How many sons does Brahma have

Bernhard Peter
The high gods Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu


1. Brahma:

Properties: Hindu high god. Forms the Trimurti, the trinity of the Indian high gods, together with Shiva and Vishnu. Brahma is the creator god, the world creator, the principle of creation in the cosmos. Brahma is the creative tool of the eternal Brahman, his tool for creation. Brahma is considered the first god in Hinduism, the first living being on earth, and is seen as the creator. He is the leader of the fate of the worlds, teacher of the gods, ruler of the world and lord of the gods. In this way he stands above all other gods, but does not take part in their actions. Brahma is the original poet of ritual chants. He is the patron of the 64 arts and crafts. He has the ability to see into the future. He lives in Brahmaloka, his own heaven and place for warriors who have fallen in battle. Of the triad Brahma - Shiva - Vishnu, the three great gods of Hinduism, Brahma is today considered to be the least significant, there are hardly any temples dedicated to him in India, his veneration in India is low, he is most likely still venerated as a revelator of the Veda.

Family: Brahma is married to Saraswati. She is his faithful wife and his Shakti. In addition, Brahma has a second wife, the goddess Gayatri. Brahma has many children, but he did not father them with his wives. As a creator god, it is much easier for him to have his offspring emerge directly from his body parts. Brahma is the father of Kamadewa and Daksha.

Presentation: Brahma is a mature, bearded man of red, yellow, or gold body color. Asceticism is not his thing, in the images he appears well-fed. He is represented with four heads looking in all four directions. That is why he is also known as Caturmukha - the four-faced man. Mostly he is also represented with four arms, which then often hold the four Vedas Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda, the holy scriptures of Hinduism. If the four hands do not hold this, then Kamandalu (water vessel), Aksamala or Mala (rosary), Pustaka (Veda book) and Sruk (sacrificial spoon). What is in which hand is not fixed, sometimes one hand remains free and forms a mudra (gesture), the so-called abhaya mudra (gesture of encouragement) or the varada mudra (wish fulfillment gesture). He wears the brahmin cord (Yajnopavita), jewelry and a large garland of flowers around his neck. A gazelle skin can be placed over the left shoulder. Brahma sometimes bears the Shivaitic sign (three horizontal lines) or the Vishnuitic sign (3 vertical lines or a tongue-shaped symbol with a vertical center line) on his forehead. His mount is a white goose named Hamsa. It is a symbol of purity and discernment.

History: As the progenitor of beings, Brahma is the successor of Vedic Prajapati. Brahma arises from the world soul, the source of all being, the Brahman. Brahman, as the incorporeal and unqualified Absolute, cannot itself be creative. Brahma was born to give expression and shape to the desire of the world soul for creation. As a creator god, he was able to create himself. According to other reports, it emerged from an original egg: Brahma himself formed the water in which he placed his seed, from which a golden egg developed, from which Brahma himself was born (Hiranyagarbha = the golden embryo) . After spending 1000 years in the egg, Brahma broke the shell in half with the power of his mind. The halves of the egg became heaven and earth. Only later did a new history of creation come into circulation among the Vishnuits, which diminished the merit of Brahma: After the last end of the world, Vishnu rested on the serpent Ananta. When the pause between the world existences was over, Vishnu's navel became a lotus plant, in whose flower crown Brahma sat in order to become the forefather of all beings. Vishnu was raised to the rank of primordial god, Brahma was downgraded. The Shivaites also tried to belittle Brahma: he once had five heads, but Shiva cut off his fifth head. Jealousies and rivalries between high gods that are not to be taken seriously.

Names: An alternative name for Brahma is "Svayambhu" - "the one who arose from himself". Another is “Nabhija” - “the one born of the navel”.


