Nasadiya Sukta (Rigveda 10.129)

The Nāsadīya Sūkta (after the incipit ná ásat, or “not the non-existent”), also known as the Hymn of Creation, is the 129th hymn of the 10th mandala of the Rigveda (10:129). It is concerned with cosmology and the origin of the universe.[2]

Nasadiya Sukta begins rather interestingly, with the statement – “Then, there was neither existence, nor non-existence.” It ponders over the when, why and by whom of creation in a very sincere contemplative tone, and provides no definite answers. Rather, it concludes that the gods too may not know, as they came after creation. And maybe the supervisor of creation in the highest heaven knows, or maybe even he does not know!

नासदासीन्नो सदासीत्तदानीं नासीद्रजो नो व्योमा परो यत् |

किमावरीवः कुह कस्य शर्मन्नम्भः किमासीद्गहनं गभीरम् ॥ १॥

न मृत्युरासीदमृतं न तर्हि न रात्र्या अह्न आसीत्प्रकेतः |

आनीदवातं स्वधया तदेकं तस्माद्धान्यन्न परः किञ्चनास ॥२॥

तम आसीत्तमसा गूहळमग्रे प्रकेतं सलिलं सर्वाऽइदम् |

तुच्छ्येनाभ्वपिहितं यदासीत्तपसस्तन्महिनाजायतैकम् ॥३॥

कामस्तदग्रे समवर्तताधि मनसो रेतः प्रथमं यदासीत् |

सतो बन्धुमसति निरविन्दन्हृदि प्रतीष्या कवयो मनीषा ॥४॥

तिरश्चीनो विततो रश्मिरेषामधः स्विदासीदुपरि स्विदासीत् |

रेतोधा आसन्महिमान आसन्त्स्वधा अवस्तात्प्रयतिः परस्तात् ॥५॥

को अद्धा वेद क इह प्र वोचत्कुत आजाता कुत इयं विसृष्टिः |

अर्वाग्देवा अस्य विसर्जनेनाथा को वेद यत आबभूव ॥६॥

इयं विसृष्टिर्यत आबभूव यदि वा दधे यदि वा न |

यो अस्याध्यक्षः परमे व्योमन्त्सो अङ्ग वेद यदि वा न वेद ॥७॥

Translation:

1. Then even non-existence was not there, nor existence,
There was no air then, nor the space beyond it.
What covered it? Where was it? In whose keeping?
Was there then cosmic fluid, in depths unfathomed?

2. Then there was neither death nor immortality
nor was there then the torch of night and day.
The One breathed windlessly and self-sustaining.
There was that One then, and there was no other.

3. At first there was only darkness wrapped in darkness.
All this was only unillumined cosmic water.
That One which came to be, enclosed in nothing,
arose at last, born of the power of heat.

4. In the beginning desire descended on it –
that was the primal seed, born of the mind.
The sages who have searched their hearts with wisdom
know that which is, is kin to that which is not.

5. And they have stretched their cord across the void,
and know what was above, and what below.
Seminal powers made fertile mighty forces.
Below was strength, and over it was impulse.

6. But, after all, who knows, and who can say
Whence it all came, and how creation happened?
the gods themselves are later than creation,
so who knows truly whence it has arisen?

7. Whence all creation had its origin,
the creator, whether he fashioned it or whether he did not,
the creator, who surveys it all from highest heaven,
he knows — or maybe even he does not know.