Chapter 1-The Unfolding Of Creation

अथैकदा मुनिश्रेष्ठं त्रिकलज्ञं पराशरम्‌।
पप्रच्छोपेत्य मैत्रेयः प्रणिपत्य कृताञ्जलिः॥ १॥

1. And so one day, Maitreya humbly bowed to the one who knows past, present and future, to the great Sage Parashara. With palms held together in reverence, he respectfully asked:

Throughout the ages, enlightened gurus have taught the ancient wisdom of the Vedas to their devotees. Parashara is revered as a great master of that holy tradition. His response to Maitreya's queries is the discourse that is the Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra.

भगवन्‌ परमं पुण्यं गुह्यं वेदाङ्गमुत्तमम्‌।
त्रिस्कन्धं ज्यौतिषं होरा गणितं संहितेति च॥ २॥

2. Bhagavan, Jyotish is the finest limb of the Vedangas. It is sacred and is kept in confidence. Its three divisions are Hora, Ganita and Samhita.

Maitreya addresses Parashara as Bhagavan, a title of respect.

The Vedangas are limbs or branches of Vedic knowledge. Jyotish is one of those limbs and is comprised of three parts. Hora is the science of prediction, Ganita covers astronomical and mathematical calculations, whilst Samhita is a collection of various texts.

Jyotish is sacred knowledge that should be kept confidential. Parashara further explains in verses seven and eight.

एतेष्वपि त्रिषु श्रेष्ठा होरेति श्रूयते मुने।
त्वत्तस्तां श्रोतुमिच्छामि कृपया वद मे प्रभो॥ ३॥

3. Sage, of the three divisions, Hora (horoscopy) is considered most excellent. I would like to hear your account, kindly tell me, O Enlightened One.

कथं सृष्टिरियं जाता जगतश्च लयः कथम्‌।
खस्थानां भूस्थतानां च सम्बन्धं वद विस्तरात्‌॥ ४॥

4. Tell me about creation and dissolution. How was the World born and how will it end? Tell me in detail the relationship between the Heavens and the beings living on Earth.

साधु पृष्टं त्वया विप्र लोकानुग्रहकारिना।
अथाहं परमं ब्रह्म तच्छक्तिं भारतीं पुनः॥ ५॥

5. Vipra, your well asked question has a higher purpose and thus has a positive influence on the World. And so having bowed to the Supreme Brahma as well as to his Shakti Bharati...

Parashara refers to Maitreya as Vipra, a brahmin. In calling him such, he reminds Maitreya that as a recipient of Vedic knowledge he has a responsibility to maintain its integrity.

सूर्य नत्वा ग्रहपतिं जगदुत्पत्तिकारणम्‌।‌।
वक्ष्यामि वेदनयनं यथा ब्रह्ममुखाच्छ्रुतम्‌॥ ६॥

6. And having bowed to Surya, the Lord of the grahas and the source of creation, I shall now describe the eye of the Vedas (Jyotish) as heard from the mouth of Brahma.

The grahas are cosmic forces that govern human destiny. Surya, the Sun, is the principal graha. Surya is Paramatma, pure consciousness. When Parashara 'bows to Surya', he directs his attention inward and experiences the unbounded nature of his own consciousness. When he 'bows to Brahma', he experiences that same unboundedness outwardly as well.

Veda is pure, eternal, unchanging knowledge. It is the blueprint of creation that the most enlightened experience directly. Parashara reveals that he received the knowledge of Jyotish directly from Brahma. For this reason he is referred to as a Maharishi, a great seer.

Jyotish is 'the eye of the Vedas' because it enables one to 'see' beyond the boundaries of time.

शान्ताय गुरुभक्ताय सर्वदा सत्यवादिने।
आस्तिकाय प्रदतव्यं ततः श्रेयो ह्यवाप्स्यति॥ ७॥

7. This Knowledge is for those who experience inner peace, who are devoted to the Guru, who always speak truthfully and who are devoted to God. In this way good will result.

