The Cloud of Unknowing

1By Swami Tripurari

Gaudiya Vaishnavism is a very high theology and as such it is very prone to misunderstanding. Careful study of the scripture reveals that a true devotee is an integrated person in the sense that he or she has actually imbibed the essence of all that precedes devotion in the way of socioreligious life, renunciation, and knowledge. Such a person is rare.

Bhakti is the topmost yoga, being beyond liberation in its reach and at the same time so generous. It is the generosity of Bhaktidevi that we both complain about and yet can’t do without. When she gives herself to another who has no particular qualification other than faith in the efficacy of bhakti, that unqualified person becomes a devotee, but he or she is not developed in devotional service. If that devotee practices sincerely and always keeps association with advanced devotees, bhakti will gradually manifest herself more and more. However, sometimes such neophyte devotees do not avail themselves of the culture of bhakti or good association. They also commit offenses, and in this way Bhaktidevi does not manifest in their heart for some time. They are glorious still, yet their full glory is suspended, and they may even become a disturbance to the society of devotees for some time.

Meanwhile other types of spiritual practitioners, whose ideal is not as far-reaching as that of suddha-bhakti, more readily attend to that which is pertinent to their practice. This sometimes includes the ideals of socioreligious life and the culture of knowledge and renunciation. Today it often includes working on psychological dysfunctionality, social welfare, right livelihood, environmental concerns, humility, kindness to others, and so on.

These things are closer to such practitioners in terms of their ideal, and they directly work on developing themselves in these areas. In such practitioners we may see good qualities that we do not see in neophyte devotees.

Many of these neophytes have their heads in the spiritual cloud of unknowing. They are unknowing about all that which precedes attaining the highest devotion and makes one a balanced person. Alternately, they inordinately do not care about such prerequisites in the name of the highest devotion. While it is true that simply through bhakti one can attain the highest ideal, one who practices should develop in other areas via bhakti as he or she proceeds toward that goal. Devotees should look for developments such as humility, tolerance, and kindness to all beings in their character.

They should look for this rather than the darsana of Krishna, for why would Krishna show himself to those who offend his holy name in the name of devotion? When humility like the blade of grass and tolerance like the tree appear in the devotee, such a devotee has passed beyond offensive chanting, attaining nisthakirtaniya sada harih.

Who will not be attracted to such a devotee, Krishna included? He will pay attention to them through the medium of his advanced devotees, telling them that “in such and such devotee you have a receptive ear to pour the nectar of my pastimes into.” This nectar will enter the heart, and ruci-bhakti will manifest.

The fortunate devotee who develops this taste will have no taste for the things of this world: money, sex, followers, or even knowledge. Neither will samsara be a problem for this blessed soul. Thus the appearance of these things—humility, tolerance, and kindness to all beings—indicate that one is developing through bhakti all that is included within it—and that bhakti proper is not far away.

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38 Responses to The Cloud of Unknowing

  1. Maharaj,
    As usual, I agree with most of what you say and always admire your ability to convey Vaishnava principles in a literate and cogent fashion. I am that neophyte devotee whom you are referring to. Even after attempting to practice bhakti for so many years, still I do not seek out sadhu-sanga to any great degree, I rarely study shastra, I am immersed in my mundane affairs, I chant minimal japa, and frankly, for the most part, I have concluded that it impossible that I will ever traverse the course of bhakti and become pure. I have an unbalanced mind and am always disturbed by mundane desires, even after years of attempting to become Krishna’s bhakta. Yet out of what can only be described as causeless mercy, Krishna has seen fit to first benedict me with a maha-bhagavata guru, Srila Prabhupad, and also seen fit to benedict me with epiphanies of Himself. I can only attribute this, again, to causeless mercy, in His attempt to encourage this wretched soul.
    Although it is a good thing that many work on “psychological disfunctionality, social welfare, right livelihood…” etc., unless these things can produce enough sukrita (punya) that these souls will eventually become attracted to Krishna, their activities are merely a waste of time on the temporal plane of good and evil. Any person who accepts bhakti as the summum bonum (sp?) of life, even though he may stuggle long and hard with his senses, mind intelligence and false ego, will eventually tame his character and become glorious.
    Pranams, Anandamaya das

  2. Knowledge in the Bhagavat is so deep and vast that in fact most all of us suffer from this “cloud of unknowing”. For example, the 5th canto cosmology is almost universally unintelligible by many Swamis and Gurus around the KC movement. The Vedic knowledge including the Bhagavat cosmology is very complex and cryptic in composition. Practically nobody understands it though Sadaputa das made great strides in deciphering the cryptic cosmology of the Bhagavat.
    Srila Prabhupada was so much into this Bhagavat cosmology that he gave his mission the responsibility of building a planetarium in Mayapura to demonstrate the Bhagavat conception of cosmology.

