Brahma iconography is quite simple. He rides a goose and shown with red skin. He wears white robes, has four arms and carries the Vedas and his scepter or spoon or a string of beads or a bow. He is shown with a kanadala or water pot. But his most salient feature, however, are his four heads.
Brahma is traditionally depicted with four heads, four faces, and four arms. With each head, He continually recites one of the four Vedas. Brahma's 4 heads represent the 4 directions, the 4 Vedas ig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva and the 4 Varnas - Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras in Hindu Religion.
Originally with one head, he acquired four more, making it all five. This is all linked to a manas-putri, Satarupa, and Brahma apparently falling in love with her. She avoided him and he grew heads instead to pursue her. But that was not to be. Like all material things, Shatarupa would turn into something else every time Brahma got to her.
She turned into a cow, a mare, a goose and a doe. Lord Brahma kept pursuing her, taking the form of the corresponding male – a bull, a horse, a gander, a buck. Finally Brahma achieves yoga with Satarupa. Thus all creatures of the cosmos, from the smallest insect to the largest mammal, came into being. We would discuss the symbolisms or the purport of manas-putri later.
Now, you may need a few heads to comprehend various conflicting accounts of Brahma’s heads and how he has one chopped by Lord Shiva. Each Purana would be having a different story to tell. At your instance, you may be provoked with some thought-provoking questions....
MATSYA PURANA: Brahma, next formed from his own immaculate substance, a female, who is celebrated under the names, Satarupa, Savitri, Sarasvati, Gayatri and Brahmani. Beholding his daughter, born from his body, Brahma became wounded with the arrows of Kama, and exclaimed “How surpassingly lovely she is!” Noticing this, Satarupa turned to the right side from his gaze; but Brahma wished to look after her, a second head issued from his body.
As she passed to the left, and behind him, to avoid his numerous glances, two other heads successively appeared. At length, she sprang into the sky; and as Brahma was anxious to gaze after her there, a fifth head was immediately formed. Brahma then said to Satarupa, “Let us produce all kinds of animated beings, men, Suras and Asuras. Hearing this, she descended and Brahma having espoused her, they withdrew to a secluded spot, where they dwelt together for one hundred divine years, at the expiration of which time, Manu was born, who is also called Swayambhuva or Viraj.
SHIVA PURANA: Shiva Purana, from the incestuous union of Brahma and Shatarupa was born Svayambhuva Manu, the progenitor of Man, and from him in turn all creatures as depicted in Manu-Smriti.
Hara Hara Mahadeva
(draft Brahma ) by Yogi Ananda Saraswathi
BRAHMA AND VEDAS:
‘Brahmaksara-samudbhavan’ mean the Vedas are directly manifested from Brahma. Vedas are apauruseya, meaning they do not come from any materially conditioned persons but from a Supreme source. It was imparted to Brahma, the Creator in the Hindu pantheon at the dawn of creation. Then Brahma imparted the knowledge to Narada, whose realization appears throughout Vedic literature.
Sri Krishna states in Gita 3.15: ‘Regulated activities are prescribed in the Vedas, and the Vedas are directly manifested from the Supreme Source. Consequently the all-pervading Transcendence is eternally situated in acts of sacrifice.’
But then again, Lord Krishna is saying that he is known in all the Vedas, he is the one who put all the Vedic knowledge together in written format 5000 years in the form of a person called Vyasa. The literary incarnation of Krishna, and off course Krishna knows everything that is taught in the Vedas, because he is originator of all Vedic knowledge.
In Gita 9.17 Lord Krishna states that ‘I am the father of this universe, the mother, the support and the grandsire. I am the object of knowledge, the purifier and the syllable om. I am also the Rig, the Sama and the Yajur Vedas.’ Krishna is stating that he is origin of this and millions of other universes, the origin of the four Vedas, and thus only he should be made the object of knowledge. Somewhere between the two claims, Brahma sinks into the oblivion…..? We should leave this for individual debate….
