Creation of the Universe
The Vedic texts describe the process of creation as starting with a tug of war between 2 forces – an expanding force called Indra and a holding back force called Vrtra in the Hiranyagrabha, a golden hued womb akin to the cosmic egg concept of modern cosmology.
At one point Indra overcomes Vrtra and this causes the Hiranyagarbha to explode as a Brahmanda Visfotak, universal explosion or Big Bang and spew out the entire Universe.
The ancient Indian word for universe is Prapancha. Pancha means five and Pra denotes special, natural or primordial. Thus from this very word Pra Pancha, it is evident that the universe is made up of 5 primordial elements. The 5 basic primordial elements, the Panchabhuta of this Universe are:
Akasa – Space/Ether
Vayu – Air
Tejas – Fire
Apah – Water
Prthvi – Earth
The understanding of the Panchabhuta is given in various Vedic and Upanishad statements.
There are various suktas such as the Nasidiya Sukta, Apah Sukta, Hiranyagarbha Sukta, Vishwakarma Sukta which in the Veda describe the process of creation as well as the primordial elements.
Hiranyagarbha appeared in the beginning
and was the origin of everything.
Some of the salient verses of these Sukta are:
Garbho yo apam garbhe –Rig Veda I.70.2
Fire is hidden in the womb of the waters
Apah ha yadvrhatirviswamayam garbham
Dadhana janayanti Agnim – Rig Veda 10.121.7
When the mighty waters came bearing the garbha,
giving birth to Agni,
then the life spirit of the Divine came into existence…
All the characteristics or the Guna of the 5 elements which includes water and fire coexisted in that one point.
Tamidgarbham prathamam dadhra apo
Yatradevaha sama gachchanta vishwe |
Ajasya nabha vadhyekamarpitam yasmin
Vishwani bhuvanani tasthuhu||
The waters verily first retained the embryo
in which all the Divinity were aggregated, single,
deposited on the navel of the unborn created
in which all beings abode.
The word Hiranya means golden hued and Garbha means womb, in this case the womb of the universe.
All that is in the universe was tightly packed and held there. It was so tightly packed that all the forces of the nature which later exhibit themselves as divinities were all tightly packed in this one point.
From these Suktas we understand that
These 5 primordial elements lay aggregated in the form of their properties, guna, characteristics alone, in the neutral primordial waters of the Hiranyagarbha.
The 5 states of matter have been described such that each successive state of matter contains properties of all its preceding ones.
The Manifestation Process
The process of manifestation of matter and the Universe has been termed in the texts as “Panchikaranam”. Panch means 5 and karanam denotes acting. The term Panchikaranam was given to denote the interplay between the 5.
What is this Panchikaranam?
The 5 primordial elements in the Hiranyagarbha undergo a churning process described as the process of Panchikaranam, where the 5 interact and it is from this that the Universe in all its size, space and matter manifests.
Panchikaranam – in action
During Panchikaranama, each of the 5 primordial elements Bhuta, transform into a state such that they retain 50% of their own unique character or properties and the remaining 50% is a mix of the properties of the other 4 Bhuta. i.e the remaining 50% is a combination of 1/4th parts of the properties of each of the other 4 primordial elements or Bhuta.
Panchikaranam – prevalent state
Hence each of the 5 Bhuta has the properties of the other 4 Bhuta to the extent of 12.5% each.
It is when the 5 primordial elements are in their pure state, the 5 primordial elements are the Panchabhuta.
After Panchikaranam, the state of the 5 Panchabhuta, becomes Bhautika. Thus in the evolved Universe as it is now, we can never find the original, 5 Panchabhuta. We only find the transformed Bhuta.
This process of Panchikaranam is a continuous process, right through the life of this Universe and also before and after the life of the Universe. So, it is an eternal process.
Panchikaranam– Pure state