I have been wondering how to sequence my posts going forward, so that they make sense. I figured out this morning, The Beginning would be a good place to start.
So, while I pen down the story of Creation for the children, here is an extraordinarily beautiful hymn of Creation from the Rig Veda, for the grown ups. Riga Veda is the oldest of the Vedas and this hymn is at least 5000 years old !
Song of Creation – Rig Veda
(translated by V.V Raman, University of Rochester)
Not even nothing existed then
No air yet, nor a heaven.
Who encased and kept it where?
Was water in the darkness there?
Neither deathlessness nor decay
No, nor the rhythm of night and day:
The self-existent, with breath sans air:
That, and that alone was there.
Darkness was in darkness found
Like light-less water all around.
One emerged, with nothing on
It was from heat that this was born.
Into it, Desire, its way did find:
The primordial seed born of mind.
Sages know deep in the heart:
What exists is kin to what does not.
Across the void the cord was thrown,
The place of every thing was known.
Seed-sowers and powers now came by,
Impulse below and force on high.
Who really knows, and who can swear,
How creation came, when or where!
Even gods came after creation’s day,
Who really knows, who can truly say
When and how did creation start?
Did He do it? Or did He not?
Only He, up there, knows, maybe;
Or perhaps, not even He.
I just love the open ended-ness of the poem. The courage to question everything, even God and the acceptance of ‘not-knowing’. Who said we have to have all the answers? Perhaps the joy is in looking for them.
I still remember the day I stumbled upon this , 12 years ago, in a deserted public library in the US! It was so amazing, I wanted to share with someone , anyone this gem that I had found. But no one else ever visited that library so I had to wait till I got home to email my friends. Since then I have read many translations of this hymn but this one remains my favourite.
I can safely say, it was this poem that first made me sit up and take notice of the Hindu philosophy. Twelve years on I continue to be fascinated.
(PS: Take a look at a video my friend Anjali has posted in the comments. It is the chanting of this very song in its original Sanskrit form and a Hindi translation)