Omoikane (思兼 or 思金) is a Shinto god of wisdom and intelligence. His name means "serving one's thoughts." A heavenly deity who is called upon to "ponder" and give good counsel in the deliberations of the heavenly deities. In the myth where Amaterasu hid in a cave, he was tasked to find a way to get her out.
He is known by other names as Tokoyo-no-Omoikane (常世思金神) in the Kojiki (古事記); Omoikane (思兼神) in the Nihon Shoki (日本書紀); Omokane (思金神, 思兼神), Tokoyo-no-Omoikane (常世思金神), Yagokoro-omoikane (八意思兼神, 八意思金神) in the Kujiki (旧事紀 or Sendai Kuji Hongi 先代旧事本紀), or Achihiko (阿智彦).
He is the son of creator deity Takamimusubi (高御産巣日神) and the older brother of Takuhatachiji-hime (栲幡千千姫命, or commonly named in the Kojiki: 万幡豊秋津師比売命 Yorozuhatatoyo'akitsushi-hime), who is the wife of the deity Ame-no-Oshihomimi (天忍穂耳命).
However in the Kujiki (旧事紀 or Sendai Kuji Hongi 先代旧事本紀). Omoikane descends to Shinano Province (信濃国 Shinano-no-kuni, a former province that is now Nagano Prefecture) to become the ancestor Shina-no-achihouri (信之阿智祝) and as in Chichibu Province (知々夫国, Chichibu no kuni), a former province in Saitama Prefecture. He then becomes the father of both deities Ame-no-Uwaharu (天表春命) and Ame-no-Shitaharu (天下春命), also through this lineage become the patriarchal ancestor of the children of Ama-no-Koyane (天児屋命, 天児屋根命).
Ōkuninushi (Japanese: 大国主) was a famous hero and one of the more personable gods as part of the Japanese Izumo mythology. His name literally translates to "Great Land-Owner" or "Great Land Master" and he was in charge of firming the land during creation. He was known as the Lord of the Central Land of Reed Plains (another name for Japan). In Shintoism, Okuninushi-no-Mikoto is considered the god of the earth and the underworld, as well as of relationships, nation-building, commerce, medicine, and agriculture.
He is also known as Ōmononushi (大物主神) or Onamuchi, and the amiable Daikoku/Daikokuten of the Seven Lucky Gods is considered his counterpart (as their names have a similar reading).
Okuninushi was the youngest sibling of 80 cruel brothers, all deities living in Izumo. Hearing of the beautiful goddess Yagami-hime in the land of Inaba, every one of the brothers decided to try and woo her. Bringing along Okuninushi in order to carry all their luggage, he soon lagged behind his brothers from the burden. On the way to Inaba, the large group of brothers came across a suffering hairless hare, and decided to play a prank on it. They advised it to bathe in seawater, then stand on top of a high peak and let the winds and sun dry it, telling the hare this would help it recover more quickly. The hare did as the brothers said, but instead of recovering, things worsened as its skin dried out and cracked, agitated further by salt from the seawater. Unable to stand the pain, the hare fell to the ground. Trailing behind his brothers, when Okuninushi found the crying rabbit he asked what had happened. The rabbit told its story.
Originally from the island of Oki, the hare had wanted to travel to the mainland but was unable to do so on his own. So coming up with an idea, he challenged the sharks surrounding the island. He told them "Let’s see which there are more of, you sharks or us rabbits. Have all your fellow sharks line up one by one from here to Cape Keta, and I’ll count you. Then we’ll know for sure which group is bigger." As the sharks lined up, the hare jumped from shark to shark, counting each one. Just before it leapt to the mainland, it boasted about tricking the sharks, so the final shark bit off the rabbit's fur. Lying on the ground, that was where he met the large group of gods whose advice had made things worse.
After hearing the tale, Okuninushi told the hare to wash itself in the nearby fresh water river, then lay out fluff from the cattails and roll in it. Doing so, the rabbit's pain was soothed and it soon completely healed. In gratitude the hare gave a prophecy that Yagami-hime would choose Okuninushi over all of his brothers. When Okuninushi finally arrived where his brother's were, the princess told the elder brothers that she would have nothing to do with any of them, but would marry Okuninushi.
Enraged by and jealous of their younger brother who obtained the affection of the goddess-princess of Inaba, the elder brothers schemed to kill Okuninushi. They killed him twice, once with a smoldering boulder and once with a trap in the woods. Both times he was killed, Okuninushi was revived by his mother Sashikuni-waka-hime, a clam goddess. After the second time, Okuninushi was able to escape to the underworld ruled by Susanoo.
After fleeing to the underworld Ne no Kuni, Okuninushi met and fell in love with Suseri-hime. Her father, Susanoo, however, did not approve of the relationship and so decided to test the young man. First, he was told to sleep in a room full of snakes. Suseri-hime gave him a scarf that, when waved three times, would freeze the snakes, allowing Okuninushi to pass the night without incident. Second, he was to stay in a room full of wasps and centipedes. Again he was helped by Suseri-hime with a scarf that worked in the same way as the first. Finally, Susanoo took him to a big field and shot an arrow, telling Okuninushi to retrieve it, before setting the field on fire. About to succumb to the flames, a mouse ran up to him and told him that the "Once inside, it’s big and hollow, but the entrance is narrow and tight." Recognizing the invitation into the mouse's home, Okuninushi stomped on the hole where a large burrow opened up and he was able to wait out the fire. The mouse also helped him find the arrow and he returned it to Susanoo.
Still not completely unsatisfied, Susanoo then told Okuninushi to pick the lice out of his hair. However, rather than lice, Okuninushi found many centipedes. Suseri-hime again came to help him, giving him red clay and berries, which he chewed together and spat out, causing Susanoo to think it was the centipedes he was chewing and spitting out. Eventually falling asleep, Okuninushi then tied Susanoo's hair to the rafters of the house and blocked the door with a boulder. Then taking the sleeping god's sword, harp, and bow and arrows, Okuninushi and Suseri-hime fled together. But when the harp knocked against a tree. Susanoo awoke and his house fell around him, before he chased the couple all the way to the entrance to the underworld.
Fortunately, during the trials Susanoo had grown fond of Okuninushi, and so instead of catching them he let them go. Instead he told Okuninushi to take his tools to the surface and defeat his brothers, then build a palace for Suseri-hime that would reach the heavens.
Using the magical items lent by Susanoo, Okuninushi defeated all of his brothers in Izumo, allowing him to become ruler of the land. With the help of the dwarf god Sukunabiko, Okuninushi began to firm/form the land. Along with his friend the dwarf god they also developed medicine and managed to decrease the destructiveness of birds and insects. For this a shrine was built in Izumo for Okuninushi.
When Takemikazuchi descended to heaven with the command to pacify and unify the Central Land of Reed Plains, Okuninushi transferred his power over to Niningi, the grandson of Amaterasu. For this he was given rulership of magic and the unseen, where he then moved to the land of darkness, the underworld.
In Japanese religion, Yahata (八幡神, ancient Shinto pronunciation) formerly in Shinto and later commonly known as Hachiman (八幡神, Japanese Buddhist pronunciation) is the syncretic divinity of archery and war, incorporating elements from both Shinto and Buddhism.
