Vedic Cosmology, Part 2
BY: SHESHA DAS
Bhu Mandala – The Round Earth
In our last presentation we looked at the Vedic conception of the World, or Jagat, and its correlation with modern scientific views and discoveries. Scientific approach toward knowledge that was given to us by sages and yogis of the past will help us to have a better picture of our Solar world. When we say “Scientific approach”, we mean not rejection of Vedic views, but understanding of it in the light of modern discoveries. It is important to know what exactly Rishis of the past could see, know or describe for us. However, Vedic scriptures have some specialties of understanding. For example, the description of our Universe in the fifth canto of Srimad Bhagavatam is not a monolithic scientific treatise but a conglomerate of knowledge and views about physical and metaphysical realities. Thus, for example, Shukadeva Gosvami says that many of his descriptions are not his personal experiences, but views of different sages of past and present, which sometimes do not correlate well.
Also, it is very important to properly understand the principle of description of different places of the universe, as given in the Vedas and Srimad Bhagavatam, specially. Thus in modern times, while describing some places of the Universe, we got used to the view of astronauts looking from orbit on the planet. However Sages, while describing different planets or places of existence, describe them from the point of view of inhabitants of these places. For example, the astronaut while describing our Earth would say that this is a round planet, surrounded by air and covered by oceans of liquid. That it is rotating around a star and around its axis, etc. However the Vedic yogi, while visiting Earth in his “yogic” body, would say that Earth is flat, sky is blue, that the air is full of wonderful scents. That the Sun is rising over the horizon and after passing over, sets down. That the Earth is surrounded by oceans of salted water, etc. Thus most of these narrations are not scientific treatises but attempts of description of how inhabitants feel and see their world in those places.
Another important consideration is that rishis describe the world in its different phases of existence. Thus our world, continent or even our place as well as their descriptions could be quite different. Also it is important to understand the starting point of reference. For example, mount Meru for our planet.
Returning to the subject of discussion – BHU-MANDALA, lets correct some misunderstandings. One devotee in previous posts tried to prove that the word “mandala” always means disc. However Caitanya-caritamrta Adi 5.34 used the word “SURYA-MANDALA” – Sun globe (author there is very specific that it is a globe). Also in Bhagavatam 5.24.2 used the words “TARANER MANDALAM” – Sun globe. But while describing the Sun even well knowing that it is a round, globe-like shape we still say “Sun’s disc”. Otherwise what shape are Sun, Moon or stars.
So what about Bhu-mandala, Prithvi, Mahi or as we call Her –the Earth. Well, let’s look at the compass. The compass always points at one place as North and always at another as South. This proves that Earth is a sphere and not a disc. If Earth would be a disc, the compass would not “work”. With North in the center of Bhu-mandala, South of compass would be pointing to all different places on the boundaries of the disc. BUT, a compass “works” normally. North is in one place and South also always is in one place. It is possible only with 3D subjects. SO, our conclusion is that the Earth is a globe, round or “mandala”.
Next, from Bhagavatam we understand that for us humans, the given place for living is the surface or flat part of “round Earth” (Bhu-Mandala). Thus people are living on the plane of Earth, or as Srila Prabhupada said: “wherever I go it is always flat”.
So, according to the Vedas, for men in gross material bodies, the place for existence was the surface of our Planet. Originally it was one super continent surrounded by saltwater ocean. Later, by endeavor of the sons of king Sagara, from it separated eight large parts. Modern scientists came to the same conclusion and called it ‘continental shift’. The central part was called JAMBU-DVIPA – Island of Water rose apples. The reason for that is not today’s subject.
What is interesting for us is, that according to Srimad Bhagavatam (5.21.10), the center of all this super continent or Jambu-dvipa is mount Meru or Sumeru. Also, Meru or Sumeru is the center of all Bhu-mandala – earthly plane. For observers on Earth, the Sun circulates Meru in a circle, which length is 95,100,000 yojans (appr. 1,236,300,000 km depending on the length of yojana). Using simple calculation (r=L/2p) we see that the distance from the Sun to Meru is surprisingly close toward the distance between Sun and Earth according to modern understanding. More than that, the length of Earth’s orbit around the Sun according to modern calculations is relatively close to the length of orbit of Sun around Mount Meru. Thus we can understand that it is not Sun goes round Earth, but Earth goes round Sun and rotates around its axis.
Next is very interesting. That what is Meru or center of the world for those living on Earth is the North Pole for the cosmic observer. It is the place through which passes earthly axis, round which Earth is rotating. Today the North Pole or center of Jambu-dvipa is situated in a different place. But originally, great Mount Meru was the center of the super continent. This forces us to look at Vedic information from a different perspective. Thus, in Rig Veda we find descriptions of half year days and same nights. Different climate and Earth’s atmosphere are also mentioned. Sadaputa Prabhu mentions Pamir Montians as Meru placement. It seems true, as supported by Mahabharata. Thus, in a description of the retirement of the Pandavas it is mentioned that they left Dvaraka, then by a north path they crossed the Himalayas, saw the “sea of sand” (Gobi desert) and then saw “best of Mountain” – the MERU. It is would be very interesting to organize an expedition to find that place, but in any way it is somewhere there.
