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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Brahma carving at a temple in Halebidu
Devanagari ब्रह्मा
Affiliation Deva (Trimurti)
Abode Brahmaloka
Consort Saraswati and Gayatri
Mount Hamsa (Swan or goose)

Brahma (Sanskrit: ब्रह्मा; IAST:Brahmā) is the Hindu god (deva) of creation and one of the Trimurti, the others being Vishnu and Shiva. According to the Brahma Purana, he is the father of Manu, and from Manu all Hindus are descended. In the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, he is often referred to as the progenitor or the great grandsire of all human beings. He is not to be confused with the Supreme Cosmic Spirit in Hindu Vedanta philosophy known as Brahman. Brahmā's consort is Saraswati, the goddess of learning. Brahmā is often identified with Prajapati, a Vedic deity.



In Sanskrit grammar, the noun stem brahman forms two distinct nouns; one is a neuter noun bráhman, whose nominative singular form is brahma ब्रह्म; this noun has a generalized and abstract meaning.

Contrasted to the neuter noun is the masculine noun brahmán, whose nominative singular form is brahmā ब्रह्मा. This noun is used to refer to a person, and as the proper name of a deity Brahmā it is the subject matter of the present article.

The god is known as Berahma in Malay and as Phra Phrom in Thai.


At the beginning of the process of creation, Brahmā created eleven Prajapatis (used in another sense), who are believed to be the fathers of the human race. The Manusmriti enumerates them as Marici, Atri, Angiras, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratuj, Vashishta, Pracetas or Daksha, Bhrigu, and Narada[citation needed]. He is also said to have created the seven great sages or the Saptarishi to help him create the universe. However since all these sons of his were born out of his mind rather than body, they are called Manas Putras or mind-sons or spirits.

Within Vedic and Puranic scripture Brahmā is described as only occasionally interfering in the affairs of the other devas (gods), and even more rarely in mortal affairs. He did force Soma to give Tara back to her husband, Brihaspati. He is considered the father of Dharma and Atri.


According to the Puranas, Brahma is self-born (without mother) in the lotus flower which grew from the navel of Vishnu at the beginning of the universe. This explains his name Nabhija (born from the navel). Another legend says that Brahmā was born in water. In this he deposited a seed that later became the golden egg. From this golden egg, Brahma the creator was born, as Hiranyagarbha. The remaining materials of this golden egg expanded into the Brahm-anda or Universe. Being born in water, Brahmā is also called Kanja (born in water). Brahmā is said also to be the son of the Supreme Being, Brahman, and the female energy known as Prakrti or Maya.[citation needed]

The image depiction displaying the connection by lotus between Bramha and Vishnu can also be taken as a symbolism for the primordial fetus and primordial placenta. The placenta is generated upon conception, but only the fetus continues into the world afterwards. Likewise, Bramha is involved in creation, but Vishnu continues thereafter.

Vishnu with Lakshmi, on the serpent Ananta Shesha, as Brahma emerges from a lotus risen from Vishnu's navel

Lack of Brahma worship in India

Although Brahmā is one of the three [3] major gods in Hinduism, few Hindus actually worship him. Today, India has very few temples dedicated to Brahmā, as opposed to the tens of thousands of temples dedicated to the other deities in the Trimurti, namely Vishnu and Shiva. Among the few that exist today, the most famous is in Pushkar in Rajasthan. Others include one in Thirunavaya in Kerala; one in the temple town of Kumbakonam, (Thanjavur District) in Tamil Nadu; another in Kodumudi, Erode district, Tamil Nadu; Nerur village in Kudal taluka of Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra ; one in Asotra village in Balotra Taluka of Barmer district in Rajasthan known as Kheteshwar Brahmadham Tirtha; one in Brahmā-Karmali village in Sattari Taluka in Goa; one in Khedbrahma in Gujarat; and one in the village of Khokhan in the Kullu Valley, 4 km from Bhuntar. Regular pujas are held for Lord Brahmā at the temple in Thirunavaya, and during Navrathris this temple comes to life with colourful festivities. Another temple for Lord Brahmā is located at Thirupattur, near Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu, South India. This temple also has the Samadhi for Sage Vyakrapatha.

Various stories in Hindu mythology talk about curses that have supposedly prevented Brahmā from being worshiped on Earth.

