Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh( Shiva) are the Hindu Trinity. Brahma creates the Universe, Vishnu sustains it and Shiva destroys it, so that it maybe created again.
Like many other religions and cultures Hinduism too is full of wonderful Creation myths. Some more well known than others.
The Puranas ( A Collection of God Stories) tell us this….
In the Beginning there was Nothing. All existence lay submerged in the un-manifested waters of the Great Deluge, the Mahapralaya.
Vishnu, the Cosmic Consciousness, was reclining on the Serpent Ananta( one without beginning or end), who was floating on these waters. Lost in deep sleep, Vishnu dreamt of this Creation and as he did so a lotus sprouted forth from his navel. The stem grew longer and longer till the lotus blossomed. And sitting in the lotus was Brahma.
Brahma opened his eyes and was bemused to find himself there alone, in the middle of Nothing. He tried to find out where the lotus was stemming from but it appeared to have no starting point. Just then he heard a voice asking him to create a universe.
Brahma was confused. He thought about many different forms and shapes he could create for he had been given a blank canvas and a tremendous responsibility. Finally after much thinking Brahma settled on the symmetric form.
He created the four Kumara Rishis, Sanaka, Sanatan, Sanata and Sanat, from his mind and asked thme to help him with the massive task of Creation. But as children often do, the sons of Brahma had a mind of their own. They wanted to do their own thing. So instead of getting stuck with the job of creation, they gave up the world and went looking for salvation.
This angered Brahma and he frowned. From this spot between his brows a fifth son was born, wailing as babies do when they are born. Brahma named him Rudra, (Rud, meaning ‘a wail’).
Brahma asked Rudra who was born in the shadow of his father’s anger and hence filled with the fear of the world to go dwell in all things. The sky, the air, the water, the sun and moon.
Brahma created then ten more sons from his body. Angira, Atri, Bhrigu, Daksha, Kratu, Marichi, Narad, Pulastya, Pulaha and Vashista.
From Brahma’s mouth was born his daughter Saraswati.
Seeing the beautiful and wise Saraswati, Brahma forgot she was his daughter and began to pursue her. This upset Saraswati so much that she got up and left. Brahma came back to his senses and realised his serious folly. He was so ashamed and filled with such remorse that he dissolved himself into Nothingness.
Having messed up the first attempt at creation, Brahma decided to try again. Doing it right this time.
So he first created a brilliant body for himself and then divided it into two, the primordial man, Manu and woman, Shatrupa.
They were married and had two sons Priyavarta and Uttanpad and three daughters:Aakooti, Devhooti and Prasuti.
Aakuti was married to Ruchi Prajapati, Prasuti was married to Daksha and Devhooti was married to Kardam rishi. It is their children who went on and populated the Earth. This creation came to be known as ‘Maithuni Shrishtai’. Maithun is Sanskrit means, the union of male and female.
Brahma also sprouted the four Vedas from his mouth and created such things as Dharma( righteousness or Truth) and Adharma( un-Truth ), anger, desire, fear, attachment, joy and suffering.
He then grew so proud of all that he had created, he began to think he owned the Creation or Prakruti( Nature ). But as Prakruti began to multiply and take on many different forms Brahma grew afraid. The whole process of creation seemed to be spinning out of control. Brahma sprouted four heads looking in four directions in an attempt to control Prakruti. He forgot that Nature had created him in the first instance. She was his mother and she would not be controlled by him.
So full of himself was Brahma that he sprouted a fifth head, his Ego. With Brahma’s ego becoming too big for his own good, the very balance of nature was now threatened. There was no option but for Shiva to step in and chop Brahma’s fifth head off.
With his ego gone, Brahma no longer associated himself with Prakruti. He neither feared her nor wanted to control her.
Prakruti( Creation) was now left to follow her own natural course and obey her own natural laws.
This is the reason why not many people worship Brahma anymore.
PS: A delightful version of this story is narrated by Joseph Campbell in his wonderful documentary, Power of Myths. It is from the point of view of Indra. I may post it at another time but meanwhile here it is….