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Brahma
Brahma
(/ˈbrəhmɑː/; Sanskrit: ब्रह्मा, IAST: Brahmā) is a creator god in Hinduism. His consort is the goddess Saraswati[4] and he is the father of the Prajapatis.[5]He is depicted in Hindu
Hindu
iconography with four faces[6] and is also known as Svayambhu (self-born)[7] and Vāgīśa (Lord of speech and the creator of the four Vedas, one from each of his mouths).[6][8] Brahma
Brahma
is sometimes identified with the Vedic god Prajapati, as well as linked to Kama
Kama
and Hiranyagarbha (the cosmic egg)[9][10]. He is more prominently mentioned in the post-Vedic Hindu
Hindu
epics and the mythologies in the Puranas. In the epics, he is conflated with Purusha.[6] Although, Brahma
Brahma
is part of the Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva Trimurti, ancient Hindu
Hindu
scriptures mention multiple other trinities of gods or goddesses which do not include Brahma.[11][12][note 1] Several Puranas
Puranas
describe him as emerging from a lotus, connected to the navel of Lord Vishnu. Other Puranas
Puranas
suggest that he is born from Shiva
Shiva
or his aspects,[14] or he is a supreme god in diverse versions of Hindu
Hindu
mythology.[9] Brahma, along with other deities, is sometimes viewed as a form (saguna) of the otherwise formless (nirguna) Brahman, the ultimate metaphysical reality in Vedantic Hinduism.[12][10] Brahma
Brahma
does not enjoy popular worship in present-age Hinduism
Hinduism
and has lesser importance than the other members of the Trimurti, Vishnu
Vishnu
and Shiva. Brahma
Brahma
is revered in ancient texts, yet rarely worshiped as a primary deity in India.[15] Very few temples dedicated to him exist in India; the most famous being the Brahma Temple, Pushkar
Brahma Temple, Pushkar
in Rajasthan.[16] Brahma
Brahma
temples are found outside India, such as at the Erawan Shrine
Erawan Shrine
in Bangkok.[17]

Contents

1 Origin and meaning 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 Difference between Brahma, Brahman, Brahmin
Brahmin
and Brahmanas 6 See also 7 Notes and references

7.1 Notes 7.2 References

8 External links

Origin and meaning[edit]

Left: Brahma
Brahma
at the 12th century Chennakesava Temple, Somanathapura; Right: Brahma
Brahma
at a 6th/7th Aihole
Aihole
temple.

The origins of Brahma
Brahma
are uncertain, in part because several related words such as one for Ultimate Reality
Ultimate Reality
(Brahman), and priest (Brahmin) are found in the Vedic literature. The existence of a distinct deity named Brahma
Brahma
is evidenced in late Vedic text.[18] A distinction between spiritual concept of Brahman, and deity Brahma, is that the former is a genderless abstract metaphysical concept in Hinduism,[19] while the latter is one of the many masculine gods in Hindu mythology.[20] The spiritual concept of Brahman
Brahman
is far older, and some scholars suggest deity Brahma
Brahma
may have emerged as a personal conception and visible icon of the impersonal universal principle called Brahman.[18] In Sanskrit
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.[21] Contrasted to the neuter noun is the masculine noun brahmán, whose nominative singular form is Brahma.[note 2] This singular form is used as the proper name of the deity, Brahma. History[edit] Vedic literature[edit]

The 10th century artwork from Bihar showing the trinity of Vishnu, Shiva
Shiva
and Brahma

One of the earliest mentions of Brahma
Brahma
with Vishnu
Vishnu
and Shiva
Shiva
is in the fifth Prapathaka (lesson) of the Maitrayaniya Upanishad, probably composed in late 1st millennium BCE. Brahma
Brahma
is first discussed in verse 5,1, also called the Kutsayana Hymn, and then expounded in verse 5,2.[22][23] In the pantheistic Kutsayana Hymn,[22] the Upanishad
Upanishad
asserts that one's Soul is Brahman, and this Ultimate Reality, Cosmic Universal or God
God
is within each living being. It equates the Atman (Soul, Self) within to be Brahma
Brahma
and various alternate manifestations of Brahman, as follows, "Thou art Brahma, thou art Vishnu, thou art Rudra
Rudra
(Shiva), thou art Agni, Varuna, Vayu, Indra, thou art All."[22][24] In the verse (5,2), Brahma, Vishnu
Vishnu
and Shiva
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.[24][25] This chapter of the Maitri Upanishad
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).[22][24] Of these three qualities, Rajas is then mapped to Brahma, as follows:[26]

