In the beginning, there was nothing in the universe. The brahman (the divine essence) alone was everywhere. The brahman had neither colour nor scent, it could not be felt or touched. It had no origin, no beginning or no end. The brahman was constant and it was the origin of everything that was destined to be in the universe and the universe was shrouded in darkness.
When it was time for creation to begin, the brahman divided itself into three. The first part became Brahma, the creator of the universe. The second part was Vishnu, the preserver of the universe. And the third part was Shiva, the destroyer.
At the time of creation, water appeared in the universe and the water was everywhere. In the water was created a golden (hiranya) egg (anda) that floated like a gigantic bubble. Brahma was born inside the egg. Since garbha means womb, Brahma came to be known as Hiranyagarbha. Since he effectively created (bhu) himself (svayam), he is also referred to as Svayambhu.
Brahma had four faces.
Also inside the egg were all the worlds (lokas) that would be created, in embryonic form. The earth was there, with its land, mountains, oceans and rivers. The moon, the sun, the stars and the planets were there. Also present were gods, demons, humans and other living beings who would be created.
This was the original creation of the universe (sarga).
But at the end of one of Brahma’s days, a minor destruction takes place. The universe is once again flooded with water during Brahma’s night. Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are not however destroyed. Each of Brahma’s days is known as a kalpa (cycle). Thus, a minor destruction takes place at the end of every kalpa. When a new day dawns for Brahma, creation begins afresh. This periodical process of destruction (pralaya) and re-creation is known as pratisarga.
The present kalpa is known as varaha kalpa.
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