Rig Veda is an ancient religious text of India, comprising of a collection of Sanskrit Hymns. It is dated as far back as 1500–1000 BCE. One of the most popular hymn and my favorite is commonly known as the hymn of creation
In the beginning there was neither existence nor non-existance.
There was no atmosphere, no sky and no realm beyond the sky
What power was there? Where was that power?
Who was that power? Was it finite or infinite?
There was neither death nor immortality.
There was nothing to distinguish night from day.
There was no wind or breath, god alone breathed by his own energy.
In the beginning darkness was swathed in darkness, god was clothed in emptiness
Then fire arose within god; and in the fire arose love.
This was the seed of the soul.
Sages have found this seed within their hearts;
They have discovered that it is the bond between existence and non-existence.
Who really knows what happened? Who can describe it?
How were things produced? Where was creation born?
When the universe was created, the one became many.
Who knows how this occurred?
Did creation happen at God’s command, or did it happen without his command.
He looks down upon the creation from the highest heaven.
Only he knows the answer – or perhaps he does not know.
It is perhaps the oldest recorded questioning of mankind on the nature of creation. As you read the verse you can still experience the wonder they must have felt. What I find most fascinating about the verse is its humility. Unlike most later religious texts which claim to know all the answers, here is a poem which is humble enough to acknowledge its ignorance. Vedic age is considered by many one of the golden ages of science in India. I feel, maybe it is this ability to acknowledge the fact that we do not have all the answers and search for them led to such great scientific progress. Isn’t it the true spirit of science?
Here are a few more of my favorite verses from the Rig Veda
Look at how the dawn has set up her banner on the eastern horizon.
She has adorned herself with sunlight
She is throwing lights of red and gold into the sky
Her brilliant flame becomes visible once more.
She pushes forward driving back the formless darkness of the night.
She gazes out at all creatures of the world and sends her light straight into every eye.
She awakens all that lives -and gives words to every poet
The divine being is born again and again each morning, always dressed in the same colors.
She causes men and women to grow older, pulling them across their span of life.
She is a cunning gambler whom no one can outwit.
She pushes aside her sister, the night, beyond the very edges of the sky
And draws to herself her lover, the sun.
The Power of Speech
I am speech –and I am queen of the world.
I am the point at which all riches meet.
I am the point at which all skills come together
I am the one who gives meaning to what is seen.
I am the one who lives in every breath.
I am the one who gives understanding to what is heard.
Though they do not realize it, people eat, see, breathe and hear through me.
Those who are famous for their wisdom are wise through me;
I taught them what they know – and they heeded me.
I am the one who conveys joy from one person to another.
Those whom I love I make them clever and sharp.
I incite people to compete for knowledge
I have pervaded the earth and the sky.
Ref: 366 Readings from Hinduism