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
Upanishad
5.2, [22][24]

While the Maitri Upanishad
Upanishad
maps Brahma
Brahma
with one of the elements of Guṇa
Guṇa
theory of Hinduism, the text does not depict him as one of the trifunctional elements of the Hindu
Hindu
Trimurti
Trimurti
idea found in later Puranic literature.[27] Post-Vedic, Epics and Puranas[edit]

In Vaishnava
Vaishnava
Puranic mythology, Brahma
Brahma
emerges on a lotus from Vishnu's navel as Vishnu
Vishnu
creates the cosmic cycle.[28]

The post-Vedic texts of Hinduism
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.[29] The primary creator is extensively discussed in Vedic cosmogonies with Brahman
Brahman
or Purusha or Devi
Devi
among the terms used for the primary creator,[29][30] while the Vedic and post-Vedic texts name different gods and goddesses as secondary creators (often Brahma
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).[14][29] Brahma
Brahma
is a "secondary creator" as described in the Mahabharata
Mahabharata
and Puranas, and among the most studied and described.[31][32][33] Born from a lotus emerging from the navel of Vishnu, Brahma
Brahma
creates all the forms in the universe, but not the primordial universe itself.[28] In contrast, the Shiva-focussed Puranas
Puranas
describe Brahma
Brahma
and Vishnu
Vishnu
to have been created by Ardhanarishvara, that is half Shiva
Shiva
and half Parvati; or alternatively, Brahma
Brahma
was born from Rudra, or Vishnu, Shiva
Shiva
and Brahma
Brahma
creating each other cyclically in different aeons (kalpa).[14] Thus in most Puranic texts, Brahma's creative activity depends on the presence and power of a higher god.[34] In the Bhagavata Purana, Brahma
Brahma
is portrayed several times as the one who rises from the "Ocean of Causes".[35] Brahma, states this Purana, emerges at the moment when time and universe is born, inside a lotus rooted in the navel of Hari
Hari
(deity Vishnu, whose praise is the primary focus in the Purana). The myth asserts that Brahma
Brahma
is drowsy, errs and is temporarily incompetent as he puts together the universe.[35] He then becomes aware of his confusion and drowsiness, meditates as an ascetic, then realizes Hari
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
Prakriti
(nature, matter) and Purusha (spirit, soul) to create a dazzling variety of living creatures, and tempest of causal nexus.[35] The Bhagavata Purana
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

Lord Brahma
Brahma
Idol

.[36] The Puranas
Puranas
describe Brahma
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.[34] The stories about Brahma
Brahma
in various Puranas
Puranas
are diverse and inconsistent. In Skanda Purana, for example, goddess Parvati
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.[37] The Vedic discussion of Brahma
Brahma
as a Rajas-quality god expands in the Puranic and Tantric literature. However, these texts state that his wife Saraswati
Saraswati
has Sattva
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).[38][39][40] Iconography[edit]

Left: 19th century roundel of four-headed Brahma
Brahma
as a red-complexioned aged man, holding manuscript (Vedas), a ladle and a lotus; Right: 6th century Brahma
Brahma
in Badami cave temples
Badami cave temples
holding a writing equipment, ladle, and mala.

Brahma
Brahma
is traditionally depicted with four faces and four arms.[2] 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 sruva or shruk — ladle types symbolizing means to feed sacrificial fire, and in fourth a kamandalu – utensil with water symbolizing the means where all creation emanates from.[1][41] His four mouths are credited with creating the four Vedas.[6] 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.[2][42] Chapter 51 of Manasara-Silpasastra, an ancient design manual in Sanskrit
Sanskrit
for making Murti
Murti
and temples, states that a Brahma
Brahma
statue should be golden in color.[43] 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).[43] Two of his hands should be in refuge granting and gift giving mudra, while he should be shown with kundika (water pot), akshamala (rosary), and a small and a large sruk-sruva (laddles used in yajna ceremonies).[43] 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
Sarasvati
on his right and Savitri on his left.[43] Brahma's wife is the goddess Saraswati.[3][44] She is considered to be "the embodiment of his power, the instrument of creation and the energy that drives his actions".[45] Temples[edit] India[edit]

Brahma
Brahma
temples are relatively rare in India. Above: Brahma
Brahma
temple in Pushkar, Rajasthan.

