upon a large Shiva lingam (symbol of Shiva worship) and became dedicated to finding its beginning and end. As they individually embarked on their journey, Brahma took the form of a swan and began flying upwards while Vishnu took the form of a boar and started to dig downwards into the earth. Unfortunately, neither of them was able to reach their hopeful destination. Shiva saw Vishnu’s efforts and bowed down to him and gave him respect. Brahma, however, wanted to...
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