Modern Science and the Vedas

narasingha-kusamsarovara4inBy Swami B. G. Narasingha

In 1959 two American atomic scientists, Dr. Emillo Segre and Dr. Owen Chamberlain, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of the antiproton, proving (theoretically) that matter exists in two forms—as particles and antiparticles. According to one of the fundamental assumptions of the new theory, there may exist another world, or an anti-world, built up of antimatter. This antimaterial world would consist of atomic and subatomic particles spinning in reverse orbits to those of the world we know. If these two worlds should ever clash, they would both be annihilated in one blinding flash.

That same year (1959) A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada published a small essay, Easy Journey to Other Planets. He began this work by quoting the above information and went on to say that indeed, two worlds did exist, the material and the spiritual, but the nature of the spiritual world was that it could never be annihilated.

I first read Easy Journey to Other Planets in 1969 and for many years after that I wondered why there hadn’t been further research into the concept of antiparticles or anti-worlds. Almost 40 years later I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the theory of anti-worlds has been a hot topic of physics research all those years and remains so even today. In fact, the anti-world theory now occupies a prominent place in theoretical physics as the multiverse hypothesis, sometimes known as parallel universes.

Progress, however, in the multiverse hypothesis hasn’t been much to write home about. Concepts keep changing and no one has yet to make actual contact with a multiverse or parallel universe. In other words, there haven’t been any tangible results in the field of multiverse research. But of course, the scientists (physicists) who are doing the research are worthy of respect, honor, great laudations, and sizable salaries because, even though unable to actually prove their theories, they are great and deserve the perks of greatness, because they are able to think about such lofty concepts. They are great minds.

But what about the writers and commentators of Vedic literature who spoke of the antimaterial world (paravyoma and Vaikuntha) many centuries before the great minds of the west even realized that the Earth wasn’t flat! Aren’t those Vedic seers worthy of being counted as great thinkers, great minds, and men of scientific fiber? If so, then why do we not give them their due and, more importantly, why do today’s scientists, physicists, and researchers not pay closer attention to their ancient achievements? I don’t have the answer for that.

In addition to parallel universes, let’s look at some of the Vedic concepts and achievements that have become trends in modern scientific disciplines and even quintessential to science itself.

In Kapila-deva’s system of Sankhya, the analytical study of material nature, matter develops from subtle to gross. The qualities of an element exist before the gross manifestation of the element. That is quite different than the way most of us think of matter. For example, aroma is the quality of earth and we therefore think that first there is the substance earth and then the aroma. But in the Sankhya, or Vedic way of thinking, it is just the opposite. First there exists the quality of aroma and then earth is manifest—everything begins from the subtle plane and moves toward the gross. The subtlest aspect of matter in Sankhya is vibration—also thought of as a sound vibration or frequency. That most subtle existence that precedes every and all aspects of matter is a vibration or sound called tan-matra. In layman’s terms, in Sankhya, a vibration or sound lies at the basis of matter. Everything springs from that original vibration—the basis of everything lies in sound.

Respectively, string theory (a developing branch of theoretical physics that combines quantum mechanics and general relativity into a quantum theory of gravity) has connotations similar to the Sankhya conception of tan-matra, or sound vibration being the basis of matter.

Then there is the theoretical physics concerning  dark matter or the missing mass in the universe. Physicists conclude, based on research, that as much as eighty percent of the mass of this universe has gone missing or is undetectable. Simply put, to account for the amount of gravity in the universe, eighty percent more matter than is visible is required. Where is it?

The first person to provide evidence and infer the existence of a phenomenon that has come to be called dark matter was Swiss astrophysicist Fritz Zwicky of the California Institute of Technology in 1933. Zwicky applied the viral theorem to the Coma cluster of galaxies and obtained evidence of unseen mass. Zwicky estimated the cluster’s total mass based on the motions of galaxies near its edge and compared that estimate to one based on the number of galaxies and total brightness of the cluster. He found that there was about four hundred times more estimated mass than was visually observable. The gravity of the visible galaxies in the cluster would be far too small for such fast orbits, so something extra was required. This is known as the “missing mass problem.” Based on these conclusions, Zwicky inferred that there must be some non-visible form of matter that would provide enough of the mass and gravity to hold the cluster together. That was the beginning for the search for dark matter.

Seventy-six years later, science is still looking for dark matter. They know it is literally everywhere, but it escapes detection and thus they are unable to observe it. Millions of taxpayer’s dollars are spent every year by Western superpowers in the search for dark matter. Nothing has turned up yet.

On a parallel platform, Sankhya identifies a material element that among its other qualities is, for the most part, elusive (emphasis on elusive). It is everywhere (all-pervading) but at the same time undetectable (ethereal). That element in Sankhya is called nabhas, or as mentioned in Bhagavad-gita, kham.

The activities/qualities and characteristics of the kham element in Sankhya can be observed as accommodating space/room for existence. Space itself, both internal and external, is the element kham. This then, if taken notice of by physicists, may very well fit nicely into the ‘missing mass problem’. Kham, being a material element, could theoretically be assigned a numerical code in the periodic table of elements like everything else; then they might find what they are looking for.

In the Vedic way of thinking the physical element is secondary to its qualities—when the qualities of a particular thing are understood, it is as good as or better than having the grosser subject at hand. In that sense modern science has already discovered dark matter, because they have understood something of its qualities… they just haven’t realized it yet.

In the Srimad Bhagavatam we find the following verse:

bhutanam chidra-datrtvam bahir antaram eva ca pranendriyatma-dhisnyatvam nabhaso vrtti-laksanam

The activities and characteristics of the ethereal element can be observed as accommodation for the room for the external and internal existences of all living entities, namely the field of activities of the vital air, the senses, and the mind.1

In his purport to this verse, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada says that the Sankhya understanding of nabhas or kham (that he has called in English ‘the ethereal element’) is the basis for great scientific research: “This verse is the potential basis of great scientific research work, for it explains how subtle forms are generated from the ethereal element (nabhah), what their characteristics and actions are, and how the tangible elements, namely air, fire, water, and earth, are manifested from the subtle form.”

Sankhya does not simply list the basic material elements, but it explains quite scientifically how those elements evolve from the subtlest plane of existence up to the divisions of the universe—this is quite elaborate and scientific indeed.

Yet for science to take full advantage of the Sankhya understanding of matter and to discover how the universe came into being, they will have to do more than just add kham and nabhas to their list of elements, they will have to add ahankara (ego), mana (the mind), and buddhi (intelligence) to their table of elements for, indeed, Sankhya lists these as material elements. However, these elements are categorized as even more subtle than kham, because they are closer in character to atma, consciousness.

Beyond the gross and subtle material elements being added to the scientific table of elements, Sankhya says that a complete understanding of existence, of reality, is not possible without adding two transcendental, anti-material concepts—namely atma and Paramatma (consciousness and super-consciousness). This, it seems, science struggles with even more than dark matter. We have dubbed it “light matter.”

The most intriguing physics discovery by far has to be the theory of the warp drive, or the Alcubierre drive, named after its inventor, the Mexican theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre Moya. Most of us know about the Warp Drive from science fiction movies like Star Trek and Contact, but Moya had the real deal.

