But despite the artificial character of the Trimurti, it has retained to this day at least its theoretical validity in orthodox Hinduism, whilst it has also undoubtedly exercised considerable influence in shaping sectarian belief, in promoting feelings of toleration towards the claims of rival deities; and in a tendency towards identifying divine figures newly sprung into popular favour with one or other of the principal deities, and thus helping to bring into vogue that notion of avatars, or periodical descents or incarnations of the deity, which has become so prominent a feature of the later sectarian belief.
The co-ordination of the two gods in the Trimurti does not by any means exclude a certain rivalry between them; but, on the contrary, a supreme position as the true embodiment of the Divine Spirit is claimed for each of them by their respective votaries, without, however, an honourable, if subordinate, place being refused to the rival deity, wherever the latter, as is not infrequently the case, is not actually represented as merely another form of the favoured god.
Though himself, like most Brahmans, apparently by predilection a follower of Siva, his aim was the revival of the doctrine of the Brahma as the one self-existent Being and the sole cause of the universe; coupled with the recognition of the practical worship of the orthodox pantheon, especially the gods of the Trimurti, as manifestations of the supreme deity.
In the Trimurti, Brahma (the impersonal) is manifested as Brahma (the personal creator), Vishnu (the preserver), and Siva (the destroyer).
(1st ed., 1863; 2nd, 1873) was a comparison of the Vedic with the later representations of the principal Indian deities, an exhibition of the process by which three gods hardly known to the Vedic hymns became the deities of the former Hindu Trimurti.