Brahma [key], a god often identified, with Vishnu and Shiva, as one of the three supreme gods in Hinduism. In the late Vedic period he was called Prajapati, the primeval man whose sacrifice permitted the original act of creation. His popularity has declined since the Gupta era (a.d. 320–550), and today only one temple near modern Ajmer is devoted to him. He is regarded as the creator and is periodically reborn in a lotus that grows from the navel of the sleeping Vishnu. His consort Sarasvati is the patroness of art, music, and letters, and the traditional inventor of the Sanskrit language. The kalpa or “day of Brahma,” equal to 4,320,000,000 earthly years, is a basic unit in Hindu chronology. The neuter form of the masculine name Brahma is Brahman.
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