The God of Creation: Who Is Brahma

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The God of Creation: Who Is Brahma

Brahma is the Hindu god of creation. He appears in a tremendous amount of Hindu myths, due to his critical role in bringing about existence. And yet, there is very little worship of this god.

 Because of that fact, which we’ll explain below, many of us are not as familiar with Brahma as we should be. Many people around the world have at least some passing recognition of Vishnu, Shiva, and Krishna — yet when we understand the god Brahma, we come into contact with answers to some of the most profound questions we are ever to ask about our lives and the world we live in.

 This god who exists at the heart of creation, whose existence is an eternal yes to being, can help us keep in touch with our own powers of generation. Whether it is having children, creating art, or starting a business — we must all tap into Brahma’s energy if we are to follow our dharma.

 

Haloed Brahma-Brahmani

Description of Brahma

In Hindu texts, Brahma is described as having four heads, each face pointing in one of the cardinal directions. From each of his four mouths comes one of the Vedas: the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda, and the Atharvaveda.

 Brahma also has four arms, and in each of his hands he holds a symbol of knowledge and creation. The items he holds are usually the following:

<!--[if !supportLists]-->     <!--[endif]-->The Vedas, the sacred texts of Hinduism

<!--[if !supportLists]-->     <!--[endif]-->Mala, beads on a string that are used to symbolize time

<!--[if !supportLists]-->     <!--[endif]-->Sruva, ladles that remind us to feed the sacrificial fire

<!--[if !supportLists]-->     <!--[endif]-->Kamandalu, a water bearing utensil that point to the source of creation

 He is typically shown with a white beard, denoting great age that is a sign of wisdom. He sits upon a lotus or his vahana (vehicle), which is a swan or goose.

 At the dawn of time, Brahma created his consort Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge. As the consort of Brahma, we need to understand her just as much, for the gods and goddesses are inextricably bound together.

 Saraswati is most often shown in Hindu iconography as a beautiful woman clad in white, sitting on a white lotus or swan. She is often holding a book and pen or a string instrument called a veena. With her four hands she holds very similar items to Brahma, linking their powers and force in the universe deeply.

 Brahma takes part in so many myths that we often find these depictions repeated. He presents an auspicious figure, one whose image links us to deep truths about the creation of the universe.

 But who exactly is Brahma? And what else can knowing about this Hindu god of creation teach us about life?

 

Devi Bhadrakali, The Trimurti Bowing Before Her (Tantric Devi Series)

Brahma in the Trimurti

The trimurti is the central trinity of gods for many, though not all, Hindus. These three gods take on one role in the infinite rhythm of the universe. The trimurti is made up of:

<!--[if !supportLists]-->     <!--[endif]-->Brahma: God of Creation

<!--[if !supportLists]-->     <!--[endif]-->Vishnu: God of Preservation

<!--[if !supportLists]-->     <!--[endif]-->Shiva: God of Destruction

 For those who adhere to the idea of the trimurti, these three gods each take turns turning the cosmic wheel of time. The universe is in a constant flux, moving between states of being and non-being. Just like our own soul’s incarnations, the universe is born, lives, and dies — only to be reborn again.

 The timescale on which this happens is truly massive, as we’ll see later, and this helps us orient ourselves to the enormity of the cosmos. But we must remember that for each of us, we will return to this long time period over and over again until we experience liberation.

 Brahma is upheld as a tremendous and noble god for his duty and power to create the universe. It is through this generation of all energy and matter (which, at heart, is a form of energy) that anything can be.

 Paradoxically, it is this creation that also allows for void and destruction. In many esoteric disciplines around the world, including in India where spiritual science reaches the height of its sophistication, the concept of everything and nothing are deeply intertwined. As the Kabbalists say, “All is one, and one is none.”

 Brahma’s work is necessary for Vishnu to do his. And if these two gods conduct their labors, Shiva is able to destroy. It is only when Shiva destroys that Brahma is able to create — because Shiva makes the vacuum that Brahma can fill. Likewise, Shiva can only destroy if there is something to destroy.

 Vishnu, in the middle, is the link that allows for something to be, keeping all of existence from being a ping-pong ball bouncing back and forth between the moment of creation and the moment of destruction.

 So we see that, really, all three are deeply united. And in fact, Hindus who espouse the idea of the trimurti believe that, underneath everything, these three gods are really one and the same — if we could only see clearly. And these three gods are also contained in all of us, in all things, even. This supreme god that unites all is referred to as Brahman.

 If the trimurti is really all the same god, why not simply have one to describe it? Because the human mind needs help grasping these immense functions of the universe. By breaking the single god into three, we are able to sense the true nature of the eternal.

 

Brahma


How Did Brahma Create the Universe?

