Brahma the creator, is the first god represented in the Hindu Holy Trinity. Depicted with four heads, four arms and bearded faces, he is said to have been born out of a lotus that grew out of the navel of Lord Vishnu. His hands hold a Kamandal, a bow or a rosary, a sacrificial ladle and the Vedas. The four Vedas are said to have emerged from his head. The four casts of the Hindu dharma are also believed to have originated from Him –the Brahmins from his head, the Kshatriyas from his arms, the Vaishyas from his thighs, and him.
Brahma’s serene home is known as Brahmalok. His vehicle is a white swan blessed with magical abilities such as the capacity of separating Som (intoxicant) and milk from water. His consort is Saraswati the goddess of learning, clad in white and seated on a white lotus. She is also referred to as the mother of the Vedas and has two sets of hands. As goddess of the arts, she is shown playing or holding a Veena. In one of her right hands, she holds a book of palm leaves and in the other, a lotus. In her left hands, she holds a string of pearls and a damru.
Unlike Shiva and Vishnu, Brahma does not intervene directly in the affairs of humankind but grants many boons when absolutions are directed towards him.
Brahma is believed to possess no weapons. Only few temples of Brahma can be found in India, the most well known being in pushkar, Rajasthan.
Vishnu the preserver of creation, is the second God in the Hindu Holy Trinity. He preserves and maintains the cosmic order. Whenever an imbalance between the good and evil strikes, Vishnu battles with these evil forces, or sends one of his incarnations to save the world. When order prevails, He sleeps on the coils of Shesh-ruler of the Naags (snakes), floating in the cosmic ocean. Lord Vishnu is depicted as a dark man with four arms. In one hand, He holds a club, in another a conch shell, in the third, a discus (Sudarshan Chakra) and in the fourth, a lotus.
His consort is Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and good fortune. She is believed to have emerged from the Samudra Manthan. A fair woman, she is depicted as sitting or standing on a red lotus covered in red clothes. Some say that Vishnu divided himself into three parts-from his right side, he produced Brahma; from his left, He produced Vishnu and from his middle, He produced Mahesh or Shiv.
Vishnu has 10 avatars, known as the Dashavatar. They are Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narsimha, Vaman, Parasuram, Sri Ram, Sri Krishna, Buddha and Kalki. Ram and Krishna, are worshipped as gods in their own right. Vishnu is believed to have taken the form of Buddha, the ninth avatar, to encourage people to reject the caste system and the deities. However, this is open to debate and some sections do not subscribe to it. Kalki, the tenth incarnation of Vishnu is yet to grace the earth. It is believed the Kalki will ride a white horse and would appear with a flaming sword with which he will destroy all evil. This would mark the end of this present age of evil, the Kal Yug, after which purity will reign once again in another Treta Yug.
Mahesh or Shiv, the destroyer of evil, is the third and final God in the Hindu Holy Trinity. He is know by many names like Mahadev, Pashupati, Bhairav, Nataraj, Rudra and many more. He is also called Tryambaka Dev (literally “three-eyed Lord”) and is depicted as having three eyes. The third eye in the center of his forehead symbolizes His spiritual knowledge and power and is called the eye of knowledge. It burns evil and thus is feared by the evildoers. He is usually shown seated on the tiger skin. He is passionately devoted to his consort Parvati and has two sons Ganesh and Kartikya.
It is believed that when the river Ganga came down to earth from heaven, its flow was extremely fierce and destructive and Lord Shiv had to control its flow by channelising it through his hair. The attributes of Lord Shiv represent his victory over evil and calmness of human nature. As destroyer he performs the cosmic dance of destruction, Tandav. Here he is accompanied by an array of hideous demons, adorned with numerous necklaces of skulls and surrounded with serpents symbolizing that he is beyond the power of death and poison. The serpents also symbolize his yogic power.
According to hindu mythology, the ocean was churned (Samudra Manthan) by the devtas or Gods and daityas or demons looking for Amrit (drink that gives eternal life). Shesh Naag was used as a rope, coiled around mountain, and the mountain was placed on the back of Kurma, the turtle (one a Vishnu’s incarnations). The rope was pulled from both ends and the churning began. Deadly poison surfaced first and needed to be disposed off, however no place was strong enough to contain it. Lord shiv was request to help. He gulped this deadly poison but retained it in his throat, which turned blue, thus earning the epithet Nilkanth, the blue-throated.
1. Commentary -Harish Bhimani
2. Pratah Smaran-Ravindra Sathe, Rattan Mohan Sharma & Sanjeev Abhayankar
3. Brahma Gayatri/Jap-Ravindra Sathe
4. Brahma Stotra-Ravindra Sathe
5. Brahma Stuti-Rattan Sathe
6. Vishnu Gayatri/Jap-Rattan Mohan Sharma
7. Om Namo Bhagvate-Rattan Mohan Sharma
8. Achchyutam-Rattan Mohan Sharma
9. Vishnu Mangal Geet- Rattan Mohan Sharma
10. Shankar Gayatri/Jap -Sanjeev Abhayankar
11. Daridrya Dahan-Sanjeev Abhayankar
12. Shivraksha- Sanjeev Abhayankar
13. Shiv Panchakshar-Sanjeev Abhayankar
14. Aarti -Ravindra Sathe, Rattan Mohan Sharma & Sanjeev Abhayankar