Hiranyagarbha (हिरण्यगर्भः)

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Hiranyagarbha (Samskrit : हिरण्यगर्भः) is described as the Supreme Brahman from whom srshti sprang forth. The vedas explain that all devatas are nothing but different aspects of the supreme and every name of that devata exhibits that aspect of the lord,  who is residing as the inner soul of that devata.

For example, the name Ajaha is used for Sri Brahma, but primarily Ajaha name suggest to paramatma, who is beyond birth ad death.   The different names like IndraKarma, Ishwara, Shiva, Kapila, Kamdeva, Tirthaka, Dhananjaya, Parjanya, Purandaraha, Prajapati, Bhima, Manu, Yadnya, Rudra, Varuna, Vasu, Vachaspati, Vayu, Vishwakarma, Vrishabha, Shambhu, etc. exhibit different aspects of the supreme Ishwara.   Just like Lord Krishna exhibited Vishwarupa in the presence of Arjuna with unlimited faces, unlimited Shoulders, if he does the same with us, how will we and through which face are we suppose to recognize Him? How are we suppose to address him? This is the question of one of the Vedasukta, which is the subject of this chapter.

Hiranyagarbha is a Sanskrit term that translates to “golden embryo,” “golden womb” or “golden egg.” It is derived from the root words hiranya, meaning “golden” or “wealth,” and garbha, meaning “womb,” “germ/seed" or “essence.” It is also the name of the founder of the yoga tradition -- predating even Patanjali, who authored the Yoga Sutras. Whether Hiranyagarbha was human or a deity is not established, but the name first appears prominently as a form of the sun god.

Hiranyagarbha is mentioned in ancient literature and verse. The "Rig Veda," for example, contains a hymn to Hiranyagarbha that Hindus still chant in their daily rituals, in which he is referred to as the Supreme Being. The epic narrative, "Mahabharata," cites Hiranyagarbha as the one who is glorified in Vedic verses and taught in yoga literature. The Upanishads call him the Supreme Existence, or Brahman. In this regard, Hiranyagarbha is also a name for Brahma in classical Puranic Hinduism because he was born from a golden egg.

While Hiranyagarbha appears most often as a deity or deity in human form, it is possible that a human teacher with the name once existed. Rishi Vashishtha, one of the most prominent Vedic sage-seers, is said to be the main disciple of Hiranyagarbha.[1]

It is certainly true that every devas are different aspect of Ishwara, but which one is the source, such illogical and meaningless question is raised.   Whether such questions are right or meaningless is not important, but unless one finds out the truth, it does not satisfy one. It has the potential to cause conflict between one sect to other sect.  But from another perspective, this question has another meaning, that is, which name of the Ishwara has the capacity to hold all other names of Ishwara?

Even though parmatma is one but his glories are unlimited. In previous pages we have explained that devatas are different limbs of Brahaman.  Just like There are unlimited leaves on the tree, flowers ,fruits ,roots, twigs and barks, similarly, in this Brahma-Vriksha the devatas, and  moving and nonmoving things, remain as undifferentiated parts. If one pickups a leaf, a flower or a fruit and questions, "is this a tree?" certainly one can explain it as a tree, because it is a part of tree, but there are more things beyond simply leaves and fruits on the tree.  On the other hand, if one goes on saying like the Upanishadic words as i.e saying na-iti na-iti, not this is not this, and by plucking every leaf, fruits and concluding that there is nothing like tree, it is all illusion. This sounds like the logic of Buddhstic thoughts of nihilism  These are the question raised in the buddhsitic compilation milinda, which will lead to zerosim or shunyavada. But this is not the logic of vedas. The leaves and fruits are integral part of a tree, or in other words fruits and leaves represent some aspect of tree-ness. If one gathers every aspects of tree, still the tree goes beyond all of them to have its identity.  It also represents the past of the tree, which caused this tree to be what it is today, and similarly it also stand as a limb for future appearance in a different form and what to speak about the understanding of the tree of bramha( entire cosmos). It goes beyond the understanding of the mind. (Vriksha eve stabdha divi tishtatyekah tenedam purnam purushena sarvam) This is explained in Taittriya upanishada by describing that the ParamBrhama vastu(ultimate substance)  is situated in Parama pada( highest place), only because of this mahapurusha( great person) everything is complete.

So now the question will be raised, "what is the name of this parampurusha? (great personality).   But one may argue, "what is the point of having or understanding the name?" It is the name which gives experience to the mind or Intelligence.  Therefore, it becomes easier to recognize. Similarly parmatma being beyond all the senses and to conclude that he is inconceivable and cannot be experienced, such understanding gives rise to hopelessness.  At the same to say Brahma cannot be recognized It becomes part of the nastik or atheistic philosophical concept. If we have to experience parmatma then he should be recognizable. Just like baby who is able to recognize her mother, even though the child may not be able to explain verbally but it will experience, that this is my mother. Not only that it will not, but it becomes most important for child to recognize for her own benefit.  This phenomenon goes on for ever. whether we like or not. When a baby is taken to zoo to see the elephant and other animals 1st time. When the child sees the animals having no prior experience, such experience is called as "nirvikalpa,"(without any preconceived idea). When the child sees, it sees only what is attractive to it, for eg; trunk of the elephant, big legs and big body fascinates the child. As the child starts going to zoo regularly and sees the animals regularly and form certain opinion based upon previous experiences, such understanding is called "Savikalpa," experience.   Just like if one who is matured having the experience of going to temple cannot be taken to hotel or cinema and fool him. Such experience is called as Savikalpa anubhuti(previous experience).

While the above example can be applied to the practical world, but how can it can be applied to something related to Brahman?  Brhaman is certainly beyond all the senses, having limitless attributes.

Sri Veda Vyas in his introduction to Brahma sutras,  in the 1st and 2nd Sutras explains, "janmadasya atah,"(that which causes the creation, maintenance and dissolution, that substance is brahman).  This attribute does not apply to any thing or any one other than Brahman,  having no fault of occupying others space or not occupying more than required.  These qualities can only be directed to Brahman. One who can realize this brahman is "brahma jnani(knower of brahman).  This is the path of veda.


Brahman may have certain unique features but how does that concern any one? To answer this;

The analogy to explain this is,  when someone wishes to visit a new village or a town he either refers to guide books, travelogues or talks to someone who has already seen that place having all the information, which gives an understanding about the place one is intended to visit. Similarly, one should endeavor by hearing from dharmik shastras, being inquisitive, trying to learn the meaning of vedic mantras, and by  meditative recitation of these shastras so that one reaches the ultimate destination. If one does not follow this method, it is like wanting to go to some place but reaching some other painful place. Many, by wrong path of intoxication, lower modes of activities, or by putting on sacred clothes, acting to be silent, and now days some claim and fool people that they have realization of brahman.   This is certain to give rise to a question to find out the difference, between some one who is drunk, unconscious and those who are self realised like Wamadeva and Vashishtha. If these questions are not answered from Vedanta, then, just like the prevalent trend of calling oneself as Brahma jnani(knower of brahman) will be rampant. Those who are fake avoid the tough question of Brahma jnana, because they are not certainly any where close to that.  Therefore, such un-bonafide, people claim vedanta discussion are useless and full of dry discussions and make every one ridiculing the vedanta understanding. Therefore, it is not surprising for real brahmajnani(brahma knower) to call those who reject discussing shastras as the enemies or dharma drohi(traitors of the sastras).

DR A. N. Whitehead says, "An attack on systematic thought is treason unto civilization.

Therefore, it is very appropriate for learning or worshiping Brahman through the path of vedas and realizing it.  But one may challenge, "just because one knows "Janmadasya atah,"it does not mean they are self realized! This is like saying, "just because one has seen the train does it mean one has seen the city?  but simple logic is, it is the 1st feature and all other characteristic are potentially hidden in this, therefore the"janamadasya yatah has importance. what is the potential in this? Brahma jijnasu(the discoverer of Brahma) since  ages, relentlessly have tried to experience each qualities Brahman, His lila, His greatness in all and his activities. Because Brahman is brahat(limitless) (tasya nama mahadyasah), one will not claim that they have done with the experience of brahman.   If some one claims, then it is nothing but deception. One who is experiencing Brahman has to continually grow along with the limitlessness of Brahman. This will go on for ever.