One of the most popular Hindu myths of creation, of which there are many (each with their own vital lessons about existence to unveil), begins in a great cosmic ocean.

 This dark and placid seascape is finally broken after fathomless time by a great golden egg named Hiranyagarbha. The egg cracks and shatters, revealing inside it Brahma. Liberated from the egg, Brahma then creates the universe and all the beings who live inside it.

 In this tale, we see that Brahma is the only one who can be his own cause. He is the only god capable of birthing himself.

 But as Hinduism developed over the last few thousand years, Brahma’s realm of creation has generally been reduced. This happened for multiple reasons, but it created one very compelling idea of the universe.

 In many post-Vedic Hindu texts, the universe is said to exist on two levels. The highest and never changing, never ending level is Sarga. This is the metaphysical level which all of our souls are yearning to be liberated to. But inside this level of reality is the physical, mundane one that we are all trapped inside of. It is here, in the Visarga, that Brahma rules creation. For it is in this “normal” level of reality that existence ebbs and flows in an infinite cycle of creation, preservation, and destruction.

 Brahma’s importance, then, has been somewhat diminished over time. And due to the rising popularity of views that center the Devi, Shiva, or Vishnu, Brahma has continued to fall in prominence. There are now many myths depicting this fall, often with Vishnu or Shiva cutting off a fifth head of Brahma in punishment of some crime or indecency.

 Nevertheless, even in this restricted capacity, Brahma is important for us to consider — perhaps even more important. When we limit his powers of creation to our realm of reality, we actually bring him closer to us and our own experiences. When we invoke the Brahma within us to help us generate new relationships, new enterprises, and even give birth to children, his example is there to guide and empower these endeavors.

 

View of Human Life (The Wheel of Time and Kali Yug)

One Day of Brahma

One other way contemplating Brahma can begin to make the universe clear is by looking at time through the eyes of this god of creation.

 It is well attested that for Brahma, time does not move the same way as it does for us.

 Humans are caught in the cycle of yugas. There are four, going in the same order every time. At the end of this cycle, they repeat. But you’ll notice that each yuga is half as long as the one that preceded it, just as each yuga is a quarter as much in line with dharma as the last one.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->     <!--[endif]-->Satya Yuga: Almost two million years, totally in line with dharma

<!--[if !supportLists]-->     <!--[endif]-->Treta Yuga: A little over one million years, three quarters in line with dharma

<!--[if !supportLists]-->     <!--[endif]-->Dwapara Yuga: Under a million years, half in line with dharma

<!--[if !supportLists]-->     <!--[endif]-->Kali Yuga: Half a million years, a quarter in line with dharma

 This entire cycle takes about 4.3 million years. But for Brahma, 1000 of these cycles make up a single day, called a kalpa. That’s 4.3 billion years! His nights last just as long, and in these nights nothing exists. So a single day and night for Brahma is 8.6 billion years long.

 But we can go even further.

 An Age of Brahma, called a maha kalpa, lasts 100 years. Each year lasts 360 days and nights — a number connecting to the degrees of a complete circle. If we do the math, an Age of Brahma is over 311 trillion years.

 The end of an Age of Brahma does not mean the end of the universe. It simply means that a new larger cycle of creation, preservation, and destruction begins.

 And so, we see that the Vedas use Brahma as a way to measure time. For this god not only creates existence but the time that beings must pass through while incarnated.

 The scale is enormous, far beyond our ability to understand. When we go through this math, we are quickly lost. But Brahma gives us something to relate it all to — the simple passing of days and nights, and how these slowly build up to a lifetime.

 Brahma is the way we can come to personalize and intuit the grand cycles of time and existence. He is our road to greater vistas than we ever thought we would witness.

 When we combine this insight through Brahma with the idea that he is relegated to creating the level of the universe that we inhabit, we see that he is in some respects the closest to us of the great trimurti.

 He is even closer still, for remember that it is he who speaks the Vedas, which are our guides to all this incredible knowledge.

 By contemplating Brahma, we slip into a mode that grants us access to the deepest secrets of being. And therefore we must never lose sight of this magnificent deity.

38" Large Size Lord Brahma - The Creator of the Universe | Brass Statue | Handmade | Made In India

Living with Brahma

But how are we to keep these insights with us through our ordinary life? And how can we bring ourselves into a closer relationship with this deity and his secrets?

 Perhaps the easiest way is through the reading of the Vedas. This not only brings us in regular contact with the great gift he gave the world, but it also helps us in all spiritual endeavors.

 There are other things we can do as well, small things. When we check the time, look back on our past, or think about the future, we are dealing in Brahma’s world. When we create something new, we are — on our own, small scale — acting as Brahma would.

 When seen this way, it appears that Brahma is around us always. And if we remember where this all comes from, we draw ourselves closer to the divine.

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