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Prajapati in Hinduism - Who is Prajapati?

Prajapati is the ‘lord of creatures’ in Hinduism and is mentioned in the Vedas, Puranas and the two epics - Mahabharata and Ramayana. In the Vedas, Prajapati had individuality but gradually the term is applied to Indra and other important deities. In the later Vedic period, especially in certain Puranas and other literature associated with Hinduism, the term Prajapati is applied to Lord Brahma.

In Vedas

It seems that in the Vedic period, Prajapati occupied an important place. The Vedas mention him as the creator of earth.

Ka is one of the names of Prajapati, a Vedic God. The reference to the deity is found in the famous Hiranya Garphasukta (Rig Veda X.121)

In the beginning, he arose as Hiranyagarbha.
When born, he was the one Lord of all that exists.
He supported the earth and this heaven.
What God with our offering shall we worship?
O Prajapati, you alone have encompassed all these created things:
May that for which with longing we have called upon you be ours;
May we become lords of wealth. (Rig Veda 10. 121)

But there is a gradual declination in his position and later on he is regarded as the guardian of the sex organs.

Ten Rishis - Sons of Brahma

There is another suggestion in the Hindu scriptures that Prajapati is the common name given to the ten ‘rishis’ – the sons of Brahma. It is believed that human beings descended from these ten ‘rishis’. The ten rishis are Marichi, Atri, Angiras, Pulastya, Pualaha, Kratu, Vasishta, Daksha, Bhrgu and Narada. These ten rishis are together known as Prajapatis. 

Again there is a variation in the number of ‘rishis.’ Some texts say there are only seven and some like the Mahabharata mentions twenty one.

The most famous

The most famous prajapati is Daksha Prajapati - he was the first legendary king in Hinduism and he is also one of the ten patriarchs of creation.

Sati, one of his daughters, was an incarnation of Mother Goddess Shakti and she married Lord Shiva.

But he disliked Shiva and this dislike resulted in the death of Sati. 

Upset and enraged, Shiva caused havoc in the universe through his ganas and Virabhadra.

Virabhadra and the ganas put an end to the yajna that was being conducted by Daksha Prajapati. There was utter chaos and destruction everywhere. Virabhadra severed the head off Daksha Prajapati.

Later Shiva repented his action and transplanted a goat’s head in place of the severed head of Daksha.