Hara Hara Mahadeva
by Yogi Ananda Saraswathi
BRAHMA VIIVARTA PURANA: This is one of the Mahapurnas, was recited by Ugrasrava or Suta to the sages at the forest of Naimisharanya. First part is called Brahma Khanda and describing Brahma and his sons, especially Narada. Second part called Prakriti Khanda deals with the goddesses or Shaktis who are manifestations of Prakriti. The third part, Ganesha Khanda, is about Ganesha, the elephant-headed son of Shiva and Parvati. In this canto Ganesha's mother Parvati told Shani (posted earlier) to ignore the curse and look at Ganesha. The final and fourth is Krsna Janma Khanda which is about Krishna, Svayam Vhagavan.
Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Chapter 3 - Brahma’s Secondary creation, his own progeny and that of their offspiring.
Authorised by Bhagavan Krishna, Brahma Deva took up the further Srishti of Eight principal Mountains viz. Sumeru, Kailasa, Malaya, Himalayas, Udayachal, Agasthya-chal, Suvela and Gandhamadana; Seven Seas viz. Lavana, Ikshurasa, Sura, Ghrita, Dahi, Kseera, and Suswaadu; Seven Dwipas viz. Jambu Dwipa, Shaka Dwipa, Kusha Dwipa, Pluksha Dwipa, Kouncha Dwipa, Nyagrodha or Shalmali, and Pushkara Dwipa.; Eight Loka paalakas viz. Indra, Agni, Yama, Nirutthi, Varuna, Vayu, and Ishana atop Eight ‘Shikharas’ of Meru and Eight ‘Puras’; Ananta Sesha Naga at the root of the Meru; Bhuloka, Bhuvarloka, Swarloka, Maharloka, Janaloka, Tapoloka and Satyaloka; on the highest peak of Meru Brahmaloka is situated and there above the Dhruva loka.
Underneath the Meru are Atala, Vitaala, Sutala, Talaatala, Mahatala, Pataala and Rasaatala. Thus the Sapta Dwipas, Sapta Swargas and Sapta Pataalas together constitute the Brahmanda. While Vaikuntha, Shivaloka and Goloka are stated to be constant, the rest is ‘Kritrima’/ ‘Anitya’ (temporary).
Meanwhile, Devi Savitri generated the immortal Vedas of Ruk-Yajur-Sama and Atharava as also ‘Nyaya’ (Justice) and ‘Vyakarana’ (Grammar), the various Shastras and the Thirty Divine ‘Raagaas’ (Musical compositions) including Kanakambari, Bhanumati, Manoranjani, Sindhu Bhairavi, Mayamalawa Goula, Malahari, Chakravaram, Haatakambati, Hindolam, Keeravaani, Karahaproya, Kapi, Madhyamavati, Shivaranjani, Kamboji, Mohanam, Bilahari, Hamsadhwaini, Suddha Saveri, Naga Bharanam, Keeravani, Bhava Priya, Mohana Kalyani, Amrita Varshini, Rasika Priya Kusumakaram etc.
Savitri also created the Four Yugas of Satya, Treta, Dwapara and Kalaha Priya Kaliyuga; days, nights, weeks, Sandhyas (Evenings), Ushas (early mornings), months, Seasons, Tithis, Dandas, Kshanas; Pushti (health), medha (brain power), victory, six Krittikas, Yoga, Karana, Devasena the Chief of Matrikas. Savitri also produced from her breast-milk three Kalpas viz.Brahma, Padma and Vaaraaha; four Pralayas viz. Nitya, Naimitthika, Dwiparaartha and Prakrita, Kaala, Mrityu Kanya and Vyadhiganas.
Later on Brahma continued his Srishti from his ‘Prishta’ (rear side) the tow entities ‘Adharma’ and ‘Alakshmi’; from his ‘nabhi’ (navel) Vishwakarma the Shilpa Guru, from his ‘Balaparaakrama’or prowess the Eight Vaus; Manasa Putras (mind-born sons) Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana, Sanatkumaras; Swayambhu Manu and his wife Shatarupa the Administrator of the Universe; Eleven Rudras viz. Mahan, Mahatma, Matimaan, Bhishan, Bhayankar, Ritudwaja, Urthvakesha, Pingalaaksha, Ruchi, Shuchi and Kaalaagni Rudra.
