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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Brahmā

In Hindu mythology, the Creator who breathes forth the universe at the dawn of creation and withdraws it at the end of his Day (4,320,000,000 human years). He is sometimes identified as the third Person of the Hindu Trinity, the first and second being Śiva and Viṣṇu, although popular Hinduism does not always accept this theology. The name is a derivative from the Sanskrit root bṛh, which means “expand,” “increase,” or “grow” and is related to the neuter noun BRAHMAN.

In theosophical literature, Brahmā — which Helena P. Blavatsky equates with Īśvara (SD I:130 fn.), Prajāpati (SD I:89, 433), and Hiraṇyagarbha (SD I:89) — is “a center of energy” within Brahman (idem, quoted from T. SUBBA ROW’s lectures on the Bhagavad-Gītā in The Theosophist, vol. 8 [Feb. 1887], p. 303). This creative center is also called Śabda Brahman, indicating creation by the Word (śabda) — in other words, the same as the Logos doctrine of Greek philosophy (SD I:130, 137). Brahmā is also identical in the mythologies of other cultures, HPB points out in various places, with Avalokiteśvara, Kwan-shai-yin, Ormazd, Adam-Kadmon, Ahura Mazdā, and the Cosmic or Mundane Egg. HPB states that “he” is, in actuality, a male-female duality, identified as Virāj (radiance) and Vāc (sound) respectively (SD I:89, 137).

This duality, HPB states, is also called Prakṛti and Puruṣa, which are independent realities in SĀNKHYA philosophy, but are just manifestations of a single Reality in theosophical metaphysics. T. Subba Row adds that “it must not be supposed that the Logos is but a single center of energy manifested from Parabrahman; there are innumerable other centers . . . and their number is almost infinite in the bosom of Parabrahman” (loc. cit., p. 304). Brahmā is also called kala-hamsa or “swan of time,” time indicating its descent from the timelessness of eternity and hamsa being a metaphysical pun for aham sa or “I am THAT” — which, when repeated as [hams]a-ham sa ‘ham[sa], is “I (aham) am THAT (sa) I (‘ham) am” — the verb “to be” being implicit, that is, normally unstated in Sanskrit predication (cf. SD I:20, 80; II:122). That further relates Brahmā to the God of Judaism (cf. Exodus 3.14).

R.W.B.

 


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