The Rig Veda: 10.129
Chapter Five

  1. Then was neither non-existence nor existence: There was no realm of air, no sky beyond it. what covered it, and where? And what gave shelter? Was there, an unfathomed depth of water?
  2. Death was not then, nor was there anything immortal: no sign was there, the Day's and Night's divider. That One Thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature: apart from it was nothing whatsoever.
  3. Darkness there was: at first concealed in darkness this All was indiscriminated chaos. All that existed then was void and formless: by the great power of Warmth was born that One.
  4. Thereafter rose Desire in the beginning, Desire, the primal seed and germ of Spirit. Sages who searched with their heart's thought discovered the kinship of existence with non-existence.
  5. Transversely [across the universe] was their dividing line extended: what was above it then, and what below it? There were begetters, there were mighty forces, free action here and energy up yonder.
  6. Who verily knows and who can here declare it, whence it was born and whence comes this creation? The Gods are later than this world's production. Who knows then whence it first came into being?
  7. He the first origin of this creation, whether he formed it all or did not form it, whose eye controls this world in highest heaven, he verily knows it, or perhaps he knows it not.

Ralph T.H. Griffith, The Hymns of the Rg Veda, 1896.

Sign: Refers to heavenly bodies, stars, planets, sun and moon, signs by which humans measure time. Return to Passage

That One Thing: The primordial God figure-the one that existed before all else. Concept occurs in many cultures--see Enuma Elish. Return to Passage

Desire: Could be translated "love". Many creation stories tie in human understanding of creation of life. Return to Passage

Dividing line: Creation, then is the division of the indiscriminated chaos (see v.3). This concept of division is very apparent in Hebrew and Babylonian mythology also. Return to Passage

The Gods are later: Notice that the pantheon of gods (and there are quite a few in Hindu mythology) originates AFTER that one thing separates matter into the forms of this world. Return to Passage

He knows it, or perhaps he knows it not: This type of paradox is prevalent throughout Hindu literature and philosophy. Do you see this type of paradox in other cultures? Where? Return to Passage


W.W. Norton
RESOURCE: World Civilizations
Page created by Thomas Pearcy, Ph.D, Mary Dickson and David Purdon.
Direct questions or comments to Webmaster.
Last revised January 31, 1997
Copyright (c) 1996. W. W. Norton Publishing. All Rights Reserved