In early Vedic books, like Rig Veda (Hiryanyagarbha Sukta), Shatapata Brahmana, the verses of Atharva Veda and in Yajur Veda, Lord Prajapati is the creator.According to Shvetashvatara Upanishad and Mundaka Upanishad, Lord Brahma is praised as the creator.

So are Prajapati and Brahma the same with different names? Do any scriptures tell us that they are the same?

  • Can anyone help me in this question??Guys you can share ur views – Karmanya Nanda Sep 18 '17 at 7:58
  • Prajapati is any person who takes the task of populating the earth. Brahma, and some of his early sons such as Daksha took up this task and were referred to as Prajapati. It is not one person but a role. Likewise, Daksha is also sometimes referred to as Daksha-Brahma to refer to his 'creator-like' role of Prajapati. – user1952500 Sep 18 '17 at 14:52

Are Prajapati and Brahma the same?

I think the Vedic Brahma and Prajapati are two different notions. But In Puranas Brahma is Prajapati.

Let’s take a look at some verses from Upanishads and Vedas , which are giving us different accounts before reaching at some conclusion.

There is a story in The Chandogya Upanishad 4.8 - Page no. 304 - about Prajapati declaring nature of Atman and then Indra and Virochana going to Prajapati to learn about Atman.

Here in the verses below we can see that the translator (Swami Krishnananda) translated the word Prajapati as Brahma.

Uda-sarava atmanam aveksya yad-atmano na vijanithah, tan me prabrutam iti, tau hoda sarave’veksamcakrate, tau ha prajapatir-uvaca kim pasyatha iti; tau hocatuh, sarvan evedam avam, bhagavah, atmanam pasyava, a lomabhya a nakhebhyah pratirupam iti. ||1||

Now Brahma said, “Please go and look at yourselves in a pan of water and see what is there; if you cannot understand anything about the Atman, then let me know.” They went and saw themselves in a pan of water. Then Brahma asked them, “What do you see?” They immediately gave the answer: “Up to the hair and the nails, everything that we are, we see exactly reflected in this water. This is what we see. We see ourselves as we are.”

Tau ha prajapatir-uvaca, sadhv-alankrtau suvasanau pariskrtau bhutvoda-sarave’veksetham iti, tau ha sadhvalankrtau suvasanau pariskrtau bhutvoda-sarave’veksam-cakrate, tau ha prajapatiruvaca, kim pasyatha iti. ||2||

Then Brahma said, “This is the Atman.” Now what Brahma said was highly significant. But the mystery behind the instruction was so deep that it was again grossly misunderstood by the disciples. Whatever we see is God— this is generally what we say. It is a true statement, no doubt. But it is also an untrue statement. The untrue aspect of it can simply take us astray. But the true aspect of it will.

Here in this book The Principal Upanishads page no -47 - see what Swami Nikhilananda is saying - : Some of the oft-repeated epithets of saguna brahman in the upanishads are Brahma ,Prajapati ,Hiranyaghrabha ,Virat ,Prana ,Sutra and Sutrama .they are all in general way denote the world soul ,the cosmic mind , cosmic Person.

Also See what Swami-krishnananda saying in the commentary of Chandogya Upanishad -4.15 - Parting Advice to the Pupil 1. - Page no 345 -In the below verse We can see that he is explaining two terms mentioned in Vedic literature Brahma and Prjapaties - What is meant by saying that Brahma spoke to Prajapati? It may be that the supreme Brahman spoke to the creator Hiranyagarbha also known as Brahma.

Taddhaitad brahma prajapataya uvaca, prajapatirmanave, manuh prajabhyah acaryakulad-vedam adhitya yatha-vidhanam, guroh karma (krtva) atisesena abhisamavrtya, kutumbe sthitva, sucau dese svadhyayam adhiyanah, dharmikan vidadhat, atmani sarvendriyani sampratisthapya, ahimsan sarva-bhutany-anyatra tirthebhyah, sa khalveam vartayanyavad-ayusam brahma-lokam abhisampadyate, na ca punar-avartate na ca punaravartate.

This is what the great Creator Brahma spoke to his children who are called the Prajapatis,—Marichi, Asvini, Kasyapa, Angirasa, and others. This Knowledge has come down through Guru-parampara and not through books. Books cannot give this knowledge. By word of mouth has this knowledge been communicated. “Brahma spoke to Prajapatis.” Here too, there is difference of opinion in regard to the interpretation of the meaning of the Upanishadic words. What is meant by saying that Brahma spoke to Prajapati? It may be that the supreme Brahman spoke to the creator Hiranyagarbha also known as Brahma. Or it may be that Narayana spoke to Brahma as we hear it in the Srimadbhagavata, for instance. Or, according to Sankaracharya who has commented on the Upanishad, Brahma, the Creator, spoke to Kasyapa and other progenitors of the family of the universe who are known as Prajapatis. And these Prajapatis spoke to Manu, the first man, the Adam of our Creation. Then Manu gave this knowledge to others. So it has gradually come, stage by stage, from Guru to disciple, and finally to us.

Here is the Prajapati suktafrom Rig Veda Mandala 10 – Sukta 121 -

Here it’s said that Hiranyagharbha is also known as “ka” Or Prjapati. which in that hymn heads each line in the question, "To what god shall we offer with “ So it’s unclear from this sukta whether are Prajapati and Brahma the same or different.

Here in Valmki Ramayana Prajapati is said to be Brahma.

प्रजापतिसमश्श्रीमान् धाता रिपुनिषूदनः ।
रक्षिता जीवलोकस्य धर्मस्य परिरक्षिता ।।1.1.13।।

प्रजापतिसमः equal to Brahma

Auspicious like Brahma, Sri Rama is the sustainer of this world, destroyer of enemies and protector of all living beings and of the moral code.

