Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva are the 3 major gods of Hinduism. They form the holy Trinity for Hindus. Brahma creates, Vishnu preserves, and Shiva destroys the universe and everything in it.
Brahma was born from the cosmic golden egg. Then, he created good and evil as well as light and dark from himself. He also created gods, demons, ancestors, and men. The first man was Manu. After this, he created all the other living creatures.
It is said that during the creation process, the demons were born from Brahma's thigh when he was distracted, and so he abandoned his body, which became Night. After Brahma had finished creating the good gods, he abandoned his body again. It then became Day. Hence, demons rule at night, and gods rule the day. Brahma went on to create ancestors and men, and each time he abandoned his body, they became Dusk and Dawn, respectively.
Then, Brahma appointed Shiva to rule over humanity. Brahma had many wives, and the most important is Saraswati, who was also his creation. After the Creation, the story goes that Saraswati gave birth to the four Vedas, all branches of knowledge, music, and ideas like Memory and Victory. From her were also born the various types of yoga, speech, religious acts, the Sanskrit language, and the units of time and measurement. Brahma’s many sons include the Sapta Rishis or Seven Sages and the gods Kardama, Pancasikha, Vodhu, and Narada. Narada became the messenger between the gods and men.
Brahma Creates Women and Death
As time passed, the gods feared that men would become powerful enough to pose a challenge to their reign. So they asked Brahma to find a way to prevent this. So he created women, as per the Mahabharata. Among the women, those who were wanton and lustful would prove to be the downfall of men. Another myth says that Death was Brahma's first female. Death maintains balance in the universe and prevents it from becoming overpopulated.
How Is Brahma Represented in Art?
Brahma is often depicted in red and has 4 heads, symbolizing his creation of the 4 Vedas. So, he is called Caturanana or Caturmukha or "four-faced" and Ashtakarna or "eight-eared." He had 5 heads, actually, but when he developed lust toward his daughter, an angry Shiva cut off the head with which he ogled her. Brahma has 4 arms. In one right hand, he holds the brahma-tandram. This is an oval disk with a beaded rim. It is probably a sacrificial ladle that he uses to mark men's foreheads with their destiny. In his other right hand, he holds a rosary made from rudraksham seeds. In one left hand, he holds a kamandala or water pot for cleansing. Sometimes, he also holds his bow Parivita or the Vedas. Brahma is usually portrayed sitting on a lotus flower which springs from Vishnu's navel.
Why Is Brahma Not Worshipped?
Despite being one among the Holy Trinity of Hindu deities, Brahma is never worshipped. No festivals are dedicated to him, and he does not have any avatars either. Only a few Brahma temples exist in India. The Puranas have an explanation for this.
The Curse of Shiva
Once, Brahma and Vishnu had a heated argument about who was the greater of the two. Finally, Shiva had to intervene as things seemed to be getting out of hand.
He took the form of a massive pillar of light or Lingam that extended from heaven to Patala (the underworld). Shiva told the two feuding gods that whoever could find the beginning or end of the Lingam would be the greater of the two.
So, Brahma and Vishnu set out to do this. Vishnu went underground while Brahma rose up into the air. They searched for many years but could not find the end or beginning of the Lingam.
Vishnu decided to acknowledge that Shiva was the greatest among the Trinity. But Brahma was in no mood to concede defeat.
During his search, Brahma saw a Ketaki flower falling down from the sky. Assuming that it was falling from the upper end of the Lingam, Brahma asked the Ketaki flower to tell Shiva that Brahma had actually reached the uppermost end of the Lingam. The Ketaki flower agreed to bear false witness for Brahma and testified before Shiva that Brahma had reached the topmost end of the Lingam.
But Shiva saw through this lie. He was furious and cursed Brahma that no human being would worship him. Shiva cursed the Ketaki flower, too, saying that nobody would use it in any sacred ritual or Pooja.
According to one legend, Brahma created Saraswati, the goddess of arts, learning, and knowledge. But her beauty floored him, and he began to pursue her. However, Saraswati was not at all interested and tried to escape from him.
But Brahma began to behave like a stalker and followed her wherever she went. He even grew a 5th head to keep track of her movements.
It is said that Saraswati became so fed up with Brahma that she cursed him, saying that people on earth would not worship him.