Hinduism and Big Bang Theory: The Cosmic Event in Upanishads and other Hindu Scriptures

There are numerous theories regarding the origin of universe but the Big Bang model is the broadly accepted theory. But thousands of years before scientists came up with Big Bang model, did the sages of Upanishads knew about the cosmos wake up. In his long introductory essay in the book ‘The Big Bang and the Bhagavad Gita,’ R.A.S. Koacha suggests that the early saints of modern day Hinduism knew about this cosmic event through mystic insight.

Big Bang Theory postulates that 12 to 14 billion years ago, the portion of the universe we can see today was only a few millimeters across. It has since expanded from this hot dense state into the vast and much cooler cosmos we currently inhabit. (NASA)

Some of the conclusions from the book – ‘The Big Bang and the Bhagavad Gita,’ R.A.S. Koacha

Is Brahman an oblique reference of Big Bang?

The very name ‘Brahman’ representing the Ultimate Reality in Hindu religion appears to be nothing but an implicit reference to the ‘Big Bang’ itself. The word ‘Brahman’ is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘brh’ which means to ‘grow big’ without limit and can be an oblique reference to an explosion. Hence it is perhaps also called ‘Shabda Brahman’ in the scriptures as Brahman manifests itself as a ‘Sphota’ or explosion.

But Brahman is before and after Big Bang

However, Brahman being the one and only Reality, represents everything, including event the state of singularity before the Big Bang, as well as the whole manifested universe after it. As the point of singularity, Brahman is the impersonal absolute of pure timeless existence.

Big Bang is represented by Symbol OM

As all creation emerges from Brahman with the Big Bang, its symbol is the single syllable ‘OM’ (Shabda Brahman). The ‘OM’ is the only symbol used as a ‘Mantra’ (Invocation) by the seers of the Upanishads in meditation to attain oneness with the cosmos. It also represents the waking, dream and deep-sleep states of all living beings. Hence it is the appropriate symbol of Brahman in its transcendent as well as immanent aspects. Representing the primal sound of creation the ‘AUM’ symbolizes the manifesting sound (or vibration) of the ‘Big Bang’ which astronomers have detected as the residual cosmic emanation from that explosion.

Hindu Samkhya System Negates Creation Out of Nothing

In the Hindu Samkhya System we have the earliest refutation of the creation out of nothing (ex nihilo), and the first full-fledged theory of creation. According to Samkhya the effect preexists in the cause. There is nothing like a new creation but only a manifestation of what was already present in the cause in a potential form. Thus Prakriti or material nature is the primordial matrix or plenum out of which all material as well as psychic phenomena evolve. Mind and matter are but manifestations of the same principle. Prakriti is the homogenous universal field (Quantum field?) at first in a state of equilibrium, its three constituents the illuminating (Sattvic), activating (Rajasic) and restricting (Tamasic) being in a balanced state. When this balance is disturbed by the preponderance of one or the other of the constituents (Gunas) creation becomes inevitable.

The evolution of the manifold is succeeded by its involution and reabsorption back into the unitary state, only to be re-emitted after a period of potentiality. These processes are governed entirely by the tension between the forces among themselves and no extraneous agency is necessary to account for them.

The concepts of Narayana, Lila, Sankalpa are attempts by Upanishad Seers to simplify the complex Bing Bang Theory

The Upanishads are more cryptical in their description of creation. According to them the ONE (Brahman) wished to be many and creation is only an expression of its WILL (Sankalpa). Sometimes creation is depicted as divine play (LILA) of the Supreme Being. But any game will lose its meaning when the omniscient player knows all, from beginning to end. The scripture state that the universe originated from Narayana; Narayana is too difficult to interpret even in Sanskrit. He is very the Big Bang personified. (Jagat Narayanodbhavam)

The Bindu (dot) in Shaivism is the Few Millimeter Long Primordial Seed

The Kashmiri cult of Shaivism is more explicit in its account of creation. The whole universe was at first concentrated at one point or dot (Bindu). It is the Primordial Seed of creation. After a period of germination it undergoes an explosion (Sphota) resulting in the sound (Nada) of creation (OM). (Sound is used in the scriptures for all kinds of vibrations.) All creation (Kala) proceeds from this sound. Thus the doctrine of Nada, Bindu, and Kala is but an implied reference to the Big Bang theory of creation.

(Source: Excerpts from The Big Bang and the Bhagavad Gita by R.A.S. Kocha Published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai)