BRAHMA'S ONE TEMPLE IN GUJARAT.
I expect that to most of your readers Khed Brahma is nothing more than the name of the terminal station of the Ahmedabad-Parantij line and yet the little village which is picturesquely situated at the confluence of three streams and in a wild and hilly country, is extremely interesting and well worth a visit, for it is one of the two or three places in all India and the only one in Gujarat where a shrine to Brahma is now found. And who is Brahma? Brahma, the supreme, impersonal soul of the universe, self-existent, absolute and eternal, from which all things emanate and to which all return, has three manifestations, viz: - Brahma (embodying the idea of creation) Vishnu (that of preservation) and Shiva (that of destruction or dissolution). Hence it appears that Brahma is the first member of the Hindu Triad, and one would naturally suppose that his worship would be both popular and widespread. But as a matter of fact, his worship is very rare and temples dedicated to him are few and far between. It is said that one reason for the scant honor now paid to him is the curse uttered against him by Shiva, when he and Vishnu contended with each other as to which was the greater deity. It is related that when they were at it hammer and tongs, Shiva suddenly appeared before them and claimed superiority over both of them. To prove his claim he made his linga appear and then challenged the two rivals to find either the top or the bottom of it, whereas Brahma took on a pair of wings and tried to find its top. Though both were unsuccessful, yet Brahma falsely claimed to have reached the linga's top. His falsehood was detected by Shiva, who severely rebuked him and added "let no one henceforth perform worship to thee."
Brahma, started out in life with a first class mental equipment, viz, five heads which are accounted for as follows: - After he had created his daughter, Satarupa or Sarasvati, from his own body he was so charmed by her loveliness that he fell in love with her and exclaimed "how surpassingly lovely she is!" Thereupon Satarupa modestly turned to the right, but as her love-stricken father still wished to gaze upon her, a second head issued from his shoulders. Then as she still desiring to avoid his amorous glances, went first to the left and then, behind him, two more heads came forth from his shoulders. Finally in her modest desperation, she sprang up into the sky; but the resourceful and amorous Brahma was not to be beaten, for he at once gave himself a fifth head and so was enabled still to feed his eyes on her surpassing beauty. How comes it then that he is represented with only four heads? It is said that on the occasion of the above mentioned dispute with Vishnu when Siva appeared before them and cursed Brahma for his lying, the latter became furiously angry and abused Siva to his face, whereupon Siva caused the offending head to be struck off.
Such is the deity that is now honored by one solitary temple in all Gujarat. The temple is placed in the centre of the village of Khed Brahma, or Brahma Khed which is about fifteen minutes walk from the railway station. The building is disappointingly insignificant in appearance and seems to be partly old and partly modern or restored. On walking round the outside of the temple, one cannot but be struck with the number of images of goddesses and dancing girls on the walls. The god himself occupies the central place in the three principal niches of the north, south and west walls, but most of the remaining space is occupied by female figures in various stages of undress and in strange attitudes. The mandap and forepart of the interior are in the plainest and simplest style, and as we were not prevented, from going right in and up to the shrine we obtained a very close view of the idol itself. Brahma's three somewhat expression less faces were clearly seen, but the fourth, being engaged with the back wall, was of course invisible. As he is four-headed so he was four arms, two on either side, the upper two being held in an upright position from the elbow, and the lower two hand down by his sides. In the right upper hand is the sacrificial ladle, in the left upper a copy of the Vedas in the right lower the rosary, and in the left lower hand he holds a water pot. The present image strikes one as being quite a modern one, and is clothed in a pink cotton dress. The material of which the image is made seems to be plaster, well polished and made to look into marble. In front and on either side of its stands the sacred goose, the vahana or carriage of the god. When we entered the place not a soul was to be seen, and subsequently only a few boys and one young man who informed us that he was the pujari turned up. True indeed that worship is performed each morning and evening by the pujari, and a mela or fair is held once a year in the month of February when fairly large crowds congregate to pay their respects to Brahma, and yet the whole air of the place is one of lonely desolation vividly witnessing to the efficacy of Siva's withering curse. – Brahmavadin.