Who is Prajapati in Vedas?
The Hindu trinity encompasses Brahma – the Creator; Vishnu – the Preserver and Shiva – the Destroyer. The three Gods denote the cyclical nature of our existence – that ranges from birth to preservation to destruction and eventually the following renaissance. The Om symbol of Hinduism is believed to have a reference to Trimurti, where A, U, and M of the Om symbol are considered to be conception, preservation and annihilation. Connected to Lord Brahma, Lord Prajapati is one deity whose story certainly deserves to be talked about more.
Who is Lord Prajapati?
Lord Prajapati is believed to be a Hindu deity during the Vedic era. In subsequent literature, Prajapati is recognized with the creator god Brahma, but the term also implies several different gods, depending on the Hindu text vacillating from being the creator god to being same as one of the following: Indra, Daksha, Agni, Viswakarma and many more, echoing the distinct Hindu cosmology. In classical and medieval-era literature, Lord Prajapati is likened to the metaphysical idea known as Brahman as Prajapati-Brahma. Then again, Brahman is talked about as a concept that existed prior to Prajapati.
Lord Prajapati is believed to be the extraordinary divinity of Vedic-era India. In the post-Vedic age, he is connected to the Hindu God – Lord Brahma. The sequential premise on the creation of the universe in the early Vedic writing proposes varied base figures such as ‘Hiranyagarbha’ (‘Golden Egg’) and ‘Vishvakarman’ (‘All-Accomplishing’) and the label of Prajapati was utilized on more than one such figure.
Afterward, it was used to describe one God – the Master. As suggested by one of the stories of conception, Prajapati provided the cosmos and every one of its beings after initially setting himself up by going through ‘tapas’ (plain practices). There are varied tales that signify his own formation from the base waters. By and large, the singular divinities accepted that the name ‘Prajapati’ is the ‘mind-conceived’ child of Lord Brahma. They are largely believed to be a total of ten, however, a couple of experts claim that they are less than seven and connect them to seven exceptional sages.
Lord Prajapati is believed to be a Hindu deity of animals as well as a protector of the male sex organ. He is considered to interact well with nature and is thought to be the leader of beings that walk on earth. Moreover, Prajapati’s association with creative abilities such as ascetic heat, the ‘Cosmic Germ’ and the verbal supremacy of the priesthood gave Prajapati extreme importance within Vedic sacrificial rituals. Nevertheless, in post-Vedic duration as Hinduism became more internalized, Prajapati fell off the radar. In due course, the mythology encircling Lord Prajapati was soaked into other Hindu creation deities, particularly Brahma, Shiva and the Prajapatis.
Meaning of Prajapati
Prajapati is a combination of ‘Praja’ (conception, procreative abilities) and ‘Pati’ (lord, master). The word literally means ‘lord of creatures’ or ‘master of all born beings.’ In subsequent Vedic texts, Prajapati is considered to be a distinct Vedic God, but whose importance has reduced with time. Afterwards, the term is tantamount to other deities, especially Lord Brahma. Later, the word evolved to signify any divine, semi-divine or human sages who create something new.
Origins of Lord Prajapathi in Vedas & Hindu Scriptures
Lord Prajapati is generally depicted from numerous points of view and in a contradictory manner in Hindu texts, both in the Vedas as well as post-Vedic texts. These range from him being the supreme God to being the same as one of these following: Agni, Indra, Daksha, Viswakarma, Brahma and many others.
Lord Prajapati’s role differs within the Vedic texts like the one who made heaven, earth, water, all beings, chief of gods, the maker of devas and asuras, the cosmic egg and finally the Purusha (spirit). His job reached its maximum point in the Brahmanas layer of Vedic text, then slowly reduced to being a group of helpers in the conception procedure. In a couple of Brahmana texts, his role continues to be unclear since he co-creates with the powers of the Goddess Vac (sound).
Within Rigveda, numerous Hindu Gods and Goddesses are recognized as the origins of their creations. Among these deities, there is a citation of a supreme creator God referred to as Prajapati. He is recognized as the first God and creator of all other devas and beings. He is also connected in a strong way with the ritual sacrifice and assumes numerous zoomorphic forms. In subsequent scripts, he is connected with Lord Brahma and several consider that Brahma himself is Prajapati. Even though he is not extensively cited in the Rigveda, Lord Brahma plays a key function in Hindu traditions and continues to have an influence in India, irrespective of his worshipped form.
Prajapati is cited in the tenth book of the Rigveda and is believed to have been created in the form of a golden egg. In this tale, he emerged from his egg and with his initial breaths gave birth to Agni (God of Fire), Indra (God of Lightning), and then Soma (the holy plant). With his downward breath, he made the Asuras. He created air with the hands that he used to wipe his tears. Earth was the result of the tears that fell in the waters and the sky was created with the tears that were wiped upwards. Thanks to his first wounds, seasons happened, and then came everything else.
In the Brahmanas, it was mentioned that Lord Prajapati gave himself up to tapas, the cosmic effect of which was Brahmas, transcendent reality and then later gods, humans, animals and so forth. Hymn 10.121 of the Rigveda talks about the Hiranyagarbha which discusses the ‘golden germ’. Lord Prajapati is recognized as the burning seed or embryo, created in the water. The Atharvaveda mentions seed, egg and embryo which have become manuals for samskaras like marriage, pregnancy, delivering babies, feeding and the first tonsure.
