The process of evolution seems to have been detected in ancient times. In the Rig Veda, the Nāsadīya sūkta¹ refers to the "darkness wrapped in darkness" and points out that from the breath that stirred in that original darkness, there stirred the life-force as desire, and that that desire was the seed of the mind. In the Aitareya Upanishad, there is a fable which tells us that the gods rejected the animal forms successively offered to them by the Divine Self and only when man was produced, cried out, "This indeed is perfectly made," and consented to enter in the human body. ² In the Sankhya philosophy, the infinite existence of Force was figured as a sea, initially at rest and therefore free from forms, but the first disturbance, the first initiation of movement necessitates the evolution of forms of Matter which grow gradually from its subtle states until solid states evolve. Upon these forms of Matter depend all our sensible experience; what we call the power of sensations, of vibrations of the mind, of the ego- sense and even of intelligence, which has the faculty of discrimination, is involved in Matter;-and because of that involution, the evolution of what is involved takes place. According to the Sankhya, nothing comes out of nothing and that whatever manifests is inherent in the original state of Prakriti or the Force of energy.³ The Sankhyan theory of
Prakriti and of the evolution of the universe that we see and experience is adapted in several other systems of Indian philosophy, including the Vedanta. In ancient Greece also there were important ideas of evolution. But subsequently, the creation of the world was largely set aside by the account of creation that is to be found in the story of the Genesis as narrated in the Old Testament.