Lord Brahma

Lord Brahma is the first member of the Brahmanical triad, Vishnu being the second and Shiva, the third. Brahma is the god of creation and he is traditionally accepted as the Creator of the entire universe.

An individual's subtle body is constituted of his mind and intellect, that is, his entire thoughts. Man's subtle body is responsible for the creation of his gross body and also the world that he experiences. The thoughts of an individual determine the type of physical body he possesses. The same thoughts are also responsible for the type of world that the individual experiences around him. As the thoughts, so the world. If a man possesses good thoughts he sees a good world. If his thoughts are bad he sees a bad world. Yudhisthira, a virtuous man saw virtue everywhere, while Duryodhana saw vice everywhere. When thoughts are absent there is no world at all. In deep sleep there are no thoughts, no world. This phenomenon is true not only of the microcosm but of the macrocosm as well. The cosmic subtle body is the aggregate of all subtle bodies of all living beings. The cosmic subtle body called the Hiranyagarbha, is said to be the creator of the entire universe. This creator is Brahma.

The manifested world of plurality has emerged from the unmanifest Reality. To indicate this Brahma the creator is described as being born from the navel of Vishnu as he is lying on the great serpent, Ananta in the milky ocean.

One of the earliest iconographic descriptions of Brahma is that of the four-faced god seated on a lotus. The Lord has in his four hands a water-pot (kamandalu), a manuscript (Vedas), a sacrificial implement (sruva) and a rosary (mala). He wears the hide of a black antelope and his vehicle is a swan {hamsa).

The description of Brahma like those of other deities of Hinduism bears a mystic symbolism. The lotus represents the Reality. Brahma sitting on the lotus indicates that he is ever-rooted in the infinite Reality. Reality is the foundation on which his personality rests. The four faces of Brahma represent the four Vedas. They also symbolise the functioning of the inner personality (antahkarana) which consists of thoughts. They are the mind (manas), the intellect (buddhi), ego (ahamkara) and conditioned-consciousness (chitta). They represent the four ways in which thoughts function. They are the manifestations of the unmanifest Consciousness.

The animal hide worn by Brahma stands for austerity. A seeker who desires to realise his godhead must first go through spiritual disciplines. Observing such austerities the seeker must carefully study and reflect upon the scriptural truths which are suggested by the manuscript (Vedas) held in one hand. Having acquired the knowledge of scriptures he must work in the world without ego and egocentric desires, that is engage in dedicated and sacrificial service for the welfare of the world. This idea is suggested by the sacrificial implement held in the second hand. When a man works in the world selflessly he drops his desires. He is no longer extroverted, materialistic, sensual. His mind is withdrawn from its preoccupations with the world of objects and beings. Such a mind is said to be in uparati. A man who has reached the state of uparati is in a spirit of renunciation.

That is indicated by Brahma holding the kamandalu in his hand. Kamandalu is a water-pot used by a sanyasi-a man of renunciation. It is a symbol of sanyasa or renunciation. The mind of such a man which is withdrawn from the heat of passion of the world is available for deeper concentration and meditation. The rosary (mala) in the fourth hand is meant to be used for chanting and meditation. Meditation is the final gateway to Realisation. Through deep and consistent meditation the mind gets annihilated and the seeker attains godhood. A god-man maintains his identity with his supreme Self while he is engaged in the world of perceptions, emotions and thoughts. He retains the concept of unity in diversity. He separates the pure unconditioned consciousness underlying this conditioned world of names and forms. Brahma's association with a swan is most appropriate in this context. 

A swan is described in Hindu mysticism as possessing the unique faculty of separating pure milk from a mixture of milk and water. It is reputed to have the ability to draw the milk alone and leave the water behind. Similarly does a man of Realization move about in the world recognizing the one divinity in the pluralistic phenomena of the world.

Brahma is said to be the Lord of creation. The creator must necessarily possess the knowledge to create. Without knowledge no creation is possible. Hence Brahma is said to be wedded to the goddess of knowledge, Saraswati. Life in this world is a manifestation of the three principles of creation, sustenance and destruction. In fact these three are interconnected. The apparent destruction is only an essential forerunner to creation.

Destruction and creation go hand in hand. They are like two sides of a coin. For example, the destruction of morning is creation of noon and the destruction of noon is creation of night. This chain of continuous destruction and construction maintains the day. Similarly, the destruction of childhood is the creation of youth and the destruction of youth the creation of old age. In this process of birth and death the individual is maintained. Hence the three gods of the Trinity viz. Brahma, Vishnu and Siva representing creation, maintenance and destruction, are essentially one and the same.

The above idea is well portrayed in Lord Dattatreya, in whose form the three gods are combined. Dattatreya has the three faces of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva to indicate that the three principles for which they stand are inseparable. Lord Dattatreya is shown with four dogs following him. The four dogs represent the four Vedas. A dog is one of the most faithful animals in the world and it follows its master in all environments and circumstances. So, too, the Vedas arc said to follow a man-of-Realisation in the sense that all his actions, thoughts and desires are in perfect accord with the principles enunciated in the Vedic textbooks.

All creations arise out of vikshepa (thought disturbances). This vikshepa-sakti is Lord Brahma-the total mind-intellect equipment. Man, being essentially constituted of his mind and intellect, has already invoked this vikshepasakti and realised Brahma. Hence the worship and invocation of Brahma is practised by few.

Yet there are a few shrines dedicated to Brahma. He is worshipped and invoked particularly by scientists and kings for generating more creative ideas to serve the world of men and matter. The rulers invoke the Lord in order to surrender their ego and produce plans and schemes to serve the nation. Similarly, the research scholars invoke creative inspiration and flashes of new thoughts revealing the secrets of nature.

Lord Brahma is not popularly worshipped in India. This is so, because the idea of creation is repugnant to seeker of Truth since the creation of thoughts has veiled the infinite Reality. The attempt of all spiritual seekers is to destroy the existing thoughts and maintain the state of single pointed thought until the Reality is revealed. Hence, Siva (god of destruction) and Vishnu (god of maintenance) are worshipped more than Brahma. In fact, there are very few temples of Brahma-one in Rajasthan and another in Orissa -compared to innumerable shrines of Siva and Vishnu existing all over India

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