Shiva as part of the divine trinity Brahma - Vishnu - Shiva manifests as the destroyer. As such, however, he is also the cause of creation, for without the destruction of the old cycle, no new period of creation can arise. Brahma acts as the creator god and Vishnu as the god of preservation.
The three divine aspects represent the three fundamental forces of nature that exist in the world: Creation, Preservation, and Destruction. Shiva embodies tamas, or the tendency toward dissolution and destruction. The name Shiva literally means "auspicious, promising." The universe rests in Shiva after destruction and before the next cycle of creation.
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