Disclaimer: Whatever is written here is imaginary and to be taken lightly.
Immortals are imaginary. That imagination lasts forever. One of the classic legendary character from Indian Mythology is Jambavan. Jambavan originated from the tension of Brahma. Brahma, the swayambhu (self-originated) knows the whole from the beginning. He is the creator , then how is that he had tension ? It seems almost impossible. This tension also includes the story of origin of Shiva and destruction of Brahma as the one true ultimate.
The Shanti Mantra (hymn for peace) states
Everything (infinite) came from the infinite (complete/all encompassing/all inclusive). From infinite came infinite. Take the infinite from infinite and infinite remains.
Initially there was one infinite. Brahma. From that Infinite Brahma created infinite, so that infinite remains. This is as much story of Brahma, as is the universal inclusion and pantheistic (including agnostics and atheists) on the land of the legends, known as India in the modern world.
Brahma is the creator,who created the creator. It, the creator. The creator, being beyond Shiva (also spelt Shiva in certain Indian (English) and Vishnu, is the first fellow to give boons to Asura. In early lifestyles that existed, there were humans ( Manushya) , the divine beings (Deva) and the superhumans (Asuras). Brahma created them as it’s own creations it had responsibilities and authorities over each of the creations. Like small children fight for resources within a household. These children of it started discomforting each other. Humans, were greedy, to whom Brahma advised “Da”. Devas were living their uber pompous lives of luxury, to whom Brahma advised “Da”. Asuras were uncouth and almost unmindful in their activities, narcissistic and ruthless to get everything for them even at the expense of others, to whom Brahma advised “Da”. The First “Da” to humans implied “Damam” control, or self-control and control their greed. To Devas is was their luxury that was drving them out of control to balance it Brahma advised them to perform “Daanam”, charity and donation. The third superhumans would never listen to anything other than their own wants and needs, to whom Brahma advised the third “Da” which stood for “Daya”, Kindness, to be kind when they go about attacking and abusing with their superhuman strengths and imposing themselves on others.
All these creations where too much to manage on its own. Brahma decided that there must be Maintenance Manager, not less or greater in power than it. Hence, Vishnu was created. It is also a natural evolution in the process of delegating tasks as in modern companies or in general human nature. And Vishnu did a good job in maintaining the stuff created. In this process he got a certain status of God. Making himself the second but not less than the one.
Brahma’s cohort of Devas where not well trained in their regulatory affairs and generally indulged themselves in their big life of entertainment, unending supply of food and drinks. Though a good hire. Yamaraja, the time keeper was over burdened with regulating death with his assistant Chithragupta, who did rigorous accounting of death and dispatch to next realms of life after death or conjoining the infinite. There were bigger troubles who manifested in terms of uberhumans, better and brighter than the average Asuras. Though they were classified as Asuras, the Devas lived in constant fear of being driven out of their land of rich rule because of these powerful beings. This needed someone, who was skillful handy and ruthless in dealing with these beings and be the epitome of peace and calm otherwise. The search ended in the creation of the title of “Rudra“. Rudra evolved from one the outliers in the Deva clan who was not much into the ostentatious lifestyle. Rudra was created and chosen to be the one. Unlike the average Deva, Rudra received the powers to the physical elements, so elementary that modern “Brownian motion” tied to Rudra’s cosmic dance. Master of balance and like a systematic clock maintains time for the purpose of eventual eternity. Yamaraj , King (Raja) of Time (Yama), was relived. Now there was someone dedicated to hunt down the critical time evading uberhuman beings. A master of time, anger, dance and handy, Rudra evolved from age to age, like any average Deva, he went through cycles of life. Juggling through each skills in each power cycles, Rudra graduated to Shiva. The change was so subtle that Brahma could not notice it. Meanwhile Brahma’s creations, primarily Asuras sacrificed through rituals and rigorous customs to plead to their creator for various boons and benefits, which were granted in considerable persistence. It was harder to reach Vishnu and Shiva. nevertheless, some Asuras and even humans were patient enough in their invocate meditations that they reached their favorite deities and requested desired wishes and boons to be granted. Brahma was always the first and the fastest. Like a mother all children’s calls were attended to first by the creator.
