|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.
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