Creation of the Universe as Expounded in Guru Nanak’s Hymns (Part-II) Dr. D. P. Singh* Vastness of Universe: The Sun, the Earth, the Moon, the stars, the satellites and the galaxies etc. form our universe. A wreath like arch of stars, stretching across the sky is the Milky Way. It is a part of our galaxy, which is an enormous system of clouds of glowing gas and 100 billion stars. Our universe contains about 100 billion galaxies. Our universe is vast. No one knows whether the universe is finite or infinite in size. The observable universe is a few tens of billions of light years across. A light year is a distance traveled by light in one year, at the speed of 300,000 kilometers per second. It is equal to 9460 billion kilometers. The bright, unusual objects called quasars are the most distant objects in the universe found to date. Quasars may be as far as 16 billion light years from the earth. Even with all the latest scientific paraphernalia of radio telescopes, X-rays, observatories and space technology, our scientists are unable to find the edge of the universe. So until now, scientists could not find the limits of the creation. There have been speculations about the extent of universe by religious persons as well. Christianity and Islam talk of fourteen regions, seven upper and seven nether. Hinduism believes in fourteen lokas or planes; the seven upper (Bhurloka, Bhuvarloka, Swarloka, Maharloka, Janaloka, Tapaloka and Satyaloka) and the seven nether (Atala, Vitala, Nitala, Gabhastimat, Mahatala, Sutala and Patala). Sometimes it talks of three regions known as Triloka viz. Heaven, Earth and the Netherworld. The earth has been further divided into nine regions known as Nav-Khand. Though in Sri Guru Granth Sahib there is a mention of nine continents, Triloka, 14 Lokas and four Khanis (meaning different ways of being born). But all these are just examples not convictions. Guru Nanak in his ‘Jap(u) Ji’ (Santanza 22) talks of lakhs (million) of upper and nether regions. There are nether worlds beneath nether worlds, and hundreds of thousands of heavenly worlds above. The Vedas say that you can search and search for them all, until you grow weary. Thousands scholars, 18 Puranas and Semetic books, also establish the same One principle. If He could be accounted one would write, The writers finish but not His narration. Nanak call Him “The Greatest”, He alone knows, all by Himself. i.e. There are lakhs of nether worlds and skies. The ends were explored, the Vedas declare, but in vain. The Hindu and Muslim scriptures say the source is only One (The Creator). The creation is unaccountable. Whosoever takes account perishes. Only the creator knows the extent of his creation, says Nanak. In 24th Santanza of ‘Jap(u) Ji’ Guru Nanak talks of an immeasurable expanse in the sense of ‘Neti, Neti’ The limits of the created universe cannot be perceived. Its limits here and beyond cannot be perceived. Many struggle to know His limits, but His limits cannot be found. No one can know these limits. The more you say about them, the more there still remains to be said. (SGGS, Jap(u) Ji, Page 5) i.e. There is no limit of the created material world. There is no limit and no end. Several people wander for the knowledge of its limits. None can know this limit. The more we think of it, the more it goes ****her. Guru Nanak in his verses of Jap(u) Ji (Santanza 34) describe our earth as Dharam Khand (the region to do the noble things as per His command) and elaborates about the natural phenomenon that occur on it. Nights, days, weeks and seasons; wind, water, fire and the nether regions in the midst of these, He established the earth as a home for Dharma. Upon it, He placed the various species of beings. Their names are uncounted and endless. By their deeds and their actions, they shall be judged. God Himself is True, and True is His Court. There, in perfect grace and ease, sit the self-elect, the self-realized Saints. They receive the Mark of Grace from the Merciful Lord. The ripe and the unripe, the good and the bad, shall there be judged. O Nanak, when you go home, you will see this. ||34|| (SGGS, Jap(u) Ji, Page 7) In this bani, Guru Nanak while describing ‘Gian Khand,’ tells us: So many winds, waters and fires; so many Krishnas and Shivas. So many Brahmas, fashioning forms of great beauty, adorned and dressed in many colours. Thus in the 35th Santanza of ‘Japu ji’ infinite nature of the creation becomes very obvious. Guru Nanak says: There are many airs, waters and fires, many Kaahans and many Maheshas. There are many Brahmas shaping forms of many colours and beauties. There are many earths and mountains for us to act. There are countless Dhrus, and their teachings. There are many Indras, Moons and Suns. Countless are the galaxies and the worlds. Even scientific theories have not yet found the limits of the universe. Up to now, scientists have unrevalled only a very small portion of the universe. The vastness of the explored (yet only a small) portion of the universe can be understood from the fact that even if we use the speed of light at 300 km/s, to look at all the corners of the explored universe, it will take more than 16 billion years to cover this vastness. In the holy SGGS, Guru Nanak has written about the extensive nature of the creation present inside the universe as : There are countless worlds and nether regions; I cannot calculate their number. You are the Creator, the Lord of the Universe; You create it, and You destroy it. The 8.4 million species of beings issued forth from You. (SGGS, Page 1283) He does not stop there. In 37t Santanza of Jap(u) Ji Guru Nanak talks about the abode of the creator and tells us about numerous universes… In the realm of Truth, the Formless Lord abides. Having created the creation, He watches over it. By His Glance of Grace, He bestows happiness. There are planets, solar systems and galaxies. If one speaks of them, there is no limit, no end. There are worlds upon worlds of His Creation. Thus Guru Nanak points out that there are spheres, universes and galaxies. If one attempts to describe, there is no limit. There are worlds beyond worlds, creations beyond creations. Whatsoever is ordained, by the Creator happens there accordingly. Even the present day scientists are talking about the possible existence of other universes. Such a mention is already there in several books of astronomy. It is obvious from the above discussion that the ideas of Guru Nanak (a sixteenth century mystic) are in fitness of the things of modern science. ORIGIN OF LIFE Philosophers and scientists have long attempted to learn how, when and where life originated, and the way in which the original life gave