Nasadiya Sukta : The hymn of creation – Part 1

The dark cosmic water
The dark cosmic water

The Prelude of Nasadiya Sukta

Nasadiya sukta is the 129th sukta (section) of the 10th mandala (Chapter) of Rig-Veda. Though it is the ending chapter of this most ancient scripture it talks about the beginning of all. It springs up few very basic and obvious questions about the origin of this creation and also tries to answer those. The rishis (seers: people who have seen the truth behind everything– Authors note) of that time tried to dive deep into the mystery of creation and was overwhelmed by the paradoxical outcome of their search.

Here in this article, I would let myself to reinvent or rather re-decipher the truth that has been documented in Nasadiya sukta and shares those to my readers.

The subject is a bit complex and demands concentrated interest to grasp the whole concept of non-causal creation.

This article contributes to the pool of write-ups those are written with a purpose to enrich and broadcast the culminating perceptions of Indian philosophers.

I have segregated this article into two separate write-ups. The nasadiya sukta consists of seven sholaks. The current article shall discuss over the first three shlokas (subsections). The second part shall discuss on the rest of it.

The Description


Nasadiya sukta - The hymn for creation
Nasadiya sukta – The hymn for creation, first shloka

nāsad āsīn no sad āsīt tadānīṁ nāsīd rajo no vyomā paro yat |
kim āvarīvaḥ kuha kasya śarmann ambhaḥ kim āsīd gahanaṁ gabhīram || 1 ||

The very first description in the Nasadiya sukta starts with a paradox. In our mundane world; we can think of two states of anything tangible or intangible.

The first one is of its existence or its non-existence. A horn on a donkey’s forehead is non-existing because it never happened to be like this. Nobody has seen it neither it is recorded anywhere. The existence we know because we can see or feel it through our senses.

The rishis states in Nasadiya sukta’s first line that; then there was the absence of neither nothingness nor existence. The contradiction of this statement surpasses all thoughtful frameworks of this creation. We can understand the lack of existence but how can the absence of non-existence. This is something which is beyond human intellect because it does not fall into our known scientific model.

In the next instance; it says that there was not even air or matter (rajo: Its literal meaning is dust but its contextual meaning is particle or matter – Authors note). There was even the absence of space (vyomā). If there an absence of space then there must be an absence of time as space-time build up the tapestry of creation and its relative existence.

So we actually get a picture (ironically) where nothing existed; nor even the existence itself. It talks about a state; which is out of the scope of our wildest imaginations.

Next; the seer ask the obvious questions; who was covering the all? Where was its location then? What was that; taking shelter inside the cosmic waters which were incredibly dense and had unfathomable depth?

So it was pitch black and the depth of it can’t be measured. But it is clear through the question that there was something hidden within this dark and impenetrable cosmic water. It had no identity and nor it had any firm at that moment.

The Portrayal Continues


Nasadiya sukta - The hymn for creation
Nasadiya sukta – The hymn for creation, second shloka

na mṛtyur āsīd amṛtaṁ na tarhi na rātryā ahna āsīt praketaḥ |
ānīd avātaṁ svadhayā tad ekaṁ tasmād dhānyan na paraḥ kiṁ canāsa || 2 ||

This second sub-section of Nasadiya sukta again starts with a paradox which defies our standard understanding of life and death. We are aware of the fact that organic existence can have two situations; living or death. We are not talking about immortality as our physical laws don’t agree upon everlasting existence.

In this shloka; the seeker declares that there was neither death nor immortality. There was neither the existence of day or night. There was something which was breathing without air and sustaining itself independently. That entity was the only “One” present and there was nothing other than this.

The Final Touch


Nasadiya sukta - The hymn for creation
Nasadiya sukta – The hymn for creation, third shloka

tama āsīt tamasā gūl̥ham agre ‘praketaṁ salilaṁ sarvam ā idam |
tucchyenābhv apihitaṁ yad āsīt tapasas tan mahinājāyataikam || 3 ||

In the third subsection (Shloka); the seer again describes the condition of the initial state. They say that then there was absolute darkness wrapped in darkness and nothing can be observed in that unillumined cosmic waters which pervaded the whole. It was then when the “One” emerged which was enclosed by nothing; arose from the depths of emptiness born from the intense power of heat[1].

The Discourse

With this description of the early stage of creation; the rishis gives rise to questions which are not inclined to the classical cause-effect model.

 We logically prove the existence of a creator after seeing the creation because the creation is the effect and the creator is the cause.

But, in Nasadiya sukta, it seems to be misaligned with this concept rather it is actually illustrating an opposite idea disregarding the common belief.

 Here we can see that the creator is emerging from its own creation. Then from where did this creation come from? The creator with a single windless breath came out as an entity which was the only thing enveloping the mysterious “One”.

 We shall discuss more on this in my next article. Stay tuned.

 [1] The heat that was enveloped within the “One” at the moment of creation is known as “Hiranya Garbha” in Sanskrit. It means something which carries an immense form of heat and light (a glow compared to dazzling gold) in its womb. [Authors Note]

One Comment Add yours

  1. Anand Kumar says:

    Excellent interpretive translation. Can you send me this article? Warm regards

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