La Trimurti, by Susana Ávila

  • 2011

The number three is sacred in all religions. There are three forms of Fire: the Sun in the Sky, the Lightning in the Air and the fire of the sacrifice on Earth. The Manichaeans divided time into three moments: the former, when the world did not yet exist, the medium, in which the Light and Darkness were debated and the later, with the definitive occupation of the Light. The Sumerians organized are pantheon around three gods: An, Heaven; Enlil, the Wind; and Nin-ur-Sag, the Mountain. The Assyrians were ruled by a trinity: Assur, Anu and Ishtar. Among the Phoenicians, the trinity composed of El, Astart and Baal was venerated. The Christian God takes three forms: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Mah bh rata says: the triune is perfect .

Under the name of Trim rti the three most important deities of the Hindu pantheon are designated, assuming the function of Creation (Brahma), of Conservation ( Vishnu) and of the Destruction (Shiva) of the whole phenomenal world.

Prior to the appearance of the Trim rti it is not possible to designate the cult of India under the denomination of Hindi. Until that time, the Indian religion had been first Vedic and then Brahminic, in which its main divinity, the Higher Self, was Brahma; but as a result of the appearance of Siddharta Gautama (5th century BC), the Buddha, and of preaching a doctrine that reached a great popularity in the 3rd century BC, during the As ka's reign, the Brahmins noticed a chill among their adherents for the benefit of the new religion. Thus, it was they who created two heretical branches of their own cult, focusing them on two ancient divinities and, until then, barely important.

Brahma was reduced from his assignment by assigning the work of the Creation exclusively; Vishnu, considered among the Aryan tribes as one of the twelve ity dityas, assumed the role of the Conservation of the worlds; and Shiva, who had been worshiped under the name of Rudra as god of storms by the primitive inhabitants of the Indus river basin, reserved the function of Destruction for him, but under a double matrix, since nothing is destroyed but is transformed to appear in another form, so Shiva is the destroying god and at the same time fertilizing.

On many occasions the Hindu trinity is invoked together, under the sacred AUM syllable, but each of them retains its independent cult in India.

Brahma, despite being the origin, is perhaps the least favored by the followers, perhaps because his creative work is a completed episode, since the new forms that could appear in the world are due to the fertilizing work of Shiva .

Vishnu is much more popular, being his cult widely publicized in India and his success is only eclipsed by the personalities of the two mythical heroes, Râma and Krishna, who are nothing but Vishnu himself reincarnated on earth to defend it from Evil .

The cult of Shiva is also widespread in India, but its attribute is often worshiped, the lingam, the phallic symbol, exponent of its fruitful labor, invoked by how many women wish to be mothers.

Tradition presents a dispute between the gods deliberating which of the three would be the best or the most worthy of worship, but since they did not reach an agreement, they commissioned the wise Bhrigu to go find out. In the first place, Bhrigu went to Mount Meru, residence of Brahma, to which he did not greet him properly, the god rebuked him but did not get angry and accepted the excuses of the wise forgiving him later. Then he headed for Vishnu's abode, but as Shiva's had it by the way, he came in to see him behaving in the same way he had put Brahma into practice. Shiva, outraged, was about to reduce him to ashes if the sage had not been soon to excuse himself with good manners and supplications. Finally he went to see Vishnu who was sleeping, and since the strategy employed with the others was not useful, he woke him by kicking him hard in the stomach. The god, far from getting angry, sat up and asked if he had hurt his foot. Thus Bhrigu met the most powerful of the gods, whose weapons are goodness and generosity.

Updated (Sunday, March 28, 2010 19:20)

Susana Ávila

The Institute of Indology - founded in 1995 - is a non-profit association composed of professionals from different fields who are joined by the love for India and the desire to make it known.


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