Aitareya Upanishad: Origin of the Universe & Man (Part-1) T.N.Sethumadhavan
Aitareya Upanishad is a common ground for philosophy and physics. It contains the mahavakya, the great aphorism “prajnanam brahma”, Consciousness is Brahman. Aitareya Upanishad identifies Consciousness as the First Cause of creation. This is forerunner of ‘Unified Field Theory’ or a ‘Theory of Everything’ which the modern physicists are trying to discover although the modern science does not recognize Consciousness as a factor in creation of the universe.
One of the oldest pastimes of man is to run the search engine of his contemplative and analytical faculties to find out the final answer to the riddle of creation of the universe. This question is not merely academic but it also assumes the colors of religion, philosophy, science and poetry.
We have answers to this enigma in every religion. We have scientific theories throwing up endless ever changing conclusions, the most path-breaking of which is Charles Darwin’s “Origin of Species” followed by Stephen Hawking and others. We have philosophers’ speculations and poetic imaginations. But the mystery of creation remains as much unfathomed and unsolved today as in the Vedic days. For a detailed analysis of the subject the reader may refer to my article entitled “Mystery of Creation - Some Vedantic Concepts” under the category ‘Vedanta’ available in this Website.
VEDIC PERSPECTIVE ON CREATION
Creation is interpreted in the Vedas as a developmental course rather than as bringing into being something not hitherto existent. It was considered as an ongoing-process and not an event. The Purusha Sukta of Rig Veda paints a picture of the ideal Primeval Being existing before any phenomenal existence. He is conceived as a cosmic person with a thousand heads, eyes and feet, who filled the whole universe and extended beyond it. The world form is only a fragment of this divine reality. The first principle which is called Purusha manifested as the whole world by his Tapas.
This view gets crystallized into the later Upanishadic doctrine that the spirit or Atman in man (at microcosm) is the same as the spirit which is the cause of the world which goes by the name Brahman or Paramatman (at macrocosm). These theories are discussed in elaborate details in the following Upanishads Viz., Prasna, Aitareya, Mundaka, Taittiriya, Katha, Chandogya, Svetasvatara, Brhadaranyaka, Maitri, Paingala Upanishads besides the Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Vasishtha. Among the latter Acharyas the contributions made by Gaudapada, and Adi Sankara to these thoughts are colossal.
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