    Even though Srila Prabhupada was very earnest to build a Vedic planetarium and display the Bhagavat cosmology to the world, many of his senior disciples are clueless about Bhagavat cosmology and it’s integral part in self-realization. They prefer to ignore or avoid the 5th canto under the pretext that Bhagavat cosmology is irrelevant to KC even though there is a major section of the Bhagavat dedicated to cosmology.

    Sometimes those who have not attained the spiritual capacity to comprehend the Bhagavat cosmology like to avoid it or ignore it, hence this “cloud of unknowing” haunts even Swamis and Gurus who present themselves as successors to Srila Prabhupada.

    • In one of Guru Maharaja’s lectures he talks in length about the cosmology and how one might properly understand it. I was having big issues with this for a time myself. The only thing I might disagree with is where you say that one might just ignore the 5th canto all together. While I agree there is probably no need to be a master of cosmology to progress in spiritual life, I dont think you can just say “they messed up on that canto” and toss it out. If there is one weak link in the chain the whole thing will crumble.
      In the lecture Guru Maharaja pointed out that the point of this canto is to further help the devotee understand God, and that the Bhagavatam is not meant to be a concrete mudane encyclopedia on the universe. Also the Bhagavatam says that the material universe is impossible to understand. And offers an attempt at a way to think about it, or more accuratly a way to understand God and his relationship to us and the universe. Also at the time the bhagavatam was most recently manifested,the bhagavatam is flawless in its protrayal of God and his relationship to the universe, in regards to the science and understanding of the universe at that time,
      The current scince and understanding of the universe is dominated by numbers measurements calculations and angles. How many physical feet, or miles to this planet and so on. We place so much faith and importance in this kind of knowledge of the universe. While one shouldn’t, based on the bhagavatam, deny this type of mathmatical knowing of the universe, I think people need to see that this is just one very small angle of understanding the universe. Even if we can measure the entire multiverse inch by inch with our matarial senses. There will always be another more accurate way to understand the universe, Not to mention sages with more subtle senses who can even further understand.
      Not to mention, that the angle of vision today’s material science protrays the universe as simply would not have made sense to any one in vedic times.(Makes you wonder how important our scientific view of the universe really is).

      That was quite the ramble but I think my main point is that the vedic cosmology should not be viewed as a concrete text book of the universe, but as a way to understand God’d relationship to it. I would also venture a guess that if the science of today were used in the 5th canto to explain God’s relationship to the universe the same points could be drawn out. Only I think this version would be far more boring haha.

      • I went over the 5th Canto many times over the last 35 years, but was never able to grasp the cosmological descriptions given there. Finally, my son Nitai and I went over Sadaputa’s works and discovered that Sadaputa prabhu had reconciled many apparent incongruities in 5th Canto Cosmology.

        My son has a lot better ability to grasp these concepts than I do, so he has helped me a lot to understand more about the Bhagavat cosmology. What it has done is open up a fresh new chapter in my studies in KC.

        My son uses special software to show me about the solar system and explain Sadaputa’s discoveries in understanding 5th Canto cosmology.

        Sadaputa’s works are essential concepts for devotees to grasp so that they can present Bhagavat cosmology in terms that are much easier grasp.

        Any devotee who fancies himself as a leader in the KC movement needs to study and understand the works of Sadaputa prabhu unless they want to go through their whole life with a lame, crippled perception of 5th Canto cosmology.

        Sadaputa’s contribution to understanding Bhagavat cosmology has no equal in all of the Gaudiya canon.

