Created By: NoirGrimoir on June 12, 2011 Last Edited By: NoirGrimoir on December 18, 2011

Trimurti Trio

Three characters who represent the Hindu Trimurti of Creation, Preservation and Destruction.

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The Trimurti is the Hindu-concept of a trinity formed by the gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, which in turn represent the concepts of Creation, Preservation and Destruction (or Transformation). Initially brought about by way of trying to form a Christianity-like Trinity within the Hindu religion, it didn't quite catch on, and there is no true parallel which is very accepted in Hindusim today.

However, that doesn't mean the concept hasn't fascinated writers and media creators alike. The resulting symbolism and mythology that has come to be associated with each piece of the concept has been combined and expanded by Westerners, in some ways away from the original Hindu gods which used to represent them. While not as common as some forms of the Power Trio, the Trimurti Trio nonetheless crops up on occasion and can draw powerful parallels between characters.

Brahma The Creator

The active creative force of the Trio, represented by the god Brahma. Brahma is self-born from a lotus which grows out of Vishnu's navel as he begins to think upon creation. With his eyes open he creates the world, when he closes them to sleep the world is consumed by fire, and when he reopens them again the world is recreated. The Creator aspect is associated with the element Earth (or sometimes wind), the emotions of Passion or Desire, the Spiritual plane and the Soul, and it's heavenly body is the Sky. A character who represents The Creator may manifest in the following ways:
  • The Character may be directly linked through literary allusion to the Hindu god Brahma.
  • The Character is associated with some other God or figure associated with creation, such as various Trickster-Creater gods in native American mythology, or the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God.
  • The Character may have a miraculous or unusual birth, either through the way they were born, who they where born to, or events that took place at the time of their birth. Often resulting in them being The Messiah Archetype.
  • The Character is associated with birth and children in some other way, possibly by having a child themselves, being very young, or having child-like qualities.
  • The Character is known for having created something notable or important, or trying to do so.

Vishnu The Preserver

The active caring aspect of the Trio is represented by the god Vishnu. He is considered in many sects of Hinduism to be the Supreme god who supports, sustains and governs the Universe and originates and develops all elements within. Vishnu incarnates periodically for the protection of righteousness and the destruction of evil, and he is most famously identified with his avatars, especially Krishna and Rama which are notably blue-skinned. The Preserver aspect is associated with the element Water, the quality of mercy, the Mental plane and the Intellect, and it's heavenly body is the Sun. A character who represents The Preserver may manifest in the following ways:
  • The Character may be directly linked through literary allusion to the Hindu god Vishnu or his Avatars.
  • The Character is associated with some other God or figure associated with preservation, sovereignty, mercy or healing.
  • The Character may be a healer, doctor or confidant of some kind, or otherwise perform those deeds.
  • The Character is associated with justice, mercy, protection, sovereignty, intelligence, mental faculties, and diplomacy.
  • The Character known for renewing or rebuilding something or otherwise providing reparations or diplomacy.

Shiva The Destroyer

The active destructive force of the Trio, like Vishnu he is considered in many sects of Hinduism to be the Supreme god, though he is typically viewed in a more abstract light, merging the ideas of Destruction and Creation into a transformation. His most relevant aspect to this trope is as Shiva Nataraja, "Lord Of The Dance", the dance being that which brings about the destruction of the world. The Destroyer aspect is associated with the element Fire, the quality of darkness and wrath, the Emotional plane and the Heart, and it's heavenly body is the Moon. A character who represents The Destroyer may manifest in the following ways:
  • The Character may be directly linked through literary allusion to the Hindu god Shiva.
  • The Character is associated with some other God or figure associated with Destruction or Death or Revenge.
  • The Character may be a dancer, or warrior, or judge of some kind.
  • The Character may be a associated with judgement, revenge and anger which leads him or her to kill or destroy, or seek transformation and change (for the worse).
  • The Character is known for Killing or Destroying something or someone or otherwise trying to do so.

Some aspects of this trope which are somewhat unique compared to other ensemble tropes, the characters can be more loosely associated than in most other ensembles, meaning they don't have to be in the same group, and are often on different sides of a conflict, representing the opposing forces. But there does have to be a common link between them, one can't simply choose three random character from a series who happen to fit the types. Usually what the characters are the Creator, Preserver and Destroyer of is the same thing.

Also, these aspects are cyclical, and in practice both the Creator and Destroyer will be associated with destroying something, since to create something new, something else must be destroyed and visa-versa, once you destroy something, something new will take it's place. The best way to know the difference is that the Destroyer will almost always be associated with negativity or evil (though in real life it isn't necessarily) while The Creator is represented positively.

