In the Beginning of Universe
In the beginning, there was nothing in the universe. The brahman (the divine essence) alone was everywhere. The brahman had neither colour nor scent, it could not be felt or touched. It had no origin, no beginning or no end. The brahman was constant and it was the origin of everything that was destined to be in the universe and the universe was shrouded in darkness. When it was time for creation to begin, the brahman divided itself into three. The first part became Brahma, the creator of the universe. The second part was Vishnu, the preserver of the universe. And the third part was Shiva, the destroyer.
At the time of creation, water appeared in the universe and the water was everywhere. In the water was created a golden (hiranya) egg (anda) that floated like a gigantic bubble. Brhama was born inside the egg. Since garbha means womb, Brahma came to be known as Hiranyagarbha. Since he effectively created (bhu) himself (svayam), he is also referred to as Svayambhu. Brahma had four faces. Also inside the egg were all the worlds (lokas) that would be created, in embryonic form. The earth was there, with its land, mountains, oceans and rivers. The moon, the sun, the stars and the planets were there. Also present were gods, demons, humans and other living beings who would be created. This was the original creation of the universe (sarga). But at the end of one of Brahm’sa days, a minor destruction takes place. The universe is once again flooded with water during Brahma’s night. Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are not however destroyed.
What is KALPA ?
Each of Brahma’s days is known as a kalpa (cycle). Thus, a minor destruction takes place at the end of every kalpa. When a new day dawns for Brahma, creation begins afresh. This periodical process of destruction (pralaya) and re-creation is known as pratisarga. The present kalpa is known as varaha kalpa. “Why is the present kalpa known as the varaha kalpa?” asked the sages. Lomaharashana told them the story of Vishnu’s boar (varaha) incarnation.
Vishnu's Vraha Avatar
At the end of the last kalpa, there was a destruction and the universe was flooded with water. Vishnu slept on the water as long as Brahma’ night lasted. Since nara means water and anyana means resting-place. Vishnu is accordingly known as Narayana. When Brahma’s day dawned, he wished to embark on the process of creation. But where would the created beings live? There was no earth for them to live on. The earth had been submerged under the water. Vishnu therefore adopted the form of a huge boar (varaha). The boar’s body was as large as a mountain and it had gigantic tusks that were exceedingly sharp. The eyes of the boar blazed like lightning and its roar thundered like the clouds. As a boar, Vishnu entered the water and began to search for the earth. He found the submerged earth and raised it up to its proper place on the tusks of the boar. The earth began to float on the water like a huge boat.
Vishnu also levelled out parts of the earth. The mountains that had existed on earth in the earlier kalpa had been burnt down by the fire that raged at the time of the destruction. Vishnu created new mountains. Because they did not move (chala), the mountains came to be known as achala. And since they had layers (parva) or ranges, they came to be known as parvata. The land masses were also created. The creation of living beings could now begin. And since the creation of this kalpa took place after Vishnu’s boar incarnation, the cycle came to be called varaha kalpa.
Brahma created water, fire, air, the sky, directions, heaven, oceans, rivers, mountains and trees. He also created time, night and days. Through his mental powers, he created three sons named Sanandana, Sanaka, and Sanatana. In each kalpa, there are fourteen manvantaras. The gods and the seven great sages (saptarshi) change from one manvantara to another. The title of Indra, king of the gods, also changes hands. In any one particular manvantara, there are twenty-eight crores of gods. Therefore, in fourteen manvantaras, there are three hundred and ninety-two crores of gods.