प्रजापति "lord of creatures") is a Hindu deity
presiding over procreation, and protector of life. He appears as a creator deity
or supreme god above the other Vedic deities
in RV 10
.121.10 and in Brahmana
literature. Vedic commentators also identify him with the creator referred to in the Nasadiya Sukta
In later times, he is identified with Vishnu, Shiva, with the personifications of Time, Fire, the Sun, etc. He is also identified with various mythical progenitors, especially (Manu Smrti 1.34) the ten lords of created beings first created by Brahmā, the Prajapatis Marichi, Atri, Angiras, Pulastya, Pulaka, Kratu, Vasishtha, Prachetas or Daksha, Bhrigu, Nārada.
The Mahabharata mentions, in the words of celestial sage Narada, 14 Prajapatis (lit:caretakers of the Praja), namely: Daksha, Prachetas, Pulaha, Marichi, Kasyapa, Bhrigu, Atri, Vasistha, Gautama, Angiras, Pulastya, Kratu, Prahlada and Kardama who are the caretakers of the fourteen worlds - seven lokas and seven talas.
Possible Hellenic equivalent
The name of /PRA-JĀ[N]-pati/ ('progeny-potentate') is etymologically equivalent to that of the oracular god at Kolophōn (according to Makrobios), namely /PRŌto-GONos/. According to Damaskios
, Prōtogonos (also known as Phanēs
) had four heads, those of "a Serpent (Drakōn)... and a bull a man, and a god", while Prajā-pati is likewise reckoned as 4-headed [one each head having produced deva-s (gods), r.s.i-s (sages), pitr.-s (ancestors), and nara-s (humans), according to the Brahma-an.d.a Purān.a
- Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend (ISBN 0-500-51088-1) by Anna Dhallapiccola