Compare a similar Greek Ensemble, The Hecate Sisters, and similar Christianity Ensembles: The Three Faces of Eve and The Three Faces of Adam. This trope is a subtrope of the Power Trio.

Examples:

General

Anime and Manga
  • From Naruto, Naruto represents The Creator (miraculous events of his birth, being a messiah figure, childish qualities), Sakura represents The Preserver (A Healer, intelligence and a taskmaster) and Sasuke represents The Destroyer (wants to destroy his whole village, fire and lightning are his chakra elements).
    • One could also see three Senin as this trope, Jiraiya (Creator) prophesying Naruto's coming to save the Village, Tsunade (Preserver) being the Hokage and leading the village as well as being a healer, and Orochimaru (Destroyer) actively trying to destroy the village.
  • If we apply this to Madoka Magica, we have several (note that this includes a lot of Fridge Brilliance):
    • Hitomi, Sayaka, Madoka (this is based around the starting character arc)
    • Homura, Madoka, Sayaka (this is due to Sayaka's Start of Darkness).
    • Madoka, Homura, Kyubey (this is based around Episode 10)
  • The Sailor Starlights from Sailor Moon, whose Senshi titles reflect which is which: Sailor Star Maker is the Creator, Sailor Star Healer is the Preserver, and Sailor Star Fighter is the Destroyer.

Literature
  • From The Chronicles of the Kencyrath, The three surviving Knorths are very obviously alluded to following this trope in-universe, Torisen is The Creator (Restored The High Kingship), Kindrie (A Healer) Jamethiel "Jame" is the Destroyer (She does a Dance Of Death).
  • From Wheel of Time Three incarnations of The Dragon Reborn may be alluding to this trope in-universe. Rand explicitly calls a vision of a future incarnation of him The Destroyer, and fans has suspected that Lews Theron and Rand represent the other aspects, though which one is debated. Considering Rand healed the Taint in the One Power, it argues for him being the preserver and Lews Theron by default being the Creator, especially since his actions brought about Rands version of the world.
    • Another Theory in the Wheel of Time is that the three Tar'aven have this sort of symbolism surrounding them. Perrin is the creator, being the blacksmith. Mat is the Preserver, and Rand is the destroyer. The Thirteenth Depository essays explain it better than I ever could, so I'll just link you to them. Perrin, Mat, Rand.
  • Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy has a deity of preservation and a deity of destruction but the two have to work together in order to create anything. It's either a subversion, aversion, or playing with. Not sure which.

Tabletop Games

Western Animation
  • From Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang is The Creator (The Messiah figure who saves the world), Zuko is The Preserver (Becomes Fire Lord and helps rebuild the world after his Fathers wars) and Ozai is the Destroyer (The guy who was going to destroy the entire Earth Kingdom with fire).It shows the cyclical nature of the trope by being The Destroyer-The Creator-The Preserver, chronologically.
    • In the first season it could also be interpreted the as: Aang, the creator (for the same reasons) also, wind related, Katara the preserver, she is the healer, shows mercy and wants justice, also water related, And Zuko Destruction, a prince warrior, wants kill the avatar, propense to rage atacks, and fire related, it also fits the Protagonist, Love Interest, Villian ensemble

Video Games
  • La-Mulana: The Mother is the Creator, the Sages are the Preservers and Lemeza is the Destroyer.
Community Feedback Replies: 23
  • June 12, 2011
    Jackalyn
    Another Theory in the Wheel Of Time is that the three Tar'aven have this sort of symbolism surrounding them. Perrin is the creator, being the blacksmith. Mat is the Preserver, and Rand is the destroyer. The Thirteenth Depository essays explain it better than I ever could, so I'll just link you to them. Perrin, Mat, Rand.
  • June 13, 2011
    totlmstr
    • If we apply this to Madoka Magica, we have several (note that this includes a lot of Fridge Brilliance):
      • Hitomi, Sayaka, Madoka (this is based around the starting character arc)
      • Homura, Madoka, Sayaka (this is due to Sayaka's Start Of Darkness).
      • Madoka, Homura, Kyubey (this is based around Episode 10)

    A very classic tradition in common media is to have the following (which would effectively be its own trope and a subtrope of this one):

  • June 13, 2011
    Octagon8
    • La-Mulana: The Mother is the Creator, the Sages are the Preservers and Lemeza is the Destroyer.
  • June 13, 2011
    Damr1990
    • About the Avatar Example, on the first season it could also be interpreted the as: Aang, the creator (for the same reasons) also, wind related, Katara the preserver, she is the healer, shows mercy and wants justice, also water related, And Zuko Destruction, a prince warrior, wants kill the avatar, propense to rage atacks, and fire related, it also fits the Protagonist, Love Interest, Villian ensemble