In his 1994 physics paper, Moya proposed a method of stretching space in a wave that would in theory cause the fabric of space ahead of a spacecraft to contract and the space behind it to expand. The ship would ride this wave inside a region known as a warp bubble of flat space. Since the ship is not moving within this bubble, but carried along as the region itself moves, conventional relativistic effects such as time dilation do not apply in the way they would in the case of a ship moving at high velocity through flat space-time. Also, this method of travel does not actually involve moving faster than light in a local sense, since a light beam within the bubble would still always move faster than the ship; it is only faster than light in the sense that, thanks to the contraction of the space in front of it, the ship could reach its destination faster than a light beam restricted to traveling outside the warp bubble. Thus, the Alcubierre drive does not contradict the conventional claim that relativity forbids a slower-than-light object to accelerate to faster-than-light speeds.

Pretty neat stuff—and NASA certainly thought so, mounting their “time warp” program at a cost of many millions of dollars for more than a decade before they finally gave it up. “Yes, time warp is possible,” they said, “We just can’t do it!” Shucks!

But we are not surprised to find this same theory mentioned many thousands of years ago in the Vedic literature as a siddhi, or mystic perfection, by which one can travel to another planet or another galaxy without conventional propulsion and in zero time.

One may argue that although this is mentioned in the Vedas, it is doubtful that they were able to do it. That argument could be applied, but first one should realize that they could think about it thousands of years before NASA. Whether they could do it or not is irrelevant. After all, NASA was only thinking about it—they never actually did it either.

See the fun: Vedic knowledge is easily dismissed or not recognized at all. These are simply stories and myths they say, but theoretical physics or science, now that’s something you can believe in!

It might be fair to ask, “Who writes this stuff?” Have the intelligent people in this world forgotten how to think for themselves? Have we simply become the faithful followers of whatever “science” has to say? Have we lost our reason and logic? Apparently some have!

If we were to list all the scientific discoveries that Vedic civilization has given to the world, some in common use today like the one, the zero, the binary system, calculations regarding astronomical phenomena, and more yet to be discovered or understood like the Warp Drive theory, then this article would become a book. So here we stop.

This article was originally published on gosai.com as issue 92 in the Krishna Talk series.

Related Articles:
Dark Energy Anyone?
Dark Matter, Mystic Matter
The Search for Dark Energy and Dark Matter (video)

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58 Responses to Modern Science and the Vedas

  1. Maharaja mentions Sankhya. Scholars says this is the oldest of the six darsans of ancient India. Its its basic analysis of nature and her constituents has been adopted by the other schools of thought, of which Vedanta darsana and Yoga darsana are prominent today. India’s Buddhism also embraced sankhya’s analysis of nature.

    However, It is questionable how much essential Vedanta is dependent upon the detailed Sankhya explanation of nature. While it must embrace its a distinction between consciousness (the observer/subjective reality) and matter (the observed/objective reality) it could be argued that other details of Sankhya’s analysis of nature’s constituents are not as in depth or precise as that of modern science. Any thoughts?

    • It seems that there are similarities in that both Sankhya and modern science are motivated by the quest to understand the physical world in a deeper way. Both are ways of searching for truth. But as I understand it Sankhya aims at moksa while science doesn’t due to its lack of recognition of consciousness as the animating factor within matter. With moksa in mind I think it doesn’t matter if Sankhya’s analysis is not as detailed as modern science as long as the goal of Sankhya–separating the real from the unreal with a view to transcend both–is achieved. In and of itself I think more detail thanks to science may or may not help in that. I tend to think not, unless it is to engender a sense of reverence for the awesome complexity of the maya-sakti and so indirectly love for its creator.

  2. The method is science is more detailed when it comes to investigate gross matter. If you see the detail to which they have mapped brain areas to their functions and various other things, it is easy to see that. Vedic investigation of gross matter is through reason and yogic insight. Scientific method focuses hugely on empirical investigation through more and more instruments. In areas like multiverse and string theory, the scientists sound more like philosophers because there is no choice apart from using reason and insight only. But wherever gross matter can be investigated readily, the detail of statistical testing etc conducted is mind boggling and I guess it cannot be matched. While the vedic darsanas focused on bigger picture and investigate matter,gross and subtle, qualitatively without much empirical testing, science focus on quantitative analysis backed by empirical testing. It is more of less true unless you go in areas like string theory and multi-verse.

  3. “it could be argued that other details of Sankhya’s analysis of nature’s constituents are not as in depth or precise as that of modern science.”

    Kapila-deva’s system of Sankhya (described in SB Canto 3 Ch 26) is much more comprehensive than any explanation of modern science. It is probably fair to say that they are not as detailed or precise, but since Sankhya includes all the gross elements, the subtle elements and the senses in an elegantly simple framework, it should be accepted as far more “in depth”.

    I am in complete accord with Narasingha Maharaja when he says “Sankhya does not simply list the basic material elements, but it explains quite scientifically how those elements evolve from the subtlest plane of existence up to the divisions of the universe—this is quite elaborate and scientific indeed.

    A description that encompasses only the gross physical elements, even if it is precise, detailed and mathematically sophisticated, describes only a small portion of the total reality. Given the scope of Lord Kapila’s explanation I would argue that His analysis is vastly superior to the very limited perspective of reality modern science has to offer.

    Currently the idea of the five elements is considered primitive by modern science, but a careful study of Lord Kapila’s descriptions of the evolution of the earth will reveal that they are completely in accord with modern sciences explanation of the big bang and the appearance of the four forces of nature. I think the explantion of the connection between the 5 gross elements, the 5 subtle elements and the 5 senses is totally amazing.

    • But as Gaura-vijaya has more or less said perhaps it is not fair to compare the two because Sankhya is a philosophical explanation that is not empirically verifiable, whereas modern science provides empirical evidence. Then again as he also pointed out, modern science does become philosophical and metaphysical when it speculates about string theory, etc. But given that science strictly speaking is about providing empirical evidence, how can it be compared to Saknhya philosophy, in which the interesting ideas that the sense objects evolve from the senses, etc. is merely stated to be factual.

      • Many of the ideas in Sankhya are able to be verified empirically, but the empirical method is inadequate when it comes to understanding the more subtle aspects of reality.

        If we compare the different explanations on the basis of detail and precision, then science is a clear winner. But if we judge them using broader criteria, Sankhya would be judged as superior. Sankhya includes the subtle elements of reality in a comprehensive explanation which is also simple and universal in its nature. It can be understood by everyone, not just elite mathematicians.

        The real deficiency of all modern scientific explanations is that they leave out the most important part of reality – the spiritual. I think this is such a huge omission that their superior precision on descriptions of the physical reality is irrelevant.

        Despite the fact that relativity and quantum physics both place the observer in a central position in creating reality, modern science refuses to admit the existence of a spiritual reality. This denial is not based on any empirical evidence – it seems to be more a fashion than anything else.

        • Many of the ideas in Sankhya are able to be verified empirically, but the empirical method is inadequate when it comes to understanding the more subtle aspects of reality.

          What exactly are you referring to here?

          If we compare the different explanations on the basis of detail and precision, then science is a clear winner. But if we judge them using broader criteria, Sankhya would be judged as superior. Sankhya includes the subtle elements of reality in a comprehensive explanation which is also simple and universal in its nature. It can be understood by everyone, not just elite mathematicians.

          But again, the comparison is between what is empirically verifiable and what is not. Otherwise we are comparing philosophy to science. Naturalism on the other hand is of course philosophy, the philosophy that most in modern science embrace. It is based more on empirical evidence but is certainly counterintuitive and dissatisfying to many in its conclusion. Such people may very well like Sankhya’s explanation of the world more, but the problem is that empirical evidence has been elevated in the minds of many far beyond its usefulness.

