Hinduism differs from Abrahamic religions, such as Christianity, which teach a linear understanding of history, including a definite beginning of the world and end of the world. The Hindu story about the creation of the world reflects an important belief in Hinduism, that of the cycle of life and reincarnation.
The Hindu creation story are found in several holy texts, including the Vedas, Puranas and the epics. These texts explain how there have been many worlds before this one, and that there will be many worlds after this one is destroyed. The story of creation is an endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth. The world is created, maintained and destroyed by the three lords, Brahma, Visnu and Shiva. Hindus believe that all three are parts of the “Supreme One,” that makes up all of existence.
Prior to the re-creation of the world, there was only a vast ocean. A large snake called Ananta floated on the ocean, and on top of the snake was Vishnu. Brahma was brought forward from Vishnu’s navel, and he created the world. Vishnu is said to have been responsible for the preservation of the world since it was brought into being by Brahma.
Hindus believe that the world springs from the body of Brahma. One story tells that Brahma was lonely, so he broke into two beings, man and woman, and then returned to one. It is also said that all other life came from the body of Brahma. Brahma became the entire world. The Bhagavad Gita tells how the world lasts an entire day for Brahma. It is created in the morning when he wakes and is destroyed at night when he sleeps. A day for Brahma is believed to be longer than billions of years for the rest of humanity. At the end of his life, the entire universe is destroyed.
Shiva’s duty is to destroy the world so that it may be recreated again. Shiva is believed to be responsible for change, as destruction of the old is brought to make way for creation of the new, and is the one responsible for maintaining the cycle of life. He destroys and dissolves everything, and then brings back everything in the cycle that begins again with the appearance of Vishnu and then Brahma.
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