Monday, May 9, 2011

Creation Myths: The Link Between Beliefs

So as some of you might know I’ve been incredibly busy lately and haven’t had as much time to write blog posts as usual. First I’ve been interviewing for a job at a Cyber Security firm and I just found out on Friday that I got it! Second I have been working on the new exhibit for the Laurel History museum with the rest of the Exhibits Committee. This includes a lot of rifling through museum records and a whole bunch of research. Then thirdly and lastly I have been writing a new book in which I’m combining two of my short stories.

Needless to say these last weeks have been busy and will get busier especially when I start this job. That does not mean that I will abandon you all who read my blog, I love you all and appreciate all your support. This does mean that my blog posts will be fewer and also that I will mostly be recycling old papers that I have written over my college career (which in fact was what started the idea for this blog anyway as sort of a showcase of my work.

That being said, it brings us to the topic for today: Creation Myths. This was actually inspired by the interview that I had yesterday with the president of the company. We got completely off topic and started talking about world religions and how there are common threads run through all of them. I then brought up the topic about creation myths and “great flood” myths before we got back on track to the actual job interview.

Every religion has a creation myth and every religion has a “great flood” myth. This is yet one common thread that runs through every religion or religious practice. We all want to know where we came from, if someone, something or nothing at all created us. So I wanted to share with you all my re-creation of the Hindu Creation myth which is fact one of my favorites:

At the dawn of time there was nothing. No heavens, no earth, and nothing in between. A vast dismal sea washed upon the banks of nothingness, and caressed the outskirts of the night. A giant cobra sat in the deep sea – snoozing within its infinite spools lay the Lord Vishnu. And he was watched over by the omnipotent serpent. Everything was silent and empty and Vishnu slept unmoved and undisturbed (The Bhagavat Purana).

Suddenly from the depths, a humming sound began to rumble, Om. It spread threw the vast nothingness and throbbed with electrifying energize. The night was no more. Vishnu then awoke from his deep sleep. As the sun began to creep up the horizon, a lotus flower blossomed from Vishnu’s navel, and inside that blossom sat Vishnu’s servant, Brahma who awaited the Lord’s command (The Bhagavat Purana).

Vishnu said to his servant: “It is time to begin,” Brahma bowed to his master. Vishnu commanded, “create the world.” Then a great wind swept up the sea and the serpent vanished, as Brahma was still uncased in the lotus flower, in the pounding sea. Then Brahma lifted up his arms and the sea became calm, and wind stilled. Brahma then split the lotus flower into three parts, one he threw up to the heavens, another into the earth, and yet another he used to create the skies (The Bhagavat Purana).

But alas the earth was bare, so Brahma set to work creating grass, flowers, trees and vegetation of all kind. To them he gave feeling. Then he created the animals and the insects to live on the land. He put the birds in the air to fly, and the fish in the sea to swim. And to all these creatures he gave the ability to touch, to smell, to see, to hear, to move. The world was bustling with life and air was filled with the sounds of Brahma’s creation (The Bhagavat Purana).

So now that you have a better understanding of how the Hindus believed the earth was created let’s look at another one of my favorite creation myths. Now this one you might have seen earlier in my American Indian series. This is the Cherokee creation myth:

When the world was all water, as the Cherokee believed it was, the animals lived in the upper world but it become over crowded so the new world was created. The way the story went is that Beaver’s Grandchild water beetle dove into the water all the way down to see what the new world was like. When he reached the bottom water-beetle discovered soft mud which he then picked up and smoothed and spread it until it became the great island which is now earth. The Cherokee believed that this island was a literal island that was floating above the sea which was suspended at four points by cords of rock (Rochete 2010).

Over this island the Great Buzzard flew and when the earth was still soft and wet his wings struck the ground creating the valleys and mountains. The other animals stopped him though before he made the whole world mountainous (this is why the Cherokee land in the Appalachians was supposed to be so mountainous). Along with that the Cherokee believed that the first two Cherokee were Kana’ti and his wife Selu. These two are the fixtures of which the Cherokee hunting and farming came from (Rochete 2010).

The stories go that their sons let all the animals escape from the great vault which is why the people have to hunt them. Also Selu got pregnant and gave birth to both corn and beans overnight; because of her son believed she was a powerful witch and killed her. As a result of her death corn and beans sprouted from her blood but as a punishment Selu’s sons had to work to grow and produce it from then on (Rochete 2010).

We can see that there are similarities as well as differences in these stories but the general theme of creating something from very little or nothing is there. Now like I said every religion has a creation myth so there are tons of different takes on these ideas of creation and birth/rebirth.


Rochete, Eric

2010. Anth 146 Lecture for September 20, 2010.

The Pennsylvania State University.

The Bhagavat Purana (English translation)

Image courtesy of


Lola said...

Great post! Weird coincidence that i was reading about the "great flood" myths yesterday. 'World Mythology' by Donna Rosenberg, it's a really good far. I'm almost finished with the Greek section, and moving on to Middle Eastern Myths.

Sam Curtin said...

Thanks! I've never read that book before. You'll love Middle Eastern Myths though, they are perhaps my favorite!

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