          • “What exactly are you referring to here?”

            It is only the physical aspects of reality that can be verified empirically. The parts of Sankhya that describe the physical elements can be tested by experiment, but not the more subtle elements. This is not a defect of Sankhya, it is a limitation of science.

            The empirical method is limited to truths about the physical reality. Therefore – its explanations are inferior regardless of how detailed or precise they are. It’s like the problem of the missing dark matter – they don’t know what or where 95% of the universe is.

            “But again, the comparison is between what is empirically verifiable and what is not. Otherwise we are comparing philosophy to science”

            Well if you insist on these parameters for the comparison – science wins – this is its sphere of influence and excellence. But I object to the parameters. Sankhya is scientific even though not all of it is verifiable by experiment.

            “Naturalism on the other hand is of course philosophy, the philosophy that most in modern science embrace.”

            Maybe Naturalism is embraced by modern science because it is the only philosophy possible if truth is limited to empirically verifiable knowledge. Because of the success of science in the physical realm, most people consider science the only acceptable way to discover the truth and fail to recognize its inherent limitations. The end result is atheism and denial of the spiritual reality. Strict adherence to the empirical method is incapable of reaching any other conclusion.

            If Naturalism is wrong and God and the spiritual world do in fact exist – then science is worse than inferior because it is leading people away from their true welfare.

            Of what ‘real’ value are science’s precise calculations and sophisticated technology if they do not increase people’s awareness and understanding of who they are and their relationship to God? They are using impressively advanced mathematics – but in the end it just adds up to zero.

          • I am quite aware of the limitations of empiricism and modern science. But we can only really compare philosophy with philosophy. That is why I brought up Naturalism, or Physicalism. This philosophy is an interpretation of scientific data, and it is the philosophy that has most readily arisen out of science. However, it is no the only interpretation of scientific data and thus not the only philosophy that fits with it.

            It is not that “science wins” if we compare science to philosophy. It’s that we will be comparing two things that are not comparable. Thus it is better to compare Naturalism to Sankhya, for example. I am not sure what you mean when you say “Sankhya is scientific,” other than perhaps that it is systematic. It is not based on empirically verifiable data. It is a philosophical explanation of the world derived from revelation. You write that the physical aspects of it are empirically verifiable. If they are, they will conform with modern science.

            My point has been that there are things about the physical world that are perhaps explained in greater detail by modern science then Sankhya, and there is no harm acknowledging them while at the same time embracing that about Sankhya that is essential to a Vedanta world view. Indeed, everyone of us does that anyway because we function in this world with the help of modern science in ways that we could not if we did not have the data science has provided. So if in ancient India Sankhya constituted an entire, comprehensive explanation of the physical world for people but today we have more detailed information about it to consider and take advantage of coming from modern science, Sankhya’s limitations in this regard may be spoken of. Otherwise it obviously speaks of more that what modern science does and offers an explanation of things that science has yet to verify or understand but is nonetheless aware of to an extent.

          • Try to have that realization before dismissing everything in science. Most devotees are dependent on science for their medical treatment and when devotees are in extreme pain, try telling them they are not the body anyway and there is no point caring about the dress. It is all theory with very less realization for most people.

            You said facts about sankhya were verified by empirical method? Which were those facts?
            Instead of responding to the questions at hand, you have the convenient approach of dismissing all science, while using its facilities.
            I was guilty of the same, but atleast it is good to change sometimes.

  4. I don’t think the Vedas speak about the anti-matter, and certainly not in the sense as defined by modern science. If everything is ultimately described as Brahman, and the duality of the material world merely arises out of sense perception, to divide existence into matter and anti-matter as two completely opposite realities does not strike me as very ‘vedic’.

    Sarvam khalvidam brahma, tajjalaniti santa upasita, atha khalu kratumayah puruso yatha-kratur-asmin-loke puruso bhavati tathetah pretya bhavati, sa kratum kurvita.
    Chandogya Upanishad 3.14.1

    Science is the same search for truth that motivates us to study Vedas. The confrontational approach to modern science is not serving Gaudiya Vaishnavism very well. On one hand we blast the ‘demonic scientists’ and one the other we desperately seek their confirmation for the vedic concepts like in the above article. It does not mean we need to blindly accept whatever explanations modern science offers, but recognizing gold even in a filthy place is supposed to be a true measure of intelligence.

    • There is one more small point that B.G Narsingha Maharaja mentioned: Indians knew long time back that earth is round. Actually SP in his conversations was not even sure of this because SB mentioned that the earth is flat. Maharaja’s assertion that no credit is given to Vedic thoughts is true to some extent. However, when so many things in the Vedic evidence do not match empirical results, then how do people know what to pick and choose? Like Swami Tripurari has pointed out, Sankhaya is based on reasoning, revelation and yogic insight of Kapila that is not tested exactly according to modern empirical method.

      • Perhaps Narasingha Maharaja refers to the works of the classical Indian astronomer and mathematician, Aryabhata (476-550 AD), which deal with the sphericity of the Earth and the motion of the planets. The final two parts of his Sanskrit magnum opus the Aryabhatiya, which were named the Kalakriya (“reckoning of time”) and the Gola (“sphere”), state that the earth is spherical and that its circumference is 4,967 yojanas, which in modern units is 39,968 km (24,835 mi), which is close to the current equatorial value of 40,075 km (24,901 mi).

        The question is – as you rightly point out – how does Aryabhata’s knowledge square with the interpretations of the Puranic descriptions Srila Prabhupada promoted?

        It is also not at all true that flat earth theory was dominating the Western world during the Middle Ages, as Maharaja seems to suggest. Sphericity of Earth was a very well established concept, going back to ancient Greece. More details can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_Earth.

        • Vikram Ramsoondur

          Kulapavanaji,

          We’ve shared a few exchanges in a now-defunct forum in the past, and I’d like to briefly respond to you on this.

          “The question is – as you rightly point out – how does Aryabhata’s knowledge square with the interpretations of the Puranic descriptions Srila Prabhupada promoted?”

          In his ‘Vedic Cosmography and Astronomy,’ and in the even more remarkable ‘Mysteries of the Sacred Universe,’ Sadaputa Prabhu deals with this very question and countless related ones in a very reasoned, detailed and elaborate way. I don’t think anybody else could actually have proposed a thesis coming close to his in authenticity on that count in fact. As you are an individual with formal training in the natural sciences, I trust you’d reach a similar conclusion if you were to study these works. The manner in which the late devotee/scholar reconciles modern truth claims with ancient paradigms cannot fail to impress an open-minded, objective reader.

          “It is also not at all true that flat earth theory was dominating the Western world during the Middle Ages, as Maharaja seems to suggest. Sphericity of Earth was a very well established concept, going back to ancient Greece. More details can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_Earth.”

          This is also tackled at length by Richard Thompson in his many studies. For example, he refers to a book titled ‘Hamlet’s Mill’ (a copy of which I personally own) authored by two academics, Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha Von Dechend, in order to demonstrate that in several ancient societies in various parts of the globe including Europe, the inhabited earth was understood to encompass vast subtle regions that are not accessible to ordinary human sense perception, and which in effect made the ‘real’ earth much larger than the physical geoid of our common experience. Specifically, the so-called “flat earth” was understood by these folks of the yore to mean the ecliptic plane, whereas the smaller spherical planet that we know was interpreted as forming part of that bigger, higher-dimensional structure. This is of course very similar to the Puranic ideas about astronomy and cosmology (think about the cosmic size attributed to Bhu-mandala in the smriti-shastras), and the interesting point in all this is that the propounding of the notion of a ‘flat’ world does not necessarily imply an unscientific comprehension of nature, or naive belief that the earth on which we stand is factually flat.

