Nāsadiyasukta

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Nasadiyasukta, NAsadiyasukta, Naasadiyasukta


Origin of Creation

How exactly the creation of this world came into existence has been a knotty question to be satisfactorily answered by the puny human intellect which is a product of the whole process. The effect cannot discover its cause just as we cannot see our own back. However, we can see our back provided we use two mirrors, one at the back and the other in our front, properly adjusted. Similarly, if we can judiciously use the knowledge of the Śruti[1] to back up our intellect and be guided by the sayings and doings of the ṛṣis, persons of intuitive or super conscious,[2] experience, we can succeed in getting some glimpses of the secrets of creation that will ultimately help us in reaching the final goal of our life. Study of selected parts of the Vedas like the Nasadiyasukta is a great aid in this endeavor of ours to attain perfection.

Origin of Nāsadiyasukta

The Nāsadiyasukta is a part of the Ṛgveda.[3] Prajāpati Parameṣthī is said to be the ṛṣi[4] to whom it was revealed. Paramātmā or God, the Creator, called ‘Bhāvavṛttam’ by Sāyaṇa, the commentator is referred as the devatā or the deity. Triṣṭubh is the meter in which it is composed.

Content of Nāsadiyasukta

This is a wonderful and highly poetic hymn that describes what existed before creation and how creation came about. The Sukta begins with an account of what existed before creation. Since religion posits a cyclic theory of creation three phenomenon applies to all the cycles, they are:

  1. Sṛṣṭi - creation or evolution
  2. Sthiti - sustenance
  3. Pralaya or laya - destruction or involution

Theory of Creation as per Nāsadiyasukta

The Brahman of the Upaniṣads or God of religion existed by himself. There was deep blinding darkness everywhere. However, that One, Brahman, through intense tapas of self-reflection or profound thinking he transformed into this world through his own will power. Actually the desire to create arose in him due to the ‘seed’ in his mind of the unmanifested karmas of the beings carried over from the previous cycle. The ṛṣis or sages possessing transcendental or intuitive wisdom discovered this secret.

As Brahman willed the evolution of this world, the inanimate[5] and the animate[6] objects got manifested. Animated objects are superior to the inanimate ones. This evolution went on continuously, producing not only the pañcabhutas[7] but also the devas.[8] However, this process how the One became many still remains a mystery even to the devas, since they also came afterwards. Brahman not only created this world out of his free will but also sustained it. No body else could have done it. The whole secret of creation is known only to him. This is the gist of the whole Sukta.

References from Nāsadiyasukta

This hymn propagates a very advanced theory of creation which is developed later in the Upaniṣads also.[9][10][11][12]

It is interesting and even puzzling to note that the sage to whom this Sukta was revealed, has used quite a few mutually contradictory words and phrases. For instance, he says:
There was then neither what is (sat) nor what is not (asat)... There was no death (mrtyu) and hence nothing immortal (amrta). There was no night (rātri) nor day (ahan).

The only explanation that can be offered for the use of apparently contradictory terms is that in the beginning there was only the One (tat) and there was no second person or object. Then only the comparative statements are possible.

References

  1. Śruti are the Vedas.
  2. It means the spiritual.
  3. Ṛgveda 10.129.1-7
  4. It means the sage.
  5. It refers to various objects.
  6. It means the jīvas or the living beings.
  7. Pañcabhutas are the five primordial elements.
  8. Devas are the gods who exercise control over the five primordial elements.
  9. Taittiriya Upaniṣad 3.7
  10. Chāndogya Upanisad 6.2.1
  11. Mundaka Upanisad 1.1.9
  12. Aitareya Upanisad 1.1.1
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore