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BRAHMA (/ˈbrəhmɑː/ ; Sanskrit : ब्रह्म, IAST : Brahmā) is the god of creation and he is attributed to the creation of the brahmãnd (entire universe). He is also a part of Trimurti in Hinduism along with Vishnu and Shiva . Brahma is also known as _ Svayambhu _ (self-born), _Vāgīśa_ (Lord of Speech), and is the creator of the four Vedas , one from each of his mouths.

Brahma is identified with the Vedic god Prajapati , as well as linked to Kama and Hiranyagarbha (the cosmic egg) . He is more prominently mentioned in the post-Vedic Hindu epics and the mythologies in the Puranas . In the epics, he is conflated with Purusha . Although, Brahma is part of the "Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva" trimurti, ancient Hindu scriptures mention multiple trinities of gods or goddesses which do not include Brahma.

Several puranas describe him emerging from a lotus, connected to the navel of Lord Vishnu. Other Puranas suggest that he is born from Shiva or his aspects, or he is a supreme god in diverse versions of Hindu mythology. Brahma, along with all deities, is sometimes viewed as a form (sarguna ) of the otherwise formless (nirguna ) Brahman , the ultimate metaphysical reality and cosmic soul in Advaita philosophy.

Brahma does not enjoy popular worship in present-age Hinduism and has lesser importance than the other members of the Trimurti, Vishnu and Shiva . Brahma is revered in ancient texts, yet rarely worshipped as a primary deity in India. Very few temples dedicated to him exist in India; the most famous being the Brahma Temple, Pushkar in Rajasthan. Brahma temples are found outside India, such as in Thailand at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok .

CONTENTS

* 1 Etymology

* 2 History

* 2.1 Vedic literature * 2.2 Post-Vedic, Epics and Puranas

* 3 Iconography

* 4 Temples

* 4.1 India * 4.2 Southeast Asia * 4.3 East Asia

* 5 Gallery * 6 See also

* 7 Notes and references

* 7.1 Notes * 7.2 References

* 8 External links

ETYMOLOGY

Brahma sculpture at the 12th century Chennakesava temple at Somanathapura, Karnataka .

The origins of Brahma are uncertain, in part because several related words such as one for Ultimate Reality ( Brahman ), and priest (Brahmin ) are found in the Vedic literature. The existence of a distinct deity named _Brahma_ is evidenced in late Vedic text. A distinction between spiritual concept of Brahman, and deity Brahma, is that the former is gender neutral abstract metaphysical concept in Hinduism, while the latter is one of the many masculine gods in Hindu mythology. The spiritual concept of Brahman is far older, and some scholars suggest deity Brahma may have emerged as a personal conception and visible icon of the impersonal universal principle called Brahman.

In Sanskrit grammar , the noun stem _brahman_ forms two distinct nouns; one is a neuter noun _bráhman _, whose nominative singular form is _brahma_; this noun has a generalized and abstract meaning.

Contrasted to the neuter noun is the masculine noun _brahmán_, whose nominative singular form is _Brahma_. This singular form is used as the proper name of the deity, _Brahma_.

HISTORY

VEDIC LITERATURE

The Trinity of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma

One of the earliest mentions of Brahma with Vishnu and Shiva is in the fifth _Prapathaka_ (lesson) of the Maitrayaniya Upanishad , probably composed in late 1st millennium BCE. Brahma is first discussed in verse 5,1 also called the _Kutsayana Hymn_, and then expounded in verse 5,2.

In the pantheistic _Kutsayana Hymn_, the Upanishad asserts that one's Soul is Brahman, and this Ultimate Reality, Cosmic Universal or God is within each living being. It equates the Atman (Soul, Self) within to be Brahma and various alternate manifestations of Brahman, as follows, "Thou art Brahma, thou art Vishnu, thou art Rudra (Shiva), thou art Agni, Varuna, Vayu, Indra, thou art All."

In the verse (5,2), Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are mapped into the theory of Guṇa , that is qualities, psyche and innate tendencies the text describes can be found in all living beings. This chapter of the Maitri Upanishad asserts that the universe emerged from darkness (_Tamas_), first as passion characterized by action qua action (_Rajas_), which then refined and differentiated into purity and goodness (_Sattva_). Of these three qualities, _Rajas_ is then mapped to _Brahma_, as follows:

Now then, that part of him which belongs to _Tamas_, that, O students of sacred knowledge (Brahmacharins ), is this Rudra. That part of him which belongs to _Rajas_, that O students of sacred knowledge, is this BRAHMA. That part of him which belongs to _Sattva_, that O students of sacred knowledge, is this Vishnu. Verily, that One became threefold, became eightfold, elevenfold, twelvefold, into infinite fold. This Being (neuter) entered all beings, he became the overlord of all beings. That is the Atman (Soul, Self) within and without – yea, within and without ! — Maitri Upanishad 5.2,

While the Maitri Upanishad maps Brahma with one of the elements of _Guṇa_ theory of Hinduism, the text does not depict him as one of the trifunctional elements of the Hindu _Trimurti_ idea found in later Puranic literature.

POST-VEDIC, EPICS AND PURANAS

In Vaishnava Puranic mythology, Brahma emerges from a lotus risen from Vishnu's navel while he rests on the serpent Shesha .

The post-Vedic texts of Hinduism offer multiple theories of cosmogony , many involving Brahma. These include _Sarga_ (primary creation of universe) and _Visarga_ (secondary creation), ideas related to the Indian thought that there are two levels of reality, one primary that is unchanging (metaphysical ) and other secondary that is always changing (empirical ), and that all observed reality of the latter is in an endless repeating cycle of existence, that cosmos and life we experience is continually created, evolved, dissolved and then re-created. The primary creator is extensively discussed in Vedic cosmogonies with _Brahman_ or _ Purusha _ or _ Devi _ among the terms used for the primary creator, while the Vedic and post-Vedic texts name different gods and goddesses as secondary creators (often Brahma in post-Vedic texts), and in some cases a different god or goddess is the secondary creator at the start of each cosmic cycle (_kalpa_, aeon).

Brahma is a "secondary creator" as described in the _ Mahabharata _ and Puranas , and among the most studied and described. Born from a lotus emerging from the navel of Vishnu , Brahma creates all the forms in the universe, but not the primordial universe itself. In contrast, the Shiva -focussed Puranas describe Brahma and Vishnu to have been created by Ardhanarishvara , that is half Shiva and half Parvati; or alternatively, Brahma was born from Rudra , or Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma creating each other cyclically in different aeons (kalpa ). Thus in most Puranic texts, Brahma's creative activity depends on the presence and power of a higher god. Lord Brahma in various epics

In the _Bhagavata Purana _, Brahma is portrayed several times as the one who rises from the "Ocean of Causes". Brahma, states this Purana, emerges at the moment when time and universe is born, inside a lotus rooted in the navel of _Hari_ (deity Vishnu, whose praise is the primary focus in the Purana). The myth asserts that Brahma is drowsy, errs and is temporarily incompetent as he puts together the universe. He then becomes aware of his confusion and drowsiness, meditates as an ascetic, then realizes _Hari_ in his heart, sees the beginning and end of universe, and then his creative powers are revived. Brahma, states Bhagavata Purana, thereafter combines _ Prakriti _ (nature, matter) and _ Purusha _ (spirit, soul) to create a dazzling variety of living creatures, and tempest of causal nexus. The Bhagavata Purana thus attributes the creation of Maya to Brahma, wherein he creates for the sake of creation, imbuing everything with both the good and the evil, the material and the spiritual, a beginning and an end.

The Puranas describe Brahma as the deity creating time. They correlate human time to Brahma's time, such as a mahākalpa being a large cosmic period, correlating to one day and one night in Brahma's existence.

The stories about Brahma in various Puranas are diverse and inconsistent. In Skanda Purana , for example, goddess Parvati is called the "mother of the universe", and she is credited with creating Brahma, gods and the three worlds. She is the one, states Skanda Purana, who combined the three _Gunas_ - Sattva, Rajas and Tamas - into matter (_Prakrti_) to create the empirically observed world.

The Vedic discussion of Brahma as a _Rajas_-quality god expands in the Puranic and Tantric literature. However, these texts state that his wife Saraswati has _ Sattva _ (quality of balance, harmony, goodness, purity, holistic, constructive, creative, positive, peaceful, virtuous), thus complementing Brahma's _Rajas_ (quality of passion, activity, neither good nor bad and sometimes either, action qua action, individualizing, driven, dynamic).

