LORD VISHWAKARMA (SAMYA MUKHERJEE)
Lord Vishwakarma is a craftsman-deity in contemporary Hinduism. Lord Vishwakarma is a Hindu God and is considered as a divine architect who created this universe. Thus Lord Vishwakarma is regarded as the God of Construction or Architechture. Lord Vishwakarma is also a creator, somewhat similar to Lord Brahma, the Lord of Creation – incidentally, Vishwakarma is also considered as the son of Lord Brahma. However, in many later traditions, Lord Vishwakarma became the name of the craftsman-god. This ‘divine-craftsman’, according to Hinduism has four hands, wears a crown, loads of golden jewellery and holds a water-pot, a book, a noose and tool in His hands. The lord mounts on an elephant, suggesting His association with Indra or Vrihaspati. Vishwakarma was related to the sun-god Surya, through his daughter Samjna. According to the legend, when Samjna left her house due to Surya’s energy; Vishwakarma reduced the energy and created various other weapons using it. According to the epic Ramayana, the ‘vanara’ (forest-man or monkey) named Nala was the son of Lord Vishwakrma, created to aid the avatar Rama.
Iconography and Forms of Lord Vishwakarma : The iconography of Lord Vishwakarma varies drastically from one region to another, though all picture Lord with creation-tools. In the most popular depiction, He is depicted as an aged and wise man with four arms. He has white beard and is accompanied by His vahana, hamsa (goose or swan), which scholars believe that these suggest His association with the creator god Brahma. Usually, the lord is seated on a throne and His sons standing near Him. This form of Vishwakarma is mainly found in the Western and North-Western parts of India. Contradictory to the account, the idols of Lord Vishwakarma in the eastern parts of India, depict Him as a young muscular man. He has black moustache and is not accompanied by His sons. An elephant is His vahana, suggesting His association with Lord Indra or Brihaspati.
Family : Lord Vishwakarma is often stated to be the son of Brahma, but it differs in many texts of Later Vedic period. In ‘Nirukta’ and ‘Brahmanas’, He is stated to be the son of Bhuvana. In ‘Mahabharata’ and ‘Harivansa’, He is the son of Vasu Prabhasa and Yoga-siddha. In the Puranas, He is the son of Vastu. Lord Vishwakarma is the father of three daughters named Barishmati, Samjna and Chitrangada. In other texts Vishwakarma is presented as the husband of Gritachi. When identified with Tvastar, Vishwakarma is also described to be the father of a son named Vishwarupa. According to Rig Veda, Lord Vishwakarma is considered as the son of Vastu deva and Mata Angirshi. He is known as the god of craftsmen and creators. This godman of mechanics has also helped Lord Brahma in the creation of the universe and made a map of the whole world.
Lord Vishwakarma in light of Vedic literature : The term ‘Vishwakarma’ was originally used as an epithet for any supreme god and as an attribute of Devaraj Indra and the Sun; according to Vedic texts. Lord Vishwakarma is defined as the god with multi-dimensional vision and supreme strength by Rig Veda. The name ‘Vishwakarma’ occurs five times in the tenth part of Rig Veda. The two hymns of the Rig Veda identify Vishwakarma as all-seeing, and having eyes, faces, arms and feet on every side and also has wings. As per the opinion available in the Rig Veda, Vishwakarma is known as divine- carpenter. He is also considered as the creator of the Sthyapatya Veda or fourth Upa Veda (the science of architecture and mechanics), presiding over the sixty-four mechanical arts. Lord Vishwakarma (Sanskrit : all-accomplishing, maker of all, all-doer) is personification of creation and the abstract form of the creator of God, according to Rig Veda.
Lord Vishwakarma is an all-accomplishing entity. As per the ancient Rig Veda, Vishwakarma has eyes, mouth, arms and feet on all sides. According to some parts of Rig Veda, Vishwakarma was the personification of ultimate reality, the abstract creative power inherent in deities, living and non-living being in this universe. He is considered to be the fifth monotheistic God-concept : Lord Vishwakarma is considered as the architect and the divine- engineer of the universe, before the advent of time. The later parts of Rig Veda reveals efforts to find a satisfactory answer to the mysteries regarding the origin of the universe, the creation hymns present in these parts of Rig Veda mention individual creator gods as opposed to the collection of gods and their chiefs (Indra, varuna, Agni etc.) creating the world.