        According to the Vishnu Purana, when Maharaja Yudhisthira retired to the Himalayas with his entourage, the proper understanding of the yuga cycles derived from astronomical configurations was lost. There has been misunderstanding about the yuga cycles and cosmology ever since.(not mentioned in Sadaputa’s books) Sadaputa prabhu put together the most profound and scientific explanation of Bhagavat cosmology that Gaudiya Vaishnavism has.

        Most all the gurus and swamis around the KC movement need to study and understand the works of Sadaputa prabhu. I found them to be very spiritually invigorating. I feel as if he has opened up new windows and shown me the universe in a way that is just amazing.

        Since Mahaprabhu was very earnest that his followers study and understand the Bhagavat, which contains highly cryptic and esoteric cosmological concepts, it is incumbent upon all the leaders of the KC movement to really dive deep into Bhagavat cosmology and find out how important it is for devotees to understand and appreciate Bhagavat cosmology which is part and parcel of self-realization.

        A neophyte with scanty information and realization of Bhagavat cosmology is missing an important ingredient in the self-realization process, otherwise Sukadeva Goswami would not have bothered to instruct Maharaja Pariksit in this science of Bhagavat cosmology.

        Bhagavat cosmology is not dated and flawed astronomical information. It is the most esoteric and cryptic portion of the Bhagavat and for good reason.

        Bhagavat cosmology invokes true cosmic Krishna consciousness which is a good thing for a conditioned soul seeking liberation from the material entanglement.

    • I don’t agree with you. It is better to ignore or avoid section one does not understand rather than dump the literal interpretation of 5th canto down people’s throat. I prefer swamis who are honest to say that they don’t understand something or know something partially rather than saying that they know everything literally.

      • I can certainly identify with that, Gaura Vijaya. What KB Das fails to mention is that Sadaputa dasa, as a professional mathematician, quantum physics researcher, and evolutionary biologist, was sufficiently wise and experienced in the scientific method to reason that, so as to make sense of the 5th Canto, glossing that portion of the Bhagavatam in a way other than literal was a requisite. And that is what he precisely did, to brilliant effect, as far my opinion goes.

        Indeed, his non-literal interpretation of Puranic cosmology caused a peculiarly vocal ISKCON renunciate to come down hard on him. That sannyasi later published a volume outlining his own uninformed, predictably literalist take on ancient Indian astronomy. However, Sadaputa’s works are the ones that have firm, solid intellectual ground underneath them, and they are the version that has perdured, quite logically.

        Then again, is this thread about Vedic cosmography or cosmogony? I don’t think so.

        • Vikrama,
          I just wanted to express my appreciation for your input and grasp of the Vaishnava and Vedic thought. The world needs enlightened Indian sages like your good self to help right the numerous misonceptions that have attached themselves like leaches to the KC movement and sucking the lifeblood.

          I have followed your posts on different forums for the last few years and I can say that I sense a very fine and discriminating intellect. If you so choose, I am quite sure that you could be a leader in KC thought and guide to others less evolved spiritually. There are not enough Indian gurus teaching Vaishnavism around the wolrd, so an enlightened Indian as your good self is still in high demand around the KC movement.

    • Even though Srila Prabhupada was very earnest to build a Vedic planetarium and display the Bhagavat cosmology to the world, many of his senior disciples are clueless about Bhagavat cosmology and it’s integral part in self-realization.

      If I recall correctly the original idea was not a planetarium illustrating the 5th canto of the Bhagavata but was to be a depiction of the Brhad-Bhagavatamrta. The idea was inspired by Srila Sridhara Maharaja (whose favorite book was the Br.Bh.)for Sanatana Goswami’s brillant exegesis on the supremacy of bhakti as Gopa Kumara travels through the various lokas.

      • I think you have that wrong. The planetarium was Srila Prabhupada’s idea, but he said ONCE to Srila Sridhar Maharaja that he wanted it built under his guidance. Other than that one occasion when Srila Prabhupada was speaking to Sridhar Maharaja in Mayapura and saying he wanted Sridhar Maharaja to supervise the building of the planetarium, I don’t know of another time when Srila Prabhupada connected the planetarium to the guidance of Srila Sridhar Maharaja.

        Also, your idea that it was to be designed using the Brhat Bhagavatamritam is a new myth that I haven’t heard before.