ICONOGRAPHY

A 19th century roundel of Brahma, depicts him as a four-headed, red-complexioned aged man, who holds the Vedas, a ladle and a lotus in his hands.

Brahma is traditionally depicted with four faces and four arms. Each face of his points to a cardinal direction. His hands hold no weapons, rather symbols of knowledge and creation. In one hand he holds the sacred texts of Vedas , in second he holds _mala_ (rosary beads) symbolizing time, in third he holds a ladle symbolizing means to feed sacrificial fire, and in fourth a utensil with water symbolizing the means where all creation emanates from. His four mouths are credited with creating the four Vedas. He is often depicted with a white beard, implying his sage-like experience. He sits on lotus, dressed in white (or red, pink), with his vehicle (vahana ) – hansa , a swan or goose – nearby.

Chapter 51 of _Manasara-Silpasastra_, an ancient design manual in Sanskrit for making Murti and temples, states that Brahma statue should be golden in color. The text recommends that the statue have four faces and four arms, have _jata-mukuta-mandita_ (matted hair of an ascetic), and wear a diadem (crown). Two of his hands should be in refuge granting and gift giving mudra , while he should be shown with _kundika_ (water pot), _akshamala_ (rosary), a small and a large _sruk-sruva_ (laddles used in yajna ceremonies). The text details the different proportions of the _murti_, describes the ornaments, and suggests that the idol wear _chira_ (bark strip) as lower garment, and either be alone or be accompanied with goddesses Sarasvati on his right and Savitri on his left.

Brahma's wife is the goddess Saraswati. She is considered to be "the embodiment of his power, the instrument of creation and the energy that drives his actions".

TEMPLES

INDIA

Brahma at the Meenakshi Amman Temple , Tamil Nadu , India

Very few temples in India are primarily dedicated to Lord Brahma and his worship. The most prominent Hindu temple for Brahma is the Brahma Temple, Pushkar . Other temples include a temple in Asotra village, Balotra taluka of Rajasthan's Barmer district known as _Kheteshwar Brahmadham Tirtha_.

Brahma is also worshipped in temple complexes dedicated to the Trimurti: Uthamar Kovil , Ponmeri Shiva Temple , in Tirunavaya , the Thripaya Trimurti Temple and Mithrananthapuram Trimurti Temple . In Tamil Nadu, Brahma temples exist in the temple town of Kumbakonam , in Kodumudi and within the Brahmapureeswarar Temple in Tiruchirappalli .

There is a temple dedicated to Brahma in the temple town of Srikalahasti near Tirupati , Andhra Pradesh . There is a Chaturmukha Brahma temple in Chebrolu , Andhra Pradesh. A seven feet height of Chatrumukha (Four Faces) Brahma temple at Bangalore , Karnataka . In the coastal state of Goa , a shrine belonging to the fifth century, in the small and remote village of Carambolim , Sattari Taluka in the northeast region of the state is found.

Famous icon of Brahma exists at Mangalwedha , 52 km from the Solapur district of Maharashtra and in Sopara near Mumbai . There is a 12th-century temple dedicated to him in Khedbrahma , Gujarat and also a Brahma Kuti Temple in Kanpur . Temples exist in Khokhan , Annamputhur and Hosur .

SOUTHEAST ASIA

LEFT: The four-faced Brahma ( Phra Phrom ) statue, Erawan Shrine, Thailand . MIDDLE: 12th-century Brahma with missing book and water pot, Cambodia . RIGHT: 9th-century Brahma in Prambanan temple, Yogyakarta , Indonesia .

A shrine to Brahma can be found in Cambodia's Angkor Wat . One of the three largest temples in the 9th-century Prambanan temples complex in Yogyakarta, central Java (Indonesia) is dedicated to Brahma, the other two to Shiva (largest of three) and Vishnu respectively. The temple dedicated to Brahma is on southern side of Śiva temple.

A statue of Brahma is present at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok , Thailand and continues to be revered in modern times. The golden dome of the Government House of Thailand houses a statue of Phra Phrom (Thai representation of Brahma). An early 18th-century painting at Wat Yai Suwannaram in Phetchaburi city of Thailand depicts Brahma.

