Are there any interpretations of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva representing Cosmic Energy, Cosmic Space and Cosmic Time?

If not, what exactly do Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva represent symbolically?


2 Answers 2


The usual interpretation of the three is creator, preserver and destroyer.

" The Supreme Spirit hath three condition, In the form of Brahma, he is the Creator, and in the form of Vishnu he is the Preserver, and in his form as Rudra, he is the Destroyer of the Universe".

Mahabharata Vana Parva Section CCLXX

However, Siva is called Mahakala because he brings about the destruction of the universe.

Mahakala (Great Time, Great Destroyer)

'Mahakala' is one of the well-known epithets of Siva, since he brings about the destruction of the universe at the end of a cycle of creation.

A concise encyclopedia of Hinduism by Swami Harshananda


I'd agree with that, here is my understanding:

  • Brahma as the source of the formless energy.
  • Vishnu as the creator and preserver - who gives form to that energy, essentially creating space by virtue of the duality of space and matter. From a physics and mathematical stand point, matter is essentially compressed space, or alternatively, energy that has been localized and condensed. Likewise, space can only be defined relative to objects that exist in space - so by virtue of Vishnu creating separate forms, he also creates space.
  • Shiva as the destroyer, and associated with time - in that, he essentially destroys time at the end of the Yuga cycle. Likewise, as a teacher of Yoga, whereby mental imperfections can be destroyed, thus stopping "time" of the mind; resulting in meditative stillness, samadhi, etc. There is a dualistic relationship here: The notion of stopping time is inherently related to eternity, such as if someone were to stop aging, we could say they are unaffected by time; whether it is their body or mind that stops aging. Yet, we also often say we need more time when we feel like our time is running out, such as meeting a deadline of some kind.

There is a curious relationship here - at the end of the Yugas, people have much shorter lifespans, or rather, it can be said their time is moving faster. Whereas, at the beginning of Satya Yuga, since Shiva has just destroyed time, people are virtually ageless - ie, they are unaffected by time; although they always end up screwing it up as the story goes. While people often talk about the average lifespan in the Satya Yuga, this is technically misleading: At the beginning of the Satya Yuga, people are effectively immortal, but the moment any conflict and disharmony enters the world, lifespans begin to decrease, hence giving rise to the Yuga Cycle.

What's even more curious - the current model of physics says that as the Universe expands, time technically speeds up, because space and time are defined as inverses to each other. Likewise, we know the expansion of the universe is accelerating, and this exponential curve appears to be more or less inverse to the degression of lifespans throughout the Yugas as their quality declines. In other words, [my opinion is], the accelerating expansion of space is inherently related to the decrease in lifespans throughout the Yugas, as those mathematical relationships directly correlate to the known properties of Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, etc.

Interesting parallels in my opinion.


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