Written by Sulaiman Razvi
As per Hindu texts, Brahma had an incestuous relationship with his own daughter Saraswati. Such an act was done by the creator Brahma. Puranas states that Saraswati was the daughter as well as the wife of Brahma, as per Skanda Purana III.i.41.98-99 Brahma had two wives Gayatri and Saraswati. There are several versions of this story. Some text says that Brahma was married to Saraswati and some say he had an incestuous relationship without marriage. Some say Brahma cohabited with Saraswati for propagation after marrying her and some say he cohabited with her for propagation without marriage, verses that talk about Brahma’s relationship with Saraswati for propagation don’t view the relationship as sinful. Some text says that Brahma and Saraswati were greeted and welcomed after their marriage and some text says that Brahma was punished for having an affair with his own daughter.
Not only is this relationship morally wrong but this is also disgusting. Hindu apologists in their defence say that Brahma being in a relationship with his daughter Saraswati is the reason Brahma isn’t worshipped by Hindus. The fact is that there are various reasons why Brahma isn’t worshipped. Some texts say that it was a consensual relationship, then why is Saraswati worshipped by Hindus? If rape/incest is the reason Brahma isn’t worshipped then almost every Hindu god should be shunned by Hindus as they were all rapists, in fact, Hindus celebrate the rape of Vrinda by Vishnu as a festival called Tulsi Vivah, read the article Hinduism and Lust for textual references. So, this argument of Hindus doesn’t hold water. The question isn’t why he isn’t worshipped or whether Brahma was punished or not, the subject of controversy is that Brahma the so-called Creator part of Hindu Trimurti committed such an act. I have taken some references from Catherine Ludvik’s book. The following verse shows Brahma’s marriage with Saraswati and how they were welcomed in Brahma-Loka,
Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Krishna Janma Khanda, chapter 35, verses 8-20 “…Then he came and bowed to me; and having secured Saraswati, the enchantress of the three worlds, as his bride Brahma dallied with her in several places in solitude. After a good deal of diversion, he desisted from his amours and came back to Brahma-loka…Then they performed auspicious rites, greeted Brahman and the goddess Bharati, gladly ushered them in into the land of Brahma. Brahma sported with her day and night and was absorbed in sexual enjoyments…” Tr. Rajendra Nath Sen
Matsya Purana states that Saraswati was born from half portion of Brahma’s body and Brahma accepted her as his daughter but the beauty of just born Saraswati enchanted Brahma who couldn’t control his lust and regretted accepting her as his daughter.
Matsya Purana chapter 3, verses 30-44 “…With this view, He began to invoke Gayatri. After some time the goddess Gayatri, known under different names, viz. – Satarupa, Savitri, Sarasvati, Brahmani, etc., appeared in the form of a girl from the half portion of Brahma’s body who at the first sight mistakenly took Her for His daughter. Afterwards, the Creator, seeing that form of exquisite beauty, was fired with love and repeatedly uttered, “What an enchanting form!” At this, the Manasa putras of Brahma, i.e., Vasistha, etc., taking Savitri for their sister, began to express their feelings……Brahma, fired with passion in her company, married Satarupa and began to pass his days in enjoyment inside a lotus. He enjoyed the company of Savitri for hundred years, and after a long time Manu was born to them.” Tr. Taluqdar of Oudh, edited by B.D. Basu
Chapter 4 of Matsya Purana justifies this act of Brahma saying that Devas beget progeny in quite different ways. It’s a conversation between Manu and Vishnu avatar Matsya,
Matsya Purana chapter 4, verses 1-11 “The king said, “O Merciful! I feel awfully grieved to hear that Lord Brahma married Angaja. Pray, tell me why he was not regarded as having committed a fearful sin by having done so. Remove my doubts, O, Master of the Universe! by graciously explain to me why the offspring of Brahma were allowed to intermarry in their paternal circle without any regard for close-knit kinship.” The Lord Fish replied: “O king! such doubts only arise in the case of mankind, for men have atomic bodies and beget children in a different way, while the primeval creation is celestial in which Rajoguna predominates. The Devas not have supersensious bodies and they beget progeny in quite different ways. The celestial forms come into being in other ways, and it is very difficult for men having sensuous bodies to understand this great secret. Only supernatural intellect causes celestial creation; therefore those alone can understand its great sect who themselves possessed with such an intellect… O, King! the question of any prescribed order on prohibition does not arise in the deeds of the Devas. Only Their desire is taken into considered in whatever they do. Other beings reap the fruits of their karma (doings) which the Devas do not. No doubts should therefore be raised regarding the doings of the Devas, nor should beings having sensuous bodies think of doing the same deed. Besides this, as Lord, Brahma is the governor of the Vedas, so is the goddess Gayatri of the Brahmans (the sacred text, i.e., the Vedas). She is the better-half of the Lord, and this is why she appeared from his body…He committed no sin by marrying Her. In spite of all this, Lord Brahma felt ashamed for not being able to suppress His passion in presence of His manasa sons…” Tr. Taluqdar of Oudh, Edited by B.D. Basu
The above passage not only justifies incest between Brahma and Saraswati but also clears many doubts. Some Hindu apologists are coming up with pathetic responses to Brahma-Saraswati incest like “If Saraswati was Brahma’s daughter then what was the name of her mother? She wasn’t his daughter.” And much more, Ganesh was made by Parvati from her waste all alone without a partner yet Shiva is considered the father of Ganesh, there are many characters in the Hindu mythology who have taken birth without a father or a mother like Sita who had no father. So this is a pathetic excuse to explain the incest, the above verse from Matsya Purana like other verses clearly states that Brahma married his daughter, that should be enough to refute the rebuttal of apologists.