        I don’t think Srila Prabhupada would have wanted to use Brihat Bhag. as the source reference information for building the Vedic planetarium. After all, it is called “Vedic” planetarium.
        If one wanted to build a planetarium on Vedic authority and design, he would not be able to use Br. Bhag. as the reference source since only the Gaudiya sect recognizes the Br. Bhag. as authoritative.

        Nobody outside the Gaudiyas would respect the authority of the planetarium if it was build on the authority of Br.Bhag.

        Srimad Bhagavatam is genuine Vedic literature. It would be very cultish and narrow-minded of the Gaudiyas to try and establish a Vedic planetarium on the authority of Br. Bhag.

        Srila Prabhupada personally referred to it as a Vedic planetarium. Building it on the authority of Br. Bhag. would not go over well in India.

  3. Not a Myth
    Not a myth

    What was then to be called “The Temple of Understanding” was based on an idea that Sridhara Maharaja had at one time confided to Srila Prabhupada.

    Visnu Maharaja writes: On the basis of this transcendental literature (the Brhad-bhagavatamrta) Sridhara Maharaja had contemplated an elaborate preaching exhibition, using dioramas to depict the varieties of spiritual planetary systems and showing that the ultimate spiritual destination is Krishna’s own abode, Goloka Vrindavana. Due to insufficient funds, Sridhara Maharaja humbly submitted his idea to Srila Prabhupada.

    Srila Prabhupada and Sridhara Maharaja discussed the Brhad Bhagavatamrta connection with the temple in the following conversation that took place on June 27th 1973. After the 5th canto was published and the Bhaktivedanta Institute established, the idea shifted toward the concept of a planetarium.

    Prabhupada: About our temple contemplation, it will be almost a skyscraper building. Skyscraper building in temple shape, with four divisions. Goloka-nāmni nija-dhāmni tale ca tasya devī-maheśa… [Bs. 5.43]. So Maheśa-dhāma, how it will be depicted? Pārvatī-wise. (?)

    Śrīdhara Mahārāja: It has been already described by Sanātana Gosvāmī in Bṛhad-Bhāgavatāmṛtam. After crossing Brahmaloka,

    Prabhupāda: There is Maheśa-dhāma, in between.

    Śrīdhara Mahārāja: Maheśa-dhāma. And the devotee, Śiva is devotee.

    Prabhupāda: Yes, everyone is… Śiva’s devotional prayer is there in Fourth Canto, about the four sons. What are those?

    Śrīdhara Mahārāja: Devī-dhāma. Virajā to virajā, nirviśeṣa. The last conception or the highest conception of Devī-dhāma is what are the conception of virajā; prakṛti ends there… Then begins…

    Prabhupāda: Kāraṇa, kāraṇārṇava.

    Śrīdhara Mahārāja: Kāraṇa, kāraṇārṇava. Then it begins Brahmaloka, the halo of the spiritual world.

    Prabhupāda: Effulgence. Yes.

    Śrīdhara Mahārāja: Spiritual world. And that is also some, some, somewhat nirviśeṣa. And then, after crossing that, the Śiva is on the other, higher side or he is in lower side. That is differentiation…

    Prabhupāda: Śiva is…

    Śrīdhara Mahārāja: Differentiation on two sides is Śiva. This side also, Master of Devī, and this side also. He is searching after something and when the differentiated world ends in Brahmaloka, there also Śiva is devotee. This side, Śiva is a yogī. He’s searching after. And then, there, he’s going to meet Nārāyaṇa, to face (indistinct).

    Prabhupāda: Both sides, he’s a devotee.

    Śrīdhara Mahārāja: This side, he’s not such a devotee. But that is pure devotee on the other side, Vaikuṇṭha.

    Prabhupāda: Ah. Sadāśiva.

    Śrīdhara Mahārāja: Sadāśiva, Mahā-viṣṇu. On the other side, he’s a devotee. Vaiṣṇavānāṁ yathā śambhuḥ.

    Prabhupāda: Mahā-viṣṇu and Sadāśiva, the same.

    • Thank you for this informative post. Among the manifold bhakti-infused gems of otherworldly marvel the Gosvamis have given us, and goodness knows there are multitudes of these, I personally took a special liking to Sri Brhad Bhagavatamrta early on. In fact, I have the 3-volume set of Gopiparanadhana Prabhu’s beautiful rendering of the text, and for the most part, simply tend to pay my respects to this holy scripture without opening it, for I consider myself unfit and ineligible to partake of its transcendental nectar, even on a purely intellectual level.

