The post of Brahma is the highest responsible post within the universe, and it is offered to the most perfect personality of the universe. Sometimes the Supreme Personality of Godhead has to become Brahma when there is no suitable living being to occupy the post. In the material world, Brahma is the complete representation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and transcendental sound, pranava, comes from him. He is therefore invested with multifarious energies, from which all the demigods like Indra, Candra and Varuna are manifested. His transcendental value is not to be minimized, even though he exhibited a tendency to enjoy his own daughter. There is a purpose for the exhibition of such a tendency by Brahma, and he is not to be condemned like an ordinary living entity.
Balavan indriya-gramo vidvamsam api karsati (Bhag. 9.19.17).
It is said that the senses are so mad and strong that they can bewilder even the most sensible and learned man. Therefore it is advised that one should not indulge in living alone even with one’s mother, sister or daughter. Vidvamsam api karsati means that even the most learned also become victims of the sensuous urge. Maitreya hesitated to state this anomaly on the part of Brahma, who was sexually inclined to his own daughter, but still he mentioned it because sometimes it so happens, and the living example is Brahma himself, although he is the primeval living being and the most learned within the whole universe. If Brahma could be a victim of the sexual urge, then what of others, who are prone to so many mundane frailties? This extraordinary immortality on the part of Brahma was heard to have occurred in some particular kalpa, but it could not have happened in the kalpa in which Brahma heard directly from the Lord the four essential verses of Srimad-Bhagavatam because the Lord blessed Brahma, after giving him lessons on the Bhagavatam, that he would never be bewildered in any kalpa whatsoever. This indicates that before the hearing of Srimad- Bhagavatam he might have fallen a victim to such sensuality, but after hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam directly from the Lord, there was no possibility of such failures.
One should, however, take serious note of this incident. The human being is a social animal, and his unrestricted mixing with the fair sex leads to downfall. Such social freedom of man and woman, especially among the younger section, is certainly a great stumbling block on the path of spiritual progress. Material bondage is due only to sexual bondage, and therefore unrestricted association of man and woman is surely a great impediment. Maitreya cited this example on the part of Brahma just to bring to our notice this great danger.
The sages like Marici were not in the wrong in submitting their protests against the acts of their great father. They knew very well that even though their father committed a mistake, there must have been some great purpose behind the show, otherwise such a great personality could not have committed such a mistake. It might be that Brahma wanted to warn his subordinates about human frailties in their dealings with women. This is always very dangerous for persons who are on the path of self-realization. Therefore, great personalities like Brahma, even when in the wrong, should not be neglected, nor could the great sages headed by Marici show any disrespect because of his extraordinary behavior.
The post of Brahma is the supermost post in the universe, and it appears that there are many Brahmas and many universes besides the one in which we are situated. One who fills this post must be ideal in behavior, for Brahma sets the example for all living entities. Brahma, the living entity who is the most pious and spiritually elevated, is entrusted with a post next to that of the Personality of Godhead.
Lust for sexual intercourse is so strong that it appears herein that Brahma could not be dissuaded from his determination in spite of the appeal by his great sons like Marici. Therefore, the great sons began to pray to the Supreme Lord for the good sense of Brahma. It is only by the grace of the Supreme Lord that one can be protected from the allurement of lusty material desires. The Lord gives protection to devotees who are always engaged in His transcendental loving service, and by His causeless mercy He forgives the accidental fall of a devotee. Therefore, sages like Marici prayed for the mercy of the Lord, and their prayer was fruitful. The best way to compensate for one’s sinful acts is to give up one’s body at once, and Brahma, the leader of the living entities, showed this by his personal example. Brahma has a fabulous duration of life, but he was obliged to give up his body due to his grievous sin, even though he had merely contemplated it in his mind without having actually done it.
