The Hindu Theory of Creation
THE Hindus hesitate to give any system the name of science or Shastra, if it does not directly or indirectly lead to a correct knowledge of the Kosmos, and to the attainment of beatitude and deliverance from all pain and misery. The ultimate object of Medical Science is therefore stated to be to gain that knowledge which consists in discriminating the principles of the material world from the cognitive principle, the immortal soul.
According to Hindu doctrine, the whole creation is the result of the coming together of Purusha (spirit), and Prakriti (matter). The spirit is infinite, immortal, sentient and blissful. Matter is lifeless, but possesses a creative force and properties of goodness, passion and apathy. Some say that matter has no separate existence at all. It is only a manifestation of spirit, and what is known by the name of the material world is only a series of impressions of the spirit.
Others maintain that matter, though helpless without spirit, is co-eternal with it and when it comes into union with the spirit, it becomes active and procreant. It is not intended to dwell at length on the details of this system. Suffice it to say, that it recognises Man as a microcosm possessing parts corresponding to the globe, and describes him as made up of the following twenty-five principles (tattvas). 1
- Prakriti or Nature, prime cause of all things, the universal material cause (prima matrix).
- Buddhi — Intelligence, the first step in the evolution of Prakriti.
- Ahankara — Self-consciousness.
- Manas— Mind.
- Shabda — Sound, rudiment of ether.
- Sparsha — Touch, rudiment of air.
- Roopa — Form, rudiment of fire.
- Rasa — Taste, rudiment of water.
- Gandha — Smell, rudiment of earth.
- Shrotra — Organ of hearing.
- Tvak — Organ of touch.
- Jihva — Organ of taste.
- Chakshu — Organ of sight.
- Grahana — Organ of smell.
- Vak — Organ of speech.
- Pani — Organ of prehension.
- Pada — Organ of locomotion.
- Payu — Organ of excretion.
- Upastha — Organ of generation.
- Akasha — Ether.
- Vayu — Air.
- Tejas — Fire.
- Apa — Water.
- Prithvi — Earth.
The Purusha, or the Soul, is the 25th principle, which resides in the body. It is everlasting, intelligent, endless, all-pervading, blissful, immortal, calm, pure, and one without a second. These principles are arranged "in order of their development." The human organism, and for the matter of that the whole creation, thus constituted by the combination of Purusha and Prakriti, is represented in the mystical works of the Hindus by a figure formed by drawing a horizontal line across a perpendicular one, with the ends turned round like arcs of a circle thus:—
The four points of the cross represent in succession birth, life, death, and immortality, while the circle is the symbol of the eternal existence. Those who have studied the subject are trying to read the esoteric meaning of the Christian Cross in this light. It is curious that the sign of the Cross is to be found in almost all the religions of the world, ancient and modern. The Purusha is the instrumental cause of the universe, while Prakriti is its material cause. The human body is therefore believed to be the result of the joint operation of these two principles.
The creation is of two kinds, animate and inanimate. The animate creation is again sub-divided by the Hindus into four classes, namely, Udbhija (sprouting), as trees, plants, etc. Svedaja (produced from sweat or warmth of the earth), such as bugs, mosquitoes, etc. Andaja (oviparous), as fowls and reptiles and Jarayu (viviparous), as man and beasts. In the human structure, the father represents Purusha, and the mother Prakriti. When both are young and strong the offspring is healthy.
Of the several parts of the body, the hair, nails, teeth, arteries, veins, tendons and semen derive their origin from the father; while muscles, heart, blood, marrow, fat, liver, spleen and intestines owe their formation to the mother. The development of the body, its complexion, power, and condition are the products of chyle while know- ledge, perception, life, happiness, and misery are the functions that come into operation under the direct influence of the soul.
The Hindu medical works mention the possibility of a woman uniting with another woman in sexual embrace and begetting a boneless foetus. They also believe that a woman under certain conditions may become pregnant by the influence of dreaming and they thus explain their belief in such unnatural births as of serpents, scorpions and the like. In such a case both the woman and her production are looked upon as very sinful.
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- General Essays
1. Some accounts mention only 24 principles including Purusha, which is often called the great (maha) tattva) or pure (suddha) tattva. Prakriti is not separately mentioned as a tattva but as the sum of all the tattvask excluding Purusha.
Source: Chapter 3, A Short History Of Aryan Medical Science By H.H. Sir Bhagvat Singh Jee, K.C.I.E. M.D., D.C.L., Ll.D., F.R.C.P.E. Thakore Saheb Of Gondal With Ten Plates, London Macmillan And Co., Ltd. New York : The Macmillan Company 1896. This was previously edited by Rajasekhar, 1961, and was reformatted and reorganized for the web edition by Jayaram V in 2019. The title of the work has also been changed to A Short History Of Indian Medical Science to reflect the current theories of the early history of India and adjoining areas.
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