Brahma temple in Pushkar is an architectural marvel. It is said to have been created by Lord Brahma Himself, The temple is an incredible tale of spirituality, mythology, history and belief
WORDS: STEFFI MAC
According to Padma Purana, Brahma saw the demon Vajranabha trying to kill his children and harassing people. He slayed the demon with his weapon, the lotus-flower. The lotus petals fell on the ground at three places, creating three lakes: the Pushkar Lake or Jyeshta Pushkar (greatest or first Pushkar), the Madhya Pushkar (middle Pushkar) 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. In order to perform his yajna peacefully without being attacked by the demons, he created 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. However, while yajna was on his wife Savitri 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.
Annoyed, Brahma requested god Indra- the king of heaven – to find a suitable girl for him to wed to complete the yajna. Indra could find only a villager’s daughter (in some legends, a milkmaid) who was sanctified by passing her through the body of a cow. Gods Vishnu, Shiva and the priests certified her purity as she had passed through a cow. It was her second birth and she was named Gayatri. Brahma then married Gayatri and completed the yajna with his new consort sitting beside him. But 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 lessened 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 to be all-devouring and the priests for officiating the yajna to remain 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 (Legend source: shreebrahmajimandir.com)
It is also believed that Brahma himself chose the location for his temple. The 8th century Hindu philosopher Adi Shankaracharya renovated this temple, while the current medieval structure dates to Maharaja Jawat Raj of Ratlam, who made additions and repairs,
though the original temple design is retained. Pushkar is often described in the scriptures as the only Brahma temple in the world, owing to the curse of Savitri, but also as the “King of the sacred places of the Hindus”. Although Pushkar temple does not remain the only Brahma temple, it is still one of very few existing temples dedicated to Brahma in India. International Business Times has identified Pushkar Lake and the Brahma temple as one of the 10 most religious places in the world and one of the five sacred pilgrimage places for the Hindus in India.
The temple is set high and marble steps lead to entrance gate archway which is decorated with pillared canopies. The entry from the gate leads to a pillared outdoor hall and then the sanctum sanctorum.
The temple is built with stone slabs and blocks. The red spire of the temple, symbol of a swan and the mount of Brahma are distinct features of the temple.
Adi Shankaracharya renovated it. Though original design is retained, Maharaja Jawat Raj of Ratlam made additions and repairs
The shikara or dome is about 70 feet (21 m) high.
The swan decorates the main entry gate. The temple floor is usually covered with coins from devotees with their names inscribed on them as mark of offering to Brahma. There is a silver turtle in the canopy that is displayed on the floor of the temple facing the sanctum, which is also built in marble.
Brahma’s central idol, made of marble was placed in the temple in 718 AD by Adi Shankaracharya. The icon depicts Brahma, seated in a crossed leg position in the aspect of creating the universe. The central, life-size image is called the chaumurti (“four-faced idol”).
It has four hands, four faces, each oriented in a cardinal direction. The four arms hold the aksharmala (rosary), the pustaka (book), the kurka (kusha grass) and the kamandala (water pot). Brahma is riding on his mount, the swan. The four symbols held by Brahma in his arms: the rosary, Kamandalu, book and the sacrificial implement kusha grass represent time, the causal waters from which the universe emerged, knowledge and the system of sacrifices to be adopted for the sustenance of various life-forms in the universe. Gayatri’s image sits along with Brahma’s to his left. Savatri alias Sarasvati sits to His right along with other deities. Images of the peacock, Sarasvati’s mount, also decorate the temple walls. Images of the preserver-god Vishnu, life-sized gate-keepers and a gilded eagle-man, mount of Vishnu are also seen in the temple (Source Wikipedia).
The strong mythological beliefs, the architectural beauty and the deep-rooted spirituality of the Brahma temple reflects the true spirit of Indian religious faith.