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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
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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 sukta from 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
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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.

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The Prajāpati of the Vedic scriptures is NOT the mythological Brahmā of the Epic-Puranic literature. This is evident from the explicit statement in Vājasaneyi Saṃhitā (32.5) which states that Prajāpati is the God before whom nothing was born and who pervaded all the worlds.

यस्माज् जातं न पुरा किं चनैव य आबभूव भुवनानि विश्वा ।

प्रजापतिः प्रजया सम्रराणस् त्रीणि ज्योतीम्षि सचते स षोडशी ॥

This pervasiveness of the Prajapati is also explicated by Taittrīya Saṃhitā, which describes Prajāpati as unlimited (TS 1.7.3.2).

अ॒न्वाह॑रति॒ तद॑न्वाहा॒र्य॑स्यान्वाहार्य॒त्वं दे॑वदू॒ता वा ए॒ते यदृ॒त्विजो॒ यद॑न्वाहा॒र्य॑मा॒हर॑ति देवदू॒ताने॒व प्री॑णाति प्र॒जाप॑तिर्दे॒वेभ्यो॑ य॒ज्ञान् व्यादि॑श॒त् स रि॑रिचा॒नो॑ऽमन्यत॒ स ए॒तम॑न्वाहा॒र्य॑मभ॑क्तमपश्य॒त् तमा॒त्मन्न॑धत्त॒ स वा ए॒ष प्रा॑जाप॒त्यो यद॑न्वाहा॒र्यो॑ यस्यै॒वं वि॒दुषोऽन्वाहा॒र्य॑ आह्रि॒यते॑ सा॒क्षादे॒व प्र॒जाप॑तिमृध्नो॒त्यप॑रिमितो नि॒रुप्योऽप॑रिमितः प्र॒जाप॑तिः प्र॒जाप॑तेः

The Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa also leaves the reader without any doubt by exclaiming that Prajāpati was alone in the beginning (SB 2.2.4.1).

प्रजापतिर्ह वा इदमग्र एक एवास । स ऐक्षत कथं नु प्रजायेयेति सोऽश्राम्यत्स तपोऽतप्यत सोऽग्निमेव मुखाज्जनयांचक्रे तद्यदेनं मुखादजनयत तस्मादन्नादोऽग्निः स यो हैवमेतमग्निमन्नादं वेदान्नादो हैव भवति

It is the Prajāpati that created the earth, the sky and heavens by uttering bhūḥ, bhuvaḥ and svaḥ (SB 11.1.6.3).

स संवत्सरे व्याजिहीर्षत्। स भूरिति व्याहरत्सेयं पृथिव्यभवद्भुव इति तदिदमन्तरिक्षमभवत्स्वरिति साऽसौ द्यौरभवत्तस्मादु संवत्सर एव कुमारो व्याजिहीर्षति संवत्सरे हि प्रजापतिर्व्याहरत्

It is the Prajāpati that created all the living beings by assuming the form of Tortoise (SB 7.5.1.5).

स यत्कूर्मो नाम । एतद्वै रूपं कृत्वा प्रजापतिः प्रजा असृजत यदसृजताकरोत्तद्यदकरोत्तस्मात्कूर्मः कश्यपो वै कूर्मस्तस्मादाहुः सर्वाः प्रजाः काश्यप्य इति

According to Taittrīya Brāhmaṇa, it is the Prajāpati who assumed the form of the Boar and rescued the earth plunged in the water (TB 1.1.3.5).

अबधिरो भवति । य एवं वेद । प्रजापतिः प्रजा असृजत । तासाम-न्नमुपाक्षीयत । ताभ्यः सूदमुप प्राभिनत् । ततो वै तासामन्नं नाक्षीयत । यस्य सूदः संभारो भवति । नास्य गृहेऽन्नं क्षीयते । आपो वा इदमग्रे सलिलमासीत् । तेन प्रजापतिरश्राम्यत्

The importance of the Prajāpati can be gauged from the fact that Nirukta states that those hymns in which no deity is indicated are to be understood as dedicated to Prajāpati (Nirkuta 7.4).

अथ अन्यत्र यज्ञात् प्राजापत्या इति याज्ञिकाः ।तत् ये अनादिष्टदेवता मन्त्राः तेषु देवतोपपरीक्षा ।यद्देवतः सः यज्ञः वा यज्ञाङ्गं वा तद्देवता भवन्ति ।

Yāska the famed author of the Nirukta has placed Prajāpati as the god of the middle region (madhyasthānādevtā) appearance. The etymological meaning of the term Prajāpati is a protector or supporter of living beings. The word Prajāpati is formed from the root pā or pāl (to protect) and it is added to the normal stem prajā to form the word Prajāpati (10.42).

