Is Lord Siva a Vedic or a Puranic God? Prajapati may give us a clue. The name means the Lord of Creatures. The Prajapatis, therefore, are regarded as the progenitors of mankind. Sometimes Brahma alone is intended by the term Pra...japati as he is ‘the’ lord of all creatures. Sometimes the term is employed for the first formed men from whom the human race sprung, The word was originally employed as an epithet of Savitri and Soma, as well as Hiranyagarbha or Brahma. Prajapati later became a separate deity mentioned in the Rig Veda. Nasadiya Sukta refers to Prajapati as the Creator.
Prajapathi is sometimes identified with the universe and described the same way as Brahma – entity or non-entity are in other places as having existed in the beginning as the source out of which creation was evolved.
Prajapathi is also known as Vishvakarman meaning ‘All-Accompanying’ but then again that is an epithet of Lord Siva. It is also a reference to the Architect of the Universe. Perhaps the term Prajapati was applied to more than one figure. Collectively Prajapati can also means Brahma’s mind born children numbering ten: Marichi, Atri, Angiras, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, Vasishta, Daksha, Bhirgu and Narada. The Mahabaratha mentions up to fourteen and there are writings to reduce this number to seven.
It is said that Prajapati was this universe; Vach was second to him. She became pregnant; she departed from him, she produced these creatures. She again entered into Prajapati. Yet again, he is sometimes described as only a secondary or subordinate deity, and treated only as one of the 33 deities. By the time Manushastra was written by Manu, creation was attributed to Lord Brahma, hence Brahma is referred to as Prajapati but in later writings it represents Brahma’s manas-putras. It also referred to those who populated the world.
PURANAS: In the beginning Brahma the creator created the prajapatis, the fathers of all creatures. He told them to go forth and multiply. “How...?”, they wondered. They could not produce themselves so they all, headed by Brahma, went to Lord Shiva. The answer came to them from Shiva-Shakti Ardhanareeswara form whose left half was a woman and right half was a man containing the whole world within the body of Shiva. From one glance at Ardhanari, Brahma realized his mistake and he then created the first woman.
The first woman was Usha. She is the Vedic Goddess of Dawn. She is said to be the daughter of sky: Rig Veda 1.48. She is radiant, immortal. The twin Aswins are her companions and follow her in their glorious chariot. She is one of the few Vedic Goddesses and gets mentioned in the Rig Veda. She is said to be the most beautiful being on the planet. Brahma went on his knees at her sight. He was simply love struck, lost control and pursues her through the heavens.
Now this is not right, says Lord Siva. Brahma needs rectification of conduct. Siva is visibly upset and from his brow a terrible being arose. He was Rudra, the menacing form of Siva. Rudra puts Brahma in his place. He struck him with an arrow and pinned Brahma to the sky. Usha takes refuge in Kailasa and is saved from molestation. However Brahma is grateful to Siva for the restraint. In the premises Brahma bestows on him the title Pashupati, the Lord of the Beasts, implying that Siva is One that controls beastly passions.
In the next episode of creation, Usha manifests as Saraswati, his consort. Brahma has created every creature that wandered the cosmos. Saraswati takes notice that the creations were becoming restless and sometimes violent. To start with they had nothing to eat. Lord Shiva is approached for counsel. The Lord went into intense
tapas or meditation. From the heat created during his tapas, rose every herb, shrub, grass, tree and plant.
Now Lord Shiva became the Lord of Vegetation known as Vrikshanath. Now Lord Brahma is in another predicament. What would vegetation feed on? Brahma had to make the same mistake twice and he is
back to Lord Shiva. The Lord is yesterday, today, tomorrow in infinity. He is the question and He is also the answer. Lord Siva replies ‘panchabhutas’ – vegetation would live on the five elements. You, My Lord Siva, is Bhuteshvara, said Brahma. Thus Lord Siva is the Lord of the Elements.
Now, the Puranas goes on to say that Goddess Saraswathi notices another shortcoming. One, that very soon could become a problem. You see, Brahma had overlooked death. Brahma cannot be perennially creating to flood the universe. The Trinity had taken shape and off the ground as well. Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi were on their way to preserve and provide in abundance. They sustained impartially and protected righteousness.
During these times, Lord Siva attended to the third issue. He had already taken the form of Mahakala, the Lord of Time, the Thandava Regenerator to destroy and transform the matter of death into new life. His Shakti manifest as Mahakali to complement the Mahakala’s role. Thus Siva completed the cycle of births and rebirths.
But that was not all as Lord Shiva watches Brahma’s world of illusions and all the sufferings that hascaused. Maya ensnares creatures into an eternity of frustration and fruitless aspiration. Brahma was himself subjected to maya and kama. Thus Shiva took great exception to Brahma and his uncaring attitude towards his creation and thus became Bhairava in order to chastise Brahma. Bhairava is the embodiment of fear,
and it is said that those who meet him must confront the source of their own fears. His name describes the effect he has upon those who behold him, as it derives from the word bhiru, which means to become fearful - of feeling great fear. He is depicted as standing naked with a dog holding a trishul, dhamru and noose. Bhairava is Shiva at his most terrifying, at his most fearful. Shiva as Bhairava ripped out one of Brahma’s five heads leaving him with only four heads.
Shiva with Brahma’s blood on his hands sought a way out of the illusory world of Brahma’s creation. He finally found a path. The path was through yoga.
Under a banyan tree seated on a tiger skin facing the southern
direction Shiva became the south Facing Lord or Dhakshinamurthi, the great cosmic teacher revealing the true nature of the world to all the gods, sages, and demons that wished to learn. Shiva taught awareness of the transience of all thoughts and actions. He taught detachment from the transformations of the world. This was the only way to mohksha.
While the Thandava tham, thatham, thatham is sounding in infinity, Prajapati slips to become a minor deity with frequent appearance with other inferior deities. Perhaps you may want to put on your thinking cap and be on your way to really figure out, not only Prajapati’s role in creation but that of Lord Shiva! Could we deny that
Shiva was a Vedic god rather than a Puranic addition? You should find your own truths. The earlier posting on Rudra could be a clue….....
Yogi Ananda Saraswathi