Where and when in India did the concept of universe with no beginning and no end was defined?

Not sure if it is in the Suttas. Did the Buddha believed that the Universe had no beginning and no end.
Was it an existing concept before the time of the Buddha?

Hi alaber,

Yes. Here are the corresponding suttas :

Btw it’s chapter one of book : In the Buddha’s word by bikkhu Bodhi


Dear Alaber,

To be precise, the Buddha says the world has “no discoverable beginning”. This is subtly but importantly different form saying it has no beginning. One is an empirical claim, the other metaphysical speculation.

With metta.


Dear Ajahn Brahmali,
Thanks for correcting and adding the important prefix ‘discoverable’. But in passages of buddha remembering his past lives, he said, " I recollected my manifold past lives, that is, one birth, two births, three births, four births, five births, ten births, twenty births, thirty births, forty births, fifty births, a hundred births, a thousand births, a hundred thousand births, many aeons of world-contraction, many aeons of world-expansion, many aeons of world-contraction and expansion "
Expansion and contraction of world, sometimes confuses me, it sounds like Big Bang ? How does it fit in no discoverable beginning statement.

With metta,

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Dear Shivam,

Well, the Buddha is saying that he knows this too as result of the recollection of past lives. So again, it’s really an empirical claim.

With metta.


Thanks for your response dear Ven.
With much gratitude and respect.

As for @alaber’s question, I would have to say I’m not sure. The Ṛg Veda doesn’t go into such cosmological issues all that much. There is, however, the famous passage of the Nasadiya Sukta:

This is clearly a precursor to the note of empirical caution which, as stated above by @Brahmali, the Buddha made explicit. It’s perhaps less clear that it refers to a “long cycle”, as familiar in Buddha texts, but at least it is paving the way.

I haven’t studied the Upaniṣads for this question, so couldn’t say with any certainty. But generally they have a varied cosmology, and while they do have some creation myths that deal with a specific event, there is no reason these could no be subsumed within a larger cyclical cosmology.


It seems modern science seems to accept the idea of “many aeons of world-contraction, many aeons of world-expansion, many aeons of world-contraction and expansion”. This video explores this topic: