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Rigveda - Hymn 129 - In the Beginning - Energy, Darkness, Unmanifested Water and the Power of Heat

Then neither Being nor Not-being was,

Nor atmosphere, nor universe, nor what is beyond.

What did it encompass? Where? In whose protection?

What was water, the deep unfathomable?

2 Neither death nor immortality was there then,

No sign of night or day,

That One [God] breathed, windless, by its own energy: [a]

Nothing else existed then.

3 In the beginning was darkness swathed in darkness;

All this was but unmanifested [b] water.

Whatever was, that One, coming into being,

Hidden by the Void,

Was generated by the power of heat. [c]

4 In the beginning this [God] evolved,

Became desire, first seed of mind. [d]

Wise observers, [e] searching within their hearts,

Found the bond of Being in Not-being.

5 The cord extended across, from side to side [f] :

Was there a below? Was there an above?

There were casters of seed, and forces that transform;

Beneath was energy, above was impulse.

6 Who knows truly? Who could even declare it?

From what source was it born, from where is the origination. [g]

By the radiation of this source the Spirit

Only later [came to be].

Who then knows where it has emerged [from]?

7 From where did this source of radiation arise,

Whether [God] disposed [h] it, or whether He did not,—

Only the One who is its overseer in highest heaven knows.

[He only knows,] or perhaps He does not know!


a. Svadha, Sanskrit. One’s own nature or determination, spontaneity.

b. Or, invisible, hidden, without appearance. The 'unmanifested' is the Absolute, the pure and formless ground of being from which creation and manifestation arise. The unmanifested is free from change, the unmoved mover.

c. Tapas, Sanskrit. Warmth, fire, light, pain.

d. Or, consciousness, imagination, perception, thinking, intelligence, judgement, instinct.

e. Or, wise seers. Prophets, sages, or interpreter.

f. Athwart. From side to side. Or in opposition to, contradictory.

g. Emanation, an abstract but perceptible thing that issues or originates from a source, form of radiation given off by something.

h. Or, ‘created,’ Inclined or willing, having a specified attitude to or towards.

Hindu Scriptures

Hindu Scriptures / translated from Sanskrit by R. C. Zaehner, copyright © 1966 J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



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