rise to the different kinds of animals and plants found in the world. Before the end of the 17th century, both scientists and philosophers held it that life originated spontaneously from non-living materials. Until the middle of the nineteenth century, life was generally thought to be created by some supernatural power, the Creator or God, out of nothing. According to Christian belief, God created the universe, plants, animals and human beings in six natural days. According to Hindu mythology, the creator created all the various kinds of plants and animals simultaneously. According to modern science, about 10 billions years ago the ‘Big Bang’ occurred. About 5 billion years ago swirling clouds of cosmic dust began to condense. Our earth was extremely hot when it came into existence. There was a great volcanic activity on land and sun gave intense heat. The release of gases, from the womb of earth, lead to the formation of gaseous envelope (containing water vapours) around it. With time clouds took their shape. Then it rained on earth for several hundred years. The rainwater flooded the earth and cooled it. In the shallower parts of the earth water took the form of seas. Life, in the form of unicellular animals (e.g. Amoeba & Protozoa) is thought to have originated in the seawater. From seawater, many organisms later invaded fresh waters and land. The present complex animals and plants have been produced in the course of ages by a process of gradual change in the earlier simpler forms of life. Darwin’s theory of natural selection is today recognized as the main factor in the evolution of animal and plant life. Guru Nanak in his hymn of ‘Siri Rag’ says; From the True Lord came the air, and from the air came water. From water, He created the three worlds; in each and every heart He has infused His Light. (SGGS, Page 19) i.e. From the ultimate reality, air (mixture of gases) was produced. From the air, water came into being. Then from water the whole world of living beings came into existence. These ideas of Guru Nanak are in good agreement with the central theme of the prevalent scientific ideas about the origin of life on earth. It is important to note that the above scientific ideas became prevalent since the second half of the eighteenth century, whereas Guru Nanak had composed his hymn in early sixteenth century. Similarly, in His hymns Guru Nanak describes about invaluable treasures of ‘Nature’ and their abundance and diversity. These natural treasures comprise of unlimited types of vegetation, animals and natural resources. Their magnificence, variety and vastness are also described. The different languages spoken by different people and animals are also mentioned. Scientists believe that on our earth there exist a variety of creatures/forms. They have wide variety of colours and species. Based on rigorous data, a modern day estimate is that there are about 10-30 million types of vegetation and animals present on our earth. But we have the exact details of about 1.4 million of them till date. In Gurbani there is a mention of 8.4 million creatures. The 8.4 million species of beings issued forth from You. (SGGS: 1283) Bhagat Naam Dev in his hymns, which have been enshrined in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, tells us that 4.2 million creatures live on land and the rest 4.2 million live their life in the water. EARTH’S SUPPORT IN SPACE Since the ancient times, people were curious to know the secret of earth’s support in space. There have been several different stories in vogue from time to time. Ancient Indian believed that the world is resting on an enormous turtle floating in a huge sea of milk. Four elephants stand on the turtle’s back. With their trunks raised in the air, the elephants face the four corners of the world, holding the flat, round earth on their mighty backs. According to a tale described by David Evesevich, a mythical Russian scholar, in ‘The Deep Book’, the earth rests on the backs of three enormous whales, swimming in an ocean. Every thing remains alright while they were asleep, but as soon as they woke up and started moving, an earthquake begins. Another ancient story is that the earth rests on the horns of a mythical bull. The bull is standing on the hood of a giant snake ‘Sheshnag’. The Sheshnag is sitting on the back of a huge turtle. When the mythical bull changes the position of the earth from one horn to the other, earthquakes occur. Guru Nanak, with his scientific attitude, tried to find out the cause and the rational justification of the event objectively. He attempted to explain the cause-effect relationship about the earth’s support in space. He wrote in ‘Japu Ji’: ‘Dhaul dharam dia ka poot. Santokh thaap rakhia jin soot. The mythical bull is righteousness, the off spring of mercy. Which keeps the earth balanced with the thread of patience. Je ko bujhai hovai sachiar. Dhavalai upar keta bhaar. If one learns this, realizes the truth, How much is the load on that bull. Dharti hor parai hor hor. Tis te bhaar talai kavan jor’. There is earth beyond the earth, more and more. It holds up the weight; who supports it beneath. i.e. The creator’s law (hukam) is the mythical bull to provide support to the whole creation. Proper observance of the laws leads to suitable order of the things. If one learns this, one realises the truth. Otherwise just think of it that how much is the load on that (mythical) bull. How can a poor bull support such a huge load? Also, if the bull is supporting the earth in space then it needs the support of something to stand on. This implies that there is earth under its feet. So under this earth again there will be a bull and so on. What will be the support for the last bull to stand on? It is obvious that the natural laws set by the Creator are providing support to the earth in space. Guru Nanak has described these laws as hukam or will of the Creator. Talking about the effectiveness of the law or hukam, he says; Hukam-e aandar sabh ko, bahir hukam na ko-e. All are subject to His supreme Will, Nothing is outside the sphere of His Will. Thus Nanak says that every thing is happening according to the Will (Natural laws) of the Creator. Even the scientists talk about the existence of natural laws (e.g. the law of gravitation etc) to providesupport to the earth in space. It is obvious that Guru Nanak’s viewpoint about the earth’s support in space was definitely different from the contemporary prevalent concepts. Secondly, his ideas appear to be in tune with the scientifically correct viewpoints. (Concluded) * Dr. D. P. Singh M.Sc., Ph.D., P.E.S.1 is a senior faculty member at Govt. College, Dera Bassi-140507, Dist. Patiala, Punjab.