One well-wisher who read my post on Brahma commented that I erred in equating the Brahma with Brāhman (pronounced ‘BraahmaN’).
It is not that I equated the two but expressed that the word Brahma gave rise to the word BraahmaN. The latter word came into represent ‘the one who knew about Brahma’. Here the ‘Brahma’ or the ‘Brahman’ (pronounced ‘brahman’) meant the refined theological / metaphysical and esoteric concept of Brahma, the cosmic power that created the universe as well as the supreme power that pervades the universe. Subsequently, the word ‘brahma’ also meant large and gigantic (‘bruhat’). Words like Brahmanda ( literally means ‘the gigantic egg’ =universe), brahma-rakshsha, brahma-ratha, naga-brahma etc came into usage.
My objective of reconstructing the original legend and further the concept of Brahma is to understand the evolution of our religious beliefs from the historical and sociological viewpoint. I am not elaborating the theological aspects that are reasonably well known since it has been dealt extensively by others so far.
A historic heroic person, a leader of masses, Abraham, who claimed to be the creator of tribes, became a legend during his life time and also after his death. He is cited in the Bible and is revered as a leader by the Jews and as a prophet (Ibrahim) by Muslims. The Vedic scholars accepted him as the creator and the ultimate cosmic power. The legend of Abraham/Brahma was spread throughout the connected geographic region of West Asia-Asia Minor-and Central Asia.
The Vedic people and contemporaneous Jews had deep-seated rivalry, in spite of both communities sharing many common concepts and beliefs. Whatever words starting with A the Jews used, Vedics used it without initial A. (It may be the other way round also.) So Ahura or Asura of Jews became Sura for Vedics. (Recall the Sura-Asura wars described in Puranic legends.) Avesta became Veda. Abraham became Brahma and so on.
Some more discussion on the word ‘braahmaN’: The word is composed of ‘brahma + aN’. The word ‘aaN’ is a Tulu word meaning a male person. AaN+ jovu (literally ‘male being’ refers to man) in Tulu. Interestingly, the word ‘jovu’, currently used in Brahmin Tulu to refer to the girl child, is also related to the Sanskrit word ‘jeeva’.
It appears to me that the word ‘aaN’ was borrowed into early Sanskrit from Tulu like some of other words discussed in earlier postings. So the word braahmaN originally meant young male who studied scriptures relating to the knowledge of Brahma, the cosmic power. Perhaps, Prof Michael Witzel may throw better light on the status of the suffix /word ‘aaN’ in Brahman and also ‘jovu’ to ‘jeeva’ conversion or vice versa.
On the whole, these discussions further affirm my theory that atleast some Tulu ancestors dwelled in the Pirak civilized habitation in Sind, Baluchistan during the early historical period when Vedas were composed. The Tulu ancestors that migrated carried the worship of Brahma in the form of ‘Bermer(u)’ to Tulunad their subsequent homeland.
The image of Tulu Bermer (Brahma) was akin to the original form of Abraham, the horse riding hero. In a way these Tulu ancestors were following the ancient cult of hero worship that became the spirit worship after the death of the Abraham. The cult of hero worship (example: Koti- Chennaya, Kanthabare- Boodabare etc) and spirit worship (example Panjurli, Kalurti, Kodamanthaya etc) have continued to persist in Tulu culture even to date.
On second thinking, it appears that cult of Brahma worship was more widespread in India in the past till the ascent and domination of Shaivism. Along with the Tulu people, migrating other Dravidian like Kannada and Tamil ancestors carried the Brahma cult to different parts of southern India as evidenced by the relics of Brahma temples and Brahma name tags like Brahmaiah, Bommaya, Brahmasandra etc. The Jainism absorbed many features of the Brahma cult.
Therefore, the legend of Brahma stands testimony to trace the evolution and transition of our theological faiths from the primitive hero/spirit worship to the concept abstract cosmic powers at higher philosophic metaphysical levels on one hand and that of Hindu Gods in human forms at the other popular level.
Books for Reference
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- TuLunadina ShasanagaLa Sanskritika Adhyayana. By Shaila T. Verma (2002) Jnanodaya Prakashana,Bangalore, p.304.(Kannada)
- Tuluvala Baliyendre. Compiled by N.A.Sheenappa Hegde,Polali,Sri Devi Prakashana,Parkala,1929/1999
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