Trimurti – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva
The Trimurti is a concept in Hinduism in which the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified by the forms of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the maintainer or preserver and Shiva the destroyer or transformer. These three deities have been called “the Hindu triad” or the “Great Trinity”. However, the ancient and medieval texts of Hinduism feature many triads of gods and goddesses, some of which do not include Shiva.
Table of Contents
- 1 - Trimurti – The supreme lords
- 2 - Hinduism and Trimurti
- 3 - Brahma – The Creator
- 4 - Incarnation of Brahma
- 5 - Vishnu – The Protector
- 6 - Incarnations of Lord Vishnu
- 7 - Shiva – The Destroyer
- 8 - Avatars of Lord Shiva
- 8.1 - 5 important Avatars of Shiva
- 8.2 - 11 Rudra Avatars of Shiva
- 8.3 - 10 Yagneshwar avatars of Shiva
- 8.4 - Piplaad Avatar
- 8.5 - Sharabha Avatar
- 8.6 - Nandi Avatar
- 8.7 - Grihapati Avatar
- 8.8 - Bir Bhadra Avatar
- 8.9 - Ashwatthama
- 8.10 - Durvasa
- 8.11 - Hanuman
- 8.12 - Bhairava Avatar
- 8.13 - Rishabh Avatar
- 8.14 - Yatinath Avatar
- 8.15 - Krishna Darshan Avatar
- 8.16 - Bhikshuvarya Avatar
- 8.17 - Sureshwar Avatar
- 9 - Christianity and Trinity
Trimurti – The supreme lords
The Hindu Trimurti is the representation of the supreme lord’s work to control the cosmos as illustrated in the combination of the three gods in these specific roles. Each of the three gods has different interests, but when their powers combine to focus on creation, maintenance, and destruction, that is the Trimurti. One theory is that the concept of the Trimurti came about in order to bring worshipers from different Hindu sects into a more cohesive group.
Vaishnavites who worshiped Vishnu and Saivites who concentrated on Shiva could join in worshiping a single supreme lord who had the aspects of a maintainer and destroyer, with the addition of a creator, while still concentrating on their particular sect. In reality, those who specifically worship Vishnu or Shiva are just as likely to either ignore the Trimurti or explain how their favorite god is the supreme lord who created the other two.
Other Hindu sects combine different gods into “Trimurti,” including Brahma, Vishnu, and Bhava, or replace Brahma, Shiva, and Krishna. At any rate, the Trimurti, while mentioned in Hindu literature, isn’t a significant part of Hinduism as practiced but more of an explanation of the workings of the cosmos.
The defined concept of the Trimurti is a relatively new addition to Hinduism, but the importance of the number 3 is not. Hinduism teaches three layers of nature, three states of being, three divisions of both time and the day, and three phases of life and self-realization, to name a few. It flows naturally that the supreme lord would order the cosmos via characteristics from three of his avatars.
Hinduism and Trimurti
Hinduism is a complicated religion with multiple gods who may or may not all be just avatars (representatives) of the tasks performed by a single supreme lord. Different sects within Hinduism emphasize the worship of different gods based on proclivity, leading, and needs; and different Hindu teachers interpret the same writings with different meanings. The supreme lord in Hinduism also represents the supreme truth of the cosmos.
Brahma – The Creator
Brahma creates and gives life force to his creation. One of his main aspects is knowledge and the dissemination of knowledge. He is barely worshiped as an individual today and has only a handful of temples in India; he was caught in a sin (being too lenient and blessing demons, trying to seduce his daughter, or lying, depending on the story) and has to work under the supervision of Vishnu or Shiva. Brahma the god is not to be confused with Brahman, meaning “absolute, supreme reality or the manifestation thereof,” or Brahmin, which is the Hindu caste of priests.
Incarnation of Brahma
In Puranas, there’re few instances where Brahma came as a human (along with Siva or Vishnu or both).
In Dasam Granth, there is mentioned seven Brahma Avatars. Which are listed below:
- Valmiki Avatar
- Kashyapa Avatar
- Sukra Avatar
- Bachesa Avatar
- Vyasa Avatar
- Khata Rishi Avatar
- Kalidasa Avatar
Vishnu – The Protector
Vishnu maintains the worlds in his care. He was a minor god in the early days of Hinduism, and even now some of his incarnations, such as Lord Rama and Lord Krishna, are worshiped more than he himself. Hindus claim that Buddha is another incarnation, but Buddhists, who believe in enlightened humans instead of gods, disagree. Vishnu represents kingship and military power and enforces order with physical force.
Incarnations of Lord Vishnu
Lord Vishnu, is worshiped in any of the many forms that he has taken birth in. Lord Vishnu has taken birth now and again on Earth to cleanse the world of all evils. He is worshiped as:
- Matsya – The Fish
- Kurma – The Tortoise
- Varaha – The Boar
- Narasimha – The Lion Man
- Vamana – The Dwarf
- Parashurama – The Lumberjack
- Ram – Master of the world Ramayan
- Krishna – The all-attractive one
- Buddha – The Enlighted one
- Kalki – The Horseman
Matsya – The Fish
Matsya is the first of Vishnu’s many avatars and was one of the first physical beings of this world. Born as a fish in the Satya Yuga or Golden Age, it’s said that he rescued the first man in creation from a great flood that covered the world.
