« PreviousContinue »
the ether; from him was descended Marichi; the son of Marichi was Kasyapa. From Kasyapa sprang Vivaswat, and Manu is declared to have been Vivaswat's son." A later recension of this poem alters this passage so as to make Brahma a mere manifestation of Vishnu. Instead of "Brahma, the self-existent, with the deities," it substitutes for the last three words, "the imperishable Vishnu." The Vishnu Purana says that the "divine Brahma called Narayana created all beings," that Prajapati "had formerly, at the commencement of the (previous) kalpas, taken the shape of a fish, a tortoise, &C., (so now), entering the body of a boar, the lord of creatures entered the water." But this "lord of creatures" is clearly shown to be Vishnu, and these three forms, the fish, the tortoise, and the boar, are now counted among the Avataras of Vishnu. (See Avatars) This attribution of the form of a boar to Brahma (Prajapati) had been before made by the Satapatha Brahmana, which also says, "Having assumed the form of a tortoise, Prajapati created offspring." The Linga Purana is quite exceptional among the later works in ascribing the boar form to Brahma. The Mahabharata represents Brahma as springing from the navel of Vishnu or from a lotus which grew thereout; hence he is called Nabhi-ja, 'navel-born;' Kanja, 'the lotus;' Sarojin, 'having a lotus;' Abja-ja, Abja-yoni, and Kanja-ja, 'lotus-born.' This is, of course, the view taken by the Vaishnavas. The same statement appears in the Ramayana, although this poem gives Brahma a more prominent place than usual. It represents Brahma as informing Rama of his divinity, and of his calling him to heaven in "the glory of Vishnu." He bestowed boons on Rama while that hero was on earth, and he extended his favours also to Ravana and other Rakshasas who were descendants of his son Pulastya. In the Puranas also he appears as a patron of the enemies of the gods, and it was by his favour that the Daitya King Bali obtained that almost universal dominion which required the incarnation of Vishnu as the dwarf to repress. He is further represented in the Ramayana as the creator of the beautiful Ahalya, whom he gave as wife to the sage Gautama. Brahma, being thus inferior to Vishnu, is represented as giving homage and praise to Vishnu himself and to his form Krishna, but the Vaishnava authorities make him superior to Rudra, who, they say, sprang from his forehead, The iSaiva authorities
make Maha-deva or Rudra to be the creator of Brahma, and represent Brahma as worshipping the Linga and as acting as the charioteer of Rudra.
Brahma was the father of Daksha, who is said to have sprung from his thumb, and he was present at the sacrifice of that patriarch, which was rudely disturbed by Rudra. Then he had to humbly submit and appease the offended god. The four Kumaras, the chief of whom was called Sanat-kumara or by the patronymic Vaidhatra, were later creations or sons of Brahma.
Brahma is also called Vidhi, Vedhas, Druhina, and Srashln, 'creator;' Dhatri and Vidhatri, 'sustainer;' Pitamaha, 'the great father;' Lokesa, 'lord of the world;' Paramesh/a, 'supreme in heaven;' Sanat, 'the ancients' Adi-kavi, 'the first poet;' and Dru-ghana, 'the axe or mallet.'
BRAHMACHARL The Brahman student. See Brahman.
BRAHMADIKAS. The Prajapatis (q.v.).
BRAHMA-GUPTA An astronomer who composed the Brahma-gupta Siddhanta in A.d. 628.
BRAHMA-LOKA See Loka.
BRAHMAN. The first of the four castes; the sacerdotal class, the members of which may be, but are not necessarily, priests. A Brahman is the chief of all created beings; his person is inviolate; he is entitled to all honour, and enjoys many rights and privileges. The Satapatha Brahmana declares that "there are two kinds of gods; first the gods, then those who are Brahmans, and have learnt the Veda and repeat it: they are human gods." The chief duty of a Brahman is the study and teaching of the Vedas, and the performance of sacrifices and other religious ceremonies; but in moder n times many Brahmans entirely neglect these duties, and they engage in most of the occupations of secular life. Under the law of Manu, the life of a Brahman was divided into four asramas or stages :—
1. Brahnachdrl.—The student, whose duty was to pass his days in humble and obedient attendance upon his spiritual preceptor in the study of the Vedas.
2. Grihastha. — The householder; the married man living with his wife as head of a family engaged in the ordinary duties of a Brahman, reading and teaching the Vedas, sacrificing and assisting to sacrifice, bestowing alms and receiving alms.
3. Vanaprastha.—The anchorite, or " dweller in the woods,"
who, having discharged his duties as a man of the world, has retired into the forest to devote himself to self-denial in food and raiment, to mortifications of various kinds, to religious meditation, and to the strict performance of all ceremonial duties.
4. Sannyasl.—The religious mendicant, who, freed from all forms and observances, wanders about and subsists on alms, practising or striving for that condition of mind which, heedless of the joys and pains, cares and troubles of the flesh, is intent only upon the deity and final absorption.
The divisions and subdivisions of the Brahman caste are almost innumerable. It must suffice here to notice the great divisions of north and south, the Pancha Gaurfa and the Pancha Dravirfa. The five divisions of Gaurfa, or Bengal, are the Brahmans of— 1. Kanyakubja, Kanauj; 2. Saraswata, the north-west, about the SaraswatI or Sarsuti river; 3. Gaurfa; 4. Mithila, North Bihar; 5. Utkala, Orissa. The Pancha Drtivi<fa. are the Brahmans of —1. Maharashtra, the Mahratta country; 2. Telinga, the Telugu country; 3. Draviffa, the Tamil country; 4. KarnaVa, the Canarese country; 5. Gurjjara, Guzerat.
