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The Trimūrti (/trɪˈmʊərti/;[1] Sanskrit: त्रिमूर्तिः trimūrti, "three forms") is the trinity of supreme divinity in Hinduism[2][3][4][5] in which the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified as a triad of deities, typically Brahma
Brahma
the creator, Vishnu
Vishnu
the preserver, and Shiva
Shiva
the destroyer,[6][7] though individual denominations may vary from that particular line-up. When all three deities of the Trimurti
Trimurti
incarnate into a single avatar, the avatar is known as Dattatreya.[8]

Contents

1 Evolution 2 Trimurti
Trimurti
temples 3 Views within Hinduism

3.1 Sauram 3.2 Shaivism 3.3 Shaktism 3.4 Smartism 3.5 Vaishnavism

4 See also 5 References 6 Sources 7 External links

Evolution[edit]

Trimurti
Trimurti
with Tridevi

An art depiction of the Trimurti
Trimurti
at the Hoysaleswara temple in Halebidu.

Trimurti, painting from Andhra Pradesh

The Puranic period saw the rise of post-Vedic religion and the evolution of what R. C. Majumdar calls "synthetic Hinduism."[9] This period had no homogeneity, and included orthodox Brahmanism in the form of remnants of older Vedic faith traditions, along with different sectarian religions, notably Shaivism, Vaishnavism, and Shaktism
Shaktism
that were within the orthodox fold yet still formed distinct entities.[10] One of the important traits of this period is a spirit of harmony between orthodox and sectarian forms.[11] Regarding this spirit of reconciliation, R. C. Majumdar says that:

Its most notable expression is to be found in the theological conception of the Trimūrti, i.e., the manifestation of the supreme God in three forms of Brahmā, Viṣṇu, and Śiva... But the attempt cannot be regarded as a great success, for Brahmā never gained an ascendancy comparable to that of Śiva or Viṣṇu, and the different sects often conceived the Trimūrti as really the three manifestations of their own sectarian god, whom they regarded as Brahman
Brahman
or Absolute.[12]

The identification of Brahma, Vishnu
Vishnu
and Shiva
Shiva
as one being is strongly emphasized in the Kūrma Purāṇa, where in 1.6 Brahman
Brahman
is worshipped as Trimurti; 1.9 especially inculcates the unity of the three gods, and 1.26 relates to the same theme.[13] Historian A. L. Basham explains the background of the Trimurti
Trimurti
as follows, noting Western interest in the idea of trinity:

There must be some doubt as to whether the Hindu
Hindu
tradition has ever recognized Brahma
Brahma
as the Supreme Deity
Deity
in the way that Visnu and Siva have been conceived of and worshiped.[14]

The concept of Trimurti
Trimurti
is also present in the Maitri Upanishad, where the three gods are explained as three of his supreme forms.[15] Trimurti
Trimurti
temples[edit] Temples dedicated to various permutations of the Trimurti
Trimurti
can be seen as early as the 8th century C.E., and there are even temples today in which the Trimurti
Trimurti
are actively worshiped.

Baroli Trimurti
Trimurti
Temple Elephanta Caves Mithrananthapuram Trimurti
Trimurti
Temple Prambanan
Prambanan
Trimurti
Trimurti
Temple Savadi Trimurti
Trimurti
Temple Thripaya Trimurti
Trimurti
Temple

Views within Hinduism[edit] Sauram[edit] The Saura sect that worships Surya
Surya
as the supreme person of the godhead and saguna brahman doesn't accept the Trimurti
Trimurti
as they believe Surya
Surya
is God. Earlier forms of the Trimurti
Trimurti
sometimes included Surya instead of Brahma, or as a fourth above the Trimurti, of whom the other three are manifestations; Surya
Surya
is Brahma
Brahma
in the morning, Vishnu in the afternoon and Shiva
Shiva
in the evening. Surya
Surya
was also a member of the original Vedic Trimurti, which included Agni
Agni
and Vayu. Some Sauras worship either Vishnu
Vishnu
or Shiva
Shiva
as manifestations of Surya, others worship the Trimurti
Trimurti
as a manifestation of Surya, and others exclusively worship Surya
Surya
alone. Shaivism[edit]

