Hindu Trinity
The Creator
The Preserver
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Brahma - the creator

Brahma, the first member of the Hindu trinity though much less important than the other two, namely Vishnu and Mahesh, is manifested as the active creator of this universe. The name Brahma is not found in the Vedas and the Brahmanas, where the active creator is merely known as Golden-Embryo (HIRANYA-GARBHA) or the Lord of Progeny (PRAJA-PATI). The Mahabharata considers him as born from the embryo, which took shape in Vishnu's mind when he began to think of creation.

After the destruction of one universe Vishnu falls asleep, floating on the causal waters. When another Universe is to be created, Brahma appears on a lotus, which springs from the navel of Vishnu. Hence Brahma is also called Navel-born (NABHI-JA) or the Lotus-born (KANJA-JA).

When Brahma has created the world it remains in existence for one of his days, which comes to a period of 4,320,000,000 years in terms of Hindu calendar. When Brahma goes to sleep after the end

Brahma - the nabhi-ja (navel born)

of his day, the world and all that is therein is consumed by fire. When he awakes he again restores the whole creation. This goes on till the hundred years of Brahma's life are completed. When this period ends he himself loses his existence, and he and all the gods and sages, and the whole universe are dissolved into their constituent elements.

Brahma - the chaturmukha (four faced)

Brahma is shown as having four heads though originally he had five. The acquiring of five heads and the subsequent loss of one head makes an interesting legend. According to myths, he originally possessed only one head. After cutting a part of his own body Brahma created a woman named SATRUPA (a face with hundred beauties). She is also called VAC or SARASWATI, SAVITRI - the solar hymn, GAYATRI - the triple hymn and SANDHYA (twilight). As soon as Brahma saw his female creation, he fell in love with her and could not remove his gaze from her extraordinary beauty. Naturally Satrupa felt shy and tried to evade his eyes by moving away on all sides. To follow her wherever she moved, Brahma created more heads-one on the left, second on the right and the third at the back of the original first. Satrupa then rose towards the sky to escape his eyes and Brahma created the fifth head on top of all the four. This way he came to have five heads.

It is mentioned in the scriptures that the fifth head was chopped off by Shiva. He spoke most disrespectfully about Shiva, who in anger opened his third eye and the fire burned off his fifth head. Brahma has four arms and in his hands he holds a lotus flower, his scepter, spoon, a string of beads, a bowl containing the holy water and the Vedas. He is therefore also called as CHATURANANA or CHATURMUKHA (four- faced) and ASHTA-KARNA (eight-eared). He is usually shown as a bearded man in the full maturity of age. According to Shiva Purana, from the incestual union of Brahma and Satrupa was born SUAYAMBHUVA MANU, the progenitor of man, and from him in turn all creatures.