Creation of life in Hinduism


s Mahapralaya—the night of Brahma when nothing existed. There was neither night nor day, no light or darkness, neither joy nor sorrow. All animate and inanimate creation had merged into the infinite essence. There was neither sun, nor moon, nor planets. The whole firmament was one complete void, pulsating with life.
             In the Puranas , creation is cyclic in nature. A vast period of shrishti, or creation, is followed by another​ vast period of pralaya, or dissolution. There is no absolute beginning for creation, and thus no absolute end. Time is, therefore, not linear as in modern thought, but cyclic. Brahma is the creative aspect of the Supreme Being. It is he who conducts the work of creation. Shiva is known as the destructive aspect of that same consciousness, and Vishnu is the harmonizer who keeps the balance and sustains creation. A cycle of the creative activity of Brahma is only one day of Brahma, and an equally long cycle constitutes his night. The immensity of Brahma’s life span can be imagined only if we convert it into human years. One human year of 365 days corresponds to just one day of the gods. So 365 human years is only one year for the gods. Twelve thousand such celestial years make one chaturyuga, or the four yugas (epochs) into which cyclic time is divided. One thousand such chaturyugas constitute one day of Brahma, and an equal number make his night. Each cycle of creation has its own Brahma, whose total life span is one hundred such years. The immensity of the period of time involved, in human calculations, cannot be imagined. It will come to forty billion plus 311 human years. The human mind can scarcely imagine the period of Brahma’s life. A cycle of creation is only one day to Brahma, and of dissolution, his one night. The inherent tendencies generated by the jivas (embodied souls) in one cycle remain latent during his night and return to that avyaktha from which they have come, and sprout into existence at the commencement of his day.
          In every cycle of creation it is time that commences the act of creation. The first principle to be manifested is the Lord’s power, as time. In itself, time is without any modification. It is insubstantial and without beginning or end. It gets its expression at the beginning of creation when it causes the stirring of the three gunas — sattva, rajas, and tamas —or modes of Prakriti, or nature. Time is the basis of the sport of the Supreme for his creative manifestations. It is without beginning and without end.
     The dissolution of the universe takes three forms based on time, substance, and the attributes of Prakriti. The first is called nitya-pralaya, which is a daily dissolution based only on time, experienced every day by all of us when we go to sleep. Each night is a pralaya for​ each individual soul. When we sleep there is no world and no individuality; both are in a latent state, submerged into consciousness. The moment someone awakes, the world appears and individuality reasserts itself. The second type of dissolution is called naimittika-pralaya, or Mahapralaya, which is the night of Brahma, when the Creator, Brahma, goes to sleep. This happens after one day of Brahma’s time, which lasts for a thousand chaturyugas . In the night of Brahma the Creator sleeps for another thousand chatturyugas and the whole universe goes into a state of involution up to Satyaloka, or the highest heaven (world of Brahma). After this cosmic night​ is ver, the Lord’s power begins to operate as time, and creation and evolution continue as described at the beginning of this chapter. The third type of dissolution is called prakritika-pralaya, when all the categories and attributes of Prakriti go into total dissolution into their ultimate cause, Prakriti, which itself reverts into the Iswara and then into the Brahman. This will last for eons, with all things remaining in a latent state. When creation begins once again, all things come out in reverse order. By the fiat of the Absolute, as mentioned earlier, the first to appear is the Lord’s power as time. It stirs the gunas of Prakriti at the beginning of each creative cycle. Next, out of the cosmic womb of Prakriti comes the cosmic ahamkara, or cosmic ego, which splits into the three gunas . The third aspect is the appearance of the tanmatras, or the subtle energy of the elements, which are capable of evolving into the bhutas, or gross elements. The fourth aspect of creation is the projection of the ten indriyas —the five organs of knowledge and the five organs of action. The fifth is the formation of the mind and the presiding deities of the organs, all from the guna of sattva . The sixth is the creation of avidya, or ignorance, which clouds and distorts the minds of living being​.

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