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Here is the premise of the argument given by Shaivas and Vaishnavas to show that their deities are the supreme Brahman. Quoting and slightly paraphrasing from Nadadur Ammal's Para Tattva Nirnaya:

To explain, it is understood that only the cause of the universe is the supreme reality, as the following [Taittiriya Upanishad] verse says: 'That from which all beings are born, that by which they live, and that into which they enter at their death, try to know that: that is Brahman.'

This is the definition of Brahman according to the second sutra of the Brahma Sutras:

Janmadyasya yatah

Continuing:

When it is questioned, 'Which is that cause?' The Chhandogya Upanishad reveals that the cause of the Universe is denoted by the word 'Sat' in the verse, 'This universe was at first, my dear, only Sat.' The cause of the universe is then referred to as Brahman in the Vajasaneyaka verse, 'Brahman indeed this was at first.' By the rule of sarvasakha-pratyaya there can only be one entity as the cause designated by all these terms.

The word 'Sat' is generic term meaning existent, and it will denote any object big or small. The word 'Brahman' meaning 'big' is a more specific term. According to chaga-pashu-nyaya, the generic term is specified by the more specific term when the context [in this case origination] is the same, the entity designated 'Sat' is specified by the term 'Brahman.' Therefore, the cause is not only 'existent' but also 'big'.

Then, another more specific designation for the cause is particularized in the Aitareya Upanishad by the word 'Atman' in the verse, 'This existed in the beginning as the Atman alone." This rules out insentient beings as the cause, so that the cause is now only identified as a sentient being. So now, the cause is 'Sat', 'Brahman', and 'Atma'.

The word 'Atma' is common to all sentient beings, and now the question arises, which sentient being is the cause?

At this point, the Shaivas cite the following Shvetashvatara Upanishad verse,

Shiva alone existed

Followers of Brahma cite this verse,

Hiranyagarbha existed at first

While Vaishnavas cite this Mahopanishad verse,

Narayana alone existed, not Brahma, not Ishana [Shiva]

Is there any verse in the Rig Veda Samhita that specifically says something like this for Indra? Like "In the beginning, Indra alone existed", "In the beginning, Maghavan alone existed"?

  • There is an even better verse - "indro mAyAbhiH pururUpa Iyate" Indra takes many forms due to mAyA. – user16581 Nov 4 '19 at 15:51
  • @LazyLubber That doesn't suggest he existed before creation or is the cause of everything. A shapeshifter can take many forms with siddhis. – Ikshvaku Nov 4 '19 at 15:53
  • Its not about a shape shifter. Even Sayana here takes Indra as supreme Ishwara. Infact, existing before creation is more metaphorical. Krishna says in BG that jeevas always existed in the past. – user16581 Nov 4 '19 at 16:09
  • @LazyLubber Sure, it is accepted it is metaphorical, but at least Ramanujacharya clarifies what the verses "alone existed" mean; and that is that only the supreme being existed whereas others existed in a very subtle, indistinguishable form. – Ikshvaku Nov 4 '19 at 18:04
  • Well, in that case, Agni is described as being not only before creation but also after it. RV 10.5.7: "asat ca sat ca parame vyoman dakShasya janman aditerupasthe. agnir ha nah prathamaja Rtasya, pUrve Ayuni vRShabhashca dhenuh" - Agni is both existence and non-existence in the highest level, both Daksha and Aditi, both Bull and Cow, and first manifestation of the universe. – RamAbloh Aug 9 at 19:13
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Yes, there is a Rig-Veda mantra that points towards Indra being alone at the beginning i.e. this mantra praises Indra as Supreme Creator and he was alone before. All the material forms /beings were created by him and all the visible universe came after Indra.

This Rig Veda mantra is from Mandala 8- Sukta 96- Mantra 6. The Rishi of this sukta is Dyutana, the son of the Maruts, or Tiraschi and the devatas are Indra, Maruts and Indra-Brihaspati.

तमु ष्टवाम य इमा जजान विश्वा जातान्यवराण्यस्मात् |
इन्द्रेण मित्रं दिधिषेम गीर्भिरुपो नमोभिर्व्रुषभं विशेम || Rig-Veda 8.96.6 ||

tamu stavāma ya imā jajāna viśvā jātānyavarāṇyasmāt |
indreṇa mitraṃ didhiṣema ghīrbhirupo namobhirvṛṣabhaṃ viśema ||

Let us praise that Indra who produced all these things, to him all beings are subsequent; may we maintain friendship with Indra by our hymns , let us bring the showerer (of blessings) near us by praises. H.H.Wilson


An another translator and Vedic Scholar Shripad Damodar Satavlekar is translating the same which is in Hindi.

He is mentioning the meaning of mantra part " ya imā jajāna viśvā jātānyavarāṇyasmāt " which says that Indra creates all the things in the universe. All created things came after Indra. That means Indra alone existed before creation. He is also mentioning the same thing in his commentary below the translation.

य इमा जजान - ya imā jajāna - Who creates all the material forms

विश्वा जातानि - viśvā jātāni - all the material forms that created.

वराण्यस्मात् = अस्मात आवरणानि - varāṇyasmāt = world Came after Indra.


And here is Screenshot of AWGP translation of the above Rig-Veda Mantra in Hindi.

enter image description here

| improve this answer | |
  • Unfortunately,Griffith is completely out of the way in his translation and other good Indian author translations of Rig-Veda are mostly in Hindi. So it's a bit difficult for those who can't read Hindi to fully get the answer. Anyway, I don't know about you, hope that you can read it. – SwiftPushkar Nov 4 '19 at 18:16
  • I don't think it's talking about Indra creating the universe, because the previous passages are talking about all the things Indra did, and then the next verse says "he produced all this", and the word "this" (sanskrit imA) does not have any context to interpret it as "this universe and matter," so it should mean "produced all these actions and events", as appropriate to the context. Moreover, the word "Avarana" means covering/protection, so it's saying Indra protected all these beings, not created them. – Ikshvaku Nov 4 '19 at 18:24
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    I disagree with the interpretation of the word "Avarana." According to this site: sanskritdictionary.org/avarana and this site spokensanskrit.org/… , "Avarana" means covering/protecting – Ikshvaku Nov 4 '19 at 18:35
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    @Ikshvaku The word Avarana is having much wider scope here I think and not just likely is used for protection but as enveloping everything etc. or as to denote that he is everything etc. Anyway I got your point and I will try to add more explanation if found, but mostly expect it in Hindi :-) – SwiftPushkar Nov 4 '19 at 18:40
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    Yes, exactly. That is why I asked OP to check Sayana. Hope he will accept it after seeing it and remove the downvote. – user16581 Nov 4 '19 at 20:18

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