2. Vishnu:

Properties: One of the three male high gods of the Hindu pantheon, together with Shiva and Brahma, forms the trinity Trimurti. Vishnu is considered to be the world preserver, the preserver of life. Vishnu has the task of protecting gods and people and fighting all evil. Vishnu in Vedism is a god with a cosmic meaning, not just a hero. Vishnu is a being who has spread all over the world, heaven and earth. Vishnu comes from eternity and has an eternal future. He has already lived through many world phases (yugas). Between the phases of the world, Vishnu rests on the serpent Ananta. When Vishnu wants to create a new world, a lotus grows out of his navel and Brahma is enthroned on the flower. Vishnu created the three worlds. He paced the earth three times to drive away demons. Compare the later story of the demon king Bali, which is already being prepared here. Vishnu helped the good gods, the Suras, to defeat the bad gods, the Asuras. In later Hinduism there is an incomparable ascent of Vishnu to the preserver of the world, who again and again embodies himself as an avatar in order to save the world and bring it back into balance. Vishnu is one of the big winners of the change from Vedism to Hinduism, he rises from a marginal figure to the master of the world. Together with Shiva, Vishnu is one of the most important and most revered gods in Hinduism.

Family: Spouse of Lakshmi, the goddess of happiness and beauty. Some Hindus consider Brahma's wife Sarasvati to be the second wife, but this is rather the exception.

Presentation: Youthful-looking, radiantly beautiful god in royal clothing and with a royal headgear (kiritamukuta). He wears a lot of jewelry (necklace, bracelets, bracelets and rings as well as the jewel Srivatsa on his chest). Representation with dark blue or black body (see below) and 4 arms, in his hands Vishnu holds his attributes club (Gada, symbolizes strength and identifies Vishnu as the one who fights against the demons), conch horn (Sankha, like the sound of the conch horn penetrates everything, Vishnu as sustainer penetrates everything and all beings), discus (chakra) or sun disk or ring of light (all variants as a symbol of the sun), sometimes replaced by a wheel (symbol of righteous rule), and lotus flower (padma, symbol of purity, as a bud symbol of Vishnu as the author of creation, opened as a symbol of creation and the universe). Sometimes he sits on a lotus, sometimes he rests in the milk ocean on the serpent Ananta, at his feet Sri Lakshmi, while a lotus flower sprouts from his navel, on which Brahma sits. A brahmin cord hangs from his left shoulder. His mount is Garuda. A total of 24 manifestations of Vishnu are distinguished. In the representation, they each differ in the objects they hold in their hands. Discus and conch shell must never be missing, but the distribution of the attributes can be different, individual attributes can be missing, certain gestures (mudras) are formed by the free hands.

Why do gods have weapons? Weapons exist to destroy vasanas (patterns of behavior and desires) in one. The divine self can only be reached if they are destroyed. The vasanas obscure our inherent divinity.

The color of Vishnu in the different phases of the world: Vishnu has already lived through many world phases (Yugas), because he comes from eternity, he has no beginning and no end. Depending on the phase of the world, Vishnu changes color:

  • Krtayuga - white
  • Tretayuga - red
  • Dvaparayuga - yellow
  • Kaliyuge (present) - black

Avatar: His incarnations are the avatars. Avatar means "descending" - they are divine embodiments of the High God. Avatars are like messengers that the gods send to humans on earth. There are 10 of them in total, 9 of them have appeared so far (Matsya, Kurma, Eber, Mensch-Löwe, Vamana, Parashurama, Rama, Krishna, Buddha), the tenth, Kalkin, not yet. His most important incarnations are Rama, Krishna and Buddha. As a result, Buddhism is seen as part of Hinduism.

Names: Also called "Hari". Or: "Visvarupa" is "the universal one".


3. Shiva:

Properties: "Most High God". "The gracious". High god, one of the three gods who together make up Trimurti. God of Destruction. He is considered the most powerful and most revered god in Hinduism. Shiva is seen in Hinduism as a destroyer, but also as an innovator. Master of time. Shiva is god of opposites of unpredictable double nature: He has a good and a terrible side. He is kind and ominous, he is meditative and ecstatic, he is terrible, but also mild and friendly, he is the destroyer, but at the same time also the innovator and creator of the world. God of fertility. God of Death. Corresponds to “tamas” - a materially difficult basic quality (guna), the tendency to dissolve and annihilate. Lord of the Mountains. Shiva is considered the god of dance and festivals (see under Nataraja), but also as the god of meditation and chastity. His residence is Gjan Bapi.

Family: His wife is Parvati, the "daughter of the mountains" - Durga - Uma - Kali. Her sons are Ganesha and Kartikeja (Skanda).

