Chronicles of Brahma's Fifth Head - Shiv Puran

Lord Brahma used to have five heads (faces). However, Lord Brahma now only has four heads. What made Brahma lose one of his heads? How did Brahma lose his fifth head? What is the real story of Brahma's fifth head? Brahma used to be a 'Panchanan' but after losing his 5th head, he became 'chaturanan'.

  • Panchanan - One having five faces
  • Chaturanan - One having four faces

Shiv Purana reveals the account of Lord Brahma losing his 5th head in detail which is mentioned in detail below. 

Shiv Purana - Brahma's Fifth Head

Once Brahma and Vishnu had a fight. As it escalated it turned into a war. Both Brahma and Vishnu started to attack each other with deadly weapons. To end the war, a radiant pillar (Shiv Ling) appeared between Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva. Read more about fight between Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu.

Shiv Ling Shiv Puran

Brahma's Lie about Shiv Ling

Lord Shiva had made that radiant pillar appear between Brahma and Vishnu. On witnessing the pillar both Brahma and Vishnu stopped fighting, Being bewildered and find the origin and extent of that pillar, Brahma went upwards and Vishnu went downwards. Both of them could not find the beginning or the end of the pillar and thus they returned. Lord Vishnu truthfully expressed his inability of finding the extent of the pillar whereas Brahma lied and said that he had seen the summit of the pillar.

How did Brahma lose his 5th Head?

As Brahma lied about finding the summit of the pillow, Lord Sadashiv (Kaal or Brahm) appeared and punished Brahma by cutting his 5th head from which he had uttered the lie. 

Shiv Puran - How was Brahma's fifth head decapitated

Please read below verses from Chapter 8 of Shiv Puran pertaining to cutting of Brahma's 5th head.

Shiv Puran, Vidhweshwar Samhita, Chapter 8

CHAPTER EIGHT

(Shiva's forgiveness of Brahma)

Nandikeshvara said:-

1. Mahadeva then created a wonderful person, Bhairava, from the middle of his brows to quell the pride of Brahma.

2. This Bhairava knelt before the lord in the battle-field and said-"O lord, what shall I do ? Please give me your directives quickly. "

3. "Dear, here is Brahma, the first deity of the universe. Worship him with your sharp-pointed quick-moving sword."

4. With one of his hands he caught hold of the tuft of Brahma's fifth head that was guilty of haughtily uttering a falsehood, and with the hands he furiously shook his sword in order to cut it off.

5. Your father trembled like a plantain tree in a whirlwind, with his ornaments scattered here and there, his cloth ruffled and loosened, the garland displaced, the upper cloth hanging loose and the glossy tuft dishevelled, and fell at the feet of Bhairava.

6. Meanwhile the sympathetic Acyuta desirous of saving Brahma, shed tears over the lotus-like feet of our lord and said with palms joined in reverence just like a child lisping words of entreaty to its father.

Acyuta said :—

7. O Lord, it was you who gave him five heads as a special symbol, long ago. Hence please forgive him his first guilt. Please favour him.

8. The lord thus requested by Acyuta relented and in the presence of all devas asked Bhairava to desist from punishing Brahma.

9. Then the lord turned to the deceitful Brahma who bent down his neck and said “O Brahma, in order to extort honour from the people you assumed the role of the lord in a roguish manner.

10-11. Hence you shall not be honoured, nor shall you have your own temple or festival.

Conclusion

The above mentioned from Shiv Puran is the true account of how Brahma's fifth head was cut. It explains how and why Lord Shiva cut the 5th head of Brahma. The account mentions that Lord Shiva made Bhairava appear at that place and thus clarifies that it is Bhairava who cut the 5th head of Lord Brahma on the order of Lord Sadashiv. This explains why Lord Brahma now only has four heads. 

References