myths of creation

   The Hindu myths of creation are many and varied. The VEDAS, the most ancient scriptures, include several striking creation hymns. One hymn sees creation as emerging from a divine person, the PURUSHA, who is sacrificed in order for time to begin; creation results directly from his body and being. Another account, in the RIG VEDA, suggests that no one knows what existed before this world; only the one in the highest heaven knows, and perhaps not even he! Still another hymn speaks of a Golden Embryo that precedes all creation, out of which everything emerges.
   The UPANISHADS, part of the Vedas, contain numerous cosmogonic (creation) stories. Several of them relate that the world was emitted from the supreme Self or ATMAN, which pervaded all reality. Others speak of reality’s emerging from the one BRAHMAN, or ultimate all. Still others speak of the creation’s beginning with PRAJAPATI, a male creator god or principle.
   In the Puranas, written from about 400 C.E. to 1000 C.E., the god BRAHMA is usually said to be responsible for creation. He is depicted emerging from a lotus in the navel of VISHNU, who is sleep-ing on the primordial MILK OCEAN between eras. However, worshippers of either Vishnu or SHIVA often credited their chosen god with creating the entire universe.
   Further reading: Cornelia Dimmitt and J. A. B. van Buitenen, Classical Hindu Mythology: A Reader in the Sanskrit Puranas (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1978); F. B. J. Kuiper, Ancient Indian Cosmogony (New Delhi: Vikas, 1983).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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