“In sex life, the combination of matter from the parents, which involves emulsification and secretion, creates the situation whereby a soul is received within matter, and the combination of matter gradually develops into a complete body. The same principle exists in the universal creation: the ingredients were present, but only when the Lord entered into the material elements was matter actually agitated. That is the cause of creation.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.26.51 Purport)
What caused the creation? Was it a big bang of chemicals? Surely there were chemicals; otherwise from where did everything come? If you believe that the explosion took place, what caused it? In every other explosion we have a cause. We have a tangible explanation. Typically there is the visible hand of an intelligent living entity who made the explosion happen. In the case of a forest fire lacking human intervention at the start, we can still decipher what things collided and why their collision led to the reaction. In the same way, with the cause of the entire creation there is intelligence, namely the injection of the most intelligent being into matter.
This is a pretty simple explanation. It is not difficult to believe. It is not hard to accept. Saying that God entered into the material elements is not anything like saying there is a magic sky wizard who created everything with the waving of a wand. Indeed, magic would only be present if there were no intervention at all. Even in the case of the forest fire, you have the higher forces of wind involved. Things don’t move on their own. A superior force causes things to shift.
To explain the same concept His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada uses the example of the birth of the living entity. We know that there is specific action that takes place. A baby does not come to be by accident. Perhaps the two parties involved weren’t deliberately trying for a pregnancy, but it is still their action which leads to the end result. Two people collide, giving off matter, and the combination yields a new life. It seems like a miracle, but since the same actions have led to the same result time and time again, the process of birth is not beyond comprehension.
Yet if you present the same explanation for the cause of the creation, you are greeted with skepticism, sometimes even hostility.
“What are you talking about? How can there be a God? Do you think God would want people to suffer from disease? You think He wants people to get hurt? I saw a football player on television the other day thanking God for saving his leg. The player was close to having his leg amputated, but luckily he got treated in time. He was all into God afterwards, but isn’t God also responsible for creating the problem in his leg in the first place? How can there be a God, then?”
Fortunately, Vedic philosophy is not so short-sighted. Though the less intelligent would describe it as a faith, what the Vedas present is actually a science. It is something to be understood first through hearing and then later validated through experiment and observation. Obviously we can’t test to see how the creation comes into existence, since no one can testify to having seen it take place. Still, we have the evidence of our current surroundings. We know that there is intelligence in everything created, and it involves the hand of other intelligent beings. Therefore it is rational to assume that an intelligent person is behind the creation itself.
The Vedas tell us that time is infinite in both directions. That act of creation with which we are so enamored actually happens all the time. There will be destruction, and then creation, and then destruction again. The cycle must repeat because that is the nature of time. The more important question is why the Supreme Lord enters into the material elements to create everything we see around us.
The answer is desire. His? No; ours. We want to compete with Him in a temporary land. Sort of like our parents building a playroom for us when we don’t want to stay with them, God manifests the phantasmagoria of the material creation through His external energy. It is like a dream, since it does not stay. Everyone around us will be gone at some point. That party we went to last night will be a distant memory rather quickly. No one will remember it, and no one will be around to tell about it. It won’t matter anyway, since everyone who attended it will be long gone.
The temporary creation creates temporary conditions. One second we are in a lot of pain and the next we are relieved. One second we are happy and the next we are sad. One second we are living and the next we are dead. Therefore the creation isn’t very important; it is the animating force within that has more potency. It lasts beyond the changes. It stays the same, no matter which body it enters.
na jāyate mriyate vā kadācinnāyaṁ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥajo nityaḥ śāśvato ‘yaṁ purāṇona hanyate hanyamāne śarīre
“For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.20)
Know that God instigates the matter to start creating the endless variety we see around us. Know that such work is not difficult for Him. Know that He ascribes more importance to how the souls in the material world act, seeing whether or not they show devotion. As soon as they do, He comes to the rescue. He brings escape from the hell of perpetual transience. He brings a permanent, blissful life, but only to those who want it. A vital step in wanting it is knowing that He creates everything. That all-powerful Lord can create the best circumstances for His devotees as well, which He does by bringing them to His spiritual abode, the Vaikuntha planets.
Prior to seeing infant’s smile bright,
Mother and father together unite.
With similar manner a combination,
From Narayana causing the creation.
Not so difficult to understand,
Purpose higher question at hand.
When upon competition set,
Sent to land conducive to forget.
So remember Him again and now,
And find liberation that way how.