Trimurti
Trimurti
Sadashiva sculpture on Gharapuri Island

Shaivites
Shaivites
hold that, according to Shaiva
Shaiva
Agama, Shiva
Shiva
performs five actions - creation, preservation, dissolution, concealing grace, and revealing grace. Respectively, these first three actions are associated with Shiva
Shiva
as Sadyojata
Sadyojata
(akin to Brahma), Vamadeva
Vamadeva
(akin to Vishnu) and Aghora (akin to Rudra). Thus, Brahma, Vishnu
Vishnu
and Rudra
Rudra
are not deities different from Shiva, but rather are forms of Shiva. As Brahma/Sadyojata, Shiva
Shiva
creates. As Vishnu/Vamadeva, Shiva
Shiva
preserves. As Rudra/Aghora, he dissolves. This stands in contrast to the idea that Shiva
Shiva
is the "God of destruction." To Shaivites, Shiva
Shiva
is God and performs all actions, of which destruction is only but one. Ergo, the Trimurti
Trimurti
is a form of Shiva
Shiva
Himself for Shaivas. Shaivites
Shaivites
believe that Lord Shiva
Shiva
is the Supreme, who assumes various critical roles and assumes appropriate names and forms, and also stands transcending all these.[16] A prominent visual example of a Shaivite version of the Trimurti
Trimurti
is the Trimurti
Trimurti
Sadashiva sculpture in the Elephanta Caves
Elephanta Caves
on Gharapuri Island. Shaktism[edit] The Female-Centric Shaktidharma denomination assigns the eminent roles of the three forms (Trimurti) of Supreme Divinity not to masculine gods but instead to feminine goddesses: Mahasarasvati (Creator), Mahalaxmi
Mahalaxmi
(Preserver), and Mahakali
Mahakali
(Destroyer). This feminine version of the Trimurti
Trimurti
is called Tridevi
Tridevi
("three goddesses"). The masculine gods (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva) are then relegated as auxiliary agents of the supreme feminine Tridevi. Smartism[edit] Smartism
Smartism
is a denomination of Hinduism
Hinduism
that places emphasis on a group of five deities rather than just a single deity.[17] The "worship of the five forms" (pañcāyatana pūjā) system, which was popularized by the ninth-century philosopher Śankarācārya among orthodox Brahmins of the Smārta tradition, invokes the five deities Ganesha, Vishnu, Shiva, Devi
Devi
and Surya.[18][19] Śankarācārya later added Kartikeya
Kartikeya
to these five, making six total. This reformed system was promoted by Śankarācārya primarily to unite the principal deities of the six major sects on an equal status.[20] The monistic philosophy preached by Śankarācārya made it possible to choose one of these as a preferred principal deity and at the same time worship the other four deities as different forms of the same all-pervading Brahman. Vaishnavism[edit]

Vishnu
Vishnu
with Lakshmi, on the serpent Ananta Shesha, as Brahma
Brahma
emerges from a lotus risen from Vishnu's navel.

Despite the fact that the Vishnu
Vishnu
Purana
Purana
describes that Vishnu manifests as Brahma
Brahma
in order to create and as Rudra
Rudra
(Shiva) in order to destroy,[21] Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism
generally does not acknowledge the Trimurti
Trimurti
concept. For example, the Dvaita
Dvaita
school holds Vishnu
Vishnu
alone to be the supreme God, with Shiva
Shiva
subordinate, and interprets the Puranas differently. For example, Vijayindra Tîrtha, a Dvaita
Dvaita
scholar interprets the 18 puranas differently. He interprets the Vaishnavite puranas as satvic and Shaivite puranas as tamasic and that only satvic puranas are considered to be authoritative.[22] Unlike most other Vaishnavite schools such as those of Ramanuja, Madhva
Madhva
and Chaitanya, Swaminarayan, guru of the Hindu
Hindu
Swaminarayan sects (including BAPS), did not differentiate between Vishnu
Vishnu
and Shiva; Swaminarayan
Swaminarayan
notably differs from practically all Vaishnavite schools in holding that Vishnu
Vishnu
and Shiva
Shiva
are different aspects of the same God.[23] (see also verses 47 and 84 of Shikshapatri, a key scripture to all followers of the Swaminarayan
Swaminarayan
faith.)[24][25] Moreover, Swaminarayan
Swaminarayan
followed a Smarta
Smarta
approach (see more detail on the Smarta
Smarta
view below) by instructing his followers to venerate all five deities of the Panchayatana puja
Panchayatana puja
with equal reverence.[26] See also[edit]

Dattatreya Harihara Tridevi Trinity Triple deities

References[edit]