According to a story in the Shiva Purana (dedicated to Lord Shiva), at the beginning of time in Cosmos, Vishnu and Brahmā approached a huge Shiva linga and set out to find its beginning and end. Vishnu was appointed to seek the end and Brahma the beginning. Taking the form of a boar, Vishnu began digging downwards into the earth, while Brahma took the form of a swan and began flying upwards. However, neither could find His appointed destination. Vishnu, satisfied, came up to Shiva and bowed down to him as a swarupa of Brahman. Brahmā did not give up so easily. As He was going up, he saw a ketaki flower, dear to Shiva. His ego forced him to ask the flower to bear false witness about Brahmā's discovery of Shiva's beginning. When Brahmā told his tale, Shiva, the all-knowing, was angered by the former's ego. Shiva thus cursed him that no being in the three worlds will worship him.[citation needed]

A depiction of Khambhavati Ragini, A lady worshiping Brahma

According to another legend, Brahmā is not worshiped because of a curse by the great sage Brahmarishi Bhrigu. The high priest Bhrigu was organising a great fire-sacrifice (yajna) on Earth. It was decided that the greatest among all Gods would be made the presiding deity. Bhrigu then set off to find the greatest among the Trimurti. When he went to Brahmā, the god was so immersed in the music played by Saraswati that he could hardly hear Bhrigu's calls. The enraged Bhrigu then cursed Brahmā that no person on Earth would ever invoke him or worship him again.[citation needed]

In the Brahma Purana and Hindu cosmology, Brahmā is regarded as the creator but not necessarily as God. Rather, He is regarded as a creation of God / Brahman. The lifespan of Brahmā is 100 Brahmā years, equivalent to 311,040,000,000,000 solar years. At the end of His lifespan, there will be a gap of 100 Brahmā years, after which another Brahmā or creator will begin the process of creation anew. This cycle is thought to repeat without end.


A handcoloured engraving of Brahma.

The complexion of Lord Brahma is red.[citation needed] He is clad in red clothes. Brahma is traditionally depicted with four heads, four faces, and four arms. With each head, He continually recites one of the four Vedas. He is often depicted with a white beard (especially in North India), indicating the nearly eternal nature of his existence. Unlike most other Hindu Gods, Brahma holds no weapons. One of His hands holds a scepter in the form of a spoon, which is associated with the pouring of holy ghee or oil onto a sacrificial pyre, signifying Brahma as the lord of sacrifices. Another of His hands holds a 'kamandalu'- a jar made of metal or even coconut shell, containing water. The water in this jar signifies the initial, all-encompassing ether in which the first element of creation evolved. Brahma also holds a string of prayer beads called the 'akshamālā', which He uses to keep track of the Universe's time. He is also shown holding the Vedas and, sometimes, a lotus flower.

Another story in connection with Brahma's four heads is that when Brahmā was creating the Universe, He made a female deity known as Shatarupā (one with a hundred beautiful forms). Brahmā became immediately infatuated with Her. Shatarupā moved in various directions to avoid the gaze of Brahmā. But wherever She went, Brahmā developed a head. Thus, Brahmā developed five heads, one on each side and one above the others. In order to control Brahmā, Shiva cut off one of the heads. Also, Shiva felt that Shatarupā was Brahmā's daughter, having been created by Him. Therefore, Shiva determined it was wrong for Brahmā to become obsessed with Her. Shiva directed that there be no proper worship on earth for the "unholy" Brahmā. Thus, only Vishnu and Shiva continued to be worshipped, while Brahmā is almost totally ignored. Ever since this incident, Brahmā has been believed to be reciting the four Vedas in His attempt at repentance. However, there are many other stories in the Puranas about the gradual decrease Lord Brahmā's importance, such as in the Shiva Purana. The omission of Brahmā from most temples regarding worship is a serious concern in the orthopraxis of Hinduism. Ignoring the Supreme Creator also sidelines the importance of Saraswati, the goddess of learning, in temples. A British viceroy and admirer of Hinduism reportedly remarked in philosophical reflection that India cannot afford to lose the blessings of Brahmā and Saraswati, without whom the populace would lack creativity, knowledge, and education.


The Four Hands - Brahmā's four arms represent the four cardinal directions: east, south, west, and north. The back right hand represents mind, the back left hand represents intellect, the front right hand is ego, and the front left hand is self-confidence.

The Rosary - Symbolizes the substances used in the process of creation.

The Book - The book symbolizes knowledge.

The Gold - Gold symbolizes activity; the golden face of Brahmā indicates that He is actively involved in the process of creating the Universe.

The Swan - The swan is the symbol of grace and discernment. Brahmā uses the swan as his vāhana, or his carrier or vehicle.

The Crown - Lord Brahmā's crown indicates His supreme authority.

The Lotus - The lotus symbolizes nature and the living essence of all things and beings in the Universe.

The Beard - Brahmā's black or white beard denotes wisdom and the eternal process of creation.

