The NASADIYA SUKTA (after the incipit _ná ásat_, or "not the
non-existent"), also known as the HYMN OF CREATION, is the 129th hymn
of the 10th
* 1 Interpretations
* 2 Metre
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The hymn has attracted a large body of literature of commentaries both in Indian darshan and in Western philology .
The Creation Hymn begins by paradoxically stating "not the non-existent existed, nor did the existent exist then" (_ná ásat āsīt ná u sát āsīt tadânīm_), paralleled in verse 2 by "then not death existed, nor the immortal" (_ná mṛtyúḥ āsīt amŕtam ná tárhi_). But already in verse 2 mention is made that there was "breathing without breath, of its own nature, that one" _ânīt avātám svadháyā tát ékam _). In verse 3, being unfolds, "from heat (tapas ) was born that one" (_tápasaḥ tát mahinâ ajāyata ékam_). Verse 4 mentions desire (kāma ) as the primal seed, and the first poet-seers (kavayas ) who "found the bond of being within non-being with their heart's thought".
Karel Werner describes the author's source for the material as one not derived from reasoning, but a "visionary, mystical or Yogic experience put into words." Werner writes that prior to creation, the Creation Hymn does not describe a state of "nothingness" but rather "That One (_tad ekam_)" which is, "Spaceless, timeless, yet in its own way dynamic and the Sole Force, this Absolute..."
Brereton (1999) argues that the reference to the sages searching for being in their spirit is central, and that the hymn's gradual procession from non-being to being in fact re-enacts creation within the listener (see sphoṭa ), equating poetic utterance and creation (see śabda ).
According to one source, the hymn is undoubtedly late within the Rigveda, and expresses thought more typical of later Indian philosophy .
An atheist interpretation sees the Creation Hymn as one of the
earliest accounts of skeptical inquiry and agnosticism . Astronomer
Brereton (1999) argues that the defect is a conscious device employed by the rishi to express puzzlement at the possibility that the world may _not_ be created, parallel to the syntactic defect of pada 7d, which ends in a subordinate clause without a governing clause: _só aṅgá veda yádi vā ná véda_ "he verily knows; or if he does not know "
NASADIYA SUKTA WITH ENGLISH TRANSLATION
नासदासीन्नो सदासीत्तदानीं नासीद्रजो नो व्योमा परो यत्
किमावरीवः कुह कस्य शर्मन्नम्भः किमासीद्गहनं गभीरम् ॥ १॥
न मृत्युरासीदमृतं न तर्हि न रात्र्या अह्न आसीत्प्रकेतः
आनीदवातं स्वधया तदेकं तस्माद्धान्यन्न परः किञ्चनास ॥२॥
तम आसीत्तमसा गूहळमग्रे प्रकेतं सलिलं सर्वाऽइदम्
तुच्छ्येनाभ्वपिहितं यदासीत्तपसस्तन्महिनाजायतैकम् ॥३॥
कामस्तदग्रे समवर्तताधि मनसो रेतः प्रथमं यदासीत्
सतो बन्धुमसति निरविन्दन्हृदि प्रतीष्या कवयो मनीषा ॥४॥
तिरश्चीनो विततो रश्मिरेषामधः स्विदासीदुपरि स्विदासीत्
रेतोधा आसन्महिमान आसन्त्स्वधा अवस्तात्प्रयतिः परस्तात् ॥५॥
को अद्धा वेद क इह प्र वोचत्कुत आजाता कुत इयं विसृष्टिः
अर्वाग्देवा अस्य विसर्जनेनाथा को वेद यत आबभूव ॥६॥
इयं विसृष्टिर्यत आबभूव यदि वा दधे यदि वा न
यो अस्याध्यक्षः परमे व्योमन्त्सो अङ्ग वेद यदि वा न वेद ॥७॥
Then even nothingness was not, nor existence, There was no air then, nor the heavens beyond it. What covered it? Where was it? In whose keeping? Was there then cosmic water, in depths unfathomed?
Then there was neither death nor immortality nor was there then the torch of night and day. The One breathed windlessly and self-sustaining. There was that One then, and there was no other.
At first there was only darkness wrapped in darkness. All this was only unillumined cosmic water. That One which came to be, enclosed in nothing, arose at last, born of the power of heat.
In the beginning desire descended on it - that was the primal seed, born of the mind. The sages who have searched their hearts with wisdom know that which is kin to that which is not.
And they have stretched their cord across the void, and know what was above, and what below. Seminal powers made fertile mighty forces. Below was strength, and over it was impulse.
But, after all, who knows, and who can say Whence it all came, and how creation happened? the Devas (minor gods) themselves are later than creation, so who knows truly whence it has arisen?
Whence all creation had its origin, he, whether he fashioned it or whether he did not, he, who surveys it all from highest heaven, he knows - or maybe even he does not know.
—Translated by A. L. Basham
IN POPULAR CULTURE
* The title track of the popular Indian documentary series _Bharat
Ek Khoj _ features a rendering of part the Nasadiya Sukta, both in the
original Sanskrit , and in
* God in
* ^ Kenneth Kramer (January 1986). _World Scriptures: An
Introduction to Comparative Religions_. Paulist Press. pp. 34–. ISBN
* ^ David Christian (1 September 2011). _Maps of Time: An
Introduction to Big History_. University of California Press. pp.
18–. ISBN 978-0-520-95067-2 .
* ^ Upinder Singh (2008). _A History of Ancient and Early Medieval
India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century_. Pearson Education
India. pp. 206–. ISBN 978-81-317-1120-0 .
* ^ Swami
Ranganathananda (1991). _Human Being in Depth: A
Scientific Approach to Religion_. SUNY Press. p. 21. ISBN
* ^ Wendy Doniger says of this hymn (10.129) "This short hymn,
though linguistically simple... is conceptually extremely provocative
and has, indeed, provoked hundreds of complex commentaries among
Indian theologians and Western scholars. In many ways, it is meant to
puzzle and challenge, to raise unanswerable questions, to pile up
paradoxes." _The Rig Veda_. (Penguin Books: 1981) p. 25. ISBN
* ^ Werner, Karel (1977). "Symbolism in the
Carl Sagan's 'COSMOS' mentioning Nasadiya Sukta.YouTube link
Wikisource has original text related to this article: NASADIYA SUKTA TRANSLATED BY RALPH T.H. GRIFFITH
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