Chapter 12 — Detailed Description of Original Creation, Elements in Their Subtle Forms

Vasishta said:—

From the state of perfect stillness and tranquility of the supremely holy Spirit, the universe rose to being in the manner that you must hear with your best understanding and attention.

As sound sleep displays itself in visionary dreams, so Brahma manifests Himself in the works of creation, of which He is the soul and receptacle. The world, which of its nature is continually progressive in its course, is identical with the essence of that Being, whose form is selfsame with the indescribable glory of His eternally brilliant Intellect (chintamani, the wish-fulfilling jewel). This Intellect (chit, cosmic consciousness), before assuming to itself consciousness or the knowledge of self, gets of itself and in itself an exercise of intellection (a thought). (This is the first stage in perception by the soul).

Then this thinking Intellect (chetya-chit) gets the notions (bodha, knowledge or truth) of some faint images (uhita-rupas) which are purer and lighter than air, and which receive their names and forms only later. (The innate ideas are born before the embryonic mind or soul). Afterwards this transcendent essence (Intellect, Consciousness) becomes an intelligent principle (sacheta) eager for intelligence (chetana). It is now worthy of its name as Intellect or chit on account of its having attained what is called intelligence.

Lastly it takes the form of gross consciousness (ghana-samvedana) and receives the name of the individual soul (jiva as the living cosmic soul or Hiranyagarbha). It now loses its divine nature by reflecting on itself. Then this living principle is involved in thoughts relating only to the world, but its nature depends on the divine essence (as the fallacy of the snake depends on the substance of the rope).

Afterwards an empty space rises into being called kham (vacuum) which is the seed or source of the property of sound and which later becomes expressive of meaning. 10 Next in order, the elements of egoism and duration are produced in the individual soul. These two terms are the roots of the existence of future worlds.

11 This ideal knowledge in Divine Spirit of the unreal forms of the network of world was made to appear as a reality by omnipotent power. 12 Thus the ideal self-consciousness became the seed (or root) of the tree of desires that ego fluctuates in the form of air. 13 The intellect in the form of airy ego thinks on the element of sounds (shabda tanmatram, the element of sound in its subtle form) and it becomes by degrees denser than the rarified air and produces the element of mind.

14 Sound is the seed (or root) of words that later became diverse in the forms of names or nouns and significant terms. Words evolved and became as numerous as shoots on trees, and as varied as inflected speech, sentences, and the collections of Vedas and other scriptures. 15 It is from this Supreme Spirit that all these worlds derived their beauty and the multitude of words (which sprang from the sounds), full of meaning, became widespread. 16 Consciousness expressed as this family of its offspring is described as the living individual soul (jiva) which afterwards became the source of all forms of beings known under a variety of expressions. 17 From this individual soul sprang the fourteen kinds of living beings that fill the cells in the bowels of all worlds.

18 It was then that Consciousness, by a motion and inflation of itself and as instantaneously as a thought, became the subtle-form element (tanmatra) of touch and feeling (the air), which was yet without name or action. This breath caused air, which expanded itself and filled all bodies that are objects of touch and feeling. 19 The air, which is the seed (root) of the tree of tangibles, then developed itself into branches composed of the various kinds of winds that cause breath and motion in all beings.

20 Then, at its pleasure and from its idea of light, Consciousness produced the elemental essence of luster, which later received its different names (sunlight, moonlight, starlight, firelight, lightening). 21 Then the sun, fire, lightning and others that are the seeds (or roots) of the tree of light, caused the various colors that filled the world.

22 Consciousness reflected on the lack of fluidity and produced the liquid body of waters whose taste constitutes the element (tanmatra) of flavor in its subtle form. 23 The desire of the soul for different flavors (rasa, bliss) is the seed of the tree of taste, and it is by the relish of a variety of tastes that the world is to go on in its course.

24 Then the self-willed Brahma, wishing to produce the visible earth, caused the property of smell to appertain to it from his own subtle element of it. 25 He made his elemental solidity the seed or source of the tree of forms, as he made his own element of roundness underlie the spherical world.

26 These elements are all evolved from Consciousness and remain within Consciousness, just like bubbles of water rise and subside in itself. 27 In this manner, all beings remain in their combined states until their final dissolution into simple and separate forms. 28 All things, which are only forms and formations of pure Intellect, remain within the sphere of Divine Intelligence, as the subtle form of a big banyan tree resides in the forms of pollen and seed. 29 These sprouted forth in time and burst out into a hundred branches. Having been concealed in an atom, they became as big as if they were to last forever.

30 Such is the growth and multiplication of things within Consciousness until development is stopped by its contraction, then weakened in their bodies by its desertion, until they droop down in the end. 31 In this way the elements in their subtle forms (tanmatras) are produced in Consciousness out of its own volition and are manifested to sight in the form of formless minutiae. 32 These five-fold elements are only the seeds of all things in the world. They are seeds of the primary momentum that was given to them (in the beginning). To our way of thinking, they are the seeds of elementary bodies, but in their real nature, they are the uncreated ideal shapes of Consciousness replenishing the world.