BRAHMAiVA 'Belonging to Brahmans.' Works composed by and for Brahmans. That part of the Veda which was intended for the use and guidance of Brahmans in the use of the hymns of the Mantra, and therefore of later production; but the Brahmana, equally with the Mantra, is held to be iSruti or revealed word. Excepting its claim to revelation, it is a Hindu Talmud. The Brahmana collectively is made up of the different Brahma?ias, which are ritualistic and liturgical writings in prose. They contain the details of the Vedic ceremonies, with long explanations of their origin and meaning ; they give instructions as to the use of particular verses and metres; and they abound with curious legends, divine and human, in illustration. In them are found "the oldest rituals we have, the oldest linguistic explanations, the oldest traditional narratives, and the oldest philosophical speculations." As literary productions they are not of a high order, but some "striking thoughts, bold expressions, sound reasoning, and curious traditions are found among the mass of pedantry and grandiloquence." Each of the Sanhitas or collection of hymns has its Brahmanas, and these generally maintain the essential character of the Veda to which they belong. Thus BRAHMANASAPTI—BRAHMA PURANA. 61
the Brahmanas of the Rig are specially devoted to the duties of the HotW, who recites the richas or verses, those of the Yajur to the performance of the sacrifices by the Adhwaryu, and those of the Saman to the chaunting by the Udgatrt. The Rig has the Aitareya Brahmana, which is perhaps the oldest, and may date as far back as the seventh century ac. This is sometimes called Aswalayana. It has another called Kaushitaki or Sankhayana. The Taittiriya Sanhita of the Yajur-veda has the Taittiriya Brahmana, and the Vajasaneyi Sanhita has the Satapatha Brahmana, one of the most important of all the Brahmanas. The Sama-veda has eight Brahmanas, of which the best known are the Praurfha or Pancha-vinsa, the Tanrfya, and the Sharf-vinsa. The Atharva has only one, the Gopatha Brahmana. In their fullest extent the Brahmanas embrace also the treatises called Aranyakas and Upanishads.
BRAHMANASPATL A Vedic equivalent of the name Brihaspati.
BRAHMA ATP A PURAiVA "That which has declared, in 12,200 verses, the magnificence of the egg of Brahma, and in which an account of the future kalpas is contained, is called the Brahmanrfa Purana, and was revealed by Brahma." This Purana, like the Skanda, is "no longer procurable in a collective body," but is represented by a variety of Khanrfas and Mahatmyas professing to be derived from it . The Adhyatma Rama yana, a very popular work, is considered to be a part of this Purana.
BRAHMAiVL The female form, or the daughter of Brahma, also called Sata-rupa (q.v.).
BRAHMA-PURA The city of Brahma. The heaven of Brahma, on the summit of Mount Meru, and enclosed by the river Gangi
BRAHMA PURAiVA In all the lists of the Puranas the Brahma stands first, for which reason it is sometimes entitled the Adi or "First" Purana. It was repeated by Brahma to Marfchi, and is said to contain 10,000 stanzas, but the actual number is between 7000 and 8000. It is also called the Saura Purana, because "it is, in great part, appropriated to the worship of Surya, the sun." "The early chapters give a description of the creation, an account of the Manwantaras, and the history of the Solar and Lunar dynasties to the time of Krishna in a 62 BRAHMA VAIVARTA PURANA.
summary manner, and in words which are common to it and several other Puranas. A brief description of the universe succeeds; and then come a number of chapters relating to the holiness of Orissa, with its temples and sacred groves, dedicated to the sun, to Siva, and Jagan-natha, the latter especially. These chapters are characteristic of this Purana, and show its main object to be the promotion of the worship of Krishna as Jagannatha. To these particulars succeeds a life of Krishna, which is word for word the same as that of the Vishnu Purana; and the compilation terminates with a particular detail of the mode in which Yoga or contemplative devotion, the object of which is still Vishnu, is to be performed. There is little in this which corresponds with the definition of a Pancha-lakshana Purana, and the mention of the temples of Orissa, the date of the original construction of which is recorded, shows that it could not have been compiled earlier than the thirteenth or fourteenth century." This Purana has "a supplementary or concluding section called the Brahmottara Purana, which contains about 3000 stanzas. This bears still more entirely the character of a Mahatmya or local legend, being intended to celebrate the sanctity of the Balaja river, conjectured to be the same as the Banas in Mar war. There is no clue to its date, but it is clearly modern, grafting personages and fictions of its own invention on a few hints from older authorities."—Wilson.
BRAHMARSHI-DESA "Kurukshetra, the Matsyas, the Panehalas, and the Surasenas. This land, which comes to Brahmavartta, is the land of Brahmarshis."—Manu.
BRAHMARSHIS. i?ishis of the Brahman caste, who were the founders of the gotras of Brahmans, and dwell in the sphere of Brahma. See Bishi.
BRAHMA-SAVARiVL The tenth Manu. See Manu.
BRAHMA SUTRAS. Aphorisms on the Vedanta philosophy by Badarayana or Vyasa. They are also called Brahma Mimansa Sutras. They are in course of translation by the Rev. K. IE Banerjea in the Bibliotheca Indica.
BRAHMA VAIVARTA PURAiVA. "That Purana which is related by Savarni to Narada, and contains the account of the greatness of Krishna, with the occurrences of the Rathantarakalpa, where also the story of Brahma-varaha is repeatedly told, is called the Brahma Vaivarta Purana, and contains 18,000