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Encyclopedia > Trimurti


The Trimurti (English: "Three forms"; Sanskrit: trimūrti) is a concept in Hinduism "in which the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified by the forms of Brahmā, Viṣṇu, and Śiva respectively."[1][2] These three deities have been called "the Hindu triad"[3] or the "Great Trinity".[4] However Gavin Flood dismisses this terminology as inexact, saying that Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva are "sometimes erroneously referred to as the 'Hindu trinity'.[5] Freda Matchett characterizes the Trimurti system as one of "several frameworks into which various divine figures can be fitted at different levels."[6] Trimurti is an Indian film starring Shahrukh Khan, Jackie Shroff, and Anil Kapoor which was released in 1995. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... The Sanskrit language ( , for short ) is a classical language of India, a liturgical language of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism, and one of the 23 official languages of India. ... Hinduism (known as in modern Indian languages[1]) is a religious tradition[2] that originated in the Indian subcontinent. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Vishnu (IAST , Devanagari ), (honorific: Sri Vishnu) also known as Narayana is the Supreme Being or Ultimate Reality for Vaishnavas and a manifestation of Brahman in the Advaita or Smarta traditions. ... For other uses, see Siva (disambiguation). ... This article or section contains too many quotations for an encyclopedic entry. ...


One type of depiction for the Trimurti shows three heads on one neck, and often even three faces on one head, each looking in a different direction.[7]

Contents

Evolution of the concept

The Puranic period (c. CE 300-1200) saw the rise of post-Vedic religion and the evolution of what R. C. Majumdar calls "synthetic Hinduism."[8] This period had no homogeneity, and included orthodox Brahmanism in the form of remnants of older Vedic cults, along with different sectarian religions, notably Shaivism, Vaishnavism, and Shaktism that were within the orthodox fold yet still formed distinct entities.[9] One of the important traits of this period is a spirit of harmony between orthodox and sectarian forms.[10] Regarding this spirit of reconciliation, R. C. Majumdar says that: Brahmanism, also Brahminism, is the name given to Hinduism by some authors in the 19th century CE.[1] The term is considered derogatory by many Hindus. ... This article is about the religion Shaivism. ... Temple dedicated to the worship of Vishnu as Venkateswara. ... Shiva and Shakti as One Shaktism is a denomination of Hinduism that worships Shakti, or Devi Mata -- the Hindu name for the Great Divine Mother -- in all of her forms whilst not rejecting the importance of masculine and neuter divinity (which are however deemed to be inactive in the absence... R.C. Majumdar (1888-1980) was an Indian historian and Vice-Chancellor of Dacca University. ...

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 or Abolute.[11] This page deals with the Hindu concept of The Supreme Reality. ...

Maurice Winternitz notes that there are very few places in Indian literature where the Trimurti is mentioned.[12] The identification of Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahma as one being is strongly emphasized in the Kūrma Purana, where in 1.6 Brahman is worshipped as Trimurti; 1.9 especially inculcates the unity of the three gods, and 1.26 relates to the same theme.[13] This page deals with the Hindu concept of The Supreme Reality. ...


Historian A. L. Basham explains the background of the trimurti as follows, noting Western interest in the idea of trinity:

Early western students of Hinduism were impressed by the parallel between the Hindu trinity and that of Christianity. In fact the parallel is not very close, and the Hindu trinity, unlike the Holy Trinity of Christianity, never really "caught on". All Hindu trinitarianism tended to favor one god of the three; thus, from the context it is clear that Kālidāsa's hymn to the Trimūrti is really addressed to Brahmā, here looked on as the high god. The Trimūrti was in fact an artificial growth, and had little real influence.[14]