न देयं परशिष्याय नास्तिकाय शठय वा।
दत्ते प्रतिदिनं दुःखं जायते नात्र संशयः॥ ८॥

8. It should not be taught to a disinterested student, to an atheist or to a person of questionable character. To do so will undoubtedly bring daily grief and sorrow.

एकोऽव्यक्तात्मको विष्णुरनादिः प्रभुरीश्वरः।
शुद्धसत्वो जगत्स्वामी निर्गुणस्त्रिगुणान्वितः॥ ९॥

9. Vishnu is the unmanifest wholeness that lies beyond the realm of the senses. He is without beginning, the eternal ultimate reality. He is pure creative potential, the master of the cosmos. He is without the gunas yet possesses all three.

All of creation is the result of the interplay of the three gunas; sattva, rajas and tamas. Life eternally evolves by means of these three agents. Rajas is the motive force that induces activity. Sattva directs that activity forward while tamas is responsible for restraining it. The tapestry of life is thus forever woven by the constant state of flux in the balance between the three gunas.

संसारकारकः श्रीमान्निमित्तात्मा प्रतापवान्‌।
एकांशेन जगत्सर्व सृजत्यवति लीलया॥ १०॥

10. He is the majestic cause of samsara and the source of the Self. He creates the entire cosmos, at one with it, from its birth to its dissolution.

Samsara is the eternal cycle of creation, evolution and dissolution. It is the unending cycle of birth, death and rebirth.

The Self is consciousness. The consciousness of the cosmos and the consciousness of the individual are ultimately one and the same.

त्रिपादं तस्य देवस्य ह्यमृतं तत्त्वदर्शिनः।
विदन्ति तत्प्रमाणं च सप्रधानं तथैकपात्‌॥ ११॥

11. The knowers of Truth understand that He is a Trinity filled with the nectar of immortality, whilst at the same time they know that He exists as One, the prime source of His own creation.

There are two aspects of life, that which is constantly changing, and that which never changes. That which is always changing is the manifest world in its endless diversity, where everything is positioned in time and space relative to everything else. It is driven by three fundamental forces in the form of the gunas.

That which never changes is infinite and unbounded by the limits of time and space. It is the unmanifest creative potential that transcends the realm of the senses. It is absolute, pure existence, unbounded consciousness.

Vishnu is the One, that is of three, that becomes the many whilst yet remaining as One. This is the story of creation.

व्यक्ताव्यक्तात्मको विष्णुर्वासुदेवस्तु गीयते।
यदव्यक्तात्मको विष्णुः श्क्तितद्वयसमन्वितः॥ १२॥

12. Vishnu manifests (creation) and is unmanifest at the same time. As such He is glorified as Vasudeva. Unmanifest Vishnu consists of two parts (purusha and prakriti).

Parashara describes creation in terms of the classical philosophy of Sankhya. The first two elements of that philosophy are purusha and prakriti. Purusha is pure, unbounded consciousness, the cosmic spirit, the silent witness of all that ever was or will be. Prakriti is nature, the unmanifest source from which all of creation springs. Prakriti's primary constituents are the three gunas, initially in perfect equilibrium.

व्यक्तात्मकस्त्रिभिर्युक्तः कथ्यतेऽनन्तशक्तिमान्‌।
सत्त्वप्रधाना श्रीशक्तिर्भूश्क्तिश्च रजोगुणा॥ १३॥

13. Vishnu manifests as three eternally united, infinite shaktis; Sri Shakti, the primal creative source, with sattva­guna, Bhu Shakti with rajas­guna...

A shakti is a primal force or energy. Parashara names the shaktis associated with each of the three gunas. The gunas, by their very nature, are always found together.

शक्तिस्तृतीया या प्राक्ता नीलाख्या ध्वान्तरूपिणी।
वासुदेवश्चतुर्थोऽभूच्छ्रीशक्त्या प्रेरितो यदा॥ १४॥

14. And the third Shakti is Neela, the embodiment of the darkness of night (tamas guna). The stiring of Sri Shakti stirs gives rise to all four forms of Vasudeva.

The perfect equilibrium of the three gunas starts to shift.

