The Creation Hymn of Rig Veda

Reference: SANSKRIT SCRIPT

There was neither non-existence nor existence then.
There was neither the realm of space nor the sky which is beyond.
What stirred?
Where?
In whose protection?
Was there water, bottlemlessly deep?

There was neither death nor immortality then.
There was no distinguishing sign of night nor of day.
That One breathed, windless, by its own impulse.
Other than that there was nothing beyond.

Darkness was hidden by darkness in the beginning,
with no distinguishing sign, all this was water.
The life force that was covered with emptiness,
that One arose through the power of heat.

Desire came upon that One in the beginning,
that was the first seed of mind.
Poets seeking in their heart with wisdom
found the bond of existence and non-existence.

Their cord was extended across.
Was there below?
Was there above?
There were seed-placers, there were powers.
There was impulse beneath, there was giving forth above.

Who really knows?
Who will here proclaim it?
Whence was it produced?
Whence is this creation?
The gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe.
Who then knows whence it has arisen?

Whence this creation has arisen
– perhaps it formed itself, or perhaps it did not –
the One who looks down on it,
in the highest heaven, only He knows
or perhaps He does not know.


Translation by Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty. From the Book “The Rig Veda – Anthology”


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Vinaire’s comments:

The last two lines capture the deepest philosophy

in the highest heaven, only He knows
or perhaps He does not know.

The Quest for Certainty

This is a view that goes beyond all that characterize this universe. The following phrase is simply beautiful:

“That One breathed, windless, by its own impulse.”

And this phrase is logically consistent:

“The gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe.”

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The basic questions are: “Where?”, “When?”, Who?” or “What?”

Neither such questions, nor their answers are there in the beginning.

There is only manifestation, and awareness of that manifestation.

In case of absolute beginning, there is no “prior.”

In the “after,” there are these questions, and speculations for answers.

The questions manifest, and the speculations manifest

There is awareness of these manifestations.

This awareness then generates more questions and speculations.

Such speculations then going forward, as well as going backwards

Hide the unknowable.

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Comments

  • Chris Thompson  On April 15, 2011 at 12:25 AM

    Thanks for posting this. I am worse than ignorant about Hindu considerations. I thought this was very aware and beautiful.

  • vinaire  On April 15, 2011 at 6:52 AM

    Please read the link I have on this blog for Swami Vivekananda. That link will give an excellent flavor of the ancient Eastern thought.

    ~Vinaire

  • vinaire  On October 14, 2011 at 9:42 PM

    The word VEDA contains the sense of “knowing through pure looking.”

    Here are some definitions:

    Vedic Religion → liturgy → mantra (wisdom compressed into formulas)
    Samhitas → the four Vedas proper
    Ritual → a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value.
    Sacrifice → to perform sacred rites → giving up of some value for deeper aspirations
    Yajna → worship, prayer, praise; offering, oblation, sacrifice → longingly seeking (maybe ?)
    Worship → wonder at all that is, at its source, and how it all came about
    Soma juice → seems to bring the wonder of creation uppermost in one’s mind
    Mitra → integrity;
    See Vedic priesthood in Wikipedia for ṛtvij (“regularly-sacrificing”), vipra (“sage”) or kavi (“seer”).
    The hotṛ was the reciter of invocations and litanies.
    The adhvaryu was in charge of the physical details of the sacrifice

    Vedic Dieties
    Agni → fire → sacrifice → transformation → cremation → purification → the cycle of evaporation and rain → results come from giving first → service to others → realizing the impermanence of it all and giving up all attachment
    Angira → ancient sage → ancestor of man → wisdom of Agni
    Vayu → the breath → wind → air → life → …

    .