The processes mentioned to experience, Brahman' are meditation, Chanting, recitation of Vishnu sahastranam, which has been corroborated by great acharyas like Sri Shankaracharya. The recitation of the sahastranama(thousand names) reveals that Bhagawan has unlimited names and each name unveils a concept of God, that allows one a continuous perception of God.  For eg;- Vishwa means one has entered into this cosmos. Vishnu means one who is all pervading, in this way every name gives deeper and deeper understanding of Brhaman. In the Mahabharata, Shri Bhishma mentions that this glorification of God is not the imagination of some, but has been offered by great rishis (rishbhir pari gitani) in the form of song. Bhisma, declares, that he is giving it to Yudhisthira for for his benefit and for his existence.

In the Bhagvata, there is beautiful story and it is very appropriate to mention the story, which is narrated in the 10th Canto 89 chapter.

Once on the bank of the Saraswati river, when Rishis were performing Satrayagya (kind of yagna), there was a very animated discussion amongst the rishis on which of the trimurthis (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) was most prominent. The Rishis chose one of the Saptarishis,  Brighu Rishi (the mental son of Brahma) to find out, who amongst the three is most prominent. Brighu Rishi approached Brahma first and stood there silently, without saying a word or offering any respect to his father, Brahma.  Brahma, got angry, yet as the sage was his own son he could not curse him and so He held back his anger. Based on this Bhrigu concluded that Brahmaji is Rajo Pradana (Prominent in Passion), an important element of the cause for Creation.  Then the sage went to Shiva who was happy to meet his brother. when Shiva came to embrace his brother Bhrigu,  Bhrigu Muni spoke very harshly to him as he was testing him. He said,

Do not touch me, as you are not the follower of proper etiquette, You act whimsically!”

Hearing Bhrigu Muni’s words, Sri Shiva, was about to pierce Bhrigu with his trident, but was pacified by Parvati.  Bhrigu Muni realized that Lord Shiva is the head of Tamo Guna that is an essential quality in the process of destruction.   Finally, he went to abode of Vishnu, Vishnu was resting with Lakshmi Devi in the causal ocean. The sage to test Vishnu, kicked him on his chest.  Sri Vishnu got up and welcomed Bhrigu and offering his obeisance said,

"My dear master, I was not aware that you were here, please forgive me. Your feet are the personification of the holy places which you have visited and because of your touch, my chest has become a suitable place for Lakshmi to reside. You have kicked my heart which is like stone, therefore your foot must be hurt

Saying so, Vishnu started pressing the sage Bhrigu’s feet,  which made the latter very happy. Bhrighu after recognizing Lord Vishnu as the all sattva(pure goodness) and master of all the devatas and it was conveyed to all the rishis who were involved in Yagna, as, "vishnu sarvan devatah( vishnu master of all).  (In the purana, during the conclusion of yagna, when all the rishis had the question about whom to offer the oblation( kasmai devayah havisha vidhema), the rishis asked Bhrigu to bring some conclusion, eventually they all offered the oblation by saying, "sarvam sri Vishnuve svaha."  This is practiced by all the followers of dharmik path, which includes the smartha, Vaishnavas, and all those who recite and follow the vedic path. What is the pramana or evidence? How does creation, maintenance and destruction are integrated.

1. creation is not meant for creation- creation is for maintenance

2. creation is not for destruction- but destruction for maintenance.

3. maintenance for maintenance; for maintenance is creation and for maintenance is destruction.

The moral of the story is not to minimize the position of any Devas, but for understanding the principle of protection (rakshaka tattva).  Whether it is for creation or for destruction the supreme Brahman does everything for the sake of benefitting the creation. If one says creation is for the sake of creation it gives rise to Charvaka's philosophy, and if we say creation is for destruction, then it becomes Buddhistic shunyavada(nihilism).  But vedas always gives the vision of stability, which is nourishing to everyone.

In a necklace, all the pearls are of the same size but there is the pendant (Nayaka Mani) placed in the middle, which gives beauty to the necklace. Similarly, Parmatma's all facets are important, but how do one choose that one, which is good for meditation and has the integration.  But how does one select? for this there is a Rik vedic sukta( 10.121)

There are ten mantras in this Sukta and each mantras concludes with,

||Kasmai Devaya havisha videma||

This mantra has question and within that there is answer too.

"Kah,” means,"Who is he?" it also means, "some one," and that also explains there is some someone, for the root of, "kam," comes some one who loves, full of happiness, from the root "kram," comes " Trivikrama,"means one who covers all the three worlds.   This is the definition given by the Niruktaras( those find the root for everything). and the oblation represents our dedication. Every sukta in this way, describes the different aspect of Supreme Brahman's greatness. The last question also answers, by saying other than  such person, whom else one will offer the complete dedication( oblation). This clearly proves that Vedas do have the concept of dedicating to one integrated approach of Brahman. One can see the voice in these suktas, by regular recitation, one will experience deeper meaning, this is proven through experience.  

Hiranyagarbha Sukta

The essence of these suktas can be summarized here.

Before the creation of the moving and non-moving things, the Lord was existing as one without a second.  The supreme Brahaman protected the creation during the annihilation by placing it in his belly like the golden mine.  Eventually he brought it out at the right time and sustained the prithivi( earth) and dyuoloka( land of the light) and nourished it, became protector from  all the sides. He became prajapati(master of all living entities), and Hiranya garbha( golden womb), who else other than such supreme Brahman do we offer our oblation? (what can we offer, other than our dedication for His great magnanimity).  He is the one who gave us the chaitanya(consciousness), offered himself to us as Paramatama in our heart, devas and jivas follow his order, which comes as direction or advice, immortality and death are his shadow, other than such a person, who else can we offer our oblation?   (what else is there with us other than offering ourselves. (if we do not offer then we will be ungrateful). If some one asks what great charity has the supreme done? As He not given us the power to breath? ability to see along with the human beings even the animals have obtained this blessings (He who is every where, without any pretense, having natural compassion, how can we glorify Him?)   what else can we offer other than our own selves? (since he is the one who gave us the power to breath, so we have nothing which can be claimed as ours). All the snow cap mountains, rivers full of nectar, and ocean which are full of such rivers, resides as the most insignificant part in the universal body of the Supreme Brahman, does it not indicate His supreme glory? (what can we offer to such a great person, so the suktas are feeling embarrassed for their insignificance).   The limitless direction are his arms(to such person can any one feel there is anything to offer to him?). He created the sky, which is not easy to penetrate, He offered us Bhumi(mother earth) who is personification of forgiveness, the eternal planets, and to make this planets shine He also gave Aditya( sun), other than him, who else can we offer our oblations? While the bhumi and land of the light are offering pleasing service to that person, by making themselves very pleasing, then why can’t we who are insignificant, not offer ourselves to Him?   He is the one, by his power of retas(Water elements, which is creative energy) created the five elements, all the devas, the entire cosmos, with its moving and non moving beings, to such person are we not suppose to offer ourselves? only because of His loving glance, the entire cosmos is working coherently- because it is Sat (eternal existence). Is that person not the supreme brahman? He himself is the father of universe (Jagata janak) satya dharma, satya kama(whatever He desires its real) satya sankalpa( only desires that is truthful), let us not go against him, let him bestow his mercy instead his anger ( let us offer prayers directly). " My dear master of the creation, having unlimited glories, we have no one other than you to protect, our only desire is to take complete shelter of you, please bestow your mercy so that, we may always receive your grace in the world and in the other world." (In this way the great sages offer their heartfelt and emotional prayers in these suktas).

There are many more significant things in these prayers(suktas). The main characteristics of supreme brahman are described here. The suktas invite us to call supreme brahman  by any name, it does not matter, but to fight in his name is undesirable. Therefore, Suktas have called the Lord “ka," means who is he?

What are the main characteristics mentioned here?

1. Hiranyagarbha indicates the cause of Creation.

2.         BhutasyPatihi which brings out the ownership of the Bhagavan.

3.         Dadhara indicates the ability to hold (Dharattva).

4.         Atmada- the ability to enter into every being as paramatma.

5.         Upasyatva- the ability accept our worship.

6.         Yasyadevah i.e He is the lord of the lord of everything.

7.         Amruta-mrutyu- He can destroy and liberate us.

8.         Vishwavyapitva Ability to be all pervading (4th Mantra ).

9.         Trivikramatva- he is all-pervasive (In the 5th Sukta).

10.   Sahajaprakashtattva ability to give light (6th mantra).

11.   Narayana Shabda- he is in the causal ocean (7th Mantra) .

12.   Yadnaya purushatva and the devadipatva- He is the personification of sacrifice and He is the Deva of the Deva (8th mantra).

