Why are there no Temples Dedicated to the Hindu God Brahma

Brass Hindu God Brahma Statue

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In the Shiva Purana, at the beginning of time in the Cosmos, Vishnu and Brahmā approached a huge Shiva Lingam and set out to find where Shiva began and where he ended. Vishnu was appointed to seek the end and Brahma the beginning. Taking the form of Vishnu’s 3rd avatar; the boar Varaha, Vishnu began digging downwards into the earth, while Brahma took the form of a swan and began flying upwards. However, neither could find the end or begining to Shiva. He was infinite. The Hindu God Vishnu, satisfied, came up to Shiva and bowed down to him as a swarupa of Brahman. Brahmā did not give up so easily. As He was going up, he saw a ketaki (Sanskrit – Kaetakee) flower, dear to Shiva. His ego forced him to ask the flower to bear false witness about Brahmā’s discovery of Shiva’s beginning. When Brahmā told his tale, Shiva, the all-knowing, was angered by the Brahma’s ego. Shiva cursed Brahma that no being in the three worlds will worship him.

Another story in connection with Brahma’s lack of worship is when Brahma was creating the universe, he made a female deity known as Shatarupa (one with a hundred beautiful forms). Brahma became immediately infatuated with his creation.  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 the top head. Also, Shiva felt that Shatarupa was Brahma’s daughter, being created by him. Therefore, Shiva determined, it was wrong for Brahma to become obsessed with her.  He directed that there be no proper worship in India for the “unholy” Brahma.  Thus, only Vishnu and Shiva continue to be worshiped with temples all over the world while Brahma only has two temples dedicated to him. Ever since the incident, Brahma has been reciting the four Vedas in his attempt at repentance.

The Hindu God Nandi, Sacred Bull of Shiva

Nandi, Shiva's white bull

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Within Hinduism, Nandi, or sometimes called Nandin, takes on many different roles.  In his most prevalent form he is the sacred steed of Shiva the Hindu god of Destruction, depicted as a powerful white bull.  His white color is marked as a symbol of purity and devotion.  Nandi is said to be Shiva’s main form of transportation and most ardent devotee.  As his most astute follower, Nandi is in charge of leading all of Shiva’s followers.  Along the same lines, Nandi is regarded as the gatekeeper and protector of Shiva as well as Shiva’s consort the Hindu Goddess Parvati.  He can be found in many temples dedicated to Shiva throughout Asia seated and facing the main temple as protector.  His name, Nandi, is even used as metaphor meaning “to stand in the way of”.  It is said that one must first gain the approval of Nandi before being allowed worship of Lord Shiva himself.

Nandi in human form as Nandikeshwara

Click here to view Nandi in human form as Nandikeshwara

As a primary Hindu God, Nandi is traced in lineage back to ancient dairy farmers that depended on cows for their main livelihood.  As their foremost source of sustenance, Nandi was worshiped as keeper of the herds.  In this form he was said to be bull-faced with a body much like his hallowed Shiva, but with 4 hands.  Two hands holding axe and antelope, and the other two joined in homage.  In this human form he is known as Nandikeshwara.

It is said that many women visit these large Nandi statues outside temples throughout the world and decorate him with flowers and touch his stone in order gain fertility.  Many worshipers who flock to his side also often whisper to in him in order to announce their hopes and dreams hoping Nandi relays their message on to Shiva.

Click here to read more about Shiva the Destroyer

Agni: Hindu God of Fire

“Agni I laud, the high priest, god, minister of sacrifice, the invoker, lavishest of wealth.” Rigveda

Agni: Hindu God of Fire

Agni, Hindu God of Fire, is one of the most renowned Hindu deities within the Rigveda. Fire is a central component of all Vedic rituals.  According to Vedic myth he is second in importance to only his twin brother Indra, Lord of the Heavens, and is distinguished as the supreme director of religious ceremonies serving as a middleman delivering Gods word to man.  Agni is said to be a divine model for all priests, mediating between the Gods and humans.  Priests should aspire to mirror his image in practice and devotion as he projects a patient and dignified reflection.  No Vedic sacrificial ritual is complete without his presence.  Angi is often depicted as having either two or seven hands, two heads, three legs, and seven fiery tongues as he rides atop a ram or fiery chariot.

As oldest son of Brahma, Agni joins with Indra and Surya, the Lord of the Skies, in the first Hindu holy trinity.  He is said to embody ten forms, the first five of which are physical forms, and the last five ritual forms: ordinary fire, lightening, the sun, digestive fire, destructive fire, fire lit by sticks for ceremony, fire for home worship, fire given to initiate students, funeral fire, and fire of the ancestors.  Although mostly seen as religious teacher, Agni is also sometimes feared for his destructive capacities.  He is priest of Hindu Gods and God of priests.  Among certain Vedic hymns, Agni can even be portrayed as that as a Supreme God:

‘Commingling, restless, he ascends the sky, unveiling nights and all that stands or moves, as he the sole God is preeminent in greatness among all these other Gods.’

Agni is one of the only Vedic deities to be so highly regarded still into present day.  All life’s journeys are presided over by Agni and end with Agni as funeral fire marks our eventual end.

Shiva as Nataraja holds the Hindu God Agni in his left hand

Shiva as Nataraja holds the Hindu God Agni in his left hand

Agni is rarely depicted in sculpture as a stand alone figure.  However, he is included in one of the most recognizable poses in all of Hinduism; Shiva as the Lord of Dance Nataraja.  Shiva holds the a burning flame in the palm of his left hand.  The flame represents the Hindu god Agni.

