Sonia Sumitra Thakar
Which ever place you visit in this rich and beautiful country, one thing is for sure, you will chance upon at least a couple of temples. But, you will notice that most of the Hindu temples in India are dedicated to a goddess, Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu or their incarnations or forms. We hardly ever hear about the different forms of Brahma and his avatars and there are barely a handful of temples dedicated to him. Despite Lord Brahma being part of the Holy Trinity of gods and him being equally powerful, there seems to some sort of discrimination happening here.
As always, Hindu mythology has a few different stories to justify this. Let us explore the legends that explain why Lord Brahma isn’t worshipped as widely as the other gods.
Pillar of Light
According to the Shiva Purana, when the cosmos was created, Brahma and Vishnu started arguing as to who was superior amongst them. To settle the feud, Lord Shiva took the form of a gigantic Shivalingam made of fire. It went far up into the heavens and deep down into the earth. Shiva told the others that whoever found the end of this pillar of light would be declared the winner. Lord Brahma took the form of a swan and flew towards the heavens to look for the starting point of the lingam, while Vishnu took the form of a wild boar (Varaha) and dug deep into the earth.
Both of them continued on their respective paths with no success. After a while, humbled and tired with this fruitless search, Vishnu came to the conclusion that Shiva was indeed the most powerful of the triad. However, the egoistic Brahma did not give up so easily. On his way up, he saw a ketaki flower floating downwards. On asking the flower where it was coming from, the ketaki flower said that it had been offered on the top of the pillar of fire by a devotee. Brahma grabbed the chance to deceitfully prove his superiority over Shiva and Vishnu and returned to the earth with the flower. He told Shiva that he had indeed reached the top of the lingam and brought the flower with him as proof. However, Lord Shiva knew that he was lying and, enraged, he cursed the ‘undeserving’ Brahma that he would not be worshipped by anyone in the three worlds. He also cursed the ketaki flower that it would not be used in any ritual because it had offered false testimony to support Brahma’s lie.
The Matsya Purana gives another legend to explain why Lord Brahma isn’t worshipped. After Brahma created the Universe, he created a female deity – Shatarupa (one of a hundred beautiful forms). So alluring was her beauty that Brahma himself was infatuated with his creation. Unable to control his desire, he tried to pursue her. She moved in all directions to escape his lustful gaze. As a result, Brahma sprouted four heads in all four directions to continue looking at her. She jumped high in the sky but Brahma developed a fifth head on the top to be able to see her. In order to control the obsessed Brahma, Lord Shiva chopped off the top head. Shiva reasoned that Shatarupa was created by Brahma and therefore his daughter. Brahma’s conduct was incestuous and improper and Shiva cursed Brahma that no one would worship him for this ‘unholy’ behaviour.
There is yet another story about why there aren’t many temples dedicated to Lord Brahma. Once, a great yagna was being organised and with the renowned sage Maharishi Bhrigu as the high priest. It was decided that they would invite the greatest god to be the presiding deity. Maharishi Bhrigu called upon Lord Brahma. At that time Brahma was immersed in listening to music being played by Saraswati and he did not respond to the sage’s calls. In anger, Maharishi Bhrigu cursed Lord Brahma that he would not be worshipped or invoked by anyone on earth.
While all these stories make for an interesting read, the fact is that worshipping any form of god will bring a richness and contentment to our physical being as well as our spiritual self. Brahma is considered as a form of the Supreme God, Brahman and worshipping him can yield only positive results.