STUDIES & DOC
A Trinity of Gods
By Gaurav Yadav
The concept of the trinity of gods is central to Hinduism. Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, collectively called the Trimurti, are considered the highest authority in the religion. Brahma is the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer. The word Trimurti is made from the Sanskrit word tri meaning three and murti meaning form.
The Trimurti are the three forms or representations of the Supreme God called Brahman in the Vedas. The great Sanskrit poet Kalidasa says in his Kumara-Sambhava:
‘In those three persons, the One God was shown—Each first in place, each last—not one alone; Of Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, each may be first, second, third, among the blessed three.’
In Christianity too, the doctrine of the Trinity is the highest one. This means that god exists as three persons, but as one being, having a single divine nature. The three persons are considered equal and eternal. They are not names for different parts of god, but one name for god because three persons exist in god as one entity. These three persons are ‘the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit’ in whose name every Christian is baptised.
God, the Father, is the first person of the trinity whose children we are all supposed to be. He looks after his children like a father. God, the son, is the second person of the trinity and refers to Jesus Christ, who came to this earth to save humanity. Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost is the third person of the Trinity and is the creator spirit present since before the universe’s creation. Through his power, everything was made in God the Son, by God the Father.
Buddhists in China and Japan call Buddha Fo and say, ‘Fo is one person but has three forms’. In China, the followers of Lao-Tzu also worship a trinity. They say that Taou, the eternal reason, produced one; one produced two; two produced three, and three produced all things. The ancient emperors of China solemnly sacrificed, every three years, to ‘Him who is One and Three’.
Ancient Scandinavians also worshipped a triad—Odin, Thor and Frey. In statues, such as that found at Uppsala in Sweden, Odin, as the Supreme God, stood in the centre holding a sword in his hand. Thor, his first son, stood to the left of Odin, with a crown on his head and a staff in his hands. Frey as the bestower of fertility, peace and riches stood to his right.
It is indeed worth pondering whether so many cultures from different corners of the world came up with the same number of forms of god independently, or was there an exchange of ideas in some way.