The religion of the Vedic period going back to the second millennium BC (also known as Vedism, ancient Hinduism, Brahmanism and Vedic Brahmanism) was the religion of the Indo-Aryans of northern India.
Nasadiya Sukta (Hymn of non-Eternity, origin of universe):
There was neither non-existence nor existence then;
Neither the realm of space, nor the sky which is beyond;
What stirred? Where? In whose protection?
There was neither death nor immortality then;
No distinguishing sign of night nor of day;
That One breathed, windless, by its own impulse;
Other than that there was nothing beyond.
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;
Who really knows? Who will here proclaim it?
Whence was it produced? Whence is this creation?
Gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe.
Who then knows whence it has arisen?
Whether God’s will created it, or whether He was mute;
Perhaps it formed itself, or perhaps it did not;
Only He who is its overseer in highest heaven knows,
Only He knows, or perhaps He does not know.
The Vedas and Vedic Cosmology
Who knows for certain?
Who shall here declare it?
Whence was it born, whence came creation?
The gods are later than this world’s formation;
Who then can know the origins of the world?
None knows whence creation arose;
And whether he has or has not made it;
He who surveys it from the lofty skies,
Only he knows — or perhaps he knows not.
– Rig Veda (X:129)
Veda is a historical predecessor of modern Hinduism, though significantly different from it. There is no one single word in modern Western languages that can render the various shades of meaning of the word Brahman in the Vedic literature. In verses considered as the most ancient, the Vedic idea of Brahman is the “power immanent in the sound, words, verses and formulas of Vedas”. The verses suggest that this ancient meaning was never the only meaning, and the concept evolved and expanded in ancient India.
The Vedas conceptualize Brahman as the Cosmic Principles underlying all that exists: Brahman is the sole unchanging reality, there is no duality, no limited individual souls nor a separate unlimited cosmic soul, rather all souls, all of existence, across all space and time, is one and the same. Gavin Flood states that the Vedic era witnessed a process of abstraction, where the concept of Brahman evolved and expanded from the power of sound, words and rituals to the “essence of the universe”, the “deeper foundation of all phenomena”, the “essence of the self (Atman, soul)”, and the deeper “truth of a person beyond apparent difference”. (Gavin Flood (1996), An Introduction to Hinduism, Cambridge University Press.)
“The Vedas maintain that consciousness is present everywhere and it is the primary ground of reality. Minds do not emerge from matter; rather, the universe exists because of the presence of mind. This idea that consciousness is more fundamental than the physical universe is invoked to explain how the rishis turned out to be roughly right about the age and the size of the universe and the speed of light, while the modern scientist would take these as no more than numerical coincidences.” Mystic Universe – by
In Hindu scriptures like the Srimad Bhagavatam, vedas dating back thousands of years we are only now, beginning to understand and not traceable concerning their origins. According to Vedic physics, space inside our universe is multidimensional, consisting of 14 planetary levels. Srimad Bhagavatam tells us that the Earth is located in the Bhorloka level – part of the Bhumandala system, divided into seven subdivisions.
Below the 14 levels of the planets, a planet Pitriloka, below which is the Narakloka system, what you call Hell. This is also divided, into 27 subdivisions, each containing hundreds of thousands of planets.
It is said, that the soul when it goes to Naraklova is at the lowest level of existence. Vedic evolutionary theory works in the opposite direction to Darwinian, starting with a common complex ancestor who was more intelligent than we are, each generation becoming less and less able to intelligence than the preceding one. It works on the level of consciousness as well as the physical world. Consciousness is indestructible, having powers that migrate from host, one host taking the unit of consciousness from a preceding one, ascending from lower forms of creature to higher ones, rising back to the common ancestor.
The Vedic universe is therefore multidimensional, with 64 dimensions each containing other dimensions.
Similarity to Quantum Theory
The centrality of the observer in Indian cosmology is similar to that of quantum theory, which is the deepest theory of physics. Erwin Schrödinger, one of the creators of quantum theory claimed that Upanishadic ideas were central to his discovery of the structure of the new subject. He wrote in an autobiographical essay that the idea of interconnectedness of quantum theory came to him as an echo of “that sacred, mystic formula which is yet really so simple and so clear: tat tvam asi, this is you. Or, again, in such words as ‘I am in the east and the west, I am above and below, I am this entire world.’”
The meaning of this saying is that the Self – in its original, pure, primordial state – is wholly or partially identifiable or identical with the Ultimate Reality that is the ground and origin of all phenomena.
‘Vedic cosmology is therefore of interest not only from a historical perspective but also because it has the potential to explain human creativity and the mystery of consciousness. But there are challenges. Those who know Sanskrit texts do not know modern science and vice versa. One may even ask if it is possible to translate technical Sanskrit vocabulary related to consciousness into scientific terms that have an entirely different provenance.’ –Financial Chronicle, 9 June 2015
» Dr Subhash Kak is Regents professor of engineering at Oklahoma State University. He is the author of 20 books that include The Architecture of Knowledge.