4. He, whose power is measureless, being thus asked by the high-minded great sages, duly honoured them, and answered, 'Listen!'
5. This (universe) existed in the shape of Darkness, unperceived, destitute of distinctive marks, unattainable by reasoning, unknowable, wholly immersed, as it were, in deep sleep.
5. The account of the creation given in verses 5–13 bears, as Dr. Muir remarks (Sanskrit Texts, IV, p. 26), some resemblance to that contained in some passages of the Satapatha-brâhmana, especially XI, 1, 6, 1 seqq., and is probably founded on some Vedic work, 'with an intermixture of more modern doctrines.' In explanation of the wording of verse 5, Medh. and Kull. point to passages like Rv. X, 129, 3, and Taittirîya-brâhmana II, 8, 9, 4. Sâyana, too, quotes the verse in his commentary on the latter passage.
The commentators Medh. and Gov. explain the fact that Manu, being asked to expound the law, gives an account of the creation, by the supposition that it is intended to show what a great scope the work has, and how necessary its study is, as the production of the various created beings depends on merit and demerit. Kull., on the other hand, tries to prove that the account of the creation, which belongs to the knowledge of the supreme soul, is part of the sacred law, and hence properly finds its place here. All the commentators, with the exception of Râgh., explain tamah, 'darkness,' by mûlaprakritih, 'the root-evolvent' of the Sâmkhya philosophy, and tamobhûtam, 'in the shape of darkness,' by 'absorbed in the root-evolvent.' Râgh., who throughout explains Manu's sayings in the sense of the Vedânta school, takes it for an equivalent of avidyâ, 'ignorance.' The explanation of the four adjectives, which express in different terms the impossibility of knowing the mûlaprakriti, differs very much in the six commentaries. The most reasonable appears to be Kullûka's view, who assumes that the four words refer to the impossibility of attaining a knowledge of the prakriti by the three means mentioned below, XII, 105, and 'by reasoning' (tarka). He paraphrases apragñâta, 'unperceived,' by 'imperceptible by the senses;' alakshana, 'destitute of marks,' by 'uninferrible;' avigñeya, ' unknowable,' by 'undefinable by words or authoritative statement.'