Long, long ago in the spiritual sky, Vishnu was lying down. He was resting on his couch, the great snake called Ananta. As Vishnu breathed out, all the universes came out of his mouth. They were like thousands of soap bubbles floating in the sky.
Vishnu entered into each universe. He filled it with water, and lay down there, floating on top. From his navel, grew a huge, pink lotus flower. In the petals of that lotus, Lord Brahma, the creator, was born. Brahma woke up and saw only darkness all around him. He prayed to Vishnu. Vishnu, who was also inside Brahma’s heart, spoke to him, telling him how to create the universe.
First Brahma created the gods who were to run the universe. He made Chandra, the moon god, and Surya, the sun god, and placed them in the heavens to bring night and day. He made the different stars, and sewed them onto the night sky like glittering diamonds. He made the planets, such as Mercury, Venus, the Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. He hurled them, like balls, far into space.
Then Brahma made other gods, such as Vayu, the god of wind, Agni, the god of fire, and Varuna, the god of the waters. He made other gods and goddesses who were to fill the universe with living beings. The goddesses gave birth to six types of living beings. First came humans. Some of them, such as the angels, lived in the heavenly worlds and others, like us, on planet earth. Then came the animals, and later the birds. After them, the goddesses gave birth to insects and reptiles, then fish, and finally all kinds of plants. As the gods and goddesses made these different bodies, the god Shiva breathed a soul into every one, to give it life. These souls pass from one body to another, trying to find happiness in this world. Some of them, when in a human body, look for God and go back to the spiritual world. This is called moksha, liberation.
After a long time, Brahma will go to sleep and the universe will also sleep. Then he will awake and the universe also wakes up. Finally, after a very long time, when Vishnu breathes in, Brahma dies and all the universes are destroyed. But that is not the end. Winter is the end of the year, but spring comes again. In the same way, after the universes are destroyed, Vishnu breathes out and again creates all the universes. This cycle goes on forever, just as one year follows another.