The Gita describes in symbolic terms the process by which the Absolute undertakes to manifest the world of forms, through the creation of, as Sri Aurobindo puts it, “…intelligence powers of that divine Wisdom which has evolved all things out of its own self-conscious infinitude…developed them down the range of the seven principles of its own essence.” These principles are called the seven great Rishis or seers, and they are supposed to be ancient beyond recorded history, progenitors of the world and all its creatures. “These Rishis embody the all-upholding, all-illumining, all-manifesting seven Thoughts of the Veda….” These seven principles are Sat-Chit-Ananda (Existence-Consciousness-Bliss) in the “upper hemisphere”, the Vijnana or Supramental principle which straddles the upper and the lower hemisphere and provides the organizing forms for the lower hemisphere, and the lower hemisphere of Mind-Life and Matter.
The next series of creative principles are called the 4 Manus, the “fathers” of men. They are “mental beings. Creators of all this life that depends on manifests or latent mind for its action, from them are all these living creatures in the world; all are their children and offspring….” They, as also the seven Rishis, are created by Brahma in the traditional lore.
These principles and forces originate in the Supreme Soul: “And these great Rishis and these Manus are themselves perpetual mental becomings of the supreme Soul and born out of his spiritual transcendence into cosmic Nature,–originators, but he the origin of all that originates in the universe. Spirit of all spirits, Soul of all souls, Mind of all mind, Life of all life, Substance of all form, this transcendent Absolute is no complete opposite of all we are, but, on the contrary, the originating and illuminating Absolute of all the principles and powers of our and the world’s being and nature.”
Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part I, Chapter 7, The Supreme Word of the Gita, pg. 333