Very few temples in India are primarily dedicated to Lord Brahma
Brahma
and his worship.[15] The most prominent Hindu temple
Hindu temple
for Brahma
Brahma
is the Brahma
Brahma
Temple, Pushkar.[16] Other temples include a temple in Asotra village, Balotra
Balotra
taluka of Rajasthan's Barmer district
Barmer district
known as Kheteshwar Brahmadham Tirtha. Brahma
Brahma
is also worshipped in temple complexes dedicated to the Trimurti: Uthamar Kovil, Ponmeri Shiva
Shiva
Temple, in Tirunavaya, the Thripaya Trimurti
Trimurti
Temple and Mithrananthapuram Trimurti
Trimurti
Temple. In Tamil Nadu, Brahma
Brahma
temples exist in the temple town of Kumbakonam, in Kodumudi
Kodumudi
and within the Brahmapureeswarar Temple
Brahmapureeswarar Temple
in Tiruchirappalli. There is a temple dedicated to Brahma
Brahma
in the temple town of Srikalahasti
Srikalahasti
near Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. There are a Chaturmukha Brahma
Brahma
temple in Chebrolu, Andhra Pradesh, and a seven feet height of Chatrumukha (Four Faces) Brahma
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.[citation needed] A famous icon of Brahma
Brahma
exists at Mangalwedha, 52 km from the Solapur
Solapur
district of Maharashtra
Maharashtra
and in Sopara
Sopara
near Mumbai. There is a 12th-century temple dedicated to him in Khedbrahma, Gujarat
Gujarat
and also a Brahma Kuti Temple in Kanpur. Temples exist in Khokhan, Annamputhur and Hosur. Southeast Asia[edit]

1: The four-faced Brahma
Brahma
(Phra Phrom) statue, Erawan Shrine, Thailand. 2: 12th-century Brahma
Brahma
with missing book and water pot, Cambodia. 3: 9th-century Brahma
Brahma
in Prambanan
Prambanan
temple, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. 4:11th-century Brahma
Brahma
at Chittagong University Museum.

A shrine to Brahma
Brahma
can be found in Cambodia's Angkor Wat. One of the three largest temples in the 9th-century Prambanan
Prambanan
temples complex in Yogyakarta, central Java
Java
(Indonesia) is dedicated to Brahma, the other two to Shiva
Shiva
(largest of three) and Vishnu
Vishnu
respectively.[46] The temple dedicated to Brahma
Brahma
is on southern side of Śiva temple. A statue of Brahma
Brahma
is present at the Erawan Shrine
Erawan Shrine
in Bangkok, Thailand
Thailand
and continues to be revered in modern times.[17] The golden dome of the Government House of Thailand
Thailand
houses a statue of Phra Phrom (Thai representation of Brahma). An early 18th-century painting at Wat Yai Suwannaram in Phetchaburi
Phetchaburi
city of Thailand
Thailand
depicts Brahma.[47] The name of the country Burma is derived from Brahma. In medieval texts, it is referred to as Brahma-desa.[48][49] East Asia[edit]

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

Brahma
Brahma
is a popular deity in Chinese folk religion
Chinese folk religion
and there are numerous temples devoted to the god in China
China
and Taiwan. Brahma
Brahma
is known in Chinese as Simianshen
Simianshen
(四面神, "Four-Faced God"), Tshangs pa in Tibetan and Bonten in Japanese.[50] Difference between Brahma, Brahman, Brahmin
Brahmin
and Brahmanas[edit] Brahma
Brahma
(Sanskrit: ब्रह्मा, brahmā)[51] is distinct from Brahman.[52] Brahma
Brahma
is a male deity, in the post-Vedic Puranic literature,[53] who creates but neither preserves nor destroys anything. He is envisioned in some Hindu texts
Hindu texts
to have emerged from the metaphysical Brahman
Brahman
along with Vishnu
Vishnu
(preserver), Shiva (destroyer), all other gods, goddesses, matter and other beings.[54] In theistic schools of Hinduism
Hinduism
where deity Brahma
Brahma
is described as part of its cosmology, he is a mortal like all gods and goddesses, and dissolves into the abstract immortal Brahman
Brahman
when the universe ends, then a new cosmic cycle (kalpa) restarts again.[53][55] The deity Brahma
Brahma
is mentioned in the Vedas
Vedas
and the Upanishads
Upanishads
but is uncommon,[56] while the abstract Brahman
Brahman
concept is predominant in these texts, particularly the Upanishads.[57] In the Puranic and the Epics literature, deity Brahma
Brahma
appears more often, but inconsistently. Some text suggest that god Vishnu
Vishnu
created Brahma,[58] others suggest god Shiva
Shiva
created Brahma,[59] yet others suggest goddess Devi
Devi
created Brahma,[60] and these texts then go on to state that Brahma
Brahma
is a secondary creator of the world working respectively on their behalf.[60][61] Further, the medieval era texts of these major theistic traditions of Hinduism
Hinduism
assert that the saguna (representation with face and attributes)[62] Brahman
Brahman
is Vishnu,[63] Shiva,[64] or Devi[65] respectively, and that the Atman (soul, self) within every living being is the same or part of this ultimate, eternal Brahman.[66] Brahman
Brahman
(Sanskrit: ब्रह्मन्, brahman)[51] is a metaphysical concept of Hinduism
Hinduism
referring to the ultimate reality.[52] According to Doniger, the Brahman
Brahman
in the Hindu
Hindu
thought is the uncreated, eternal, infinite, transcendent, the cause, the foundation, the source and the goal of all existence.[54] Brahmin (Sanskrit: ब्राह्मण, Brahmin)[67] is a varna in Hinduism
Hinduism
specialising in theory as priests, preservers and transmitters of sacred literature across generations.[68][69] The Brahmanas, or Brahmana
Brahmana
Granthas, (Sanskrit: ब्राह्मणग्रंथ, brāhmaṇa)[70] are one of the four ancient layers of texts within the Vedas. They are primarily a digest incorporating myths, legends, the explanation of Vedic rituals and in some cases philosophy.[71][72] They are embedded within each of the four Vedas, and form a part of the Hindu
Hindu
śruti literature.[73] See also[edit]

