Description: A Hindu creation tale. Examines the origins of injustice and evil, as well as the need for esotericism.
In the beginning, when the universe was still very young, the gods went to Shiva and told him it was time to create the physical world.
“Now is the time,” said the gods. “Look at the marvels we have made already. Look at the heavens and the wonders of our realm. Now it is time to create a new plane, one of matter, ordered by our divine principles.”
The gods insisted that Shiva, because he was so wise, be the god who brought this world into being.
Before the other devas, Shiva agreed, swearing to become the god of creation; but, when the other gods went away from him, he became very sad. And, rather than begin work to create the physical world immediately, he delayed.
“If the physical world is brought into being,” thought Shiva, “the beings there will suffer greatly. Those who seek knowledge will find only ignorance; those who seek life will find only death; those who seek health will find only sickness. These will be the inevitabilities of all who live there.
“If the physical world is brought into being,” Shiva continued to ponder, “the beings there will go hungry; they will lack nutrition; they will live in poverty. They will find some security, then watch it slip away. They will watch friends and loved ones die. They will find themselves in war, perishing over greed and falsehood. They will experience tragedies, seeing their bodies become injured, deformed, and maimed.
“The beings there will seek peace but find only discord,” Shiva thought. “They will seek beauty but find only ugliness; they will seek sexual union but find only frustration. The beings there will drown, fall, and be split open; they will have their lungs pierced and struggle to breathe; they will have their genitals mutilated; they will become blind and deaf. The beings there will seek their own security, and in the process spread yet more evil and ignorance to their kin.”
For Shiva, who was greatly compassionate, these problems reverberated in his mind above all else. Shiva realized that he could not remain a just god if he brought such a world into existence.
“The gods do not know what they ask of me,” Shiva concluded. “They ask me to create great evil and injustice.”
Shiva thus began to ponder how to create the physical world without also creating evil.
Finally, the gods grew impatient, and came to Shiva again.
“Why do you delay, Lord Shiva?” they asked. “Why have you not brought the physical world into existence?”
“The physical world you seek will be a place of great injustice,” said Shiva. “How will the antelope find water when there is a drought?” he asked the gods. “How will the farmer find food when the sky becomes black? How will the infant find security when her parents are slain in war?”
All the gods seemed to not hear Shiva, except for Lord Vishnu.
“It will be a place of evil,” said Vishnu, “but by it the beings there will become great.”
Lord Shiva, not satisfied, continued.
“I have not been idle,” said Shiva, “but hard at work. During my delay, I have been seeking a solution to the problem of the physical world.”
After much debate, Shiva at last persuaded the other gods of his cause. They agreed they should not create the world until Shiva had found a solution to the problem of evil.
“Only a fool would bring such a world into existence,” concluded Shiva. “Thus, we shall delay until we can create a world without evil.”
At this, the gods adjourned. Shiva continued in his work to find a solution to evil.
But, one of the gods did not agree with the others. He grew impatient, like the others had before, and sought to begin creation immediately. It was Brahma, the god of the four winds.
“What marvels have we made!” said Brahma. “Look at the wonders of the firmament! The deva heavens! The great and fiery lotus of the gods! We must spread our gift of creation to all!”
Though a god, Brahma was fickle like the four winds, and did not consider the consequences of what he did.
At his word, Brahma began the process of creation. He brought into existence the planets, space, and destructive time; the places of ice and fire; the oceans; the continents. He spawned the first creatures out of himself: the plants, animals, and the first humans.
Brahma looked at his creation and marveled at it. Indeed, he had crafted a world of beauty. So proud was he of his work that he summoned the other devas to him, wanting to show them what he had done.
“Look at my world of beauty!” said Brahma. “I have created a world of blue, brown, and green! I have created the mountains, the rivers, and the plains; and a vast multitude of living beings to inhabit them!”
When the other gods saw what Brahma had done, they were moved by the beauty of his work. But, they were also greatly concerned. All of the gods had agreed with Shiva not to bring the world into being without first finding a solution to evil.
At last, Shiva arrived with the others, and saw what Brahma had done. When Shiva saw that Brahma had created the world in his impatience, he was filled with wrath.
“Fool!” said Lord Shiva. “You do not know what you have done! And by this you have created evil, suffering, and death! By your impatience you have doomed all you have made!”
The other gods, fearful of Shiva, retreated as his full wrath was brought upon Brahma.
“For this I curse you!” said Shiva. “You who created the pain of childbirth, who created mutilation and disease! No temples shall be built to you, no worshipers shall revere you! Though you be the god of creation, none will know you, and none will honor your name!”
This was the greatest curse to befall an immortal god. No one would ever honor Brahma for the work he had done.
“You have done a great disservice to your creation,” said Vishnu, who appeared beside Shiva. “Though you gave them life, they will suffer and live short lives. They will seek happiness and find only despair. They will never know the true peace of our existence, the joy and security of the gods.”
Shiva retreated to Kailash, filled with rage and ferocity. All of his work had been undone. There could be no just world now due to Brahma. Then, as ever after, foolishness had been the greatest source of injustice.
“This world cannot stand,” thought Shiva, “this world of old age, hunger, sickness, poverty, and death. I cannot allow these poor beings to suffer.
“How can I make this world just?” thought Shiva. “This world of extremes, this radical world Brahma has created?” It seemed impossible.
At last, Shiva was inspired. If the world could not be made just, he would at least make sure the beings there would not be trapped.
“By his act of creation, Brahma has enslaved all to the physical,” said Shiva. “All those born in this world will know only the ideas of form and matter. Fettered to them and not to the spirit, they will suffer, life after life.
“But,” thought Shiva, “There is an answer. This world can be made just.
“I will create a hidden path, a way by which mortal man can achieve the true goods that he most desires in his heart to possess.”
It is then when Shiva devised occult knowledge, Yoga, and the noble path to salvation. Taking on a disguise, Shiva descended to the earth, distributing his secret gifts to the first men.
The saints came to Shiva, and he taught them and the first mystics the path to moksha.
When Shiva returned to the deva world, Vishnu was pleased.
“You have given them the greatest gift of all,” said Vishnu. “The gift to join our ranks, to ascend to the deva heavens. As mortals they will suffer and die, but by this they will become great, and with us drink the nectar of amrita.”
Shiva raised his hand, and gestured the abhaya mudra. To all who accepted the noble call, to all who were shrewd and walked the hidden path, to all who fought bravely and lived greatly, there was nothing to fear. By this path, there was justice in the evil world.