Brahma created himself inside a golden egg while floating in the ocean of causes. After that, he created time, the earth, people, and the universe. He created the four Vedas from the mouths of his four faces. Brahma has four whirte beards because he is very wise. He holds the Vedas, a string of rosary beads, a ladle to feed the sacrificial fire, and a lotus to symbolize water from which all creation arises.
Shiva, the destroyer of evil, is both benevolent and violent. He carries a trident to symbolize the three aspects of his nature— creator, preserver, and destroyer. The rosary beads in his right hand symbolize grace, the mendicant life, and meditation. His body is covered with ashes to remind us that only the soul can hope for permanence.
Vishnu, the preserver, creates, protects, and transforms the universe. He holds a conch shell to symbolize our interconnected cyclic existence. He holds a war discus to fight against evil for cosmic equilibrium. He holds a mace to symbolize authority and power of knowledge. He holds a lotus flower to symbolize purity and transcendence. His incarnations descend to restore cosmic order and relieve the earth’s burden.
Brahma created Maya, all things of value hidden in illusion.