Deepesh' Blog

Just random……..

Nasadiya Sukta (Rig Veda)

When we were 20 years younger, Doordarshan telecasted a serial named “Bharat Ek Khoj”. This serial had a beautiful lyric which was aired during title sequence and at end of each episode. It was like this -
 
          Srishti se pehle sat nahin thaa, asat bhi nahin
         Antariksh bhi nahin, aakaash bhi nahin thaa
         chhipaa thaa kyaa, kahaan, kisne dhakaa thaa
         us pal to agam, atal jal bhi kahaan thaa
 
 
          Shrishti kaa kaun hain kartaa
          Kartaa hain vaa akartaa
         Oonche aakash mein rahtaa
         Sadaa adhyaksh banaa rahtaa
         Wohin sach mooch mein jaantaa..Yaa nahin bhi jaanata
         Hain kisi ko nahin pataa
 
 

 

This poem composed by Vanraj Bhatia for Shyam Benegal’s TV serial was actually translation of 1st and 7th verse respectively of 129th Hymn of the 10th Book of Rig Veda. This Rig Vedic hymn was composed by Rishi Parmesthi Prajapati and it talks about the origin of the universe. Yes, this musing about the puzzle of universe has a history, which extends up to the RigVeda age!  

This hymn is known as Nasadiya Sukta, having got its name from the first word of the hymn i.e. Nasadasinno. The hymn contains total 7 verses. Let us go through it. We will see two translations of each verse, one by Ralf Griffith and other by Swami Vivekanand. Griffith’s translation of Rig Veda is widely used, whereas Swami Vivekanand’s translation is necessary to understand meaning of verses from Indian line of thinking, of which western translators are not supposed to have a correct understanding always.

nasadasinno sadasittadanim | nasidrajo no vyoma paro yat |
kimavarivah kuhakasya sharmann | ambhah kimasidgahanam gabhiram
\\1||

Vivekananda-

Existence was not then, nor non-existence,
The world was not, the sky beyond was neither.
What covered the mist? Of whom was that?
What was in the depths of darkness thick?

Griffith –

Then was not non-existent nor existent : there was no realm of air no sky above it.

What covered in, and where ? and what gave shelter? Was water their, anfathomed depth of water.

na mrutyurasidamrutam na tarhi | na ratrya ahna asitpraketah |
anidavatam svadhaya tadekam | tasmaddhanyannaparah ki~jchanasa || 2 ||

Vivekananda:
Death was not then, nor immortality,
The night was neither separate from day,
But motionless did That vibrate
Alone, with Its own glory one-—Beyond That nothing did exist.

Griffith –

Death was not then, nor was then aught immortal, no sign was there, the day and night divider.

That one thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature: apart from it was nothing whatsoever.

tama asittamasa guhlamagre praketam | salilam sarvamaidam |
tuchchenabhvapihitam yadasit | tamasastanmahina jayataikam || 3 ||

Vivekananda:
At first in darkness hidden darkness lay,
Undistinguished as one mass of water,
Then That which lay in void thus covered
A glory did put forth by Tapah!

Griffith –

Darkness there was : at first concealed in darkness, all this was indiscriminate chaos.

All that existed then was void and formless: by the great power of warmth was born that Unit.

kamastadagre samavartatadhi | manaso retah prathamam yadasit |
sato bandhumasati niravindanna | hrudi pratishya kavayo manisha || 4 ||

Vivekananda:
First desire rose, the primal seed of mind,
(The sages have seen all this in their hearts
Sifting existence from non-existence.)
Its rays above, below and sideways spread.

Griffith –

Thereafter rose Desire in the beginning, Desire the primal seed and germ of spirit.

Sages who searched with their heart’s thought discovered the existent’s kinship in the non existent.

tirashchino vitato rashmireshamadhah | svidasi duparisvidasi |
retodha asanmahiman asanna | svadho avastat prayatih parastat || 5 ||

Vivekananda:
Creative then became the glory,
With self-sustaining principle below.
And Creative Energy above.

Griffith-

Transversely was their severing line extended: what was above in then, and what below it?

There were begetters, there were mighty forces, free action here and energy up yonder

ko addha veda ka iha pravochat | kut ajata kut iyam visrushtih |
arvagdeva asya visarjanaya | atha ko veda yata ababhuva || 6 ||

Vivekananda:
Who knew the way? Who there declared
Whence this arose? Projection whence?
For after this projection came the gods.
Who therefore knew indeed, came out this whence?

Griffith –

Who verily knows and who can here declare it, whence it was born and whence comes this creation?

The Gods are later than this world’s production. Who knows then whence it first came into being?

iyam visrushtiryata ababhuva | yadi va dadhe yadi va na |
yo asyadhyakshah parame vyomann | so amga veda yadi va na veda || 7 ||

Vivekananda:
This projection whence arose,
Whether held or whether not,
He the ruler in the supreme sky, of this
He, O Sharman! knows, or knows not He perchance!

Griffith –

He, the first origin of the creation, whether he formed it all or did not form it,

Whoes eyes control this world in the highest heaven, he verily knows it, or perhaps knows not.

