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I was going through the mentioned phrases of Rig Veda and got little confused in different points on creation. In Nasadiya it is mentioned that even creator might don't know about creation. on the other side Rigveda (10.121) mentions the Hiranyagarbha ("golden embryo") as the source of the creation of the Universe.

Help me in understanding.

Source

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    It is incorrect to state that Nasadiya Sukta is referring to the possibility that even creator doesn't know about creation. This is what happens when wesbites,blogs,twitterati, tharoor etc. use equivalent of Google translate to interpret Vedas. Coming to Nasadiya Sukta, the "who" that keeps popping up in translation is not to be read literally but in a teasing manner. The closest example I can think of is from Bollywood song "Kaun hai jo sapno mein aaya, kaun hai jo dil me samaya". Here the singer is praising his beloved and yet using ' kaun' for her. Nasadiya Sukta is similar May 11 '20 at 2:22
  • @Carmensandiego that can be the reason. I have just started studying Hinduism. but I went through 4-5 sites in order to understand difference but no good.
    – shivankgtm
    May 11 '20 at 2:23
  • @Carmensandiego so the answer of that is Hiranyagarbha?
    – shivankgtm
    May 11 '20 at 2:24
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    @mar - Agree. Also, I used to wonder why our Rishis kept it as oral tradition. Turns out once it is in written down, it opens the door for incompetent folks to spread misinformation and provide contrived interpretations Sep 25 at 2:43
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    @Carmensandiego - yes, even today they don't let people reading from books to chant vedas/prabandhams in certain kovils. oral tradition is not a liability but an immunity.
    – mar
    Sep 25 at 2:53
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I agree that most of translation of Nasadiya Sukta concludes that " he knows - or maybe even he does not know."

Rigveda 10.129.7 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.

However another interpretation I found for this line is No other than him does know it completely (only he knows).

According to Sayana Bhashya

The most followed Bhashya (commentary) on Vedas are of Sayanacharya's. I do not have English or Hindi translation of Sayanacharya's Sanskrit commentary on Rigveda, neither I am a Sanskrit expert but still trying to interpret/conclude with reference to Sayanacharya's original Sanskrit commentary:

Read this page:

enter image description here

  • Here the (red) underlined text interprets the bottom line of the verse of Rigveda:

    यदि वा न वेद न जानाति । को नाम अन्यो जानियात् ।

    Which को नाम अन्यो जानियात् means who is other that knows or who other knows (A Sanskrit scholar can confirm this meaning).

  • The (green) underlined text explains further that only Omniscient Ishwar knows the creation, no other. that is what meant.

    सर्वज्ञ ईश्वर एव तां सृष्टिं जानियात् नान्य इत्यर्थ: ।

So, it can be concluded that the interpretation is only he does know, no other.


According to Dayananda Saraswati

To support or verify this interpretation, I am quoting the commentary of Swami Dayananda Saraswati of Aryasamaja whose interpretations of Vedas are also considerably followed

Quoting from Aryasamaj Rigveda Bhashya:

enter image description here

Here underlined text is in Hindi which translates in English as follows:

Only Parameshwara knows it completely, others don't know it completely

You may also read English version from Book by Dr. Tulsi Ram.


According to Subodha Bhashya

Yet another commentary I am citing is Rigveda Subodha (Hindi) Bhashya by Damadoar Saatvalekar:

You may refer this page from Internet Archive:

enter image description here

Here underlined Hindi bhashya translates in English as follows:

O scholar! That Tattva (who creates) knows these all even whether others don't know

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    I must mention this it was not easy for me to understand. I had to read the answer 2-3 times in order to understand. I also found true what @Carmen sandiego mentioned in comments that for a person like me it is easier to understand explanations from like tharoors. which he also mentioned is not the right way.
    – shivankgtm
    May 13 '20 at 21:53
  • @shivank98 Do you know Hindi?
    – Pandya
    May 14 '20 at 1:34
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    @shivank98 This answers to your previous question also. So, ultimately both questions are looking for same thing. So, I think questions can be merged.
    – Pandya
    May 14 '20 at 1:38
  • Yes Ofcourse I know hindi
    – shivankgtm
    May 14 '20 at 3:21
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I am reproducing the question content hereunder:

In Nasadiya it is mentioned that even creator might don't know about creation. on the other side Rigveda (10.121) mentions the Hiranyagarbha ("golden embryo") as the source of the creation of the Universe.


