Saturday, November 10, 2007

Nasadiya Sukta

Hymn of Creation
Holy Rigveda X.129.1-7

Neither Being nor non-Being existed then;
There was no sky, nor heaven, which is beyond.
What covered? Where was it and in whose shelter?
Was the water the deep abyss in which it lay? [1]

There was no death, hence neither was anything immortal;
There was no distinction between night and day.
By its inherent force the One breathed windless;
Nothing other than that existed. [2]

Darkness there was,
In the beginning all this was a sea without light;
That which, becoming, by the void was covered,
That One by the force of heat came into being. [3]

Desire entered the One in the beginning,
It was the earliest seed, the product of thought.
The Sages searching in their hearts with wisdom
Found the bond of Being in non-Being. [4]

Their ray extended light across the darkness;
But was the One below or was it above?
Creative force and fertile power was there;
Below was energy and will, above. [5]

Who knows for certain? Who shall declare it here?
When was it born and when came the creation?
The Devas came later,
Who then knows whence it arose? [6]

None knows when creation has arisen;
Whether He made it or did not make it,
He who surveys it in the highest heaven,
Only He knows, or maybe even He knows not! [7]

[Trans. Raimundo Pannikar]

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The Nasadiya Sukta is another very famous hymn from the tenth book of the Rigveda. It is actually named after the first word in the hymn (nasadasin, meaning "non-Being was"), and attributed to Sage Parameshti Prajapati. This hymn is often referred to as the Hymn of Creation for obvious reasons. The basic meaning of the Nasadiya Sukta is fairly easy to grasp, but the importance of this hymn to the development of monistic thought cannot be stressed enough. This Nasadiya Sukta is sometimes considered the first written evidence of monistic thought.

The hymn mentions quite clearly that that which "exists" before the beginning is neither Being nor non-Being. In later monistic philosophy, that which is neither Being nor non-Being is referred to as Nirguna Brahman (in Vedanta) or Paramashiva (in Tantra), and the individual Atman is equated with that essential Ultimate Reality. Perhaps most importantly, the Nasadiya Sukta leaves us with something to think about: perhaps only He who surveys from the highest of heavens knows how creation has arisen, or perhaps He does not!

Aum Aham Aham Aham Shivaya Namah.

© Agnideva, 2007. All rights reserved.

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