Views of Trimurti within Hinduism

Vaishnavism

Trimurti, Painting from Andhra Pradesh

Vaishnavism generally does not accept the Trimurti concept. For example, the Dvaita school holds Vishnu alone to be the supreme God, with Shiva subordinate, and interprets the Puranas differently. For example, Vijayindra Tîrtha, a Dvaita scholar interprets the 18 puranas differently. He interprets that the Vaishnavite puranas as satvic and Shaivite puranas as tamasic and that only satvic puranas are considered to be authoritative.[15] Image File history File links Metadata No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links Metadata No higher resolution available. ... Dvaita (Devanagari:द्बैत, Kannada:ದ್ವೈತ) (also known as Tattvavada and Bheda-vada), a school of Vedanta (the most widespread Hindu philosophy) founded by Madhvacharya, stresses a strict distinction between God (Vishnu) and the individual living beings (jivas). ... For other uses, see Siva (disambiguation). ... Purana (Sanskrit: , meaning tales of ancient times) is the name of an ancient Indian genre (or a group of related genres) of Hindu or Jain literature (as distinct from oral tradition). ... The Puranas are part of Hindu Smriti; these religious scriptures discuss devotion and mythology. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into guna. ... In Hinduism and Budhism, Tamas, or tamo-guna, is the lower of the three gunas. ...


In Gaudiya Vaishnavism, Shiva is considered the best of devotee of Vishnu (vaisnavanam yatha sambhu) and also an aspect of Vishnu but not the same as Vishnu. In this view, Shiva is also viewed as subservient to Lord Vishnu, although it is still understood that he is above the category of an ordinary jiva (living entity). In one interpretation, Brahma is considered by Gaudiya Vaishnavites to be the highest of the jivas. Gaudiya Vaishnavism, (Bengal) Vaishnavism, is a sect of Hinduism founded by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. ... In Hinduism and Jainism, a jiva is the immortal essence of a living being, subject to maya. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


An analogy of the differences between milk and yogurt can be used to describe the differences in Brahma Samhita. Prabhupada commented that Shiva is not like a living entity, but is not Vishnu, with his position somewhere between Vishnu and Brahma. The analogy continues to hold Shiva to be like unto yogurt and Vishnu like unto milk: milk transforms into yogurt, but no one would consider yogurt to be milk. [16] Srila Prabhupada under a painting of Krishna A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (September 1, 1896–November 14, 1977) was born Abhay Charan De, in Calcutta, West Bengal. ...


However, other Vaishnavite followers, such as Swaminarayan, founder of the Hindu Swaminarayan sects (including BAPS), differ and hold that Vishnu and Shiva are different aspects of the same God.[17] Notably, the Swaminarayan view is a minority view among Vaishnavites. Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan Bhagwan Swaminarayan (April 2, 1781 - 1830) was born Ghanshyam Maharaj to a brahmin family in the village of Chhapaiya, Uttar Pradesh, India. ... A reference to BAPS may be alluding to any of the following: B*A*P*S (The Film):B*A*P*S is the 1997 comedy film, written by Troy Beyer. ...


Saivism

Saivites, similarly hold a similar view with Shiva. Shiva performs four acts of creation, sustenance, reduction and blessing. Of these the latter three are nothing but the forms of the Supreme Shiva called Parasiva. Saivites thus believe that Lord Shiva is the Supreme, who assumes various critical roles and assumes appropriate names and forms, and also stands transcending all these. [18] Åšaivism is a branch of Hinduism that worships Siva as the Supreme God. ... Parasiva is the aspect of Siva, the Absolute which is beyond human comprehension and is beyond all attributes. ...


Smartism

An art depiction of the Trimurti in Hoysaleswara temple
An art depiction of the Trimurti in Hoysaleswara temple

Smartism is a denomination of Hinduism that places emphasis on a group of five deities rather than just a single deity.[19] The "worship of the five forms" (pañcāyatana pūjā) system, which was popularized by the ninth-century philosopher Śaṅkarācārya among orthodox Brahmins of the Smārta tradition, invokes the five deities Ganesha, Vishnu, Shiva, Devī, and Sūrya.[20][21] This system was instituted by Śaṅkarācārya primarily to unite the principal deities of the five major sects on an equal status.[22] The monistic philosophy preached by Śaṅkarācārya 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. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (2048x1536, 564 KB) The Hindu Trinity - Brahma, Siva, Vishnu - Hoysaleswara temple, Halebid Photo taken by self. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (2048x1536, 564 KB) The Hindu Trinity - Brahma, Siva, Vishnu - Hoysaleswara temple, Halebid Photo taken by self. ... Smartism[1], (or Smarta Sampradaya, Smarta Tradition, as termed in Sanskrit), is a denomination of the Hindu religion. ... Adi Shankara (Malayalam: ആദി ശങ്കരന്‍, DevanāgarÄ«: , , IPA: ); c. ... Smartism[1], (or Smarta Sampradaya, Smarta Tradition, as termed in Sanskrit), is a denomination of the Hindu religion. ... This page deals with the Hindu concept of The Supreme Reality. ...


