With the first lecture on Hinduism, we begin with a short introduction to our course of study, a brief definition of Hinduism, followed by looking at how the development of the Hindu traditions differs significantly from that of the monotheistic traditions. From there we move into discussing the Vedic tradition, focusing primarily on rishis and their relationship to Vedic literature, then move on to discuss ritual, the Vedas themselves, and a discussion of the Nasadiya, a Vedic creation story.
There was neither non-existence nor existence then. There was neither the realm of space nor the sky which is beyond. What stirred? Where? In whose protection? Was there water, bottlemlessly deep? There was neither death nor immortality then. There was no distinguishing sign of night nor of day. That One breathed, windless, by its own impulse. Other than that there was nothing beyond. Darkness was hidden by darkness in the beginning, with no distinguishing sign, all this was water. The life force that was covered with emptiness, that One arose through the power of heat. Desire came upon that One in the beginning, that was the first seed of mind. Poets seeking in their heart with wisdom found the bond of existence and non-existence. Their cord was extended across. Was there below? Was there above? There were seed-placers, there were powers. There was impulse beneath, there was giving forth above. Who really knows? Who will here proclaim it? Whence was it produced? Whence is this creation? The gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe. Who then knows whence it has arisen? Whence this creation has arisen – perhaps it formed itself, or perhaps it did not – the One who looks down on it, in the highest heaven, only He knows or perhaps even He does not know.