Brahma, the creator
|Mantra||Om Brang Brahmaneya Namaha|
|Consort||Saraswati, Gayatri, Savitri|
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According to the Brahma Purana, he is the father of Manu, and from Manu all human beings are descended. In the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, he is often referred to as the progenitor or great grandsire of all human beings. He is not to be confused with the Supreme Cosmic Spirit in Hindu Vedānta philosophy known as Brahman, which is genderless. Brahmā's wife is Saraswati. Saraswati is also known by names such as Sāvitri and Gayatri, and has taken different forms throughout history. Brahmā is often identified with Prajapati, a Vedic deity. Being the husband of Saraswati or Vaac Devi (the Goddess of Speech), Brahma is also known as "Vaagish," meaning "Lord of Speech and Sound".
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Origin
- 3 Creations
- 4 Attributes
- 5 Sangam literature
- 6 Temples
- 7 Temples devoted to Brahmā
- 8 Satyaloka – abode of Brahmā
- 9 Duration of Brahmā's day
- 10 Brahmā sampradāya
- 11 See also
- 12 Notes and references
- 13 External links
In Sanskrit grammar, the noun stem brahman forms two distinct nouns; one is a neuter noun bráhman, whose nominative singular form is brahma ब्रह्म; this noun has a generalized and abstract meaning.
Contrasted to the neuter noun is the masculine noun brahmán, whose nominative singular form is brahmā ब्रह्मा. This noun is used to refer to a person, and as the proper name of a deity Brahmā it is the subject matter of the present article.
Some of his other names are-
- Chaturmukha (चतुर्मुख) - four faced
- Kamalasana (कमलासन) - having a lotus as his seat
- Vedhas (वेधस्) - creator
According to Shri Madha Bhagawata Mahapurana, Brahmā was born through Vishnu's navel, Vishnu is the main source of whatsoever exists in the world; what is created is part of his own body.
According to the Purāṇas, Brahmā is self-born in the lotus flower. Another legend says that Brahmā was born in water, or from a seed that later became the golden egg, Hiranyagarbha. From this golden egg, Brahmā, the creator was born. The remaining materials of this golden egg expanded into the Brahmānḍa or Universe. Being born from a lotus, Brahmā is also called as Kanjaja (born from a lotus). There is a story for Sharsa brahma hence the concept of multiple universe as every Brahmā creates his Bhramand (universe) for one Brahmā year.
At the beginning of the process of creation, Brahmā creates the four Kumāras or the Caturṣaṇa. However, they refused his order to procreate and instead devote themselves, to Vishnu and celibacy.
He then proceeds to create from his mind ten sons or Prajāpatis (used in another[which?] sense), who are believed to be the fathers of the human race. But since all these sons were born out of his mind rather than body, they are called Mānas Putras or mind-sons or spirits. The Manusmṛti and Bhāgavat Purāṇa enumerate them as:
Brahmā had ten sons and one daughter (Named Shatrupa- one who can take hundred forms) born from various parts of his body:
Within Vedic and Purāṇic scripture Brahmā is described as only occasionally interfering in the affairs of the other devas (gods), and even more rarely in mortal affairs. He did force Chandra to give Tara back to her husband, Bṛhaspati. Among the offspring from his body are Dharma and Adharma, Krodha, Lobha, and others.
He is clad in red clothes. Brahmā is traditionally depicted with four heads, four faces, and four arms. With each head, He continually recites one of the four Vedas. He is often depicted with a white beard (especially in North India), indicating the nearly eternal nature of his existence. Unlike most other Hindu gods, Brahmā holds no weapons. One of his hands holds a scepter. Another of his hands holds a book. Brahmā also holds a string of prayer beads called the 'akṣamālā' (literally "garland of eyes"), which He uses to keep track of the Universe's time. He is also shown holding the Vedas.
There are many other stories in the Purāṇas about the gradual decrease in Brahmā's importance. Followers of Hinduism believe that humans cannot afford to lose the blessings of Brahmā and Sarasvati, without whom the populace would lack creativity, knowledge to solve mankind's woes. There is a story of a fifth head. This head came when Shatrupa started flying away from him upwards and the head came on top of the four heads - symbolizing lust and ego, the head was decapitated by Shiva returning Brahmā to his four head avatar which gave birth to the Vedas. The fifth head stayed with Shiva hence Shiva got the name Kampala.
The Four Faces – The four Vedas (Rig, Sāma, Yajur and Atharva).
The Four Hands – Brahmā's four arms represent the four cardinal directions: east, south, west, and north. The back right hand represents mind, the back left hand represents intellect, the front right hand is ego, and the front left hand is self-confidence.
The Prayer beads – Symbolize the substances used in the process of creation.
The Book – The book symbolizes knowledge.
The Gold – Gold symbolizes activity; the golden face of Brahmā indicates that He is actively involved in the process of creating the Universe.
The Swan – The swan is the symbol of grace and discernment. Brahmā uses the swan as his vāhana, or his carrier or vehicle.
