Q: WHAT IS THE HINDU CONCEPT OF CREATION?
A: From the Hindu body of literature there are several accounts which allude to creation 1) Rg Veda alludes to immortal Purusa who is divided and parts of him becomes the physical universe, living and non-living part of creation, man and his social order etc. 2) Union of the One who meets with the cosmic maiden and the resultant seed, which caused everything to be born on the earth. In the Upanishads and Brahmanas there are several references: 1) Prajapathi who approached his daughter; some say the sky, some say the dawn. She takes the form of a doe and he a stagÖ.. The distribution of his seed turns into various life forms. 2) Prajapati gives birth to fire, wind, sun and moon. The fifth was (female) dawn. Out of the seed comes all the world . 3) From the Bhadranyaka Upanishad: The primeval Soul (atman) divided (pat) himself into man and woman (pati and patni). He united with her and all mankind was born. The woman reflected" How can he unite with me after engendering me from himself? For shame! I will conceal myself.'' She became a cow and He became a bull and united with her, and from this all cattle were born. She became an ewe; he became a ram and united with her, and from this all goats and sheep were born. And thus he created all the pairs, down to the ants. Broadly, the creation is part of the supreme atman Brahma. The universe is a "closed system". Broadly, the creation is seen to bring about chaos out of order. It is a rearrangement of the energy of Brahma. Creation is a part of Brahma and what is perceived of the existence of the physical universe and all forms of life is only apparent not real.
The Christian belief regarding the origins of the universe and creation of man is mentioned in the first book of the bible called Genesis. The knowledge of God as the Creator stems from that central theme of God''s relationship to man. Man''s quest to know the origin of this universe and himself is not speculated. It is God, the creator himself who seeks to restore the relationship with man. He appears to Moses in the burning bush and states that he is the eternal "I am" the eternal and self-existent One. Then God revealed himself as the One who created the universe and everything in it. He revealed himself as One who is sovereign over the stars and the earth. God existed for an infinite period of time with his creatures who were celestial beings called angels. He then created the physical universe and everything in it. In the beginning outside of God, there was nothing i.e., ''emptiness, formlessness and darkness''. Into this God created light, sky, earth with ocean and dry land (in that order) and later all the creatures in them. God by a deliberate act of His will, created order out of chaos or randomness. He brought matter into existence out of nothing and life out of nothing. He is the source and sustainer of all life. Lastly God created man to resemble the creator in his essential nature i.e., personality. He gave man a soul which is not there in the rest of living creatures Ė referred to as God''s own image (Book of Genesis chapter 1: verse 27). He is the closest to God''s nature whereas the rest of the creation is somewhat removed from divine nature. God made man in His own image, he had a free will that would allow man to choose to love or reject Godís desires.
Of course, the world as we see it now is quite different from what it was when God first created it. When God created the universe it was full of order and it was perfect place of joy and peace. All of creation was created for the sake of man. Man lived in harmony with God and the rest of creation. After a time, man chose to walk away from God and fell out of the proper relationship to God. Sorrow, pain and death were the result of manís rejection of God who is source of all life and joy. This not only affected man but the entire creation. Man had joined the path of some celestial creatures who chose a similar path before him Ė Lucifer and his followers. Man being finite and relatively powerless was subject to Lucifer who is called Satan and his evil powers. Even this did not stop God from loving man for man is the only creation who had the Creatorís image.
I have outlined briefly the Hindu and Christian account of the origin of the universe and man that inhabits it. As for the destiny or future of man, the following are the goals according to each of the teaching. From the Hindu perspective, the goal is to remove the chaos by attaining Nirvana, a ''blowing out of the flame''. It is said that the individual has to escape the illusory part of Brahma''s existence which is in the senses and become one with Brahma, the unfeeling one. Here individual existence dissolves into the undifferentiated godhead i.e., Brahma.
In the Christian account, the central purpose of man is to know God and restore his relationship with God which he originally had at the beginning of creation. As mentioned, God loved man inspite of his sin (rejection of God). Man has the desire for God but is unable to know him by His own power or knowledge. God himself undertook a grand mission to become man to restore the relationship between God and man. The One who created the universe wanted to woo man to come back into a relationship with God (himself). He who was the eternal spirit became a human and entered the physical universe to reveal Godís nature and love for man. This man was Jesus. Through Jesus, man gets in to a relationship with God of his free will and is then eternally bonded to God. The renewal of nature will follow the renewal of man as the Bible puts it "new creation"