^ "Trimurti". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary. ^ Grimes, John A. (1995). Ganapati: Song of the Self. SUNY Series in Religious Studies. Albany: State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-7914-2440-5.  ^ Jansen, Eva Rudy (2003). The Book of Hindu
Hindu
Imagery. Havelte, Holland: Binkey Kok Publications BV. ISBN 90-74597-07-6.  ^ Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli (Editorial Chairman) (1956). The Cultural Heritage of India. Calcutta: The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture.  ^ Winternitz, Maurice (1972). History of Indian Literature. New Delhi: Oriental Books Reprint Corporation.  ^ For quotation defining the trimurti see Matchett, Freda. "The Purāṇas", in: Flood (2003), p. 139. ^ For the Trimurti
Trimurti
system having Brahma
Brahma
as the creator, Vishnu
Vishnu
as the maintainer or preserver, and Shiva
Shiva
as the destroyer. see Zimmer (1972) p. 124. ^ Mhatre, Sandeep. "Datta Sampradaay and Their Vital Role". Swami Samarth temple. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.  ^ For dating of Puranic period as c. CE 300-1200 and quotation, see: Majumdar, R. C. "Evolution of Religio-Philosophic Culture in India", in: Radhakrishnan (CHI, 1956), volume 4, p. 47. ^ For characterization as non-homogeneous and including multiple traditions, see: Majumdar, R. C. "Evolution of Religio-Philosophic Culture in India", in: Radhakrishnan (CHI, 1956), volume 4, p. 49. ^ For harmony between orthodox and sectarian groups, see: Majumdar, R. C. "Evolution of Religio-Philosophic Culture in India", in: Radhakrishnan (CHI, 1956), volume 4, p. 49. ^ For quotation see: see: Majumdar, R. C. "Evolution of Religio-Philosophic Culture in India", in: Radhakrishnan (CHI, 1956), volume 4, p. 49. ^ For references to Kūrma Purana
Purana
see: Winternitz, volume 1, p. 573, note 2. ^ Sutton, Nicholas (2000). Religious doctrines in the Mahābhārata (1st ed.). Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. p. 182. ISBN 81-208-1700-1.  ^ "Brahma, Rudra
Rudra
and Vishnu
Vishnu
are called the supreme forms of him. His portion of darkness is !Rudra. His portion of passion is Brahma. His portion of purity is Visnu" Maitri Upanisad [5.2] ^ How can the god of destruction be the Supreme ? ^ Flood (1996), p. 17. ^ Dating for the pañcāyatana pūjā and its connection with Smārta Brahmins is from Courtright, p. 163. ^ For worship of the five forms as central to Smarta
Smarta
practice see: Flood (1996), p. 113. ^ Grimes, p. 162. ^ Flood, Gavin, An Introduction to Hinduism, Cambridge University Press, p. 111, ISBN 0-521-43878-0  ^ Sharma, B. N. Krishnamurti (2000). A history of the Dvaita
Dvaita
school of Vedānta and its literature: from the earliest beginnings to our own times. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. p. 412. ISBN 81-208-1575-0. Retrieved 2010-01-15.  ^ According to this site, http://www.kakaji.org/shikshapatri_verses.asp?catid=viewAll, verses 47, 84, of their scripture, Shikshapatri, a key scripture to all followers of the Swaminarayan
Swaminarayan
faith. [1] states, "And the oneness of Narayana
Narayana
and Shiva
Shiva
should be understood, as the Vedas
Vedas
have described both to be brahmaroopa, or form of Brahman, i.e., Saguna Brahman, indicating that Vishnu
Vishnu
and Shiva
Shiva
are different forms of the one and same God." ^ Swaminarayan
Swaminarayan
Satsang - Scriptures Archived 16 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Swaminarayan
Swaminarayan
Satsang - Scriptures ^ An Introduction to Swaminarayan
Swaminarayan
Hinduism, by Raymond Brady Williams at https://books.google.com/books?id=tPkexi2EhAIC&pg=PA25&dq=Shikshapatri+Vishnu+shiva&lr=&cd=1#v=onepage&q=Shikshapatri%20Vishnu%20shiva&f=false

Sources[edit]

Basham, A. L. (1954). The Wonder That Was India: A Survey of the Culture of the Indian Sub-Continent Before The Coming of the Muslims. New York: Grove Press, Inc.,.  Courtright, Paul B. (1985). Gaṇeśa: Lord of Obstacles, Lord of Beginnings. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-505742-2.  Flood, Gavin (1996). An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-43878-0.  Flood, Gavin (Editor) (2003). The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-4051-3251-5. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link) Zimmer, Heinrich (1972). Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-01778-6. 

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