Saturday, September 3, 2011

Ganesha : Janus of India

It so happened that I saw the moon on chavithi, and I thought I could do better than just reading the story and so I am writing this time about Ganesha.

Ganesha known as pillaiyar to tamilians, vinayaka to Andhrites and bhudhists, herambha to jains, maha rakhta to tibetans, phra phikanet to thai, kangiten to japanese or just plainly as Ganesha to cambodians and indonesians is the god of knowledge, an embodiment of wisdom, strength, grace and innocence. Though the cults of Ganesha's called ganapatya gained popularity around the 4th and 5th centuries CE of Guptha dynasty, he inherited precursors of vedic and prevedic traits. The two main literary works done by ganapatya's are mudgala purana and Genasha purana.


Parvati giving birth ganesha. Kangra miniature
18th century (Allahabad museum)

I am going to save you the routine spiel about his birth and will tell you a beautiful interpretation of it. Parvati represents the celebrative aspect of brahman (consciousness), the name meaning mountain (parvat), the earth it self rising up in celebration. One day when she was feeling dirty, meaning that the celebration has gone out of life giving rise to feeling sadness, so she decides to take a bath. But from the dirt that comes off, she makes an idol to safeguard her ego, so she has her space and no one can get in, the usual thing we do when we are depressed, isolating themselves. This is the significance of Parvati animating her ego and asking it not to let anyone disturb her because she is feeling dirty. Lord Shiva is the protector of Parvati. So when He sees her that way with her ego standing guard, keeping the Bliss of the Self out, He does what any protector would do... Kill it.. signified by chopping the head off!, now, when you have had your ego trampled upon, you are going to feel even more hurt and bewildered, which is where Parvati flares up... to appease her and teach her, Lord Shiva replaces the child's (ego) head with an elephant head. Elephant representing grace, strength and wisdom, it is interpreted that Lord Shiva replaced her ego (ignorance) with knowledge and innocence.. hence the name Ganesha the god of knowledge and wisdom.

Though Ganesha is popularly believed to be a brahmachari, in some cultures he has 2 consorts, budhi(intellect) and sidhi(spirituality) and supposed to have 2 sons laabha(profit) and shubha(auspicious). He is sometimes associated with goddess saravati (sarda) in maharashtra and with goddess lakshmi in bengal. In some santoshi ma cultures, she is assumed to be the daughter of ganesha. While it is very easy to see in to the contextual and symbolic meaning behind these practices, real references to these beliefs are unaccounted.

Vedic and epic literature (source: wiki)

Maha Ganapathi from Sritattvanidhi

The title "Leader of the group" (Sanskrit: gaṇapati) occurs twice in the Rig Veda, but in neither case does it refer to the modern Ganesha. The term appears in RV 2.23.1 as a title for Brahmanaspati, according to commentators. While this verse doubtless refers to Brahmanaspati, it was later adopted for worship of Ganesha and is still used today. In rejecting any claim that this passage is evidence of Ganesha in the Rig Veda, Ludo Rocher says that it "clearly refers to Bṛhaspati—who is the deity of the hymn—and Bṛhaspati only". Equally clearly, the second passage (RV 10.112.9) refers to Indra, who is given the epithet 'gaṇapati', translated "Lord of the companies (of the Maruts)." However, Rocher notes that the more recent Ganapatya literature often quotes the Rigvedic verses to give Vedic respectability to Ganesha . Two verses in texts belonging to Black Yajurveda, Maitrāyaṇīya Saṃhitā (2.9.1) and Taittirīya Āraṇyaka (10.1), appeal to a deity as "the tusked one" (Dantiḥ), "elephant-faced" (Hastimukha), and "with a curved trunk" (Vakratuņḍa). These names are suggestive of Ganesha, and the 14th century commentator Sayana explicitly establishes this identification. The description of Dantin, possessing a twisted trunk (vakratuṇḍa) and holding a corn-sheaf, a sugar cane, and a club, is so characteristic of the Puranic Ganapati that Heras says "we cannot resist to accept his full identification with this Vedic Dantin". However, Krishan considers these hymns to be post-Vedic additions. Thapan reports that these passages are "generally considered to have been interpolated". Dhavalikar says, "the references to the elephant-headed deity in the Maitrāyaṇī Saṃhitā have been proven to be very late interpolations, and thus are not very helpful for determining the early formation of the deity".

