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Hymn of Creation: "He verily knows it, or perhaps he knows it not."

Nov 20, 2002 02:16 PM
by Daniel H. Caldwell

Below I give 4 different versions of the remarkable "Hymn of 
Creation" from the Rig Veda.  

I remember when I was in my teens and having what later I would learn 
were mystical experiences, I ran across the "Hymn of Creation." It 
awakened in me other inner experiences many of which I still do not 

Later in 1968 I discovered Theosophy and the writings of Madame 
Blavatky. I was literally amazed when I first read the Stanzas of 
Dzyan and HPB's commentaries on the Stanzas. These stanzas also 
awakened something in me very reminiscent of my experiences with the 
Hymn of Creation.

Several years later in the 70s, in the library where I was working, I 
found a book written by Georg Feuerstein and Jeanine Miller.  
Information on the latest reprint of this book can be found at:
The Essence of Yoga: Essays on the Development of Yogic Philosophy 
from the Vedas to Modern Times

I was greatly impressed by the whole book especially the following 

"Some Notes on Rgvedic Interpretation" (J. Miller and G. Feuerstein) 
"The Hymn of Creation. A Philosophical Interpretation" (J. Miller) 
"Forerunners of Yoga: The Kesin Hymn" (J. Miller) 
"The Heart of Rgvedic Religion: Agni, Flame Divine" (J. Miller)

The chapter on "The Hymn of Creation" by Jeanine Miller is highly 
recommended, especially for students of THE SECRET DOCTRINE.

Anyway, below are the 4 versions.



Hymn of Creation
Version 1

Neither non-being nor being was as yet, Neither was airy space nor 
heavens beyond; What was enveloped? And where? Sheltered by whom? And 
was there water? Bottomless, unfathomed? 

Neither was there death nor immortality, Nor was there any sign then 
of night or day; Totally windless, by itself, the One breathed; 
Beyond that, indeed, nothing whatever was. 

In the Principle darkness concealed darkness; Undifferentiated surge 
was this whole world. The pregnant point covered by the form matrix, 
>From conscious fervor, mightily, brought forth the One. 

In the Principle, thereupon, rose desire, Which of consciousness was 
the primeval seed. Then the wise, searching within their hearts, 
perceived That in non-being lay the bond of being. 

Stretched crosswise was their line, a ray of glory. Was there a 
below? And was there an above? There were sowers of seeds and forces 
of might: Potency from beneath and from on high the Will. 

Who really knows, who could here proclaim Whence this creation flows, 
where is its origin? With this great surge the Gods made their 
appearance. Who therefore knows from where it did arise? 

This flow of creation, from where it did arise, Whether it was 
ordered or was not, He, the Observer, in the highest heaven, He alone 
knows, unless…He knows it not.


Hymn of Creation
Version 2

Non-being then existed not nor being:
There was no air, nor sky that is beyond it.
What was concealed? Wherein? In whose protection?
And was there deep unfathomable water?

Death then existed not nor life immortal;
Of neither night nor day was any token.
By its inherent force the One breathed windless:
No other thing than that beyond existed.

Darkness there was at first by darkness hidden;
Without distinctive marks, this all was water.
That which, becoming, by the void was covered,
That One by force of heat came into being. 

Desire entered the One in the beginning:
It was the earliest seed, of thought the product.
The sages searching in their hearts with wisdom,
Found out the bond of being in non-being.

Their ray extended light across the darkness:
But was the One above or was it under?
Creative force was there, and fertile power:
Below was energy, above was impulse.

Who knows for certain? Who shall here declare it?
Whence was it born, and whence came this creation?
The gods were born after this world's creation:
Then who can know from whence it has arisen?

None knoweth whence creation has arisen;
And whether he has or has not produced it:
He who surveys it in the highest heaven,
He only knows, or haply he may know not


Hymn of Creation
Version 3

At first was neither Being nor Nonbeing.
There was not air nor yet sky beyond.
What was wrapping? Where? In whose protection?
Was Water there, unfathomable deep?

There was no death then, nor yet deathlessness;
of night or day there was not any sign.
The One breathed without breath by its own impulse.
Other than that was nothing at all.

Darkness was there, all wrapped around by darkness,
and all was Water indiscriminate, Then
that which was hidden by Void, that One, emerging,
stirring, through power of Ardor, came to be.

In the beginning desire arose,
which was primal germ cell of mind.
The Seers, searching in their hearts with wisdom,
discovered the connection of Being in Nonbeing. 

A crosswise line cut Being from Nonbeing.
What was described above it, what below?
Bearers of seed there were and mighty forces,
thrust from below and forward move above.

Who really knows? Who can presume to tell it?
Whence was it born? Whence issued this creation?
Even the Gods came after its emergence.
Then who can tell from whence it came to be?

That out of which creation has arisen,
whether it held it firm or it did not,
He who surveys it in the highest heaven,
He surely knows - or maybe He does not! 


Hymn of Creation
Version 4

Then there was not non-existent nor existent: 
There was no realm of air, no sky beyond it.
What covered in, and where? and what gave shelter? 
Was water there, unfathomed depth of water?

Death was not then, nor was there aught immortal:
No sign was there, the day's and night's divider.
That one thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature 
Apart from it was nothing whatsoever.

Darkness there was: at first concealed in darkness, 
This All was undiscriminated chaos.
All that existed then was void and formless; 
By the great power of warmth was born that unit.

Thereafter rose desire in the beginning, 
Desire the primal seed and germ of spirit.
Sages who searched with their heart's thought 
Discovered the existent's kinship in the non-existent.

Transversely was their severing line extended: 
What was above it then, and what below it?
There were begetters, there were mighty forces, 
Free action here and energy of yonder.

Who verily knows and who can here declare it,
Whence it was born and whence comes this creation?
The gods are later than this world's production. 
Who knows, then, whence it first came into being?

He, the first origin of this creation, 
Whether he formed it all or did not form it,
Whose eye controls this world in highest heaven, 
He verily knows it, or perhaps he knows it not.

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