Worship of Lord Brahma, Part 93

BY: SUN STAFF - 23.5 2018


Lord Brahma and Parrot

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


Lord Brahma at Ellora

Today we visit one of the most astonishing temple compounds in Maharashtra, and all of India. Famous worldwide for its amazing architectural structures, the cave temples at Ellora are home to many beautiful images of Lord Brahma.

Built by the Rashtrakuta rulers between 500 and 1000 A.D., the Ellora compound contains 34 unique and separate cave temples which were excavated from the vertical face of the Charanandri Hills, about 30 km. from the city of Aurangabad. Some of these rock-cut temples were constructed to house Vaisnava deities, some Saivite, some Buddhist, and others with Jain figures. That fact alone sets Ellora apart from any other large temple complex.



Kailasanatha Temple sanctum

Lord Brahma is here in several different forms: Alone, shown as catur-mukhya, kneeling and multi-armed, depicted at the top of Shiva's column of fire, driving the Chariot for Tripurantaka, seated with Shiva and Parvati, and officiating at their wedding. He is also found here in his Trimurti form, in a 3-celled panel, as a bust, and as a standing figure. There may well be other depictions not mentioned here. 

Altogether there are 12 Buddhist caves, 17 Vaisnava (Visnu and Shiva) caves, and 5 Jain caves. The Buddhist caves are some of the earliest structures, created between the fifth and seventh centuries. These are comprised of viharas (monasteries), being large, multi-storey buildings. Several were outfitted with living quarters, kitchens, sleeping areas and other rooms. Throughout these monastery caves there are sculptures of Buddha, bodhisattvas and various saints. Some of the carving work here was done in an attempt to make the stone look like wood.



Kailasanatha Temple


Kailasanatha Temple 

The unrivaled jewel of the Ellora complex is the Kailasanatha Temple cave, an enormous structure created to replicate Shiva's home at Mount Kailash. This free-standing multi-storied temple was carved from a single mother rock, larger than twice the size of the Parthenon at Athens. Construction of the Kailasanatha Temple, following the Dravidian style of architecture, began under the rule of Krishna I (757–773), of the Rashtrakuta dynasty.


Trimurti, with Shiva emerging from linga

Kailasanatha Temple is home to a group of panels depicting the wedding of Shiva and Parvati. Lord Brahma plays a central role in this pastime, serving as the officiating priest at the wedding. There is a cluster of six panels depicting these scenes. Like the rest of the temple, the panels were once painted, and remnants of the colors are still visible.


Brahma hovers at top of Shiva's column of fire

A two-story gateway opens out into a U-shaped courtyard, surrounded by columned 3-story galleries. There are many enormous carved panels and niches containing sculptures of various deities. Originally there were 'flying bridges' built from stone which connected the galleries to the central area, but they have since fallen into ruin.

The main temple shrine has a tall pyramidal tower in the South Indian style. The presiding deity there is a Shivalinga. There are many deities surrounding the sanctum: to the left of the entrance are Saivite deities, while on the right side are Vaisnava deities.

Lord Brahma officiates at Shiva and Parvati's wedding

Among the group of panels depicting the events surrounding Shiva and Parvati's wedding, in the first panel we see Brahmadeva sitting on a simple bench, talking with a male deva, who is sitting on the ground before him. This representative of the demigods has come to ask Lord Brahma for his help in quelling the demon Taraka, who was causing havoc in the world. Brahma promised the deva that a personality born to Shiva and Parvati (Kartikkeya) would destroy Tarakasura.


Kneeling Brahmadeva

In the next panel we see Brahma officiating at the wedding, kneeling at the feet of Shiva, with an assisting priest at his side. In the third panel, we see Brahma with Shiva and Parvati.

Lord Brahma with Shiva and Parvati

The images above of Lord Brahma with a parrot are quiet interesting. The reader will note that two different parrots are shown in the pictures. We would not be surprised to learn that at some point, there is a pastime in which Brahmadeva had a connection with parrots. It certainly appears that they like to visit Brahma here at Ellora.


Lord Brahma and another Parrot