Encyclopedia for Epics of Ancient India

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Read about Viśwakarma at Wikipedia

VISWAKARMA, VISWAKARMAN. [Source: Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology] 'Omnificent.' This name seems to have been originally an epithet of any powerful god, as of Indra and Surya, but in course of time it came to designate a personification of the creative power. In this character Viswakarma was the great architect of the universe, and is described in two hymns of the Rigveda as the one "all-seeing god, who has on every side eyes, faces, arms, and feet, who, when producing heaven and earth, blows them forth (or shapes them) with his arms and wings; the father, generator, disposer, who knows all worlds, gives the gods their names, and is beyond the comprehension of mortals." In these hymns also he is said to sacrifice himself or to himself, and the Nirukta explains this by a legend which represents that "Viswakarma, son of Bhuvana, first of all offered up all worlds in a Sarvamedha (general sacrifice), and ended by sacrificing himself."

In the Epic and Puranic periods Viswakarma is invested with the powers and offices of the Vedic Twashtri, and is sometimes so called. He is not only the great architect, but the general artificer of the gods and maker of their weapons. It was he who made the Agneyastra or "fiery weapon," and it was he who revealed the Sthapatyaveda, or science of architecture and mechanics. The Mahabharata describes him as "the lord of the arts, executor of a thousand handicrafts, the carpenter of the gods, the fashioner of all ornaments, the most eminent of artisans, who formed the celestial chariots of the deities, on whose craft men subsist, and whom, a great and immortal god, they continually worship."

In the Ramayana, Viswakarma is represented as having built the city of Lanka for the Rakshasas, and as having generated the ape Nala, who constructed Rama's bridge from the continent to Ceylon.

The Puranas make Viswakarma the son of Prabhasa, the eighth Vasu, by his wife "the lovely and virtuous Yogasiddha." His daughter Sanjna was married to Surya, the sun; but as she was unable to endure his effulgence, Viswakarma placed the sun upon his lathe and cut away an eighth part of his brightness. The fragments fell to the earth, and from these Viswakarma formed "the discus of Vishnu, the trident of Siva, the weapon of Kuvera the god of wealth, the lance of Karrtikeya god of war, and the weapons of the other gods." Viswakarma is also represented as having made the image of Jagannatha.

In his creative capacity he is sometimes designated Prajapati. He also has the appellations Karu, 'workman;' Takshaka, 'woodcutter;' Devavardhika, 'the builder of the gods;' Sudhanwan, 'having a good bow.'

Modern Languages MLLL-4993. Indian Epics. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. The textual material made available at this website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one. No claims are made regarding the status of images used at this website; if you own the copyright privileges to any of these images and believe your copyright privileges have been violated, please contact the webmaster. Page last updated: October 16, 2007 12:22 PM