The name of the country of Burma is derived from Brahma. In medieval texts, it is referred to as _Brahma-desa_.

EAST ASIA

Phra Phrom at Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery , Sha Tin , Hong Kong .

Brahma is a popular deity in Chinese folk religion and there are numerous temples devoted to the god in China and Taiwan.

Brahma is known in Chinese as _Simianshen_ (四面神, "Four-Faced God") , _Tshangs pa_ in Tibetan and _Bonten_ in Japanese.

GALLERY

*

Brahma and Sage Vasishtha *

Brahma and Lord Shiva * *

SEE ALSO

* Brahma (Buddhism) * Brahma Samhita * Brahmastra * Bonten (梵天) * Creator deity * Phra Phrom * Brahma from Mirpur-Khas * Brahmakumari * Svetovid

NOTES AND REFERENCES

NOTES

* ^ The Trimurti idea of Hinduism, states Jan Gonda , "seems to have developed from ancient cosmological and ritualistic speculations about the triple character of an individual god, in the first place of _Agni_, whose births are three or threefold, and who is threefold light, has three bodies and three stations". Other trinities, beyond the more common "Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva", mentioned in ancient and medieval Hindu texts include: "Indra, Vishnu, Brahmanaspati", "Agni, Indra, Surya", "Agni, Vayu, Aditya", "Mahalakshmi, Mahasarasvati, and Mahakali", and others. * ^ In Devanagari _brahma_ is written ब्रह्म. It differs from _Brahma_ ब्रह्मा by having a _matra_ (diacritical ) in the form of an extra vertical stroke at the end. This indicates a longer vowel sound: long "ā" rather than short "a".

REFERENCES

* ^ Alf Hiltebeitel (1999), Rethinking India's Oral and Classical Epics, University of Chicago Press, ISBN 978-0226340517 , page 292 * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Cite error: The named reference bruce86 was invoked but never defined (see the help page ). * ^ Barbara Holdrege (2012), Veda and Torah: Transcending the Textuality of Scripture, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-1438406954 , pages 88-89 * ^ _A_ _B_ Charles Coulter and Patricia Turner (2000), Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities, Routledge, ISBN 978-0786403172 , page 258, Quote: "When Brahma is acknowledged as the supreme god, it was said that Kama sprang from his heart."

