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Brihadaranyaka Upanishad | Part I. Ch II. The Process of Creation

 In the beginning there was nothing whatsoever in the universe.

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1. In the beginning there was nothing whatsoever in the universe. By Death, indeed, all this was covered-by hunger, for hunger is, verily, death. "Let Me have a mind," was His desire and He created the mind. Then He moved about, worshipping Himself. From Him, thus worshipping, water was produced. "Verily," Death though, "while I was worshipping, water was produced"; that is why the Arka (fire used in the Horse-sacrifice) is so called. Surely, happiness comes to him who knows how the fire came to be called arka.

2. Water, verily, is arka. What was then like froth on the water became solidified; that was earth. After the earth was created, Hiranyagarbha was tired. From Him, thus fatigued and heated, came forth His essence as brightness. That was Fire.

3. He divided Himself into three: the sun one-third and the air one-third. Thus Prana is divided into three. His head is the east and His arms are that (the north-east) and that (the south-east). His hinder

Part is the west and His two hip- bones are that (the north-west) and that (the south-west). His sides are the south and the north, His back is heaven, His belly is the intermediate region and His chest is the earth. Thus He stands firm on water. He who knows this stands firm wherever he goes.

4. He desired: "Let a second self be born of Me," and He (Death or Hunger) brought about the union of speech with the mind. What was the seed there became the year. Prior to that there had been no year. He (Death) bore him (the year) for as long as a year and after that time projected him. Then, when he was born, Death opened His mouth to devour him. He (the child) cried: "Bhan!" and that, indeed, became speech.

5. He thought: "If I kill him, I shall have but very little food,'' and through the union of that speech and that mind He brought forth all this, whatever there is: the Rig-Veda, the Yajur- Veda, the Sama-Veda, the metres, the sacrifices, men and animals. Whatever He brought forth He resolved to eat. Verily, because He eats everything, therefore is Aditi (Death) called Aditi. He who knows why Aditi came to have this name of Aditi becomes the eater of everything and everything becomes his food.

6. He desired: "Let me sacrifice again with the great sacrifice." He was tired and he practiced austerities. From Him thus fatigued and heated, His fame and vigour departed. The pranas (organs) are verily fame and vigour. When the pranas went out His body began to swell, but the mind was set on the body.

7. He desired: "Let this body of Mine be fit for a sacrifice and let Me be embodied through this." Thinking thus, He entered the body. Because the body swelled (asvat), therefore it came to be called horse (asva). And because it became fit for sacrifice (medhya), therefore the Horse-sacrifice came to be known as Asvamedha. He who knows this verily knows the Horse- sacrifice. Prajapati, desiring again to sacrifice with the great sacrifice, imagined Himself as the horse and letting the horse remain free, He reflected on it. At the end of a year he sacrificed it to Himself and dispatched the other animals to the gods. Therefore priests even now sacrifice to Prajapati the sanctified horse dedicated to all the gods. Verily, the sun who shines yonder is the Horse-sacrifice. His body is the year. This earthly fire is the arka (sacrificial fire), whose limbs are these worlds. So these two, fire and the sun, are the arka and the Asvamedha (Horse-sacrifice). These two, again, become the same god, Death. He who knows this conquers further death; death cannot overcome him; death becomes his self; and he becomes one with these deities.

  1. The Upanishads translated by Swami Nikhilananda


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