That is Whole, This is Whole ,
From the Whole the Whole becomes manifest.
From the Whole, when the Whole is negated,
What remains is again the Whole
- Isa Upanishad
Cosmogony means an understanding of the universe, reflection on, and account of it. It should explain the underlying structure or the embodiment and its purpose; how the cosmos came to appearance and an orderly form came up and to what extent.
Cosmological ideas are the basis of cultural thoughts of all religions. However it has been observed in every religion that no single account, based on scientific, and cosmological approach has been forwarded as to the origin and nature of universe. It has been seen that more often, they have been contradicting in their approaches.
The Hindu View
Hindu Vedic religion, in its account of creation of the universe, has been very positive and scientifically presented. In Indian tradition, two principles have been in consideration regarding the creation. Rta, (Law, Rhythm,) display a clear sense of ordered universe to facilitate any scientific or moral discovery. It gives meaning to human experience and contemplation of the law of nature without and within moral law; combing both for any comprehensive description of the Reality. It describes a well ordered universe where the Rta prevails. Rta means season and seasons are beyond human control but recur with regular process unto itself. It is the Rta that anticipates the Karmic law and preserves the rule of Dharma.
It is rare for a religion to describe scientifically with critical account how the universe came into existence and about its origin and nature. The Vedic religion has been very out spoken. Vedas say that the origin of cosmos cannot be known but the condition of ordered life can be well known. The Indian tradition in all its truthfulness accepts that though the origin of cosmos cannot be ascertained yet through Rta condition of ordered life could be well known. The Hymn of Creation (Nasadiya Sukta of Rg Veda (10-129)) says the truth, Such a confession is rare to find on earth.
Who verily knows and who can here declare it , whence it was
Born and whence came this creation?
The gods are later than this world‘s production. Who knows?
Then whence it first came into being?
He, the first origin of this creation, whether he formed it all
Or did not form it
Whose eyes control this world in highest heaven, he verily
Knows it or perhaps he knows not
Upanishads present no system yet a coherent structure can be built on the foundations.
Rg Veda at some places describes Akshar Purush and Hiranyagarbha (golden Embryo) as the cause of universe. It speaks of the indestructible Purush as vibrating energy from which all life is generated. In 10-12-6-, it speaks of Brahman or Cosmic Egg from which all creation came first. It also describes Viswakarma as creator, the first to come from Brahma. He is the architect of gods.
People generally are confused to understand the different appearing views on cosmos as stated in the scriptures and are led to believe that the views are contrary, whereas they are not at all contradictory, rather they really harmonize. Though there may be some points of logical disagreements, such systems ultimately lead us to the same end although their appeal has different ways.
The Fundamental Cause behind the World appearance
The universe appears in continuous cycle of creation and destruction. In different cycles, it moves in a uniform way. Rg Veda X-190-3, says, ”Just as God created the sun, the earth, the moon, the electricity, the atmosphere in the previous cycle. So has He done in the present, and so will He do in the future. His work is all flawless and absolutely with out any error."
The universe runs in a cyclic order.
1 - First there is a period of formation
2 - There is a period when it is sustained and
3 - The period of destruction
4 - A void before the formation of new universe.
During this period, space particles subsist and it is from this, all the matter within the new world is found. This is the fundamental cause of entire physical world. The creation has neither a beginning, nor an end. As you know that night precedes the day and the day precedes the night. Day and night follow each other. So creation follows dissolution and dissolution follows creation. Both precede each other. Prior to formation, particular universe comes in a state of emptiness where all its material elements exist in form of potential as space particles. This has been the eternal process. So universe has neither a beginning nor an end. Universe is eternally inPravah (flow), following each other in alternative succession. It is clear that a single definite beginning is highly problematic and unscientific.
It should be remembered that the world is constructed of five elements – Ether, earth, water, fire and air. Space or ether is the supportive element. Akash or space is never created. It is a non-material substrate of universe. It is the supportive element that enables the functioning of all other elements. Space is not total nothingness but a medium of empty particles but not already formed material realities.
