A question that has always perturbed humanity is from where did this universe originated. Who is behind all this game of creating the world? What are the elements and processes that help in the creation of earth? These are the basic philosophical questions which curious people ask. And many great rishis and philosophers along with that scientists have tried to answer them in different ways. In that way, Manusmriti has also worked out answers to such questions. There are many aspects of these theories which have ignited curiosity.
First Order of Evolution
In the very first chapter of Manusmriti the origin of the universe is described. There is a theory on the evolution of species. This is however a revelation to the readers of Manusmriti, that how accurate and effective the theory is.
आसीदिदं तमोभूतमप्रज्ञातमलक्षणम् ।
अप्रतर्क्यमविज्ञेयं प्रसुप्तमिव सर्वतः ॥
This (universe) existed in the shape of Darkness, unperceived, destitute of distinctive marks, unattainable by reasoning, unknowable, wholly immersed, as it were, in deep sleep.
This is not just a musing, rather a definitive explanation of a world which had been created out of a primitive state. Where there were atomic forms of the elements and a universe in evolving.
In the shloka 1.6
ततः स्वयम्भूर्भगवानव्यक्तो व्यञ्जयन्निदम् ।
महाभूतादि वृत्तोजाः प्रादुरासीत्तमोनुदः ॥
Then the divine Self-existent (Svayambhu, himself) indiscernible, (but) making (all) this, the great elements and the rest, discernible, appeared with irresistible (creative) power, dispelling the darkness.
This rendition from Manu defines the supreme energy behind the creation of the universe. It is the nirguna aspect of Brahma, which is the prime motivator behind the formation of the universe. In Hinduism there are many aspects of Bhagwan or Ishvara, broadly as saguna or nirguna. And almost all strands of upasna consider nirguna as the utmost form of Ishvara.
स एष सोऽभिध्याय शरीरात्स्वात्सिसृक्षुर्विविधाः प्रजाः ।
अप एव ससर्जादौ तासु वीर्यमवासृजत् ॥
He, desiring to produce beings of many kinds from his own body, first with a thought created the waters, and placed his seed in them.
This shloka directly signifies the term ‘thought’. The recent noble prize in Physics winner has also established through quantum mechanics that, this world is our creation through thoughts.
And as that seed, evolves into a golden egg, which is a brilliant manifestation of the universe, he himself is born as Brahma.
आपो नारा इति प्रोक्ता आपो वै नरसूनवः ।
ता यदस्यायनं पूर्वं तेन नारायणः स्मृतः ॥
The waters are called narah, (for) the waters are, indeed, the offspring of Nara; as they were his first residence (ayana), he thence is named Narayana.
This particular shloka establishes who actually Narayan is. Narayan is equated to the water element, which is present in the highest quantity in the earth. And therefore Narayan is also called as the one who nourishes, because the presence of water element ensures the continuity of life forms.
यत्तत्कारणमव्यक्तं नित्यं सदसदात्मकम् ।
तद्विसृष्टः स पुरुषो लोके ब्रह्मैति कीर्त्यते ॥
From that (first) cause, which is indiscernible, eternal, and both real and unreal, was produced that male (Purusha), who is famed in this world (under the appellation of) Brahman.
The seed of cause, the thought that ignited the evolution of the universe is signified as Brahman. And this is a kind of hierarchy, the evolution of the entity which regulates the working of this whole cosmos. In Upanishads also there is a calibrated form of God, as- Sacchidananda, Akhanda, Ishvara and Brahman.
Here, Brahman should not be understood as any varna, nor the depiction of four –faced Lord Brahma. Rather it is the entity which is formless, all expansive, having no attributes, and full of brilliance, Brahman. So it becomes important at this point to bring clarity of these basic concepts of Hinduism.
Second Order Of Evolution
तस्मिन्नण्डे स भगवानुषित्वा परिवत्सरम् ।
स्वयमेवात्मनो ध्यानात्तदण्डमकरोद्द्विधा ॥
The divine one resided in that egg during a whole year, then he himself by his thought (alone) divided it into two halves
ताभ्यां स शकलाभ्यां च दिवं भूमिं च निर्ममे ।
मध्ये व्योम दिशश्चाष्टावपां स्थानं च शाश्वतम् ॥
And out of those two halves he formed heaven and earth, between them the middle sphere, the eight points of the horizon, and the eternal abode of the waters
This whole idea or concept of universe and its origin has to be seen in a very scientific light. Here, creationism is negated in Hinduism. In the theory of Samkhya also, the idea of ‘evolution’ is important. In Samkhya there is no consideration of an entity creating a world, as in Christianity. Purusha and prakriti are two ever present tatvas (undivided, non-destructible) which come together and evolve into many forms. There are 16 orders of evolution according to Samkhya.
Therefore, in this theory of Manusmriti different orders of Evolution are pointed out and how each one trigger the next order of development. Though the leading faction or component in all this is consciousness, that is thought and that is also ‘chetna’. And that ‘chetna’ according to Samkhya is Purusha or according to Shaivism, is Shiva. Therefore, consciousness becomes the major factor in combining all physical elements into the order.