Hindu Culture

The Three Pillars of Hinduism: Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh

By April 6, 2022March 3rd, 2023No Comments


The Hindu Trimurti or Trinity comprises Brahma, the creator of the universe; Vishnu, the preserver and Shiva, the destroyer. These three Gods run the universe in a cycle, i.e. our existence from birth, life, death to the afterlife. There are various icons and representations associated with them. Let’s have a look at them.

Vishnu, the Preserver

The Three Pillars of Hinduism

Three Pillars of Hinduism

Vishnu, the preserver and protector. He descends as an avatar whenever evil threatens human existence. His widely known avatars are Rama and Krishna. Legends describe him with blue or grey-blue skin tone, dressed in finest attire and jewellery with his vahana (vehicle) or animal companion Garuda ( a part-man and eagle). In some sculptures, we can see him with two consorts; Shree Devi (another name for Lakshmi) and Bhu Devi (the Earth Goddess and an avatar of Lakshmi).

Shiva, the Destroyer

The Three Pillars of Hinduism

Three Pillars of Hinduism

Shiva, the destroyer, is an ascetic or hermit dressed in animal skins. He has dreadlocks and has a Trishul (trident), his third eye and a serpent around his neck in scriptures. His damaru (drum) and the crescent moon with the holy river Ganga are flowing through his hair.

People usually associate Shiva with his wife Parvati and their children, Skanda and Ganesh. He is always in deep meditation or the popular Nataraja form (the Tandava or dance of destruction for regeneration). Another known form is linga sculpture which symbolises his powerful regenerative energy. 

Brahma, the Creator

Brahma, the creator, is depicted as an older man with four heads facing different directions. The four heads symbolise their recitation of each of the four Vedas of Hinduism. Unlike Vishnu and Shiva, Brahma is not seen with any weapons of war but holds symbols of wisdom, knowledge and creation. His idols are in use for yagnas or religious rites such as Vedic texts, the spoon to pour ghee into holy fires and a rosary. His vahana is a goose or swan that resides beside his wife Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge.  

Over the years, the evolution of religion has resulted in diverse and sometimes contradictory customs and literature. However, despite the countless legends and Hindu Gods, these three Gods of the Trinity hold a place of immense importance in present-day Hinduism.

Also Read – 2nd Vishnu Avatar: Kurma Or Tortoise Incarnation

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Ananya Singh

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