Brahma in Hindu mythology, must be carefully distinguished from Brahm, which is the name of the supreme being, the only one god, as all others are only manifestations of one or more of his attributes. The high idea which the Hindls connect with Brahm arises from the surnames which they give him the supremely perfect, the one without beginning and end, the indescribable, the omniscient, the prime soul of the world. Brahm is the sole existence. The world as it stands is only the reflection of his majestic being, only a revelation of his might, and when it ceases it will return to him whose emanation it was. But he and the world are nevertheless not one. The latter is entirely separate from him. He created a being full of beauty and love, who is called Maja. With this being Brahm had intercourse, and there resulted three of his most pre-eminent powers —
Brahma, the creator of all living; Vishnu, the preserver; and Siva, the destroyer. They all three are substantially one, and form the Trimurti, or trinity, and are not essentially different from each other or from the god whose powers they are.
Brahma is thus the creative god, a mighty person in the trinity of India. The same name also signifies the science of laws, because Brahma ordered nature according to eternal laws, by which he is also the guide of fate, designating time and duration of existence, and thus not only gives life, but also death. He is the revealer of the Vedas, and his worship is the oldest cult of India. It is fabled that a giant tore off one of Brahma's four heads in a combat and placed it on his own head; since then time has only three periods or directions — past, present, and future. Another fable says that Brahma's sister and beautiful wife fled from him, and in order to follow her in all directions he made himself five heads, one of which Siva tore off to punish his fleshly lust, and placed the same as a trophy on his tiara. From this head the Brahmins sprung. Brahma's birth or production is variously related: according to one myth, he is a son of Brahm and Maja, as above; according to another, he is a creation of Brahm out of himself, who, with him, created the higher and lower gods; another myth takes him spring from an egg, which, shining, floated on the surface of the deep, and out of which Brahma, directly after birth, formed the earth, heaven, the sea, and the ether; a fourth fable says he grew in a lotus-flower which came from the navel of the sleeping Vishnu. SEE BRAHM.