          There is much evidence to suggest (and the above-named does much more than simply suggest in his insightful books) that alongside the mythological-sounding (at least to modern people) descriptions of the cosmos found in the Puranas and Itihasas, there is a tradition of rigorous mathematical astronomy in India, as represented by the Surya-Siddhanta, Siddhanta Siromani etc, that goes back literally thousands of years, in fact to before the traditional date for Krsna’s manifest pastimes on earth, i.e. about 5,000 years ago.

          Other thinkers wishing to defend the world view of the traditional Hindu scriptures to contemporary theories have formulated similar conceptions before Sadaputa, but the uniqueness of the latter in my personal view rests in his amazingly brilliant knack at tying everything into a cohesive whole, and one that, with some readjustment or stretching of our usual modes of thinking, causes prejudice to neither traditional Vaishnava orthodoxy nor modern scholarship. In the end, the arguments are just too long and complex to reproduce here, and I shall thus draw to a halt at this point.

          • Vikrama-ji,
            Pranams. I have personally talked to Sadaputa Prabhu about these issues at great length and we shared a very similar view of the Puranic cosmology. That is however not a view all Prabhupada’s followers share and Sadaputa faced quite an opposition to his views from the ‘literalist’ camp.

            IMO Puranas present a ‘shamanic’ view of the universe, in which space is multidimensional and non-linear, and where important concepts are sometimes lost in translation or transcription over the ages.

            There are those who continue to argue that Apollo missions could not have landed on the Moon because that celestial body is supposed to be further away from Earth than Sun. IMO this view is based on a misunderstanding of both the Puranic cosmology and modern science. This view forces people to reject directly observable evidence in order to cling to their mistaken belief.

            It is very difficult to persuade a scientifically minded person to suspend their reason, logic, and direct sensory perception in order to ‘see the truth’ about the Universe by blindly following an obscure interpretation of it’s structure. That is one of the main reasons our movement is not taken seriously by the scientific community. Sadaputa Prabhu tried to change that but for one reason or another was not very successful.

  5. Vikram Ramsoondur

    Haribol Kulapavana Prabhu,

    I certainly agree with most of what you wrote, and my own take on ‘Science and the Vedas’ is largely what I’ve concluded from the works of Sadaputa Prabhu, Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Maharaja, and a few others. ‘Shamanic,’ the cosmology of the Puranas, Mahabharata and Ramayana certainly is, although I prefer the term ‘yogic,’ and if you’re at all familiar with the extensive literature there is on yoga and meditation, you may well be aware that people like the world-famous Swami Sivananda, for instance, claimed to have regularly penetrated higher realms of existence completely unknown to us lot and beheld Devas and Upadevas face to face via meditative practices.

    Essentially, Sadaputa’s approach was decidedly not literal, as he took great pains to interpret the Fifth Canto in a manner that, as I mentioned above, did no harm to either Bhagavata cosmology or modern scientific consensus. Some concessions were evidently necessary but the essence of both bodies of knowledge was essentially safeguarded. I also do not accept that the Bhagavatam necessarily states the moon as being farther away from earth than is the sun in physical terms, as so many seem to believe. Thompson’s way of dealing with this problem was to propose (with good supporting circumstantial evidence) that in those particular verses, an oblique reference is being made to an astrolabe, or something very similar to it, in which planes representing the orbits of selected celestial bodies are superimposed on one another for a particular purpose in a certain order, irrespective of the factual distances of the planets or stars from earth and so forth.

    Lastly, on the question of the moon landings, I reckon that, in a Vedic sense, the Apollo mission did not in fact go to the ‘moon’ as what Armstrong et al saw on the gross, three-dimensional place they visited was not the domain of Candradeva. For that, one has to travel to the ‘yogic’ or ‘shamanic’ counterpart to the whitish satellite visible to us every night. They may have been to the gross location of the astral body in question, but I guess that the Vedic Vaisnava version of it would be that there exists, in parallel, a ‘subtle’ lunar region, one ruled by the demigod of the moon. To visit there, clearly something other than mechanical means are required. Perhaps you would have no objections to such and interpretation of the events.

    This is my own two paisa on this whole thing.

    • I think where it gets interesting is when you compare the different descriptions of the subtle, yogic/shamanic experience/descriptions of subtle matter/mind stuff—from Hinduism to Buddhism to Catholicisim, etc. They all have their own descriptions of these realms. That does not give reason to dismiss them, but speaks interestingly about the nature of the mental/astral world experience.

      • These difference in the subtle realm and the fact that they cannot be verified empirically make them unsuitable to be tested by the scientific method. That does not make them any less. But empirical quantitative analysis is the forte of modern science and there is no harm in acknowledging that. The prediction of solar and lunar ellipses is accurate to seconds, so devotees need to think how this is possible if all math and calculation in modern science is completely wrong. The cell phone and satellite reception, internet etc nothing will work then.

        • I agree–it would be naive at best to view modern science’s incredible accuracy in certain areas as false or unreliable when it has proven itself over centuries and continues to do so every day as you pointed out. So clearly there is no problem for a practitioner to have faith in modern science in the areas where it excels–cell phones work whether we believe in them or not. But of course we don’t look to modern science for information about or insight into the subtle realm and (certainly not the spiritual) because it just doesn’t go there. Yogic vision is not part of its methodology, and never will be precisely because as you said it is by nature subjective and unverifiable. Luckily, for those who have some yogic or mystical experience of their own no empirical verification is necessary–just ask Janine Benyus.

        • One of the contributions of Sataputa dasa is that he seems to have been able to demonstrate that the Bhagavata description taken less than literally (or more) corresponds with modern science with regard to physical realities. In other words while describing a yogic subtle reality the text deals with physical realities and understands them in the same way that modern science does. At least this is what he says. This is quite different from the ancient maps of Europe, all of which were proven to be wrong and thus replaced. So according to Sataputa das, the subtle yogic world of the Bhagavata gains credibility because the description of it does not contradict what modern science has understood and demonstrated with regard to the physical realities of the planets. So it could be argued that with competing notions of subtle matter (Europe/Christian vs Indian/Hindu), the Bhagavata has an advantage.

          • That may be true, but 90% of the devotee community does not take Sadaputa’s assertions and goes with the literal explanation in the name of following SP to the letter.
            This has caused insurmountable damage to the credibility of the movement.

          • Vikram Ramsoondur

            Absolutely. The interesting thing about Sadaputa Dasa’s thesis is that he posits that the Bhagavatam makes use of a composite structure to describe material reality in which different clusters of elements depict specific models. Based on his extensive study, he formulated a fourfold interpretation of the Fifth Canto which does make definite sense when viewed in proper perspective (of the theme or context under review or discussion, etc). These four different ways in which Bhagavata cosmology corresponds to observable phenomena, as per Sadaputa, are as follows:

            1. A polar projection map of the earth;
            2. A map of the solar system up to the orbit of Saturn as determined from a geocentric viewpoint;
            3. A topographical map of a large region of South Central Asia; and,
            4. A map of the celestial realm of the Devas and other subtly-embodied beings referred to in the Vedic texts.

