Where it all began?
INDIAN history has a rich and varied repository of stories, dealing with gods and demons; there are moralistic tales from the Ramayana and Mahabharata; cautionary tales that form the Panchatantra canon, and folk tales from the length and breadth of this vast country that illustrate human foibles.
One of the first tales is about the mystery of creation. Our ancient sages often gave deep thought to this problem, looking up at the night sky, pondering on the emptiness of space in an effort to understand what came before creation. It seemed there was nothing before creation-no life or death, neither darkness nor light. Only desire existed, and from this primitive impulse, Creation stirred into being. Perhaps a poet or author might have a vague inkling of this-it is only after a seed is sown in his mind, the finished product-a poem-is born. Where does the seed come from? Maybe even the poet does not know!
There is the tale of the god, called Prajapati, whose seed created all creatures on earth. He had a nubile daughter, Rohini, who could take many forms. He had no wife and began lusting after his daughter. As she changed into a doe, inflamed with passion, he turned himself into a stag. The other gods, watching all this were alarmed, and chose Rudra, a god of frightening aspect, to put an end to this sinful deed. Rudra fired his arrow just as Prajapati was about to mount his daughter; he was struck, and rose into the sky as the constellation, ‘the Deer’. His daughter turned into another constellation. Rudra himself is now a constellation-the Sirius-better known as ‘the deer hunter’.
Prajapati was struck just before he was about to commit incest, and his seed spilled on the ground. Since he was a god and his seed was not like human seed, it became a big lake. The gods decreed the seed should not be allowed to go waste and asked Agni to work his charm. But since fire failed to ignite it, the gods called upon the formidable storm-gods, the Maruts, who accompany Rudra everywhere, to finish the job. Working in tandem, the two gods unleashed a firestorm that devastated the lake. Out of the ashes, the sun was born, and also Varuna, the god of the oceans. Later, after the lake had been cooled, Agni and the Maruts again breathed fire into it; from the inferno emerged Brihaspati, and other sages whose fury could incinerate any being unlucky enough to incur their wrath. In the end, the lake was reduced to chars and cinder. Out of the black cinders emerged black cattle, while the ashes gave birth to camels, donkeys, antelopes and oxen.
The seed gave birth to the varied forms of life found upon this earth-the birds and the fish, the beasts of the forest, and the male and female form. But this still doesn’t explain the fundamental question: what came before everything? What existed before the gods? Was there something before Creation itself? Many stories abound which point to gods as the originator but this would not have been possible as the gods themselves came after creation. One can only speculate about The One who casts His paternal gaze on all Creation, knowing how it all began.