From Brahma’s right ear came out Pulastya, left ear Pulaha, right eye Atri, left eye kratu, nosetip Arani, face Angira and Ruchi, from left side Bhrigu, right side Daksha, from Brahma’s shadow came out kardama, Panchashikha from his navel, from chest came out Odhu, from Brahma’s throat came Narada, shoulder Marichi, from neck Apaantaratama, from tongue Vasishtha, from lips Pracheta, from left belly came out Hamsa (Swan) and Yati from the right belly.
Brahma Deva then ordered his progeny to take up the task of furthering their own descendants; Sanaka and the three other Kumars were allowed by Brahma to take up ‘Tapasya’ and asked Narada to create, but Narada insisted against family life and there were exchange of curses betweeen Brahma and Narada on this count. However all others performed extensive Srishti. Maharshi Marichi created Kashyapa Prajapati.
Atri Maha Muni rubbed his eyes and created Chandra Deva in the Ksheera Sagara. Pracheta Maharshi materialised Goutama from his mind. Mitra Varuna was the son of Pulastya’s mind. Manu and Devi Rupa gave birth to three Pativrataas viz. Akruti, Devahuti and Prasuti. Manu and Shatarupa begot two illustrious sons called Priyavrata and Uttanapaada.
Manu’s daughter Akruti married Prajapati Ruchi and Prasuti was married to Daksha Prajapati. Uttanapada’ son was the memorable Dhruva. Devahuti was wedded to Kardama Muni and their son was Kapila Muni. Daksha and Prasuti gave birth to sixty daughters of whom eight were married to Dharma, eleven were wedded to Ekadha Rudras, thirteen were given to Kashyapa, twenty seven were given to Chandra and one to Shiva Mahadeva.
Now, Dharma’s wives were Shanti, Pushti, Dhriti, Tushti, Kshama, Shraddha, Mati and Smriti; Shanti’s son was Santosh, Pushti’s son was Mahaan, Dhriti’s son was Dhairya; Tushti’s sons were Harsha and Darpa; Kshama’s son was Sahishnu and Shraddha’s son was Dharmik. Mati had a son Jnaan and Smriti had Jatismara. Dharma’s first wife was Murti and their sons were Nara-Narayana Rishis. Rudra’s sons were Kala, Kalavati, Kaashthaa, Kaalika, Kalaha Priya, Kandali, Bhishana, Raastraa, Pramocha, Bhushana and Shuki.
Kashyap’s wives were Deva’s mother Aditi, Dyatya’s mother Diti, Sapra’s (serpents) mother Kadru, Pakshi’s (birds) mother Vinata, Surabhi was the mother of cows and buffalos, Saarameya was the mother of dogs, the rest of animals were born to Sarama and Danu was the mother of Danavas. Indra and Twelve Adityas [Amsa, Armayan, Bhaga, Dhriti, Mitra, Pusan, Sakra, Savitur, Twastur, Varuna, Vuishnu, and Vivaswat as per Vishnu Purana] and Upendra (Vamana) and other Devatas were Aditi’s children. Indra and Shachi Devi begot Jayanta.
Surya Deva’s wife (Vishwakarma’s daughter) Savarna gave birth to sons Shanaischar and Yamaraja and Kalindi their daughter. Upendra and Prithi gave birth to Mangala Deva. From Diti and Kashyapa were born two greatest Daithyas Hiranyaaksha and Hiranya Kashipu, besides a daughter Simhika or Nirruti who gave birth to Saihikeya (Rahu). Hiranyaaksha had no children since he was terminated by Varaha Deva, but Hiranya-Kashipu had the memorable son Prahlada whose son Virochana gave birth to the famed Bali Chakravarti. Bali’s son was Banasura the Yogi, Jnaani and Sevaka of Shankara.