Presentation: The representations are based on the aspect shown. As "Shiva next to the bull" z. B. he is shown standing, with 1 head, 4 arms, in his hands he holds a bow (Dhanu), a gazelle (Mrga) and an ax (Parashu) (the last two attributes are often used in South India), the fourth Hand rests on his mount, the bull Nandi. The mount also has the unpredictable dual nature of its master: sometimes dull and sedate, then wildly destructive. Depending on the aspect shown, further or different features can be shown: 3 eyes, the third of which is in the middle of the forehead; lush, intertwined hair; a wreath of skulls around the neck, trident (trisula), hourglass drum (damaru), shell, bloody fur as clothing, mudras with free hands. Other depictions show other details: the life-giving river Ganges rises at the top of the head. Shiva wears a crescent moon as a crown or in her hair (Shiva as master of time). His clothing is made of tiger and elephant skin. Its neck, around which a large cobra winds, is blue. He also wears a sacred thread (yajnopavita) and bangles. Shiva's eyes are half closed in the representation as a meditator, i.e., neither completely closed nor completely open. It is the so-called sambhavi mudra. Closed eyes indicate that Shiva has withdrawn from the world. Open eyes indicate Shiva who is fully turned towards the world. The half-closed eyes therefore mean that Shiva's consciousness rests in the inner self while his body remains active in the outer world. Shiva's white skin symbolizes the light that drives away the darkness, the knowledge that drives away ignorance. The symbol Lingam is closely linked to Shiva (see also under Lingam, phallic symbol, which is supposed to symbolize his creative power). Many saddhus, holy ascetics, are followers of Shiva and usually symbolize this with the Shiva trident and a double-headed drum.

The trident (trisula) - an important symbol of the Shivaists: The symbol of the trident can be interpreted in many ways. In detail, the three points represent:

  • the destruction of the ego with its threefold wishful nature and thus the victory over the ego, which leads to the attainment of perfection.
    • of the body
    • of feeling
    • of thinking
  • the three properties (Gunas):
    • sattvas - pure, clear
    • rajas - active
    • tamas - dull, sluggish and unmoved
  • the three phases of creation:
    • creation
    • conservation
    • destruction
  • the three states:
    • jagrat - being awake
    • swapna - dream phase
    • sushupti - deep sleep

Appearances and aspects: Shiva has 28 different manifestations. They are not called avatars as in Vishnu. They also do not follow one another in time. These 28 manifestations can be bundled into several groups, the aspects (murti) of Shiva, of which there are five:

  • Mahesamurti - great lord of the world
  • Anugrahamurti - the show of favor for all living beings
  • Ascetic or yogi on a begging wandering
  • Nrttamurti - dancing Shiva
  • Samharamurti - the destroyer

History: Shiva emerged from the Vedic god Rudra. Many hundreds of other gods of India emerge from Shiva in the form of reincarnations and manifestations or as relatives.

Names: The name Shiva literally means "cheap, promising". Alternatively Sankara - the savior, Sadashiva - Shiva the Eternal, Vishvanatha - Lord of the universe. Shiva is also called Nilakantha ("blue neck") because he drank the poison that threatened to destroy the world when the gods and demons whirled the ocean of milk to obtain the elixir of life. The poison stayed in Shiva's throat, saving the outside world and Shiva himself. But the poison stained his throat blue.


4. Harihara:

Double deity - the two gods Shiva and Vishnu together. Hari is an aspect of the high god Vishnu. Hara is a manifestation of Shiva - "the gripper". Is to express the mutual dependence of both. Harihara was created in the 9th century. His left side bears the attributes Vishnus - disc and conch shell, the right side represents Shiva with a gesture of encouragement and a trident. On the left he wears the jewelry and clothes of Vishnu, on the right the ascetic costume of Shiva. Trying to merge the two gods was a nice idea, but it couldn't prevent Vishnuism and Shaivism from coexisting to this day.


5. Trimurti:

Triple deity, Hindu trinity, consisting of the three high gods Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. So they each represent only one aspect of the unifying Trimurti.


Hindu Mythology Lexicon:

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© Text, graphics and photos: Bernhard Peter 2005