Trimurti

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The Trimurti (English: ‘three forms’; Sanskrit: त्रिमूर्ति trimūrti) is a concept in Hinduism "in which the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified by the forms of Brahmā the creator, Vishnu the maintainer or preserver, and Śhiva the destroyer or transformer,"[1][2] These three deities have been called "the Hindu triad" [3] or the "Great Trinity,"[4], often addressed as "Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh."

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.[5]

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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."[6]

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 that were within the orthodox fold yet still formed distinct entities.[7] One of the important traits of this period is a spirit of harmony between orthodox and sectarian forms.[8] 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 or Absolute.[9]

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