Create Your Own Clay Ganesh Statue for Ganesh Chathuri

“Wishing you happiness as big as Ganesh’s appetite
Life as long as his trunk
Trouble as small as his mouse
And moments as sweet as his laddus”

Ganesh made of clay

Clay Ganesh for Ganesh Chathuri

The celebration of the birthday of Lord Ganesh is right around the corner, to be held on September 19, 2012. Preparations are underway for the Ganesh festival and many devotees are opting to make their own, eco-friendly, clay Ganesh statues at home. Ganesh Chathuri, a day filled with public celebrations and home worship, lasts for ten days, and ends with a Ganesh idol immersion. The water immersion ceremony during Chathuri is called Ganesh Visarjana (Sanskrit for ‘departure’). Clay images of Ganesh are ceremoniously dissolved in the ocean or other bodies of water, signifying Ganesh’s withdrawal into all-pervasive consciousness. Hindus believe that Lord Ganesh bestows his presence on earth this day, and worshiping him will bring prosperity, good fortune, and fulfillment of desires.

To start a new tradition, with family or friends, create your own clay idol at home. The Ganesh statue does not have to be perfect, just be proud of your idol, enjoy the process and have faith.

“Let all the peace, all the light, all the goodness which the Deity inspires, become part of the parcel of your being.”

Materials Needed:
1. Modeling clay – ready-to-use, moist clay found at any craft store
2. Rolling pin
3. Base for your statue – wooden board is preferred, as it doesn’t stick
4. Exacto knife or sharp-pointed pencil
5. Aluminum foil
6. Paints, glitter, white thread for the poonal or Jandhyam (optional)

Instructions:
1. Separate your clay into sections to represent Ganesh’s body, head, legs, arms, ears and trunk
2. Roll out the largest section of clay into a thin sheet and use it to cover a ball of aluminum foil. This will represent Ganesh’s body and bulbous belly.
3. Roll smaller balls of clay to make his head, ears and trunk. Attach his head to the body – using a lot of water to paste and shape.
4. Make two clay horseshoe-shapes. Use for his legs – cross legs at base of Ganesh for lotus posture. Use another horseshoe-shape to use as arms and attach to body at shoulder level. Form the arms so they adjust at elbows with right angles; the right hand palm turned up.
5. For the ears, make two flat coin-like structures and attach to head.
6. Roll out clay for his trunk and keep it in proportion of his body. The trunk should be wider at top, and narrows down to curve halfway down to his waist. Smooth and add the ‘three patte’ lines on the trunk and forehead with a knife or pencil.
7. To finish, knead, smooth and shape the entire clay idol. Use a Ganesh sculpture or image as a reference guide.
8. Wait until Ganesh is completely dried and paint, use glitter, beads or various accessories.

Please feel free to email photos of your home-made Ganesh clay sculptures to info@lotussculpture.com. Lotus Sculpture would love to share your creations or helpful hints.

The Sacred Symbols of Lord Ganesh Statues

“Lord Ganesh and his symbols bestow life lessons to help steady the mind and evolve with spiritual, positive progression.”

Bronze Dancing Ganesh Statue

Dancing Ganesh Statue holding noose, axe, broken tusk and sweets

Lord Ganesh, the Remover of Obstacles, is rich in symbolism used as spiritual guides. Each symbol associated with the elephant-headed Hindu god is viewed as a reminder to manifest the powers held within us. Ganesh, a much-beloved and worshiped deity, is the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati. He is also known as the God of wisdom, prosperity and auspiciousness.

A Ganesh statue can be hand-carved in many postures and forms, typically with four or eight arms, holding various symbolic objects. Lord Ganesh is often displayed dancing or playing a musical instrument, such as a flute. He is sometimes accompanied by or riding a rat (or the mouse) – a symbol of all-pervasiveness. The rat can be interpreted as under Ganesh’s control, which is symbolic of a spiritual pursuit to attain self-realization and grace.

Even the position of Lord Ganesh’s trunk has significance and special meaning. Like all of Ganesh’s symbols and traits, each hold an interesting difference in the benefits devotees would get. If the idol trunk turns left, it signifies blessings of wealth, success and pleasure. To his right, the trunk represents moksha-related benefits – understanding that all pleasures on earth are momentary and to take the path of achieving bliss. His cracked tusk held in the right hand was broken off with purpose to use as a writing tool for the Mahabharata Epic. This is seen as a symbol of sacrifice, strength and demonstrates that we must finish what we start.

Some of the most popular sacred symbols in Lord Ganesh statues are an elephant goad, bowls full of Indian sweets or honey, an axe and an upside-down noose. Goads are symbolic of how one should steer the soul away from the ignorance and illusions of this earth, just as man would steer an elephant away from a treacherous path. Modakapatra, also known as a bowl of sweets, exemplifies Ganesh’s love of sweets and the symbol He loves most – moksha, or liberation, one the sweetest of all things sweet. The axe is a tool used to destroy ignorance in the world.  The noose illustrates the notion to draw loved-ones close, but also remind us to encircle and save strayed ones in extraordinary ways.

Although some symbols hold more esoteric meaning than others, all of the sacred symbols of Ganesh can be interpreted in many ways. Above all, Lord Ganesh and his symbols bestow life lessons to help steady the mind and evolve with spiritual, positive progression.

Ganesha Symbolism

Ganesha Symbolism