My husband and I spent three weeks in August, 2018, visiting friends in Chennai, India. This particular trip coincided with India’s Independence Day. Businesses, colleges and schools closed to celebrate the national holiday. We spent the day with friends touring Ramanujar Temple, one of the many temples in Tamil Nadu.
The Ramanujar Temple is dedicated to Vishnu. Vishnu is one of the three supreme Hindu gods. These three gods are named Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Each fulfill uniquely distinct roles in the cosmos. Brahma creates, Vishnu preserves, and Shiva destroys. Together these three gods comprise what is known as the Hindu trinity. (Source: Wikipedia)
I find this fascinating. The Hindu concept of trinity (triumvirate, or trimurti) is immensely complex and far beyond my own grasp of comprehension.
Nonetheless, it reveals one way ancient humanity attempted to explain their existence within the cosmos. This is a theodicy of sorts. In acknowledging a creative force beyond the universe–beyond themselves–they grappled with the capricious nature of life we are familiar with.
On one day we bask in the sun, embrace the beauty, and partake of the life-giving sources that come from streams, rivers and ocean. On another day we tremble when the sun goes dark. We cover our face and cower in fear when those life-giving waters turn demonic, destroying all that is precious in its path.
What else can humanity do but praise the preserver-god and cower before the destroyer-god! The ancient Hebrews grappled with this as well, but offered a polemic to the plurality of gods in their culture.
Before we harshly critique polytheistic religions, we would do well to gain a fuller comprehension of the Hebrew concept of monotheism.