Kadru’s vamsha had such impressive Sarpa’s lineage of Ananta,vaasuki, Kaliya, Dhananmjaya, Karkotaka, Takshaka, Padma, Iravata, Maha Padma, Shankhu, Shaankh, Samraran, Dhrita raashtra, Durdharsha, Durjaya, Durmukha, Bala, Goksha, Gokaamuka and Virupa. Of Kadru’s daughter was Mansa Devi whose husband was Jaratkaaru born out of Bhagavan Narayana’s ‘Amsa’. Asteek was the son of these whose very name demolishesd the fear of Nagas!
Vinata had two sons viz. Aruna and Garuda, both being as mighty as Vishnu and the entire race of birds emerged out of them. Chandra’s wives-the daughters of Daksha-were the twenty seven Stars, of whom Rohini attracted him most and the other Stars complained to Daksha who gave a curse to Chandra to become a leper; Chandra approached Shiva who cured him and kept Chandra on his head. As the daughters approached Daksha to return Chandra from Shankara, the latter declined as Chandra had already adorned his head.
As Daksha was about to curse, Mahadeva approached Vishnu to save him from Daksha’s curse; Shiva also pleaded that he was not prepared to leave Chandra as the latter sought Shiva’s refuge; then Vishnu gave a special dispensation that half of Chandra would be returned to Daksha and his daughters and the other half would continue on Shankara’s head. But the halved-Chandra given to Daksha was not cured of the Raja-Yakshma disease as an impact of Daksha’s original curse and Vishnu made a further dispensation that Chandra would grow day by day in his brightness from Padyami to Purnima and from the ensuing Padyami till Amavasya in the Krishna paksha his brightness would wane down.
Such was Srishti by Brahma by himself and that of the further process of Creation of his descendants subsequently….
Hara Hara Mahadeva.
by Yogi Ananda Saraswathi
LORD BRAHMA. For all the crying out loud, one is not sure if Brahma is indeed the Creator other than the Trinity tag! Unlike Shaiva Siddhanta, that names Lord Shiva as Creator, Preserver and Destroyer quite emphatically, literature surrounding Brahma do not make a harmonious statement of his origin. Shaktham or Mother worship doctrine, where Mother Goddess Para-Shakti is origin of all Gods, compounds the issues further, Manu’s account of Brahma, based on the Vedas is only one version. This is considerably mixed up with later works, especially the Puranas.
We can summarise this way: Theologically, he is the single letter (eka aksharam) AUM, and the uncreated creator (svayambhu), the self-born first person. Philosophically, he is the first manifestation of one's existence (ahankara). Cosmologically, he is hiranya garbha (golden embryo), the ball of fire, from which the universe develops. He is Prajapati, since all creatures are his progeny. He is pitamaha (patriarch), vidhi (ordinator), Iokesha (master of the universe), dhatru (sustainer) and Viswakarma (architect of the world). Mythology describes Brahma as springing from Kamala (lotus), from the nabhi (navel) of Vishnu. Hence, his names Nabhija (navel born), Kanja (water born). His consort Saraswati manifested out of him and all creatures of the world resulted from their union.
Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, the Trimurthi, are classified as guna-avataras. These gods are controllers of the modes of nature. Brahma creates the material universe and controls the mode of passion. Vishnu maintains the universe and controls the mode of goodness. Siva maintains the universe and controls the mode of ignorance.
Brahma is regarded as the Supreme Being, the God of Gods. Having created Gods, he placed them in these worlds: Agni in the mortal world; Vayu in the atmosphere and Surya in the sky. And in the worlds higher are placed the higher gods and he proceeded to the higher sphere, Satyaloka which is the most excellent and limit of all worlds. Excellence in the heavens, from the mightiest of animals to the tiniest insect was to be found in Satyaloka.
The first named of the Trinity gods, Brahma is called the Creator. He is the father of gods and men, Prajapati, Lord of Creatures. At times however, he is said to be himself the creature of the Supreme Being, Pita-maya, the self-existing father of all human beings. According to the Puranas, Brahma is held to be the son of the supreme being and maya, his energy and thought to have been hatched out from the golden cosmic egg, which floated on the cosmic waters. Alternatively, it is claimed that Brahma was born from a lotus which sprang from Vishnu’s navel.
