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Śṛṣṭi – Creation (continued)

Pratisarga

After the Supreme Being had, as Brahmā, revitalized the earth with its mountains and continents, he began creating objects and beings who inhabited the three worlds of Bhū, Bhuvaḥ and Suvaḥ. Although all created beings (of these realms) were destroyed in nimitta-pralaya, their respective accumulation of merits and demerits were not exhausted. They were thus destined to be reborn, in forms that were willed by Brahmā. Determined to create, Brahmā gathered himself and plunged into a meditative trance. From him arose the first principle of mahat (intellect), then the tanmātras (rudimentary or subtle elements) and then the subtle forms of the indriyas (senses of perception).
His person then became pervaded by the darkness of ignorance. From the hip of his person thus enveloped in ignorance, arose the asuras. Brahmā quickly abandoned the frame that was ignorance, and the frame thus abandoned by Brahmā became night. Keen on the act of creation, Brahmā persisted. He now experiences great pleasure. From Brahmā’s mouth as he experienced pleasure, rose the devas (celestials). These devas were endowed with the quality of goodness. Having created the devas, Brahmā abandoned that form too, and the form was transformed into day. Brahmā desired to carry on with his duty of creation and therefore donned a third form. This form was a combination of goodness as well as of darkness. From this form arose unique beings; these were the mortals. As a result of the unprecedented combination of attributes, the mortals are often afflicted by evil and are prone to action. The unique characteristic of this species of creation is that they are the instruments that are designed to achieve the goal of creation, namely liberation. In a nut-shell, by virtue of their unique creation, it is the mortals alone that are capable of attaining liberation.
Brahmā then experienced foulness, from which arose the instinct of hunger. From hunger then arose anger. From hunger also arose hideous beings who rushed forth and implored Brahmā, “please protect us”. A section of those very beings implored the creator, “pray, feed us”. Those who cried “protect us” became the rākṣasas and while those who cried “food” became the yakṣas. The hair upon Brahmā head began to shrivel up from beholding the hideous beings, and hair thus shriveled up fell to the ground. The fallen hairs then transformed into serpents. The creator then created from anger, beings that were tawny of hue and eaters of flesh. These were the goblins. Having regained composure, Brahmā mediated upon the goddess of speech and created from the sweetness of speech, the gandharvas or celestial bards.
Having created being of magnificence thus, Brahmā now willed for other beings to be born. From Brahmā’s vigor arose birds. From his bosom, sheep. Goats issued forth from Brahmā’s mouth and cattle arose from his belly. Many other animals like the camels, deer, mules and so on arose from other parts of Brahmā’s vitalized being. The hairs on Brahmā’s person gave rise to herbs, tubers and fruit (bearing plants and trees). Having created the trees and herbs, Brahmā desired to use them in sacrificial offerings. The incantations of the Vedas however, had disappeared from the lower worlds in the pralaya. From Brahmā’s four mouths arose segments of the four Vedas along with (esoteric methodology of performing) sacrifices. Thus, Brahmā recreated the lower worlds as they stood in the previous cycle of creation, their characteristics of good and evil intact. The Viṣṇu-Purāṇa states that Brahmā indulges in pratisarga over and over again, at the commencement of each of his days. Let us now take a look at how creation takes place after the prakṛti-pralaya or mahāpralaya, when everything in creation is reduced to non-existence.

Sarga
The Vedas state that at the end of a param or the lifespan of Brahmā, absolute cataclysm is unleashed upon the fourteen worlds. All created entities return to their subtle and eternal state of nonexistence for a period of time that equals the time creation was sustained. Thus, for an extended period of time, all that exists is impenetrable nothingness. The Ṛg-Veda states that there was something that could be defined neither as existence nor non-existence, neither night nor day. There was that Supreme entity alone that breathed with no life-breath, and in him arose desire (to create). It was the power of this desire that stimulated creation that was to follow. The Śrīmadbhāgavata states that the desire of the Supreme Being to create, produced the first personification in the cosmic form and from that form arose, Brahmā, the creator.
The agitation of desire that rose in his mind, gave birth to an ethereal lotus. The lotus, its thousand petals an exquisite sight, illumined the waters upon which the cosmic form lay as Nārāyana. Brahmā, the first created being rose from the lotus and found himself bemused. He wondered, “who am I, and wherefrom has this lotus that houses me, risen? Indeed, there must be something below that sustains the lotus”. With these thoughts, Brahmā endeavored to identify the base from which the lotus had risen. Try as he may, he could neither fathom the basis nor find the base from which the lotus had shot forth. He returned to the lotus and engaged in meditation, reining his mind in and calming his agitation. In a divine trance, Brahmā feasted his eyes upon the Supreme Being, embodied as Śrīmannārāyaṇa, reclined upon the great serpent, Ādiśeṣa. By the grace of the Supreme, it became evident to Brahmā who he was and what his role in creation would be. Now blessed with the attribute of rajas required for creation, Brahmā engaged in the act of creating the universe as dictated to him by an inner light, a reflection of the Supreme, as a form of worship to the Supreme.


स कर्मबीजं रजसोपरक्तः प्रजाः सिसृक्षन्नियदेव दृष्ट्वा।
अस्तौद्विसर्गाभिमुखस्तमीड्यमव्यक्तवर्त्मय्नभिवेशितात्मा॥


sa karmabījaṁ rajasoparaktaḥ prajāḥ sisṛkṣanniyadeva dṛṣṭvā|
astaudvisargābhimukhastamīḍyamavyaktavartmaynabhiveśitātmā||


Having perceived the (material and instrumental) cause for creation, Brahmā who was touched by the attribute of passion that was the root cause (for any activity including creation), was overcome by the desire to create. He then engaged in propitiating the One supremely worthy of worship, through the inscrutable path (of creation).


Śrīmadbhāgavata, 3.8.33

Brahmā then set about creating the various beings and the various secondary creators like the prajāpatis, in a manner that is described to be similar to the methodology followed in pratisarga.

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