Ganesha does not appear in Indian epic literature that is dated to the Vedic period. A late interpolation to the epic poem Mahabharata says that the sage Vyasa (Vyāsa) asked Ganesha to serve as his scribe to transcribe the poem as he dictated it to him. Ganesha agreed but only on condition that Vyasa recite the poem uninterrupted, that is, without pausing. The sage agreed, but found that to get any rest he needed to recite very complex passages so Ganesha would have to ask for clarifications. The story is not accepted as part of the original text by the editors of the critical edition of the Mahabharata, in which the twenty-line story is relegated to a footnote in an appendix. The story of Ganesha acting as the scribe occurs in 37 of the 59 manuscripts consulted during preparation of the critical edition. Ganesha's association with mental agility and learning is one reason he is shown as scribe for Vyāsa's dictation of the Mahabharata in this interpolation. Richard L. Brown dates the story to the 8th century, and Moriz Winternitz concludes that it was known as early as c. 900, but it was not added to the Mahabharata some 150 years later. Winternitz also notes that a distinctive feature in South Indian manuscripts of the Mahabharata is their omission of this Ganesha legend.[173] The term vināyaka is found in some recensions of the Śāntiparva and Anuśāsanaparva that are regarded as interpolations. A reference to Vighnakartṛīṇām ("Creator of Obstacles") in Vanaparva is also believed to be an interpolation and does not appear in the critical edition.

Incarnations of Ganesha

Mudgala purana talks about 8 incarnatinos of ganesha namely vakratunda, ekadanta, mahodara, gajavakra, lambodara, vikata, vighnaraja and dhumravarna. Ganesha purana talks about the following 4.

1) Mahotkata Vinayaka (Mahotkaţa Vināyaka), who has ten arms and a red complexion. Different sources list his mount (vāhana) as either an elephant or lion. He was born to Kashyapa (Kaśyapa) and Aditi in the Krita yuga. The name Kāśyapaḥ (descendant of Kaśyapa) for Ganesha refers to this incarnation.[12] This incarnation killed the demon brothers Narantaka (Narāntaka) and Devantaka (Devāntaka), as well as the demon Dhumraksha (Dhūṃrākşa).

2)Mayuresvara (Mayūreśvara), who has six arms and a white complexion. His mount is a peacock. He was born to Shiva and Parvati in the Treta yuga. He incarnates for the purpose of killing the demon Sindhu. At the end of this incarnation he gives his peacock mount to his younger brother Skanda, with whom the peacock mount is generally associated.
3)Gajanana (Gajānana), who has four arms and was born with a red complexion. He has a mouse as his mount. He is born to Shiva and Parvati in the Dvapara yuga. He incarnates for the purpose of killing the demon Sindura (Sindūra), who was so-named due to his reddish-pink complexion (see: Sindoor). It is during this incarnation that Ganesha gives the discourse known as the Ganesha Gita to King Varenya.

4)Dhumraketu (Dhūmraketu) is grey in colour, like ash or smoke (dhūmra). He has either two or four arms.[13] He has a blue horse as his mount. He will come to end the decline of the Kali yuga. During this incarnation he kills numerous demons. Grimes notes that there is a parallel between this incarnation of Ganesha and the tenth and final incarnation of Vishnu, where he will ride upon the white horse Kalki. The other difference is, lord Gajanana tells Varenya that the whole universe and all the gods are created by Gajanana and ultimately everything will come back to him including the Gods like Bramha, Vishnu and Mahesha.

Ganesha in other world religions

Jaina : Ganesha was referred to as herambha and ganavignesha around 12th centuary jainic works. In swetambhara traditions he was believed to be prayed even by the gods to get desirable things. In jaina tradition he is attributed some of the characteristics of Kubera. You can find the idols of ganesha in udayagiri and khandagiri caves of orissa, believed to be from the digambara jaina tradition. The earliest known Jaina Ganesha statue at Mathura with Jaina Yakshi Ambika(the Jaina name for Gauri) dates to about the 9th Century CE. Images of Ganesha appear in the Jaina temples of Rajasthan and Gujarat. In the tenth century Mahavir at Ghanerav and eleventh century temple in Osian, Rajasthan; Ganesha images are found.