Maintenance (Vishnu) and annihilation (Shiva) came later. Hence later strengths of these two. They made weapons to defend against later creations. They acquired higher forms and started sidelining the creator. The creator was the first form to which Deva, Asura and Humans would go and ask for help. Thence redirected. Devas started knocking at Vishnu’s door for help. It is a point to be noted that in that ancient world there were seven seas and seven lands. The number seven had a sense of specialty to it. Seven encompassed everything . Rudra through his power life cycles attained The Damaru ( Drum). Chandra, the Moon God who controlled the mind of souls paid tribute to Rudra and resided on Rudra’s head. Holy River Ganga, drops of which can purify any soul joined powers of Rudra and formed partnership with the Moon and stayed on Rudra’s head. With power of the time in hand, Rudra could conjure up the pasts (Bhoot) also known for lesser beings as ghosts. The past which haunts is indeed a ghost for the lesser mortals, for good or bad. The pasts symbolised itself in the form of Kapala (Skull) Initially , collaborative, Vishnu attained certain rapport with Shiva. Then came the great churning of the universe. It was time for Vishnu to prove his powers and incarnated as a Turtle which helped in churning the ocean of universe. From there among many other things came Kalakuta poison. To save the earth from this time puzzle (which is easily related to black hole in modern astrophysics), Rudra drank it. However, his wife did not permit the poison to go down beyond his neck by holding his neck. The poison turned Rudra’s neck into blue color and with power of his wife, the poison was suspended to stay there forever using a snake which was tied around his neck, the King of serpents, Vasuki, now would be part of Rudra’s decoration. Rudra acquired the name of Neelakanta or the Blue-necked, a great event that launched the two successors to Brahma in a single event. Brahma was happy to find his new creations to be performing upto expectations. Rudra was a frequent meditator, Yoga practitioner hence called Adiyogi. Seeker of perfect meditation Rudra was fascinated and involved in different forms of meditation, one of which manifested as cosmic dance, giving him the name “Nataraja” (King of Dances). To aid his meditation Rudra used prayer beads of Rudraksha, literally tear drops of Rudra. Shiva and Vishnu after their universal debut became friends for good. Among friendly exchanges Shiva gave Vishnu, his great weapon the Sudarshana. It was time to establish the higher powers of the three and Rudra made the trident(Trishula) to commemorate the celebrations for himself. The seventh accessory that made him the Shiva (Seven) . A traditional puzzle asks the listener “ആറും പിന്നെ ഒരു ആറും ചേർന്നാൽ ?” (six and a river becomes ?) (both have the same word in Malayalam) . The answer is Shiva, the Seven. The timelessness of Shiva spread worldwide. Even the Jewish mourning is called Shiva (=Seven) what can escape the almighty time master. At this point Shiva is truly elevated as one among the holy trinity. The Trishul being symbol of that. The name Shiva, indicating the spread over seven seas and seven mountains, Shiva had truly arrived. The name of Shiva or importance of seven is prominent in languages and cultures to the west of India. A clear indication of were the spread went. The customs of the modern Islam is tied to the moon and clearly indicative of the power of Shiva. Shaivite customes and Islamic traditions are similar. Yogic postures in meditative prayers, 3-5 times prayers daily and so on.
Was it time to retire or throw in the towel for Brahma? I do not think so. The two new heros of the show had something up their sleeves. In fact , Vishnu was beginning to be called Ranganatha (the lord ( natha) of the stage of the world = (ranga)) and was ready to take the challenge of who is the mightest straight on. While Shiva was gaining his foothold on the western landscape Vishnu had a look east policy. Contemporary evidence suggests that the lands to the east of India such as Cambodia has heavy influence of Vaishnavites that Buddhist sculptures are derived from incarnations of Vishnu. Skillfulness of Vishnu was so great that yet another immortal, the forever Vishnu devotee, Narada goes in with a challenge posed at Shiva. Narada asks Shiva who is the greatest Brahma or Vishnu. Knowing that this was his chance to be the greatest Shiva comes up with task for the contenders Vishnu and Brahma to prove who is the one. Shiva asks them both to find the end of Shivalinga. Eager to prove and maintain their status quo both of them embark upon different directions to find the end. On its way Brahma finds a Ketaki flower. Knowing the infinite length of the Shivalinga Brahma is willing to return and report a bluff that he found the end and made a deal with Ketaki flower to vet for him and give testimonial. On their return, Vishnu was waiting for them and in desperation exclaimed his inability to find the end. Nonchalant Brahma made his claim and Ketaki flower testified. Knowing that his task was endless Shiva says that Brahma is not worth their respect anymore and there would not be any worship center for Brahma anymore. By extension, Ketaki flower would be banned from any worship related activities. This elevated the tensions in the growing old creator from whom Jambavan, the tension of Brahma originated. And Brahma manifested into Him , instead of it. Brahma had an identity and grew to have emotions and tension just like his creations. Lost, ashamed Brahma returned to his enormous floating lotus in space to find a way out of this.
Ultimately the powers on later days thwarted Brahma so much so that there no more than a few temples for him. The creator thus sidelined the battle being Vaishnava and Shaiva started to be more fearsome. Kingdoms and priests fought over intellectually and physically on the philosophical interpretations of what they deemed to be correct.
Little did they know the God of Gods, Brahma had better plans. The creator found no choice than to bring diversity to avoid massive destruction of creations. Thus came languages cultures and other religion. To help maintain and contain the expansions of the Two, Asuras were granted powers, boons. There was chaos.
Incarnations of Vishnu’s sidekicks were assigned to combat their own lord. This shook the basis for fight. Collapsed the decorum and ultimately led to weaker and lesser incarnations for both Shiva and Vishnu. The duo went on continuous meditation. While Shiva took on the bed of mountains to regain, strategize and retain his title, Vishnu took to the oceans lying on the infinite snake, Anantha (=Infinite), plotting strategies to win the title of ultimate God. However, Brahma was effectively out of the race for a long time to come. To what extent we yet do not know, but Shiva did his job of destroying, destroying the past, destroying the past Brahma, leaving a new Brahma to brace himself to give birth to new theology.