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Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and the Pillar of Light

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(The supposed equilibrium of the Trimurti has never been fully adopted in popular practice, as cults have developed around each of the three gods. The cult of Brahma has virtually disappeared, but the rivalry between those of Vishnu and Shiva is as active as ever. Both cults claim supremacy for their own god and have produced many myths to support their view. This story comes from the cult of Shiva.)

Before the world was created, Brahma and Vishnu wandered over the formless ocean arguing about who was the god of all.

"I am the god of all," said Brahma to Vishnu, "for I created you."

"If you created me," replied Vishnu, "then who created you?"

Just then a pillar of light appeared, stretching up into the highest heavens and down into the lowest depths of the ocean.

"If you created everything, " Vishnu continued, "then who created this pillar of light?"

Brahma was troubled.

"Let us find out," he said.

The gods instantly changed into animals. Brahma became a giant swan and Vishnu became a giant turtle. They set off in opposite directions to find the source of the pillar of light. The two gods flew and swam for a thousand years but neither of them reached either the top or the bottom of the pillar of light.

They returned to the surface of the formless ocean, agreeing finally that there existed a god who was greater than them both.

Just then, Shiva stepped out of the pillar of light as the sound of OM assaulted the skies.

Vishnu and Brahma fell on their knees in worship.

"My brothers," said Shiva, "stand up. We are now complete."

Then starting to dance and to bang upon on his drum, Shiva called,

"Let creation begin."


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A Primary Vision resource provided by Stockport Christians in Schools Trust