Day Trip to Ajmer and Pushkar/ Part 2: Jagatpita Brahma Temple

After Ajmer Dargah, we resumed our day sojourn to the next holy shrine of the day -- the Brahma temple of Pushkar. Our surrounding started to transform rapidly as Ajmer Sharif was left behind. The general shabbiness began to disappear. Roads became nicer and wider. After crossing Annasagar Lake (An artificial lake built by the grandfather of Prithviraj Chauhan that spread across the Ajmer city for approx 13 kilometers) we swiftly started ascending towards Pushkar -- or the city where the lotus flower fell from Brahma's hand.

Lunch en route: traditional Rajasthani thaali

Lord Brahma is part of the Hindu Trinity and as per mythology worshipping Lord Brahma is a forbidden affair. No Hindu household offers puja to Lord Brahma and there are different versions of the story behind this practice in different Puranas. The most popular one says that Lord Brahma was the creator of all living beings. In the beginning of time there was only water everywhere and no sign of life. Lord Vishnu was in deep slumber. Then a lotus came out of Vishnu's navel and Brahma appeared on it. Brahma is the father of the world we know. But no creation was possible without the mother entity, the Goddess. Hence Goddess Saraswati was born out of Brahma's consciousness. Brahma was so aroused by the beauty of Saraswati that he wanted to make love to her. He was so driven by the primitive urge to create that he wouldn't stop looking at her no matter where she goes. Thus Brahma's four head appeared looking at four directions. But then Saraswati moved upward to avoid his lustful watch and Brahma's fifth face transpired in order to keep looking at her. This face was facing upward that was also the opposite direction of where Lord Vishnu was. Then Lord Shiva appeared and he destroyed Brahma's fifth face and cursed Brahma that he would never be worshipped by anyone. However, if you take away the mythical explanations then the reason behind this practice is due to the fact that Brahma is considered as the part of the soul present in every living creature; it is the jeevatma, stuck in the illusions of earthly matters. Brahma's fifth face is nothing but ego, the illusion of life (the goddess) that stops us from understanding the Ultimate Truth of life. Jeevatma needs to achieve Moksha to become one with the Paramatma an hence it's unworthy of worship.

The rarity of Brahma temple is what makes Pushkar unique. Pushkar tells a different story of Brahma's curse in which Saraswati is his wife. Once Brahma descended from Heaven and decided to perform a yajna in Pushkar. However his wife Saraswati could not accompany him due to some reason. No man could perform a yajna without his wife so Brahma married the daughter of a local milkman and sanctified her as the goddess Gayatri. While performing the yajna with Gayatri, Saraswati appeared and became angry seeing Brahma with another woman. She cursed him that he would never be worshipped but later she reduced the curse by saying he would only be worshipped in Pushkar. She also cursed Vishnu for helping Brahma that later led to Vishnu being born as Ram and go through painful separation from his wife. However, owing to the divine power of Gayatri the intensity of the curse was diluted and Pushkar became a site for holy pilgrimage.

The original temple of Brahma in Pushkar was said to be built by the great sage Vishwamitra. It was later renovated by Adi Shankaracharya in 8th century. The temple had to suffer atrocities by crazy emperor Aurangzeb who happened to be a first class radical jackass. Pushkar temple and the lake is considered as one of the five holiest pilgrimage sites in Hindu religion. Brahma temple is run by a group of ascetic priests in saffron robe. The cleanliness and strict discipline prevailing in the temple premises was a stark contrast to whatever we had experienced earlier that day at Ajmer. The temples dedicated to Brahma's two wives Saraswati and Gayatri are located on two opposite hilltops by the lake, bearing testimony to their eternal rivalry.

to be continued