Origins

The Hindu case

Authored by: C. Mackenzie Brown

The Routledge Companion to Religion and Science

Print publication date:  October  2011
Online publication date:  March  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415492447
eBook ISBN: 9780203803516
Adobe ISBN: 9781136634178

10.4324/9780203803516.ch36

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Abstract

In ancient India there was a profusion of views regarding the question of origins. A few thoughtful sages of Vedic times (1200–500 BCE) doubted that the origin of the universe was knowable, something even the gods were uncertain about and perhaps even the Supreme Being could not discern. Most thinkers of those times, however, were less skeptical, more audacious, willing to set forth their conjectures regarding origins in a diverse set of cosmogonic myths and cosmological speculations (Halbfass 1992). Some of the Vedic seers assumed that behind the universe, a master craftsman or architect was at work. Others speculated that the world emanated from a primordial being, or hatched from a cosmic egg. Some pondered the possibility that the physical realm evolved from an original substance or from the material elements earth, water, fire, and air. There were those who insisted it happened all by chance. Others saw the inherent nature of the elements themselves as responsible for their coalescing into new combinations from which consciousness might emerge (Mittal 1974). A few came to think that the process was simply a divine dream. Most of these viewpoints centuries later were systematized in the so-called “orthodox” philosophical schools.

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