            Also, he was especially concerned about potential detractors theorising that perhaps too much was being read in hindsight from a scientifically primitive literature. To that end, he conducted rigorous statistical analyses to back up his research. For instance, with regard to interpretation 2, he wrote that the correspondences between the boundaries of geocentrically-determined planetary orbits and the oceans and islands of Bhu-loka were way too close to be coincidental. His calculations showed in fact that if one were to randomly pick numbers to attribute to these structures as their sizes (his null hypothesis), the possibility that a near correspondence would occur with real astronomical quantities would only be 1 in 20,000. He also stated that he was prepared to have the C-code of his computations/programme examined by whoever wanted to double-check his work.

            Nevertheless, he’s had only moderate success in terms of popularising this kind of view of ancient Indian astronomy, as Kulapavana pointed out. But that is not all surprising as he was in effect defending the truth of a mystically-derived way of living and thinking. I can see a sort of parallel between him and the late Ian Stevenson, whose seminal research material on the remembrances of past lives by people (with over 4,000 documented cases worldwide) is here for all to see and read, but who nonetheless faced constant opposition and even derision from peers in academia, because for them reincarnation had to be false.

          • Vikram Ramsoondur

            http://btg.krishna.com/main.php?id=377

            This article summarises the Bhaktivedanta Institute conclusions on ancient Indic astronomy and cosmology far better than I could ever contemplate doing so.

      • The shamanic experiences are real but always subjective. It is possible that at least some of the Vedic knowledge was derived from soma induced trance, the earliest Vedic texts seem to suggest that rather strongly. The yogic travels contributed as well, perhaps the entire Puranic cosmology is based on them.

        Modern science as an objective tool for probing reality is relatively young and it would be premature to assume that it has figured out everything correctly. Yet at the same time we should be willing to accept what without any reasonable doubt the science has already understood and proven. Solar system basics are very much in that category.

        I think modern science can help us better understand what the shastra really says. We just have to be a lot less dogmatic in these interpretations. Thakura Bhaktivinode was willing to do that well over 100 years ago. Why would it be any different today?

  6. “Were ancient seers the original theoretical physicists?”

    I read the comments thus far with interest and my overall impression
    is that the commentators here have missed the main point of my article.
    My point was quite simple — that thinkers in the ancient world were
    highly advanced and thought about things within material nature that
    did not become prominent in western minds until thousands of years
    later — indeed, India is the originator of scientific thought.

    I think also that the comments so far are a bit stuck on the
    relative appearance of sastra in the illusory time /space reality
    rather than being focused on the eternal nature/existence of sastra
    wherein we find many more contributions to science than where
    mentioned in my short essay.

    From reading the various comments here it appears that some
    commentators have read some of the vast Vedic knowledge but that none
    are very deeply read or qualified in science or its history. If so I
    would have assumed that you would be aware of such statements made by
    scientists and intellectual men such as Einstein, Oppenheimer,
    Schopenhauer and others of their status confirming the greatness of
    Vedic thought and scientific knowledge in ancient times. Their
    appreciation for the Indian thinker in antiquity even seems more
    earnest and to the point than that of some contemporary Vaishnavas on
    this forum. Simply put, some great western thinkers – who as it
    happened had no direct connection to Krishna – seem to be bolder in
    their statements to declare the greatness of India’s thinkers in
    antiquity than some parampara advocates in our present day are
    prepared to do.

    You may be in the 10% or the 90% but the fact remains the same —
    modern science to date has missed the most fundamental aspect of
    knowledge, namely the ability to distinguish between matter and
    consciousness. Unfortunately, even the greatest western thinkers to
    date have died in ignorance and most have probably been degraded to
    some lower life form in their next birth due to their lack of
    fundamental morality and even humanism [despite their so-called deep
    analysis of matter]. I say this assuming that you do “believe” in
    reincarnation.

    Here are some quotes by the great minds of western civilization that
    support my view — that the basis of modern scientific thought actually
    originated in India in hoary antiquity:

    Albert Einstein: “We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to
    count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have
    been made.“

    “When I read the Bhagavad-Gita and reflect about how God created this
    universe everything else seems so superfluous.”

    Julius Robert Oppenheimer [the principle developer of the atomic
    bomb]: “The Vedas are the greatest privilege of this century.”

    Arthur Schopenhauer: “I… encounter [in the Vedas] deep, original,
    lofty thoughts… suffused with a high and holy seriousness.”

    Carl Sagan: “Vedic Cosmology is the only one in which the time scales
    correspond to those of modern scientific cosmology.”

    Alfred North Whitehead (British mathematician, logician and
    philosopher): “Vedanta is the most impressive metaphysics the human
    mind has conceived.”

    Count Maurice Maeterlinck [Nobel laureate]: “[in the Vedas]… A
    Cosmogony which no European conception has ever surpassed.”

    Jean-Claude Bailly [French astronomer who corroborated the antiquity
    and accuracy of the Vedic astronomical measurements as]: “More ancient
    than those of the Greeks or Egyptians.” And that, “The movements of
    the stars calculated 4,500 years ago, does not differ by a minute from
    the tables of today.”

    Francois Voltaire: “Pythagoras went to the Ganges to learn geometry.
    Everything has come down to us from the banks of the Ganges.”

    Henry David Thoreau: “In the morning I bathe my intellect in the
    stupendous philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita… in comparison with
    which… our modern world and its literature seems puny and trivial.”

    Lin Yutang [Chinese scholar and author]: “India was China’s teacher in
    trigonometry, quadratic equations, grammar, phonetics… ”

    A.L. Basham [Indologist]: “The debt of the Western world to India in
    this respect [the field of mathematics] cannot be overestimated.”

    • Pranams Maharaja. Nobody is denying that the Vedic civilization has done pioneering work in many fields. In my article titled,” Balancing scientific temper with spiritual wisdom”, I had quoted extensively from the western thinkers who thought highly about ancient Vedic thinkers. Two points to note are that most of the people you quoted above embrace Advaita Vedanta the likes of which you have ridiculed in harshest words as false knowledge in many of your articles; and secondly, the basis of modern scientific method of investigation is different from investigation of the Vedic people because of its stress on rigorous empirical testing. In many areas like string theory, multi-verse, interpretation of QM, where empirical testing in not possible, it does resemble ancient Vedic thought. It is not to say that empirical method leads to conclusive knowledge. It can just lead to different details of gross matter. Krsna explains to Uddhava in 11th canto how different opinions of material nature can exist simultaneously and be correct. Heisenberg said that science is not what nature is, science is how nature responds to our method of questioning. So the method of questioning will lead to different details.

      Maharaja, after the damage devotees have done by literal use of scripture, how do you expect scientists to give credit to cosmology of Bhagavata unless a better presentation is given. Certainly they are not great but we need to do a better job of presenting Vedic information and its boundaries.

      • most of the people you quoted above embrace Advaita Vedanta the likes of which you have ridiculed in harshest words as false knowledge in many of your articles;

        There may be less confrontational ways to expose the jugglery of Advaita vedanta, but it is just that. Regarding those quoted, I seriously doubt that they were aware that any other form of Vedanta existed, and furthermore, other than Schopenhauer, I doubt that they were familiar with much more than basic concepts of Vedanta, concepts that we share with Advaitins. Adaivita Vedanta has held a monopoly on Vedanta for too long. Sometimes it is useful to speak strongly against it in order to get people’s attention and make them aware that Sankara is not the last word on Vedanta.

