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It is well-known that temples devoted to Brahma are extremely rare compared to temples devoted to Vishnu and Shiva (or, indeed, any number of other deities, e.g. Murugan, Ganesh, Hanuman, etc.).

  • Question 1: Why is this?

I am of course familiar with (what I assume is) the standard mythological justification - in one of the Puranas (not sure which), Brahma and Vishnu tried to race to the top of an infinite Shivalingam; Brahma lied about having made it to the top; he then incurred Shiva's wrath, and was thus cursed that he would never again be worshiped.

  • Question 2: Is that really all there is to it? I find it somewhat surprising that this solitary tale would suffice to prevent a "Brahmite" sect (so to speak) from ever arising.
  • I have a hypothesis (it's just a thought, nothing verifiable) that the worship of Brahma ceased due to the rise of Advaita Vedanta scholarship, which concentrated on a God that was one with you. – Aravind Suresh Jul 14 at 11:41
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"I am of course familiar with the standard mythological justification."
The story you mention isn't actually the standard justification for why Brahma isn't worshiped. But since you were wondering, the justification you give is from the Vidyeshwara Samhita of the Shiva Purana. In this account, Brahma and Vishnu argue about who is superior until this argument turns into a battle. The battle threatens to destroy the three worlds, so the devas (gods) go to Shiva for help. To stop the conflict, Shiva turns into a pillar of fire that seems to go forever in both directions. Both Brahma and Shiva are curious about what it is, so Brahma turns into a swan to go to the top, and Vishnu turns into a boar to go to the bottom. Both are unsuccessful, but Brahma lies that he went to the top, presenting a Ketaki flower that arose from the middle of the pillar and claiming it's from the top. Vishnu concedes defeat, but then Shiva appears, Vishnu touches Shiva's feet and as a result Shiva grants Vishnu the privilege to be worshiped as an equal to Shiva. Shiva then creates the demon Kala Bhairava to cut off Brahma's fifth head, but Vishnu persuades Shiva to take mercy on Brahma, so Shiva instead curses Brahma that he can't be worshiped in temples.

The version of the story given in the Shiva Purana is likely a later interpolation, because it differs from more common versions in a variety of ways:

  • In most versions the argument between Brahma and Vishnu does not come to blows;
  • In most versions Shiva explicitly offers help to the two gods by proposing a race;
  • In some versions Shiva just turns really tall without turning into fire;
  • In most versions the Ketaki flower falls from Devaloka instead of the middle of the pillar;
  • In Vaishnava versions Vishnu just touches Shiva's feet to tickle him so he'll bend down and Vishnu can touch his head and win.

But the most important difference for our purposes is that in most versions, Kala Bhairava actually does cut off Brahma's fifth head rather than showing mercy, and Shiva does not actually put any curse on Brahma. (In fact in these versions the opposite happens: Brahma puts a curse on Kala Bhairava that he'll be a vagabond.)

In any case, the more common justification for why Brahma isn't worshiped actually comes from another story, one recounted in many places, for instance in this excerpt from the Uttara Kanda of the Padma Purana. (I described it earlier in this answer.) A group of sages were conducting a yagna (ritual) on the banks of the Saraswati river, when they started to wonder (on the prompting of Narada) which god to dedicate the ritual to. So they sent sage Bhrigu (famous for his short temper) to test which god out of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva was most worthy. When he went to see Brahma, he put his hands together to salute Brahma. But Brahma was too proud to honor Brighu in any way, so outraged by this disrespect Brighu cursed Brahma that he would no longer be allowed to be worshiped. (By the way, if you're interested Vishnu was the one who ultimately won the test, although it had major ramifications that led to the story of Tirupati Balaji, AKA Venkateshwara.)

