Ancient sages realized three states of the creation and introduced their presiding gods as Brahma, the creator; Vishnu, the fosterer; and Siva, the destroyer. A pondering on these symbols from modern perspective leads us to a new meaning of all these symbols.
The principal basis of the creation is matter. As far as eyes can see, there are very many forms of matter that are visible. Right from the gross to the subtle, the matter with its entire immensity is present within the infinitude of the universe. The term Brahma means ‘unlimited immensity’. It is a symbol of the immensity of matter, the principal basis of this creation, or it may be said that the root consciousness of the conscious matter was adorned by the term ‘Brahma’ by the sages.
Lord Vishnu contains the creation and while containing it, he also fosters it. We have read this in the scriptures. After pondering upon this we find that the element that contains the matter is ‘void’ or the empty space. So much so that upon studying the smallest unit of matter – the atom, we find that the void exists between the centre of the atom and the particles moving around it. The support of the movement of matter is the void. Sages realized the capacity of the void to contain the matter and gave the name Vishnu to the consciousness of the conscious void.
When we split the matter and reach the atom, and then split it too, we can experience pure energy. In our quest for analyzing the energy or searching the root source of the energy, when we reach the original source, we are able to see that the advent of energy takes place from pure thought. Pure thought, which we can also term as the consciousness of the matter, is born from the conscious void. Pure thought alone is the link that establishes a relationship between the matter and the void.
Beyond both of these, the element immanent in the matter which is simultaneously immanent in the void and which is also the cause of annihilation of both the matter and the void, the one that is beyond everything and yet is always around us, the one which is standstill and yet appears as if it is moving, which our consciousness due to difference of levels beholds in various different forms, that element, the Time or the Kal was named as Siva by the sages. Time is one such element, which we perpetually experience and yet its feeling is beyond all experiences. The time of matter is said to be finite, the time of void that contains the matter was also realized by the sages, but, who other than the Time itself can understand the time of the Time?
We often deliberate, ‘What existed when the creation was not there, the sky also was not there; even ‘Sat-Asat’ was not there?’ Those, who have practiced yoga and have succeeded in awakening their consciousness, could understand that what existed at that time was there in the womb of the Time. And, who other than the Time itself can reveal from where it came into the womb of the Time. Perhaps, because of this alone, the sages ideated Siva in the form of “Ardhanarishwar”. From this, it does appear that the Time itself caused conception to the Time, and in the course of time it was born in the form of creation. After the time of the creation is over, only Time will remain.