The other version of this story is that Brahma had an incestuous relationship with his daughter in order to create living beings.
Birhadaranyaka Upanishad chapter 1, section 4, verse 3 “He was not at all happy. Therefore people (still) are not happy when alone. He desired a mate. He became as big as man and wife embracing each other. He parted this very body into two. From that came husband and wife. Therefore, said Yajnavalkya, this (body) is one-half of oneself, like one of the two halves of a split pea. Therefore this space is indeed filled by the wife. He was united with her. From that men were born.” Tr. Swami Madhavananda
Adi Shankaracharya wrote on this verse,
”He, the Viraj called Manu, was united with her, his daughter called Satarupa, whom he conceived of as his wife. From that union men were born.” Adi Shankaracharya on Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.3, Tr. Swami Madhavananda.
The next verse 1.4.4 says she ran away and became different animals and Prajapati assumed the male forms of those animals and raped with her thence all such creatures were born, So this shows that creation took place after Prajapati raped his daughter.
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, chapter 1, section 4, verse 4. “She thought, ‘How can he be united with me after producing me from himself? Well, let me hide myself.’ She became a cow, the other became a bull and was united with her; from that cows were born. The one became a mare, the other a stallion; the one became a she-ass, the other became a he-ass and was united with her; from that one-hoofed animals were born. The one became a she-goat, the other a he-goat; the one became a ewe, the other became a ram and was united with her; from that goats and sheep were born. Thus did he project every-thing that exists in pairs, down to the ants.” Tr. Swami Madhavananda
Creation after father having sex with daughter is also supported by the Vedas,
Rig Veda 10.61.5-7 (Rudra), the benefactor of man, whose eager virile energy was developed, drew it back when disseminated (for the generation of offspring)again the irresistible (Rudra) concentrates (the energy) which was communicated to his maiden daughter. When the deed was done in mid-heaven in the proximity of the father working his will, and the daughter coming together, they let the seed fall slightly; it was poured upon the high place of sacrifice. When the father united with the daughter, then associating with the earth, he sprinkled it with the effusion[Semen]: then the thoughtful gods begot Brahma : they fabricated the lord of the hearth (of sacrifice); the defender of sacred rites.
Brahmanas speaks of this illicit relationship as well,
Pancavimsa Brahmana 8.2.10 Prajapati went on top of his own daughter Usas. His semen flew away. It was poured on this (the earth). He made it perfect, [thinking]: ”Let this [Semen] of mine not be spoiled.” He made it [something] real, namely, cattle.
Aitareya Brahmana 6.5.27 For the semen is like something unspeakable secretly poured forth into the womb. The sperm becomes blended. For when Prajapati had carnal intercourse with his daughter, his sperm was poured forth upon the earth (and was mixed up with it. This was done for making the sperm produce fruit.
