(Glorious Bhartiya Heritage -13)
Dr. Gauri Shankar Gupta
“The sun has tied Earth and other planets through attraction and moves them around itself as if a trainer moves newly trained horses around itself holding their reins.” — (Rig Veda 10.149.1)
Glimpses of the Vedic Wisdom I – Origin of the Universe/ Supreme Being:
The Vedas are the source of integral wisdom, science, tradition and culture of a remarkable civilization. They are oral compilations of distilled wisdom of cosmic knowledge survived from the time immemorial. The Vedas are not only the most ancient source of human wisdom; the wisdom enshrined in them is immortal, eternal and universal. In this article it is my intention to bring out two Suktas from the Rig Veda expounding on the Origin of the Universe and the Supreme Being. These Suktas will demonstrate the depth of the integrated science and wisdom enshrined in these ancient scriptures.
Nasadiya Sukta from Rig Veda
(Hymn of Creation, Origin of Universe)
नासदासीन्नो सदासीत्तदानीं नासीद्रजो नो व्योमापरो यत् |
किमावरीवः कुह कस्य शर्मन्नम्भः किमासीद्गहनंगभीरम् ॥ १॥
There was neither non-existence nor existence then,Neither the realm of space, nor the sky which is beyond; What covered it? Where was it? In whose keeping? Was there then cosmic fluid, in depths unfathomed?
न मृत्युरासीदमृतं न तर्हि न रात्र्या अह्न आसीत्प्रकेतः |
आनीदवातं स्वधया तदेकं तस्माद्धान्यन्न परःकिञ्चनास ॥२॥
There was neither death nor immortality then;
No distinguishing sign of night nor of day; That One breathed, windless, by its own impulse; Other than that there was nothing beyond.
तम आसीत्तमसा गूहळमग्रे प्रकेतं सलिलं सर्वाऽइदम्|
At first there was only darkness wrapped in darkness.All this was only unillumined cosmic water.That One which came to be, enclosed in nothing,arose at last, born of the power of heat.
कामस्तदग्रे समवर्तताधि मनसो रेतः प्रथमं यदासीत्|
सतो बन्धुमसति निरविन्दन्हृदि प्रतीष्या कवयोमनीषा ॥४॥
In the beginning desire descended on it –
that was the primal seed, born of the mind.
The sages who have searched their hearts with wisdom know that which is, is kin to that which is not.
तिरश्चीनो विततो रश्मिरेषामधः स्विदासीदुपरिस्विदासीत् |
रेतोधा आसन्महिमान आसन्त्स्वधा अवस्तात्प्रयतिःपरस्तात् ॥५॥
And they have stretched their cord across the void, and know what was above, and what below. Seminal powers made fertile mighty forces.Below was strength, and over it was impulse.
को अद्धा वेद क इह प्र वोचत्कुत आजाता कुत इयंविसृष्टिः।
अर्वाग्देवा अस्य विसर्जनेनाथा को वेद यत आबभूव॥६॥
But, after all, who knows, and who can say
Whence it all came, and how creation happened? the gods themselves are later than creation,so who knows truly whence it has arisen?
इयं विसृष्टिर्यत आबभूव यदि वा दधे यदि वा न |
यो अस्याध्यक्षः परमे व्योमन्त्सो अङ्ग वेद यदि वा नवेद ॥७॥
Whence all creation had its origin,
the creator, whether he fashioned it or whether he did not, the creator, who surveys it all from highest heaven, he knows — or maybe even he does not know.
Rig Veda – 10.129 (Translation by A.L. Basham, 1954)
Hiranyagarbha Sukta from the Rig Veda
(Golden Egg/ Womb of the Universe/ Supreme Being)
हिरण्यगर्भः समवर्तताग्रे भूतस्य जातःपतिरेकासीत ।
स दाधार पृथ्वीं ध्यामुतेमां कस्मै देवायहविषाविधेम ॥ 1
In the beginning was the Divinity in his splendour, manifested as the sole Lord of land, skies, water, space and that beneath and He upheld the earth and the heavens. let us offer worship with an oblation to the divine.