Although often called the god of war, he is more strictly defined as the tutelary god of warriors. He is also the divine protector of Japan, the Japanese people and the Imperial House.
Hachiman, also called Hachiman-jin or Yahata no kami, is a special deity as he combines elements from both Shintoism and Japanese Buddhism. His name translates to God of Eight Banners which is a reference to the legend of the birth of the divine Emperor Ōjin and the eight banners in the sky that signaled it.
Hachiman is commonly viewed as a Japanese god of war but he’s mostly worshiped as a patron kami of warriors and archery, and not of war itself. The archer kami was initially worshiped near-exclusively by warriors and samurai but his popularity eventually extended to all people in Japan and now he’s also viewed as the patron kami of agriculture and fishing as well.
Over the years, Hachiman became much more than a samurai’s kami. His popularity grew among all the people of Japan and he started being worshiped by farmers and fishermen alike. Today, there are over 25,000 shrines dedicated to Hachiman across Japan, the second-highest number of Shinto shrines behind the shrines of the kami Inari – the protector deity of rice cultivation.
The most likely reason for the spread of Hachiman’s popularity is the intrinsic respect Japanese people have for their royalty and leaders. The Minamoto clan was loved as defenders of Japan and therefore Hachiman became worshiped as the Imperial patron and protector of the entire country
The fact that this kami incorporates themes and elements from both Shintoism and Buddhism also goes to show how loved he was by everyone in the island nation. In fact, Hachiman was even accepted as a Buddhist divinity in the Nara period (AD 710–784). He was called Hachiman Daibosatsu (Great Buddha-to-be) by the Buddhist and to this day they worship him as vehemently as the Shinto followers.
As a protector kami of all of Japan, Hachiman was often prayed to defend the country against its enemies. A couple of such occasions took place during attempted Mongol Chinese invasions in the Kamakura Period (1185-1333 CE) – the period when Hachiman’s popularity grew significantly.
The kami is said to have answered the prayers of his followers and sent a typhoon or a kamikaze – a “divine wind” in the sea between Japan and China, thwarting the invasion.
The two such kamikaze typhoons took place in 1274 and one in 1281. It should be said, however, that these two incidents are also often attributed to the gods of thunder and wind Raijin and Fujin.
Either way, this divine wind or kamikaze became so well-known as a “protective divine spell for Japan” that in World War II, Japanese fighter pilots screamed the word “Kamikaze!” while suicide-crashing their planes into enemy ships, in a final attempt to Japan from invasion.
Hachiman’s primary symbolism is not so much war but the patronage of warriors, samurai, and archers. He’s a protector deity, a sort of warrior-saint to all people in Japan. Because of this, Hachiman was prayed to and worshiped by everyone who wanted and needed protection.
Fūjin (風神, lit. "Wind God") or Fūten (風天) is the Japanese god of the wind and one of the eldest Shinto gods. He is portrayed as a terrifying wizardly demon, resembling a red-headed green-skinned humanoid wearing a leopard skin, carrying a large bag of winds on his shoulders. Like most wind deities in other religions, Fujin isn’t the most famous god in the pantheons of these religions. However, he played an important role and was highly revered. A true elder god, he’s one of the several children of the Father and Mother deities of Shintoism – Izanami and Izanagi.
Fujin is most often seen in combination with his more famous brother Raijin, the god of Thunder. Just like Raijin, Fujin also commands respect on his own. Viewed as both a kami (god, divine spirit) and an oni (demon), Fujin is responsible for every gust of wind that blows around the globe.
Fujin’s name in Kanji writing literally translates as Wind God but he’s also known by the name Futen which means Heavenly Wind.
His fame as an oni is owed both to his horrifying appearance and to the rather bizarre circumstances of his birth; which was traumatic, to say the least. The wind god was born by the Japanese primordial goddess Izanami’s corpse, as she lay in the Japanese Underworld Yomi.
Fujin shares this strange birth with his brother Raijin as well as several other of their siblings such as the kami gods Susanoo, Amaterasu, and Tsukuyomi.
Because of their birth as creatures of the Yomi underworld, Izanami’s children are viewed both as kami gods and as horrifying oni demons. Once the children were born, Izanami ordered them to chase down and capture their own father, the primordial god Izanagi, as Izanami was angry that he had left her in the Underworld.
Fujin’s father managed to escape Yomi before his vengeful children could catch up to him but they too eventually broke out of Yomi and started sowing destruction around the world at their mother’s behest.
As both a kami and an oni, Fujin is complex in his behavior and characteristics. Like his brother Raijin, Fujin is also known as a benevolent deity. His winds are often gentle and refreshing, and even his harshest typhoons are sometimes helpful. Two famous examples of Fujin’s assistance to mortals are the two typhoons credited to both Fujin and Raijin in the late 13th century. Both in 1274 and 1281, as the Mongol hordes were trying to invade Japan by sea, Fujin and Raijin blew their numerous ships into the sea, crushing the Mongol armies, and keeping Japan safe.
Just as Fujin’s winds travel around the world, so do his name and imagery. Most scholars today agree that Fujin owes his portrayal to other wind gods from across Eurasia. Namely, Fujin is linked with Hellenic portrayals of the Greek wind god Boreas.
Even though Boreas is a lesser-known deity today, he’s older than Fujin. What’s more, Hellenic culture was very well-known all across Eurasia in the ancient times, including in Persia and India. There, Hellenic gods like Boreas influenced many Hindu deities, especially in the Kushan Dynasty where Boreas inspired the wind god Wardo.
From India, these Hindu deities eventually traveled to China where Wardo also became popular. So popular, in fact, that he was also given many different names in China and eventually ended up in Japan under the name Fujin.
In this way, although Fujin is a Japanese god, his origins were inspired by the gods of other cultures.
Fujin symbolizes the winds and its characteristics. Just like his winds, Fujin is whimsical and humorous but also quick to anger. He can be devastating when he chooses to be. Both worshipped and feared, Fujin is especially dangerous when he works together with his brother Raijin.
In more recent times, he’s also been often featured in Japanese anime and manga. Some of his most famous appearances include the Flame of Recca manga, the Let’s Go Luna! animation, as well as the hit video games Final Fantasy VIII and Mortal Kombat.
Ogma, or Oghma, is one of the Tuatha De Dannan. His name means “To Cut” or “Cutting One” in reference to his pioneering the early Celtic writing system Ogam – named for him. Ogam involved cutting lines into wood or stone to create its alphabet. As the creator of writing, Ogma is considered not only the god of writing, but oration, speechcraft and poetry as well. Poetry in the ancient Celtic sense included the memorization and recitation of vast bodies of knowledge and lore, specific to genealogy, geography and language – it was quite an undertaking! Poets were also skilled in lampooning and had a broad knowledge of politics.
Ogma’s titles included Grianainech (“Sun-Faced”) and Trenfher (“Strongman”). He is the warrior god of athleticism, battle poetry, and is called “The Father of Ogam” for the reasons described above. Ogma is often depicted in a triad with his brothers, Dagda and Lugh, forming a trinity called the Tri Dee Dana, the “Three Gods of Skill.” He is attested to in the X, Y, Z and the Ogam Tract, where he declares he is the father of the alphabet and his carving knife, its mother.
