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Home > Hatha Yoga and Shiva Shakti > Trimurti
TrimurtiIn modern-day India, Siva is only the second most popularly worshipped form of the Divine, the most popular being the god Visnu, who, like Siva, is represented in many ways. Visnu and Siva, together with Brahma, constitute the Trimurti (Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh).

In trimurti, Brahma stands for the expansive or emanative potency of the Absolute, Visnu for the power of existence and preservation, and Siva (Mahesh) for that of contraction, dissolution and absorption.

`Dissolution` or `absorption` (pralaya) should be understood here, not in a negative sense as a withdrawal into nothingness, but as a positive process of reintegration and returning to the source in preparation for renewed evolution. On the human level, this is the very purpose of yoga. In other words, it is the translocation of one`s sense of identity from the world of gross phenomena, via the myriad layers` of reality, to the fundamental essence.

In the Puranic myths, Brahma, Visnu and Siva all, at different times, play the role of supreme Deity; and, in the hatha tradition, it is Shiva who is generally taken to represent all the three aspects of generation, preservation and destruction.

The three members of the trimurti correspond to the three `strands` of the triguna The three gunas are sattva, tamas and rajas. These terms` respective meanings depending largely upon the context in which they are examined. Each gun may be regarded as a kind of `root tendency` out of which grow a number of `sub-tendencies`. Broadly speaking:

Sattva is the impulse towards, or potentiality for, illumination and lucidity.

Tamas is the impulse towards closure, obscuration and inertia.

Rajas is the energetic impulsion required for Sattva and Tamas to become actualized.

On the surface, Sattva and Tamas may appear to be antagonistic tendencies, but they are only so in the way that inhalation and exhalation are antagonistic; both are essential to the dynamic process of evolution, as is the expansive energy of rajas. In the trimurti, Brahma corresponds to rajas, Vishnu to sattva, and Shiva to tamas.

In yoga, however, the intention is to reduce the influence of Tamas and rajas within the mind, and to thereby enable the mind to settle into its true nature as predominantly sattvika (constituted by Sattva). This effort has nothing to do with cultivating the dominance of Vishnu over Brahma and Siva. The triguna theory is a model of how disparate but complementary tendencies interact to engender formation and transformation in the universe. The gunas are principles derived from logical deduction and not physical manifestations.

Although the manifestation of forms and symbols are varied and complexes, the true meaning remains to be realised, and not to be read or heard. In hatha-yoga, Siva is both the origin of the teaching the supreme guru and the ultimate goal of the practice, the aim being to realise the state enjoyed by the `breath-conquered yogis` mentioned in the Puranic hymn quoted at the beginning of this chapter to realise, that is, one`s true identity as `The self of Yoga, ...without division, supernal Siva!`

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