Let us see, without going deep in philosophy, what are the minimum points which we can extract from the Sukta.

1.         Apparent universe was not there initially (ref :existence was not there, verse1)

2.         Sky and Sky-beyond (antariksha) was not present (ref : verse1)

2.         But something was present (ref : non-existence was also not there, verse1)

3.         That something was infinitely dense (ref :gahanam-gamphiram, last word of verse 1)

4.         Apart from that “something” there was absolutely nothing. (ref :verse 2)

5.         That un-understandable was hidden in unknown way (ref : Darkness there was : at first concealed in darkness, verse 3)

6.         Whatever that “something” was that was void and formless. (ref : verse 3)

7.         Due to HEAT it came into being (ref : verse 3). i.e. The Universe had in fact a “beginning”.

8.         Then due to DESIRE, universe started unfolding. (ref : Verse 4)

9.         Gods came only after the existence came into being (ref : verse 6).

10.       It is not known, whether there was a creator or it came into being on its own, randomly. (ref : Verse 7)

11.       After giving these clues, a Great Doubt has been expressed by the rishi, that whether the puzzle of existence would be solved at all. (ref : verse 6 and 7)

After getting a glimpse of what the ancient seers thought about origin of universe, it is interesting to know about our understanding on the issue in current times especially after remarkable developments in the field of science. After many discoveries in the field of astronomy, in 1929 Edwin Hubble made a wonderful observation that all galaxies are moving away from us. From this observation it has been deducted that universe is expanding and, as it is expanding, once upon a time, it is calculated to be 13.7 billion years ago, the Universe started expanding from infinitesimally small state. This is Big-Bang theory, the most acceptable scientific theory of origin of universe.

Let us give a glance on main premise and findings of the Big Bang Theory-

1.         There was a “beginning” of our Universe.

2.         It started from infinitesimally small, infinitely hot and infinitely dense state. This state has been given a name – “singularity”.

3.         After coming into existence, it started expanding and is expanding till date.

4.         From where “singularity” came, why it came, where it appeared etc is unknown.

5.         The singularity did not appeared in space, as space was not there in beginning. In fact, space began inside the “singularity”. Before singularity there was nothing- neither space, nor time, nothing.

As neither Nasadiya Sukta nor Big Bang Theory claims to have solved the mystery of the creation of the Universe, rather Nasadiya Sukta expresses a big doubt that whether we would ever be able to solve the mystery, when it expresses “perhaps even He known not (verse 7)”, the quest will be on. But what is really interesting is the convergence of thoughts of Rig Vedic rishis and modern scientist in the quest, despite adopting radically different methodologies and despite being separated by a time span of 10,000 years. Also, how wonderful is the proclamation in a religious book that “God was created after the creation of Universe”!

-Deepesh

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April 19, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

6 Comments »

  1. Nowhere it says “God was created after creation of universe”. It says ‘Devas are after the creation began’. It is very clear about the Supreme soul breathing by itself, willing to expand himself and then bringing forth the creation(ie, the concept of Paramatma creating the universe). Only that it also expresses the suprise and incomprehensible nature of the universe from the perspective of all the created beings, devas inclusive. This also includes all the expanding faculties of the paramatma that is later slowly realised by the yogis.

    Comment by Anand Viswanathan | April 26, 2011 | Reply

  2. Hi Deepesh,

    I enjoyed your posting.
    Nasadiya Sukta is a great work by the great spiritual scientists.

    Definitely “God was created after creation of universe” is the biggest discovery.By God we mean a personal God who is the creator of this sub-universe, who is interested in human affairs, and who should be worshiped. While understanding cosmology Napoleon asked Laplace “Where is there room in all this for God?” To which Laplace famously replied, “I have no need for that hypothesis.”

    Our ancient seers were true scientist. The amazing spirit is very important, they did not use the complex confusing terminology like; “Paramatma”, “Supreme soul” etc. Later on, it is the priest spoiled the scientific spirit. They were more interested on terminology rather than the penetrating insights.

    Thanks Good work!
    Kristin

    Comment by Kristin Russel | July 13, 2011 | Reply

  3. As you say, neither the scientific theory of big bang nor this specific chapter of vedas contemplates what happened before that big bang or what was the cause of that big bang. Creation of time is a mystery we need to solve too. So many human minds have thought on this subject but no one was able to come close to an answer?

    Comment by Destination Infinity | August 23, 2011 | Reply

  4. Nasadiya Sukta is very interesting in that it almost makes me feel that the Rishis who composed it are talking about the ‘big bang theory’.

    Comment by Chandrika Joshi | December 12, 2012 | Reply

  5. An exciting development for Rigveda and Sanskrit lovers: A completely new translation of selected hymns such as the “Creation hymn,” the “10 kings battle” hymn, Vena hymn and the “river hymn (nadi stuti).

    A Horse Amongst Donkeys
    (Some secrets of the Rigveda)

    ebook now available at your favourite ebook store.

    Comment by rigvedadecoded | June 27, 2014 | Reply


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