  • 1
    Story of Shiva appearing as "Linga" can never be interpolation. The time Shiva appeared as Linga is called "Nishita Kaalam" and the most auspicious muhurtam. May be you should feel it during Maha Siva Rathri. – The Destroyer Mar 13 '16 at 6:17
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    @AnilKumar To be clear, I definitely believe that the general story of Shiva appearing as a Jyotirlinga in Arunachala and Brahma and Vishnu's contest is a true story, I just think that the particular version of the story given in the Siva Purana is an interpolation. And I don't think that Shiva appearing as a Linga is the reason that Brahma is no longer worshipped. – Keshav Srinivasan Mar 13 '16 at 6:56
  • Do you believe that Shiva cursed Brahma alone is interpolation? Do you believe in Savitri's curse as reason for not worshiping Brahma? Then how did Brahma lost his fifth head? – The Destroyer Mar 13 '16 at 10:00
  • @AnilKumar I think the entire story is an interpolation in the Shiva Purana, which does not mean that it is a false story. I think that it's a true story (at least in broad strokes), but it's not a story that was originally included in the Shiva Purana. I think Bhrigu's curse is the reason that Brahma is no longer worshipped. But I do think that Kala Bhairava cut off Brahma's fifth head. – Keshav Srinivasan Mar 13 '16 at 16:58
  • But Brigu's curse is very recent and people didn't worship Brahma in other Yugas and Manvantaras. – The Destroyer Mar 17 '16 at 9:24
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The reasons are purely mythological. The first reason is the one you mentioned - Brahma lying to Shiva. Two more reasons are as follows (as answered here):

Brahma made a female deity known as Shatarupa and became immediately infatuated with Her. Shatarupa moved in various directions to avoid the gaze of Brahma. But wherever She went, Brahma developed a head. Thus, Brahma developed five heads, one on each side and one above the others. In order to control Brahma, Shiva cut off one of the heads. Also, Shiva felt that Shatarupa was Brahma's daughter, having been created by Him. Therefore, Shiva determined, it was wrong for Brahmā to become obsessed with Her. He directed that there be no proper worship on earth for the "unholy" Brahma.

According to another legend, Brahma is not worshiped because of a curse by the great sage Brahmarishi Bhrigu. Once a great fire-sacrifice (yajna) was being organised on Earth with Bhrigu being the high priest. It was decided that the greatest among all Gods would be made the presiding deity. Bhrigu then set off to find the greatest among the Trimurti. When he went to Brahma, he was so immersed in the music played by Saraswati that he could hardly hear Bhrigu's calls. The enraged Bhrigu then cursed Brahma that no person on Earth would ever invoke him or worship him again.

Another story says that Lord Brighu was conducting a puja, and Narada asked him to whom the result will be bestowed. He went to Brahma first, who was talking to his wife. This was disrespect; hence Brighu cursed Brahma. Yet another variant says that Brahma's own wife cursed him.

  • 2
    I've not seen any versions of the Shatrupa story that relate it to Brahma not being worshiped. And it doesn't make sense when you consider the fact that there was Brahma worship in earlier yugas, which was long after the birth of Shatrupa (Shatrupa would have been created at the beginning of some Kalpa, either the present Kalpa or an earlier one.) Brahma worship only stopped close to the beginning of the Kali Yuga, so the Brighu story makes the most sense, since I think the Brighu story (and the Venkateshwara story that comes after it) takes place soon after the beginning of the Kali Yuga. – Keshav Srinivasan Jun 21 '14 at 3:04
  • But which Kali Yuga - we are in the 28th Kali Yuga og Vaivaswata Manvantara. – Suresh Ramaswamy Oct 3 '17 at 5:43
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According to Padma Purana, Brahma saw the jhantu Vajranabha (Vajranash in another version) trying to kill his children and harassing people. He immediately slew the demon with his weapon, the lotus-flower. In this process, the lotus petals fell on the ground at three places, creating three lakes: the Pushkar Lake or Jyeshta Pushkar (greatest or first Pushkar), the Madya Pushkar (middle Pushkar) Lake, and Kanishta Pushkar (lowest or youngest Pushkar) lake. When Brahma came down to the earth, he named the place where the flower ("pushpa") fell from Brahma's hand ("kar") as "Pushkar".

Brahma then decided to perform a yajna (fire-sacrifice) at the main Pushkar Lake. To perform his yajna peacefully without being attacked by the demons, he created the hills around the Pushkar — Ratnagiri in the south, Nilgiri in the north, Sanchoora in the west and Suryagiri in the east — and positioned gods there to protect the yajna performance. However, while performing the yajna, his wife Savitri (or Sarasvati in some versions) could not be present at the designated time to perform the essential part of the yajna as she was waiting for her companion goddesses Lakshmi, Parvati and Indrani. So Brahma married Gurjar girl, Gayatri and completed the yajna with his new consort sitting beside him, holding the pot of amrita (elixir of life) on her head and giving ahuti (offering to the sacrificial fire).

