Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh( Shiva) are the three main Hindu gods. A Hindu Trinity of sorts.
Brahma creates the Universe, Vishnu sustains it and Shiva destroys it, so that it maybe created again.
To get to know these gods better, we have to understand the key roles they play.
So let’s begin with Brahma.
Like all religions and cultures, Hindu texts are also full of Creation myths. Some more well known than others.
The Puranas ( Collection of God Stories) tells us that in the Beginning there was Nothing. All existence was hidden in the un-manifested waters of the Great Deluge, the Mahapralaya.
Vishnu lay in deep sleep on the Serpent Ananta( one without beginning or end), who was floating on these waters. In his dream, Vishnu dreamed of this Creation and a lotus sprouted from his navel. Sitting in the lotus was Brahma.
Brahma opened his eyes and was very surprised to find himself there, alone, in the middle of Nothing. He tried to find where the lotus was stemming from but it appeared to have no starting point. Just then he heard a voice asking him to create a universe.
Brahma was confused. He thought about many different forms and shapes he could create and then finally settled on the symmetric form.
He created the four Kumar Rishis, Sanaka, Sanatan, Sanata and Sanat, from his mind and asked the to help him with the Creation. But as children often do, they had a mind of their own. They wanted to do their own thing. So,instead of getting stuck with the job of creation, they gave up the world and went looking for salvation.
This angered Brahma and he frowned. From this spot between his brows a fifth son was born, wailing as babies do when they are born . Brahma named him Rudra, (Rud, meaning ‘a wail’).
Brahma asked Rudra who was filled with fear of the world and born in the shadow of his anger, to go dwell in all things. The sky, the air, the water, the sun and moon.
Brahma created ten more sons from his body. Angira, Atri, Bhrigu, Daksha, Kratu, Marichi, Narad, Pulastya, Pulaha and Vashista.
Then Saraswati was born from Brahma’s mouth.
Seeing the beautiful and wise Saraswati, Brahma forgot she was his daughter and began to pursue her. This upset Saraswati so much that she got up and left. Brahma came back to his senses and realised his serious folly. He was so ashamed and filled with such remorse that he dissolved himself into space.
Having messed up the first attempt at creation Brahma decided to try again.Properly.
He first created a brilliant body for himself and then divided it into two, the primordial man, Manu and woman, Shatrupa.
They were married and had two sons Priyavarta and Uttanpad and three daughters:Aakooti, Devhooti and Prasuti.
Aakuti was married to Ruchi Prajapati, Prasuti was married to Daksha and Devhooti was married to Kardam rishi. It is their children who went on and populated the Earth. This creation came to be known as ‘Maithuni Shrishtai’. Maithun is Sanskrit means, the union of male and female.
Brahma also sprouted the four Vedas from his mouth and created such things as Dharma( righteousness or Truth) and Adharma( un-Truth ), anger, desire, fear, attachment, joy and suffering.
He then grew so proud of all that he had created, he began to think he owned Prakruti( Nature ). Then he began to fear the many forms that Nature took. The whole process of creation seemed to be spinning out of control. Brahma sprouted four heads looking in four directions in an attempt to control Prakruti. He forgot that Nature had created him in the first instance. She was his mother and she would not be controlled by him.
So full of himself was Brahma that he sprouted a fifth head, his Ego. With Brahma growing too big for his boots, the very balance of nature was threatened and Shiva had to step in. He chopped Brahma’s fifth head off.
Without his ego gone, Brahma no longer associated himself with Prakruti. He neither feared her nor wanted to control her.
Prakruti( Creation) was now left to follow her own natural course and obey her own natural laws.
This is the reason why not many people worship Brahma anymore.
PS: A delightful version of this story is narrated by Joseph Campbell in his wonderful documentary, Power of Myths. It is from the point of view of Indra. I may post it at another time but meanwhile here it is….