By Amy Underdown, London, UK
The Hindu Trimurti, or triumvirate, is conventionally made up of three gods: Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Shiva the Destroyer.
This holy trinity naturally carries great importance, as the maintenance of the universe and world as we know it relies on its existence and balance. It may seem confusing, then, that the debates around who is the most powerful Hindu god traditionally neglect Brahma as an option.
What makes Brahma so important was his role as the Creator of the universe. It is his creation that is now preserved and protected by the latter two deities; however, many take this to mean that Brahma’s work, in many ways, is done. It isn’t to be forgotten that Brahma is also the god of all knowledge, as well as the Vedas, but this is why Shiva and Vishnu are often seen to get more of the spotlight.
Unlike Vishnu and Shiva, Brahma does not have major sects devoted to his sole worship. Vaishnavism and Shaivism (worshipping specifically Vishnu and Shiva respectively) are renowned throughout Hinduism, with both of these gods being immensely popular. Brahma does not enjoy such popular worship, with there being very few temples existing within India dedicated to him.
Nevertheless, there are still a handful of temples that are dedicated solely to Brahma. The most famous of these is the Brahma Temple, Pushkar, in Rajasthan, as well as several others outside of India. Though these are far less common than the temples for his counterparts, his inclusion in the triumvirate and his recognition as the Creator are not something to be put to one side.
One less sympathetic view of Brahma’s lack of modern-day worship was his obsession with Shatarupa. Once he had created her, Brahma developed an unhealthy obsession with Shatarupa, who became every creature on earth to avoid his gaze. This encouraged Shiva to place a curse on Brahma, meaning less people took to worshipping him. One form of this punishment was decapitation, whereas other stories claim his penance is done through continual recitation of the four Vedas, one through each of his four mouths.
This less flattering story should not take away from Brahma’s overall role as the Creator. His inclusion in the triumvirate is testament to his historical significance, even if he is no longer the most popular focus of worship for many Hindus.