Dating back thousands of years ago,Hinduism has become one of the oldest religions known today.
In addition tobeing an ancient religion, it is also one of the most diverse and intricatereligions. One example that separates Hinduism from other religions is thatthere are millions of gods and although there are so many gods, there is onethat is superior: Brahman. Brahman is known as the one who brought the universeinto existence and exists himself through every aspect of life.
Hindus worshiptheir gods and practice their religion through many different rituals andpractices in the traditions of Hinduism. Brahmanis known to exist in three different incarnations, known as trimurti, as the creator,the preserver, and the destroyer. As the creator, he is known as Brahma. Brahmais responsible for the creation of the world as we know it and all the beingsthat exist within it. He is often referred to as the grandfather of Hinduismand is usually depicted on a swan or a goose.
As the preserver, Brahman is known asVishnu. Vishnu is known by Hindus as the god that is summoned down to Earth torestore balance within the universe during times of trouble. Lord Vishnu hasbeen summoned a total of nine times throughout existence to keep the balancebetween good and evil in check. Believers say that the tenth time will be hisfinal return and it will be right before the end of the world at the end of theKali Yuga. As the destroyer, Brahman incarnates asShiva.
Shiva represents the good and serves as a protector, but Lord Shiva alsohas a dark side as he is the leader of ghosts, villains, thieves, etc. Shiva’srole in destruction is associated with destroying all things at the end of eachyuga and will destroy the universe when bringing the Kali Yuga to an end. Shiva’slong hair represents knowledge and is often depicted with a trident as well as ridingon a bull.
Renouncers or Sadhus try and imitate Shiva, not only in physicalappearance but in lifestyle as well. Like Shiva, the Sadhus renounce allmaterial and worldly possession and live in solitude. They grow their hair outand cover their skin in ash to look like Lord Shiva.Renouncers are twice born males who haveentered the Sannyasa stage of their life. They live a life without materialismand desire. Living in the world without being affected by these things, theycover their skin in ash, like Shiva, to show their detachment from the world.
Bybeing detached from the world, it is in high hopes that they accomplish moksha,which is spiritual liberation from samsara.In Hinduism, there are four cosmic ages, oryugas, of life: Krita yuga, Treta yuga, Dwapara yuga, and Kali yuga. Krita yugawas the beginning, where man lived harmoniously among nature. Second, was Tretayuga. This stage was where man began to settle into shelters and began cultivatingcrops and gaining knowledge.
Third, the Dwapara age came and the caste systemwas created. Last, and currently, the Kali yuga began and the world startedfalling into chaos. The degeneration of spiritual integrity will call for LordShiva to come down and destroy everything to restart the cycle.