See also

Harihara is a term used to denote the unity of Vishnu and Shiva as one and the same with Hari being the name of Vishnu and Hara that of Shiva. ...

Notes

  1. ^ For quotation defining the trimurti see Matchett, Freda. "The Purāṇas", in: Flood (2003), p. 139.
  2. ^ For the Trimurti system having Brahma as the creator, Vishnu as the maintainer or preserver, and Shiva as the transformer or destroyer see: Zimmer (1972) p. 124.
  3. ^ For definition of trimurti as "the unified form" of Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva and use of the phrase "the Hindu triad" see: Apte, p. 485.
  4. ^ For the term "Great Trinity" in relation to the Trimurti see: Jansen, p. 83.
  5. ^ Flood (1996), p. 116.
  6. ^ Matchett, Freda. "The Purāṇas", in Flood (2003), p. 139.
  7. ^ Jansen, p. 83; picture p. 84.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ For quotation see: see: Majumdar, R. C. "Evolution of Religio-Philosophic Culture in India", in: Radhakrishnan (CHI, 1956), volume 4, p. 49.
  12. ^ Winternitz, volume 1, p. 452, note 1.
  13. ^ For references to Kūrma Purana see: Winternitz, volume 1, p. 573, note 2.
  14. ^ Basham, pp. 310-311.
  15. ^ http://www.dvaita.org/scholars/vijayindra/Vijayiindra_T_2.html
  16. ^ http://www.srimadbhagavatam.com/4/30/24/en
  17. ^ According to this site, http://www.kakaji.org/shikshapatri_verses.asp?catid=viewAll], verses 47, 84, of their scripture, Shikshapatri, [1] states, "And the oneness of Narayana and Shiva should be understood, as the Vedas have described both to be brahmaroopa, or form of Brahman, i.e., Saguna Brahman, indicating that Vishnu and Shiva are different forms of the one and same God.
  18. ^ http://www.shaivam.org/shpdestr.htm
  19. ^ Flood (1996), p. 17.
  20. ^ Dating for the pañcāyatana pūjā and its connection with Smārta Brahmins is from Courtright, p. 163.
  21. ^ For worship of the five forms as central to Smarta practice see: Flood (1996), p. 113.
  22. ^ Grimes, p. 162.

This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Vishnu (IAST , Devanagari ), (honorific: Sri Vishnu) also known as Narayana is the Supreme Being or Ultimate Reality for Vaishnavas and a manifestation of Brahman in the Advaita or Smarta traditions. ... For other uses, see Siva (disambiguation). ... The Shikshapatri is a text of two hundred and twelve verses, and was written by Shree Swaminarayan, a reforming Hindu from the Vaishnava tradition, who lived in Gujarat from 1781-1830 and who was recognised by his followers as a deity during his lifetime. ... Narayana (नारायण; ) or Narayan is an important Sanskrit name for Vishnu and is in many contemporary vernaculars, a common Indian name. ... For other uses, see Siva (disambiguation). ... This page deals with the Hindu concept of The Supreme Reality. ... Saguna Brahma, in Hindu philosophy, is God or Supreme Consciousness with gunas (qualities or attributes). ...

References

  • 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 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. 
  • 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 Imagery. Havelte, Holland: Binkey Kok Publications BV. ISBN 90-74597-07-6.  Eighth printing; First published 1993.
  • Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli (Editorial Chairman) (1956). The Cultural Heritage of India. Calcutta: The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture.  Second edition, four volumes, revised and enlarged, 1956 (volume IV).
  • Winternitz, Maurice (1972). History of Indian Literature. New Delhi: Oriental Books Reprint Corporation.  Second revised reprint edition. Two volumes. First published 1927 by the University of Calcutta.
  • 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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