संकर्षणश्च प्रद्युम्नोऽनिरुद्ध इति मूर्तिधृक्‌।
तमःश्क्त्याऽन्विता विष्णुर्देवः संकर्षणाभिधः॥ १५॥

15. Shankarshana, Pradhyumna and Aniruddha are thus born. Shankarshana is Vishnu with tamas Shakti.

प्रद्युम्नो रजसा शक्त्याऽनिरुध्हः सत्त्वया युतः।
महान्‌ संकर्षणाज्जातः प्रद्युम्नाद्यदहंअकृतिः॥ १६॥

16. Pradyumna is Vishnu with rajas­ Shakti, and joined with sattva, Vishnu is Aniruddha. Mahat is born of Shankarshana and Ahamkara of Pradyumna.

Mahat is the first state of evolution where the equilibrium of the three gunas begins to shift out of balance. It is the Cosmic will in action. The disturbance of the perfect equilibrium of the gunas marks the beginning of the manifestation of creation.

अनिरुद्धात्‌ स्वयं जातो ब्रह्माहंकाकमूर्तिधृक्‌।
सर्वषु सर्वशक्तिश्च स्वशक्त्याऽधिकया युतः॥ १७॥

17. And from Aniruddha arises Brahma­ Ahamkara. Mahat, Ahamkara and Brahma­Ahamkara are primarily of their originating shakti, although each possesses all three.

Ahamkara is the principle responsible for the individuation of mahat. It is the development of individual ego.

अहंकारस्त्रिध भूत्वा सर्वमेतद्विस्तरात्‌।
सात्त्विको राजसश्चैव तामसश्चेदहंकृतिः॥ १८॥

18. Ahamkara differentiates into three distinct forms, one sattvic, another rajasic and the third tamasic.

Ahamkara continues in its individuating role.

देवा वैकारिकाज्जातास्तैजसादिन्द्रियाणि।
तामसच्चैवभू तानि खादीनि स्वस्वशक्तिभिः॥ १९॥

19. The gods are born of sattvic ahamkara. Rajas ahamkara gives rise to the indiryas. And indeed tamas ahamkara gives rise to the bhutas starting with space.

The indriyas are the five senses of perception and the five organs of action. The bhutas are the five principal elements out of which which material creation is constituted; space, air, fire, water and earth.

Here Parashara ends his brief commentary with respect to the classical philosophy of Sankhya. His brief reference is an invitation to the reader to further explore the topic.

श्रीशक्त्या सहितो विष्णुः सदा पाति जगत्त्रयम्‌।
भूशक्त्या सृजते ब्रह्मा नीलशक्त्या शिवोऽत्ति हि॥ २०॥

20. Vishnu together with Shri Shakti is the eternal maintainer of the three worlds. Vishnu with Bhu Shakti is Brahma the creator and with Neela Shakti he is Shiva the destroyer.

सर्वेषु चैव जीवेषु परमात्मा विराजते।
सर्वं हि तदिदं ब्रह्मन्‌ स्थितं हि परमात्मनि॥ २१॥

21. Paramatma exists in all places, in all life, all beings and all people. And the entire universe, indeed even Brahma, exists in Paramatma.

Paramatma is unbounded consciousness, the universal Soul or Self. Vishnu is Paramatma. Purusha is paramatma.

सर्वेषु चैव जीवेषु स्थितंह्यंशद्वयं क्वचित्‌।
जीवांशो ह्यधिकस्तद्वत्‌ परमात्मांशकः किल॥ २२॥

22. All beings have their own individuality as well as Paramatma. Some beings have more individuality and some are more Paramatma.

सूर्यादयो ग्रहाः सर्वे ब्रह्मकामद्विषादयः।
एते चान्ये च बहवः परमात्मांशकाधिकाः॥ २३॥

23. The Sun along with the other grahas, and Brahma and the others, and a great many more as well are all predominately Paramatma.

शक्तयश्च तथैतेषमधिकांशाः श्रियादयः।
स्वस्वशक्तिषु चान्यासु ज्ञेया जीवांशकाधिकाः॥ २४॥

24. Their shaktis too, Shri and the others, are predominately Paramatma whilst others have more of their own individuality.