Worship of Lord Brahma, Part 82

BY: SUN STAFF - 3.5 2018

Offering worship to Brahma Yaksha 
Brahmadev shrine, Foothill temple of Tirumalai

A serial exploration of places of Lord Brahma's worship.


Yaksha Brahma

In the Jain tradition, Yakshas are devotees of the Jinas or Tirthankaras. Jain sastra says that Indra appoints one yaksha-yakshi couple to serve as attendants for each Jina. They are often depicted as standing on either side of the Jina, in a position typical of attendants to divine personalities.

Many yakshas are richly ornamented and depicted holding bags of money, symbolic of their association with Kuvera. The Jains have also co-opted Lord Brahma for this role, designating a class of Brahma Yakshas that have many of Brahma's divine attributes, but who serve as attendants to the Jinas, pure liberated beings akin to Visnu-tattvas. Brahma Yaksha is the official guardian Yaksha of the tenth Jina, Sitalanatha.

In some cases, the images of Brahmadev found atop the Brahmastambha pillars are simply Lord Brahma, third member of the Trimurti, but in other cases, he is actually representing Brahma Yaksha. Brahmadev is found as an installed deity in Jain temples and shrines, and some of these are considered 'Brahma Yaksha', because Brahmadev is understood to be serving the Tirthankaras.

In Jain tradition, Brahma is generally depicted as three-eyed, four-faced, white in color, with a lotus seat. He has eight hands, and in his right four he holds respectively a citron, hammer and noose, with the fourth in a "bestowing fearlessness" mudra. In his four left hands he carries the ichneumon (mongoose), club, goad, and mala. Some of these attributes are traditionally Lord Brahma's own, while others, like the ichneumon, are Yaksha paraphernalia.

In the Bhagavat Purana, 3rd Canto, Chapter 20, there is the description of Lord Brahma's creation of the races, after having created the sages. From his body of ignorance, he created the Yakshas and Rakshasas. He then created the Devas, the Asuras, the Gandharvas and Apsaras, then the Bhutas and Pisachas, Sadhyas and the Pitras, Kinnaras and Kimpurushas, and finally the Nagas.

So in fact, Lord Brahma is the creator of the Yakshas, not simply a Yaksha himself. We can understand that by virtue of his being the creator of Yakshas, he is seen as the 'Yaksha Brahma' attendant of the Tirthankaras in Jainism, and the attendant qualities and services of the yakshas are also offered to these Jinas by way of Lord Brahma.

Bhagawan Sri Neminatha Temple


Yaksha Brahma Temples

In a previous segment, we looked at the Brahmastambhas at Sravanabelgola, Karnataka. In the Bhandari Basti there, outside of the garbhagraha is a Brahma Yaksa. The Brahmastambhas is outside, in front of the temple.

There is a Yaksha Brahma temple located on the banks of Dandiganahallikere tank, about 25 kms from Gouribidnur taluk in the Kolar district of Karnataka. The temple is managed by the Minakanagurki gram panchayat, near Manchenahalli village.

In Madligeri, Harapanahalli taluk of Karnataka, another Brahma Yaksha is found, and regular puja worship and processions are held there. And in Aechiganahalli, Mysore district, there is an annual Puja Mahotsav of Brahma Yaksha in association of the 2,000 year old Bhagawan Sri Neminatha Temple.

In Gabbur (also called Gobbur or Hiriya Gobbur), Deodurg taluk of Raichur district, Karnataka, there are a number of ancient temples, the most prominent of which are the Male-Shankara, Venkateshwara, Ishwara, Bangara Basappa, and Hanuman temples. A 12th century inscription notes a Jain Brahma-Jinalaya temple here. Built in 1199 AD during the Hoysala period, the Brahma-Jinalaya temple, or 'Nagara Jinalaya', has a standing image of Brahmadeva in the navaranga. Brahma is holding a fruit in his left hand and a whip in the right. A horse is carved into the pedestal. The image below from the Khambadagalli complex (unconfirmed), appears to show Lord Braham in a similar pose, holding a whip.

Bhagawan Sri Neminatha Temple


Among the three Jain temples at Harapanahalli, Karnataka, one is a Brahma Yaksha temple, where the kayotsarga (meditative) form of Brahma Yaksha is the presiding Deity. Harapanahalli is located 127 kms southwest of Bellary.