Prajapati, “lord of all born beings,” was a Vedic divinity of some importance. In the period of the BRAHMANAS his status rose even higher, as he was ritually identified with the cosmic PURUSHA, the source of all reality.
   In the Rig Veda, the cosmic Purusha allowed himself to be dismembered to create all reality. This story was ritually reenacted each year in the AGNICHAYANA—the ritual building of the fire altar—but in the ritual Prajapati’s name is substi-tuted for Purusha’s. Prajapati retained his aggran-dized status in the UPANISHADS, but in later Hindu mythology he reverts to the status of “lord of all born beings.” In some cases, BRAHMA, the creator god, takes on his role.
   Further reading: Jan Gonda, Prajapati’s Relations with Brahman, Brihaspati and Brahma (Amsterdam: North Holland, 1989); Frits Staal, C. V. Somayajipad, and M. Itti Nambudri, Agni: The Vedic Ritual of the Fire Altar (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1986).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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