In the Irish texts Ogma’s father is Elatha, a Fomorian king. His mother is Ethliu (also known as Eriu) the Formorian goddess who gives her name to Ireland. Ogma is the brother of Bres, who marries Brigid to help unite the Tuatha and Fomorian tribes, and takes the throne after Nuada. Ogma is the father of Dalbaeth and Tuireann. He is also the father of Taranis, a thunder god associated with Dagda and very similar to Thor. Ogma is depicted as a mighty, heavily muscled older man wielding a club and bow and arrows.
When King Nuada loses his arm – and thus his right to the throne – King Bres demotes his brother from the role of Champion to the King and giving him the menial labor of carrying firewood. During his time of indentured servitude, Ogma impresses Bres with his display of athleticism and combat prowess in competitions.
When Bres is overthrown and Nuada is reinstated as king of the Tuatha, Ogma is reinstated as the king’s Champion. However, with Lugh on the scene, Ogma must defend this position. He does so by challenging Lugh to a boulder-hefting competition, shot-putting rocks which otherwise would take eighty oxen to drag. Lugh wins the contest by hurling the rocks back to the position Ogma lifted them from. When Lugh is given command of Nuada’s armies, Ogma is honored to become Lugh’s Champion. In the final battle against the Fomorians, Ogma wins the sword of the Fomorian king, the Orna, which proclaims the victories of its wielder when drawn. In the Irish tales, Ogma and Indech, champion of the Formorians, defeat each other in combat.
Scholars have linked Ogma to the Gallic deity Ogmios, god of eloquence, who is associated with rousing and inspiring his warriors with impassioned speeches. In the archeological record, Ogmios is depicted as a massive warrior with chained warrior bands in tow. The chains extend from Ogmios’ mouth or tongue, and are attached to the ears of his band. These “prisoners” are described as happily enslaved, following their war chief’s inspiring words, inciting them to victory.
In the Mabinogi, Ogma has been identified as Eufydd fab, son of the mother goddess Don. He is described as a magician and assists his brothers just as Ogma aids his brothers in the Irish lore.
The Roman sources syncretized him with Hercules, and he is thus often referred to as Gaullish Hercules.
Ogma excels in body and in mind: there is no academic nerd and rugby jock dichotomy here. In Celtic culture, eloquence is one of the gifts of old age. Elderdom was not denigrated as it is now, and it bestowed many gifts. Ogma is depicted as a swole, jacked granddaddy – an elderly man who has lived a full life and has a tale to tell. Alongside the wise old wizard motif perhaps suggested by the likes of Óðin, Merlin, or Manawydan, perhaps Ogma provides a template for aging men in staying in robust shape and virile health. His incredible shape – he is compared to Hercules – gives us a vision of becoming an old man that is healthy and robust. In this regard, old age is something to look forward to.
He is similar to a modern-day sports coach. His inspirational speeches and cheering his team along – pumping up his players. Even Ogma’s sword proclaimed his exploits, not unlike a sports announcer.
It’s easy to draw a comparison between Ogma and Óðin, who is a fellow warrior-poet, and god of might in battle and in knowledge. Like Ogma he is depicted as an old man who is virile and strong. Like Ogmios, Óðin is depicted with a retinue of warriors whom he is collecting to march into battle. Ogma’s descendance from the Formorian gods parallels the Æsir gods, who descend from an older generation of deities – the Jötnar – and of the Vanir hostage exchange, whereby gods of one tribe join the other in diplomacy.
“God of Poetry” doesn’t have quite the same connotation in modern English as it did in ancient Irish. The poet, or filidh (“fee-lee”) did much more than rhyme about ex-girlfriends in coffee shops. In addition to essentially functioning as community journalist, Celtic poets had the important political role of roasting and lampooning their political enemies, inflicting the “poet’s curse” which could destroy a person’s reputation. Devastating in a smaller, tribal society. In such a culture, reputation was everything. Ogma was thus a god who won battles not only with strength, but also with words.
Warrior poets were, among other things, entertainers who sang and storied the heroic exploits of great heroes. They served a function in society that today is filled by action movies, from Die Hard, to John Wick, to the MCU. Ogma and his trinity of brothers were all-around superheroes, awesome at pretty much everything, and because of Ogma their stories live on to inspire us.
Manannán mac Lir is also known as simply Manannán or Manann. His surname, Mac Lir (Irish), Mac y Leir (Scottish) and fab Llyr (Welsh) mean “Son of the Sea.” In Irish myth, his father Lir appears to be a primordial sea god, about whom little else is known. Manannán is a significant figure throughout Irish, and later Welsh mythology and Scottish folklore.
To the Irish, he is one of the Tuatha De Danann, a god of the sea, kingship, magic, and a guardian and gatekeeper to the Otherworld: Tír na nÓg. His resident domain in Tír na nÓg is Emain Ablach, the Isle of Apples, which would later reappear as Avalon in Arthurian legend. He is associated with the Otherworld provinces of Mag Mell, the Plain of Delights, and Tir Tairngire, the Land of Promise. His Otherworld provinces are described as being in the West and can be reached by boat, provided Manannán parts the mists that divide the worlds.
Manannán is also known as Manannán mac Alloit, meaning “Son of the Land,” possibly signifying that his mother is an earth goddess. He is named after the Isle of Man, whose inhabitants claimed him as their first king and dynasty ancestor, Mannin or Manau. In the Welsh Mabinogi he appears as the wise wizard-king Manawydan fab Llyr – one of the most famous figures in Celtic myth – leading scholars to conclude that his roots are possibly pre-Celtic. In Irish myth, he is one of the chieftains of the Tuatha De, coming into power after the godly tribe leave Ireland to the mortal ancestors of the Irish people, referred to as the Milesians. Manannán leads his immortal people to forevermore dwell in the Otherworld and draws the mists between the two worlds, more or less permanently.
These world-dividing mists are described as his cloak, which shimmers like the multi-hued rippling of the sea. Lifting his cloak seems to make all the difference between scrambling about in a dark, dank, wormy barrow mound – or being lost in lonely waters – and finding transport into the Elysian Tír na nÓg. His mists not only barricade the path between worlds but can also cause forgetfulness among those on either side: mortals who crossover do not recall in detail their journeys to the Otherworld, and those who dwell in the undying lands do so blithely unconcerned with the troubles of the mortal world.
When he travels about on land, he often does so in the form of a bird, such as a hawk or sparrow. He also can take on the form of a storm or “fiery wheel” (suggesting churning wind and lightning). In this form, his legs can sometimes be seen whipping about like a wheel, in a comedic fashion, like the Road Runner of Looney Toons. This image is the folkloric origin behind the flag of the Isle of Man, the three-legged triskelion.
He sometimes travels mortal lands as an anonymous warrior, who vaguely describes where he comes from as a place without death or dishonesty. There are places named after Manannán throughout Ireland, the Isle of Man and Scotland. In Ireland, most of them are watery or water-associated regions. On Man he was ceremonially offered rushes – wetland plants that were sacred to him.
Manannán is associated with magic and magical treasures, and is variously described as a Druid, illusionist and necromancer. His boat, the Squabe Tuinne (“Wave-sweeper”) can move on command without need for a sail or rowing. His horse Aonbharr and chariot can travel over water as well as land. He possesses Fragarach, a sword which can pierce any armor and kill with the slightest of blows. These items he loans to Lugh that he might succeed in the battle against the Fomorians and become the next king of the Tuatha De. Manannán possesses a magic wand, a silver branch with golden apples, which produces enchanting music that sedates all who hear it. This, along with something called the Goblet of Truth, he gives to the aid of another great Tuatha king, Cormac mac Airt, who becomes the High King of Ireland.
Manannán‘s wife is Fand, who famously falls in love with the Cu Chulainn. When things between her and the heroic demi-god do not work out, Manannán separates them with his misty cloak, giving his wife the gift of forgetfulness. He also appears to have had as a wife the goddess Aine with whom he fathered Niamh, an enchanting maiden who was able to cross back and forth between the mists on horseback.
Manannán is an over-king of the Tuatha De when they retreat through the mists, and he divides up the fairy kingdoms and sidh mounds (gateways between the worlds) amongst the surviving immortals. His mists hold back the passing of age and time, such that those on the Otherworld-side do not age. Like Dagda, he possesses immortal pigs who grant a never-ending supply of pork, the eating of which, like Iðunn’s apples in Germanic myth, grant renewed youth and vitality.
Manannán created the treasure Crane-Bag, which he made from Aoife, a female figure in the myths who was turned into a crane by a Druid’s curse. In this form she died, and Manannán used her crane-form’s skin to make the sacred bag. This was a “bag of holding” of nigh-infinite capacity. Its contents could only be seen during high tide, and it appeared completely empty at low tide. The bag contains all of the magical treasures of the Tuatha De Danann, and Manannán shared it widely. It later appears in the story of Rhiannon (who is another of his wives, or perhaps simply a title for his wife, as Rhiannon means “Great Queen'').
In the Mabinogi, Manannán appears as Manawydan, and he has two brothers. He is described as one of the three humble chieftains of the De Danann, because he sought to rule through the virtue of having deserved and being given his position, rather than through war-lording his way to his own kingdom. He travels from Ireland to London to bury the head of his giant brother, the great king Bran the Blessed. He ends up at the court of the noble king Pryderi Dyfed in Wales, the son of Rhiannon, to woo his mother. Manawydan sought to retire from the life of a warrior-king and settle down with the immortal queen who had outlived her human husband Pwyll. Manawydan and Rhiannon’s domestic bliss is interrupted by an enchanted, mysterious mist which swallows up all the kingdom’s resources, its people, livestock, possessions, and even the land’s fertility. Leading the adventure to undo this mist, Rhiannon and Pryderi become spellbound, entrapped to a golden grail or bowl. Manawydan untangles a complex web of wizardry to save his wife and his nephew, and restore fertility to the land.
In the Irish, and later told in Scottish folklore, Manannán prophesies the birth of the rightful king Mongan, who he then conspires to help the future conception of. Mongan is said to be the reincarnation of the hero Fionn mac Cumhaill. To do so, he calls upon the mighty power of his mists.
Manannán‘s folk memory lasted long into the early modern era, in many folk tales and oral traditions as a wandering wizard throughout the land.
Like all the Tuatha De Dannan, Manannán is depicted as a handsome, strong, and exceptional warrior. However, he is closer to what we in a modern age might think of as a wizard. He is a divine escort and ally to earthly kings, seeking to install them in their sacred positions. He seems to be one of the informants of the Arthurian character Merlin. His episode with the mists in siring Mongan with Caintigern bears similarities to Merlin leading Uther into Tintagel to seduce Igraine through the power of illusion and mist, towards the conception of Arthur. His endeavors are always to ensure that the land continues to be fruitful – a role that ancient kings were required to perform.
A significant theme for Manannán is that of benefactor of the Good King. He himself is such a king, and he works towards the begetting, educating, counseling and ennobling of other kings – to ensure the installment and functioning of Goodly Kings. In the Irish lore, he works to liberate the land and her people from the Fomorians, the previous dynasty of gods under whose rule the people must sacrifice the land’s fertility in tribute, and in doing so may, or may not appease the Fomorians. The Fomorians travel by sea, often accompanied by foul weather and mist. In the Welsh lore, it is the mysterious mist (sans Fomorians) which appears to steal away the land’s fertility, setting off a series of events in which the goddess of the land’s sovereignty and its rightful heir (Rhiannon and Pryderi) become trapped. It is Manawydan who must solve this mystery and restore rightful power and prosperity to the land.
His wandering the lands in and out of the mists is reminiscent of Óðin, wandering gray wizard associated with moody weather, stirring events to ensure that men achieve their destiny and recruiting heroes to his cause. Manannán also strongly resembles Norse Heimdallr. Heimdallr is also born of the sea, the son of the Nine Waves, sea goddess daughters of Aegir and Ran, the primordial powers of the sea in Norse tradition. Heimdallr is associated elsewhere with sheep and rams, which are poetic names for the waves. He wanders mortal realms in disguise, and ensures the installment of the social orders, signifying who will be the jarls, and who will work the land. Like Manannán, Heimdallr is the doorman, the guardian of the gate to the Otherworld, the watchman of the Rainbow Bridge into Ásgard, the abode of the gods.
Tír na nÓg is commonly now referred to as Fairyland, or simply as Faerie, with various spellings. As god of the Otherworld and of right kingship, he is clearly a guide to the pursuit of something greater, to the project of living for something greater than oneself. He functions as something of a spiritual tourist, taking kings on journeys of the Otherworld, and showing mortals glimpses of the magic beyond. He might be in modern times thought of as a god of calling and life purpose. He also seems to be a deity who counsels, and so might be a helpful reminder of helping others live in their own integrity as goodly kin
Manannán appears also in Scottish and Manx legend, where he is known as Manannan mac y Leir ("little Mannan, son of the sea"). The Isle of Man (Mannin) is named after him, while others say he is named after the island. He is cognate with the Welsh figure Manawydan fab Llŷr
Manannán rode his chariot over the sea, meeting with Bran and his crew sailing by ship, in the tale Imram Brain ("Voyage of Bran"), considered an early work.] In this story he told Bran that sea was not actually water to him but rather "I [Manannán] see in the Plain of Feats/red topped flowers without fault." He goes on to tell Bran about how he is heading to Ireland to have relations with Caintigern who would go on to bear Mongán.
In late sources, Manannán visits the land of the living, his movement is compared to the wind, a hawk or swallow, and sometimes takes the form of a thundering wheel rolling across the landscape, such as in the "Pursuit of the Gilla Decair", a 16th-century comic tale. There is also the local lore the Manannán moved like a wheel turning on his three legs, a tradition widespread on the Isle of Man (cf. triskelion), but also found in some eastern Counties of Leinster according to John O'Donovan, though this folklore was unfamiliar to Whitley Stokes.
