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Lord Brahma - Present at the Creation

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 golden egg.

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 or ages.

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 Brahma’s 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 Brahma’s 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 creator Brahma.

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.

The creations 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 Siva’s 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.