About the Author
Dr. R. L. Kashyap is Professor Emeritus of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana in USA. He had his Master's degree from' Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru and obtained Ph.D. from Harvard University. He is the recipient of many International awards. In 2003 he has received 'Vedanga Vidvan' award instituted by Maharshi Sandipani Vedavidya Pratishthan (Ujjain), an autonomous body of HRD, Govt. of India.
He has authored more than 350 research articles of which 220 are published in scholarly journals and the rest were presented at conferences. He has guided above 50 doctoral students.
He has written extensively on Veda. Some of his widely read books on Veda are: 'Krishna Yajur Veda Taittiriya Samhita' (4 Volumes), 'Rig Veda Samhita' -(12 Volumes), Sarna Veda (2 Volumes), 'Why Read Rig Veda', 'Rudra mantras', 'Essentials of Rig Veda', 'Essentials of Yajur Veda', 'Essentials of Sarna Veda', 'Work, Enjoyment & Progress'.
He is the Founder and the Honorary Director of Sri Aurobindo Kapali Sastry Institute of Vedic Culture, Bengaluru.
Part I deals with the Creation of Cosmos and related topics along with several hymns (or sukta-s] from Rig Veda. Some readers may feel daunted by the abstract ideas of Creation. However everyone gets some benefit by reading some passages because in the Veda the topic of cosmic Creation is closely related to the tasks of human creation such as writing, literature, art, music, cooking, singing and others.
The Vedic account of the Creation of cosmos is based on three fundamental assumptions:
[i] The Vedantic conception of Brahman which is timeless and unknowable, but also conceived as the deva, the supreme Godhead
[ii] The energies
[iii] Intense concentration, (tapas or askesis)
According to Rig Veda, in the beginning of Creation, everything was in a state of chaos, without any form or structure. This condition is called as asat. It does not appear appropriate to translate it as non-existence even though it is done extensively in the available books. Asat is better rendered as 'formless'. Sat is usually rendered as existence, or that which has form. Sat and asat should not be regarded as opposites, rather they are complimentary. Atharva Veda AV (17.1.19) states that, 'the sat is established or made (prati$hritam) from the asat '. RV(lO.S.7) states that Agni is both sat and asat. The relation between sat (being) and asat (non-being) is well expressed in the Chinese classic 'Tao Te Ching. A mud pot for cooking is made of mud which is sat. But what is used for cooking is the empty space within. Thus it is this asat (formless space) which makes the outward solid wall (sat) usable.
Thus with a little effort it is not hard to understand the phrase, 'sat has come out of asat'.
The asat is represented as an ocean, full of chaos, the ocean of inconscience (apraketam saliiam). The creation begins with involution. The Supreme power (or Prajapati) descends into this ocean. From there it rises again to reconstitute its vast unity step by step, each entity in it being endowed with consciousness. The Supreme Power or That One brings to birth this cosmos by its own greatness as stated in RV (1 0.129.3) (tan mahina ajayata).
All the energies needed are supplied by one and placed in the ocean. The creation is done via tapas or intense concentration or askesis. The essence of the manifestation is contained in sat yam and rtam as in (10.130.1). Satyam known as Truth indicates all the things, as if static. Rtam indicates the possibilities of movement of each entity; rtam is known as the Truth-in-movement or Truth-in-action. All things indicated by sat yam and rtam are manifested in detail. It is said that rishi-s or energies are charioteers of this movement of creation.
First to be created are the Gods and the worlds. What we think of creation is usually the hills, the rivers, the plants, animals and man. These happen at later stages of creation. According to Veda, Creation never stops. There are several worlds in this cosmos of which only the Earth or biosphere is physical. The other worlds are bhuvah (world of feelings, emotions, goals to achieve), manas (realm of mind) etc.
The process of cosmic creation has some similarity to human creative tasks. Consider a student who is trying to write an essay. In the beginning, ideas come but they are chaotic. This is the state of asat. Then the student concentrates the stage of tapas. Then some things in his memory come up front and suggest themselves as possibilities. The concentration and the forces or memories in her guide her task. The end product is the essay, sat. The student has not only written an essay, she has developed some aspects of the art of writing or how to guide this task. This is the role of the rishi-s mentioned earlier.
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