After the Tuatha Dé Danann were defeated by Érimón of the Milesians (humans), Bodb Derg was chosen as king of the Tuatha Dé Danann, and Manannán as co-king or perhaps the king's overseer. In one passage Manannán declares he has assumed over-kingship above the petty kings of the Tuatha Dé Danann.
Manannán was tasked with allotting which sídhe or fairy mounds the surviving members of the Tuatha Dé Danann were to be settled. Manannán's own dwelling was at Emain Ablach, in the city of Cruithin na Cuan, as the tale later reveals. Manannán ensured the welfare of the Tuatha Dé Danann by concealing in the féth fíada or a mist of invisibility, holding the Feast of Goibniu (Fleadh Goibhneann) which conferred eternal youth, and feeding them Manannan's Swine (Mucca Mhannanain) which gave an inexhaustible supply of food.
Manannán in the tale "Echtra Cormaic" owned two magical items which he gave away to Cormac mac Airt, high king of Tara: a soothing musical silver branch with apples made of gold, and the Goblet of Truth.
Manannán initially appeared in the guise of a warrior, and described without naming his homeland as a place where old age, sickness, death, decay, and falsehood were unknown. He eventually coaxed the king to arrive as guest to this Land of Promise (Tír Tairngire).
Manannán had other magical items according to the Oidheadh Chloinne Tuireann, a romance that only survives in early modern Irish recensions.
He had a self-navigating boat called "Manannán's currach (coracle)" aka Sguaba Tuinne (Scuab-tuinne) or "Wave-sweeper" was self-navigating, as well as a horse that could travel over land or sea called Aonbharr of Manannan, translated in popular re-telling as "Enbarr of the Flowing Mane". Both the horse and boat were on loan to Lugh Lamhfada, but the Sons of Tuireann managed to borrow the boat.
Manannán also supplied Lugh with a full array of armor and weapon as the Tuatha Dé gathered their host to battle the Fomorians. Lugh rode Manannán's steed Aonbharr, and was girt with Manannán's sword Fragarach ("Retaliator or "The Answerer"). Any wound this sword gave proved fatal, and its opponent was reduced to the weakness of a woman in childbirth.
Lug also wore Manannán's helmet Cathbarr, which O'Curry amends to Cennbhearr, which he regards as a common noun and not a proper name. This helm was set with two precious gems on the front and one in the rear. Manannán's lúirech or body armour] and Manannán's scabal (neck-piece or breastplate) were also part of Lugh's panoply.
Manannán was also the owner of the "crane-bag" (Irish: corrbolg) full of treasures] according to the Middle-Irish Fenian lay "The Crane-Bag" (Duanaire Finn Poem VIII) datable to the 13th century,
To Manannán was sent a woman transformed into the shape of a crane. She was Aoife, daughter of Dealbhaoth (Irish: Áiffe ingen Dealbhaoíth), and mistress of Ilbhreac of many beauties (Irish: Ilbric Iolchrothaigh). Ilbhreac here may have been Ilbhreac son of Manannán. Aoife was transformed by the druidery of her jealous love-rival (Iuchra daughter of Ábartach), whose spell was to last 200 years.
When Aoife died, Manannán crafted her crane's skin into a magical treasure bag, whose contents were only visible when flooded during full tide, and would seem empty when the tide had ebbed.The bag was in the possession of Lugh Lamhfada, then taken by Lugh's killers, the three sons of Cermait. Later Manannán endowed it to Conaire Mór the high king at Tara. The crane-bag was eventually owned by Cumhall mac Trénmhóir, as told at the outset of this lay.Macgnímartha Finn. This is assumed to be the "treasure-bag" that was lost to Cumhall's "servant-turned-traitor", Liath Luachra, who treacherously wounded Cumall in the Cath Cnucha, but recovered later by Cumhall's son, Finn when he grew up.
Manannán also commissioned the craftsman Lucra (recté Luchta) to make him a shield to be made of wood, and this later passed on to Finn, according to the lay (duan) "Shield of Fionn". The wood came from a withered hazel tree, on the fork where Lugh had set the severed head of Balor. The venom had penetrated this tree, killing or blinding workers trying to uproot or handle it. Various owners are named, such as Tadg mac Nuadat, but was given by Manannán to Crimall mac Trenmor, Finn's uncle, after the death of Finn's father.
Manannán is furthermore identified with several trickster figures including the Gilla Decair and the Bodach an Chóta Lachtna ("the churl in the drab coat").
The similarity of Manannan's inexhaustible swine to Odin's boar Sæhrímnir in Scandinavian myth has been noticed. Mannanán also owned a speckled cow that he and Aengus retrieved from India along with a dun cow, two golden goblets, and two spancels of silk.
In Manx mythology:
According to the local lore of the Isle of Man, Manannán was the island's first ruler.
A document called the "Supposed True Chronicle of Man" (16th century) asserts that Manannan was the first "ruler of Mann" and "was as paynim (pagan), and kept, by necromancy, the Land of Man under mists", and imposed as tax a bundle of green rushes, which was due every Midsummer Eve at a place called Warfield (the present-day South Barrule). More or less the same thing is stated in verse within "The Traditionary Ballad" aka "Manannan beg va Mac y Leirr", whose third quatrain ran:[The poem thus identified the king of the island as one Manannan-beg-mac-y-Lheirr, "little Manannan, son of the Sea" (or, "son of Leir"). Manannan was later banished by Saint Patrick according to the poem.
As to the Manx offering rushes to Manannán, there is evidence these wild plants—which typically grow in wetlands—were sacred to him.
According to tradition, Manannan once held Peel Castle, and caused a single man guarding its battlements to appear as a force of a thousand, thus succeeding in driving out his enemies.] Manx storyteller Sophia Morrison repeats this story except reducing the amplification to hundredfold men, and referring to the rampart "a great stone fort on Peel Island". She also appends a story that Manannan once crafted makeshift boats out of sedges, creating an illusion of a larger fleet, causing the Viking invaders to flee in terror from the bay of Peel Island.
The Dagda (Irish: An Dagda) is an important god in Irish mythology. One of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the Dagda is portrayed as a father-figure, king, and druid. He is associated with fertility, agriculture, manliness and strength, as well as magic, druidry and wisdom. He can control life and death, the weather and crops, as well as time and the seasons.
He is often described as a large bearded man or giant wearing a hooded cloak. He owns a magic staff, club, or mace (the lorg mór or lorg anfaid), of dual nature: it kills with one end and brings to life with the other. He also owns a cauldron (the coire ansic) which never runs empty, and a magic harp (uaithne) which can control men's emotions and change the seasons. He is said to dwell in Brú na Bóinne (Newgrange). Other places associated with or named after him include Uisneach, Grianan of Aileach, and Lough Neagh. The Dagda is said to be husband of the Morrígan and lover of Boann. His children include Aengus, Brigit, Bodb Derg, Cermait, Aed, and Midir.
The Dagda's name is thought to mean "the good god" or "the great god". His other names include Eochu or Eochaid Ollathair ("horseman, great father" or "all-father"), Ruad Rofhessa ("mighty one/lord of great knowledge") and Dáire ("the fertile one"). The death and ancestral god Donn may originally have been a form of the Dagda, and he also has similarities with the later harvest figure Crom Dubh. Several tribal groupings saw the Dagda as an ancestor and were named after him, such as the Uí Echach and the Dáirine.
The Dagda has been likened to the Germanic god Odin, the Gaulish god Sucellos, and the Roman god Dīs Pater.
Tales depict the Dagda as a figure of immense power. He is said to own a magic staff, club or mace which could kill nine men with one blow; but with the handle he could return the slain to life. It was called the lorg mór ("the great staff/club/mace") or the lorg anfaid ("the staff/club/mace of wrath"). His magic cauldron was known as the coire ansic ("the undry cauldron") and was said to be bottomless, from which no man left unsatisfied. It was said to have a ladle so big that two people could fit in it. Uaithne, also known as "the Four Angled Music", was a richly ornamented magic harp made of oak which, when the Dagda played it, put the seasons in their correct order; other accounts tell of it being used to command the order of battle. He possessed two pigs, one of which was always growing whilst the other was always roasting, and ever-laden fruit trees. He also described as being the owner of a black-maned heifer that was given to him for his labors prior to the Second Battle of Moytura. When the heifer calls her calf, all the cattle of Ireland taken by the Fomorians as tribute graze.
The Dagda was one of the kings of the Tuatha De Danann. The Tuatha Dé Danann are the race of supernatural beings who conquered the Fomorians, who inhabited Ireland previously, prior to the coming of the Milesians. The Mórrígan is often described as his wife, his daughter was Brígh, and his lover was Boann, after whom the River Boyne is named, though she was married to Elcmar. Prior to the battle with the Fomorians, he coupled with the goddess of war, the Mórrígan, on Samhain in exchange for a plan of battle.
Despite his great power and prestige, the Dagda is sometimes depicted as oafish and crude, even comical, wearing a short, rough tunic that barely covers his rump, dragging his great penis on the ground. Such features are thought to be the additions of Christian redactors for comedic purposes. The Middle Irish language Coir Anmann (The Fitness of Names) paints a less clownish picture: "He was a beautiful god of the heathens, for the Tuatha Dé Danann worshiped him: for he was an earth-god to them because of the greatness of his (magical) power."
The Dagda has similarities with the later harvest figure Crom Dubh.
The Dagda is said to be husband of the Morrígan, who is called his "envious wife"] His children include Aengus, Cermait, and Aed (often called the three sons of the Dagda), Brigit and Bodb Derg.He is said to have two brothers, Nuada and Ogma, but this may be an instance of the tendency to triplicate deities. Elsewhere the Dagda is linked exclusively with Ogma, and the two are called "the two brothers." In the Dindsenchas, the Dagda is given a daughter named Ainge, for whom he makes a twig basket or tub that always leaks when the tide is in and never leaks when it is going out. The Dagda's father is named Elatha son of Delbeath. Englec, the daughter of Elcmar, is named as a consort of the Dagda and the mother of his "swift son". Echtgi the loathsome is another daughter of the Dagda's named in the Banshenchas.
Before the Second Battle of Maig Tuired the Dagda built a fortress for Bres called Dún Brese and was also forced by the Fomorian kings Elatha, Indech, and Tethra to build raths. In the lead up to the Second Battle of Maig Tuired, when Lugh asks Dagda what power he will wield over the Fomorian host, he responds that he "[…] will take the side of the men of Erin both in mutual smiting and destruction and wizardry. Their bones under my club will be as many as hailstones under feet of herds of horses."
The Dagda had an affair with Bóand, wife of Elcmar. In order to hide their affair, Dagda made the sun stand still for nine months; therefore their son, Aengus, was conceived, gestated and born in one day. He, along with Bóand, helped Aengus search for his love.
Whilst Aengus was away the Dagda shared out his land among his children, but Aengus returned to discover that nothing had been saved for him. Aengus later tricked his father out of his home at the Brú na Bóinne (Newgrange). Aengus asked his father if he could live in the Brú for láa ogus oidhche "(a) day and (a) night", which in Irish is ambiguous, and could refer to either "a day and a night", or "day and night", which means for all time, and so Aengus took possession of the Brú permanently. In The Wooing of Étaín, on the other hand, Aengus uses the same ploy to trick Elcmar out of Brú na Bóinne, with the Dagda's connivance.
The Dagda was also the father of Bodb Dearg, Cermait, Midir, Áine, and Brigit. He was the brother of Oghma, who is probably related to the Gaulish god Ogmios; Ogmios, depicted as an old man with a club, is one of the closest Gaulish parallels to the Dagda. Another Gaulish god who may be related to the Dagda is Sucellus, the striker, depicted with a hammer and cup.
He is credited with a seventy- or eighty-year reign (depending on source) over the Tuatha Dé Danann, before dying at the Brú na Bóinne, finally succumbing to a wound inflicted by Cethlenn during the second battle of Magh Tuiredh.
In a poem about Mag Muirthemne, the Dagda banishes an octopus with his "mace of wrath" using the following words: "Turn thy hollow head! Turn thy ravening body! Turn thy resorbent forehead! Avaunt! Begone!", the sea receded with the creature and the plain of Mag Muirthemne was left behind.
In the Dindsenchas the Dagda is described as swift with a poison draught and as a justly dealing lord. He is also called a King of Erin with hosts of hostages, a noble, slender prince, and the father of Cermait, Aengus, and Aed.
In Irish mythology, Abcán (modern spelling: Abhcán) was the dwarf poet and musician of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the early Celtic divinities of Ireland. He was said to have a bronze boat with a tin sail.
In the story of the death of the goddess Ruad, Abcán is the dwarf that ferries her from the Otherworld to this one so that she can seduce the human, Aed Srónmár. The sounds of mermaids singing, or in some versions, music from a fairy mound cause her to leap into the water and drown.
In another story, Abcán is captured by the hero, Cúchulainn. He frees himself by playing lullabies so irresistible that the warrior goes to sleep.Abcán has much in common with, and may be another name for, the dwarf musician Fer Í
One tale of Abarta's trickery is where he offered himself as a servant to Fionn mac Cumhaill, shortly after Mac Cumhaill had succeeded his father as leader of the Fianna, a band of mighty Milesian warriors. In a gesture of goodwill, Abarta then gave them a wild grey horse, which fourteen Fianna had to mount onto its back before it would even move. After Abarta had mounted behind the Fianna on the horse, it galloped off taking the warriors to the Otherworld where the Tuatha Dé Danann had been driven underground by the Milesians.
The Fianna, led by Fionn mac Cumhaill's assistant Foltor, had to acquire a magical ship to hunt down Abarta's steed. Foltor, being the Fianna's best tracker, managed to navigate into the otherworld, where Abarta was made to release the imprisoned Fianna warriors, and to satisfy honour, had to hold on to the horse's tail and be dragged back to Ireland.
Abarta was later rejected from being allowed to join the Fianna over this incident.