The Crown – Brahmā's crown indicates His supreme authority.
The Lotus – The lotus symbolizes nature and the living essence of all things and beings in the Universe.
The Beard – Brahmā's black or white beard denotes wisdom and the eternal process of creation.
Brahmā's vehicle or vāhana is the hansa, a swan or a goose.
Brahma fails to measure the height of Shiva Linga- It is believed that once Lord Shiva stood in the form of a great Linga with deep roots into the womb of the mother earth and with the top far above the skies. Brahma and Vishnu threw each other a challenge that whoever finds the top or bottom of the Linga, will be considered as supreme. Accordingly Brahma took the form of a swan and flew into the sky. Vishnu took the form of a boar and began digging deep into the earth. They spent a lot of time but could not reach the top or bottom of the Linga. However to show that he was superior, Brahma told a lie that he had touched the top of the Linga. A flower called Ketaki stood as a witness to the statement of Lord Brahma. Listening to these words Shiva became very angry and cursed Brahma that he would never be worshiped by any human being. He cursed the false witness, the Ketaki flower also, saying that the flower will not be used in the worship of any God or Goddess or in any holy activity.That is why they say that there are not more than 14 or 15 temples of Brahma, where as there are lakhs of temples for Shiva or Vishnu
Lord Brahma is reverentially addressed as Pitamaha (father of fathers) by devas, demons, and humans. Since Brahma is also a Prajapati all these people used to visit him . According to the Upanishads the Lord used to teach the Vedas and the importance of virtue to these people. They all used to spend considerable time with him to acquire knowledge of the Atman. He also taught three important virtues to his three types of students. Once He uttered a single syllable ‘da’ and asked them to grasp its meaning. The gods interpreted the sound as the word as 'datta' meaning to give away all pleasure seeking activities. The humans interpreted the syllable as 'dayadhwam' which means ‘to show mercy’ by leaving out their greedy and selfish activities. The demons interpreted the sound as 'damyata' meaning control or suppression of cruel attitudes and passions. This episode has been beautifully described by the poet T.S.Eliot in his poem The Waste Land, part 5, "What the Thunder Said".
Lord Brahma the God of Destiny or Fate: Lord Brahma is also called as Vidhi, DhAtA, and VidhAtA. Vidhi means the Ordainer. Vidhata means disposer,ordainer, Arranger,or Law-maker. He is also called as Twasta, Viswadeva. According to the Veda- Yo Vidhata cha Dhata cha- ( Vidhata is also called as Dhata). He is also called as Vedhasa- ( Vidhata Vedhasamapi). Vidhata means the governor of Nature’s Laws relating to the journey of the Soul. Lord Brahma is not only the creator as mentioned in the Purusha Sukta, but also the decider of the destiny or Fate of the beings that are going to be born . Brahma is the God who writes the fortunes of everybody based on the KARMA or deeds in the previous births. Fate, or luck or destiny ordained by Lord Brahma and written by him in a coded language on the forehead of every individual cannot be altered by anybody. Because one has to reap what one has sown. It is believed that Brahma examines the Karma of every being in his previous births and accordingly decides what should be the fate of the individual in the present birth. Brahma’s writings on the forehead can be understood only by great Yogis or Rishis when they look at the forehead of any person. That is why they look at the face of a person carefully before they bless a person with long life, good health, wealth and progeny etc. The Fate in reality is a product of the Karma of one’s previous lives. The unfinished Karma is carried forward to the next birth. Sanchita-Karma into which God Brahma looks carefully, Lord Brahma is the sum-total of the accumulated Karma of previous births. It is in one’s account and needs to be cleared at some stage in one’s spiritual journey. Prarabdha karma is that part of the Sanchita Karma which is posted to the present birth by Lord Brahma and hence it has to be cleared in this birth only. This concept has sometimes led to the philosophy of Fatalism and some scholars began to argue that since everything is pre-ordained why should we run here and there to alter our future. In the Upaishads Lord Brahma is also depicted as the immortal Lord of Heaven who receives the liberated souls at the end of their journey along the Northern path. Reference: WWW.hinduwebsite.com/hinduism/brahma.ap.
Sangam literature of Tamil(300BC-300CE) describes more times about lord Brahma by various authors.for example in Silapathikaram,lord Brahma mentioned as mamudu muralvanvaaimaiyin vazaa naanmurai marabin(மாமுது முரல்வன் வாய்மையின் வழாஅ நான்முறை மரபின்),literally means four infallible scriptures ordained by the venerable old brahma.
Though almost all Hindu religious rites involve prayer to Brahmā, very few temples are dedicated to His worship. Among the most prominent is the Brahmā temple at Pushkar. Once a year, on Kartik Poornima, the full moon night of the Hindu lunar month of Kartik (October – November), a religious festival is held in Brahmā's honour. Thousands of pilgrims come to bathe in the holy Pushkar Lake adjacent to the temple.There is a temple in Asotra village in Balotra taluka of Rajasthan's Barmer district, which is known as Kheteshwar Brahmadham Tirtha.
Temples to Brahmā also exist in Thirunavaya in Kerala. The Trimurti temple and the temple dedicated to Brahma accompanied by Ganesh, located outside Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple, in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, is also famous. Regular pujas are held for Brahmā at the temple in Thirunavaya, and during Navrathris, this temple comes to life with multi-varied festivities.
The largest and most famous shrine to Brahmā may be found in Cambodia's Angkor Wat.
In Java, Indonesia, the 9th century Prambanan Trimurti temple mainly is dedicated to Śiva, however Brahmā and Viṣṇu also venerated in separate large shrines inside the temple compound, a single large shrine dedicated to Brahmā on southern side of Śiva temple. There is a statue of Brahmā at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok. The golden dome of the Government House of Thailand also contains a statue of Phra Phrom (Thai representation of Brahmā).
Temples devoted to Brahmā
Today, India has very few temples dedicated to Brahmā.
- Brahma Temple at Khokhan, in Kullu District, Himachal Pradesh
- Brahma Temple at Asotra, District Barmer, Rajasthan
- Brahma Temple at Oachira in Kollam district, Kerala
- Brahma temple at village aleo shrishty narayan, in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh
- Brahma temple at Annamputhur village srinidheeswarar in Tindivanam,Tamil Nadu
- Brahma Temple at Pushkar , Rajasthan
- Thirunavaya, Thiruvallam , Kerala
- Brahma Temple at Royakotta road in Hosur , Tamil Nadu
- Uttamar Kovil in Srirangam, Tamil Nadu
- Kumbakonam, Thanjavur District, Tamil Nadu
- Khedbrahma, Gujarat
- The Brahma Temple near Panajiin the village of Brahma-Carambolim in the Satari taluka, Goa
- Brahma (accompanied by Ganesh) Temple, near the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple, Thiruvananthapuram , Kerala
- Bramhapureeswarar temple in Tirupattur, near Trichy, Tamil Nadu
- BrahmaKuti Temple at Brahmaavart (Bithoor), Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh)
- Bahma Temple at village Chhinch, Tehsil Bagidoa, District Banswara, Rajasthan
Recently built temples
- Chaturmukha Brahma temple in Chebrolu, Andhra Pradesh
- Chaturmukha (Four Faces) Brahma temple at Bengaluru, Karnataka,
- Brahma Kapaalam: Even though Brahma is shown typically as having four heads looking in four directions the legend holds it that in the beginning he had only one head and then developed five heads subsequently.
Satyaloka – abode of Brahmā
Satyaloka is by 120,000,000 yojanas above Tapoloka. Thus the distance from the Sun to Satyaloka is 233,800,000 yojanas, or 1,870,400,000 miles. The Vaikuṇṭha planets begin 26,200,000 yojanas (209,600,000 miles) above Satyaloka. "In the Padma Purāṇam it has been definitely stated that on the four sides of the spiritual sky there are four different transcendental abodes occupied by Vāsudeva, Sankarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha respectively. So also in the material sky also they are similarly placed on all the four sides. The Vaikuṇṭha sphere which is covered with spiritual water is inhabited by Vāsudeva and this Vaikuṇṭha is known as Devavatipur. Above the Satyaloka there is Viṣṇuloka where Sankarṣaṇa resides. In the middle of the Ocean of Milk there is an island called Śvetadvipa which is resided in by Aniruddha lying on the bed of Ananta."(Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, Chapter 5 [Handwritten])
Duration of Brahmā's day
With regard to Brahmā's day and night, each consists of 14 of his hours or 4.32 billion human years. "Brahma has four heads" (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 12.8.2–5).
According to vaishnavites, Brahmā has his own sampradāya. Brahmā appeared on a lotus flower which sprouted from the navel of Garbhodakṣāyi Viṣṇu. After meditation Brahmā created 14 planetary systems and many living beings came there in 8400000 kinds of material bodies according to their past desires. Brahmā received Vedas from Vishnu, and this Brahmā-sampradāya is transmitting knowledge from Vishnu Himself to Earth. As our Brahmā is devotee of Krishna just like other Brahmās in other material universes, we have this Brahmā sampradāya.
- Brahma (Buddhism)
- Brahma Samhita
- Brahma sampradaya
- Creator deity
- Phra Phrom
- Brahma from Mirpur-Khas
Notes and references
- Frazier, Jessica (2011). The Continuum companion to Hindu studies. London: Continuum. p. 72. ISBN 978-0-8264-9966-0.
- Frazier, Jessica (2011). The Continuum companion to Hindu studies. London: Continuum. p. 72. ISBN 978-0-8264-9966-0.
- Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam, ed. India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 79.
- http://www.hinduwebsite.com/hinduism/brahma.ap/ article by Jayaram V
- Silappadikaram By S. Krishnamoorthy. p. 35.
- "Srila Prabhupada's Original pre-1978 Books Online". PrabhupadaBooks.com. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
- "Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 12 Chapter 8 Verses 2-5". Vedabase.net. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
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