Asia Society Home Asia Society Home
Introduction
The Image in Religion and Ritual
- Modes of Interaction with the Deity: Puja and Darshan
    - Video clip: Puja
    - Video clip: Darshan
- The Path of Devotion: Bhakti
- What Is a Devotional Image?
- Rituals and Images in the Home
    - Video clip: Home Puja
- Temple-based Ritual
- The Meanings of Images
    - Vishnu and His Avatars
    - The Goddess
    - Shiva
    - Ganesha
    - Brahma
    - Saints
Journey into a Temple
- The Overall Structure of a Temple
- The Exterior Fašade and Interior Surfaces
- Temple Images
Birth of an Image
- Making of an Image
- Consecration of the Image
- Ritual Life of the Image
Bibliography
Brahma
< previous  page 12 of 19  next >
Brahma is not commonly portrayed in Hindu devotional art, and there is no independent devotional cult associated with him (Figure 1). The deity personifies brahman, the ultimate unity that pervades all existence as articulated in the Upanishads and in Vedanta philosophy. Brahma is sometimes shown with the two major deities of Hinduism, Shiva and Vishnu. In this triad, Brahma is identified as the creator, Vishnu as the sustainer, and Shiva as the destroyer, but this threefold division of power is not followed consistently. Devotees of Shiva, for example, assert his fundamental role in creation and sustenance. In the Vishnu Purana, Vishnu awakens, takes the form of Brahma to create the universe, and later becomes Rudra (another name for Shiva) to destroy it.

A common portrayal of Brahma as creator shows him on a lotus flower born of the great God Vishnu's navel. Brahma initiates creation by uttering a sacred syllable, awakening Vishnu as he sleeps on the back of a massive serpent on the cosmic ocean of existence. Brahma is usually shown with four heads: his fifth head was cut off by Shiva in the form of Bhairava, the fierce.




< previous  next >

Top
Click for details
Fig. 1
Home |  South Asia |  Himalaya |  Southeast Asia |  China & Mongolia |  Korea |  Japan
Treasures |  Guided Tour |  Timeline |  Search
About the Asia Society | The Rockefellers and the Asia Society | Site Map
Credits | ©Copyright 2007 Asia Society