Budhism: In budhism, ganesha is worshipped as an incarnation of budha. It is not very surprising as Gupta period saw a wide spread of budhism in india, and it is also the time when ganesha gathered popularity. Ganapati, Maha Rakta (Tibetan: tsog gi dag po, mar chen. English: The Great Red Lord of Hosts or Ganas) is a Tantric Buddhist form of Ganapati (Ganesha) related to the Chakrasamvara Cycle of Tantras. This form of Ganapati is regarded as an emanation of Avalokiteshvara.

Ganapathi, Maha raktha
"...beside a lapis lazuli rock mountain is a red lotus with eight petals, in the middle a blue rat expelling various jewels, [above] Shri Ganapati with a body red in colour, having an elephant face with sharp white tusks and possessing three eyes, black hair tied in a topknot with a wishing-gem and a red silk ribbon [all] in a bundle on the crown of the head. With twelve hands, the six right hold an axe, arrow, hook, vajra, sword and spear. The six left [hold] a pestle, bow, khatvanga, skullcup filled with blood, skullcup filled with human flesh and a shield together with a spear and banner. The peaceful right and left hands are signified by the vajra and skullcup filled with blood held to the heart. The remaining hands are displayed in a threatening manner. Wearing various silks as a lower garment and adorned with a variety of jewel ornaments, the left foot is extended in a dancing manner, standing in the middle of the bright rays of red flickering light." (Ngorchen Konchog Lhundrup, 1497–1557).

In Japan, Ganesha is considered a minor deity in the Buddhist pantheon, where he is known as Shōten (聖天), Daishokangi-ten (大聖歓喜天), Kangiten (歓喜天), Ganabachi (Ganapati), Binayaka-ten ("Vinayaka") (毘那夜迦天).[19]
Ganesha worship was brought to Japan by early Buddhists through China.[20] In Japan the Ganesha cult was first mentioned in 806 CE.[21] Scholars commonly date the presence of Ganesha in Japan with the age of Kukai (774- 834), the founder of the Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism. The centrality of the worship of Ganesha or Vinayaka or Kangiten, as he is popularly called in Japan, is a distinguishing feature of this cult. The doctrines, rituals and beliefs of the sect have a number of parallels with the cult of Ganapatya.

Dancing Ganapathi of tibet.
Ganesha can also be seen in Thailand, indonesia and cambodia in the same authority over knowledge and wisdom, though under different names but in the same form.In 1806 Sir William Jones drew a close comparison between a particular form of Ganesha, known as Ganesha-Jayanti, and Janus, the two-headed Roman god. Jones felt the resemblance between Ganesha-Jayanti and Janus was so strong that he referred to Ganesha as the "Janus of India." The Ganesha-Jayanti form is a very unusual depiction in which Ganesha is shown with the head of an elephant looking toward his right and a human head at his left. It was possessed of four arms.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Is Saraswati actually a Persian Goddess Anahita?

"Yaa Kundendu tushaara haaradhavalaa, Yaa shubhravastraavritha
Yaa veenavara dandamanditakara, Yaa shwetha padmaasana
Yaa brahmaachyutha shankara prabhutibhir Devaisadaa Vanditha
Saa Maam Paatu Saraswatee Bhagavatee Nihshesha jaadyaapahaa"
Saraswati (Nimai) of Jodhpur
          English Translation
"May Goddess Saraswati, who is fair like the jasmine-colored moon, and whose pure white garland is like frosty dew drops; who is adorned in radiant white attire, on whose beautiful arm rests the veena, and whose throne is a white lotus; who is surrounded and respected by the Gods, protect me. May you fully remove my lethargy, sluggishness, and ignorance."
In rig-veda Saraswati is explained as "Saaram vaati iti saraswati" - "She who flows towards the absolute is saraswati" - thus edifying the ability of knowledge and communication to steer one towards spiritual absolutes. River swaraswati was one of the major water causeways in the 3rd and the 4th millennium, BCE. It spread from Gulf of Khambat throughout Surkotada and Kotda and upward through Nara-Hakara-Ghaggar-Sawasvati channels, right through to Mathura. It flowed directly through Marusthali desert, one of the largest deserts in the world. This river was described in the Vedas as the "Mother of all rivers", being considered the most pure and auspicious. When this river dried up due to prevailing monsoon winds, the civilization that lived on its banks migrated to Kubha River, and renamed that river to the Avestan Saraswati (Harahvati). In Upanishads it is believed that when there was a need by the Gods to move Agni/fire to the sea, the responsibility was given to Saraswati for the purity of its water. Though the task was accomplished, some believe that the river dried up in the process.    

