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Lord Brahma is the first member of the Brahmanical triad, Vishnu being the second and Shiva, the third. Brahma is the god of creation and he is traditionally accepted as the Creator of the entire universe.
An individual’s subtle body is constituted of his mind and intellect, that is, his entire thoughts. Man’s subtle body is responsible for the creation of his gross body and also the world that he experiences. The thoughts of an individual determine the type of physical body he possesses. The same thoughts are also responsible for the type of world that the individual experiences around him. As the thoughts, so the world. If a man possesses good thoughts he sees a good world. If his thoughts are bad he sees a bad world. Yudhishtra, a virtuous man saw virtue everywhere, while Duryodhana saw vice everywhere. When thoughts are absent there is no world at all. In deep sleep there are no thoughts, no world. This phenomenon is true not only of the microcosm but of the macrocosm as well. The cosmic subtle body is the aggregate of all subtle bodies of all living beings. The cosmic subtle body called the Hiranyagarbhah, is said to be the creator of the entire universe. This creator is Brahma.
Five Heads of Lord Brahma
According to legend Brahma, was initially born with a single head. However, when he created Goddesses Saraswati out of one of his own limbs, he fell in love with her at once. Goddesses Saraswati was, on the other hand, trying to run away from him out of her shyness. Now, to keep track of the movements of Goddesses Saraswati in every direction, Lord Brahma created four more heads for himself. The five heads together kept a thorough watch in all the four cardinal directions as well as the upward direction to report the whereabouts of Goddesses Saraswati (This was why, when Goddesses Saraswati wanted to get away from Lord Brahma at Prayag, she took the form of a river which flowed into the earth, the only direction in which Brahma could not see).
With his five heads, Lord Brahma strutted over the whole wide world, swollen with pride and glory at the beauty of his creation. He spoke ill words about the Devtas and the other Trimurtis. He became vain and intolerable and soon the Devas were vexed with his behavior. They approached Lord Shiva and pleaded him to end this new found pride of Lord Brahma.
Devas Approach Lord Shiva for Help
“Maheshwara”, they cried in unison, “the deeds of Lord Brahma are becoming difficult to handle every day. We find it hard to listen to his vain talks on his own glories. Please put an end to this.”
Lord Shiva nodded, in silence the lord did not need any explanations of the situation Omniscient knew it all, and assured all the Devtas that everything will be better soon
The Devtas now gathered to plot a simple way to get Lord Brahma to anger Lord Shiva. They all agreed in unison that the best and the simplest way was to just send him to Kailash. “With that big mouth of his, he is sure to annoy Maheshwara sooner or later”, one of the Devtas quipped. Everyone agreed with the idea and went to Lord Brahma. They simply told him to pay a visit to Kailash to meet Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma immediately agreed.
And so Lord Brahma entered Kailash, ready for a long awaited friendly chit-chat with a co-trinity. Lord Shiva was out on his daily tour of the universe and Devi Parvati alone was there. Seeing Lord Brahma from a distance, the divine mother thought that Lord Shiva had returned and rushed to him with materials for required for Paada Pooja. Without even looking up at the face, Shakti started worshiping Lord Brahma’s feet. Lord Brahma stood silent, inwardly enjoying this act of respect.
It was then, that Lord Shiva walked in. One glance at Lord Brahma’s sheepish face was enough to explain everything. His anger erupted.
Lord Brahma stuttered!
Shakti looked up, and seeing the livid face of Lord Shiva, she at once realized her mistake and ran away from the spot.
Lord Shiva continued, “Just because Shakti didn’t see your face and offered Paada Pooja to you, does it mean that you accept it without protest?”
Lord Brahma simply hung his heads, his chattering mouth, for once, was zipped.
“Since it was your five heads that caused this whole problem, may you be without them!” Shiva exclaimed. And with a quick movement, Lord Shiva tore of Brahma’s fifth head and fulfilled his promise to the Devas. Lord Brahma became four-headed as we know him today and meekly walked away, his heads hung in shame.
The Brahma Kapalam
However, that was just the beginning of an untold misery for Lord Shiva. Since Lord Shiva had tortured Lord Brahma, the chief Brahmana, he was inflicted with the Brahmahathi Dosha. Lord Brahma’s skull (Kapalam) stuck to Lord Shiva’s hands and refused to fall off.
Lord Shiva was aghast at this unseen complexity. Now he was stuck with the skull on his hand. In his anxiety he asked Agni, the supreme purifier of everything, to blow off the Kapala from his hand. But, however much Agni tried he was unsuccessful. To make it worse, Agni also contracted the Dosha.
Lord Shiva was now terror-struck. He went all around the world searching for a remedy. It was then that Parvati came to her husband’s rescue. “Swami, Vishnu alone can get you out of this misery. Go to various Sthala and take bhiksha in the Kapala. The place where the Kapala overflows will be where you will be freed from the Dosha.”
Accordingly, Lord Shiva went from one place to another in search for liberation from the curse, as Bikshadanar, bearing the Kapala in his palm. Wherever he got bhiksha, it would immediately disappear on touching the Kapala and the Kapala continued to remain empty.
Shiva Washes Away the Brahmahathi Dosha
And so, hopping from one place to another he finally came to Thirukkandiyur. There, the Sthala Perumal sent Mahalakshmi to give bhiksha to Lord Shiva. Goddesses Mahalakshmi too came out in all her glory and started emptying bhiksha into the Kapala. The Kapala at once overflowed and fell to the ground (Some legends also claim that Lord Maha Vishnu cut his chest and offered the pouring blood into the Kapala). Shiva was released from the curse at once and thanked Lord Vishnu for his timely help. Since Lord Vishnu had ridden Lord Shiva of his curse, he came to be known as HaraSaabaVimochanar. Lord Shiva remained in the place as Brahma Sira Khanedeeshwarar. The temple is situated across the street from the Hara Saaba Vimochanar temple.
In other versions of the story goddesses Saraswati is replaced with the female form of lord brahma ‘Satarupa’ who was then affected by the arrow of Manmadh.
Manmadh was a devotee of Lord Brahma and after a long tapa he was granted with three arrows, which when used on anyone would increase the love and romance in that person. In order to test the arrow Manmadh used the first arrow on brahma himself. After seeing Brahma’s attraction towards Satarupa lord Shiva got angry and punished brahma for his actions as he thought that Satarupa was like a daughter to Lord Brahma. In every version it was Lord Shiva who punished Lord Brahma. The act of Paada Pooja by Shakti is not given any considerations. These legends are just a way to convey the law of karma to the man kind even the supreme Lord, the Trinity cannot escape from it! Be it Lord Brahma for the Wrong attraction or Lord Shiva harming the Creator himself.