He is the Creator of the Universe, yet unlike the other two members of the Hindu triad – Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Destroyer – Brahma languishes in relative obscurity. Only a handful of temples exist in his honor. While Shiva and Vishnu evoke awe and deep devotion among millions, it’s unlikely you’ll find Brahma worshipped in a typical Hindu home.
Several legends exist to explain his lack of visibility; the common thread running through them is that Brahma so angered another god or sage that He was cursed into insignificance. A sad state of affairs for one who is believed to be the father of Manu, progenitor of mankind!
Brahma is commonly depicted in a lotus flower whose stem emerges from the navel of Vishnu. In other iconography, he is represented as a white bearded, ruddy-complexioned figure with four heads and four arms. Each face constantly recites one of the four Vedas. Differing from other gods, the arms hold no weapons. One hand clasps a spoon-like scepter used to pour oil into a sacred fire – he is thus the Lord of sacrifices. Another holds a metal jar containing water, the fluid signifying ether from which creation evolved. Brahma’s third hand holds prayer beads with which he tracks the passage of time in the Universe. The fourth hand may be shown holding the Vedas or a lotus flower.
Brahma’s consort is Saraswati, who presides over knowledge and the arts. Their divine vehicle is a white swan which possesses the ability to separate a mixture of milk and water. This symbolizes the importance of justice being rendered even to those ensnared in complex circumstances. The swan also represents the power to discern between that which has value from the worthless.
Once a year, on a full moon night between October and November, hundreds of pilgrims gather at Pushkar, Rajasthan to take a dip in the lake close to the Brahma temple and pay their respects to the God.