The Persian connection
Aredvi Sura Anahita (Arədvī Sūrā Anāhitā); the Avestan language name of an Indo-Iranian cosmological figure venerated as the divinity of 'the Waters' (Aban) and hence associated with fertility, healing and wisdom. Aredvi Sura Anahita is Ardwisur Anahid or Nahid in Middle- and Modern Persian, Anahit in Armenian. Just like Saraswati, Anahita is believed to marry her father Ahura Mezda (brahma), and both are  trivalent corresponding to elements of three functions. George Dumezil a philologist working on power structure in proto-Indo-European religion stated that Anahita in yast V 85-87 is evoked by the warriors as 'the humid, the strong and the immaculate', elements reflecting the third, the second and the first function. And he noticed a similar structure in case of Vedic Goddess Vac, defied speech, who represents herself as maintaining male gods Mitra-Varuna(first function), Indra-Agni (second function) and the two asvins (third function). It is said about Saraswati that she is the on who plants the embryo in the mother's womb.
Artemis, the virgin huntress
In Mithraic cult, Anahita was considered as the virgin mother of Mithra. Does it sound familiar?, it should be as it is believed that the earliest Christianity copied a lot of features of Mithra and attributed it to Jesus, so is the virgin birth. It is interesting to observe that December 25th a famous Persian winter festival came in to Christianity from Maithraic traditions and celebrated a Christmas.Mithraism was so popular in the Roman Empire and so similar in important aspects to Christianity that several Church fathers were compelled to address it, disparagingly of course. These fathers included Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Julius Firmicus Maternus and Augustine, all of whom attributed these striking correspondences to the prescient devil. In other words, anticipating Christ, the devil set about to fool the Pagans by imitating the coming messiah. In reality, the testimony of these Church fathers confirms that these various motifs, characteristics, traditions and myths predated Christianity.    
  Sarasvati in Japan
Benzaiten is the Japanese name for the Hindu goddess Saraswati. Worship of Benzaiten arrived in Japan during the 6th through 8th centuries, mainly via the Chinese translations of the Sutra of Golden Light, which has a section devoted to her. She is also mentioned in the Lotus Sutra and often depicted holding a biwa, a traditional Japanese lute in contrast to Saraswati who holds a stringed instrument known as a veena.    

 Saraswati and Ushas in the Harappan Seals
One of the frequently occurring signs in the seal is the compound symbol  which occurs on 236 seals. Many scholars have held that the Indus symbols are often conjugated. Thus the symbol can be seen as a compound between  and the symbol  which may represent the sceptre which designated royal authority and may thus be read as ‘Ras’. The symbol-pair   occurs in 131 texts and in many copper plate inscriptions which shows its great religious significance. The ending ‘Tri’ or ’Ti’ is significant and cannot but remind one of the great Tri-names like Saraswati and Gayatri.  As Uksha was often shortened to ‘Sa’ the sign-pair  becomes Sarasa-tri or Sarasvati.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ophion and Eurynome of The Greeks

Just as every other civilizations, the classical Greek mythology contains several accounts of the creation explaining how the universe was shaped. These creation myths give the background to the gods and goddesses that dominate Mount Olympus.

In the beginning there was nothing but a vast, dark void called Chaos. Out of the emptiness creative force emerged called Eurynome (or some consider her to be Gaia, Mother Earth), who coupled with a primal serpent called Ophion to begin the process. It is said the Eurynome took the form of a dove and laid a great egg, around which Ophion coiled to hatch Gaia the Earth, Uranus the sky, Ourea the mountains, Pontus the sea, and all other stars. After creation Eurynome and Ophion traveled to Mount Olympus and made their home there. But Ophion declared himself the sole creator of the cosmos, and Eurynome punished by banishing him to the underworld.

