The Song of Creation

Then there was neither Aught nor Nought, no air nor sky beyond.
What covered all? Where rested all? In watery gulf profound?
Nor death was then, nor deathlessness, nor change of night and day.
That One breathed calmly, self-sustained; nought else beyond it lay.

Gloom hid in gloom existed first – one sea, eluding view.
That One, a void in chaos wrapt, by inward fervour grew.
Within it first arose desire, the primal germ of mind,
Which nothing with existence links, as sages searching find.

The kindling ray that shot across the dark and drear abyss-
Was it beneath? or high aloft? What bard can answer this?
There fecundating powers were found, and mighty forces strove-
A self-supporting mass beneath, and energy above.

Who knows, who ever told, from whence this vast creation rose?
No gods had then been born – who then can e’er the truth disclose?
Whence sprang this world, and whether framed by hand divine or no-
Its lord in heaven alone can tell, if even he can show.

 — Anon. (The Rig Veda)

Translated by John Muir, in ‘Original Sankrit Texts’, volume 5.


 “The Song of Creation”

by Max Muller

 Then there was not non-existent nor existent:
 there was no realm of air, no sky beyond it.
 What covered in, and where? and what gave shelter?
 was water there, unfathomed depth of water?

 Death was not then, nor was there aught 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.

 Darkness there was: at first concealed in darkness,
 this All was undiscriminated chaos.
 All that existed then was void and formless;
 by the great power of warmth was born that unit.

 Thereafter rose desire in the beginning,
 Desire the primal seed and germ of spirit.
 Sages who searched with their heart’s thought
 discovered the existent’s kinship in the non-existent.

 Transversely was their severing line extended:
 what was above it then, and what below it?
 There were begetters, there were mighty forces,
 free action here and energy of yonder.

 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?

 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.

 — Anon. (The Rig Veda)