य आत्मदा बलदा यस्य विश्व उपासते प्रशिषंयस्यदेवाः ।
यस्य छायाऽमृतं यस्य मृत्युः कस्मै देवाय हविषाविधेम ॥ 2
To him who is the giver of soul, the giver of strength, Whose commands all beings, even the gods obey, Whose shadow is immortality, whose shadow is death. Let us offer worship with an oblation to the divine.
यः प्राणतो निमिषतो महित्वैक इद्राजा जगतोबभूव ।
य ईशे अस्य द्विपदश्चतुष्पदः कस्मै देवायहविषाविधेम ॥ 3
To him who, by his greatness, has verily become the sole king of the breathing and seeing world, who rules over this aggregate of two-footed and four-footed beings. Let us offer Worship with an oblation to the divine.
यस्येमे हिमवन्तो महित्वा यस्य समुद्रं रसयासहाहुः ।
यस्येमाः परदिशो यस्य बाहू कस्मै देवायहविषाविधेम ॥ 4
It is that through whose glory the snow-clad mountains rose, and the ocean spread with the river, they say. His arms are the quarters of the sky. Let us offer worship with an oblation to the divine.
येन द्यौरुग्रा पृथ्वी च दृढा येन स्वस्तभितंयेननाकः ।
यो अन्तरिक्षे रजसो विमानः कस्मै देवाय हविषाविधेम ॥ 5
By whom the sky was made profound and the earth solid, by Whom heaven and the solar sphere were fixed, who was the measure of the water (clouds) in the firmament. Let us offer worship with an oblation to the divine.
यं करन्दसी अवसा तस्तभाने अभ्यैक्षेतांमनसारेजमाने ।
यत्राधि सूर उदितो विभाति कस्मै देवायहविषाविधेम ॥ 6
It is that to whom heaven and earth, placed in the light by his grace, look up, radiant with the mind while over them the sun, rising, brightly shines. Let us offer worship with an oblation to the divine.
आपो ह यद बर्हतीर्विश्वमायन गर्भंदधानाजनयन्तीरग्निम ।
ततो देवानां समवर्ततासुरेकःकस्मै देवाय हविषाविधेम ॥ 7
When the vast waters overspread the universe containing the seed and giving birth to life, then dwelt there in harmony the One Spirit of the Devas. Let us offer worship with an oblation to the divine.
यश्चिदापो महिना पर्यपश्यद दक्षंदधानाजनयन्तीर्यज्ञम ।
यो देवेष्वधि देव एक आसीत कस्मैदेवाय हविषाविधेम ॥ 8
He who by his might beheld the waters all around containing the creative power and giving birth to worship, he who among the gods was the one supreme god. Let us offer worship with an oblation to the divine.
मा नो हिंसीज्जनिता यः पर्थिव्या यो वादिवंसत्यधर्मा जजान ।
यश्चापश्चन्द्रा बर्हतीर्जजानकस्मै देवाय हविषाविधेम ॥ 9
May he do us no harm who is the parent of the earth, or who the unerring support of the world, begat the heaven, and who generated the vast and delightful waters. Let us offer worship with an oblation to the divine.
प्रजापते नत्वदेतान्यन्यो विश्वा जातानिपरिताबभूव ।
यत्कामास्ते जुहुमस्तन्नो अस्तु वयं स्यामपतयोरयीणाम् ॥ 10
Lord of creation! No one other than thee pervades all these that have come into being. May that be ours, for which our prayers rise, may we be masters of many treasures!
(Rig Veda 10. 121.Translation-modified version of H. H. Wilson)
Given the poetic expression in the Vedas, one needs proper interpretation and understanding of such Mantras. Nevertheless, even with the limited understanding, the description of the origin of the universe and that of the Supreme Being provides a glimpse of the deep science behind these verses. One wonders as to how the Indian Rishis could visualize all this knowledge thousands of years back in time with great precision.