Mutilation of Uranus by Cronus, Giorgio Vasari
Other creation story says that Gaia was the primal creator. She and Uranus, the sky, made love and created the earliest races of creatures like the hundred headed giants, cyclopes (one eyed giants) who were skilled metal workers, titans who become powerful gods. Uranus threatened by the power and skill of titans, banished them to Tartarus, deep within earth, which caused pains to Gaia. Gaia made a great sickle and gave it to the powerful of her sons, Cronus to help her. Cronus castrated Uranus and when his blood spilled on to earth Aphrodite was born. Overthrown Uranus prophesied that Cronus would meet similar fate, so to avoid Cronus devours all his offspring. To save her sixth child from being swallowed by his father, Rhea handed Cronus Omphalos stone wrapped in swaddling clothes, hiding Zeus with his grand mother Gaia in a cave on Mount Ida, Crete.
Cronus eating his children

Greek creation myth is very similar to the Hurrian (Hittite people of Anatolia) creation myth. The sky god Anu wa castrated by his son Kumarbis, later he was deposed by his son Teshub. 

Uranus and Varuna

It is possible that Uranus was originally an indo-european god, to be identified with the vedic varuna, the supreme keeper of order who later became the god of oceans and rivers, as suggested by Georges Dumézil,[17] following hints in,The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912). His daughter Lakshmi is said to have arisen from an ocean of milk, a myth similar to the myth of Aphrodite. Both Lakshmi and Aphrodite are associated with the planet Venus.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pangu and The Primal Egg

There are several creation myths in China, but Pan Gu /P’an Ku (盘古) is most widely known as the Creator, a very philosophical account of the creation was written by Lao Tzu.
There are two most popular and influential of the Chinese Creation Myths.

The most influential of these two creation myths is included in Tao Te Ching written by Lao Tzu, who says of the universe;

“There was something undefined and complete, existing before Heaven and Earth. How still it was, how formless, standing alone and undergoing no change, reaching everywhere with no danger of being exhausted. It may be regarded as the mother of all things. Truthfully it has no name, but I call it Tao. (or The Way).”
Tao Te Ching, Chapter 25.

Tao is often compared to water: clear, colourless, unremarkable, yet all beings depend on it for life, and even the hardest stone cannot stand in its way forever. This way of thought has spawned Taoism, Chinese Buddhism as well as philosophical schools of thought.
The creation though for most is described in the tale of Pan Gu and the creation not only of heaven and earth, but of the separation of Yin and Yang.

The P'an Ku Creation story though there are many many translations and versions, goes something like this:

"In the beginning the heavens and earth were still one and all was chaos.

The universe was like a big black egg with Pan Gu asleep inside.
After 18 thousand years Pan Gu woke from his long sleep. He took a
broad axe and swung it with all his might to crack open the egg. The light part of it floated up and formed the heavens and the other, colder matter stayed below to form the earth. Pan Gu stood in the middle, his head touching the sky, his feet planted on the earth.

The heavens and the earth began to grow and Pan Gu grew with them. After another 18 thousand years the sky was higher and Pan Gu stood between the heavens and earth so they would never join again.

When he died, he filled in the rest of the world. His breath created the wind and clouds. His flesh became soil, his bones rock, and his blood filled the rivers and seas. His limbs and body became the five major mountains in China. His hair became the stars in the sky. From his sweat came the rain to nourish the land. His eyes became the sun and the moon. And finally, from the small creatures on his body, which has been equated to parasites in some translations, came man.

Others say that the half-dragon goddess Nuwa was born after Pan-gu died, from part of the mixture of yin and yang that he had separated. She decided to create humans to have some other beings to talk to and share ideas with, but mostly just to love.

Nuwa went down to the edge of the Yellow River where there were vast, soft mud banks. She began forming figures out of clay. She decided that it would be much more practical for her creations to have legs instead of a dragon tail, thus her humans were not made in her image.

No sooner did she set the first little mud man on the ground did he start to jump, and dance and sing. He began to speak. “Look at me!”

Nuwa was delighted and began making more and more humans. She made hundreds and hundreds of mud humans, but soon realized that it would take centuries for her to make enough people to fill the vast earth completely. Nuwa grabbed hold of a muddy stick and flung drops of mud across the land.

As the sun dried each drop, it became a new man or woman. Some say that these humans were the less intelligent ones. Those formed by Nuwa’s own hands became great leaders.

She told them to go and populate the earth. As they grew she loved them and protected them, and was revered as the mother of all humans."

