I find that most people who are unfamiliar with Hinduism are very surprised to find out that there is a trinity within Hinduism. It is quite different from the Father/Son/Holy Ghost trinity of Christianity, but there are the three who are also one. There is within Hinduism a bit of a hierarchy with the Gods, some being in higher power than others. Different branches will order that list slightly differently, but the top three are almost always the top three.
They are the Creator, the Preserver, and the Destroyer. Makes sense, no? Three stages of creation and three main Gods to regulate them. The three are: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
Many Hindus believe that there is only one ultimate divinity but the different Gods are aspects of that one divine. The human mind cannot comprehend all of God at once, and so we separate it out into different aspects and personalities to help us understand. Different branches of Hinduism may disagree about which God is the supreme one that all other Gods are just aspects of. For my branch, Advaita Vedanta (or Smarthism), it doesn’t really matter what you call it, there is nothing except unity. However, we are more likely to lean towards calling the supreme God: Brahma.
There is a lot to say about each one of the three in the trinity, so I’ll try not to get ahead of myself and just stick today to introducing the creator, Brahma.
You are likely to see Brahma depicted sitting on a lotus or a swan and having four heads. Each of the three main Gods has a consort associated with him, a female aspect and Brahma’s is Saraswati, goddess of music, art, and creativity. He is said to be the father of Manu, the first man.
He is so associated with study that he is not depicted with any weapons. He is often holding a book. He is said to have created the Vedas.
Strangely, Brahma’s popularity seems to be waning. I would probably have to have a PhD in religious studies to explore why that is, but I have observed that there is much more emphasis in modern times on Shiva and also on Vishnu (who is also Rama and Krishna, I’ll get into that later!). I wonder if this has to do with how far we are from the beginning of creation. We are currently in the last of the four ages of the world, the Kali Yuga, and so we may have more need of or more interest in the Gods associated with the end times rather than the beginning time.
About.com author Dr. Morales makes the claim that Brahma is not a God at all:
Brahman, as understood by the scriptures of Hinduism, as well as by the ‘acharyas’ of the Vedanta school, is a very specific conception of the Absolute. This unique conception has not been replicated by any other religion on earth, and is exclusive to Hinduism. Thus to even call this conception of Brahman “God” is, in a sense, somewhat imprecise