At the end, it could be interesting, that Bhagavatam describes that over Earth’s surface, from the height where air is finished, starts a plane habituated by different bodiless living entities, spirits, etc. Next, far from Earth’s surface up to 260,000 km away is a space where are situated Siddhis -those travelling among worlds, Vidyadharas –keepers of knowledge and technologies and Charanas. Also some Yakshas – keepers of gods’s “treasures” are living in high mountain regions. Next comes Rahu.
And most interesting is that according to Bhagavatam (5.24.2), Rahu is situated between Earth and Sun and it is approximately 390,000 km from earth. This is the same distance of Moon from the Earth according to modern calculations! Immediately comes to memory Srila Prabhupada’s phrase: “They landed not on the Moon, but on Rahu”. What is interesting is that according to Bhagavatam (5.24.1), Rahu is governed by “most abominable of all asuras”. Therefore we can question, how friendly towards us are those UFOs that inhabit the Moon?
And last, I would like to mention that this presentation is not for the sake of debate, but to make the reader more interested in Vedic tradition.
Sep 10, 2016 — SAINT-PETERSBURG, RUSSIA (SUN) —
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Vedic Cosmology ( 1 )
BY: SHESHA DAS
Jagat – the Life Place
While we are trying to understand the Vedic conception of the world and universe, it is very important to know terminology that is used in the Vedas and Puranas, as well as that used by modern humanity. Also it is important to understand if the Vedas speak only about one reality or if the sages described multi-dimensional reality.
To start with, let us look at the word “jagat”, that is probably most often used in Vedic tradition. It has many translations, such as “cosmic manifestation”, “universe”, etc., but usually it is translated as the word “world”, or place of life, place where life is possible, place where life can exist. However, the modern understanding of “world” usually refers to some type of exoplanet, with possible existence of forms of life known to us, or similar ones.
The Vedic conception of “jagat” or “world” is a bit different. Thus jagat or “place where existence is possible” is a place with one Sun and “stars” that reflect its light. Therefore “jagat” or “the world” is a solar system or properly, “solar world”. Srimad Bhagavatam5.20.43-46 clearly says that the Sun is the base of life for devas, humans, animals and plants. Sometimes we find description of planets and planes of existence in Vedic tradition and in modern science, but clearly it is only a partial look, since on the gross plane nothing can exist without Sun. So “jagat” – it is the world of Solar System.
But, what about “stars”, what are their nature? According to the Vedas, “stars” are cosmic bodies that reflect the light of the Sun. Amazingly, this nicely correlates with the modern understanding of planets in the solar system with their respective satellites. However for understandable reasons the nature of these “stars” are not described in detail.
So, can we call “jagat” or our “solar world” a universe? The Vedas describe that there exist many such solar worlds and they are clustered relatively close to each other, just like grapes in a bunch. But usually the Vedas describe the existence of only our particular solar world. In modern understanding also, suns are grouped in galactic formations and situated relatively close to each other.
But what about size of our jagat or place of living? Is it limited or not? The Vedas clearly say that yes, it is limited. According to Srimad Bhagavatam, the distance of effective solar radiation of light and heat is 1,625,000,000 km for the Sun. After that there begins Aloka-varsa – a place where there is no existence. In modern understanding it is the approximate distance to Saturn. So in the Vedic tradition there is a clear understanding that although the Sun, being in the center of “world”, maintains life all over it, its ability is not unlimited, but limited to a certain distance from it. Modern science also maintains the same understanding, that is called Heliosphere, or space with effective solar radiation.
However, according to the Vedas, the solar world is not only that which we see with our eyes. Solar system or place of existence is divided into a few places, regions or dimensions best suited for different forms of life. For example, on Bhu-loka (the Earth) – the place where souls can live in gross bodies– it is Earth’s surface with a few kilometers over it. However Earth is a multi-dimensional body. According to the Vedas, the Earth is surrounded by a dimension of stable formations called “islands”, invisible to the gross eye. These “islands” have a shape like discs and look like the discs of Saturn. They are extremely steady and in corresponding dimension are perceived just like we are perceiving our grounds. On these “islands” live huge numbers of humans, but in appropriate bodies. Some manifestations on these “islands” have truly cosmic size.
It is interesting that some modern esoteric people describe visions of similar formations around Earth on a subtle plane.
It is also important to remember that the great sages and yogis of Vedic times were living in few dimensions simultaneously. Those planes of existence were equally real and important for them. Even sometimes subtle dimensions were more important. Therefore many descriptions of our planet include major parts of subtle parts of the world. Thus Sukadeva Gosvami in Srimad Bhagavatam very elaborately describes Bhu-mandala or a system of disc-like formations around the Earth, where souls in different shapes live peacefully. But that is another discussion… Yogis in a state of samadhi could fly in space in their subtle bodies and visit inhabitants of those places. Life there often seems to them more real than short life on this planet in a gross body. But besides Bhu-mandala, there are places were devas are living, or Deva-loka, places of great sages etc.
Thus we only closely looked at an understanding of the word and concept of “jagat” or “world for living”.
I hope that this short presentation causes you to look at the Vedic conception of universe with a clear mind and scientific approach. In a time when people go around the globe in airplanes, ships or even balloons, we have to have a clear understanding of the flat Earth conception. I hope some devotees can visit those places on Bhu-mandala and share with us their experiences.
There is much more very interesting Vedic information in the scriptures to look at, but it goes to natural history category, and not religion.
Jul 28, 2016 — SAINT-PETERSBURG, RUSSIA (SUN) —
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