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An Introduction to Mythology

Page: 69

This hymn is among the earliest speculations of the Hindus regarding cosmogonic phenomena, and its pious conclusion did not satisfy the cravings of future still more inquisitive generations. In the Purusha Sakta of the Rig-Veda, admittedly of considerably later origin than the above composition, the following creation myth is found:

"Purusha has a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, a thousand feet. On every side enveloping the earth, he overpassed (it) by a space of ten fingers. Purusha himself is this whole (universe), whatever has been and whatever shall be. He is[Pg 160] also lord of immortality, since (or when) by food he expands. All existences are a quarter of him, and three-fourths of him are that which is immortal in the sky. With three-quarters Purusha mounted upward. A quarter of him was again produced here. From him was born Viraj; and from Viraj, Purusha. When the gods performed a sacrifice, with Purusha as the oblation, the spring was its butter, the summer its fuel, and the autumn its (accompanying) offering. From that universal sacrifice sprang the Rich and Saman verses, the metres and the Yajush; from it sprang horses and all animals with two rows of teeth, kine, goats, and sheep. When (the gods) divided Purusha, into how many parts did they cut him up? The Brahman was his mouth, the Rajanya was made his arms, the being (called) Vaisya was his thighs, and the Sudra sprang from his feet. The morn sprang from his soul (manas), the sun from his eye, Indra and Agni from his mouth, and Vaya from his breath. From his navel arose the air, from his head the sky, from his feet the earth, from his ear the (four) quarters; in this manner (the gods) formed the worlds."

Now follows an extract from the Satapatha Brahmana, which gives the words used at the creation: "(Uttering) 'bhuh', Prajapati generated this earth. (Uttering) 'bhuvah,' he generated the air; and (uttering) 'svah,' he generated the sky. This universe is co-extensive with these worlds. Saying bhuh,' Prajapati generated the Brahman; (saying) 'bhuvah,' he generated the Kshattra; (and saying) 'svah,' he generated the Vis. All this world is as much as the Brahman, Kshattra, and Vis. (Saying) 'bhuh,' Prajapati generated himself; (saying) 'bhuvah,' he generated offspring: (saying) 'svah,' he generated animals. This world is so much as self, offspring, and animals."

The Taittiriya Brahmana says, "This entire (universe) has been created by Brahma," and gives an account of the creation of the Asuras, Pitris (or fathers), and gods. "Prajapati desired 'May I propagate.' He practised austerity. His breath became alive. With that breath (asu) he created Asuras. Having created the Asuras, he regarded himself as a father. After that he created the fathers (pitris). That constitutes the fatherhood of the fathers. Having created the fathers, he reflected. After[Pg 161] that he created men. That constitutes the manhood of men. He who knows the manhood of men becomes intelligent. To him, when he was creating men, day appeared in the heavens. After that he created the gods."

The Satapatha Brahmana relates the creation of men and animals. "Prajapati was formerly this (universe) only. He desired: 'Let me create food, and be propagated.' He formed animals from his breaths, a man from his soul, a horse from his eye, a bull from his breath, a sheep from his ear, a goat from his voice. Since he formed animals from his breaths, therefore men say: 'The breaths are animals,' The soul is the first of breaths. Since he formed a man from his soul, therefore they say: 'Man is the first of the animals and the strongest.' The soul is all the breaths; for all the breaths depend upon the soul. Since he formed man from his soul, therefore they say: 'Man is all the animals'; for all these are man's."

In another passage this Brahmana gives quite a different account. Purusha, as the soul of the universe, was alone. Hence "he did not enjoy happiness. He desired a second. He caused this same self to fall asunder into two parts. Thence arose a husband and wife. From them men were born. She reflected: 'How does he, after having produced me from himself, cohabit with me? Ah! let me disappear!' She became a cow, and the other a bull; from them kine were produced. The one became a mare, the other a stallion; the one a she-ass, the other a male-ass. From them the class of animals with undivided hoofs was produced. The one became a she-goat, the other a he-goat; the one an ewe, the other a ram. From them goats and sheep were produced. In this manner pairs of all creatures whatsoever, down to ants, were created."

The Puranas are very minute and specific as regards the facts of creation. Indeed the first book of the Vishnu Purana is largely taken up with accounts of the cosmogonic process. According to this venerable script Brahma first existed in the form of Purusha (spirit) and Kalu (time). "Next proceeded two other forms, the discreet and indiscreet; and Kala (time) was the last. These four—Pradhana (primary or crude[Pg 162] matter), Purusha (spirit), Vyakta (visible substance), and Kala (time)—in their due proportions, are the causes of the production of the phenomena of creation, preservation, and destruction. The supreme Brahma, the supreme soul, the substance of the world, the lord of all creatures, the universal soul, the supreme ruler Hari (Vishnu), of his own will having entered into matter and spirit, agitated the mutable and immutable principles, the season of creation having arrived, in the same manner as fragrance affects the mind from its proximity merely, and not from any immediate operation upon mind itself; so the supreme influenced the elements of creation."


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