The Pan Gu or P’an Ku myth is similar to that of Lao Tzu’s theory, as the egg or planet was still, and undisturbed, prior to Pan Gu awakening. Both of which could be seen to have existed prior to what we know now as Heaven and Earth. This creation story is one of many told across China, because of its dis-separate tribal history.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Brahmic Creation of Hinduism

Earliest of the India's creation myths are products of Aryan beliefs who migrated around 2nf millennium BC. Prajapati is a very important deity in Indian mythology, who presides over procreation and protection of life, he is identified with Brahma.

In the beginning, the god Brahma, the lord of creation spread his light around the universe and became the essence of all things. He also embodied time, presiding over a cycle of existence on a truly cosmic timescale.  One day and night of his life was said to last 4320 million human years and when this period was over, the cycle of creation would come to end as well. It is intresting to observe that Greek mythology talks about a god equivalent of Brahma the prajapathi (etymologically progeny - potentate), called Phanes (Protogonos) who has four heads as well.

Brahma meditated, contemplating what the universe would be like, and created an image based on this vision. But he realized that since he was ignorant of what the universe would actually become once it came in to existence., what he had created was merely an image of this ignorance. He discarded it, and it became Night. Soon Night began to produce dark children of its own, who  became the first demons, and they began to multiply. Brahma concentrated and started the creation all over again.

As he meditated, he gave shape to a succession of beings, such as the sun and the stars, which began to emit light to balance the darkness of Night. According to some accounts Brahma created several thousand gods of the Hindu pantheon to balance many demons. Brahma being called the Vishwakarma, also created 10 prajapatis to help him with creation. They are Marichi, Atri, Angirasa, Pulaha, Pulasthya, Krathu, Vasistha, Prachethasa, Bhrigu and Narada.

One of the beings created by Brahma to bring light in to the world was a beautiful creature called Vak (word - identified with Saraswathi). According to some version of this creation story, Brahma and Vak coupled, and while doing so, they changed form continuously and as a result they produced every kind of animal species that populate the earth. While other accounts say that Vak, considered to be the creator's daughter, was unwilling to procreate with him. When he persisted, she turned herself in to a deer and fled. Although Brahma pursued and caught upw ith her, he was unable to impregnate her with his seed, which fell to the ground and became the first man and woman.

Legends say that Vak (Saraswathi) sprung from the forehead of her father, Brahma, as did the Greek virgin goddess Athena who was born from her father, Zeus’s head. As soon as Brahma looked at this beautiful woman, he desired her, even though she was his daughter. Saraswati disliked the amorous attentions of this old god and kept dodging him, but whichever way she moved, Brahma grew a head in that direction to see her the better. As a result he grew four faces on four sides of his neck.

Creation in Qur'an and The Big Bang

The descriptions of creation in the Qur'an seem to be scientifically much ahead of their time, they engage the reader in contemplating the lessons to be learned from it. Qur'an talks about creation with an intent to draw readers attention to the order in all things, and the All-Knowing Creator Who is behind it all.

"To Him is due  
The Primal origin
of the heavens and the earth.
How can He have a son
When He hath no consort?
He created all things,
And He hath full knowledge
of all things"
(The Qur'an, Al An'am 6:101)

The Old Testament narrative is almost like a storybook; hence it starts off with the story of Creation as the beginning of the story of the mankind. The Qur’an gives a different presentation to its idea and message with regard to the story of Creation. The story of Creation is located in various places within the Qur’an, such as in Sura’ Al-Baqarah, Sura’ As-Sajdah, Sura’ Yassin and so on.The Old Testament relates the story about God creating the earth and man in six days (Genesis, 1) and that God took a rest on the seventh day (Genesis, 1-3). The Qur’an also mentions that the Creation takes place within “six days” but never says that God had to take a rest on the seventh day. (Al-Sajdah: 4, Al-A’raf: 54).

Abu Huraira reported that Allah's Messenger (mpbuh) took hold of my hands and said: Allah the Exalted and Glorious, created the clay on Saturday and He created the mountains on Sunday and He created the trees on Monday and He created the things entailing labour on Tuesday and created light on Wednesday and He caused animals to spread on Thursday and created Adam (pbuh) after 'Asr on Friday; the last creation at the last hour of the hours of Friday, ie. Between afternoon and night.

Qur'an does not discount the theory of a Big Bang to explain the nature of how things started out at first. Here it is explained that everything was one, before it was cleaved asunder to separate heaven and earth.