प्रजापतिः प्रजानां पाता वा पालयिता वा ।

In Nighaṇṭu (5.4), many gods are grouped together because of the similar attributes that they share with Prajāpati. These appellations in Nirukta include Viśvakarman (10.25 विश्वकर्मा सर्वस्य कर्ता । तस्य एषा भवति ।), Dhātṛ(11.10 धाता सर्वस्य विधाता ), Brahmaṇaspati (10.12 पालयिता वा ।ब्रह्मणस्पतिः ब्रह्मणः पाता वा ।), Bṛhaspati (10.11 बृहस्पतिः विरवेणा विकृत्य), Kṣetrasyapati (10.14 क्षेत्रस्य पतिः ।), Vāstoṣpati (10.16 तस्य पाता वा पालयिता वा ।वास्तुः वसतेः निवासकर्मणः । वास्तोष्पतिः ।), Vācaspati (10.17 वाचस्पतिः वाचः पाता वा पालयिता वा । ), Parjanya (10.10), Yama (10.19 यमः यच्छति इति सतः ।), and Mitra (10.21).

The Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa further states that Prajāpati is Vācaspati (5.1.1.16 प्रजापतिर्वै वाचस्पति), Viśvakarman (7.4.2.5 प्रजापतिर्वै विश्वकर्मा), Dhātṛ (9.5.1.38 प्रजापतिर्धाताथ), Agni (2.3.3.18 प्रजापतिर्वा अग्निः). The Taittrīya Brāhmaṇa expands this list further to include that Prajapati is ka (2.2.10.1 को ह वै नाम प्रजापतिः । य एवं वेद), Vāc (1.3.4.5 प्रजापतिर्हि वाक्). The Tāṇḍya Mahabrāhṃana (16.5.17 प्रजापतिर्वै सविता) further states that Prajapati Savitṛ. The Aitareya Brāhmaṇa has accorded the epithet of Vāyu to Prajāpati (4.26 वायुर्ह्येव प्रजापति). Presumably, because of all these appellations, Shaunaka in Bṛhaddevatā says that the names of all the deities can be attributed to Prajapati as he is the source of all of them (3.72).

In the Ṛg Veda, one finds very few mantras the attributed to Prajāpati. It occurs as an appellation of Savitṛ, Pūṣan and Soma (RV 4.53.2, 9.5.9)

दिवो धर्ता भुवनस्य प्रजापतिः पिशङ्गं द्रापिं प्रति मुञ्चते कविः ।विचक्षणः प्रथयन्नापृणन्नुर्वजीजनत्सविता सुम्नमुक्थ्यम् त्वष्टारमग्रजां गोपां पुरोयावानमा हुवे ।इन्दुरिन्द्रो वृषा हरिः पवमानः प्रजापतिः

and is beseeched along with Viṣṇu, Tvaṣṭṛ and Dhātṛ for children (10.184.1).

विष्णुर्योनिं कल्पयतु त्वष्टा रूपाणि पिंशतु ।आ सिञ्चतु प्रजापतिर्धाता गर्भं दधातु ते

The famous Hiraṇyagarbha Sukta (10. 121.10) is a prayer to Hiraṇyagarbha but ends mentioning Prajāpati. The Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa also supports the statement (SB 6.2.2.5 प्रजापतिर्वै हिरण्यगर्भः) that Prajāpati is Hiraṇyagarbha.

The word Prajāpati occurs in the list of Nighaṇṭu as a hint to sacrifice (3.17). Prajāpati is sacrificed is the commonly occurring theme in the Brāhmaṇa scriptures (Aitareya Br. 2.17, Śatapatha Br. 1.1.1 13 etc. etc.). This is confirmed when Prajāpati desires to offer his own self because he is non-different for sacrifice (Sāyaṇa’s commentary to Śatapatha Br. 2.2.4.4). A Vedic reader will note the similarity with Puruṣa Sukta (RV 10.90), wherein the Puruṣa sacrifices himself. This interpretation is further strengthened by the utterances of Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa which reiterates that the Puruṣa became Prajapati (SB 6.1.1.5).

स एव पुरुषः प्रजापतिरभवत् । स यः स पुरुषः प्रजापतिरभवदयमेव स योऽयमग्निश्चीयते

Prajāpati is restored by Agni who gives up his own body (the fire-altar) to create new Prajāpati from the mutilated parts thereof (SB 6.1.2.27)

उभयं हैतद्भवति । पिता च पुत्रश्च प्रजापतिश्चाग्निश्चाग्निश्च प्रजापतिश्च प्रजापतिश्च देवाश्च प्रजापतिश्च य एवं वेद

Hence, Prajāpati of the Vedic scriptures cannot be relegated to the Brahmā of the Puranic and Epic literature.

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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

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

  • I think Prajapti means Lord of beings in Sanskrit. – Karmanya Nanda Sep 18 '17 at 12:45
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    You should cite some sources. Probably about interpretation of Prajapati – Paṇḍyā May 29 at 4:13

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