“It is said in the Vedic literature that innumerable universes issue forth when Maha-Vishnu exhales in His yoga-nidra, and innumerable universes enter His body when He again inhales. We have to imagine that these universes, which, according to our limited knowledge, are expanded unlimitedly, are so great that the gross ingredients, the five elements of the cosmic manifestation, namely earth, water, fire, air and sky, are not only within the universe, but are covering the universe in seven layers, each layer ten times bigger than the previous one.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 32)
When discussing the topic of the creation, it is difficult for the human mind to comprehend. After all, this involves the highest macro level. There is intricate detail to a single tree. The many branches, the connection to the trunk and the roots, the variety with respect to height – despite so much nuance and detail, there is also intelligence as the vital component.
Take a single tree and multiply it by the largest factor. That is one way to understand what must take place for the universe to function. The arrival of seasons is predictable, but who configured the elements to work in that way? Is there a quality control engineer? Is there someone monitoring the process? If an observer falls asleep for a certain period of time, does that mean summer will not arrive?
The Vedas attempt to provide an understanding of the process behind creation, but there are limitations. If we cannot understand the changing bodies and the constant of the soul within, how will any valid explanation of the beginning and end to the planetary systems ever make sense?
देहिनो ऽस्मिन् यथा देहे
कौमारं यौवनं जरा
धीरस् तत्र न मुह्यति
dehino ‘smin yathā dehe
kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā
dhīras tatra na muhyati
“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)
A key principle to take away is that what we consider vast and complex is mere child’s play to the operator in charge. That is to say, God creates with minimal effort. We cannot say that effort is completely absent, as that would indicate the lack of a central organizer.
There is work to the process, but it is so easy that the Supreme Lord, in His four-armed form of Vishnu, simply lies down and breathes. The universes emerge, expand, maintain, and then dissolve within the journey of these breaths.
What is vast and complex to us is an afterthought to Vishnu. He provides everything necessary to continue, in the way that the sky contains all the stars and the earth the seeds. Everything is within Him, which explains the potency behind the chanting of the holy name.
जथा भूमि सब बीजमय नखत निवास अकास |
रामनाम सब धरममय जानत तुलसीदास ||
jathā bhūmi saba bījamaya nakhata nivāsa akāsa |
rāmanāma saba dharamamaya jānata tulasīdāsa ||
“Just as within the earth are found every kind of seed and within the sky live all the stars, Tulsidas knows that Shri Rama’s holy name is the reservoir of all dharma.” (Dohavali, 29)
These universes are like bubbles. They are as fragile as we would expect of such an object, but this is difficult to comprehend based on the juxtaposition in size. We are small compared to the large tree. The mountain can be so tall that to reach the top would take many days of intense travel.
How, then, can a single universe break as easily as the bubble floating on the surface of the ocean? How can it be so easily created? Why is it so fragile in construction? Why not apply some reinforcements, so that it remains manifest for a longer duration?
The ease with which Vishnu generates the universes, with its different layers of elements, has a direct relationship to its importance. In the grand scheme, a single lifetime is not much. People lived on this earth hundreds of years ago. The same will be true in the future, long after we are gone.
Again and again the host of beings manifest, and they are later helplessly dissolved. This is the cycle of birth and death, incorporated within Vishnu’s seemingly involuntary breathing.
The more significant factor is Vishnu Himself. If the universes are not so important to Him, why should they be to us? Why worry over what is destined to disappear? Why not focus on the layer which persists? This is one way to understand the spiritual nature.
It is a realm of separate existence. It never manifests and it never gets destroyed. It is as sanatana as the dharma involved with reaching it, in the travel from the temporary to the eternal. This realm is the home of Vishnu.
The Supreme Lord does not live alone. He is surrounded by close associates. They never have to leave that area, as there is pure devotion. The material world is something like a reformatory establishment. The decision to leave is up to the individuals; they are never compelled one way or the other.
The choice is between a land of birth and death, with repeat experience in misery, and a land of eternal spiritual sunshine, in the company of the most powerful one, who is also the greatest well-wisher of the living entities.
By sleeping image demonstrated,
That universes easily created.
Just by in and out to breathe,
Vishnu working with ease.
Manifest and fragile like bubble,
Place of repeated pain and trouble.
Better the dominant factor to consider,
Who from this world can deliver.