      As for this deliberation on the structure of the higher realms which constitute the predominant element in the Vedic Vaisnava multiverse by two maha-bhagavatas of the calibre of Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara Maharaja, it is nothing short of inspirational.

    • At this point, these are just tidbits of trivia regarding some early discussion between Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhar Maharaja.
      The fact is that the Vedic planetarium now has a life of it’s own apart from Srila Prabhupada and Sridhar Maharaja. Building a Vedic planetarium off of Goswami literature that is particular to the Gaudiya sect would be a typical ISKCON blunder that would be another mega-million dollar mistake if they built a so-called Vedic planetarium off of some Gaudiya goswami literature and neglecting the authentic Vedic authority.

      It is also a mistake to take Br. Bhag. as any sort of authority on Vedic cosmology. It is bhakti literature and was never intended by Sanatan Goswami to be used for cosmological mapping.

      • I made no mention whatsoever of the idea using the material therein for cosmological exhibits in my post, because that is not what this article is about. I was only expressing some appreciation for the magnificent grantha that this work is to me.

      • This is a very dismissive tone after Brahma has just shown you evidence that both Prabhupada and Sridhara Maharaja thought the idea had a great deal of merit. To call it a typical ISKCON blunder is not only ignoring the context, but seems a little disrespectful. The Brhad Bhagavatamrta idea was never intended to demonstrate some authority of Vedic cosmology. Like you said, it is bhakti literature and the point of the temple was to promote bhakti. Your mixing up ideas.

      • The Brhad Bhagavatamrita is based on the Bhagavata Purana. Of course devotees are concerned with ‘planets of faith’ and not much concerned with the physical structure of the universe. The real travesty would be to spend money on a project that focuses on the details of the physical realm based on ancient books. The Bhagavata Purana is also not considered ‘Vedic’ by most since it is in the category of smriti, not sruti. The real value of the Bhagavatam, which is the salient point of this article, is that it points in the direction of suddha bhakti and facilitates the development of ‘taste’ in the real sense of the word for those who follow closely in the footsteps of the Maha Bhagavatas.

        From my perspective at least, the cosmology presented in the fith canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam is not very important and is really there because it is one of the components of puranic literature. It is only relevant in that the basic idea is that the material world is vast and endlessly mutable and that by bhakti this realm can be transcended. That is really the important take home message for all readers.

      • It seems obvious from your comment that you are not familiar with the book (Bb). Not Vedic?

        In the only version of Mahabharata available in modern times, the narrator, Vaisampayana, states that other authentic versions of this history were spoken besides his. One of these other Mahabharatas was narrated by Jaiminii to the Janamejaya who had heard the Mahabharata from Vaisampayana. Hearing this second version had a wonderful effect on Janamejaya, for it was like nothing he had ever heard before. He therefore eagerly inquired if there was some supplement he could also hear, and Jaimini was able to fulfill his request. As Hari-vamsa is the khila (supplement) to Vaisampayana’s Mahabharata, Sri Brhad-bhagavatamrta is the khila to Jaimini’s.

        Furthermore the book follows the Bhagavata’s cosmology, but it presents the essence of the Bhagavata. It emphasizes the spiritual possibilities (lokas). A temple illustrating this would be a very contemporary outreach.

        • Actually, Maharaja, I am familiar with the book. I know it is based off of authentic Vedic literature, but it is not known as Vedic literature outside the Gaudiya sect. Only, the Gaudiyas accept Br. Bhag. as Vedic based.
          Srila Prabhupada was “BhaktiVEDANTA” not “BhaktiBHAGAVATAMRITAM Swami”.
          The modern day Hare Krishna’s are probably silly enough to build a “Vedic Planetarium” based on a 500 year old book written by an apostle of Sri Caitanya rather than a universally accepted Vedic literature that dates to antiquity.
          Such a planetarium would be the ridicule of all the caste Brahmins and orthodox Vaishnavas of India and again the Hare Krishna movement will show how silly it can be because of all the western minds that have overtaken it and failed to understand the Vedic thought despite having created a cult dedicated to such.

