Mircea Eliade "From Primitives to Zen": THE CREATION OF THE WORLD

ACCORDING TO THE UPANISHADS



1. There was nothing whatsoever here in the beginning. By death indeed was this covered, or by hunger, for hunger is death. He created the mind, thinking 'let me have a self' (mind). Then he moved about, worshiping. From him, thus worshiping, water was produced. . . .
2 . . . .. That which was the froth of the water became solidified; that became the earth. On it he [i.e., death] rested. From him thus rested and heated (from the practice of austerity) his essence of brightness came forth (as) fire.
3. He divided himself threefold (fire is one-third), the sun one-third and the air one-third. He also is life [lit., breath] divided threefold, . . . (Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad, 1, 2, 1-3.)


1. The Sun is Brahman-this is the teaching. An explanation .thereof (is this). In the beginning this (world) was non-existent. It became existent. It grew. It turned into an egg. It lay for the period of a year. It burst open. Then came out of the eggshell, two parts, one of silver, the other of gold.
That which was of silver is this earth; that which was of gold is the sky. What was the outer membrane is the mountains; that which was the inner membrane is the mist with the clouds. What were the
veins were the rivers. What was the fluid within is the ocean.
(Chandogya Upanishad, III, 19, 1-2.)


[But further on, the sage Uddalaka presents another view: in the
beginning was Being alone.]



1 In the beginning, my dear, this was Being alone' one only
without a second. Some people say 'in the beginning this Was non-
being alone, one only; without a second. From that non-being, being
was produced.'
2. But how, indeed, my dear, could it be thus? said he [i.e., the
sage Uddalaka], how could being be produced from non-being? On the
contrary, my dear, in the beginning this was being alone, one only,
without a second.
3. It thought, May I be many, may I grow forth. It sent forth fire.
That fire thought, May I be many, may I grow forth. It sent forth water. . . .
4. That water thought, May I be many, may I grow forth. It sent forth food. . . .

(Chandogya Upanishad, VI, 2, 1-4.)


S. Radhakrishnan (editor and translator), The Principal Upanishads (New York: Harper & Row, 1953), PP. 151-2, 399, 447-9

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