I had already expressed my opinion on The Nāsadīya Sūkta. RV X.121.1 says,

The golden embryo evolved in the beginning. Born the lord of what came to be, he alone existed. He supports the earth and the heaven here— – Who is the god to whom we should do homage with our oblation?

Brereton and Jamison in their translation to RV X.121, say as follows:

This hymn takes the form of a cosmogony, but here the creative principle is unnamed or has no name. Rather than declaring its deity, the hymn’s refrain is a question: “Who is the god to whom we should do homage with our oblation?”

This questioning about creator - “Who is the god to whom we should do homage with our oblation?” continues even in the subsequent 8 mantras.

However, it was only in 10th Mantra of RV X.121 that the creator was named as prajApati.

prajāpate na tvadetānyanyo viśvā jātāni pari tābabhūva | yatkāmāste juhumastan no astu vayaṃ syāma patayorayīṇām ||

O Prajāpati! No one other than you has encompassed all these things that have been born. Let what we desire as we make oblation to you be ours. We would be lords of riches

As pointed out by Brereton and Jamison, the last mantra might be a later day addition, as it deviated from the preceding 9 mantras, which said “Who is the god to whom we should do homage with our oblation?”.


In 8th mantra it was said the god over gods, alone existed (deveṣvadhi deva eka āsīt).

It is similar way of saying गणानां त्वा गणपतिं - Lord and Leader of the heavenly hosts - in RV II.23.1

gaṇānāṃ tvā gaṇapatiṃ havāmahe kaviṃ kavīnāmupamaśravastamam | jyeṣṭharājaṃ brahmaṇāṃ brahmaṇas pata ā naḥ ṣṛṇvannūtibhiḥ sīda sādanam ||


In my opinion, both X.121 and X.129 are saying the same idea - the creator is unknown .

Further, hiranyagirbha (golden embryo) is an epithet referring to source of creation.

In X.96.5 it was stated that SOMA, again an epithet for BLISS, is the creator of all Gods, including Indra, Vishnu, etc.

Soma purifies himself—the begetter of poetic thoughts, begetter of heaven, begetter of earth, begetter of Agni, begetter of the sun, begetter of Indra, and begetter of Viṣṇu


Hence, we should not get confused with the epithets to be as real things.

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  • Oh. It seems this question is duplicate of that one you have linked.
    – Pandya
    May 12 '20 at 13:24
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In a way, it is an inconsequential question. It's important to understand that we are not answering something in black and white. For example, it's more concrete to answer a question whether gravity exists and if so how to measure it. It's not because the question was easy. The question may have been difficult but at least it is observable and measurable phenomenon. The Nasadiya Sukta is not seeking to answer a black & white kind of question. It's beautifully postulating what was there before creation. In fact, it says there was neither existence nor non-existence. I can at least partly visualise that there may have been a state before existence but how does one conceive a state when even non-existence wasn't there. So, you cannot pick up a literal meaning and debate it. Human mind forms experiences and patterns based on our past experience. We always understand something new by framing it in known terms and patterns. These are going into extremely finer points beyond the ability of our grasp because our mind based on its own experience has its limitations. It's not like our sages sat down, contemplated and theorised it. All of vedas was Shruti meaning they were heard in deep states of Dhyana and Samyama. It can be questioned and answered verbally. Just like Swami Vivekananda had an inner experience when Ramakrishna Paramahamsa touched him, one may experience answers to such questions but expressing and verbalising the answers especially as to how creation happened doesn't make much sense. Nasadiya Sukta is an amazing and startling piece of literature that it was able to express something as abstract as this in poetic terms.

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