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Thread: Creation and Cosmology

  1. #1
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    February 2011
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    Creation and Cosmology

    This world in which we live, move, and have our being as it were, has been spurring the imagination of philosophers for millennia, about its origin and evolution. It will be an interesting, nay, even facinatiiong, experience to go through the various accounts of creation given in the hindu scriptures and philosophical works.

    The Rigveda had dealt with this subject in a few hymns but there is no attempt at giving a cogent theory and well-researched philosophy. Before sristi or creation, Deva or God alone existed. He is our father. He desired to create. He manifested this world out of himself and entered in to it (Rigveda 10.81.1; 10.5.7). The famous purusha sukta (Rigveda 10.90) describes the whole creation as come out of the Purusa or primeveal Being, using the allegory of sacrificing.

    Allied vedic works like Brhmanas had similar views. The Taittiriya Brahmana by implication declares ( that the Deva is both the material and the efficient cause of this universe. The words 'visvakarma' (one whose work this world is), 'Hiranya grabha' (golden egg) and Prajapati (lord of beings) have also been used in this work to denote the Creator.

    In some of the vedic accounts of creation, primeeval waters form the first product from which subsequent creation takes place. We thus see 2 streams of thought here: one advocating evolution of the world FROM God, and the other, creation BY the god. Accounts of creation usually contain accounts of sustenance and dissolution (Stiti and pralaya) also.

    The Upanishads which contain more specific references to creation, generally follow the vedic thought pattern. Before creation, Brahman, also called Atman or Sat, alone existed. It desired to become many and created Tejas or fire, ap or water, and anna or earth. They are the three fundamental elements from which the whole creatiion came out (Chandogya up.6.2). Some other upanishads trace the evolution of the world from the Atman through the pacnchabhutas or five fundamental elements (Taittiriya Up. 2.1, 2.6)and others like Prsana Up. (1.4) through the creation of matter and spirit (rayi and prana). There are also accounts according to which the individual souls have sprung from Brahman like sparks from fire (Mundaka Up. 2.1.1). The idea that Brahman having created the world, has entered into it and controls it from within, is also advocated (Taittiriya Up 2.6).

    The epics and Puranas give their own, variegated, accounts of creation. In one pattern of descriptions, Visnu or Narayana brings forth Brahma (the 4 faced creator of thrimuthi/trinity brahma,vishnu, parameswara) who subsequently creates the various worlds (numbering3,7, even 14) and their denizens out of himself. In another set of descriptions, Narayana or visnu creates a golden egg or hiranya garbha which starts floating on the prime eval waters. He himself animates it, breaks it into two, forming earth and heaven. The purusa or prajapati that comes out of it then creates all beings. The creator dividing himself into two, the male and female principles, and their union giving rise to whole the whole creation is also found in some descriptions found in Upanishads like the Brahad aranyaka (1.4.2-4).

    The sad darshanas or the 6 philosophical systems, also discuss this question and give their own theories. The Nyaya and Vaisesika schools state Isvars or God creates the world out of the etrnal substances like atoms, time, ether, mind and souls. He is also responsible for the sustenance and dissolution of the world. The sankya and yga systems posit the thory that prakriti or primeval nature (consisting of the 3 gunas of sattva, rajas, and tamas) evolves by the stages into this world due to the will of Isvara and the presence of Purusas or individual souls. This theory is echoed in some of the puranas also. The Purvamimasa system considers the world and souls to be eternally there-neither created nor destroyed- but regulated by karma (unseen effects of actions done).

    The vedanta system just organizes the philosophy of the Upanishads. The advaita vedanta of Sankara (700ACE) considers the world as an illusory appearance in Brahma, the real substratum. Though the general theory of creation given in the Upanishads is accepted, it is given only an empirical status. The theistic schools of vedanta, of Ramanuja (ACE 1017-1137) and of Madhva (ACE 1197-1276) on the other hand, accept the reality of creation and the created world.

    It is thus seen there are so many varities and types of description that it is difficult to put forward any definite theories. However, the thought pattern revealed in Rigveda and developed in Upanisads maybe treated as more authentic and more universally accepted than others.

    Summarized briefly, it states that God the Absolute, creates universe out of himself, out of his own will, sustains it and rules over it, and dissolves it at the end of cycle. This cycle of creation, sustenance and dissolution goes on eternally.

    The whole purpose of creation is to give the jivas or the individual souls in bondage, one more chance for redemption and liberation from transmigration. This being the main theme of Hindu philosophy and religion, it hasn't paid much attention to the details of the process of creation. -SOURCE: Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Ramakrishna math.

  2. #2
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    October 2010
    Cradle of Civilisation
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    Re: Creation and Cosmology

    Till I read the last line.. I thought you must be a genius knowing so many things . Good read through. In 'The Argumentative Indian', Amartya Sen mentions that Rig Veda ends or there is a line in it after the creation of cosmos and life everything..which says "Who knows the truth?".. left for humans to find on their own. I'm not sure if it's there.

