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Upaniṣad Cosmogony


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The Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad (see Upaniṣads) tells the following creation story. The Universe began as Self or Ātman (see Ātman) in the body of the primal man, or Puruṣa (see Puruṣa, Hindu Mythology). Looking about and seeing only himself, Puruṣa said “I am.” At first, Purusa was afraid but stopped fearing when he realized he was indeed alone and that one could only be afraid of another. Still, he wished for another, and being of two parts in one body, he caused himself to become two: man and woman. The result of the union of the man and the woman was humankind. But the woman was ashamed of incest, of having united with a man who had created her from himself, so she hid from him as a cow. But the man became a bull, mated with the cow, and soon cattle were born. The same thing happened when the woman hid as an ass, as a goat, and so forth. In this way, the world was populated.

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