According to Hindu Mythology, Scripture and ancient Astrology books; Lord Vishwakarma is the divine architect of the world. He engineered the ‘creation of the whole world’. Lord Vishwakarma also engineered very powerful and unique weapons for the gods and goddesses. He also developed the Mahasabha of Pandavas. Mythology also associates with all exceptional constructions of Lord Vishwakarma and treats Him virtually as being beyond time. Hence, the Lord appears in several Yugas (epochs) and also in many epics and narratives. He is said to be considered as the one who designed and created the entire universe including our mother earth. Vishwakarma’s creations include Indralok (heaven during satya Yuga), Vajra (weapon of Devaraj Indra), Sone ki Lanka (Ravana’s magnificient capital Lanka in the midst of the ocean during Treta Yuga), the majestic coastal town of Dwarka (the capital of Lord Krishna) and the grand Hastinapura and Indraprastha (capital cities of both the warring cousins Kauravas and the Pandavas, during Dwapara Yuga). He is also believed to have designed the palaces for all the Gods, their chariots, flying-chariots, weapons as well as their brilliant ornaments. The credit of designing and fabricating the immensely powerful Vajra Ayudha, the mighty weapon of Lord Indra, made out of the backbone of sage Dadhichi also goes out to this divine artisan. Thus, Vedas regard Vishwakarma as ‘the father of five great sages’, each of whom remained as the pioneer of art. These sons were considered as the first skill-workers in different fields like the wood-work, metal-work, gold-smith, brick-layer and author.
In the historical Vedic religion, the role of Vishwakarma is considered as the builder of gods, attributed to ‘Tvastar’. In the early texts, the craftsman deity was known as ‘Tvastar’ and the word ‘Vishwakarma’ was originally used as an epithet for any powerful deity. Vedic Vishwakarma is identified with ‘Prajapati’, rather than ‘Tvastar’. In later mythology, Vishwakarma is sometimes identified with Tvastar and is a craftsman-deity.
Scientific outlook on Lord Vishwakarma : Lord Vishwakarma is considered as the ‘Divine Architect’ in ‘Shilpa Sashtra’ and ‘Ancient Indian Texts of Engineering’. Lord Vishwakarma is also considered as the divine craftsman, a celestial engineer, a brilliant designer and an exceptional constructor. It is also said that Lord Vishwakarma is the source of all creativities; especially artistic creativity which then gets transmitted to the human consciousness. Lord Vishwakarma is the presiding deity of all engineers, priests, artisans and architects. He is believed to be the ‘Principal Architect of the Universe’ and the root concept of the Later Upanishadic figures of Brahman and Purusha. Lord Vishwakarma is visualized as ‘Ultimate Reality’ (later developed as Brahman) from whose navel all visible things ‘Hiranyagarbha’ emanate. The same imagery is seen in Yajurveda, in which the divine smith Tvastar, emerging from Vishwakarma. In the Later Puranic period, this concept paved the way to the imagery of ‘Padmanabha’ and ‘Sadasiva’.
Since Lord Vishwakarma is the divine-engineer of the world, as a mark of reverence, He is not only worshipped by the engineering and architectural community but also by all professionals. It is customary for craftsmen to worship their tools in His name. ‘Shilpa Shastras’ literally means the Science of Shilpa (arts, architechture and crafts) : Vedas codified the engineering sciences with construction, be it at individual level (house, farm yard) or at macro level (village, town, city-planning, forts, irrigation, roads, canals etc), grouped under generic field of knowledge called ‘Sthapathya Veda’ (science of forms) or ‘Shilpa Veda’ (science of creation). Sthapathya Veda is the Upa Veda (supplementary branch) for Atharva Veda. Within Sthapathya Veda the planning, designing, construction of individual houses, farms, villages, towns, cities, roads, canals, parks, irrigation, public works etc. are codified under Vastu Shastra (science of structural formations). The planning, engineering, designing of community, places of worship, temples, sacrificial altars are codified under ‘Agama Shastra’ (science of temple-construction and architecture). The knowledge for most part of the time is handed over through the oral tradition of ‘Shruti’, has to be printed and preserved before the knowledgeable persons in these fields completely vanished.
