How Did the Ancient People of India Explain the Riddle of Creation?

The ancient people of India have left an eloquent history of their efforts to answer the riddle of creation. The Vedas, sacred hymns in Sanskrit, do not depict a benevolent Creator, but record awe before the Creation as singers of the Vedas chant the radiance of this world. The luminosity of their world impressed the people of India from the beginning — not the fitting-together-ness, nor the hierarchy of beings or the order of nature, but the blinding splendor, the Light of the World. How the world came into being or how it might end seemed irrelevant before the brightness of the visible world. The Vedic hymns leave us a geology of names and myths and legends, untroubled by the mysteries of origin and destiny.

For the earliest records of India, creation was not a bringing into being of the wonder of the world. Rather it was a dismemberment of the original Oneness. Creation seemed not the expression of a rational, benevolent Maker in wonderous new forms but a fragmenting of the unity of nature into countless forms. The Vedic people of India saw the creation of our world as the “self-limitation of the transcendent.” The very notion of creation was reversed. Instead of transforming nothing into everything, the Vedas described creation as a breaking into countless imperfect fragments what was already there. The ancient Indians reached back for the Oneness that was there in the beginning and he aimed to reintegrate nature.

While the aim of the Christian faithful would be “eternal Life,” the aim of the Vedic faithful was to be uncreated. Yoga, or “union,” was the disciplined effort to reverse creation and return to the perfect Oneness from which the world had been fragmented.

The Creators
The Creators: A History of Heroes of the Imagination
Daniel J. Boorstin

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