BRAHMÂ – The Creator of the Universe

Brahmâ rose to importance in the late Vedic period of the Âranyakas and Upanishads, after the first Hindu triad declined—that of Sûrya, Indra, and Agni. Brahmâ’s temple at Pushkara was the beginning point for pilgrimages from the time of the two great epics.

However, it turned out to be the only temple dedicated to Brahmâ as the primary deity that has survived the centuries. His cult may have once been important enough to command the respect of pilgrims, but he was badly used in most of the later myths. Even though Brahmâ has had roles in more myths than any other god or goddess, his parts have left him flat and one-dimensional.

In the Brâhmanas he was associated with Prajâpati and later replaced him as the creator. His creations, however, came to be seen as re-creations. It was S´iva, Vishnu, or Devî who was said to be the ultimate origin of the universe. Brahmâ was only its current creator (or re-creator). In his many myths Brahmâ rewarded austerities (tapas) of men and demons by granting them their most frequent wish, the wish for immortality.

Although that boon was limited and did not bestow complete immortality, it always caused a great deal of trouble for the gods. So Brahmâ was usually in trouble with the other gods. In these instances, Vishnu or S´iva, depending on the viewpoint of the myth, would save the gods from the demons. The supreme god, Vishnu or S´iva, would find the limitation of Brahmâ’s boon of immortality in order to defeat the demon who had gained the boon and return the world to its proper order.

In the Purânas, Brahmâ the creator was joined in a divine triad with Vishnu and Mahevara (S´iva), who were the preserver and destroyer, respectively. The universe was created by Brahmâ, preserved by Vishnu, and destroyed for the next creation by S´iva. However, the birth of Brahmâ was attributed to Vishnu in some myths. Brahmâ was often depicted as sitting on a throne arising from the navel of Vishnu, who was resting on the cosmic serpent, Ananta (also S´esha).

In the very beginning Vishnu alone was there. When Vishnu thought about creation, Brahmâ was created from a lotus that came from his navel. There was a S´aiva myth that told of S´iva’s appearance to Vishnu and Brahmâ as a cosmic linga. Vishnu attempted to go to the top and bottom of this giant pillar. He was only able to go to the top of the universe and the bottom of the sea, but he did not find the end of the linga.

BRAHMÂ - A deva (god)

Brahmâ lied that he had reached its end, thus claiming to be superior to S´iva. So S´iva cursed him, so that Brahmâ would never again have temples dedicated to his worship, and except for the temple to him at Pushkara, the myth seemed to fit the facts of history so that the curse seems to have been fulfilled. His final roles in the later Purânas were reminders of how mighty Brahmâ was debased.

One myth claimed that Brahmâ committed incest with his daughter, goddess of speech (Vâc). But this myth had already been told about Prajâpati, lord of creatures. Iconographically, Brahmâ’s image had four heads. (A fifth had been cut off by the fingernail of a horrific aspect of S´iva.) He carried a water jar, offering ladle, meditation beads, a lotus, and a bow or scepter. His vehicle was the swan (hamsa) or goose.

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