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Why Lord Brahma does not have as many temples as Lord Shiva and Vishnu

In Hindu mythology, there are three fundamental aspects to the universe- creation, sustenance, and destruction. These ideas are nothing but the projections of the Absolute Brahman, represented in the form of the Hindu Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, respectively. Despite being the creator, Lord Brahma is not as widely worshiped as some other deities in Hinduism, and temples solely dedicated to him are few in number.

Codice Casanatense Shiva Vishnu Brahma
Codice Casanatense Shiva Vishnu Brahma

Many Hindu temples may have shrines or idols of Brahma, but they are not the primary focus. The prominence of Lord Brahma in Hindu worship is often overshadowed by the reverence given to Vishnu and Shiva. Let's take a look at the holy trinity one by one to unveil the secret behind fewer Brahma temples.

Lord Brahma, the Creator

Lord Brahma is the creator God in Hindu mythology, responsible for the creation of the entire cosmos. Depicted as an elderly man with a long white beard, he symbolises knowledge, experience, and patience.

Brahmā in "The Land of Temples Or Sketches from Our Indian Empire (1882)" by Mary Hield
Brahmā in "The Land of Temples Or Sketches from Our Indian Empire (1882)" by Mary Hield

He is often shown as seated on a lotus, having four heads facing in different directions, each of which represents the four Vedas. It is believed that knowledge of the four Vedas came from the respective four mouths of Lord Brahma and was heard by the sages while they were in a deep state of meditation. In the Vedas, Brahma is revered as the source of creation who actualized the universe. During the Puranic age, with the rise of Shaivism and Vaishnavism, Brahma lost his significance in mythological scriptures, and certain stories explain the reason behind his downfall.

Lord Vishnu, the Sustainer

Lord  Vishnu in his Rama avatar.
Lord Vishnu in his Rama avatar.

As the God of Preservation and Sustenance, Lord Vishnu’s duty is to maintain the universe created by Lord Brahma. His consort Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth, is always by his side as it is believed that it is our wealth that supports us sustain in the world. He is the most active god in the Hindu Pantheon and incarnates every time the earth is endangered by demonic forces, to fight them and restore cosmic order. Some of the popularly worshipped avatars of Vishnu include Krishna, Rama, and Buddha.

Lord Shiva, the Destroyer

Lord Shiva Sculpture at Haridwar Railway station
Lord Shiva Sculpture at Haridwar Railway station

Lord Shiva is the last God of the Hindu Trinity. His consort is Goddess Parvati or Shakti, who not only is his source of energy to destroy evil, but also teaches him how to maintain a balance between his fierce, untamed passion, and asceticism. He is popularly depicted as having a blue face and throat, seated on tiger skin on the snow-clad peak of Kailash Parbat. He holds a trident in one hand, symbolizing the destruction of desire, and a dumroo in the other, representing his cosmic dance to its rhythms to recreate the universe.

Despite being widely worshipped as the God of Destruction, Shiva’s role is to put an end to the cosmos, only to reconstruct it. He embodies the destruction of desire, illusions, and attachment, which are all within the human mind, for the formation of a new mindset.

It is due to these reasons that Vishnu and Shiva are extensively worshipped. Hundreds of temples are dedicated to these two deities throughout the country and are revered by their respective sects - Vaishnavism and Shaivism. On the other hand, although Brahma regularly appears in holy scriptures and mythology, there are only a handful of temples dedicated to him, including the Brahma temple in Pushkar, Asotra, Chebrolu, and Thirunavaya.

Brahma Temple in Pushkar.
Brahma Temple in Pushkar

But, why is Brahma not as widely worshipped despite being the Source of all creations in Hindu mythology? Two interesting stories explain why.

Shiva’s Curse on Brahma

It is believed that there were constant conflicts between Brahma and Vishnu, as to who was better between them. Shiva decided to put an end to it once and for all and proposed a challenge. He assumed the shape of a fiery pillar or Agni-stambh that was infinite. It neither had a defined beginning, nor an end.

It was decided that the God who discovered the pillar’s end first would be the winner. While Vishnu transformed into a boar and went searching into the depths of the underworld, Brahma took the form of a swan and explored the heavens.

After looking for it for thousands of years, Vishnu accepted defeat after his unsuccessful attempt. Brahma, too, could not find the end of the pillar, yet, was too egoistic to accept defeat. He convinced the flower Ketki to pretend that he had successfully reached the top end. Knowing the truth, Shiva was furious at Brahma's dishonesty and declared that he would not have many worshippers.

Brahma’s Attachment to Creation

At the beginning of time, Brahma was all alone and set out on a quest for self-realization. He wanted to create a material world through which he would realize his goal. So, he created Shatatrarupa (Goddess Saraswati), who was technically his daughter. She was the first woman to be born. She could change forms and was created to assist Brahma with the process of creation. Instead, he was so attracted to her beauty that he forgot about his goal and started pursuing her.

Goddess Saraswati was created by Lord Brahma
Goddess Saraswati

Disgusted by his intentions, Shatrarupa ran in different directions to keep away from his gaze. As she escaped, Brahma developed three more heads facing three different directions to get a better view of the Goddess. Shatrarupa used her ability to morph into hundreds of lifeforms and transform into different animals in an attempt to stop Brahma. But, he took the male form of each animal she transformed into, and continued chasing her, and thus, the animal world came into existence. In the process, he developed a fifth head. Watching the creator chase his creation, the outraged Lord Shiva ripped off the fifth head of Brahma. Brahma gave in to attachment and worldly pleasures and lost his godly characteristics. Shiva, on the other hand, destroyed Brahma’s head which symbolizes detachment.

This is the reason why Brahma is not worshipped widely, as desire and attachment are naturally present in human beings, so, there is no need to go to a temple to worship the deity and consciously instill it. Brahma represents exhausted energy. His job of creation has already been done and is a story of the past. The power of Vishnu and Shiva is required to help us sustain and destroy the evils that are within us. As a result, devotees aim to inculcate qualities of detachment, discipline, and strength, by worshipping Vishnu and Shiva.

Pratha content writer Divya Balvally



Pratha Content Writer


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