Brahma
Brahma
(Buddhism) Brahma
Brahma
Samhita Brahmastra Bonten (梵天) Phra Phrom Brahma
Brahma
from Mirpur-Khas Brahmakumari Brahmani Satyaloka Brahmins Gayatri Narad Saraswati Svetovid Trimurti Vishnu Vedas Jehovah Yahweh Ahura Mazda Creator God

Notes and references[edit] Notes[edit]

^ The Trimurti
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".[13] Other trinities, beyond the more common "Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva", mentioned in ancient and medieval Hindu texts
Hindu texts
include: "Indra, Vishnu, Brahmanaspati", "Agni, Indra, Surya", "Agni, Vayu, Aditya", "Mahalakshmi, Mahasarasvati, and Mahakali", and others.[11][12] ^ In Devanagari
Devanagari
brahma is written ब्रह्म. It differs from Brahma
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[edit]

^ a b Roshen Dalal (2010). The Religions of India: A Concise Guide to Nine Major Faiths. Penguin Books. pp. 66–67. ISBN 978-0-14-341517-6.  ^ a b c Kenneth Morgan (1996), The Religion of the Hindus, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120803879, page 74 ^ a b Elizabeth Dowling and W George Scarlett (2005), Encyclopedia of Religious and Spiritual Development, SAGE Publications, ISBN 978-0761928836 page 204 ^ Charles Russell Coulter; Patricia Turner (2013). Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities. Routledge. p. 240. ISBN 978-1-135-96397-2. , Quote: "Brahma, a creator god, received the basics of his mythological history from Purusha. During the Brahmanic period, the Hindu
Hindu
Trimurti
Trimurti
was represented by Brahma with his attribute of creation, Shiva
Shiva
with his attribute of destruction and Vishnu
Vishnu
with his attribute of preservation." ^ Dalal, Roshen (2014-04-18). The Religions of India: A Concise Guide to Nine Major Faiths. Penguin UK. ISBN 9788184753967.  ^ a b c d Bruce Sullivan (1999), Seer of the Fifth Veda: Kr̥ṣṇa Dvaipāyana Vyāsa in the Mahābhārata, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120816763, pages 85-86 ^ Alf Hiltebeitel (1999), Rethinking India's Oral and Classical Epics, University of Chicago Press, ISBN 978-0226340517, page 292 ^ 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
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
Vedanta
Hindu
Hindu
Philosophy, Brahman
Brahman
is the Absolute. In the Upanishads, Brahman
Brahman
becomes the eternal first cause, present everywhere and nowhere, always and never. Brahman
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
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
Brahma
– in a sense, a personification of Brahman
Brahman
(...) Moksha, the connection between the transcendental absolute Brahman
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
Hindu
Trinity, Anthropos, Bd 63/64, H 1/2, pages 212-226 ^ Jan Gonda (1969), The Hindu
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
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- Sanskrit
Sanskrit
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Trinity, Anthropos, Vol. 63, pages 215-219 ^ Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads
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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
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Myths in Mallarmé: Un Coup de Dés, Comparative Literature, Vol. 19, No. 1, pages 28-35 ^ Richard Anderson (1967), Hindu
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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
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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
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Goddesses: Vision of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu
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