Gabriel and Mohammad
"Do not the Unbelievers see 
that the heavens and the earth 
were joined together (as one unit of creation), before 
We clove them asunder, and 
We made from water every living thing. 
Will they not then believe?" 
(The Qur'an, Al Anbiya 21:30) 

"It is He Who created  
the night and the day, 
and the sun and the moon. 
They swim along, each in an orbit. "  
(The Qur'an, Al Anbiya 21:33)

"And the sun runs to its resting place. 
That is the decree of the Almighty, 
the All-Knowing. " (The Qur'an, Ya Sin 36:38) 

"By the sky full of paths and orbits."  
(The Qur'an, Al Dhariyat 51:7)

"He has created the Heavens and the Earth for Truth.  
He wraps the night up in the day, and wraps the day up in the night."  
(The Qur'an, Al Zumar 39:5) 

"It is He Who created for you  
All things that are on earth  
and then directed His attention up to heaven 
and arranged it into seven firmaments.
He has knowledge of all things."
(The Qur'an, Al Baqarah 2:29)

The Qur’an and the Old Testament are similar in the case of God appointing Adam(P) as His representative on the earth. But the Qur’an has made clearer this statement than the Old Testament, more so when God said to His angels that He wants to create a vicegerent (khalifah) on the earth (Al-Baqarah: 30, Genesis, 1:26). This status did not change even when Adam(P) committed a misdeed, repented and was forgiven for it. (Qur’an, 2:37). Man is not “fallen” from the Qur’anic perspective and hence there is no need to “save” or ransom him. In the Christian view however, Adam’s(P) misdeed is the basis for the doctrine of Original Sin, the beginning of mankind’s fall into a state of sin, a flowing from faith in a salvic drama that happened in the past.

The Qur'an states that the Creation of Adam was preceded by the creation of the angels and the jinn (such non-natural unseen world), as it stated that the creation of the angles was done from light and that of the jinn was done from fire. Accepting that the creation of the human being started from mud, we should accept these statements too. The Qur'an also states that Satan (Shaitan) was a Jinn who worshipped God sincerely. So, God gave him a close rank to God’s angles. However, Satan is converted to be an evil after he disobeyed one of the God’s commands. God ordered all the angles, and Satan was close to them, to bow in respect to Adam who was gifted a spiritual breath from God. All of them obeyed God’s command but the Satan did not. He refused doing that because of his arrogance and short sight, thinking that his origin from fire is better than Adam’s origin from mud. So, the Satan was expelled from the angle’s companion in the Paradise. He and his tribe bore hatred to Adam and his offspring. So, the Satan became an enemy for the whole of mankind. He tries to convert any man to commit the same arrogance which he committed. It is done through his abilities to the invisible temptation of man in every moment.

Nasadiya creation Hymn from Rigveda

There was neither non-existence nor existence then.
There was neither the realm of space nor the sky which is beyond.
What stirred?
In whose protection?
Was there water, bottlemlessly deep?

There was neither death nor immortality then.

There was no distinguishing sign of night nor of day.
That One breathed, windless, by its own impulse.
Other than that there was nothing beyond.

Darkness was hidden by darkness in the beginning,

with no distinguishing sign, all this was water.
The life force that was covered with emptiness,
that One arose through the power of heat.

Desire came upon that One in the beginning,
that was the first seed of mind.
Poets seeking in their heart with wisdom
found the bond of existence and non-existence.

Their cord was extended across.

Was there below?
Was there above?
There were seed-placers, there were powers.
There was impulse beneath, there was giving forth above.
Who really knows?
Who will here proclaim it?
Whence was it produced?
Whence is this creation?
  The gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe.
Who then knows whence it has arisen?

Whence this creation has arisen 
 - perhaps it formed itself, or perhaps it did not -
 the One who looks down on it, 
 in the highest heaven, only He knows 
or perhaps even He does not know.

The honesty in Vedic rendition of creation amazes me, as it comprehends the theory of creation asserting the limitation of human mind. The negative assertion "Who then knows whence it has arisen?" is an attempt by the seers to penetrate the barrier of being and enter into non-being and God without his creation. I consider it the most mature and objective stance on the nature of existence.  I was also surprised by the strong resemblances of biblical creation theories with Nasadiya hymns, only strengthening my belief of common ancestry.