Why is Lord Brahma called Hiranyagarba
Hiranyagarbha and Nirguna Brahman
You are not the first to be confused by this. This will be in several Brahma Sutra Verse explained (all available here - https://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/brahma-sutras). The first verse to discuss this is verse 1.3.13 (Adhikarana 4). It says:
Adhikarana Summary: The highest person to meditate on is the Supreme Brahman
In the last section, the word "Akshara", although it generally means syllable, has been interpreted to refer to Brahman because of the characteristic quality of supporting everything, and we had to go to the etymological meaning of the word Akshara, namely. that which does not perish or change, that is, Brahman. Similarly, in the text to be discussed, the opponent takes the view that, because of attaining Brahmaloka as a result of meditation, we must take from the highest person the lower Brahman or Hiranyagarbha, which is relatively higher, and not the higher Brahman.
13. Because it is mentioned as an object of seeing, it is (on which to meditate, Brahman).
"Again he who meditates on the highest person with the syllable 'Om' from three matras (Aum)" etc. (Pr. 5. 5).
There is a doubt as to whether the Supreme Brahman or the Lowest Brahman is meant because both are mentioned in 5.2 and also because Brahmaloka is described as a fruit through the worship of that Supreme Person. The sutra says that this supreme person is the supreme Brahman and not Hiranya-garbha (the lower Brahman). Why? Because the paragraph ends like this, "He sees the Supreme Person," which shows that he recognizes or actually identifies with the Supreme Person. It is not a mere imagination but a reality, for the object of an act of seeing is a reality as we experience from experience. But Hiranyagarbha is an imaginary being as it is a product of ignorance. Therefore, the supreme person means the supreme Brahman, which is a reality, and it is precisely this Brahman that is taught at the beginning of the paragraph as the subject of meditation, since it is not possible to realize one entity by meditating on another.
The worshiper's attainment of Brahmaloka should not be viewed as an insignificant fruit of the worship of the Supreme Person as it is a step in gradual emancipation (Krama Mukti). First he attains this loka and then final bliss.
Further in verse 2.4.2 (Adhikarana 1):
2. Because of the impossibility (to explain the origin in a) secondary sense.
Because there are texts like the one quoted from the Sat. Br. Who speak of the existence of organs before creation, why not explain the texts that describe their creation as a secondary sense? This sutra refutes it, for a secondary sense would lead to the abandonment of the general claim, "By knowing one thing, everything else is known". That is why they are made from Brahman. The reference to the existence of the pranas (organs) before creation in Sat. Br. Concerns Hiranyagarbha, which is not resolved in the partial dissolution of the world, although all other effects are resolved. However, even Hiranyagarbha is dissolved in complete dissolution (Mahapralaya).
and further in verses 3.3.16-17 (Adhikarana 7):
16. (In the Aitareva Upanishad 1.1) the Supreme Self is meant as in other texts (dealing with creation) due to the following qualification.
Verily, in the beginning all of this was the Self, only one; there was nothing else at all "etc. (Ait. 1. 1.). Does the word "self" here refer to the Supreme Self or to Hiranyagarbha? It refers to the Supreme Self, although the word 'self' in other texts dealing with creation refers to it and not to Hiranyagarbha: "Aether sprang out of the self" (Taitt. 2.1). Why? Because in the following text of the Aiteraya it says: "It thought: Shall I send out worlds?" It has sent out these worlds ”(Ait. 1. 1-2). This qualification, viz. that 'it thought' before creation is applied to Brahman in the primary sense in other Sruti texts. From this we learn that the Self relates to the Supreme Self and not Hiranyagarbha.
17. When it is said that due to the context (ie, the Supreme Self is not meant, but Hiranyagarbha) (we respond to it) it is based on the particular statement (ie the Atman alone) (ie the Supreme Self is meant) existed in the beginning ).
In the Aitareya Upanishad 1.1 the self is said to have created the four worlds. But in Taittiriya and other texts, the self creates ether, water, etc. - the five elements. It is now known that the creation of the worlds of Hiranyagarbha is done with the help of the elements created by the Supreme Self. So the Self in Aitareya cannot mean the Supreme Self, but Hiranyagarbha. The sutra refutes it and says that based on the statement "Verily, in the beginning this was all the Self, just one" (Ait. 1.1), which explains that there was only one without a second, it can only relate to the Supreme Self and not to Hiranyagarbha. Therefore, we must assume that the Supreme Self, having created elements as described in other sakhas, created the four worlds.
The aim of Sutras 16 and 17 in establishing that the Supreme Self is meant is that the attributes of the Supreme Self given elsewhere should be combined in the Aitareyaka meditation.
Hiranyagarbha or Brahma, there are different names for the Saguna Brahman in its creative aspect as a creator of living beings. But it is not to be confused with the Supreme, Nirguna Brahman.
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