  • vinaire  On October 14, 2011 at 10:04 PM

    Verse 10.71
    (1) Love leads to the most intimate revelations.
    (2) Speech must be sifted through with utmost care. Then it leads to friendships.
    (3) A good sign is then placed on that speech. [SPEECH = ESSAYS].
    (4) Sacrifice = drinking of soma = totally take self out of the equation. Only then you find the right speech.
    (5) You praise the right speech together.
    (6) It is this intimacy without thinking of self that reveals right speech.
    (7) There should be no falsehood in sacred speech.
    (8) Sacred speech leads to the path of good action.
    (9) It is the love in the heart that shapes intuition of the mind.

    .

  • vinaire  On January 17, 2012 at 7:54 PM

    “There was neither death nor immortality then.
    There was no distinguishing sign of night nor of day.
    That One breathed, windless, by its own impulse.
    Other than that there was nothing beyond.”

    Here I don’t think that a “being” or “entity” is being talked about. That would be too concrete a view. Here we have supreme abstraction. Here we have the common denominator of any and all manifestation.

    So, there is no “cause” that brings about a manifestation. A manifestation simply appears as far as we can tell. There may seem to be a cause-effect relationship in the further evolution of that manifestation, but there is no such relationship at the start. That is the point to take away from the above verse.

    .

  • vinaire  On January 18, 2012 at 9:00 PM

    “There was neither non-existence nor existence then.

    There was neither death nor immortality then.
    There was no distinguishing sign of night nor of day.”

    .

    From the reference point of a universe, it is impossible to visualize what is beyond existence and non-existence, death and immortality, or night and day. We are conditioned to thinking in terms of a universe. Therefore, as long as we are attached to this universe of matter, energy, space and time… what is beyond will always be unknowable.

    .

  • vinaire  On January 25, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    “There was neither non-existence nor existence then.
    There was neither the realm of space nor the sky which is beyond.
    What stirred?
    Where?
    In whose protection?
    Was there water, bottlemlessly deep?”

    .

    All we have is speculation. This universe is created out of this speculation.

    The direction to follow is straightening out of all our speculations by removing all inconsistencies.

    .

  • vinaire  On March 9, 2012 at 6:30 AM

    “There was neither non-existence nor existence then.
    There was neither the realm of space nor the sky which is beyond.
    What stirred?
    Where?
    In whose protection?
    Was there water, bottlemlessly deep?”

    .

    The basic questions have the forms: “Where?”, “When?”, Who?” or “What?”

    Neither such questions, nor their answers are there in the beginning.

    There is only manifestation and awareness of that manifestation.

    Prior to that there is no “prior.”

    After that there are only speculations.

    And, speculations act as further manifestations.

    Which generate more speculations.

    This becomes a fractal.

    Going forward, as well as going backwards.

    Now, we have a trap.

    .

    • Chris Thompson  On May 1, 2012 at 10:21 PM

      Yes, I have been saying this.

      A trap? Yes, we can think of it like that. But what are we saying is trapped?

  • vinaire  On May 2, 2012 at 5:50 AM

    The consideration of “prior” makes prior appear. So, there is endless going prior, just as there is endless going forward.

    The consideration of “self” as a solution to “that which is considering” makes self appear.

    Then there is the consideration of self being confined to this endless going backward and forward. Thus, there is “trap.”

    The consideration of “cause” as a solution to this trap makes cause appear. One can then keep going back endlessly to find the cause.

    The consideration of “God” to stop this endless search for Cause then makes God appear. One can then keep going forward endlessly hoping for freedom.

    .

    • Chris Thompson  On May 2, 2012 at 8:37 AM

      Vinaire: “One can then keep going forward endlessly hoping for freedom.”

      Chris: Such a good point. It strikes at the heart of unhappiness. I don’t like quoting LRH because like “God” he is a hot-button and I get impertinent blowback but he said that “there is beingness but man thinks there is only becomingness.” This is consistent with your post. To me, our “becomingness” sometimes goes into “thermal runaway” and when this happens, the being goes mad, at least for the duration of that reaction.