The process of generation proceeds from the subtle level to the gross and that of dissolution from the gross to the subtle. The process of generation occurs in order of Air, Fire, water, Earth and back into empty particles of space. The process of dissolution occurs in the reverse order – earth, water, fire and air and back to space.
It is thus clear that before man, the earth was created first so that man could live and maintain life
Do Various Theories Harmonize?
There are a number of accounts of wavelike unending process as to how universe came to exist and they harmonize.
The description of Creation in the six Shastras
The Meemansa says that,” Nothing in this world can be produced without proper application. It stresses on action and application. The Vaishesaki says that, ”Nothing can be done or made without expenditure of time.” It emphasizes time. The Nyaya says that, ”Nothing can be produced without material cause.” It emphasizesparmanus or atoms. Yoga stresses upon conscious exertion, requisite skill or knowledge and Sankhya says, ”Nothing can be made without definite combination of atoms where as Vedanta says that nothing can be made without a Maker.
Thus six different causes have been described, one each in one Shastra. Swami Dayananda asserts that the descriptions do not contradict as all these things are required in the creation together and have been pointed out one by one to complete the requirements.
Brahman as the Creator
Rg Veda 10-12-1 describes of a cosmic egg from which all creatures spring forth. Then there is a description of Hiranyagarbha or Akash Purush (the person imperishable) from which the life energy shoots forth. Viswakarma as a creator has also been described whose creative impulse brought forth the creation.
We should not forget that Hinduism unites together the many manifested forces of nature into one single source of creation. They are made synonym with Rudra and Indra and Prajapati. Purush, Hiranyagarbha and Viswakarma all are Rudra and eventually merge with Brahman.
Purush is a spiritual concept, identified with a Vedic God, Rudra. In Rg Veda,Purush Sukta 10-90, Purush is a cosmic demiurge, the material and efficient cause of the universe. In Geeta the term has been used for individual spirit, psychic essence or immortal self. In Sankhya, Purush is the first tattva, principle, pure Consciousness, the primordial materiality.
Viswakarma is Vedic power, personified divine architect. In Sat pat Brahman, he sacrifices himself in the universal sacrifice called sarva megha and sustains the cosmos. He binds heaven and earth together in Rg Veda 10-81, 82. Hiranyagarbhais a golden embryo, and Rg Veda describes it in 10-121, as the source of all creation and life. It is unified source of all creative order and is identified with Prana, the Supreme Creator. Thus we observe that by different use of words, the same Brahman is mentioned and there stands no diversity at all.
Brahman as the First Cause
Upanishad clearly says, ”O Shwetkatu, precede thou from effect to cause and learn that solids (earth) proceed from liquids, apah (water) from Tejah (Agni) whose properties are heat and light etc. and Tejah from the uncreated Prakriti. This Prakriti is the source of all universes.” It was non-existent as universe in its gross physical and visible form but existed in essence. It was not nothing. It is said that nothing or naught is true reality. In Sanskrit, ether, the invisible substance, space and point is also calledshunya but things invisible exist in it. Point makes lines, circles, squares, earth and mountains and other objects of shape. These are formed out of a point or nebula. Thus Shunya does not mean nothing but a point or nebula.
Chandogya Upanishad (6-2) says,’ Before creation, the universe was existent.’ Taitreya says,” It was non-existent or nothing.” Vrihad (1-4-1) says, ”It was all spirit“. Sat path Brahman (X1 -!) Says, ”It was all God and By His own will, the great God transferred Himself into multiform universe." It has been described, "verily this whole universe is God; all other things are nothing but God.” It is evident that every definition proceeds from effect to cause. God is the efficient cause, the cause of all causes and also a material cause. God is the primary efficient cause. He governs all and creates the universe, sustains it and dissolves it.
