We have certain posts which discuss about how the universe was created OR how Brahman imagined to become from one to many. This Qn is about the situation earlier to that.

Anything which is describable can be assumed as "something". "Something" is naturally existent with respect to "Nothing".
e.g. 1 is 1 or 2 is 2, because we have 0 (or void). Or let's say, I can say there is an Apple in my hand, because it was not there before. Even it may not remain after a while.
This is only one-way route, as vice versa is not true. Means, We don't need "something" to describe "nothing", because it's indescribable anyways. In a way "nothing" is ever existent (or non-existent).

Question: From above we can derive that there has to be "nothing" at first, for "something" to be able to come into picture. Also, the first ever 'thing' would have born, has to be a "thought", because it's the command even for any action to happen.

How & why the first ever thought could have even got generated?

Update: Why have I assumed that 'something' has come out of 'nothing', but not vice versa?
The rational explanation is already given with 0-1-2 & Apple example. Those who seek scripture base, here is a verse from Gita:

BG 9.4 - This whole world is pervaded by Me in My unmanifest form. All beings exist in Me, but I am not contained in them.

The unmanifest form in other verses is referred as indescribable - अव्यक्त and unthinkable - अचिन्त्य. The only logical English word for such term is 'nothing'. There are other verses as well, such as "the world pervades from Me & merges back to Me", where "Me" is that Unmanifest form.

If you see the Swami Vishwananda's answer & comment section, it in fact provides additional scriptures to this concept, except that 'nothing' is referred as 'Brahman'. 'Brahman' is derived after 'Neti Neti' (not this, not this) and so is 'nothing'.

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    Indeed a good question.
    – TheLittleNaruto
    Mar 9, 2018 at 6:00
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    Good Qstn! But I don't think 'Something' can come from 'nothing'. If something cud come from nothing then we wud have been able to create everything and anything from nothing or anything. ex. mustard oil can come only from mustard seed because its present in seed. We cant get mustard oil from sand. becoz sand doesn't have it. This is called 'SatKaryavad'. The idea you have put in ur qstn is called 'AsatKaryavad'. It is refuted in BrahmaSutra. Il try to find the sutra. Mar 9, 2018 at 7:15
  • @Vishal, if 'something' can only come from earlier 'something', which in turn comes from even earlier 'something', then the chain would become infinite (impossible). In such case, how can present 'something' will come out when the earlier 'something's are still pending?! To terminate this chain, we have to rationally understand that there has to be an earliest/first 'something', which comes out of 'nothing'. Unlike 2 'something's which are different, there is no concept of 2 'nothing's.
    – iammilind
    Mar 9, 2018 at 9:09
  • @iammilind No. certain things we cant understand by our limited intelligence. For ex. if we go rationally tree comes from seed and seed comes from tree. Now as per this we shouldn't be having trees or seeds currently. But by Pratyaksh pramana we know that they are there. Also God is beyond this cause-effect thing. We cant apply causality to God. So if we apply causality then will do fallacy of infinite regress and we know that's not true. Mar 9, 2018 at 9:16
  • @iammilind well, I remember this chain is said to be eternal. And not like something come from nothing. From Upanishads.
    – Pandya
    Mar 10, 2018 at 15:38

1 Answer 1


Let me breakdown your question into two parts. Your first question is "From above we can derive that there has to be "nothing" at first, for "something" to be able to come into picture."

Actually, no. Brahma Sutras I.4.14-15 says (Swami Vireswarananda translator, available here - https://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/brahma-sutras/d/doc62753.html)

  1. (Although) as regards (things created, like) ether and so on (the Vedânta texts differ), (yet there is no such conflict with respect to Brahman) as the First Cause, (on account of Its) being represented (in other texts) as taught (in one text).

[Sankara's commentary] The Sânkhyas contend that though the Pradhâna cannot be the First Cause according to the Sruti, yet Brahman also cannot be taken to be the First Cause taught by the Sruti. Why? Because there is conflict as regards the order of creation; for some texts say that it is Âkâsa that was first produced from Brahman, some say that it is Prâna, others that it is fire. This Sutra says that though there are conflicting views with respect to things created, that is, as regards the order of creation, yet since it is not the main object of the Sruti to teach about creation, it matters little. The main object in these descriptions is to teach that Brahman is the First Cause, and with respect to this there is no conflict; for every Vedânta text holds that Brahman is that.

