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Symbolism in the Image of Lord Brahma in Hinduism

One of the most famous images of Lord Brahma is that of a four-faced God seated on a lotus springing forth from the navel of Lord Vishnu. Brahma is shown with four hands. The Lord has in his four hands a water-pot (Kamandalu), a manuscript (Vedas), a sacrificial implement (sruva) and a rosary mala. In some images instead of the sacrificial implement, the hand is in blessing posture. Lord Brahma wears dress made of black antelope or deer and his vehicle or Vahana is a swan (hamsa). Each of the elements in the image has a hidden symbolism.

This world that we see and hear has manifested from the eternal reality. To indicate this, Brahma, the creator, is described as being born from the navel (nabhi) of Vishnu (who represents the Eternal Reality).

Standing or Sitting on Lotus – this symbolizes that Lord Brahma is ever rooted in the infinite reality.

The four faces of Brahma represent the four Vedas.

The four hands stands for the inner personality of man – the mind, intellect, ego and conditioned consciousness.

The deer skin worn by Lord Brahma indicates that a seeker who desires to reach the supreme state must observe austerities like Brahmachari.

A seeker must carefully study and reflect upon the scriptural truths and this is represented by holding the Vedas in one hand and this hand represents intellect.

A seeker must also use his physical body in selfless and dedicated service for general prosperity and this is indicated by the implement held in one hand. This is also to control ego.

The rosary held in one hand announces to the seeker that one should withdraw the senses from worldly pursuits – and should attain concentration by chanting. This is to control the mind.

Meditation is the last process by which the seeker is transported from his finite limited individuality into the infinite transcendental state of God-realization. This is indicated by the holding of the water-pot (kamandalu) - a symbol of sanyas. This is conditioned consciousness.

The swan (vehicle or Vahana) symbolizes the capability to recognize the Supreme Truth inherent in the entire phenomenon.

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