The fifth head of Brahma

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It is a story repeated in various Puranas, and across the internet:


"The acquiring of Brahma's heads makes for an interesting legend. When Brahma was creating the universe, he made a female deity known as Shatarupa (one with a hundred beautiful forms). Brahma was immediately infatuated. 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 worshipped, while Brahma is almost totally ignored. Ever since the incident, Brahma has been reciting the four Vedas in his attempt at repentance."

"Originally, Brahma is said to have five heads. The Matsya Purana explains the reason for this. It states that Brahma created a woman, known by different names: Satarupa, Sarasvati, Sandhya or Brahmi. Because of her beauty, he fell in love with her and stared at her longingly. To avoid his gaze, she moved to his left, then behind him, and then to his right. But a head sprang up wherever she moved to enable Brahma to continue looking at her. In desperation, she jumped into the air, but a fifth head appeared on top. Brahma then asked her to help him create the universe. He lived with her for 100 divine years, at the end of which Manu was born."

"There are different explanations for why Brahma only has four heads now, as opposed to his original five. According to the Puranas, Brahma and Vishnu were once arguing over who was superior of the two. They discovered from the Vedas that Shiva was the Supreme Being. Brahma however, spoke disparagingly about Shiva. In anger, Shiva cut off the head which had spoken, and therefore Brahma was left with four heads."

"Five Heads Of Brahma: Brahma is shown as having four heads, though originally he had five. According to myths, in the beginning, he had only one head. After cutting a part of his own body, Brahma created a woman called Shatarupa. She was also called Vak, Saraswati, Savitri, Gayatri and Sandhya. As soon as Brahma saw his female creation, he fell in love with her and could not take his eyes away from her extraordinary beauty. Naturally, Shatarupa was shy and tried to move away from his gaze. To follow her wherever she went, Brahma created more heads until he had five heads to look in all directions. He thus had more heads than any other god and felt too proud. He even showed disrespect towards Shiva, who in a fit of anger, cut off his fifth head."

"The Visvakarmas of Karnataka consider themselves to be the descendants of the Rg Vedic Lord Visvakarman. The descent of the Visvakarmas from Parabrahma is a theme in their oral tradition, as well as in their printed stories. The five functions of the five-headed Parabrahma or Visvabrahma is made explicit. The first Brahma, Manu, produced a knife necessary to separate the child born in the womb from his mother, the sword for protecting the world and the edge of the plough to obtain grain. His descendants are the ironsmiths. The second Brahma, Maya, gave protection and his descendants are the carpenters. The third Brahma, Tvashtri, began the creation of metallic vessels and other implements needed for the yajnashala and his descendants are the coppersmiths. The fourth Brahma, Silpi, was a sculpture. The fifth Brahma, Visvajna, made gold ornaments and his descendants are the goldsmiths."

"Shiva as Kapalin usually carries a human skull in his hand to confront the world with its mortality. Sometimes he uses the skull-cap as a drinking bowl. He wears a garland of skulls. The skull is said to be the fifth head of Brahma, cut off by Shiva who resented Brahma's pride and cupidity."

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