    But the idea of a Supreme Intelligence.. a prime mover.. primeval being.. a primal cause.. exists everywhere across many faiths, cults, religions like Shamans. Even Buddhists believe in the ultimate truth but they don't believe in a prime mover as they don't know who caused the primal cause (quite confusing)..but the truth essentially has to be all of the things mentioned above. And it can only be nothing but Consciousness which is there in all living beings. Shamans believe the same..their idea is of infinity or matrix..from where universe comes and goes back again. Infact quantum mechanics is becoming more confident on this aspect of cosmos.. a universal consciousness binding everything and everyone. And like Adi Shankaracharya expounded the idea of Brahman and many Upanishads claiming the same's fairly logical to accept that this is the true story of cosmos. I know it's quite confusing and misleading at times that in Hinduism there are many gods and goddesses.. who is great..who created the cosmos..but ultimately there can be and has to be one and only you can't have two truths showing the same effect or doing the same thing..and the truth is the cause of the cosmos..that's Brahman or Universal Consciousness or Purusha or Atman.

    Some people might argue saying our senses are imperfect or logic you can't conclude such things but in my opinion when you feel it's the's the truth.

    I'm sure in Swami Vivekananda's complete works..he must have argued about Advaita..will look into it and get back to you.
    ॐ महेश्वराय नमः

    || Om Namo Bhagavate Rudraya ||

    Hara Hara Mahadeva Shambo Shankara

  3. #3

    Re: Creation and Cosmology

    I don't think the different accounts mentioned are actually so inconsistent. The Vishnu and Bhaagavata uphold the account given in shruti but develop it in more detail. In shruti, the descriptions are more general - Brahman created everything. But in the Puraanas, it mentions the specific order of secondary and tertiary creations.

    "Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools speak because they have to say something." - Plato

  4. #4

    Re: Creation and Cosmology

    हरिः ओम्

    Namaste charitra,

    Thank you kindly for posting; this feels like a walk through the very evolution of God conciousness, as the ages have
    passed; we have awoken to that which we are capable of being, of becoming. Strangely; in a way most beautifully, to
    realise that this is also that which we once were.

    Returning home from an adventure of the soul into differentiation!



    ॐ नमः शिवाय
    Aum Namaḥ Śivāya
    Last edited by Mana; 15 June 2012 at 03:53 PM.

  5. #5
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    November 2010
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    Re: Creation and Cosmology

    Hi charitra,

    Interesting post.

    Quote Originally Posted by charitra View Post
    Summarized briefly, it states that God the Absolute, creates universe out of himself, out of his own will, sustains it and rules over it, and dissolves it at the end of cycle. This cycle of creation, sustenance and dissolution goes on eternally.
    AFAIK, the relationship between Brahman, Jivas and Jagat is different even amongst the 3 traditional Vedanta schools. For eg. Madhva posits an absolute difference between Prakriti, Jivas and Brahman. In fact, per Dvaita, Brahman is NOT the material cause of the universe - while V.A and Advaita posit Brahman as both the efficient and material cause of the universe.

    The whole purpose of creation is to give the jivas or the individual souls in bondage, one more chance for redemption and liberation from transmigration.
    I think this is spot on. Assuming creation is purposeful, creation can serve the purpose of God or something other than God. But if it serves the purpose of God, then, God was not all-blissful prior to creation. So, this cannot be. Therefore, creation is for the purpose of Jivas. But the Jivas could not be non-existent prior to creation for then God would be creating for the purpose of non-existent entities. This is another philosophical proof for the eternality of the Jivas.

    More details of creation in Hindu philosophy here.

    (1)Nyaya Vaiseshika [NV] view - Arambhavada - this says that there is a new creation in each cycle of creation-preservation-dissolution. But the new does not mean creatio ex nihilo. Per NV, the ultimate material cause of the universe are the atoms. The atoms are beginningless. In each cycle of creation, they are rearranged to form a new universe. This is also called asatkaryavada.

    (2)Samkhya view - Parinamavada - here, there is no new creation. Per Samkhya, the effect pre-exists in the cause. The difference between cause and effect is merely one of manifestation of the unmanifest. The analogy for this is that in creation, a light shines. This light helps manifest previously existing entities that were covered in darkness and hence unknown. This dawn of knowledge and light is "creation". This is also called satkaryavada.

    (3)Advaita view - Vivartavada - both NV and Samkhya are realist schools (although there are idealistic interpretations of Samkhya). Per Vivartavada, creation is an appearance. Brahman is immutable, unchanging and pure consciousness. But how to account for the world of names and forms? The only rational way is to posit that the universe of names and forms are not transcendentally valid. This is why Advaita posits (at least) two levels of reality - Vyavahara and Paramartha.

    Keep in mind that in all schools of Hindu philosophy, there was never a "first" creation. The universe/souls/God have an eternal past. Karma is beginningless.

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