15. On account of the connection (with passage referring to Brahman, nonexistence does not mean absolute nonexistence).

[Sankara's commentary] A further objection is raised that even as regards the First Cause there is a conflict, for some texts say that the Self created these worlds (Ait. Ar. 2. 4. 1. 2-3), others say that creation originated from non-existence (Taitt. 2. 7). Again existence is taught as the First Cause in some texts (Chh. 6. 2. 1-2). Spontaneous creation also is taught by some texts (Brih, 1. 4. 7). On account of these conflicting texts it cannot be said that all the Vedânta texts refer to Brahman uniformly as the First Cause. These objections are answered as follows: “This was: indeed non-existence in the beginning” (Taitt. 2. 7). Non-existence here does not mean absolute nonexistence but undifferentiated existence. Existence was at the beginning undifferentiated into name and form. In the texts of the Taittiriyâ Upanishad Brahman is definitely described as not being nonexistence. “He who knows Brahman as nonexisting becomes himself non-existing. He who knows Brahman as existing is known by sages as existing” (Taitt. 2 . 6). This Brahman is again described as having wished to be many and created this world. Again “How can that which is be created from non-existence?” (Chh. 6. 2. 2) clearly denies such a possibility. “Now this was then undifferentiated” (Brih. 1 . 4. 7), does not speak of spontaneous creation without a ruler, for it is connected with another passage where it is said, “He has entered here to the very tips of the finger-nails” (Brih. 1 . 4. 7), where ‘He’ refers to this ruler, and hence we have to take that the Lord, the ruler, developed what was undeveloped. Similarly Brahman, which is described in one place as existence, is referred to in another place as being the Self of all by the word ‘Âtman’. So all texts uniformly point to Brahman as the First Cause, and there is no conflict as regards this.

The second part of your question is "Also, the first ever 'thing' would have born, has to be a "thought", because it's the command even for any action to happen."

The Aitareya Upanisad I.i.1 says (Swami Nikhilananda translator):

In the beginning [all] this verily was Atman only, one and without a second. There was nothing else that winked. He bethought Himself: "Let Me now create the worlds."

and in Nikhilananda's summary of Sankara's commentary it says:

Bethought: The creation is a spontaneous action, without any compulsion or logical necessity. How could Atman, who is devoid of sense organs, think? It is because omniscience is the very nature of Atman, and therefore He needed no organ for the purpose of thinking. Compare: "Devoid of hands and feet, He quickly moves and grasps." The object of His thinking was the creation of the world whose nature would be determined by the past actions of the living beings of the previous cycle for their experience of pleasure or pain as determined by their good or evil deeds.

The philosophy of Atman is stated in the text in the form of an aphorism (sutra). Later on, by the demonstration that names and forms are mere illusory superimpositions (adhyaropa) and then by their refutation (apavada), will be shown the unreal nature of phenomena and the sole reality of Atman. The verses up to the first sentence of I.iii.13 deal with the topic of illusory superimposition; next follows the refutation.

When Brahman or Atman is referred to as 'thinking' it is a reference to Saguna Brahman and not Nirguna Brahman as there is no differentiation within Nirguna Brahman. Realize also that when terms like 'thinking' or 'thought' are used it is to put these ideas into terms and words that we can relate to and understand; in reality these things are beyond our comprehension. In reality, 'thought' is a part of the physical universe and a part of the brain. If you don't think so, if you think your thoughts are independent of your body-mind system, stop eating for a few weeks and see what happens to your thoughts. Ref

In summary, when there is nothing to start, nothing does not mean absolute non-existence. The first thought that arose was in Saguna Brahman. Note also that it refers to the start of a cycle, there was no first cycle. There were an infinite number of cycles before this one, and there will be an infinite number after this one.

Reference: Chhandogya Upanishad 6.6.2 and 6.7.2

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    If "Brahman" is the first cause, then what is "Brahman"? Is it 'something'? If yes then from where that 'something' is spawned? If "Brahman" is 'nothing', then your answer is an extension to my question with scriptures! :-)
    – iammilind
    Mar 9, 2018 at 9:14
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    @iammilind It is neither being nor non-being, it is neither two nor is it one....all we can say is neti, neti - it is not this, not this. Mar 9, 2018 at 11:23
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    @iammilind read Brahma Sutras verse 1.1.2. this verse defines Brahman. Mar 9, 2018 at 11:38
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    @iammilind, why you do assume that EVERYTHING HAS to SPAWN from something else ? while that is true for everything we can experience with our senses, it is not true for atma & paramatma. Don't force your logic on truth. If you say 'everything must have a creator, because that has been my experience' - then your experience is limited. there are things which don't have a creator
    – ram
    Mar 10, 2018 at 18:01
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    @ram "Don't force your logic on truth." -- usually I stop conversation at this point when people arrive with a pre-defined agenda. Anyhow, you may refer the updated Qn & think again with your own conscience. In case you still feel otherwise, then that's also fine. Please do not take pain to convince me again. Assume that I already agree with your Atma / ParamAtma thing. :-)
    – iammilind
    Mar 11, 2018 at 2:38

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