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In the Hindu tradition, the whole creation is the dynamic game of three fundamental forces symbolized by the three gods: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. This triad is made up of the creator (Brahma), the sustainer (Vishnu) and the destroyer or transcendent (Shiva). The correspondence of these three principles (creation, sustenance and destruction) in our daily existence is to be found in birth, life, and death. These correspondences occur not only at a physical level, but at psychic level as well. They represent the very basis of the universe, in its continuous becoming.
The Hindu tradition perceives the cosmic activity of the Supreme Being (God) as threefold: the creation, the sustenance and the destruction and associate these three activities with the main deities: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. As we already mentioned, Brahma represents the creator aspect of the divine. Vishnu sustains the creation and represents the eternal principle of preservation, and Shiva represents the principle of dissolution, of the destruction of evil, of transcendence. We have to understand that basically, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are not three distinct deities, independent from each other, but they represent in fact the same Supreme Force, in its three different aspects.
Brahma is the creator of the universe and of all beings. His world is Brahmaloka, containing all the splendors of the earth and all other worlds. In the Hindu tradition, Brahma’s most common representation is four-headed, four arms, and red skin. He holds a cup, a bow (or in other representations a book of prayers), a spoon and the Vedas, created and spread by him. He sits in the lotus pose.
Brahma measures his day in Cosmic Cycles
The Hindu tradition sustains that the universe exists for one day of Brahma (kalpa). At the end of this day (lasting, by human measurements for four billions years) the whole universe is dissolved. At his point, Brahma rests for one night, just as long as the day. This process, named pralaya, repeats for such 100 years, period that represents Brahma’s lifespan. After Brahma’s death, it is necessary that another 100 of his years pass until he is reborn and the whole creation begins anew. As Linga Purana (the text in which we find clear calculations of the different cycles) indicates, Brahma’s life is divided in one thousand cycles (Maha Yuga, or the Great Year). Maha Yuga, during which the human race appears and then disappears, has 71 divisions, each made of 14 Manvantara (1000) years.
Manvantara is Manu’s cycle, the one who gives birth and govern human race. Each Manvantara has four divisions, four eras or Yuga-s, each presenting a gradual decline of the spiritual values, in favor of a material progress. A time of sunrise precedes each of these Yuga-s, and they end in a period of twilight. These four cosmic eras, or Yuga-s, whose duration is in divine years are: Satya Yuga (1.728.000 human years), Treta Yuga (1.296.000 human years), Dvapara Yuga (864.000 human years), and Kali Yuga (432.000 human years). The duration of the four Yuga-s is consequently 4.320.000 human years or 12.000 divine years. Satya Yuga is the ideal period, in which hatred, envy, suffering, fear, and threat do not exist.
This is the time of maximum bloom of human spirituality, in which the noble feelings of love, aspiration, happiness are present everywhere. Treta Yuga presents the appearance of sacrifices, a whole set of rites and ceremony is necessary. The spirit of justice diminishes, and people act to their own interest, expecting rewards for their good deeds and for the manifestations of their cult. Dvapara Yuga witnesses the decrease of the spirit of justice to even a greater degree, so that only few people will seek the observance of truth. The rites that exist now will lead people both to the good and to the bad. Also, diseases and inferior desires come up at this time. In Sanskrit, Kali Yuga is the era of maximum spiritual decadence, of ignorance, darkness, materialism, conflicts, misunderstandings and violence. The spirit of justice is reduced to minimum during this age. Spiritual aspirations, and spiritual and scientific ancient knowledge are forgotten, and the evil is almost all-pervading.The human beings are subject to all kinds of diseases, hatred, starvation and fear. This is the age we live in at the moment.