Anonymous said: hello! ive been doing yoga lately along with doing a university course on ancient india. ive become very interested in hinduism! i just have a couple questions that i was curious about. there are three main gods, brahman, vishnu and shiva? and shiva is the destroyer but is in us all? does that mean we are going to be the destroyers of the universe that brahman created? also with yoga i've heard the term "pranayama" and was wondering what that means? sorry if these are dumb questions =S
It’s wonderful that through your study you’ve become interested in Hinduism!
Firstly, know that in Hinduism there is only one pervading, all-present God (Bhagvan) in everything; the controller of karma and the universe itself. Each God and Goddess in Hinduism is a facet, or personality of that same all-present God (Bhagvan) that was revealed to humankind to better explain Its unexplainable ways. There aren’t necessarily three ‘main’ Gods per say, but more like ‘root Gods’ to which many of the other Devis and Devas are reincarnated from. These are Lord Brahma, (please note that Brahma and Brahman are completely different; Lord Brahma is God’s facet of creation while Brahman is the all-pervading God soul within every person), Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva.
Each of these facets (as well as most other Devas, or male God facets) have a female equal/companion, or Shakti (Devi). These are Maa (Mother) Saraswati, Maa Lakshmi and Maa Durga.
In Hinduism, each and every thing on this world and in this universe is of God (Bhagvan). The grass is God, the birds are God, I am God and you are God. The purpose of Hinduism is to realize your place as God in the universe with the help of scriptures, devotion and study of the ways of God (explained to us through the Devas and Devis). So, when you heard that Shiva is ‘in us all’- that person was probably a worshipper of Lord Shiva, meaning he/she put Lord Shiva as his/her personal God. I could say the same about Lord Krishna being in us all, or Maa Durga being in us all- because it’s simply God in us all.
Lord Shiva is ‘the destroyer’ because the three ‘root Gods’, or Trimurti represent Bhagvan’s eternal method of the universe. Everything in the universe must be created (Lord Brahma), temporarily sustained and cared for (Lord Vishnu) and inevitably destroyed (Lord Shiva). This does not necessarily mean we have to go around destroying things, but to realize that destruction is necessary in the cycle of life, death and rebirth.
I’ve put a lot of things in parenthesis to better help you understand the meanings of some of these words that you may not be familiar with.
Also, “pranayama" is the yoga of breath control, or awareness.
I hope I’ve helped you and feel free to reach out to your local Hindu community for more answers!
Jai Ambe Maa!
A very insightful piece on Hinduism.