Kurma – The Tortoise
The second incarnation of Vishnu was that of Kurma, the giant tortoise. Also born during the Satya Yuga, he appeared on the scene when the original Angels and Demons were attempting to churn the ocean in order to reach an elixir of immortality hidden away at the bottom. The Angels and Demons were using a mountain as a churning staff, and just as the mountain began to sink into the ocean, Lord Vishnu took the form of a Kurma to carry the weight of the mountain on his back.
Varaha – The Boar
Varaha, the great boar came to Earth’s aid to save it from an incredibly powerful demon. The demon was so powerful that he stole the earth from its place in the sky and carried it to the bottom of the cosmic ocean. Vishnu incarnated as Varaha and fought the demon in a battle that lasted a thousand years. Once the enemy was vanquished, Varaha gently rested the earth between his mighty tusks and carried her back to her resting place in the sky once again restoring order and balance.
Narasimha – The Lion Man
Narasimha defies the laws of nature and seeks to overpower mortals who attempt to find immortality in unnatural ways.
He specifically came into being when a mighty evil Demon became upset with his son praying to Vishnu and tried to hurt him. The Demon had received a boon (a wish) that he could not be killed by man or animal, inside or out, day or night, on earth or the stars, with a weapon either living or inanimate. So Vishnu manifested as Narasimha.
With the body of a man and the head and claws of a lion, he and killed the demon using his claws under a courtyard threshold of his home at exactly dusk, while he lays on his lap. Therefore finding a loophole in the boon allowing him to protect the young boy.
Vamana – The Dwarf
To restore order, Vishnu was born as Vamana, a gentle dwarf of incredible intelligence and power. He approached the king during a great festival when he could not refuse a request, and respectfully asked him if he could have three paces of land. The king humored him and granted his request. At that moment, Vamana grew to the size of the world and took three giant steps.
He stepped over heaven on his first step, and hell on his second step. The king realized Vamana was Vishnu and out of respect and honor offered his head as the third place for Vamana to place his foot. Vamana did just that and in doing so granted the king immortality.
Parashurama – The Lumberjack
Once a great king and his army visited Parashurama’s father at his monastery, and his father fed them all with the milk of the divine cow he had in his possession. The greedy king wanted the incredible animal and demanded the cow for himself, his father refused, and the evil king took it by force destroying the ashram and Parashurama’s entire family.
In revenge, Parashurama destroyed the evil king and his entire family and took a vow to destroy every evil warrior on earth. After 21 generations of destruction, he halted and continued on the rest of his immortality in meditation and prayer.
Rama – Master of the world Ramayan
The story and life of Rama is well known for the typical defeat of a demon and an incredible saving of the day. Rama is most famous for being honorable and heroic, even giving up his right to rule his kingdom and going into exile because his father asked it of him.
Some other famous characters in Rama’s life are his brother Lakshman, his wife Sita, and his best buddy Hanuman.
Krishna – The all-attractive one
He is famous for destroying countless evil kings and demons, and being a key figure in the Mahabharata and the Battle of Kurukshetra.
The appearance of Krishna was to usher in and lay the foundation of principles in the Gita to help mankind through the Kali Yuga or Stone Age.
Buddha – The Enlighted one
Buddha is said to have incarnated in this form to bring about social change, setting a new standard for the life of a Yogi. He is also said to have changed the tradition of animal sacrifice in India and taught new forms of prayer through mindfulness.
Kalki – The Horseman
Shiva – The Destroyer
Shiva (or Rudra-Siva) is the destroyer or absorber god. He and Vishnu often competed for the title of “Supreme Lord.” Shiva is prone to fits of anger, and his destructive bent comes from his desire to see the world newer and purer. Like Vishnu, his incarnations are worshiped more than he is. He is the god of male fertility but also of asceticism, as self-denial supposedly increases one’s “ascetic heat” and makes one more attractive to women.
Avatars of Lord Shiva
5 important Avatars of Shiva
11 Rudra Avatars of Shiva
10 Yagneshwar avatars of Shiva
All these 10 avatars are called as Dasha avatar of Shiva who grants Bhoga, Sukha & Moksha to their devotees. The corresponding Shaktis of Shiva are called as Dasa Mahavidya and are very important Goddesses in the Tantrik forms of Worship.
- Bal Bhuvanesh
- Shodasha Srividyesh
12 avatars – Dwadasha Jyotirlinga
Bir Bhadra Avatar
Krishna Darshan Avatar
Christianity and Trinity
The teaching of the Trimurti as three manifestations of the supreme lord is similar to the heretical Christian teaching called Sabellianism.
In Sabellianism, the Members of the Trinity are not individuals but merely three different representations or forms that God chooses to present Himself as.
The Trimurti is also referred to as the Hindu triumvirate, a governing body made of three individuals, which is the opposite idea of Sabellianism as the members’ identities are primarily that of individuals who work together.
The Hindu Trimurti is not like the Christian Trinity. The Trinity is one God in three co-equal, co-eternal Persons.
Many Hindus reject the concept of the Trimurti, and even those who accept the Trimurti see the triad as three Hindu gods appearing as avatars, manifestations, or modes of the supreme lord; they are not separate persons.