Chandogya Upanishad (VI -2-3) says, ”The universe comes out of Brahman and will return to Brahman, verily, all is Brahman.” Upanishad claims that the universe came out of ether, fire and Prana, a vital force. Taitreya (III -2-1) says, ”Ataman Akashah sambhoot “i.e. ether is the cause of universe. The seers realized that the whole universe can be resolved in one material – Ether : Akasha – or space, Every thing we touch, see, is a differentiated manifestation of all pervading Akasha. Further in ( II-!-1 ) it says, ”From Brahman came space, from space air; from air fire; from fire water; from water earth; from earth plants and food ; from food the human body of head, arms, legs and heart. Prana is a vital force in every one. The Prana acting on Akasha is creating the whole of this universe.
Prana is a macrocosmic equivalent of powers. It is Prana with Rayi, Rta, the giver of name and form, male and female that brings forth countless creations.
The Upanishad seers dived deeper into the origin of Akasha and Prana and found a still higher entity, called the Mind. The Mahat or the universally existent Thought Power. This existed in the beginning and evolved itself into Prana and Akasha and by the combination of these two; the whole universe has been produced. From this universal Thought, the Infinite Godhead, there came forth Brahman, who embodies the process of evolution into name and form by which one appears to be many and many as only one and the same. The apparent two are in reality one and the same. As Duessen says that ‘Brahman was regarded as the cause antecedent in time and the universe as the effect proceeding from it; the inner dependence of the universe on Brahman and its essential identity with Him was represented as a creation of universe by and out of Brahman.”
The Sankhya theory gave another expression to it. It quotes Geeta ( IV -6) in which Lord Krsna says, ”Though I am unborn and am of imperishable nature, yet, ruling out My own nature, I take birth by My own Maya." In (vii-6) He says, ”By My higher Prakriti, I uphold the very life element of this world and constitute the eight fold Prakriti by My lower Prakriti. “ The eight-fold are – water, earth, fire, ether, air and mind; ego and intellect. Sankhya also explains this manifestation in terms of Purush and Prakriti; spirit and matter; Purush as the spirit and is the energy power the creative one which manifests as the phenomenal world. Prakriti is the substance of all thought, forms and the individual psyche. We experience it on both the level of gross and subtle.
The main thought of Hinduism is the Brahman as the only reality. Besides this every thing is unreal. The Supreme Reality is the homogeneous one, an Entire Whole. The appearance of the Multitude plurality as appears is nothing but a superimposition upon the Truth. It remains a Whole. An Infinite entity remains Infinite even if we take an Infinite out of it.
When something comes out of a thing, the cause also goes a change in becoming the effect. Seers say that even after the production of the finite, the Infinite still remains uncontaminated and does not change. Vedanta clearly states that this creation is not like an actual production. Therefore the relation between the world and Truth is not a relation of a cause and effect. The peace invocation quoted above speaks of this truth. This, at a later date, led to theory of Maya or illusion. Leading to the conclusion that world is mirage; an unsubstantial appearance which is superimposed on Brahman, the real par excellence.
According to Shankara, God is both the material and the efficient cause through Maya but not in reality. God has not become the universe, but the universe is not and God is Hindus believe the world as the Absolute Brahman, the undifferentiated Consciousness, Existence and Bliss. It is the phenomenal world which is false. The universes cannot be seen if Brahman does not exist as its substratum. Brahman is Reality of Reality.
In reply to the question, what is Cosmos? Is it Brahman?, the Shvetasvatara Upanishad says thus
The world is the river of God,
Flowing from Him and flowing back to Him.
On this ever revolving wheel of being,
The individual self goes round and round,
Through life after life, believing itself
To be a separate creature, until
It sees its identity with the Lord of Love.
And attains immortality in the Indivisible Whole.
He is the eternal; Reality.
Hindus believe the world as the Absolute Brahman, undifferentiated Consciousness, Existence and Bliss. It is the phenomenal world which is