DHARMA SASHTRAS: This was written about 1500 BC by Manu. Laws of Manu or Manava Dharma Shastra is generally accepted as the supplementary arms of the Vedas. It is considered as a standard book in the Hindu canon. It comprises 2684 verses, divided into twelve chapters presenting the norms of domestic, social, and religious life in India under the Brahmin influence. The initial canto of the work narrates how ten great sages appealed to Manu to pronounce the sacred laws to them and how Manu fulfilled their wishes by asking the learned sage Bhrigu, who had been carefully taught the metrical tenets of the sacred law, to deliver his teachings. However, equally popular is the belief that Manu had learnt the laws from Lord Brahma, the Creator, and so the authorship is said to be divine.
Manu’s smrti, goes about describing the creation of the world by Brahma, Manu's own birth, the sources of dharma, and the main ceremonies of the four stages of life. This was to evolve into the successive stages of life. To reach the fourth stage of renunciation it was necessary to pass through the other three stages. There are other chapters dealing a range of matters especially human conduct. After Manu came Dharma-shastras attributed to Yajnavalkya, Vishnu, Narada, Brhaspati, Katyayana, and others. The later Dharma-shastras are nearly pure legal textbooks. The Manusmrti is considered superior to the other Dharma-shastras.
This shastra does not give a clear account of Brahma’s origins. According to the Dharma Shastras, the universe was enveloped in darkness – unperceived, undistinguishable, undiscoverable, unknowable, as it were, entirely sunk in sleep. The irresistible self-existent lord, undiscerned, creating this universe with the five elements, and all other things, was manifested dispelling the gloom. He who is beyond the cognizance of the senses, subtle, undiscernible, eternal, who is the essence of all things and inconceivable, himself shone forth. He is desiring, seeking to produce various creatures from his own body, first he created the waters and deposited in them a seed. This seed became a golden egg, resplendent as the sun, in which he himself was born as Brahma, the progenitor of all worlds. The waters are called ‘narah’ because they are the offspring of Nara; and since they were formally the place of his movements, ‘ayana’, he is therefore Narayana.
Being formed from the First Cause, undiscernible, eternal, which is both existent and non-existent, the male is known in the world as Brahma. That lord having continued a year in the egg, divided it into two parts by his mere thought.
SHATAPATHA BRAHMAN: Brahma was born of the Supreme Being Brahman and the female energy known as Maya. Wishing to create the universe, Brahman first created the water, in which he placed his seed. This seed transformed into a golden egg, from which Brahma appeared. For this reason Brahma is also known as ‘Hiranyagarbha’. According to another legend, Brahma is self-born out of a lotus flower which grew from the navel of Vishnu. In order to help him create the universe, Brahma gave birth to the eleven forefathers of the human race called ‘Prajapatis’ and the seven great sages or the ‘Saptarishi’. These children or mind-sons of Brahma, who were born out of his mind rather than body, are called the ‘Manasputras’.
MAHABARATHA: Brahma is said to have issued from a lotus that sprung from the navel of Vishnu. Brahma is a self-born from a lotus flower which grew from the navel of Vishnu at the beginning of the universe. One of Brahma’s names, Nabhija means born from the navel. Shiva asked Vishnu to first produce the most important object to make mankind possible which was water. Vishnu produced water through his body and lots of water which is why we find him resting in water on Sheshnaag.
Through his naval a lotus grew up and a seed inside gave birth to Lord Brahma, who travelled for numerous years inside its stem to find the truth and his originator but could not find one. Finally Lord Vishnu appeared before him and asked him to make life possible in the form of different lokas - planets. Apparently this is the reason for his being seated on the lotus. Brahma, then created Bhramand and different Lokas inside it. One of this is Mrityu loka, better known to us as Earth. After that, Brahma produced Prajapatis from his body for them to further begin life on earth. Prajapatis had major role in originating various other planets and satellites indispensable for mankind. Thereafter Lord Brahma became Creator, Lord Vishnu the Preserver, and Lord Shiva the Destroyer.