Some Hindus say that these verses from Vedas are allegorical. I am not talking about whether these verses are allegorical or not although Panchavimsha and Aitareya Brahmana don’t explain it allegorically, I am concerned about the obscenity promoted in Vedas. Was Ishwar short of words that he used such vulgar words in Vedas? Why can’t he use some nice poetry if he wants to convey a message? There is no doubt that these verses promote incest between father and daughter, If Hindus don’t agree then they should furnish reference from Vedas wherein Ishwar prohibits incest between father and daughter. Another version shows that Brahma divided himself into two parts a male and a female and creatures were born from these two after their union,
Shiva Purana, Vayaviyasamhita 7, Section I, chapter 17, verses1-4 “Securing the great and eternal Sakti from the lord and desiring to initiate the process of procreation by copulation, Brahma became a wondrous man in one half and a woman in one half. From the woman half was born Satarupa. The man half created Viraja, called Svayambhuva Manu, the first creation. Performing a difficult penance the gentle Satarupa got the Manu of bright fame as her husband.” Tr. J.L. Shastri
Brahmanda Purana 188.8.131.52-38a states,
Brahmanda Purana, part 1, Section 2 Anuṣaṅga-pāda, chapter 9, verses 32-38a “Brahma discarded his own shining physical body. After dividing his own body into two, he became a man by on half. By (another) half he became a woman and she was Satarupa. She was the Prakrti, the mother of all living beings (and manifested thus) because the lord was creating out of desire. ..The half that was created as a woman became Satarupa. That divine lady performed a very difficult penance for a hundred thousand years and obtained Purusa of brilliant fame as her husband. Indeed, he is called Manu, the Purusa, the earlier son of the self-born lord…After obtaining as his wife, Satarupa who was not born of any womb, the Purusa sported with her. Hence it is called Rati (sexual dalliance).” Tr. G.V. Tagare
Some stories also say that it was Brahma’s son and daughter who had an incestuous relationship for propagation,
Devi Bhagavatam book 3, chapter 13, verses 15-16 “Next Svayambhava Manu sprang from the lower half of Brahma; and the daughter named Satarupa came out of the left hand side of the Brahma’s body. The two sons Priyavrata and Uttânapâda were born of Manu in the womb of S’atarûpâ and the three daughters, very beautiful and fair complexioned, were also born of him.” Tr. Swami Vijnananda
Srimad Bhagvatam 4.1.1 Sri Maitreya said: Svayambhuva Manu begot three daughters in his wife Satarupa, and their names were Akuti, Devahuti and Prasuti.
Swami Prabhupada writes on this verse: “…The Supreme Lord Himself does the real creation by agitating His material energy, and then, by His order, Brahma, the first living creature in the universe, attempts to create the different planetary systems and their inhabitants, expanding the population through his progeny, like Manu and other progenitors of living entities, who work perpetually under the order of the Supreme Lord…Svayambhuva Manu was the son of Brahma. Brahma had many other sons, but Manu’s name is specifically mentioned first because he was a great devotee of the Lord. In this verse there is also the word ca, indicating that besides the three daughters mentioned, Svayambhuva Manu also had two sons.” http://vanisource.org/wiki/SB_4.1.1
Swami Prabhupada on Srimad Bhagavatam 3.12.48 “…His transcendental value is not to be minimized, even though he exhibited a tendency to enjoy his own daughter. There is a purpose for the exhibition of such a tendency by Brahmā, and he is not to be condemned like an ordinary living entity.” http://vanisource.org/wiki/SB_3.12.48
A version of Kausitaki shows that Brahma’s sons were attracted to their sister and Kausitaki Brahamana also finds no problem in this act,
Kausitaki Brahmana 6.1.1-12 “Prajapati, being desirous of propagation, underwent penance; from him when heated were born five, Agni, Vayu, Adityaa, Candramas, and Usas as fifth. He said to them, ‘Do ye also practise fervour.’ They consecrated themselves; then when they had consecrated themselves and had acquired fervour, Usas, offspring of Prajapati, taking the form of an Apsaras, came out in front of them; to her their minds inclined; they poured out seed; they went to Prajapati, their father, and said, ‘We have poured out seed; let it not remain here’. Prajapati made a golden bowl, an arrow breadth in height and similar in breadth; in it he poured the seed; then arose he of a thousand eyes, of a thousand feet, with a thousand fitted (arrows).” Tr. A.B. Keith
Other versions shows that Brahma was punished for having an affair with his own daughter,
Satapatha Brahmana 184.108.40.206-3 Prajapati set his mind on his own daughter, either Sky or Dawn. ‘May I pair with her,’ [he wished. He made love to her. That indeed was a sin for the gods: ‘He who acts thus towards his own daughter, our sister, [commits a sin].’ Those gods then said to this god who is lord of cattle. ‘An act of transgression he commits who acts thus towards his own daughter, our sister. Pierce him.’ Rudra, having aimed [him], pierced him. In the middle [of the act, his semen spurted forth. Thus indeed it was.
Matryani Samhita (4.214 [35, 11-15]) Prajapati desired his own daughter Usas, she became a red deer, [and he,] having assumed a buck, went on top of her. Prajapati set his mind on Usas, his own daughter. She, having become a deer, stood still for him. He, having become a buc, jumped on her. he (rudra-agni) reflected: ”For this have the gods produced me, for supervision. This one (Prajapati) transgesses. Let me pierce him.” He pierced him. Pierced, he threw off this [buck] appearance and rose upwards.
