THE CREATION OF UNIVERSE: TWO STORIES
In the first one, Roman Catholic priest and physicist- Georges Lemaître was following the recession of Nebulae in the night sky. After long and lengthy vigil over time, he came up with the idea that the recession was due to the expansion of the universe. In 1931 Lemaître took another bold step and inferred since the universe is expanding, it is quite possible that if we retrace universe back in time, at some specific moment all the mass of the universe would be concentrated into a single point, which he termed as a “primeval atom“. That particular moment and the place where the fabric of time and space came into existence, he believed to be the beginning of our Universe, as we know it now.
He then proposed a theory, which was later developed by George Gamow as the point when the universe started with a big bang. However it was Hoyle who coined “The Big Bang” as a popular phrase in March 1949 BBC Radio broadcast. In the year 1965, the discovery and confirmation of the cosmic microwave background radiation finally made the Big Bang as the best theory for the origin and evolution of the universe, which was confirmed in 1968 and 1970, by Roger Penrose, Stephen Hawking, and George F. R. Ellis by showing that mathematical singularities were an inevitable initial condition of general relativistic models of the Big Bang.
Now here is the second story. Sages (read priests) and scholars (read astronomers, cosmologists, mathematicians etc.) who wrote Vedas, Upanishads, Purana’s etc. who for centuries wondered about the Universe, Stars, heavenly bodies and searching answers for eternal questions like ‘what is the purpose of life, Who am I and what is the cosmos and who is the creator etc.’ Over many generations, they pondered over the questions and revealed their thoughts about it all, in their teachings, in their compositions of Sanskrit Shlokas which were handed down the generation by verbal memory – by way of shurtis etc. These were later collated in the form of numerous ancient manuscripts of Vedic culture.
|Shankaracharya by Raja Ravi Varma
Here are some of those inferences and ancient ideas which talk about the process of creation.
“OM! This imperishable word is the whole of this visible universe.”
It was probably for the first time, the sacred Primordial sound ‘OM’ (Read Pranava Naad, which literally means deep sound or The Big Bang!) was referred to as it is. It is believed that in the early Vedas, the word was omitted since it was considered too sacred a sound of immense power and potency to be mentioned by itself.
“Space, said he. Verily, all things here arise out of space. They disappear back into space, for space alone is greater than these, space is the final goal. This is the most excellent Udgitha. This is endless. The most excellent is his, the most excellent worlds does he win, who, knowing it thus, reveres the most excellent Udgitha [Om, ॐ].” – Verse 1.9.1-1.9.2
“There was nothing whatsoever here in the beginning. It was covered only by Death (read dark space) or Hiraṇyagarbha – A golden womb” – Verse 1.2.1
Now if you compare these two stories, our sages have said almost the same thing as the Roman Catholic Priest Lemaitre did in early 20th century, 4000 to 5000 years ago. The insightful verses above and many more were based on pure thought experiments. Generation upon generation Vedic scholars, pundits and Gurus meditated upon the cosmos, developed theories about how the Universe was created, who we are, what is the purpose of life etc. But now these thoughts of ancient sages are branded as something obscure and unintelligent mythological babble of primitive idlers. Though here I would like to remind the readers that they were the same people who gave the world, numerical “0”, trigonometry, calculus, Pythagoras theorem etc.
This kind of belittling of our ancient philosophy and thoughts started with the infiltration of Indian culture and heritage by ancient as well as modern invaders. The final nail in the coffin of obscurity for Indian philosophy happened with Aryan invasion theories as well as biased opinions of some European writers and thinkers, who translated these ancient text out of context. Some, in the absence of written history or documentation, even went beyond the usual rhetoric and dismissed it all as heresy, myths or bizarre fairy tales.
Now we all know that Vedic teachers, philosophers did not write their thoughts down on some kind of primitive tablets or on the walls of obscure caves, because they relied on the most enduring tool of the mankind – the mind and the cultivated discipline of Guru – Shishya parampara (Teacher and disciple custom) relationship based Gurukul system of Vedic culture. Vedic culture believed in shruti i.e. learning sholokas and its meaning by heart through listening, through out the ancient time.
Yes, there is no mention of the sacred eternal sound OM (which was later mentioned in the Upanishads) in the early Rg Vedas. But to understand this absence of the pranava naad ‘Om’, we must put it in the proper context. In Vedic culture of ancient India, the primordial sound ‘OM’ was considered the most sacred and holy sound with immense potential energy to be mentioned by itself anywhere. The teacher alone passed it on to the disciple by way of whispering it into his ear. Even today this custom of transferring sacred knowledge is found in many current Vedic rituals like the sacred thread ceremony, or in the ritual of becoming a shishya (disciple) through Guru Mantra, whispered into the disciple’s ear by the Guru.
|German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer,
impressed by the Upanishads, called the texts
“the production of the highest human wisdom”.
(IMG: Curtsy Wikipedia)
It can be argued whether the ancient Vedic philosophy was a scientific endeavor or just a flight of fancy of ancient Indian student or teacher? But in my opinion, during the times of Vedic culture the young scholar of the gurukul system of learning, learned everything under the sun and continued learning their whole life, thinking and practicing what he / she had learned, refining and consolidating it with every step of knowledge gained. And they shared this knowledge with their disciples through their teachings in various forms of Shruti and slowly it grew to be the Vedic tree of knowledge with the branches of Upanishads, Puranas, and its root firmly planted in ancient Vedas.
Over a period of time, our great sages also realised that the reality of the whole universe is also an interaction between Purush (man) and the Prakriti (Nature) and in this interaction, the duality of the universal consciousness is manifested through spandan (vibration) or prana (light) which act as the eternal energy within every single particle existing the universe.
And this is exactly what the modern world, scientific community as of now, is fighting hard to come to terms with. It was all right for the scientists till the time, Newtonian mechanics had its hold over the progressive world. But as the mankind slowly dug deeper into the depths of elements, quantum particles stared back with its weird quantum phenomenon and stumped the scientific community.
But this duality never had any problems for the Vedic thinkers of 5000 years ago…
“Now that light which shines above this heaven, higher than all, higher than everything, in the highest world, beyond which there are no other worlds, that is the same light which is within man” — Chandogya Upanishad 3.13.7
“The soul cannot be created or destroyed,” says Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita and this is exactly what most of the scientists of the world say about ‘energy’ too” says Ayan the scientist in my book – Songs of the Mist (Page – 25)
In the end, I would like to say that for a very long time, we have denied the rightful place of our rich heritage, culture and ancient knowledge base. The books like Bhagwad Gita have provided the perfect road map to live the prefect life, even in modern times – A life which is meaningful and is in equilibrium with the nature all around us as well as within our own intrinsic nature. But it is unfortunate that not only others, we ourselves don’t take them seriously, specifically the young Indian generation. The young India does not like to read these amazing books, as they are considered to be archaic, impractical and ancient in thoughts, a position for which we have ourselves to blame. We ourselves have turned the immensely practical treasure trove of our rich heritage of culture and knowledge into a straightjacketed ritualistic customs and practices, hidden behind the closed and crumbling temple walls across the country, through our fanatic religious shortsightedness.