BRAHMA PURANA: Brahma is known in this Purana as Apava, He who sports on the waters. This has a identical application with Narayana. Apava, according to the Puranas, divided himself into two parts, male and female from who proceeded Vishnu, who in turn creates Viraj, who brought the first man into the world. However these are worded, the stage is set that the first creation is Apava, Vashistha, Viraj or Vishnu through the agency of Brahma and the next was the creation of Manu by Viraj.
VISHNU PURANA: This Purana contains the description of the Egg. “Its womb, vast as the mountains Meru, was composed of the mountains, and the mighty oceans were the waters which filled its cavity. In the egg were the continent, seas and mountains; the planets and divisions of the universe; the gods, the demons and mankind. Brahma is said to be born; a familiar phrase to signify his manifestations”
Now, this wonderful egg, after the Creator had inhabited it for a thousand years, is said to have burst open and Brahma by meditation commenced work of creation. Brahma sees that earth was sunk beneath the waters, he assumed the form of a boar, and diving, raised it upon his tusks. After this, Brahma continued the work of creation. Here again, the later version of Vishnu Purana, attributes the boar avatar to Vishnu as his special incarnation to accomplish to redeem the sunken earth.
VAMANA PURANA: In the beginning all was water. The germ of living beings gathered into an egg. Brahma was within this egg, the Hiranyagarbha, went off to sleep therein. The sleep continued for a thousand yugas or ages……
SHIVA PURANA: Brahman had no beginning and no end. Only this divine essence was there at the beginning of creation, there was nothing in the universe. But there was water everywhere. Lord Vishnu manifested himself in his great form and slept on the water. While Vishnu was sleeping, a lotus flower, the Padma sprouted from his navel. It had many petals and its stem shone like a thousand suns. From the cells of the lotus Brahma was born. He began to wonder who he was? Where did I come from? What am I supposed to do? Whose son am I ? Who made me?
Brahma became inquisitive, goes to the centre of the lotus and descended down the stem of the lotus and wandered around for a hundred years. But he could not find the flower’s centre. He then decided that he might as well go back to the cell from where he had been born. But despite wandering around the stem for another hundred years, Brahma could not find the cell. By then he was so tired that he gave up and rested.
Suddenly he heard the words, “Brahma, perform tapasya” and he just does that for twelve years. When the twelve years were over, the four-armed Vishnu appeared before Brahma holding shanka, chakra,a gada and a padma. Brahma asks “Who are you?” Vishnu does not answer directly but addresses Brahma as ‘Son’. “Who are you to call me a son?” demands Brahma.
Can’t you recognize me? Retorted Vishnu. “I am Vishnu. It is from my body that you have been created” But Brahma was not convinced. He began to fight with Vishnu. While this fight is going on a Shining Linga without Beginning Or End appeared in front of them......... both could not figure out what this Vision was.....
BHAGAVATA PURANA 1:4 – Mother Goddess Adi Parashakti instructs the Trimurtis “ I am Adi Parashakti, goddess Bhuvaneshvari. I am the owner of this universe. I am the Absolute Reality. I am dynamic in feminine form and static in masculine form. You are three parts of me. You all are my partial expansions. You have appeared to govern the universe under my jurisdiction. You are the masculine form of Absolute Reality, while I am the feminine form of that Reality. I am beyond form, beyond everything, and all the powers of God are contained within me. You will admit that I am the Eternally Limitless Power. I shall now assign each of you a task”
Mother than looked at Brahma, “Brahma! You will be generator of the universe; the Goddess Sharada is your Shakti, my form by which I will be recognized as the goddess of wisdom and the primeval sound. Lord Brahma, this goddess will be with you when you create the universe”. Then Mother instructs Vishnu and Shiva......
This is enough confusion for now. We would continue with other material on the origins of Brahma in due course.
Hara Hara Mahadeva
by Yogi Ananda Saraswathi...
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