Why is it so difficult to understand the universe? How much we do know about it ? What has Rig Veda to do about it ?
Understanding such abstract concepts can be difficult for a person. This is my attempt to understand the cosmology while interconnecting the theories of modern science and the thousand years old sacred text of Hinduism.
What is Universe
Universe is the combination of energy and matter that is existent everywhere. It includes each and every thing that is present from the galaxies to the atoms. Wikipedia defines universe as “The Universe is all of space and time (spacetime) and its contents, which includes planets, moons, stars, galaxies, the contents of intergalactic space and all matter and energy.”
The size of the universe is still unknown and we are just observing the minuscule part of it which is available to us. Just to understand we put a equation as
Universe = All energy (the abstract) + All matter (the actual)
The Birth of Universe
The Vedas suggest that the time of the birth is unknown and that before the birth of the universe there was neither matter nor any energy, there was a large void and singularity which contained all the energy and the matter present today.
Nasadiya Sukta, 129th hymn, 10th Mandala, Rig-Veda
नासदासीन्नो सदासीत्तदानीं नासीद्रजो नो व्योमा परो यत् |किमावरीवः कुह कस्य शर्मन्नम्भः किमासीद्गहनं गभीरम् ॥ १॥
Then even nothingness was not, nor existence, there was no air then, nor the space beyond it. What covered it? Where was it? Who is keeping it? Was there then cosmic water, in unexplored depths?
न मृत्युरासीदमृतं न तर्हि न रात्र्या अह्न आसीत्प्रकेतः |आनीदवातं स्वधया तदेकं तस्माद्धान्यन्न परः किञ्चनास ॥२॥
Then there was neither death nor immortality nor was night or day. The One breathed windlessly and self-sustaining. There was that One then, and there was no other.
तम आसीत्तमसा गूहळमग्रे प्रकेतं सलिलं सर्वाऽइदम् |तुच्छ्येनाभ्वपिहितं यदासीत्तपसस्तन्महिनाजायतैकम् ॥३॥
At first there was only darkness wrapped in darkness. All this was only dark cosmic water. That One which came to be, enclosed in nothing, arose at last, born of the power of heat.
तिरश्चीनो विततो रश्मिरेषामधः स्विदासीदुपरि स्विदासीत् | रेतोधा आसन्महिमान आसन्त्स्वधा अवस्तात्प्रयतिः परस्तात् ॥५॥
And they have stretched their cord across the void, and know what was above, and what below. Seminal powers made fertile mighty forces. Below was strength, and over it was impulse.
Whereas according to modern science, the prevailing cosmological theory for the birth of universe is The Big Bang theory. The model describes how the universe expanded from a very high-density and high-temperature state 13.8 billion years ago, which is considered the age of the universe.
Both the theories are pretty same and revolves around the concept of “singularity” containing the entire universe within itself. The universe was born out of this singularity from the power of heat and is expanding ever since.
The Death of Universe
Bhagwat Gita 8.18
अव्यक्तात्, व्यक्तयः, सर्वाः, प्रभवन्ति, अहरागमे, रात्रयागमे, प्रलीयन्ते, तत्रा, एव, अव्यक्तसज्ञके।। ।।
At the beginning of Brahma’s day, all living entities become manifest from the unmanifest state, and thereafter, when the night falls, they are merged into the unmanifest again.
In Hinduism, time is cyclic and consists of kalpas. Each lasts 4.1 – 8.2 billion years, which is a period of one full day and night for Brahma, who will be alive for 311 trillion, 40 billion years. Within a kalpa there are periods of creation, preservation and decline. After this larger cycle, all of creation will contract to a singularity and then again will expand from that single point, as the ages continue in a religious fractal pattern.
A cyclic model (or oscillating model) is any of several cosmological models in which the universe follows infinite, or indefinite, self-sustaining cycles. For example, the oscillating universe theory briefly considered by Albert Einstein in 1930 theorized a universe following an eternal series of oscillations, each beginning with a big bang and ending with a big crunch; in the interim, the universe would expand for a period of time before the gravitational attraction of matter causes it to collapse back in and undergo a bounce.
The Big Crunch is one possible scenario for the ultimate fate of the universe, in which the metric expansion of space eventually reverses and the universe recollapses, ultimately causing the cosmic scale factor to reach zero or causing a reformation of the universe starting with another Big Bang.