Vishwakarma Puja : Vishwakarma puja is one of the famous festival in India, that is dedicated to Lord Vishwakarma. This puja is synonymously known as ‘Vishwakarma Jayanti’ (Birthday of Lord Vishwakarma). Vishwakarma puja is celebrated across different states in India such as Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Assam, Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Tripura. Even among those, who believe that there is a birthday, there is no agreement as to when it actually occurs. The birthday of Lord Vishwakarma is celebrated on two days under different names :
1) ‘Vishwakarma Puja’ – This puja is always celebrated in India on the 17th or 18th day in the month of September according to Gregorian Calendar. This festival is observed according to solar calendar instead of lunar calendar in the Bengali month Bhadra (also known as ‘Bhadra Sankranti’ or ‘Kanya Sankranti’), when Lord Surya leaves Leo Zodiac sign and enters into Virgo sign. Some people also celebrate Vishwakarma puja on the day just after the Diwali festival which is called ‘Gobardhan puja’ – the time of puja might differ a little, from place to place, according to different ‘Hindu Panchangs’. It is believed that during that auspicious day, Lord Vishwakarma bless the sinciere devotees and impart them with the essence of the great science and technology. Lord’s blessings shall increase the creative instincts and the skill in them and help them to move to greater heights in their chosen activities.
2) ‘Rishi panchami Dinam’ - Rishi panchami Dinam literally means ‘the day of the solidarity of five rishis’. Those who celebrate this day believe that Lord Vishwakarma did not have a birthday like the mortals but only a commemoration-day in which His five children (supposedly five rishis) came together to declare their solidarity and pray to their illustrious father. This day follows the rules of the Hindu calendar and changes with every year. The five groups among Vishwakarma community also celebrates this day as an auspicious day in commemoration of their patron god at present.
The festival Vishwakarma Puja is most importantly celebrated in the industrial topography and among the factories, especially on the floor of the shop or manufacturing head-office. The engineering and architechtural community do pray and worship as a mark of reverence on the occasion of ‘Vishwakarma Jayanti’. All the craftsmen, carpeneters, engineers, mechanics, smiths, wielders, factory workers and industrial workers get united and pray to Lord Vishwakarma. Lord Vishwakarma is worshipped for the safety of the factory, manufacturing units, machineries and betterment of the people working over there. A special statue or idol is installed nearby every factory or workplaces. These days, some people do install Lord Vishwakarma in a place according to the Vedic Vastu Shastra.
Celebration of Vishwakarma puja : Generally, the factories and manufacturing units are closed on the days of Vishwakarma puja. All the members get united. The festival is celebrated with much pomp by the members of architecture and engineering communities, as well as skilled labours including smiths, artisans, craftsmen etc. On the day of Vishwakarma puja, the workers give themselves and their tools to rest and pray for protection and success. The people install the colourful pandals for the puja-performance. The well-decorated idols of Lord Vishwakarma are installed at the pandals according to the rituals in the Hindu scriptures. The important tools are worshipped in the name of Vishwakarma puja. Even the profession of every individual of the factories are worshipped in the name of ‘God of Architecture’. The tools are not used until the next day. Prasad is distributed among the people. The people go for the lunch, once the puja-performance is over. Nowadays, most of the companies are equipped with IT. Hence the electronic machineries, computers and servers are worshipped in the name of Lord Vishwakarma.
Following are some wishes to share on the occasion of Vishwakarma puja :
1)’Jai Jai Shri Vishwakarma Bhagwana, Jai Jai Shri Vishweshwar krupa nirdhaana. Subha Vishwakrma Jayanti’.
2) ‘Let us pray for success and skills to the creator machines and tools, who is known to all and may all be blessed with their own skills and creativity Happy Vishwakarma Jayanti’.
3) May Lord Vishwakarma, the creator of tools and machines, and the deity of all craftsmen and architects endow His virtue and goodwill. Happy Vishwakarma puja.