Prajapati is mentioned in the early Upanishads. He is portrayed in the Upanishads somewhat differently. For example, in various texts, he is described as the epitome of creative power after Brahman. As per the Chandogya Upanishad, he is mentioned as the self (atman) who is away from all evils, liberated from old age and death and does not feel grief, hunger, and thirst.
In the Mahabharata, Lord Brahma is believed to be a Prajapati who produces several males and females and fills them with desires and wrath, the former to get to reproduce themselves and the latter to avert them being like Gods. Other chapters of the epics and Puranas announce Lord Shiva or Lord Vishnu to be Lord Prajapati.
The Bhagavad Gita makes use of the epithet Prajapati to talk about Krishna, along with several other epithets. The Grhya Sutras contain Prajapati as one of the Gods who are invoked during weddings and worshiped to invoke blessings of progeny and love between husband and wife.
Lord Prajapati is recognized with the epitomes of Fire, Time, Sun etc. He is also viewed with numerous mythical progenitors, particularly, the ten masters of creatures first developed by Brahma: the Prajapatis, Marichi, Angiras, Pulaha, Kratu, Vaishtha, Prachetas, Daksha, Narada and Atri.
In the Puranas, there are several Prajapati known as Prajapatayah who were sages or ‘grandfathers’ from whom all of humanity emerged, trailed by a Prajapatis list that extensively differs in number and name between dissimilar texts. The Mahabharata and the genre of Puranas refer to numerous gods and sages as Prajapati.
Lord Prajapati in Hindu Iconography
When it comes to iconography, Lord Prajapati is frequently depicted with animals of all varieties.
Significance of Lord Prajapati
Lord Prajapati realized the peak of his glory during the Vedic period, but his divine powers eventually started waning. In the Upanishads, Brahman is the ultimate reality and Prajapati is secondary to Brahman. Prajapati’s importance was steadily declining. Lord Brahma took away much of Prajapati’s roles, like his connection with the golden egg of creation.
Ultimately Lord Brahma succeeded Prajapati in supremacy and was soon fashioning Prajapati as his agent of creation. This singular Prajapati turned into numerous Prajapatis, as subsequent myths explain the formation of several Prajapatis for conducting several factors of creation. As Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva rose in power, Brahma became their vehicle for creation. Lord Brahma, in turn, delegated his role to numerous others, first seven, then ten and ultimately twenty-one Prajapatis with Brahma declaring himself as one of the Prajapatis.
In contemporary Hinduism, Prajapati is now observed as the name of a group that supervises procreation and the safety of life. Regardless, Lord Prajapati has left a permanent mark on Hindu Dharma via Purusha Sukta. The notion of sacrifice, which subsequently became a repeated theme in the Vedas, can be seen in these verses. More notably, the Purusha Sukta sets up the idea that the Supreme Being germinates us out of itself.
This has poignant implications for Hinduism. Prajapati (along with Brahma and Manu) have to carry the stigma of developing the caste system, the result of Purusha Sukta. Everyone is aware of the huge influence the caste system has had on Hindu society due to its divine sanction. It subsequently became an obstinate and destructive aspect of Indian civilization.
Lord Prajapati’s value in ritual is confirmed by his association with Agni, the fire God who was unconditionally dominant to Vedic rituals. By recognizing Agni as Prajapati, the latter became vital to the Vedic ritual called the Agnicayana, the ritual of fire. From a Vedic point of view, setting up fire at the central altar was to ensure the reconstitution of the universe.
This year-long process created the universe as a five-layered altar with fire at its core, standing for the atman or the human soul. Agni was not only meant to be the soul of Prajapati but also the soul of the individual conducting this sacrifice. This is why the duality of the human and God was momentarily disbanded during the fire ritual. Similarly, in the Vajapeya ritual, the one performing the rite would drink the intoxicating soma beverage in a bid to experience the spiritual totality of Prajapati.
By identifying the connection between Prajapati and the human soul in both the Agnicayana and the Vajapeya rituals, the person who is sacrificing would assume to be free of perpetual death in the cosmic cycle. This notion would continue to sway the growth of Upanishads, which conjectured a monistic spirit that infused the whole universe.
Interesting Facts about Lord Prajapati
Lord Prajapati was renowned as the Lord of Creatures. He was believed to be a caregiver and keeper of not only human beings but also of animals. The deity’s bond with animals was obvious with the way several species were related to him in both written as well as visual portrayals. One of the myths recognizes him with the primordial boar, Emusa, which shows up on earth to obtain a prototype of the earth-world. He is also associated with the bird and tortoise, animals who are extremely vital during the Agnicayana ritual and were later connected with Lord Vishnu as Garuda and Kurma respectively.
Moreover, Lord Prajapati is related to goats, cows, horses, bulls, antelope, oxen and ants, among other creatures. His connection to the cattle is viewed as particularly significant. In one of the tales, Lord Prajapati is believed to create cattle, after which point the animals floated away from him. Witnessing this, Lord Prajapati developed a deity and named him Pusan who trailed the animals, gathering the wild beans which emerged in places where the cattle had hung been to. At the behest of the cattle, the beans were presented to Pusan and Soma as an offering. From then onwards, these beans are considered to grant fecundity and sexual power to human beings.
Prajapati was also assumed to hold jurisdiction over human as well as animal reproduction. For instance, Lord Prajapati is among the Gods who are invoked at Hindu weddings. Later, when the bride and groom are about to consummate their marriage for the first time, it is Prajapati who is summoned to render the body of the bride fecund, letting her produce several offspring. Lord Prajapati is also counted among the male figures encircled by feminine powers in Hindu gestation symbolism, thereby signifying his role as ruling divinity over sexuality, conception and birth.
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