Conclusion – By looking at the above verses it looks like the Vedic Brahma and Prajapati are two different notions. In vedic literature Brahma means cosmic Person , Brahman and the Prajapati is the creator of the worlds. But In puranic accounts Brahma and Prajapati are same. Also note that it’s also not clear from Prjapati Sukta that who is the Prajapati. Either Daksha , Vishwakarma OR Brahman OR puranic Brahma. So for time being it’s difficult to definitely say that Prajapati and Brahma are the same as we have in hand different accounts from different texts about your question.

Note – It’s also mentioned in THIS book that Prajapati later Became Brahma. -Page no 145

  • Ok,so according to Vedic literature Brahma is the cosmic person similar to Purusha,and Prajapati is the creator God? – Karmanya Nanda Sep 18 '17 at 8:34
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    Yes exactly , but still a bit unclear because of no direct mentioning.I am still finding. Will update the answer if found some verses directly mentioning about your question. – SwiftPushkar Sep 18 '17 at 8:37

Yes and No. It depends upon the context where it is being used. In his note to the first verse of his translation of the Mahanarayana Upanishad, Swami Vimalananda writes:

The Upanishads name the ultimate Principle of religion and philosophy as Paramatman or Parabrahman; the first word emphasizes the immanence and the second the transcendence of that Principle. Parabrahman, when described as the cause of the universe, is called Paramesvara [Iswara or Saguna Brahman] or Prajapati. Prajapati and Parabrahman are, therefore, one and the same Reality [Saguna Brahman and Nirguna Brahman] described from two different stand-points. A person is not called a father before his marriage and the birth of a child. He becomes a father after these events. The person, however, remains the same. Parabrahman conditioned by the adjunct of the universe is Prajapati, from whom the universe is born and in whom it has its existence and absorption. The stanza points out that the same Prajapati, who sustains vast oceans, boundless worlds, and the highest heaven, enters as a seed or a spark onto the shining intellect of living creatures and becomes the jiva or the acting and enjoying agent on earth. Man is developed from an embryo. The embryo is animated by the internal instrument which is rendered efficient by the reflection or impregnation of the Spirit or Parabrahman, here designated as Prajapati. Sukra in the text stands for the Parabrahman who enters the creatures as the seed and becomes their innermost Self. Jyotimsi stands for the transmigrating Souls, identifying themselves with the internal organ and the instruments of knowledge and action, Paramatman ensouling the universe is called Virat and dwelling in the body is called jiva. The last foot of this verse is the same as the first line of the Atharvaveda X.4.2.13 and the Taittiriyaranyaka III.13.3

And verse 2 says:

That in which all this universe exists together and into which it dissolves, That in which all the gods remain enjoying their respective powers—That certainly is whatever that has been in the past and whatever indeed is to come in the future. This cause of the universe , Prajapati, is supported by His own imperishable nature described as absolute ether.

It should be noted also that Brahma (neuter singular) in Sanskrit is usually shown in English as Brahman; and Brahmā (masculine singular) in Sanskrit is usually shown in English as Brahma. In his footnote to verse 28, Swami Vimalananda notes:

…The four-faced Brahmā named Hiranyagarbha and the vedic lore are but expressions of the Supreme Reality which, as the impelling Spirit, influences one to do acts meritorious or otherwise.

And in verse 6:

O Sun, Hri and Laksmi are Thy consorts, Thyself being Brahmā, Visnu, and Siva….

And in his commentary to verse 1.3 of the Svetasvatara Upanishad, Sankara says (Swami Gambhirananda translator):

Or, devatma-saktim means the power that is identical with the Deity, the supreme Lord, that takes the form of Brahmā, Visnu and Siva, and is the cause of the origin, continuance, and dissolution of the universe. Thus it is said:

The powers of which Deity take the form of Brahmā, Visnu and Siva (Visnu Purana 1.9.56).

O Brahmin, Brahmā, Visnu and Siva are the primary powers of Brahman (Visnu Purana 1..22.56).

And further on in the same commentary:

That Lord Janardana (Visnu), who is indeed one, assumes different names as Brahmā, Visnu, Siva, which names) are indicative of creation, continuation and dissolution (Visnu Purana 1.22.66).

First Brahman becomes manifest as God possessed of Maya. Again, He manifests Himself with form in three ways. And through that form He undertakes activities of regulation such as creation, preservation and destruction.

In a footnote to Sankara’s commentary to Brhadaranyaka Upanishad I.iv.1, Swami Madhavananda notes:

The word used here is ‘Prajapati’ which means both Hiranyagarbha and Viraj, the subtle and gross forms, respectively, of the same being. Sankara often uses these two terms almost interchangeably. This should be borne in mind to avoid confusion.

But in this verse, the reference and Sankara’s extensive commentary are to the first born jiva of a cycle as Brahmā, or Viraj, or Prajapati --the creator of all creatures of a particular cycle.

So it depends upon the context, as to whether Prajapati being referenced is Iswara (Saguna Brahman) or Brahmā, the first born jiva of a cycle. This is a reason to read various commentators and not depend upon one’s own interpretations or to assume that there is an absolute or one meaning to a word.


Prajapati is a common noun which means "swami of the kingdom". And Brahma is the 1st Prajapati, his son Daksh is the second Prajati. So Brahma in a way is Prajapati and his descendant is the next one

  • I think Prajapti means Lord of beings in Sanskrit. – Karmanya Nanda Sep 18 '17 at 12:45

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