In the beginning, there was nothing in the universe. There was only darkness and the divine essence (brahman). It is impossible to describe the brahman, it has no traits that can be described.
When the time came for creation to start, the brahman removed the darkness and divided itself into three. These three parts came to be known as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The first object that was created was water and Vishnu slept on this water. Since nara means water and ayana means resting-place, Vishnu is accordingly also known as Narayana. In this water next appeared a golden (hiranya) egg (anda). The egg shone with the radiance of a thousand suns. Inside the egg, Brahma created himself. Since he effectively created (bhuva) himself (svayam), Brahma is also known as Svayambhuva. The egg, you will remember, was golden. Garbha means womb, and since Brahma was born inside a golden egg, he is also known as Hiranyagarbha.
For a thousand years Brahma stayed inside the egg. He then split the shell into two and emerged out. Heaven (svarga) was made from one half of the shell and the earth from the remaining half. All the land masses, the oceans, the rivers and the mountains, had been inside the egg in embryonic form. Brahma made them manifest.
The sun was also born. Since he was the first (adi) being to be born, he is known as Aditya. The word mrita means dead. Since the sun was born when the egg (anda) died, the sun was also known as Martanda.
Brahma‘s first act was to meditate. It was while he was meditating that the Vedas, the Puranas
and the other shastras (sacred texts) emerged from Brahma‘s mouth.
Ten sons were also born to Brahma. Created from Brahma‘s mental powers, they all became sages. Their names were Marichi, Atri, Angira, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, Pracheta, Vashishtha, Bhrigu and Narada. There were others too who were born. Daksha was born from Brahma‘s right toe. And the god Dharma was born from his chest.
But for further creation to continue, it was essential that created beings should have proper mothers and fathers. Brahma accordingly created two beings from his body, one was male and the other was female. The male half was named Svayambhuva Manu and the female half was named Shatarupa.
Shatarupa is also referred to as Savitri, Gayatri, Sarasvati or Brahmani. Since she had been born from Brahma‘s body, she was like Brahma‘s daughter. In fact, Vashishtha and the other sages who were Brahma‘s sons welcomed her as their sister. But Shatarupa was so beautiful that Brahma fell in love with her and wished to marry her.
Shatarupa circled Brahma and showed her respects to him. When she stood in front of him. Brahma gazed upon her with the face that he had. But when she went and stood behind him, Brahma could see her no longer. Another head with another face therefore sprouted behind Brahma‘s first head so that he might be able to see Shatarupa. In similar fashion, a head sprouted to Brahma‘s first head so that he might be able to see Shatarpa. In similar fashion, a head sprouted to Brahma‘s right an another one to his left. And when Shatarupa rose above him, a head sprouted towards the top as well. Thus it was that Brahma came to have five heads and five faces.
Brahma married Shatarupa and they lived together as man and wife for a hundred years. Their son was named Svayambhuva Manu.
Hearing the account, Vaivasvata Manu exclaimed. ―But what you have just said is truly amazing. How could Brahma have married his own daughter? Surely that is a sin.‖ ―Perhaps,‖ replied Vishnu, ―but it is not for humans to judge the actions of the gods. How couldreation proceed if Brahma did not marry Shatarupa?‘
To continue with the account of the creation, Brahma created a sage named Sanatakumara and Shiva. Brahma asked Shiva to help him in the act of creation. ―Why don‘t you create some beings as well?‘ asked Brahma.
Shiva complied and started to create. But all the beings that he created were just like him in appearance. That is , they were all immortal.
―What are you doing?‖ asked Brahma. ―Don‘t create immortal beings. Create mortal ones instead.‖
―That I refuse to do,‖ retorted Shiva. ―If I am to create, I shall create only immortals.‖
―Please do not create then,‖ requested Brahma. ―I will take care of creation myself.‖
Svayambhuva Manu performed very difficult tapsaya and obtained a wife named Anati. Svayambhuva Manu and Ananti had two sons named Priyavrata and Uttanapada.
From Uttanapada was descended Prachinavarhi. Prachinavarahi married Savarna, the daugther of the ocean, and they had ten sons. These sons were known as the Prachetas. The ten Prachetas married a woman named Marisha. That is, all of them had the same wife. Daksha was the son of the Prachetas and Marisha.