Saguna Brahman — that is, Brahman with attributes — generally takes the form of one ofTrimurti (three main Hindu deities): Brahmā, Vishnu, or Shiva (Maheshwara). These personified forms of Brahman correspond to three stages in the cycle of the universe.
- Brahmā corresponds to the creative spirit from which the universe arises.
- Vishnu corresponds to the force of order that sustains the universe.
- Shiva corresponds to the force that brings a cycle to an end — destruction acting as a prelude to transformation, leaving pure consciousness from which the universe is reborn after destruction.
Other forms of Ishvara widely worshiped by Hindus areShakti, the female aspect of divinity, and Ganesha, the elephant-headed deity associated with the removal of obstacles.
Brahman also may choose to take birth in a knowable form, or avatara (incarnation), to uphold dharma and restore balance to the world. Krishna, a well-knownavatara of Vishnu, appears at times to save the world.Rāma, another well-known avatara of Vishnu, is the subject of the Hindu epic Rāmāyana (Way of Rāma).
The majority of Hindus choose a personal deity, a saguna form of Brahman with whom they can feel a direct personal connection. Devotion to this deity can take a number of forms, including prayer, ceremonial worship, chanting of the deity’s name, and pilgrimage to sites sacred to the deity.