* ^ _A_ _B_ David Leeming (2009), Creation Myths of the World, 2nd Edition, ISBN 978-1598841749 , page 146; David Leeming (2005), The Oxford Companion to World Mythology, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195156690 , page 54, QUOTE: "Especially in the Vedanta Hindu Philosophy, Brahman is the Absolute. In the Upanishads, Brahman becomes the eternal first cause, present everywhere and nowhere, always and never. Brahman can be incarnated in Brahma, in Vishnu, in Shiva. To put it another way, everything that is, owes its existence to Brahman. In this sense, Hinduism is ultimately monotheistic or monistic, all gods being aspects of Brahman"; Also see pages 183-184, Quote: "Prajapati, himself the source of creator god Brahma – in a sense, a personification of Brahman (...) Moksha , the connection between the transcendental absolute Brahman and the inner absolute Atman ." * ^ _A_ _B_ David White (2006), Kiss of the Yogini, University of Chicago Press, ISBN 978-0226894843 , pages 4, 29 * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Jan Gonda (1969), The Hindu Trinity, Anthropos, Bd 63/64, H 1/2, pages 212-226 * ^ Jan Gonda (1969), The Hindu Trinity, Anthropos, Bd 63/64, H 1/2, pages 218-219 * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Stella Kramrisch (1994), The Presence of Siva, Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0691019307 , pages 205-206 * ^ _A_ _B_ Brian Morris (2005), Religion and Anthropology: A Critical Introduction, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521852418 , page 123 * ^ _A_ _B_ SS Charkravarti (2001), Hinduism, a Way of Life, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120808997 , page 15 * ^ _A_ _B_ Ellen London (2008), Thailand Condensed: 2,000 Years of History & Culture, Marshall Cavendish, ISBN 978-9812615206 , page 74 * ^ _A_ _B_ Bruce Sullivan (1999), Seer of the Fifth Veda, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120816763 , pages 82-83 * ^ James Lochtefeld, Brahman, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Vol. 1: A–M, Rosen Publishing. ISBN 978-0823931798 , page 122 * ^ James Lochtefeld, Brahma, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Vol. 1: A–M, Rosen Publishing. ISBN 978-0823931798 , page 119 * ^ Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam, ed. _India through the ages_. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 79. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ Hume, Robert Ernest (1921), _The Thirteen Principal Upanishads_, Oxford University Press, pp. 422–424 * ^ Maitri Upanishad - Sanskrit Text with English Translation EB Cowell (Translator), Cambridge University, Bibliotheca Indica, page 255-256 * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ Max Muller, The Upanishads, Part 2, Maitrayana- Brahmana Upanishad, Oxford University Press, pages 303-304 * ^ Jan Gonda (1968), The Hindu Trinity, Anthropos, Vol. 63, pages 215-219 * ^ Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120814684 , pages 344-346 * ^ GM Bailey (1979), Trifunctional Elements in the Mythology of the Hindu Trimūrti, Numen, Vol. 26, Fasc. 2, pages 152-163 * ^ _A_ _B_ Bryant, ed. by Edwin F. (2007). _ Krishna : a sourcebook_. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-19-514891-6 . CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link ) * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Tracy Pintchman (1994), The Rise of the Goddess in the Hindu Tradition, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791421123 , pages 122-138 * ^ Jan Gonda (1969), The Hindu Trinity, Anthropos, Bd 63/64, H 1/2, pages 213-214 * ^ Bryant, ed. by Edwin F. (2007). _ Krishna : a sourcebook_. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-19-514891-6 . CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link ) * ^ Sutton, Nicholas (2000). _Religious doctrines in the Mahābhārata_ (1st ed.). Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. p. 182. ISBN 81-208-1700-1 . * ^ Asian Mythologies by Yves Bonnefoy & Wendy Doniger. Page 46 * ^ _A_ _B_ Frazier, Jessica (2011). _The Continuum companion to Hindu studies_. London: Continuum. p. 72. ISBN 978-0-8264-9966-0 . * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Richard Anderson (1967), Hindu Myths in Mallarmé: Un Coup de Dés, Comparative Literature, Vol. 19, No. 1, pages 28-35 * ^ Richard Anderson (1967), Hindu Myths in Mallarmé: Un Coup de Dés, Comparative Literature, Vol. 19, No. 1, page 31-33 * ^ Nicholas Gier (1997), The Yogi and the Goddess, International Journal of Hindu Studies, Vol. 1, No. 2, pages 279-280 * ^ H Woodward (1989), The Lakṣmaṇa Temple, Khajuraho and Its Meanings, Ars Orientalis, Vol. 19, pages 30-34 * ^ Alban Widgery (1930), The principles of Hindu Ethics, International Journal of Ethics, Vol. 40, No. 2, pages 234-237 * ^ Joseph Alter (2004), Yoga in modern India, Princeton University Press, page 55 * ^ _A_ _B_ Kenneth Morgan (1996), The Religion of the Hindus, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120803879 , page 74 * ^ Philip Wilkinson and Neil Philip (2009), Mythology, Penguin, ISBN 978-0756642211 , page 156 * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ PK Acharya, A summary of the Mānsāra, a treatise on architecture and cognate subjects, PhD Thesis awarded by Rijksuniversiteit te Leiden, published by BRILL, OCLC 898773783 , page 50 * ^ Elizabeth Dowling and W George Scarlett (2005), Encyclopedia of Religious and Spiritual Development, SAGE Publications, ISBN 978-0761928836 page 204 * ^ David Kinsley (1988), Hindu Goddesses: Vision of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Traditions, University of California Press, ISBN 0-520063392 , pages 55-64 * ^ Charles Phillips et al (2011), Ancient India's Myths and Beliefs, World Mythologies Series, Rosen Publishing, ISBN 978-1448859900 , page 95 * ^ Trudy Ring et al (1996), International Dictionary of Historic Places: Asia and Oceania, Routledge, ISBN 978-1884964046 , page 692 * ^ Chami Jotisalikorn et al (2002), Classic Thai: Design, Interiors, Architecture., Tuttle, ISBN 978-9625938493 , pages 164-165 * ^ Arthur P. Phayre (2013)