VISVAKARMAN, VISVAKARMA – The celestial architect

Visvakarman (omnificent) may originally have been an epithet for any powerful god, but it was used in the Rigveda most often for Indra and Surya. There are two
Rigvedic hymns to Visvakarman praising him as the all-seeing god, the one who names the gods, and that one beyond the comprehension of mortals. He was said to be the sacrifice and the one to whom the sacrifice is given. The Nirukta added that Visvakarma, son of Bhuvana, held a sarva-medha (total sacrifice) offering something of everything and ending with himself.
In the Epics and Puranas this Visvakarman was reduced in status and per­sonified as one with creative power, the heavenly architect. He could even be called a Prajapati, when the term came to refer to any creative being. Visivakar- man was described as having the powers and the very office of Tvashthri, a ref­erence that is too vague to suggest anything more than the fearsome Tvashthri has been reduced to an office. Visvakarman became the great builder of celestial palaces and kingdoms, as well as constructing the magical weapons of the gods. The Ramayana has him building Lanka for the demon Ravana and then gener­ating the ape Nala who builds the bridge to Lanka for Hanuman’s invasion of Lanka.
Some Puranic accounts make Visvakarman the son of the eighth Vasu (attendants of Indra), Prabhasa. Others say that Visvakarman married Yogasid- dha, a wonderfully beautiful and virtuous woman, with whom he had a daugh­ter, Samjna. When Samjna found her husband, Surya, too bright and hot, Visvakarman put the sun on a lathe and trimmed away an eighth. From what fell from his lathe Visvakarman forged the discus of Vishnu and the trident of Siva as well as weapons for the rest of the gods, including Kubera, god of wealth, and Karttikeya, god of war.
In the Vamana Purana Visvakarma became the mean father who cursed his beautiful daughter, Citrangada. He in turn was cursed by the sage Ritadhvaja to be reborn a monkey. (The treatment of Visvakarman [Visvakarma] demonstrates just how authoritative the Vedas are when Vedic gods are so easily reduced to mean fathers.)

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