Dating back thousands of years ago,
Hinduism has become one of the oldest religions known today. In addition to
being an ancient religion, it is also one of the most diverse and intricate
religions. One example that separates Hinduism from other religions is that
there are millions of gods and although there are so many gods, there is one
that is superior: Brahman. Brahman is known as the one who brought the universe
into existence and exists himself through every aspect of life. Hindus worship
their gods and practice their religion through many different rituals and
practices in the traditions of Hinduism.

            Brahman
is 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. Brahma
is responsible for the creation of the world as we know it and all the beings
that exist within it. He is often referred to as the grandfather of Hinduism
and is usually depicted on a swan or a goose.

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As the preserver, Brahman is known as
Vishnu. Vishnu is known by Hindus as the god that is summoned down to Earth to
restore balance within the universe during times of trouble. Lord Vishnu has
been summoned a total of nine times throughout existence to keep the balance
between good and evil in check. Believers say that the tenth time will be his
final return and it will be right before the end of the world at the end of the
Kali Yuga.

As the destroyer, Brahman incarnates as
Shiva. Shiva represents the good and serves as a protector, but Lord Shiva also
has a dark side as he is the leader of ghosts, villains, thieves, etc. Shiva’s
role in destruction is associated with destroying all things at the end of each
yuga and will destroy the universe when bringing the Kali Yuga to an end. Shiva’s
long hair represents knowledge and is often depicted with a trident as well as riding
on a bull. Renouncers or Sadhus try and imitate Shiva, not only in physical
appearance but in lifestyle as well. Like Shiva, the Sadhus renounce all
material and worldly possession and live in solitude. They grow their hair out
and cover their skin in ash to look like Lord Shiva.

Renouncers are twice born males who have
entered the Sannyasa stage of their life. They live a life without materialism
and desire. Living in the world without being affected by these things, they
cover their skin in ash, like Shiva, to show their detachment from the world. By
being 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, or
yugas, of life: Krita yuga, Treta yuga, Dwapara yuga, and Kali yuga. Krita yuga
was the beginning, where man lived harmoniously among nature. Second, was Treta
yuga. This stage was where man began to settle into shelters and began cultivating
crops and gaining knowledge. Third, the Dwapara age came and the caste system
was created. Last, and currently, the Kali yuga began and the world started
falling into chaos. The degeneration of spiritual integrity will call for Lord
Shiva to come down and destroy everything to restart the cycle.