When Savitri finally arrived at the venue she found Gayatri sitting next to Brahma which was her rightful place. Agitated, she cursed Brahma that he would be never worshipped, but then reduced the curse permitting his worship in Pushkar. Savitri also cursed Indra to be easily defeated in battles, Vishnu to suffer the separation from his wife as a human, the fire-god Agni who was offered the yajna to be all-devouring and the priests officiating the yajna to be poor. Endowed by the powers of yajna, Gayatri diluted Savitri's curse, blessing Pushkar to be the king of pilgrimages, Indra would always retain his heaven, Vishnu would be born as the human Rama and finally unite with his consort and the priests would become scholars and be venerated. Thus, the Pushkar temple is regarded the only temple dedicated to Brahma. Savitri, thereafter, moved into the Ratnagiri hill and became a part of it by emerging as a spring known as the Savitri Jharna (stream); a temple in her honour exists here. (Source: Wikipedia).

Some version also say that Gayatri was purified by Cow's womb and Savitri also cursed Cow too.

8

Everyone here has given the answers based on mythology.

Mythological stories were a tool to mainly teach people to either avoid certain behaviour and / or to aspire and strive to improve one's self by adopting desirable traits. To the intelligent, it should thus be self-evident that they are not meant for literal interpretation.


Brahman: The GOD (a very simple interpretation).
Brahmin: A student of the vedas who leads a dharmic life; scholar.
Brahma: God of creation (the creator; part of the trinity).

The Puranas describe the creator Brahma as the manifestation that Brahman assumes for the purpose of any creation. Brahma, thus having the nature of Brahman, is considered as the veda incarnate and the embodiment of knowledge.


Worship in Hinduism is steeped with symbolism. Very briefly -

Whether it is the vedic form or the agamic form of worship, both heavily utilise symbolism to reinforce a concept of what the deity being worshipped represents and / or the focus of the worship. Symbolism is used to reinforce religious teaching to increase ones understanding about some concept or the deity being worshipped, thus increasing our spiritual wisdom.

For example, the vedic form of worship do not utilise idols or shrines and is offered in the form of yagnas, almost always with a ritual fire. Oblations are offered into the fire, along with vedic chantings. As we place the ahuti (offerings) into the flame, we symbolically offer all our "impurities" - our anger, greed, jealousy, grudges, pains, obstacles - and pray to God to make us as pure as the offerings we give to Agni. Performing a Yagna itself is a symbolism of the unity of the physical (e.g. the heat from the fire) and meta-physical (e.g. the Vedic mantras), to achieve desired physical, psychological and spiritual benefits.

Now, the agamic form of worship is based on idols and temples, along with other associated rituals. The agamic scriptures have many parts out of which the Kriya pada of each Agama describes in detail the rules for constructing a temple or sculpting a diety (among many other things). And these rules have either a sound reason and / or is symbolic to specify something. For example, the mudras (gestures) of an idol that has fingers pointing down symbolize that the God is of a charitable nature, where as the mudra where the fingers point upwards (as in blessing someone) signify a protector.

Since we are talking about temples (whether of Brahma or Vishnu or anyone else), we are essentially talking about the agamic form of worship in Hinduism.

As mentioned earlier, the agamic scriptures deal with the philosophy and spiritual knowledge of worship of a deity. Every idol or form that is used for such worship is different because each symbolically represent the different characterisation of the deity being worshipped, based on the philosophy that the scriptures define about said deity.


As the scriptures (and existence of temple) point out, it isn't as if Brahma isn't / wasn't worshipped at all. The Garbhadhana (conception ritual), Punswana (fertilization ritual), Chudakarma or Keshanta karma (ceremonious tonsuring), Vivaha (wedding ritual) are all also associated with Lord Brahma. There are also funeral rites where Lord Brahma is invoked. All these can be symbolically considered as the act of creation or new beginning. Thus, logically, you would turn to the Creator to please / appease him.

But then, you can also turn to Vishnu, the protector, or Shiva the destroyer to please or appease them, for these very things. Why not offer worship to any one or any two or all of them? Such perceptions lower the importance of Brahma in the eyes of the followers of either Vishnu or Shiva, and would have certainly contributed to his loss of followers.