  • June 13, 2011
    Tambov333
  • June 13, 2011
    TBeholder
    ...as presented in reformed induism for tourists. =]
  • June 13, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    ^ Yeah, it's acknowledged that in the actual religion it doesn't really exist.
  • June 14, 2011
    jaytee
    I think this should be limited to instances where specific allusion is made to the Hindu gods. Otherwise this is going to end up like every other "Group With n Members sharing x,y,and z character traits" trope: everyone trying to shoehorn their favorite character group in and endless justifying edits and natter.
  • June 14, 2011
    DouglasFir
    The Sailor Starlights from Sailor Moon, whose Senshi titles reflect which is which: Sailor Star Maker is the Creator, Sailor Star Healer is the Preserver, and Sailor Star Fighter is the Destroyer.
  • June 14, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    ^^ I'll see what the examples look like as I get more and think about it.
  • June 22, 2011
    TBeholder
    ...and the original gunas concept, while interesting, is way too ethereal to be tropable.
  • June 22, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    Eh? Original Gunas?
  • June 26, 2011
    TBeholder
    It looks like the reformed version is rather far from what was back in the Upanishads or even Bhagavad Gita, in that complex concepts were simplified beyond compatibility. Looking at other interpretations, there are e.g. "tamas (inertia), rajas (passion) and sattva (purity)". Back to Trimurti... not assuming that the tradition is the same as the original (it never is), the scale of discrepancies with it is still quite telling. E.g. there were concepts like Shiva as "the food-giver" and they, obviously, at least made sense. In the simplified "Creation - Preservation - Destruction" set... not so much. That's not even starting on the issues with his wife. =)
  • June 26, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    Yeah, they aren't very similar to the original concept. It's sort of ultra simplified and westernized, but that's just how I've seen it used in works that I know deliberately invoked it.
  • June 26, 2011
    jate88
    Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy has a deity of preservation and a deity of destruction but the two have to work together in order to create anything. It's either a subversion, aversion, or playing with. Not sure which.
  • June 26, 2011
    Deboss
    Recommend adding Creation Preservation And Destruction as a redirect.
  • December 15, 2011
    Oreochan
    Bump
  • December 15, 2011
    acrobox
    • The Triforce Gathering in The Legend Of Zelda
      • Link - Creator, associated with Farore who creates life, the elements of Earth (Nature) and Wind, and is typically a child or childlike. Triforce of Courage is roughly Triforce of the Soul
      • Zelda - Perserver, associated with Nayru who creates law, order, governance, the elements of Water and Ice, rules a Kingdom Associated with a God, Hylia. Triforce of Wisdom is roughly Triforce of the Mind or Intellect
      • Ganondorf - Destroyer, associated with Din the elements of Fire and his own Dark magic, fueled by a God of Revenge and his own anger. Triforce of Power is more about the Body so less so on this part. But The Oracle of Din is a Dancer...

    I feel like this trope is probably already represented somewhere.. or that it's so common in Power Trios its hard to justify it from the Hindu lens which I would venture to say most creators probably didn't have in mind. I would almost say that the three Gods fit one of the existing Power Trio molds. but i dont know for sure.
  • December 15, 2011
    acrobox
  • December 16, 2011
    Irrisia
    @acrobox The Hecate Sisters might come close, if that particular Power Trio takes its inspiration from the three Fates or the later versions of the Norns. Clotho starts your life, Lachesis measures it, Atropos ends it.
  • December 17, 2011
    VioletOrange
    The real Hecate Sisters are the greek equivalent, with one creating life, the other maintaining it and the last cutting it
  • December 17, 2011
    ArcadesSabboth
    The Hecate Sisters is not at all ancient Greek, it's just badly misnamed (needs a rename). It is a thoroughly modern invention, unless it's from Celtic Mythology (a subject I know nothing about). Neither Hecate nor any group of 3 Greek goddesses actually fits that trope in the original myths. (It also isn't part of Norse Mythology, before anyone asks.) You should refer to the trope as Wiccan instead, if you mention it at all.

    The 3 Fates/Moirai are the spinner, the measurer, and the one who cuts the thread, so they may have some similarity to the Trimurti. But they are not "maiden, mother, and crone" except in modern re-interpretations of the myths.
  • December 18, 2011
    Synchronicity
    This seems really prone to Trope Decay or misuse, with some people shoehorning any trio of "childlike, motherly, and aggressive" people in (distinction from other Power Trio s, such as The Three Faces Of Eve etc, could work)

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

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