        • But there is hardly any sophisticated representation of theistic Vedanta in the west and even though there have been many scientists and western thinkers exposed to Gaudiya Vedanta by now, the approach of devotees leaves much to be desired. I doubt bombarding the current presentation will catch the attention of people like Schrondiger etc, but who knows.

        • Another thing that maybe my person opinion is that while Advaita Vedanta is a system of word jugglery and interpretation, many people speak the same about Gaudiya Vedanta. For them, it is a stretch how Gaudiyas draw Radha and Krsna as the center of the everything through sparse references from the Vedic literature. If we go to the Sanskrit, every system be it Madhava, Ramanuja etc claims to have it right and points out the defects and inconsistencies of the other systems while ignoring that they themselves can be put under scanner. Madhava’s interpretation of the Upanishads does not seem to be “as it is “either. He used the verses to support his philosophy. My point is our sukriti and feeling determines our bias towards a particular philosophical system. Objectively speaking everything is an interpretation and nothing can be concluded out of it through reason alone.

          CM approach was different in that he did not convert philosophers through force, he changed their heart and treated them with respect.

          • Certainly Schrodinger and even more so Oppenheimer were influenced by Vedanta. My point is that I doubt SP’s style of aggressive presentation will work with people like Schrodinger to change their leaning towards theistic Vedanta. Schrodinger very strongly liked the monism or non-dualism of Advaita,especially quoting ‘tat tvam asi’ repeatedly in his writings.Einstein was more in a akin to a pantheist similar to Spinoza.

            O

          • You may right about Schrodinger, but others found Prabhupada’s style compelling. Or perhaps they just found Prabhupada compelling and Schrodinger would have as well. After all, Prabhupada would have shown him respect and given him opportunity for sukriti.

      • “Maharaja, after the damage devotees have done by literal use of scripture, how do you expect scientists to give credit to cosmology of Bhagavata unless a better presentation is given. Certainly they are not great but we need to do a better job of presenting Vedic information and its boundaries.”

        Absolutely. I agree with you 100%. But as the saying goes… there are different strokes for different folks. Every preacher has his style and his audience. Let the Truth fall from the sky like the rains of devastation until every last spec of ignorance is effaced. Let men/women with brains learn to think beyond the limitations of the modes of nature.

    • Maharaja,

      Thanks for focusing us on the main point of your article. I think your point is well taken in many respects. Look at how Europe launched into the scientific revolution with the idea that the Earth was theirs to exploit in all respects. The philosophical idea of Descartes that there is a difference between matter and mind led Europeans to believe that nature was without a soul or purpose of its own. Along with his insight came the controlled experiment. With the controlled experiment over time the difference between mind and matter went out the window and science took away our soul. Meanwhile India was already well aware of the difference between mind as well as consciousness and gross matter and how consciousness interacted with matter via the mind and subtle matter, and all of this centuries before Descartes. And with this insight they also had the wisdom to honor nature in all respects. Now after centuries the West is just beginning to reconsider humanity’s relationship with matter, the relationship between purusa and prakrti in a crude sense, and Western souls are starting to emerge again into the daylight from the dark night of modern science.

    • Maharaja writes:

      “My point was quite simple — that thinkers in the ancient world were highly advanced and thought about things within material nature that did not become prominent in western minds until thousands of years later — indeed, India is the originator of scientific thought.”

      Just because some modern scientists are impressed with the contributions of the Vedic sages to the development of science, that does not mean that they may be even remotely interested in the Vedic religious ideas. Ancient Greeks contributed to the development of science as well, yet their religion is today dead as a doornail.

      • Yes, but some of them were, like Schrodigner and Schopenhauer, Thoreau well. I think it is significant, as I have pointed out in this thread earlier, that science has looked, if anywhere outside of itself, for insight into the nature of consciousness to the East and India in particular. This says something for the enduring nature of Eastern spirituality. Modern science was born Christian. As it grew up it became agnostic and now it is atheistic, but if it is to survive, it will be come a mystic. So the difference between the religion of the ancient Greeks and Vedanta is significant. Vedanta has life.

        • Excellent Swami. No one could have said it better…Vedanta has life! Furthermore the God [Gods] of the Vedas were worshiped before Athens saw the light of day and the Vedic pantheon continues to be worshiped today, not only in India but around the world, especially the worship of Krishna and Vishnu. As the Greek gods passed into oblivion due to being creations of men and not manifestations of transcendence, so will the Abrahamic gods pass into oblivion. Only time separates them from their ultimate destiny.

          As Swami has suggested… when science becomes a mystic the world will be all the better and light will gradually prevail over darkness.

          • Maharaja, I have to disagree with your notions. As the Greek gods passed into oblivion due to being creations of men and not manifestations of transcendence, so will the Abrahamic gods pass into oblivion.
            According to you, Greek gods and Abrahamic gods are all manufactured by men and Vedic gods are the only real gods. How can you be so certain? This statement reduced the capability of God, forcing him to communicate only to people born in a tiny portion of the world. Abrahamic Gods even now have more of a presence than any of the Vedic God.

            You said,”greatest western thinkers to
            date have died in ignorance and most have probably been degraded to
            some lower life form in their next birth due to their lack of fundamental morality”
            The dilemma is that atheists like Dirac and Linus Pauling have a much better record of “morality” than all of the people you quoted, Einstein, Schopenhauer and Schrodinger. While Einstein, himself admitted to his transgressions, Schrodinger unabashingly had affairs with wives of his students. So maybe they are going to lower species more than the moral atheists like Dirac or Pauling.
            I find the moral card to be pretty weak considering the history of the Hare Krsnas or the church. Our imposition of morality as synonymous with 4 regulatory principles is also another problem. Do you think religion and movements including GV have any record to comment on morality of other people?

        • I am not even remotely suggesting that the Vedic gods became obsolete. I am saying that religion and science can be very easily separated… or unified if we chose to see it that way.

          With regards to Schrodigner and Schopenhauer – they were not at all influenced by the Bhagavata school, let alone Gaudiya Vaishnavism. I suspect they would have been branded as ‘mayavadis’ first time they opened their mouth in one of our temples.

          Our line does not appeal to scientists and most other people today because it is deeply dogmatic, autocratic, and profoundly guru-centered. I think BVT could see that coming and that is why he came up with his own approach, at least in the early days of his preaching. It is a pity that this approach is followed only by a very small fraction of our line.

          Bhagavata philosophy can appeal to scientists and scientifically minded people but it is also our approach to science and reason that must change, not only theirs.

  7. Yes, that maybe true but now devotees are blocking the sukriti of many people in the name of following SP literally. I personally feel BVT’s style of writing in his essay on Bhagavata is more compelling to people who need a more nuanced exposure or perhaps need a ego massage!!

    Anyway these issues are being resolved by the harmonist by your grace.

    • I am not a trained scientist and I have never professed to be one. My article was simply pointing out what seemed obvious to me as a student of Bhagavatam. Though not a scientist, I have however studied religion and the history of religion to a certain extent. Here I am puzzled. I get the impression that either you haven’t studied the “Abrahamic Gods”, “The Greek Gods” or the “Vedic Gods”. Which is it? If you had then I don’t see how you could possibly think that they are the same or for that matter even remotely related.

      “Passed into oblivion” means that they are no longer being worshiped, whereas the Vedic Gods are still currently in vogue. Abrahamic religions are relatively new and fail to put forward any clear concept of God. Actually making a comparison of the God of Christianity or the God of the Jews with Krishna or Visnu is almost impossible because Christians and Jews have no Clear concept of God to begin with.

      If we want to detail the comparison of the above mentioned Gods here I am willing. I am rather busy with Kartika celebrations now in Vrindavana but if you can be patient we can go tit for tat for a little on this topic.

      I would first like to ask what comparison you find between Greek Gods, Abrahamic Gods, Roman Gods, Egyptian Gods, and the Persian Gods with the Vedic Gods? I would really be excited if you could start with the comparison of Molech and Jagannatha since Christian Missionaries did attempt such a comparison during the British period in India. One, of course, being the popular God of human child sacrifice in the Mediterranean region and the other being the vipralambha Deity of Lord Krishna. What comparison do you find there?

      • There have been studies drawing parallels between Greek gods and Vedic gods, but I cannot vouch for their reliability. Hridyananda das Goswami had mentioned about the study in one of his lectures.

        My point however was different. I was just asking how can you say that all these gods appearing in different mythologies are unreal and Vedic gods are real? I was not saying that they are same as Vedic gods. I was just saying how are you so sure that other conceptions of gods are false and the 330 million Vedic gods are real?

        • Aziz had opened up this thread again. So I looked at the objection raised by Narsingha Maharaja about the relation between Greek Gods and Vedic Gods (he said that all the Greek Gods were unreal and the Vedic Gods were real). This is what noted historian Upinder Singh writes about Kanishka’s coins:

          This king’s coinage depicts motifs drawn from a great variety of Indian, Greek and West Asian religious traditions. Apart from the Buddha and Shiva, they include representations of Persian gods such as Atash (a fire god) and Mithra (a sun god), and Greek deities such as Helios (sun god) and Selene (moon goddess). This variety of religious motifs is usually taken as reflecting the king’s personal religious eclecticism or his attitude of religious tolerance. At the level of royal policy, it can be seen as an acknowledgement of the religious diversity within the empire and the attempts of these kings to connect themselves with the deities worshipped in and around their realm.

  8. I think what science and the Gaudiya Tradition have in common is that both urgently need a TOE, i.e., a theory of everything. Science needs a theory that would unify or explain through a single model the theories of all fundamental interactions of nature. The Gaudiya Tradition needs a single model that would unify but mostly miraclously explain all of the antagonists outshoots of the Caitanya tree, from babajis, to Gaudiya Math, to Iskcon, to Narayana Maharaja, to othodox traditionalists, to neo-traditionalists, to ritiviks, to prabhupadanugas, to sahajiyas, to surfers. And then science and the Gaudiya outlook should interact.

  9. This is how this scientist says that Neil Armstrong proved that Kaaba is the center of the universe. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ixfk4LsKWnw&feature=related
    So somehow or the other you can make evidence to fit your religion when it supports it and reject it when it does not.

  10. This is a good idea of modern preaching. The mathematician has a good way to just share his experience here without dumping his thoughts on other people and converting them to Islam. This is a more compelling way for me than evangelist preaching. Obviously that has been missing from GV. There is enough of evangelist style preaching already for the people who like that preaching, but less of non intrusive preaching by example.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21Ak-mNpF3Q&feature=related

  11. Here Feynman talks about science does not care about the scientific method and how science does care about the beauty or brilliance of the idea. If does not match with experimental data, it is considered wrong. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b240PGCMwV0
    In the other video also he talks(Quantum Mechanics) about how we have to accept nature through empirical evidence even if it is logically puzzling. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b240PGCMwV0
    Both are 1 minute videos. Pretty short.

  12. One more important person, the physicist Pauli who worked with Jung on the unconscious had difficulties with the personal God willing to tolerate so much suffering.

    An excerpt from http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s7042.html
    Pauli was concerned with science, philosophy, and religion throughout his life. Speaking from his doubt that human societies could live with sharp disinctions between science and faith, the young Pauli believed that “it’s all bound to end in tears . . . The central order is part of the subjective as well as the objective realm, and this strikes me as being a far better starting point.”73 A few months before he died, Pauli told the Gnostic scholar Gilles Quispel that while he could accept “the God of the Gnostics . . . I could never accept the existence of a personal God. No such Being could possibly endure the suffering of humanity.”

    The Christian idea of personal God is too provincial and difficult for many people to digest. Now, it is upto GV to bring personal God back into the scene, but after being considerate of the reasons because of which people shy away from the personal God. Among those being the “all powerful and all good God”

  13. The core foundation of Hindu belief is that Vedas contain source of all knowledge – physical or metaphysical. However in last 100 odd years, this belief has come under scrutiny due to the advances that modern science claims to make.

    An entire group of Vedic ‘experts’ have stood up to prove that Vedas contain early man theories and are not compatible with modern discoveries. These include communist historians propelled by commentaries on Vedas by western indologists like Max Muller, Griffith et al and a new breed of intellectuals who initiate all research with assumption that ‘old means defective’. However in modern era of religious marketing, another group has come up which would go to any length to discover scientific errors in Vedas. This is the group which would want 800 million Hindus to lose faith in Vedas and their religion and embrace what they believe is the final message of God. Yes I am referring to Islamic and Christian evangelists.

    While both these groups of evangelists are propelled by vision of making everyone in world a follower of their respective Holy Books, the situation is even more desperate for Quran zealots. This is because a bulk of Islamic evangelists believe that Jesus will come again towards end of the world after which they would reach Paradise forever. And an important sign of Jesus’ coming is conquest of India. I do not know the original source of this superstition, but this remains a primary motivator for most Islamic evangelists today.

    Thus every now and then, we would see references to ‘Scientific Errors in Vedas’. The typical pattern would be english translation of some mantra followed by a Veda Mantra reference. For example
    “Earth is flat” – Yajur Ved 32.8

    Often the reference and English translation are both pointing to sources best known to authors of these works. But for layman, these create a lot of confusion and doubt over relevance of Vedas. While I would shy away from thrusting my personal faith on Vedas, I would like to provide some excerpts from Vedas that provide clues to deep scientific concepts hidden within them.

    Unfortunately, due to thousand years of slavery, burning of our universities and libraries by barbarians and then demands for tackling issues of survival first, there remains a lot of work to be done to rediscover the Vedic sciences. However, sufficient clues exist to justify why this rediscovery would be worthwhile. In this article, I shall provide some brief snippets of such clues.

    A point of note: Vedas not being dogmatic in nature and containing eternal truths, do not try to spoon-feed us. Thus Vedas would contain seeds for all forms of knowledge and would urge humans to explore further. Because in the Vedic framework, its our efforts that can provide us bliss.

    You can refer to original mantras at http://www.aryasamajjamnagar.org

    MOTION OF EARTH

    Rig Veda 10.22.14
    “This earth is devoid of hands and legs, yet it moves ahead. All the objects over the earth also move with it. It moves around the sun.

    In this mantra,
    Kshaa = Earth (refer Nigantu 1.1)
    Ahastaa = without hands
    Apadee = without legs
    Vardhat = moves ahead
    Shushnam Pari = Around the sun
    Pradakshinit = revolves

    Rig Veda 10.149.1
    “The sun has tied Earth and other planets through attraction and moves them around itself as if a trainer moves newly trained horses around itself holding their reins.”

