Bhagavata Cosmology

author: Pavaneshwar Das
edition: 2018, Tulsi Books
pages: 340
ISBN-10: 9381283591
ISBN-13: 9789381283592
Topic: Vaishnavism

Introduction

Modern Western science is based on the idea that nature can be fully described by a single, rational world-model. However, the Srimad-Bhagavatam (Bhagavatapurana) points out that no person of this world is capable of fully describing the material universe "even in a lifetime as long as that of Brahma" (SB 5.16.4). Thus the Vedic approach to the description of nature is based on the strategy of presenting many mutually compatible aspects of one humanly indescribable complete whole. This is the approach used in Srimad-Bhagavatam while explaining the details of cosmology. The Universe described in the Vedic literature is higher-dimensional and beyond the range of our sense perception, thus it cannot be fully represented within three-dimensional space or within sense perceivable pictorial description. This requires the understanding of higher dimensional representation.

It was Srila Prabhupada's earnest desire to explain the complex descriptions of the Fifth Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam through the construction of a very large "Vedic Planetarium", a working 3D Model. Srila Prabhupada also desired that detaile information shall be presented on open verandas at different levels by means of dioramas, charts and films, etc. This is evident from Srila Prabhupada's letter given below.

"Now our Ph.D.'s must collaborate and study the Fifth Canto to make a model for building the Vedic Planetarium. My final decision is that the universe is just like a tree, with root upwards. Just as a tree has branches and leaves, so the universe is also composed of planets which are fixed up in the tree like the leaves, flowers, fruits, etc .... So now all you Ph.D.’s must carefully study the details of the Fifth Canto and make a working model of the universe. If we can explain the passing seasons, eclipses, phases of the moon, passing of day and night, etc., then it will be very powerful propaganda" (letter from Srila Prabhupada to Suarupa Damodara ddsa, April 27, 1976).

Keeping all these viewpoints in mind and to fulfill the desire of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada, many of his followers did lot of research to understand and explain the cosmology presented in the Fifth Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam in scientific way. In the initial days, His Grace Sadaputa Prabhu (Richard L. Thompson) presented his explanations in his book "Vedic Cosmography and Astronomy" and attempted to bridge the gap between the western and the Vedic science I astronomy. In the introduction of that book, he says "In this book we will discuss the cosmology presented in the Fifth Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam and try to clarify its relationship with other prominent systems of cosmology" both ancient and modern." Later on His Holiness Danavir Goswami (Dr. Dane Holtzman) also did lot of research on the cosmology presented in Srimad-Bhagavatam and other Puranic literatures. He presented the traditional Vedic astronomy through his various books such as " Vedic Cosmology, Puranic Cosmology and Bhugola Tattva, Acaryas Commentaries on Fifth Canto, etc ... " Taking inspiration from the works of these great scholars and taking references from their books, we have tried to describe the structure of the Universe as it is presented in the Srimad-Bhagavatam and other Puranas.

His Grace Drutakarrna Prabhu (Michael A. Cremo) is a research associate of the Bhaktivedanta Institute, specialized in history and philosophy of science. He authored 'Human Devolution' and co-authored 'Forbidden Archaeology—The Hidden History of the Human Race'. He lectures to academic and popular scientific audiences around the world in a continuing challenge to Darwinian evolution. He says that, "Most of the scientists and academics, though supporting the theory of evolution, are more open-minded and willing to consider alternatives. I see a new consciousness emerging that integrates science and religion into a cohesive paradigm of reality." When he was asked about his perspective on 'the change in the popular subjects such as human origins being taught in school textbooks', he responded saying that, there should be some diversity of ideas in the science curriculum and the views of the supporters of the alternatives should also be presented neutrally in a small minority of textbook pages and classroom time. This would reflect the actual realities in the world of science today and it would also respect the value of intellectual freedom. He further says "I find the university students very receptive to the idea that alternatives to the theory of evolution should have a place in the science curriculum. These young students will eventually become the new generation of leaders in the world of science and education. I ask them to work for change in the science curriculum."

Taking inspiration from his thoughts we are trying to present a Vedic alternative to the Modern Cosmology, the Bhagavata Cosmology, based on the descriptions given in the Srimad-Bhagavatam and other Vedic literatures. Let the reader carefully study these Vedic descriptions and compare it with the modern understanding of the Cosmology.

People in general see the 'words of the revealed scriptures' through their 'experience in this world'. One of the purposes of presenting this book is to enhance this perspective and develop a more harmonized way of approaching the revealed scriptures, especially when it comes to the complex description about the creation, cosmology and astronomy. Therefore, studying these Vedic descriptions will enable us to 'experience the world' through the 'words of the revealed scriptures'.

Srila Prabhupada would often say that, only when one understands the greatness of the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna properly, then only one can invest ones firm faith in Him. Otherwise one may mistake Lord Krsna to be one of the many demigods, or a commom man like us, or a powerful historical personality, or a myth only. Thus unless one understands Supreme Lord Sri Krsna's greatness properly one cannot appreciate His sweetness of Vrndavana, Otherwise there is a great chance that one will end up considering Lord Krsna's sweet pastimes of Vrndavana to be simply some mundane activities or some fairy tales narrated to entertain the mind. Or one may end up developing the mentality of sahajiyas, who simply try to enter into Krsna-lila artificially without considering one's current conditioning.

Srila Prabhupada always recommended that a sincere reader of Srimad-Bhagavatam must always start reading with the First Canto and then progressively go to the Tenth Canto, instead of directly jumping to Tenth Canto. Because without understanding the position of Lord Krsna, which is systematically described and established in the first nine Cantos of Srimad-Bhagavatam, if one directly enters into Tenth Canto pastimes, he / she is sure enough to be bewildered by seeing Lord Krsna's human like pastimes, which appear to be very ordinary, or one may consider His Super Human feats to be simply an exaggeration. Thus there is a great danger in directly jumping to Tenth Canto simply to relish Vrja-lila without firmly establishing oneself in the siddhanta properly.

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