13.   Satyadharma Adi Purnatva- He has Satya (truth ) and Dharma in completeness (9th Mantra).

14.   iVishwa Patitva- he is the master of the world. Prajarakshatva means protector of the living being and sakal phala pradatva means one who provides all desirable things to all (in the 10th mantra).

These are the eight Mantras that indirectly glorify the Lord, and last two mantras indicate and prove as if the sages are standing in his presence and offering their prayers.

“Kaha”. Kasmay Devay is the name which indicates consciousness of a person who is offering prayers to the Lord. It also indicates that we are so insignificant as compared to greatness of the Lord.

The world Kaha does not indicate that the Rishis do not know the form of the Lord. If that was true then how are they able to explain the characteristics of the Lord, the “kaha” indicates that other than him to whom can we offer our selves.  Therefore, when they raise question in every mantra, as if asking who is this person whom we are suppose to offer ourselves must have different meaning. it means other than him whom do we dedicate ourselves? It also indicates that the rishis with great confidence with heart filled with love, devotion and happiness, are saying we are not able to glorify Him sufficiently.  That is one more voice in the "Kah,"word. One more thing they indicate, one's one know who is He, it does not matter to them by what name one calls him.

Whatever qualities of supreme Brahaman are quoted here from the suktas, and their deep meaning or voice has to be remembered during one's own worship and relish them.   These verses are just sample for one to develop taste in them. We are offering these mantras so that the devotional people can offer prayers on a daily basis.

||hiranyagarbhah samavartatagre bhutasya jatah patireka asit |

sa dadhara prithivim dyamutemam kasmai devaya havisha vidhema ||

ya atmada balada yasya vishva upasate prashisham yasya devah |

yasya chayamritam yasya mrityuh kasmai devaya havisha vidhema ||

yah pranato nimishato mahitvaika idraja jagato babhuva |

ya ishe asya dvipadashchatushpadah kasmai devaya havisha vidhema ||

yasyeme himavanto mahitva yasya samudram rasaya sahahuh |

yasyemah pradisho yasya bahu kasmai devaya havisha vidhema ||

yena dyaurugra prithivi cha dridha yena sva stabhitam yena nakah |

yo antarikshe rajaso vimanah kasmai devaya havisha vidhema ||

yam krandasi avasa tastabhane abhyaikshetam manasa rejamane |

yatradhi sura udito vibhati kasmai devaya havisha vidhema ||

apo ha yadbrihatirvishvamayangarbham dadhana janayantiragnim |

tato devanam samavartatasurekah kasmai devaya havisha vidhema ||

yashchidapo mahina paryapashyaddaksham dadhana janayantiryajnam |

yo deveshvadhi deva eka asitkasmai devaya havisha vidhema ||

ma no himsijjanita yah prithivya yo va divam satyadharma jajana |

yashchapashchandra brihatirjajana kasmai devaya havisha vidhema ||

prajapate na tvadetanyanyo vishva jatani pari ta babhuva |


yatkamaste juhumastanno astu vayam syama patayo rayinam ||

This Sukta has appeared first in the RigVeda (10.121) and it appears in the Yajurveda Taytreya Samhita (4.1.8) with a few differences. It also comes in AtharvaVeda's Paippalada Samhita (4.2). It is also appears in the yajurveda's  Kapisthala Kata Samhita and the Maytrayini samhita.

All the suktas from the Rig veda's mandal, have appeared in these 10 suktas as essence of all of them.  These 10 suktas are like the representing thousand faces of the lord. These 10 suktas indicate that The Supreme brahaman who is beyond dashangula(one of the purusha sukta mantra tells how he is beyond all measuring things) has been reached by these prayers.  To understand the nature and personality of Supreme Brahaman one sukta is sufficient. These 10 suktas can be recited daily just like the mantras in the "sri iso upanishada or just like "purusha sukta.