BBC In Our Time – Hindu Ideas of Creation Listening Guide


This is an optional listening guide to help you understand the assigned material. Below you will find questions to consider as you listen. You can find the original audio material by clicking here. Important English and Sanskrit vocabulary is noted.

[0:11] Introduction – The Bramanda Purana, a Hindu text, describes one idea of creation in Hinduism. What is the idea described here?

[1:27] CreationWhat are the major differences between Hindu ideas of creation and ideas of creation in the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam)? Pay attention to the definitions given formonotheismand “ex nihilo. Terms: “transcendent”, “divine”, “emanates”, and “pervasive”.

[2:35] The Hymn of Creation or Nasadiya SuktaWhat is the Nasadiya Sukta and what does it say? What is the “final mystery” that the seers (or rishis) keep coming up against? Note that the Hymn of the Dark Beginning is another translation of the title Nasadiya Sukta.

[6:24] Hymn of PurushaWho or what is “Purusha” in the Hymn of Purusha or Hymn of the Cosmic Person? What is described in this hymn?

[8:43] Laws of ManuHow are the ideas of creation in the Laws of Manu different from the ones in the Hymn of Creation and the Hymn to Purusha in the Rg Veda? How are they the similar?

[12:42] Metaphors of CreationNote that the experts discussing these stories disagree if they were meant to be taken metaphor or as literal truth. What kinds of metaphors are used? [14:56]

[19:18] Recurrence – What is basic pattern found in Hindu ideas of creation? What are the reasons for creation? Terms:recurrence”, “manifestation”, “emanation”, telos, and “ineffable”.

[22:22] BrahmaHow is the Hindu deity Brahma’s relationship to creation described?

[25:42] Shiva – How is the deity Shiva’s relationship to creation described? Pay attention to the definitions of the Sanskrit terms prakriti and maya. Terms:monistic”, “regent”, and “demiurge”.

[27:47] VishnuHow is the deity Vishnu’s relationship to creation described? Terms:incarnation” and “potency”.

[31:30] SoundWhat is the role of sound in Hindu ideas of creation? Pay attention to the ideas of the ancient philosopher Bhartrihari.

[34:20] Shakti, the GoddessHow is Shakti related to Hindu ideas of creation? What is described in the text the Devi Mahatmya?

[36:50] Individual and the Cosmos – What is the relationship between the individual and the cosmos? You might want to look up the term “reincarnate”. Pay attention to the Sanskrit term moksha.

Vocabulary List

monotheism

ex nihilo

divine

emanate

pervasive

hymn

metaphor

recurrence

manifestation

emanation

telos

ineffable

monistic

regent

demiurge

incarnation

potency

cosmos

reincarnate






Important Terms & Names (from the Sanskrit language)

Nasadiya Sukta

Purusha

prakriti

maya

moksha