      Sometimes, I just stop everything. No matter where I am and meditate. Also call it KHTK. Also call it TR0, eyes open or closed. The important thing is to just calm down from all the disharmony which has begun to reverberate out of control. The more subtle day to day “Trap” might be when I am fixated on this disharmony when it is not reverberating out of control and I am “coping.”

      • vinaire  On May 2, 2012 at 9:02 PM

        LRH: “There is beingness but man thinks there is only becomingness.”

        What people think as beingness, is actually becomingness. Being itself is a lower harmonic of becoming. Think fractal.

        .

    • sudhir Mittal  On March 27, 2016 at 3:50 AM

      The lyricism matches that of the original ! Thankyou …

  • vinaire  On September 11, 2012 at 8:29 PM

    The Creation Hymn of Rig Veda happens to be the most popular article on this blog. May be it touches some chord deep within the human psyche. I wish I could get some feedback here.

    .

    • Chris Thompsonc  On September 11, 2012 at 9:44 PM

      Yes, the Rig Veda to me seems an excellent condensation of all the pertinent questions.

      I say that the best answer to all the questions is “nothing.” (Until neti neti comes up with something – that will take a while.)

  • Sunder Lal Singhal  On November 6, 2012 at 6:50 AM

    Nothing or everything meaning the same. All the directions or the directionless
    Reach to the same point.only the questions or the answers have same significance.a boson or no boson makes no difference till we reach to the endless end.what to say to the silence.what to discover of already existed material. Just a craze or the claim of discovery.

    • vinaire  On November 6, 2012 at 7:00 AM

      Beautiful! Welcome to this blog.

      It is a jungle of considerations. Coming out of this jungle is really something.

      .

    • Chris Thompson  On November 6, 2012 at 10:22 AM

      Welcome. I am happy to read your comments.

  • R.K.Dixit  On April 8, 2013 at 11:58 PM

    I read and reread the Vedic HYmn .Beauitifully articulates the thinking about Him .
    Ultimately ,it boils down that we should not think too much .It is so scary to think how Universe came into existence and so many questions raised without any clear-cut answers because our thinking /mind can not go beyond .-cause and effect theory . We can start with God -Unknown -Infinite /zero and then start postulating other theories .-rebirth ,soul,ego ,intellect ,mind ,body etc ,reincarnation etc etc.
    Vinay ,thanks .Beautifully presented .

  • vinaire  On April 9, 2013 at 4:54 AM

    Hi RK! Welcome to my blog. This hymn is one of the most popular items on this blog. So many people have read it. I still read it often and get inspired by it.

    .

  • Bud  On June 26, 2013 at 1:21 AM

    I do not believe I have gotten any direct answers to my questions from the hymn but it has greatly expanded my thoughts about all the possibilities mentioned. I have come to believe “Truth” is particularly very personal. It goes along with how we travel through this journey, happiness, and free will.

    • vinaire  On June 26, 2013 at 7:22 AM

      The answers have to come from within yourself, because questions are coming from within yourself also.

      Neither the questions nor the answers are out there.

      .

    • vinaire  On June 26, 2013 at 7:25 AM

      To me, the key element of any investigation is MINDFULNESS

      .

    • Chris Thompson  On June 26, 2013 at 7:58 AM

      Good observation Bud. If the Rig Veda expanded your look, then that may be all that was ever intended.

    • vinaire  On June 26, 2013 at 12:09 PM

      Yes, Bud, it is wonderful that this hymn has served to expand your thoughts about all the possibilities mentioned.

      .

  • vinaire  On March 20, 2014 at 12:18 PM

    This Hymn has been a perennial favorite of most people who visit Vinaire’s Blog. I used to wonder why. But I think I have the answer now.

    It is the most fundamental of all fundamentals that lies at the very core of consciousness. It is,

    There are no absolute certainties.

    See https://vinaire.me/2014/03/06/khtk-postulates-for-metaphysics-part-1/
    .

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