Aitareya Brahmana 3.33.1-4 The gods saw him (Prajapati). ‘Prajapati does what is not done.’ They sought one who would hit him. They could not find this [god] amongst one another. Their most dreadful forms they gathered into one. Brought together, those [forms] became (abhavat) this god. Therefore there is this name of his (i.e., Bhutapati) that contains [the word] Bhuta. He thrives if he thus knows this name of his. To him the gods said: ”Prajapti here has done what is not done. Pierce him.” ‘So be it.’ He said. ”Let me choose a boon from you.” ”Choose,” [They said]. He chose this very boon: overlordship of cattle (Pasu}. Therefore there is this name of his (Pasupati) that contains [the word] Pasu. As an owner of cattle he thrives, if he thus knows this name of his.
Skanda Purana III.i.40.6-12 states,
Skanda Purana, Book 3 – Brāhma-khaṇḍa, Section 1 – Setu-māhātmya, chapter 40, verses 6-12 “Prajpati (i.e. Brahma) was formerly deluded, O Brahmanas. He desired like a lover of his own daughter named Vac (Speech) joyously. This daughter of Prajapati became ashamed on noticing his lecherous love for her. Hence she assumed the form of a Rohita deer. Inclined to have sexual dalliance with her, Brahma too took the form of a deer. As she went ahead in the guise of a female deer, he too followed her. On seeing him intent on having sexual intercourse with his daughter, all the deities condemned him: ‘This Brahma is committing a deed that should not be done, i.e. (attempt to have) sexual union with one’s own daughter.’ Thus they censured the creator and the Lord of the worlds. On seeing Paramesthin (Brahma) engaged in the forbidden act, Lord Hara took up the Pinaka bow and assumed the form of a hunter. He fitted one arrow to his bow. He drew the bow string as far as his ear and hit Brahma with his sharp arrow. Struck down by the arrow of the Annihilator of the three Puras, Brahma fell down on the ground.” Tr. G.V. Tagare
This is also repeated in Skanda Purana II.iii.2.3-4,
Skanda Purana, Book 2 – Vaiṣṇava-khaṇḍa, Section 3 – Badarikāśrama-māhātmya chapter 2, verses 3-4 “Formerly, in the beginning of Kṛtayuga, Brahmā attempted to have sexual intercourse with his own daughter who was richly endowed with beauty and youth. On seeing him like that I cut off his head with a sword into five parts in a great fury. Taking the skull (sticking to) the hand that attempted the murder of Brahmā, I immediately left the place in order to resort to various Tīrthas in heaven, earth and nether worlds and performed penances as well.” Tr. G.V. Tagare
Manu and his daughter Ida incest. The following passage is obscure, it states that Manu begat offspring through his daughter by sacrifice.
Satapatha Brahmana book 1, Adhyaya 8, Brahmana 1, verses 7-10 “Being desirous of offspring, he engaged in worshipping and austerities. During this time he also performed a pâka-sacrifice: he offered up in the waters clarified butter, sour milk, whey, and curds. Thence a woman was produced in a year: becoming quite solid she rose; clarified butter gathered in her footprint. Mitra and Varuna met her. They said to her, ‘Who art thou?’ ‘Manu’s daughter,’ she replied. ‘Say (thou art) ours,’ they said. ‘No,’ she said, ‘I am (the daughter) of him who begat me.’ They desired to have a share in her. She either agreed or did not agree, but passed by them. She came to Manu. Manu said to her, ‘Who art thou?’ ‘Thy daughter,’ she replied. ‘How, illustrious one, (art thou) my daughter?’ he asked. She replied, ‘Those offerings (of) clarified butter, sour milk, whey, and curds, which thou madest in the waters, with them thou hast begotten me. I am the blessing (benediction): make use of me at the sacrifice! If thou wilt make use of me at the sacrifice, thou wilt become rich in offspring and cattle. Whatever blessing thou shalt invoke through me, all that shall be granted to thee!’ He accordingly made use of her (as the benediction) in the middle of the sacrifice; for what is intermediate between the fore-offerings and the after-offerings, is the middle of the sacrifice. With her he went on worshipping and performing austerities, wishing for offspring. Through her he generated this race, which is this race of Manu; and whatever blessing he invoked through her, all that was granted to him. Now this (daughter of Manu) is essentially the same as the Idâ…” Tr. Julius Eggeling