“The Causal Ocean is created by the Lord as the mahat-tattva, as a cloud in the spiritual sky, and is only a part of His different manifestations. The spiritual sky is an expansion of His personal rays, and He is the mahat-tattva cloud also. He lies down and generates the universes by His breathing, and again, by entering into each universe as Garbhodakashayi Vishnu.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.6.39 Purport)
Before everything came into existence, when there was no man and no animal, when everything existed in a potential state, what was there? If someone could paint a picture, what would it look like? Is there an image to satisfy the curious mind?
If such an image were generated, what location would it reference? Where exactly did everything exist? Could we find it on a map? Are there precise coordinates?
How many years into the past are we talking? Five thousand? A million? Billions? It would be nice to know exactly how long it took to reach the modern day. That might provide insight into the changes to occur moving forward.
These questions have arisen throughout the course of man’s history on earth. In Vedanta there is the aphorism, athato brahma-jijnasa. This applies only to the human species. The spirit soul inside the body, after spinning on the wheel of reincarnation for so long, finally reaches a body type where they are capable of making an inquiry into higher matters. Not just enjoying the senses. Not just pursuing a temporary post in a temporary world. Now is the time to find out the true meaning of life.
With respect to the origin of the creation, there is a key component often overlooked. How. In this regard there are associated events that could be described as miracles.
Vedic culture provides the most clarity on these issues. That is to say there is only a certain amount that the human mind can understand. This is proven based on a simple review of time and space. Both are infinite. There is always a beginning to a beginning and an end to an end. There is no stopping point in space, since any place that someone erects a boundary wall, there is always something on the other side.
Given these two limitations, the questions into the origin relate to a specific time frame, namely this cycle of creation. The Vedas describe that there is an endless cycle, dating back far before anyone can remember. For analysis purposes, the origin is attributed to the only person who is forever deathless in His transcendental body. The common name for Him is God, but there are many superior and more descriptive names.
The what is answered based on evidence available at present. There are three modes of nature: goodness, passion and ignorance, which are visible in the gross and material elements of nature. These are earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and ego. Appearing in different proportions and combinations, we have the manifest world, with its seemingly infinite variety.
The how took place through Vishnu, which is one name for God. The when is billions of years before, enough to make the precise number insignificant. The miracle relates to the how. The amazing complexity, with the different elements leading to the different species – how did everything come to be?
It is said that Vishnu simply glanced over the unmanifest material substance, known as pradhana. Think of sitting in an art class and being given a ball of clay by the teacher. The assignment that day is to get to work crafting a sculpture. Vishnu takes such a lump of matter and just looks at it. This gets the process of creation going.
Vishnu creates. That is nice to know. It is certainly a miracle, since no one else can do the same. What about the subsequent engineering? How does the lump of matter turn into the universes, planets, trees, bodies of water, and inhabitants?
This also must be considered a miracle. It is said that Vishnu does this work while lying down. In rest, without expending much effort, through an act understood to be involuntary in nature, the universes come into being, remain for some time, and then get dissolved. Vishnu creates through exhaling and destroys by inhaling.
The engineering at each field is left to empowered beings. Lord Brahma is known as svayambhu, meaning “self-born.” He has no father and mother in the typical sense. He appears through the lotus stem growing from the lotus-like navel of Vishnu. Through meditation He understands the truth and he subsequently gets to work in his service to God.
Brahma acts as the creator. He takes the three types of ingredients and crafts the different body types. He is empowered by Vishnu with the ability to expertly engineer. Still, the individuals populating those body types do not emerge from him. They are spirit souls, just like Vishnu, but with an opportunity to fall into illusion, should they choose.
The processes of creation and engineering are for their benefit. Something like a parent creating a playground in the backyard for their children. A good parent will eventually put a priority on studies and maturing into adulthood, and with the material world the emphasis is on returning to the spiritual world immediately. This is the purpose of real religion, regardless of its exact implementation. Those who know the miraculous powers of Vishnu with respect to creation move one step closer to clearing their doubts about the meaning of life. If they continue to be conscious of Him, through to the time of death, liberation is guaranteed.
Since seeing everything now,
Wondering about the how.
Also what existed then,
To answer question of when.
The creation to Vishnu attributed,
Engineered through energies distributed.
In that world not forever to stay,
Made for eventually finding the way.
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