    In this mantra,
    Savita = Sun
    Yantraih = through reins
    Prithiveem = Earth
    Aramnaat = Ties
    Dyaam Andahat = Other planets in sky as well
    Atoorte = Unbreakable
    Baddham = Holds
    Ashwam Iv Adhukshat = Like horses

    GRAVITATIONAL FORCE

    Rig Veda 8.12.28
    “O Indra! by putting forth your mighty rays, which possess the qualities of gravitation and attraction-illumination and motion – keep up the netire universe in order through the Power of your attraction.”

    Rig Veda 1.6.5, Rig Veda 8.12.30
    “O God, You have created this Sun. You possess infinite power. You are upholding the sun and other spheres and render them steadfast by your power of attraction.

    Yajur Veda 33.43
    “The sun moves in its own orbit in space taking along with itself the mortal bodies like earth through force of attraction.”

    Rig Veda 1.35.9
    “The sun moves in its own orbit but holding earth and other heavenly bodies in a manner that they do not collide with each other through force of attraction.

    Rig Veda 1.164.13
    “Sun moves in its orbit which itself is moving. Earth and other bodies move around sun due to force of attraction, because sun is heavier than them.

    Atharva Veda 4.11.1
    “The sun has held the earth and other planets”

    LIGHT OF MOON

    Rig Veda 1.84.15
    “The moving moon always receives a ray of light from sun”

    Rig Veda 10.85.9
    “Moon decided to marry. Day and Night attended its wedding. And sun gifted his daughter “Sun ray” to Moon.”

    ECLIPSE

    Rig Veda 5.40.5
    “O Sun! When you are blocked by the one whom you gifted your own light (moon), then earth gets scared by sudden darkness.”

    “SCIENCE OF BUILDING SHIPS AND AIRPLANES”
    Swami Dayanand has detailed Mantras regarding these in his Vedic commentary and Introduction to Vedas” (1876). The scientists of IISc concluded that the mechanism of airplane as suggested by Dayanand is feasible. The first manned plane was built 20 years after death of Swami Dayanand.

    The verses are difficult to translate in English here, but readers are advised to review “Introduction to Vedas” by Swami Dayanand or interpretations of following mantras: Rig Veda 1.116.3, 1.116.4, 10.62.1, 1.116.5, 1.116.6, 1.34.2, 1.34.7, 1.48.8 etc.

    SCIENCE OF TELEGRAPHY

    Rig Veda 1.119.10
    “With the help of bipolar forces (Asvins), you should employ telegraphic apparatus made of good conductor of electricity. It is necessary for efficient military operations but should be used with caution.”

    • While both these groups of evangelists are propelled by vision of making everyone in world a follower of their respective Holy Books, the situation is even more desperate for Quran zealots. This is because a bulk of Islamic evangelists believe that Jesus will come again towards end of the world after which they would reach Paradise forever. And an important sign of Jesus’ coming is conquest of India. I do not know the original source of this superstition, but this remains a primary motivator for most Islamic evangelists today.

      Any references?

  14. Hare Krishna! For a while the literalistic approach to Puranic cosmology caused me a lot of doubts, and then I decided to do some research. Sadaputa prabhu did the best job of explaining the cosmology of the Puranas in coprehensible terms. The 4 vedas however have some amazing scientific information in them. This is somewhat of a long term research project for me as my service to sri sri Gaura Nitai. I’m planning on writing a paper on fractal geometry, the structure of the vacuum, and how it relates to Krishna consciousness. In the Rig veda it says “Sarva Dishanaam, Suryaha, Suryaha, Suryaha.” meaning that there are suns in all directions, the night sky being full of them. There are also many references in the Vedas to the big bang or bindu sphota. One insight/question I’ve had is that the 14 lokas may be planes of consciousness corresponding to the 14 chakras. If your energy is flowing down it’s going towards lower planes vice versa. It’s sad that some people in Iskcon are opposed to the very knowledge that has the potential to make a lot of scientifically minded people like myself into devotees. By Krishna’s mercy, hopefully my research will have a positive effect. Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!

    • Justin, IMO the 14 lokas (or worlds) are real, not imaginary. They are 14 different but simultaneous channels on the ‘Cosmic TV’ broadcast – or the parallel realities some scientists suspect to exist along with our reality. These 14 lokas exist in what the Rig Veda calls ‘abhvam’ – the terrifying void, which may be called the ‘sub-space’. Yogis enter abhvam to instantaneously emerge at any point in the 14 worlds. But if you lose your concentration and become lost in the abhvam, you may be stuck there until the Universe is dissolved. The relationship of the 14 worlds and our chakras is such that you learn how to enter these worlds through a corresponding chakra. Shamanic journeys under the influence of hallucinogens are travels to those paralel realities, where the destination depends both on the hallucinogen used and on our consciousness, resulting in opening a particular chakra and doorway to that world.

  15. I’m designing an ontological language using my (“limited”) knowledge of the Vedas and everything else I pick up. I’m trying to foster Bhagavata philosophy, but first the 3 modes must be understood under the correct deities.

    http://s119.photobucket.com/albums/o149/robotphoto/?action=view&current=NewGon2Web.jpg

    Its inspired by the “8 Circuit Grid of Consciousness” of John Lilly, Tim Leary and Robert Anton Wilson. These guys made excellent aesthetic observations on Quantum theory and Neuroscience. Then, it also supports “Evolution” and “Spiritual Functioning”.

    Ultimately, it is a non-absolute classification system. My IQ is 245, so this is the level here……..

    Criticize this as much as you want, please. It is the service that I’m trying to render. I’m just another rat vying for air……

  16. Kula Pavana, I never said the 14 lokas were imaginary. I am a brahmacari after all. What I was saying is that they are on subtle planes of reality. So we are basically saying the same thing.

    • Justin, yes – I was not clear earlier, sorry about that. By ‘levels of consciousness’ sometimes people refer to something entirely enclosed within our own sphere of consciousness. When people say that something exists on a ‘subtle plane’ they often mean it does not have a physical side to it, but that is not what the Vedas say about these 14 worlds. All of them have a physical side as well. The ‘subtle body’ refers to mind, intelligence, and ego – but the higher and lower worlds have living beings which have both subtle and physical bodies. That is very clear from the Puranic descriptions. People can even interbreed with the inhabitants of other worlds, which means they are physical. Only ghosts do not have physical bodies.
      The Universe is multi-dimensional and the space in it is not linear. These 14 worlds exist physically as separate worlds in this multi-dimensional and non-linear space. And that is what the modern science starts to think as well.

      • That’s very interesting, and in fact many yogis, whom Paul Burton met during his course of travels in India during the 1920s, testified about. Perhaps, it takes a higher level of consciousness than that of human beings to actually perceive these realms – which may have totally different physical laws than ours! How small is the human perception then!

  17. Dear Swami Narasingha, you are giving me a lot of joy reading your text. Although I did not finish reading it, I could not refrain from writing to you “bravo!”. Aziz

    But of course, the scientists (physicists) who are doing the research are worthy of respect, honor, great laudations, and sizable salaries because, even though unable to actually prove their theories, they are great and deserve the perks of greatness, because they are able to think about such lofty concepts. They are great minds.

    See the fun: Vedic knowledge is easily dismissed or not recognized at all. These are simply stories and myths they say, but theoretical physics or science, now that’s something you can believe in!

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