Brahma is also represented symbolically as the veda itself - the reservoir of all knowledge. (In this context, a cosmic power of the ultimate reality - the knowledge that contains the knowledge of all the phenomena evolved from it. Or in simpler words TRUE KNOWLEDGE.)

Worship is based on faith. And to faithfully believe something means you do not question it. Yet, the quest for knowledge starts with doubts, questions, debates and discussions. Thus, a faith based worship of Brahma - the manifestation of true knowledge - is a philosophical contradiction, as faith is often an hindrance to anyone on the quest of knowledge.

Thus, the REAL reason that ancient scholars didn't "worship" Brahma is to resolve such philosophical contradiction that his role as the creator and his primacy as the source of all knowledge created.

The quest for knowledge is itself a desire and an act of veneration of "knowledge" (as a deity). Thus, studying and following the vedas can by itself be considered as a worship of Brahma, and what all Brahmins do. And the evolution of our scriptures is a testament to this - an indirect reference to the importance (and equality) of Lord Brahma within the trinity, by the ancient scholars.

(Our philosophy has stood the test of time because it is based on sound reasoning - not because of what some God did to another God or somebody blessed or cursed someone. Such literal interpretation can really inhibit our spiritual growth.)


(For the spiritually inclined -
This also reminds me of the the approach of ancient Islamic scholars on how to teach their religion. When the young muslims were introduced to their religion, they were taught that "Doubt" is haram (forbidden; something to be avoided; a sin even if done with good intentions).

The reasoning was that due to the limitation of a child's understanding, more emphasis was placed on faith (which can also be described as absence of doubt). But as they become older they were urged to explore more - as prophet Muhammed (pbuh) did in long meditations resulting in the revelation of the holy Quran to him by God.)

3

As i conclude that due to mythologies brahma temples are rare in the world .Because Mythology is the key factor which have no arguments with it .Mythologies are either accepted or rejected but it is not questioned . there is a list of few brahma temples in all over the world is:

http://www.explorepushkar.com/brahma-temples-in-the-world/

-2

In the Hindu Trinity of Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva, Lord Brahma is the Creator of the Universe and all living beings are said to have evolved from him. Brahma is also believed to have created the Saptarishi, or seven great sages, to help him create the Universe.

When Brahma creates the world, it remains in existence for 1 of his days, which means 2,160,000,000 years in terms of Hindu calendar. The world is said to exist for one Kalpa, or one day in the life of Brahma. Brahma is then believed to go to sleep for one night, which is as long as a Kalpa. When Brahma goes to sleep at the end of his day, the world perishes in fire. When HE awakens, HE again restores the whole creation.

This process (Pralaya) goes on till 100 years of Brahma's life is completed, which is the life span of Brahma. When this period ends, HE himself loses his existence, and HE and all Gods and Sages, and the whole universe get dissolved into their constituent elements. And this whole process of creation and destruction repeats itself ceaselessly, the world getting re-created endlessly...

Inspite of the above immense role, Why only three Temples of Brahma in the World?

Legend has it that Lord Brahma is said to be very liberal with granting boons and is easily pleased when prayed to without any thought as to who is praying and asking him for a boon. HE is rather callous in granting boons to the demons unguardedly.

All the deadly demons, from Hiranyakashipu to Ravana, received their boons from Brahma, which made them singularly notorious in destroying the noble virtues of the world. Then it became necessary for Lord Vishnu to appear in his various reincarnations to kill these demons.

That is why the cult of Brahma's worship declined as HE became unpopular amongst religious devotees who began to deem Brahma as the sole God of worship for the demons. Another reason why Brahma is not widely worshipped is the belief that being the Creator, his work is complete, at least for the time being.

Hence, there are innumerable temples of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva around the world, while Lord Brahma has only 3 temples, all in India, one at Pushkar Lake in Ajmer, another in Khokhan - Kullu Valley and the other at Khedabrahma in Kerala.

Source: Brahma: The God with Only Three Temples

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    That doesn't seem like a reputable article, just someone's speculation. – Keshav Srinivasan Jun 21 '14 at 5:28
  • U can find many of th enaswer form this kind of sites.. And here where repo has come? – The Dictator Jun 21 '14 at 5:32
  • And it doesn't make sense to me, because Shiva is famous for his generous boons to demons, as the Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata will attest: sacred-texts.com/hin/m13/m13a014.htm – Keshav Srinivasan Jun 21 '14 at 5:33

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