Brahma worship in Buddhism

Pictures of revered teachers, places, rupas, temples, bhikkhus, shrine rooms etc. that bring inspiration to our members. Pilgrimage advice etc.
thomaslaw
Posts: 102
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 2013 12:55 am
Location: Australia

Brahma worship in Buddhism

Post by thomaslaw » Mon Jan 16, 2017 10:20 am

Dear Dhamma friends

Brahma worship is path of Thai Buddhist tradition. Is this worship only found in Thai Buddhism?

Thank you

Thomas

User avatar
Mkoll
Posts: 6379
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:55 pm
Location: California

Re: Brahma worship in Buddhism

Post by Mkoll » Mon Jan 16, 2017 10:58 am

Hi Thomas,

Would you mind providing a reference or two for this practice in the Thai Buddhist tradition? It's not a practice I'm aware of.

Thanks.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

thomaslaw
Posts: 102
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 2013 12:55 am
Location: Australia

Re: Brahma worship in Buddhism

Post by thomaslaw » Mon Jan 16, 2017 5:46 pm

Brahma is called Phra Phrom in Thai. The worship of Phra Phrom by Thai Buddhists is common in Thailand.

Thomas

User avatar
Mkoll
Posts: 6379
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:55 pm
Location: California

Re: Brahma worship in Buddhism

Post by Mkoll » Mon Jan 16, 2017 10:40 pm

Thanks. Here is the wikipedia page; it is short enough to copy with some minor editing.
Wikipedia wrote:Phra Phrom (Thai: พระพรหม; from Sanskrit: Para Brahma) is the Thai representation of the deva Brahma,[1] honoured in Thai Hindu traditions. Phra Phrom is also worshipped in Chinese folk religion as the Four-Faced God (Chinese: 四面神; pinyin: Sìmiànshén) or Four-Faced Awakened One (Chinese: 四面佛; pinyin: Sìmiànfó).

Worship

Worshipers of the god usually offer incense, candles, jasmine flowers or jasmine garlands and young coconut milk (with water in them) in their worship, usually placing these offerings before all four heads of Phra Phrom, each head representing a different aspect of the deity; it is believed each side of Phra Phrom offers different blessings. Another common way of worship is to place wooden elephant statues on the altar to honor him. Phra Phrom is also known to admire Thai classical music, which is played near larger scale outdoor altars, accompanied by dancers. For a small fee, the dancers include worshiper's name into the songs they sing while dancing. Worshipers of Phra Phrom are also usually advised to abstain from consuming meat. It is also believed that worshipers have to make good on any promises made to the deity else misfortune will befall them instead of the fortune that was asked for. Items needed for prayers are available in the premises of the shrine.
The main example of this representation of Brahma is the statue at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok, where the faith of the god has its origins in modern times.[2] The golden dome of the Government House of Thailand also contains a statue of Phra Phrom.

Spread of the cult among Chinese

As early as the 1980s, the popularity of the Erawan cult of Brahma from its inceptions in Thailand spread, accompanied by faithful reproduction of the structure of the shrine and the image, among overseas Chinese in other countries of Southeast Asia (Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia), in Taiwan, and in China, with shrines established in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Chinese call Brahma colloquially the "Four-Faced Buddha" (四面佛 Simianfo).
I would surmise that in some traditional Thai religious practices, the lines between what is Buddhist and what is otherwise are blurred or unrecognized. I would not be surprised to find some who identify as Buddhist but also worship Phra Phrom in the way described.

Perhaps Ven. Dhammanando or someone else who lives in Thailand and has more knowledge about this can chime in.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

thomaslaw
Posts: 102
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 2013 12:55 am
Location: Australia

Re: Brahma worship in Buddhism

Post by thomaslaw » Tue Jan 17, 2017 1:12 am

Thanks. It seems only Thai and Chinese Buddhists worship Brahma?

Thomas

paul
Posts: 818
Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 11:27 pm
Location: Vietnam

Re: Brahma worship in Buddhism

Post by paul » Tue Jan 17, 2017 1:41 am

The six recollections including recollection of deities constitute the devotional section of the 40 subjects of meditation. The Brahma devas inhabit the first three heavens of the fine-material world, corresponding to the first absorption and the highest ruler of them is called the Great Brahma. Devotion to them would accompany striving toward the first absorption, because when the mind goes into the first absorption it enters the Brahma realm.
Last edited by paul on Tue Jan 17, 2017 12:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Goofaholix
Posts: 2964
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Brahma worship in Buddhism

Post by Goofaholix » Tue Jan 17, 2017 2:09 am

thomaslaw wrote:Thanks. It seems only Thai and Chinese Buddhists worship Brahma?