Abarta may have been associated with a servant of Apollo, who was said to have given him a golden arrow (i.e. a sunbeam) which could teleport him, cause him invisibility and give prophecies. In later, more purely Celtic myths, the golden arrow was changed to a magical horse. Some similarities can be noted between Abaris and Paris), who slew Achilles with an arrow and the help of Apollo (a solar deity). Abaris' murder of Diarmuid Ua Duibhne by stabbing his heel with a boar's poisonous bristles has parallels with Achilles' story.
Brahma (Sanskrit: ब्रह्मा, romanized: Brahmā) is referred to as "The Creator" within the Trimurti, the triple deity of supreme divinity that includes Vishnu, and Shiva.] He is also referred to as Svayambhu (lit. 'self-born') and is associated with creation, knowledge and Vedas. Brahma is prominently mentioned in creation legends, though there are many varying versions. In some Puranas, he created himself in a golden egg known as Hiranyagarbha.
Brahma is frequently identified with the Vedic god Prajapati. During the post-Vedic period, Brahma was a prominent deity and his sect existed; however, by the 7th century, he was frequently attacked and lost his significance. He was also overshadowed by other major deities like Vishnu, Shiva and Devi. Along with other such Hindu deities, Brahma is sometimes viewed as a form (saguna) of the otherwise formless (nirguna) brahman, the ultimate metaphysical reality in Vedantic Hinduism.
According to Vaishnava accounts of creation, Brahma was born in a lotus, emerging from the navel of Vishnu. The Shaivism sects believe that he is born from Shiva or his aspects, while the goddess centric Shaktism states that Devi created the universe, including Brahma.
Brahma is commonly depicted as a red or golden complexioned bearded man, with four heads and hands. His four heads represent the four Vedas and are pointed to the four cardinal directions. He is seated on a lotus and his vahana (mount) is a hamsa (swan, goose or crane). Goddess Saraswati is generally mentioned as Brahma's wife and she represents his creative energy (shakti) as well as the knowledge which he possesses. According to the scriptures, Brahma created his children from his mind and thus, they were referred to as Manasputra.
In present-age Hinduism, Brahma does not enjoy popular worship and has lesser importance than the other members of the Trimurti. Brahma is revered in ancient texts, yet rarely worshiped as a primary deity in India. Very few temples dedicated to him exist in India, the most famous being the Brahma Temple, Pushkar in Rajasthan. Brahma temples are found outside of India, such as at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok.
The origins of the term brahmā are uncertain, in part because several related words are found in the Vedic literature, such as brahman for the 'Ultimate Reality' and brāhmaṇa for 'priest'. A distinction between the spiritual concept of brahman and the deity Brahmā is that the former is a genderless abstract metaphysical concept in Hinduism while the latter is one of the many masculine gods in Hindu tradition. The spiritual concept of brahman is quite old and some scholars suggest that the deity Brahma may have emerged as a personification and visible icon of the impersonal universal principle brahman. The existence of a distinct deity named Brahma is evidenced in late Vedic texts.
Grammatically, the nominal stem brahma- has two distinct forms: the neuter noun bráhman, whose nominative singular form is brahma (ब्रह्म); and the masculine noun brahmán, whose nominative singular form is brahmā (ब्रह्मा). The former, neuter form has a generalised and abstract meaning while the latter, masculine form is used as the proper name of the deity Brahma.
One of the earliest mentions of Brahma with Vishnu and Shiva is in the fifth Prapathaka (lesson) of the Maitrayaniya Upanishad, probably composed around late 1st millennium BCE. Brahma is first discussed in verse 5,1, also called the Kutsayana Hymn, and then expounded in verse 5,2.
In the pantheistic Kutsayana Hymn,] the Upanishad asserts that one's Soul is Brahman, and this Ultimate Reality, Cosmic Universal or God is within each living being. It equates the atman (Soul, Self) within to be Brahma and various alternate manifestations of Brahman, as follows, "Thou art Brahma, thou art Vishnu, thou art Rudra (Shiva), thou art Agni, Varuna, Vayu, Indra, thou art All."
In the verse, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva are mapped into the theory of Guṇa, that is qualities, psyche and innate tendencies the text describes can be found in all living beings.This chapter of the Maitri Upanishad asserts that the universe emerged from darkness (tamas), first as passion characterized by innate quality (rajas), which then refined and differentiated into purity and goodness (sattva).Of these three qualities, rajas is then mapped to Brahma, as follows:
Now then, that part of him which belongs to tamas, that, O students of sacred knowledge (Brahmacharins), is this Rudra.
That part of him which belongs to rajas, that O students of sacred knowledge, is this Brahma.
That part of him which belongs to sattva, that O students of sacred knowledge, is this Vishnu.
Verily, that One became threefold, became eightfold, elevenfold, twelvefold, into infinite fold.
This Being (neuter) entered all beings, he became the overlord of all beings.
That is the Atman (Soul, Self) within and without – yea, within and without!
— Maitri Upanishad 5.2,
While the Maitri Upanishad maps Brahma with one of the elements of guṇa theory of Hinduism, the text does not depict him as one of the trifunctional elements of the Hindu Trimurti idea found in later Puranic literature.
However, by the 7th century, Brahma lost his importance. Puranic legends mention various reasons for his downfall. There are primarily two prominent versions why Brahma lost his ground. The first version refers to Shiva Purana where Brahma and Vishnu were arguing who was the greatest among them. Then suddenly they hear a voice and saw a huge lightening pillar. The voice asked them to find out the end of the pillar and whoever could find the end of the pillar will be the greatest. Vishnu went towards the bottom and Brahma went towards the top. Vishnu came back and accepted his defeat that he couldn't find the end. However, Brahma came back and lied that he could find the top end. The pillar was Shiva Linga and the voice was of Shiva and this lies infuriated Shiva. Angry Shiva cursed Brahma that he will never be worshiped henceforth.
Historians believe that some of the major reasons of Brahma's downfall were the rise of Vaishnavism and Shaivism, replacement of him with Shakti in the Smarta tradition and the frequent attacks by Buddhist, Jains and even by Hindu followers of Vaishnavas and Shaivites.
The post-Vedic texts of Hinduism offer multiple theories of cosmogony, many involving the Brahma. These include Sarga (primary creation of universe) and Visarga (secondary creation), ideas related to the Indian thought that there are two levels of reality, one primary that is unchanging (metaphysical) and other secondary that is always changing (empirical), and that all observed reality of the latter is in an endlessly repeating cycle of existence, that cosmos and life we experience is continually created, evolved, dissolved and then re-created. The primary creator is extensively discussed in Vedic cosmogonies with Brahman or Purusha or Devi among the terms used for the primary creator, while the Vedic and post-Vedic texts name different gods and goddesses as secondary creators (often Brahma in post-Vedic texts), and in some cases a different god or goddess is the secondary creator at the start of each cosmic cycle (kalpa, aeon).