This is a lesson for the living entities, showing how sinful an act it is to indulge in unrestricted sex life. Even to think of abominable sex life is sinful, and to compensate for such acts, one has to give up his body. In other words, one’s duration of life, blessings, opulence, etc., are decreased by sinful acts, and the most dangerous type of sinful act is unrestricted sex. Ignorance is the cause of sinful life, or sinful life is the cause of gross ignorance. The feature of ignorance is darkness or fog. Darkness or fog still covers the whole universe, and the sun is the only counteracting principle. One who takes shelter of the Lord, the perpetual light, has no fear of being annihilated in the darkness of fog or ignorance.
As a fire can consume anything and everything without being contaminated, so, by the grace of the Lord, the fire of Brahma’s greatness consumed his desire for the sinful act of sex with his daughter. The Vedas are the source of all knowledge, and they were first revealed to Brahma by the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead while Brahma was thinking of re-creating the material world. Brahma is powerful by dint of his devotional service unto the Lord, and the Lord is always ready to forgive His devotee if by chance he falls down from the noble path of devotional service. The Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.5.42) confirms this as follows:
sva-pada-mulam bhajatah priyasya tyaktvanya-bhavasya harih paresah
vikarma yac cotpatitam kathan-cid dhunoti sarvam hrdi sannvistah
“Any person who is engaged one hundred percent in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, at His lotus feet, is very dear to the Personality of Godhead Hari, and the Lord, being situated in the heart of the devotee, excuses all kinds of sins committed by chance.” It was never expected that a great personality like Brahma would ever think of sex indulgence with his daughter. The example shown by Brahma only suggests that the power of material nature is so strong that it can act upon everyone, even Brahma. Brahma was saved by the mercy of the Lord with a little punishment, but by the grace of the Lord he did not lose his prestige as the great Brahma.
In his former body, which was transcendental, affection for sex life was forbidden, and Brahma therefore had to accept another body to allow himself to be connected with sex. He thus engaged himself in the matter of creation. His former body transformed into fog.
O son of the Kurus, when Brahma saw that in spite of the presence of sages of great potency there was no sufficient increase in population, he seriously began to consider how the population could be increased.
Brahma thought to himself: Alas, it is wonderful that in spite of my being scattered all over, there is still insufficient population throughout the universe. There is no other cause for this misfortune but destiny. While he was thus absorbed in contemplation and was observing the supernatural power, two other forms were generated from his body. They are still celebrated as the body of Brahma. Two bodies came out from the body of Brahma. One had a mustache, and the other had swollen breasts. No one can explain the source of their manifestation, and therefore until today they are known as the kayam, or the body of Brahma, with no indication of their relationship as his son or daughter.
The two newly separated bodies united together in a sexual relationship. Out of them, the one who had the male form became known as the Manu named Svayambhuva, and the woman became known as Satarupa, the queen of the great soul Manu. Thereafter, by sex indulgence, they gradually increased generations of population one after another. O son of Bharata, in due course of time he [Manu] begot in Satarupa five children–two sons, Priyavrata and Uttanapada, and three daughters, Akuti, Devahuti and Prasuti. The father, Manu, handed over his first daughter, Akuti, to the sage Ruci, the middle daughter, Devahuti, to the sage Kardama, and the youngest, Prasuti, to Daksa. From them, all the world filled with population.
Therefore, Brahma is known as the grandfather of everyone, and the Personality of Godhead, being the father of Brahma, is known as the great-grandfather of all living beings. This is confirmed in Bhagavad-gita (11.39) as follows:
vayur yamo ‘gnir varunah sasankah prajapatis tvam prapitamahas ca
namo namas te ‘stu sahasra-krtvah punas ca bhuyo ‘pi namo namas te
“You are the Lord of air, the supreme justice Yama, the fire, and the Lord of rains. You are the moon,
and You are the great-grandfather. Therefore I offer my respectful obeisances unto You again and again.”
Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “Srimad Bhagavatam”, Third Canto, Chapter 12 – Text 28 to 30, 32 to 34, 48 to 57