The theme of creation and destruction has been alive in our lives and our imaginations for as long as we can perhaps remember. On the surface, creation, like life itself, has primarily positive connotations, while destruction, or death, may have primarily negative ones.

In fact, the trinity of the Hindu pantheon takes it a lot further. On the one hand, we have Brahma the creator – he, looking in all four directions, creating the three universes, with the five elements at his disposal. He is said to create all that exists. On the other hand, we have Shiva, the destroyer. He, of the long-matted hair through which the Ganga is said to have come down upon earth. He, the one with the blue throat, who voluntarily drank all the poison during the initial stages of Samudra manthan (the churning of the oceans). He, who is said to have spent eons on Mount Kailash in meditation, whose power became so exalted and refined, that the rest of the Gods worried enough to send apsaras to try and disturb his state of samadhi. Shiva, the destroyer.

Brahma on hamsa
Lord Brahma (image via Wikimedia)

But how can it be, or why is it, that the purported creator, Brahma himself, is rarely seen or heard from in Hindu culture any more? And if Shiva is indeed the destroyer, why are his images found in temples in every nook and corner of India – in villages, in towns, big and small, and in cities? Are we saying that we are much more comfortable with the idea, nay, that we have whole-heartedly embraced the idea of Shiva the destroyer, and his purported destruction, as opposed to the idea of Brahma and creation?

Or is there a higher dynamics at play? Has Brahma been banished from our cultural consciousness because he rested on his laurels after creation, and forgot that preservation, sustenance, growth are also important? Is that why the two incarnations of Vishnu, the preserver (the third part of the pantheon), Krishna (via the Mahabharata, and specifically the Gita) and Rama (the Ramayana), became so embedded in the religious and cultural fabric of Hinduism? Or is it that Shiva the destroyer is being true to his assigned role, by unencumbering us from the burden of all that which needs to be destroyed anyway, in the passage of time? We will explore these questions in future articles…

I hope I have given you a few things to think about, on the meme of creation and destruction, while introducing the third dimension of the preserver. As we move into the festival months of August, September and October, I invite you to observe and share your ideas about the respective importance of these three entities of the pantheon. Which one speaks to you more than the other at a given occasion?

Hari OM. Sarve bhavaNtu sukhinAH!

We chant OM, to invoke the One. We pray to the One, for universal peace for All.

Kumud

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2 Responses to On Creation and Destruction – Brahma and Shiva

  1. Jagadish Manna says:

    Dear Kumud,

    Nice to learn the details and it is quite
    interesting to learn the mythological information thro’ the ‘Glimpses of
    Divinity’ playing an important and responsible role of reminding us the lost
    treasures. Related to the subject I intend to present the logical ideology as
    obtained from well known spiritual organisation Brahma Kumaris, relentlessly
    working for betterment of the world, in this subject, that the Cycle of
    Evolution ‘Sristhi Chakra,’ comprising of Generation (Sthapana),
    Operation (Palna) and Destruction (Vinash) is a continuous
    process and actually there is no Start or End, and, only a change from Hell
    (the present materialistic world or the Kaliyuga, where the human souls are in
    the state of Sudras) to Heaven or Paradise (The Satyayuga, where
    existing human souls are in the state of Devi / Devta), the Golden Age and,
    followed by Silver Age (Tretayuga for Khsatriyas), Copper Age (Dwaparyuga
    for Vaishyas) and the Iron Age or Hell or Jannat (Kaliyuga for Sudras)
    and the cycle thus repeats. The work of Sthapana is carried out by the
    Supreme Soul (The Paramatma, Ishwar, God, Allah etc.), named Shiva.

    While passing through the ages or yugas
    and the everlasting (Anadi) cycle of birth and re-birth (acquiring new
    body in each birth) by the immortal soul, the infinitesimal energy (the controller of the human body and located
    in the human brain behind the centre of fore head where in Hinduism the Bindi
    or Tilak is drawn) we have confused ourselves in various aspects, of
    which, one is of merging the In-corporeal Shiva (remembered in the form
    of Shiva-Linga for offering prayers) with Shankar who possesses human body
    and remains in Dhyana (of incorporeal Shiva). Further, Shiva takes the help
    of human body and names him as Brahma, the Adi Dev. With the help of
    this Corporeal Body of Brahma, the Supreme Soul Shiva commences the work of Sthapana,
    where in, Brahmins are created (human souls transforming their way of living
    in this present materialistic world by following the directions of the Supreme
    Soul Shiva communicated through Brahma), who are in thousands & thousands,
    and are associated for the supreme work. For this reason, Brahma is shown with
    thousands of hands. With the reference to Shankar, he is the icon of the final state
    of the Brahma and the Brahmins who won over the vices (sexual lust, greed,
    anger, attachments & ego, shown as poisonous snake and blue neck), thus
    remaining completely detached from this materialistic world prior to the
    devastating change from hell to heaven.

    I would
    request the readers to contact the nearest Brahma Kumaris centre for
    more information / knowledge as these are logical and eye opener for us as we
    are wandering in the darkness. One has to invest only one’s time and nothing
    else.

  2. vikram says:

    true .. this dilemma often comes to my mind as well .. but have not been able to find the right answer.

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