A creation hymn from the Rig Veda (10.129), first in Wendy Doniger’s translation (Penguin) and then in Stephanie Jamison and Joel Bereton’s (Oxford’s 3 volume edition from 2014):
1 There was neither non-existence nor existence then; there was neither the realm of space nor the sky which is beyond. What stirred?1 Where? In whose protection? Was there water, bottomlessly deep?
2 There was neither death nor immortality then. There was no distinguishing sign2 of night nor of day. That one breathed, windless, by its own impulse. Other than that there was nothing beyond.
3 Darkness was hidden by darkness in the beginning; with no distinguishing sign,2 all this was water. The life force that was covered with emptiness, that one arose through the power of heat.3
4 Desire came upon that one in the beginning ; that was the first seed of mind. Poets 4 seeking in their heart with wisdom found the bond of existence in non-existence.
5 Their cord 5 was extended across. Was there below? Was there above? There were seed-placers; there were powers.6 There was impulse beneath; there was giving-forth above.
6 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.7 Who then knows whence it has arisen?
7 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 he does not know.
1 The nonexistent did not exist, nor did the existent exist at that time.
There existed neither the airy space nor heaven beyond.
What moved back and forth? From where and in whose protection? Did
water exist, a deep depth?
2 Death did not exist nor deathlessness then. There existed no sign of night
nor of day.
That One breathed without wind by its independent will. There existed
nothing else beyond that.
3 Darkness existed, hidden by darkness, in the beginning. All this was a
What existed as a thing coming into being, concealed by emptiness—that
One was born by the power of heat.
4 Then, in the beginning, from thought there evolved desire, which existed
as the primal semen.
Searching in their hearts through inspired thought, poets found the
connection of the existent in the nonexistent.
5 Their cord was stretched across: Did something exist below it? Did
something exist above?
There existed placers of semen and there existed greatnesses. There was
independent will below, offering above.
6 Who really knows? Who shall here proclaim it?—from where was it born,
from where this creation?
The gods are on this side of the creation of this (world). So then who
does know from where it came to be?
7 This creation—from where it came to be, if it was produced or if not—
he who is the overseer of this (world) in the furthest heaven, he surely
knows. Or if he does not know…?