The Four Faces - The four Vedas (Rik, Sāma, Yajuh and Atharva). The Vedas Symbolises his four faces, heads and arms


Brahmā's vehicle is a divine Swan. This divine bird is bestowed with a virtue called Neera-Ksheera Viveka, or the ability to separate milk and water from a mixture of the two. The swan signifies that all creatures deserve justice, however entwined they might be in challenging situations. Also, this virtue indicates that one should learn to separate the good from the bad, accepting that which is valuable and discarding what is worthless.


The four-faced Brahma (Phra Phrom) statue

Though almost all Hindu religious rites involve prayer to Brahmā, very few temples are dedicated to His worship. Among the most prominent is the Brahma temple at Pushkar. Once a year, on Kartik Poornima, the full moon night of the Hindu lunar month of Kartik (October - November), a religious festival is held in Brahmā's honour. Thousands of pilgrims come to bathe in the holy Pushkar Lake adjacent to the temple.

Temples to Brahmā also exist in Thirunavaya in Kerala; in the temple town of Kumbakonam in the Thanjavur District of Tamil Nadu; in Kodumudi, Tamil Nadu;in Asotra village in Balotra Taluka of Rajasthan's Barmer district, known as Kheteshwar Brahmadham Tirtha; and in Goa, in the small, remote village of Carambolim in the Sattari Taluka in the northeast region of the state. Regular pujas are held for Lord Brahmā at the temple in Thirunavaya, and during Navrathris this temple comes to life with colourful festivities. There is also a shrine for Brahmā within the Bramhapureeshwarar temple in Thirupatur, near Trichy, and a famous murti of Brahmā exists at Mangalwedha, 52 km from the Solapur district of Maharashtra. Statues of Brahmā may be found in Khedbrahma, Gujarat, and in Sopara near Mumbai. There is a temple dedicated to Lord Brahmā in the temple town of Sri Kalahasti near Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh. The largest and most famous shrine to Lord Brahmā may be found in Cambodia's Angkor Wat. There is a statue of Brahma at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok. The golden dome of the Government House of Thailand also contains a statue of Phra Phrom(Thai representation of Brahma).

In Carnatic music

Brahma is also the name of the 9th chakra (group) of Melakarta ragas in Carnatic music. The names of chakras are based on the numbers associated with each name. In this case, there are nine Brahmas and hence the ninth chakra is Brahma.[1][2]

In Literature

In 1856-1857, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote a poem entitled "Brahma".

See also


  1. ^ South Indian Music Book III, by Prof. P Sambamoorthy, Published 1973, The Indian Music Publishing House
  2. ^ Ragas in Carnatic music by Dr. S. Bhagyalekshmy, Pub. 1990, CBH Publications

External links

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Featured in Vol 1., No.1 of The Atlantic Monthly.


  If the red slayer think he slays,
  Or if the slain think he is slain,
  They know not well the subtle ways
  I keep, and pass, and turn again.

  Far or forgot to me is near,
  Shadow and sunlight are the same,
  The vanished gods to me appear,
  And one to me are shame and fame.

  They reckon ill who leave me out;
  When me they fly, I am the wings;
  I am the doubter and the doubt,
  And I the hymn the Brahmin sings.

  The strong gods pine for my abode,
  And pine in vain the sacred Seven;
  But thou, meek lover of the good!
  Find me, and turn thy back on heaven.

PD-icon.svg This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also brahma



Wikipedia has an article on:



From Sanskrit ब्रह्मन् (bráhman)

Proper noun




  1. (Hinduism) Hindu god (deva) of creation and one of the Trimurti, the others being Vishnu and Shiva.
  2. (Hinduism) A variant of Brahman.




Brahma (plural Brahmas)

  1. A large domestic fowl from the Brahmaputra region of India.
  2. A breed of Indian cattle, Bos indicus.


Simple English

According to Hinduism and Hindu mythology, Brahma is one of the three major gods of Hindus. Brahma is said to be the creator of the universe. The other two gods are Vishnu, the preserver and Shiva, the destroyer, all three of which make up the Trimurti. Brahma represents Brahman, a term and concept of Hinduism.

The Hindu tradition states that Brahma had five heads. However, the mythological story tells that Shiva cut one of the heads of Brahma. The tradition also states that the four heads of Brahma represent many aspects of Hinduism. The four heads represent four Vedas, which are very important Hindu scriptures. These four heads also represent four division of time of Hinduism, the Yugas. They also represent four divisions of the Hindu society, the four Varnas.

Brahma does not have many followers as he is said to have sought out his daughter using his four heads after falling in love with her

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