The Creation of Rig Veda 10:129.

The Creation in Rig Veda 10:129

The Paradox of Origin

Few cultures are as impenetrably complex as that of India. This is evident also in its ancient sources to ideas of the creation of the world. In Rig Veda, the collection of hymns from around 1500 to 800 BCE, the poet of one of them contemplates the very question if something can be first, i.e. if there can have been a creation at all.

       Rig Veda 10:129 is in a famous hymn of the tenth mandala. It is generally regarded as one of the later hymns, probably composed in the 9th century BCE. It has the Indian name Nasadiya Sukta, "Not the Non-existen", and is often given the English title Creation, because of its subject.

The Paradox of Origin

The advanced abstract reasoning in the hymn has brought it a lot of attention, not only within indology, but from scholars of philosophy and the history of religion as well. Its line of thought relates splendidly to cosmological thinking of the philosophers of Ancient Greece, all through to present day astronomy.

       And it ends with what seems like a punch line, a paradox taken to the extreme, almost as if the unknown poet of it was making a joke. Here are the last lines of it (in Max Müller's translation):

Who knows from whence this great creation sprang?
He from whom all this great creation came.
Whether his will created or was mute,
The Most High seer that is in highest heaven,
He knows it - or perchance even He knows not.

Present-day India on the world map.
Present-day India on the world map.

       Mainly, Rig Veda 10:129 reveals an insoluble paradox in which the human mind of the past as well as the present easily gets trapped: How can the universe have sprung into existence, i.e. how can something come out of nothing? How can there be a beginning, before which there was nothing?

       Much of what puzzled people three thousand years ago, still puzzles us today. This dilemma, too. Present-day scientists wrestle with the paradox, speculating about multiverses and such in an effort to explain the something out of nothing. Doing so, they might just move the problem to another location, not solving it at all.

       So, we should be wary of taking for granted that our ancestors were intellectually inferior to us. We have more facts, but they knew what we still would not know today, nor tomorrow.

       That's what this Creation hymn of Rig Veda points out.

Synthesized Version of the Rig Veda 10:129 Hymn

After studying seven English versions of the Rig Veda hymn, I made my own synthesized version. Click the header above to go directly to it.


About Max Müller's Translation of Rig Veda 10:129

The Creation in Rig Veda 10:129

The Paradox of Origin
  1. The Creation in Rig Veda 10:129

  2. Max Müller's Translation of Rig Veda 10:129

  3. H. H. Wilson's Translation of Rig Veda 10:129

  4. R. T. H. Griffith's Translation of Rig Veda 10:129

  5. A. A. Macdonell's Translation of Rig Veda 10:129

  6. A. L. Basham's Translation of Rig Veda 10:129

  7. Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty's Translation of Rig Veda 10:129

  8. Joel P. Brereton's Translation of Rig Veda 10:129

  9. The English Versions of Rig Veda 10:129

  10. Table of Seven English Versions of Rig Veda 10:129

  11. A Synthesized Version of Rig Veda 10:129

  12. Conclusions about Rig Veda 10:129

© Stefan Stenudd 2012


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