In Hindu cosmology the Hiranyagarbha (हिरण्यगर्भः) or the ‘golden womb’ or ‘golden egg’ is the ‘source of creation of the Universe’ or ‘all that which is manifested’.
The Hiranyagarbha Sukta verse of the Rig Veda says that there was one single creator. The Upanishads call this single creator ‘Brahman’. It was ‘Brahman’ who planted the Hiranyagarbha (or the seed of creation) that floated around in the darkness of non-existence for a period of one year. It was then broken into two halves which formed the ‘svarga’ (स्वर्ग) or heaven, and the ‘prithvi’ (पृथ्वी) or earth.
The Puranas say that Hiranyagarbha is another name for Lord Brahma, so called because he was born of a golden egg.
Count Magnus Fredrik Ferdinand Bjornstjerna (1779-1847), author of ‘The Theogony of the Hindoos with their Systems of Philosophy & Cosmogony’ noted in his writings that the description of Greek Cosmology by ancient philosopher Damascius (458 A.D. – 538 A.D.) establishes its link with Hindu Cosmology.
Damascius, born in Syria, was one of the many Pagan philosophers who were persecuted by Justinian (a Byzantine, i.e. East Roman Emperor who ruled from 527 to 565 A.D.). He migrated to Athens and became the Head of the School of Athens in 515 A.D.
Bjornstjerna obsrves, “…that the Greeks derived their cosmogony from the Hindoos may be seen in the account which Damascius has given of the doctrine of Orpheus”. And the description is as follows: — “In the beginning was Kronos, who out of Chaos created Ether (day), and Erebos (night) ; therein he laid an egg (Hindoo !), from which came Phanes, furnished with three heads (the Brahmin Trimurti). Phanes created the man and the woman, from whom the human race is derived.”
|Brahma at the centre of the Vedic Trimurti.
In Hinduism the cosmos is also known as ‘Brahmand’ (ब्रह्माण्ड) or Brahma’s egg.
Bjornstjerna further states, “The cosmogony of the Egyptians also adopts the Hindoo egg, which, divided into two, formed heaven and earth”.
The Swedish scholar Viktor Rydberg, writing in the late 19th century, drew a parallel between the Norse creation myths and Vedic mythology postulating a common origin.
In the Nordic prose ‘Edda’, which it has been argued by some have their origins in the Vedas, the beginning of the world out of a ‘gaping nothingness’, is referred to by the term ‘Ginnungagap’. ‘Ginnungagap’ is initiated by a great cow known as ‘Audhumla’. The similarity to Vedic texts is striking.
The Nordic ‘Ginnungagap’, the gaping nothingness from which the world starts, is nothing but a distortion of the Sanskrit ‘Hiranyagarbha’. The name of the cow in the Eddas is equally fascinating- ‘Audhumla’. In Sanskrit ‘Audhamula’ means ‘the root at the beginning of origin’ – ‘aadau’ (आदौ) – ‘at the beginning’, ‘mula’ (मूल) ‘root’ or ‘origin’.
Or else Audhmula may be the equivalent of the Vedic ‘Kamadhenu’ – the miraculous ‘cow of plenty’ who provides her owner whatever he desires. Kamadhenu is said to have been born at the time of the churning of the oceans.