Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts with University Honors
Philosophy & Religion
Brahma, Hinduism, History, Worship
Brahma, the creator, theoretically occupies a major position in Hinduism, but receives virtually no bhakti worship. The study examines potential causes of Brahma’s lack of worship through analysis of scholarship, supplemented by interviews with eight Hindus. The subjects were asked to give their own explanations and evaluate scholarly theories on Brahma’s unpopularity. Scholar Km. Rajani Mishra states that after creation, Brahma has nothing to offer humanity, and argues that Brahma’s character was not compelling enough to retain followers. Greg Bailey suggests that Brahma’s role as creator ties him to pravṛttidharma, a worldly mindset that prevents him from granting salvation. Interviews indicated that Brahma is well respected, and the primary cause of his unpopularity remains unclear. Some saw him as subservient to other gods and thus undeserving of worship. Others stated, like Mishra, that Brahma has nothing to offer Hindus after creation. Bailey’s theory of pravṛttidharma was controversial, with some arguing that bhakti deities are based on tradition and not considerations of pravṛttidharma. Most subjects agreed that Brahma once possessed followers. Some argued Brahma was subject to slander and his appealing characteristics were absorbed by other gods. Others speculated a historical disaster may have caused the cult’s deterioration. Still others argued that Brahma never had a widespread following. When combined with existing scholarship, the interviews suggest that unknown historical factors, along with Brahma’s position in mythology, resulted in his cult’s decline, but indicate that Brahma still enjoys respect among Hindus.
Cayton, Grant, "Brahma and the Problem of Popularity" (2022). Honors Projects. 2.
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