Thomas
I think you might have missed the first sentence of the Wikipedia article "is the Thai representation of the deva Brahma,[1] honoured in Thai Hindu traditions." While it's true many Thais an Chinese may not see them as two distinct religions I think the statement "Thai and Chinese Buddhists worship Brahma" isn't really correct.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

thomaslaw
Posts: 102
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 2013 12:55 am
Location: Australia

Re: Brahma worship in Buddhism

Post by thomaslaw » Tue Jan 17, 2017 3:06 am

Based on the cultural tradition, they are Buddhists. Worshiping Brahma is part their Buddhist and Thai, Chinese traditions. They do not and never consider themselves as Hindus, or following Hindu tradition.

Thomas

User avatar
No_Mind
Posts: 1083
Joined: Fri May 23, 2014 4:12 pm
Location: India

Re: Brahma worship in Buddhism

Post by No_Mind » Fri Jan 20, 2017 4:53 am

Brahma and Ganesh are worshipped in Thailand. There is significant presence of their idols in Thai homes and shops. It surprises visitors from India no end.

Ordinary folks have a need for worship (need to believe in supernatural power) and that is why Brahma and Ganesh are popular in Thailand.

Read more about Thailand's Hindu connections .. they seem quite deep. Phra Maha Raja Guru Bidhi Sri Visudhigun belongs to Vasishtha Gotra and visited Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham few years back.

An ancient Brahmin rite remains alive in Bangkok in the form of a 10-day ceremony

Thai Rajguru Visits Kanchi

The notion that different religions should exist in exclusive compartments is Western not Asian.

Most Catholics living in New York do not know what is Rosh Hashanah (even though 14% of NY population comprises of Jews) but most Hindus would be able to tell you what is Eid-Ul-Fitr and Ramadan and most Moslems in India would be able to tell you when is Durga Puja and Ganesh Chaturthi. Many Hindus visit dargahs (shrine built over grave of revered Muslim saints) to pray. The dargah of Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer Rajasthan, known as Ajmer Sharif Dargah is visited by thousands of Hindus daily.

There is a tiny Theravada Buddhist monastery few miles from where I live. On exam day Hindu kids would ask blessings from the Bhante who resides there. Hard to believe a Catholic or Baptist kid would be seeking blessings from his next door neighbour rabbi on the day of SAT tests. The monastery opens its doors at 5:30 PM for evening prayers and plenty of Hindus passing by drop in to bow and prostrate before Lord Buddha (same for padres and churches).

Asians do not view religion in same way as is done in West. There is more inclusive view of the society and the world (does not mean that fringe elements do not exist but they are kept at the fringe).

:namaste:
I know one thing: that I know nothing

User avatar
ancientbuddhism
Posts: 883
Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:53 pm
Location: Cyberia

Re: Brahma worship in Buddhism

Post by ancientbuddhism » Sat Jan 21, 2017 3:02 am

This is true. But for purposes of interdependence with Theravāda, at Wat Anālayo (a Theravāda monastery) in Phayao Province (จังหวัด พะเยา), there are images of Lord Brahma and Ganesha. Lord Shiva is given an alter (slightly lower than Buddha) in the outer sala reserved for the bhikkhus morning meal and offerings. There is a "Kuan Im" (Quan Yin) retreat center and countless other shrines, some Theravāda, some not.
I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

A Handful of Leaves

User avatar
pilgrim
Posts: 1402
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2009 2:56 pm

Re: Brahma worship in Buddhism

Post by pilgrim » Sat Jan 21, 2017 7:36 am

In Sri Lanka it is quite common for Buddhist temples to have lesser shrines to devas like Ganesh, but Brahma is less common.

thomaslaw
Posts: 102
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 2013 12:55 am
Location: Australia

Re: Brahma worship in Buddhism

Post by thomaslaw » Sun Jan 22, 2017 5:04 am

No_Mind wrote:Brahma and Ganesh are worshipped in Thailand. There is significant presence of their idols in Thai homes and shops. :
Are both idols also found in Buddhist temples for worship?

Thomas

User avatar
No_Mind
Posts: 1083
Joined: Fri May 23, 2014 4:12 pm
Location: India

Re: Brahma worship in Buddhism

Post by No_Mind » Sun Jan 22, 2017 5:23 am

thomaslaw wrote:
No_Mind wrote:Brahma and Ganesh are worshipped in Thailand. There is significant presence of their idols in Thai homes and shops. :
Are both idols also found in Buddhist temples for worship?

Thomas
Image

Image
I know one thing: that I know nothing

thomaslaw
Posts: 102
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 2013 12:55 am
Location: Australia

Re: Brahma worship in Buddhism

Post by thomaslaw » Sun Jan 22, 2017 7:12 am

Thanks. But no Brahma!

In the two worships, only Brahma is mentioned in the early Buddhist texts. It seems the Brahma worship is related to the Buddha and Buddhism.

Thomas

User avatar
Kim OHara
Posts: 4539
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:47 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: Brahma worship in Buddhism

Post by Kim OHara » Sun Jan 22, 2017 12:12 pm

See this old thread http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?t=27614 for more "Hindu" deities in Thai Buddhist temples.
At what point do we have to start calling them "Buddhist" deities, I wonder? :tongue:

:namaste:
Kim

User avatar
No_Mind
Posts: 1083
Joined: Fri May 23, 2014 4:12 pm
Location: India

Re: Brahma worship in Buddhism

Post by No_Mind » Sun Jan 22, 2017 2:57 pm

It is quite odd that Brahma seems to be popular in Thailand because Brahma is an important God in Hinduism but not worshipped as a primary deity.

In traditional Hindu trimurti (three forms/faces of divinity) Brahma is the creator aspect, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer/transformer and since his task as a creator is over that aspect is no longer worshipped.
I know one thing: that I know nothing

User avatar
Goofaholix
Posts: 2964
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Brahma worship in Buddhism

Post by Goofaholix » Sun Jan 22, 2017 6:35 pm

Kim OHara wrote:At what point do we have to start calling them "Buddhist" deities, I wonder? :tongue:
When they have something to do with the goal or purpose of Buddhism as outlined in the original texts.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

thomaslaw
Posts: 102
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 2013 12:55 am
Location: Australia

Re: Brahma worship in Buddhism

Post by thomaslaw » Mon Jan 23, 2017 5:14 am

I personally feel that worshiping Brahma far more makes sense than Ganesh for Buddhism. According to Pali texts, Brahma invited the Buddha to teach Dhamma for humans. When the Buddha's dying, Brahma was there for him and his followers.

The story between Bahama and the Buddha in the early Buddhist texts may be a useful and interesting topic.

Thomas
Last edited by thomaslaw on Tue Jan 24, 2017 1:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
No_Mind
Posts: 1083
Joined: Fri May 23, 2014 4:12 pm
Location: India

Re: Brahma worship in Buddhism

Post by No_Mind » Mon Jan 23, 2017 6:08 am

After some research I doubt if Hindu Brahma is same as Buddhist Brahma (although both have four faces .. one facing each direction).

However rise and fall in popularity of of deities in the subcontinent between 2000 BC and 500 AD gave rise to many mixed concepts with one deity being absorbed into another as time went by such as Vedic God Rudra became Puranic God Shiva.

I myself am struggling for last one month with untangling Bodhisattva Tara from Tibet who seems to have merged at some point around 500 AD with Hindu Goddess Kali to become Hindu Goddess Tara who is worshipped with intense fervour in eastern India. The exact point at which both stories merged is difficult to pin point (and why did they merge). But net result is Tara as worshipped in Eastern India bears no resemblance to Bodhisattva Tara apart from the name and the lotus in her hand. But there is strong support from mythological sources that the worship of Tara as practised in Eastern India actually began in Tibet.

When studying religious history of the subcontinent I sometimes wish I had a time machine. How did these tangled skeins start out .. what were the original stories and why did they tangle in such a way?

The unforgiving hot and humid climate of the subcontinent along with rivers that constantly change course and widespread pillaging and burning of Hindu and Buddhist monasteries by Muslim invaders has robbed us of so much historical material.

:namaste:
I know one thing: that I know nothing

thomaslaw
Posts: 102
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 2013 12:55 am
Location: Australia

Re: Brahma worship in Buddhism

Post by thomaslaw » Mon Jan 23, 2017 8:26 am

No_Mind wrote:After some research I doubt if Hindu Brahma is same as Buddhist Brahma (although both have four faces .. one facing :
No, they never be the same. See Choong Mun-keat published an article on a comparative study on Brahma Samyutta in Buddhist Studies Review.

Thomas

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests