Brahma

Country: India Category: Religion By: Kiki
Brahma
Brahma is the Hindu god (deva) of creation and one of the Trimurti, the others being Vishnu and Shiva. He is not to be confused with the Supreme Cosmic Spirit in Hindu Vedanta philosophy known as Brahman. Also, in Sanskrit grammar, Brahma is nominative singular of the generic word Brahman, as Aatma is nominative singular for Aatman. Brahaman and Aatman are the same in Vedanta philosophy, the Para-Aatma (Supersoul) and Jeeva Aatma (Individual Soul) are Brahman. His consort is Saraswati, the goddess of learning. Brahma is often identified with Prajapati, a Vedic deity.

At the beginning of the process of creation, Brahma created eleven Prajapatis, who are believed to be the fathers of the human race. The Manusmriti enumerates them as Marichi, Atri, Angirasa, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, Vasishtha, Prachetas (or Daksha), Bhrigu and Narada. He is also said to have created the seven great sages or the Saptarishi to help him create the universe. However since all these sons of his were born out of his mind rather than body, they are called Manas Putras or "mind-sons".

According to the Puranas, Brahma is born from the lotus flower which grew from the navel of Vishnu at the beginning of the universe. This explains his name Nabhija (born from the navel). Another legend says that Brahma was born from a golden egg in a pond. In this story Vishnu deposited a seed in the water that later became the golden egg. From this golden egg, Brahma the creator was born, as Hiranyagarbha. The remaining materials of this golden egg expanded into the "Brahm-anda" or Universe. Being born in water, Brahma is also called Kanja (born in water).

Brahma is traditionally depicted with four heads and 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 near eternal nature of his existence. He is shown as having four arms, with none holding a weapon, unlike most other Hindu Gods. One of his hands is shown holding a scepter in the form of a spoon, which is associated with the pouring of holy ghee or oil into a sacrificial pyre indicating the fact that Brahma is the lord of sacrifices. Another of his hands holds a water-pot (sometimes depicted as a coconut shell containing water). The significance of the water is that it is the initial, all-encompassing ether in which the first element of creation evolved. Brahma also holds a string of rosary beads that he uses to keep track of the Universe's time. He also is shown holding the Vedas, and sometimes, a lotus flower.

Another story in connection with Brahma's four heads is that when Brahma was creating the universe, he made a female deity known as Shatarupa (one with a hundred beautiful forms). Brahma became immediately infatuated. Shatarupa moved in various directions to avoid the gaze of Brahma. But wherever she went, Brahma developed a head. Thus, Brahma developed five heads, one on each side and one above the others. In order to control Brahma, Shiva cut off the top head. Also, Shiva felt that Shatarupa was Brahma's daughter, being created by him. Therefore, Shiva determined it was wrong for Brahma to become obsessed with her. He directed that there be no proper worship in India for the "unholy" Brahma. Thus, only Vishnu and Shiva continue to be worshipped, while Brahma is almost totally ignored. Ever since the incident, Brahma has been reciting the four Vedas in his attempt at repentance.

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