If mountains of black collyrium are mixed with the
waters of the ocean to serve as ink, If branches of the Kalpa Vriksha
serve as the stylus If to the writer, Goddess Sarada, the earth
serves as the blank sheet They will all still be insufficient to
describe the glory of Lord Brahma. The four faced god, Brahma,
conceived as the first of all gods precedes the Universe in existence
and engages in creation.
Even among deities, a
process of selection seems to operate: there are some who have a fan
following establishing cults along history and time, while others
remain as figureheads adorning the Hindu pantheon, but not having nay
day to day ritualistic contact with the masses. They do not get
personified in idols along road corners nor do they have their
birthdays celebrated. On such is Lord Brahma. He has but one
solitary temple at Pushkar, Rajasthan and some small shrines across
the country. But, say interpreters of Hindu traditions and
scriptures, Brahma is the creator of the heaven and the earth. He is
the creator of all. He knows all. But He, He Himself cannot be
comprehended by mortals. Brahma lives in the mortal world
unassumingly. As we get better acquainted with him, there are many
other myths that explain why.
Brahma also known
as Prajapati is the creator par excellence, the foremost of the Hindu
trinity, the other two being Siva and Vishnu, the destroyer and the
protector. Brahma is also the first and the most ancient God, who is
known in the Rg Veda (the oldest of the Vedas) by various epithets.
He is the dhata (the one who
gives), the Vidhata (the
Supreme). He is also called Brhaspathi and Brahmanaspati.
At one plane Brahma
is associated with activities that are similar to those in the mortal
world. At another, Brahma represents high philosophy. He, as the
creator symbolizes the Principle of Rest. Al motion proceeds from a
source that is at rest. This aspect of Prajapati is an unkown
quantity symbol referred to as Ka
in the Rgveda. Ka, in
Sanskrit means who. The one who created all is described
by the single word ka and is later identified with Prajapati and
Brahma in the Rg Veda. It is in this unknown, unmanifested form that
Brahma transcends time and space.
Brahma is referred
to in many texts as Swayambhu
(self-born) or aja (unborn).
Nobody created him, he is self existent, the first cause of all and
existing by his own intrinsic powers.
In one version, it
is said that Brahma created the primeval waters and deposited his
seed, the cosmic seed, the golden egg in the waters. The glistening
golden egg was inanimate and so Brahma Himself entered it to animate
it. It broke and form it came Brahma, once again. So he is called
Hiranyagarbha or born of a
In another version,
in a Puranic text called the Vamanapurana,
it is said that in the very beginning all was water. The germ of
living beings gathered into an egg. Brahma who was within the egg,
went off to sleep therein. The sleep continued for a thousand yugas
But before going on
with the story I will gave to call attention to the time span
mentioned. Time, in Hindu mythology is measured with Brahmas
time cycle. It is believed that he too has a limited time span after
which he will be recreated into a new version. But using his life
span as the largest measure, the smallest moment has been described.
Do you know how long one kastha,
is? It comprises twelve parts of the smallest unit of time, nimisa.
How long, then, is a nimisa?
It could perhaps be defined as a second or as the smallest
conceivable measure of time and so on, but it requires genius to be
able to define one nimisa as
equal to the length of time taken to bat the eyelid. And that is how
the Puranic texts define the nimisa.
If the eyelid bats fifteen times, you have lived one kastha.
Thirty kasthas make one kala.
Nine hundred kalas make one
day and night. Fifteen days make one paksha
and twenty-four pakshas make
one year. One night of Brahma is forty-three crores twenty lacs of
human years (432,00,00,000 years) in length. Thirty-six thousand
days and nights of Brahma make for his complete life span. So, in
terms of Brahmas life which has inconceivable time within it,
the smallest wink has been placed!
Going back to the
story, Brahma lay within the egg and when he woke, he cut the egg
open. From it the Omkara or
the sacred syllable Om
emanated. The first sound was bhuh,
the second bhuvaha and the
third svaha. So they came to
be known as Bhurbhuvaha svaha,
with the sun emerging from the egg, in the centre of which was the
Yet another Purana
titled the Devi Purana says
Brahma came form the navel of Lord Vishnu. It is said that Lord
Vishnu was lying on a banyan leaf, cuddling as a child. He lay
wondering who he was and who had created him. What had he been
created for and what was his work were some the other questions
plaguing him. And then the story unfolded before his eyes where
divine inspiration came to him saying that it was but a pattern of
the world that each time creation was to begin, Lord Vishnu had to be
born again. And this time form his navel, Lord Brahma was to emerge.
Accordingly, it is believed that from his navel a golden coloured
lotus grew and on the lotus was seated Brahma. This episode is also
called the padma vidhi or the
lotus way: wherein the whole world is described in parts of the
lotus. Brahma began his action of creation from there.
Besides being the
creator, Brahma is also associated with the knowledge of the Vedas.
He enunciates Vedic knowledge in a fourfold pattern, the
quadrupilication conceived as a Swastika, which underlies every
manifest form. Brahma is said to have four faces, each one for one
Veda. The legend related by grandmothers goes that Brahma was very
fond of his wife Satarupa. One day as she was walking around Brahma,
he found he could not turn his head and look at her for his daughters
were also seated beside him. To solve this problem, in the place of
one, he grew five heads facing the air. One he lost in a battle with
Siva, the other four remain.
performed by Brahma are of two kinds. The first is Sarga
or that kind of creation which survive destruction at the end of each
day of Brahma. They are probably the divine entities. The next
creation is called pratisarga
or that which is temporary in nature and can be destroyed. The
universe itself falls into the second category what to talk of mortal
beings, for a fire or flood can completely destroy it.
Yet Brahma, the one
who measures our time with but a wink, is not worshiped widely.
Researchers feel till the 5th century AD he was worshipped
and his worshipers were called Vipras. Many others feel he never was
worshipped, he was always overshadowed by the other two gods of the
trinity. They tell a story why he is not worshiped: Vishnu and
Brahma were having a heated discussion. Brahma said he had
single-handedly created the universe and Vishnu was not wiling to
stomach that. As they were fighting for credits, A huge shining
linga (the phallic symbol of
Siva), a column of fire as it were, appeared before them. Vishnu
assumed the form of a boar and went underground looking for the base
of the pillar of fire. No base could be found. He came back saying
so. Brahma went upwards, into the sky in the form of a swan. He
went on and on but no end was in sight. Tired he decided to turn
around and get back when he saw a flower falling. He stopped the
flower and enquired where it was coming from. The flower replied
that it was falling down from Sivas head. An idea struck
Brahma and he came back and said he had reached the head of Siva. As
proof he held out the flower. Vishnu however admitted that he could
not find the base. Siva cursed Brahma for telling lies by saying
that he would not have a cult of is own on earth. So it is that no
shrine is built exclusively for Brahma.