Brahma is a "secondary creator" as described in the Mahabharata and Puranas, and among the most studied and described. Some texts suggest that Brahma was born from a lotus emerging from the navel of the god Vishnu. In contrast, the Shiva-focussed Puranas describe Brahma and Vishnu to have been created by Ardhanarishvara, that is half Shiva and half Parvati; or alternatively, Brahma was born from Rudra, or Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma creating each other cyclically in different aeons (kalpa). Yet others suggest the goddess Devi created Brahma, and these texts then go on to state that Brahma is a secondary creator of the world working respectively on their behalf. Brahma creates all the forms in the universe, but not the primordial universe itself. Thus in most Puranic texts, Brahma's creative activity depends on the presence and power of a higher god. Further, the medieval era texts of these major theistic traditions of Hinduism assert that the saguna (representation with face and attributes) Brahma is Vishnu, Shiva, or Devi respectively.
In the post-Vedic Puranic literature, Brahma creates but neither preserves nor destroys anything. He is envisioned in some Hindu texts to have emerged from the metaphysical Brahman along with Vishnu (preserver), Shiva (destroyer), all other deities, matter and other beings. In theistic schools of Hinduism where deity Brahma is described as part of its cosmology, he is a mortal like all deities and dissolves into the abstract immortal Brahman when the universe ends, then a new cosmic cycle (kalpa) restarts.
In the Bhagavata Purana, Brahma is portrayed several times as the one who rises from the "Ocean of Causes". Brahma, states this Purana, emerges at the moment when time and universe is born, inside a lotus rooted in the navel of Hari (deity Vishnu, whose praise is the primary focus in the Purana). The scriptures assert that Brahma is drowsy, errs and is temporarily incompetent as he puts together the universe. He then becomes aware of his confusion and drowsiness, meditates as an ascetic, then realizes Hari in his heart, sees the beginning and end of the universe, and then his creative powers are revived. Brahma, states Bhagavata Purana, thereafter combines Prakriti (nature, matter) and Purusha (spirit, soul) to create a dazzling variety of living creatures, and tempest of causal nexus. The Bhagavata Purana thus attributes the creation of Maya to Brahma, wherein he creates for the sake of creation, imbuing everything with both the good and the evil, the material and the spiritual, a beginning and an end.
The Puranas describe Brahma as the deity creating time. They correlate human time to Brahma's time, such as a mahākalpa being a large cosmic period, correlating to one day and one night in Brahma's existence.
The stories about Brahma in various Puranas are diverse and inconsistent. In Skanda Purana, for example, goddess Parvati is called the "mother of the universe", and she is credited with creating Brahma, gods, and the three worlds. She is the one, states Skanda Purana, who combined the three Gunas - Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas - into matter (Prakrti) to create the empirically observed world.
The Vedic discussion of Brahma as a Rajas-quality god expands in the Puranic and Tantric literature. However, these texts state that his wife Saraswati has Sattva (quality of balance, harmony, goodness, purity, holistic, constructive, creative, positive, peaceful, virtuous), thus complementing Brahma's Rajas (quality of passion, activity, neither good nor bad and sometimes either, action qua action, individualizing, driven, dynamic).
Chapter 51 of Manasara-Silpasastra, an ancient design manual in Sanskrit for making Murti and temples, states that a Brahma statue should be golden in color.] The text recommends that the statue have four faces and four arms, have jata-mukuta-mandita (matted hair of an ascetic), and wear a diadem (crown). Two of his hands should be in refuge granting and gift giving mudra, while he should be shown with kundika (water pot), akshamala (rosary), and a small and a large sruk-sruva (laddles used in yajna ceremonies). The text details the different proportions of the murti, describes the ornaments, and suggests that the idol wear chira (bark strip) as lower garment, and either be alone or be accompanied with goddess Saraswati. Brahma is associated largely with the Vedic culture of yajna and knowledge. In some Vedic yajna, Brahma is summoned in the ritual to reside and supervise the ritual in the form of Prajapati.
Brahma's wife is the goddess Saraswati. She is considered to be "the embodiment of his power, the instrument of creation and the energy that drives his actions".
Brahma is also worshipped in temple complexes dedicated to the Trimurti: Thanumalayan Temple, Uthamar Kovil, Ponmeri Shiva Temple, in Tirunavaya, the Thripaya Trimurti Temple and Mithrananthapuram Trimurti Temple. In Tamil Nadu, Brahma temples exist in the temple town of Kumbakonam, in Kodumudi and within the Brahmapureeswarar Temple in Tiruchirappalli.
There is a temple dedicated to Brahma in the temple town of Srikalahasti near Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. There are a Chaturmukha Brahma temple in Chebrolu, Andhra Pradesh, and a seven feet height of Chatrumukha (Four Faces) Brahma temple at Bangalore, Karnataka. In the coastal state of Goa, a shrine belonging to the fifth century, in the small and remote village of Carambolim, Sattari Taluka in the northeast region of the state is found.
A famous icon of Brahma exists at Mangalwedha, 52 km from the Solapur district of Maharashtra and in Sopara near Mumbai. There is a 12th-century temple dedicated to him in Khedbrahma, Gujarat and also a Brahma Kuti Temple in Kanpur. Temples exist in Khokhan, Annamputhur and Hosur.
A statue of Brahma is present at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok, Thailand and continues to be revered in modern times. The golden dome of the Government House of Thailand houses a statue of Phra Phrom (Thai representation of Brahma). An early 18th-century painting at Wat Yai Suwannaram in Phetchaburi city of Thailand depicts Brahma.
The name of the country Burma may be derived from Brahma. In medieval texts, it is referred to as Brahma-desa.
Brahma is known in Chinese as Simianshen (四面神, "Four-Faced God"), Simianfo (四面佛, "Four-Faced Buddha") or Fantian (梵天), Tshangs pa in Tibetan and Bonten (梵天) in Japanese. In Chinese Buddhism, he is regarded as one of the Twenty Devas (二十諸天 Èrshí Zhūtiān) or the Twenty-Four Devas (二十四諸天 Èrshísì zhūtiān), a group of protective dharmapalas.
Hindus in Indonesia still have a high regard for Brahma (Indonesian and Javanese: Batara Brahma or Sanghyang Brahma). In Prambanan there is a special temple made for Brahma, side by side with Vishnu, and in Bali there is Andakasa Temple dedicated to Brahma. In the past, although not as popular as Vishnu and Shiva, the name Brahma appeared on several occasions. In the legend that developed in East Java about Ken Arok, for example, Brahma is believed to be the biological father of Ken Arok. It is said that Brahma was fascinated by the beauty of Ken Arok's mother, Ken Endok and made her a lover. From this relationship was born Ken Arok. The name Brahma is also used as the name of a mountain in the Tengger Mountains range, namely Mount Bromo. Mount Bromo is believed to be derived from the word Brahma and there was once a sect that believed that Brahmaloka – the universe where Brahma resided – was connected to Mount Bromo.
In the Javanese version of wayang, Brahma has a very different role from his initial role. When Hindu society began to disappear from Java and the era of Walisongo's wayang kulit began to emerge, Brahma's role as creator in the shadow puppet standard was given to a figure named Sang Hyang Wenang, while Brahma himself was renamed to Brama (fire) where he was a ruling god. Brama, the son of the figure of Bathara Guru (Shiva). The figure of Brahma in Javanese wayang is fused and mixed with the figure of Agni.