Mountain Man's Global News Archive
The Cosmology/Creation Hymn in Rgveda
An Article by Shikaripura Harihareswara
Web Publication by Mountain Man Graphics, Australia - Southern Summer 1997
The Cosmology Hymn in the Rigveda
"The vision of this hymn comes out of a profound insight into the mystery of reality. It is the product of a mystical experience that far transcends the limits of logical thinking; it is a religious chant - for only in music or poetry can such a message be conveyed - invoking in splendid verses the Primal Mystery that transcends all categories, both human and divine....." - Prof. Raimundo Panikkar (Ref. 3, p 54)
"..... and there are hymns, though few in number, in the Vedas, so full of thought and speculation that at this early period no poet in any other nation could have conceived them. I give but one specimen, the 129th hymn of the tenth book of the Rigveda. .. It is a hymn, which long ago attracted the attention of that eminent scholar H T Colebrooke ...." - Frederich Max Muller ( Ref. 4, page 10)
" In its noble simplicity, in the loftiness of its philosophic vision it is possibly the most admirable bit of philosophy of olden t= imes. .. .. .. No translation can ever do justice to the beauty of the original." - Paul Deussen (Ref. 5, pp 119 & 126)
"....the unlimited praises which has been bestowed upon [the humn], as philosophy and as poetry, are well-nigh nauseating." - Prof. William D. Whitney (Ref. 6, p. cxi)
".... This remarkable production [of Cosmology hymn (10.129)] has always interested Sanskritists profoundly; it has also passed over into the general literature of religion and philosophy. .... ... I think we may grant that the composition shows a good deal of rawness, unevenness, and inconsistency. Yet, it is perhaps easier to undervalue such a performance than to exaggerate its importance. It occurs in one of the earliest literatures of the world; it brushes aside all mythology, and it certainly exhibits philosophic depth and caution when it designates the fundamental cause of the universe not by a name, but as "that (tat)", or " the One thing (ekam)". But let my hearers judge for themselves: ...." - Prof. Maurice Bloomefield (Ref. 7, pp 234-235)
There was no death then, nor yet deathlessness;
of night or day there was not any sign.
The One breathed without breath by its own impulse.
Other than that was nothing at all.
Darkness was there, all wrapped around by darkness,
and all was Water indiscriminate, Then
that which was hidden by Void, that One, emerging,
stirring, through power of Ardor, came to be.
In the beginning Love arose,
which was primal germ cell of mind.
The Seers, searching in their hearts with wisdom,
discovered the connection of Being in Nonbeing.
A crosswise line cut Being from Nonbeing.
What was described above it, what below?
Bearers of seed there were and mighty forces,
thrust from below and forward move above.
Who really knows? Who can presume to tell it?
Whence was it born? Whence issued this creation?
Even the Gods came after its emergence.
Then who can tell from whence it came to be?
That out of which creation has arisen,
whether it held it firm or it did not,
He who surveys it in the highest heaven,
He surely knows - or maybe He does not!
-Translation by Prof. Raimundo Panikkar (Ref. 3, pp 58)
[This Cosmology Hymn has been translated by: Colebrooke, "Miscellaneous Essays" pp 33-4; Muir, "Original Sanskrit Texts, V, pp 356-7; Wallis, "Cosmology of the Rigveda", pp 59ff; Whitney, "Journal of American Oriental Society", vol. XI, p. cix; and several other Vedic scholars such as, Mascaro, Macdonell, Misch, Telang, Chubey, Renou, Zaehner, Geldner. (Ref. 10, p 623 & 3, p 59 )]
1 "Rigveda samhitA", (Sanskrit Original)
Published by Nag Publications, New Delhi
2 Prof. Abinash Chandra Bose, "The Call of the Vedas", Pub by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan
3 Prof. Raimundo Panikkar, "The Vedic Experience- Mantra-manjari" Pub. by Motilal Banarasidas
4 Frederich Max Mueller, "The Vedas" Pub. by Indological Book House
5 Prof. Paul Deussen, "History of Philosophy", vol. I
6 Prof. William D Whitney, Proceedings of American Oriental Society, vol. XI
7 Prof. Maurice Bloomefield, "The Religion of the Veda" Pub. by G. P. Putnam & Sons
8 Prof. Franklin Edgerton, "The Beginnings of Indian Philosophy"
9 Prof. H. H. Wilson, "The Rigveda SamhitA", vol. 6
10 Prof. Ralph T. H. Griffith, "Hymns of the Rigveda", vol.II
11 Prof. V. Raghavan, " The Indian Heritage" Pub. by The Indian Institute of World Culture
12 R. C. Zaehner, "Hindu Scriptures", Pub. by E.P. Dutton.