        • You fail to recognize that the lokas of Bb are the lokas of Srimad Bhagavatam. Caste Brahmins and orthodox Vaisnavas of India revere the Srimad Bhagavatam. If they do not like our explanation of it’s essential meaning, that does not make us foolish for presenting it.

        • Actually, Maharaja, I do know quite well the concepts and lokas in Br. Bhag. and that the novel is based off of Srimad Bhagavatam. I first read Br. Bhag. in about 1980 when the Gaudiya Matha version was the only one available in Emglish. I still have a copy of that same book in my library and have had it for many years.

          My point is simple but apparently lost on many minds, that the “Vedic” planetarium that they are building in Mayapura would widely be criticized for deviating from strict Vedic authority if in fact a Gaudiya novel by Sanatan Goswami was used as the blueprint rather than the original Vedic canon that includes S.B.

          The Br. Bhag. could possibly be used as supplementary and complimentary material, but the basic planetarium would need to be be based on original Vedic sources and explained with Gaudiya Goswami supplements.

        • OK. I agree that if one wanted to build a Vedic Planeterium the Bb would not be the book to follow. But the question in some devotees’ minds (Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja among them) is whether it would not be wiser to build a towering temple that depicted the spiritual possibilities (lokas) as presented in the Bb rather than one that explains the ancient view of Vedic astronomy.

          I recommended in an earlier discussion that you look into Sataputa’s understanding of the Vedic astronomy/cosmology. At that time you were not inclined to do so. Now you are. His insights are interesting and thought provoking, and a planetarium based on his insights would demonstrate that India’s ancient sages had perhaps the most insightful understanding of the cosmos among ancient cultures. A good number of scientists already acknowledge this point.

      • I hardly consider a conversation between Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara Maharaja trivial. In fact, this is pretty good evidence that Srila Prabhupada’s idea for the planetarium is based on Brihad-bhavatamritam, not on a ephemeral, empiric understanding of how the physical universe in constructed. Rather, he thought of it as a demonstration of the different levels of material and spritual experience.

        Neither should we see Bb as an obscure goswami text. It is Sanatana Prabhu’s meditation on Srimad-Bhagavatam’s significance; therefore, we should be eager to share its insights with one and all.

        • The problem I see is that some devotees consider the Bhagavat cosmology as an empiric collection of information, when in fact this Vedic cosmology is known via descending knowledge in parampara.
          Bhagavat cosmology is not acquired through empiric observation. It is not empiric knowledge, it is acquired through spiritual realization.
          The problem is that most western Gaudiyas have not attained understanding of Bhagavat cosmology because of it’s cryptic formula and the high level of intelligence it takes.

          As such they default to Gaudiya rasa-sastra for understanding cosmology because Bhagavat cosmology requires a key they do not yet have to unlock the mystery.

          There are many Vaishnavas in the world apart from the Gaudiya sect. The true Vedic knowledge is no less vital to these Vaishnavas than is the Goswami literatures for the Gaudiyas.

          Lack of real Vedic understanding is relegating the Hare Krishna sect to irrelevance as the new dispensation comes down seemingly embarrassing the Gaudiyas as a cult sect full of itself and ignorant of many Vedic concepts.

          The Hare Krishna movement is simply a spectator as the new dispensation comes down just before our solar system reboots and the Sun prepares to collapse upon itself and explode into a new Sun cycle wiping out most all of mankind.

          Our world is about to be rocked to the core as our whole modern paradigm shifts to a new reality within the solar system.

        • “They default to Gaudiya rasa-sastra for understanding cosmology . . .” This statement makes no sense to me. The truth is that there is more interest in the rasa of the Bhagavata than there is in its astronomy, and for good reason. Meanwhile Sataputa has done a good job of explaining the 5th canto of the Bhagavata that deals with astronomy, not by mystic insight, but though empirical methods. All that solar system rebooting gibberish is the real problem. It is one thing to get caught up in movies like 2012 and other such imaginary scenarios and quite another to relish and present the Bhagavata as it is.

        • Pranams Maharaja. I couldn’t agree more with your input.

          Furthermore, I for one am stunned that someone would seriously present as argument such far-fetched, crackpot stuff on a public forum, and expect to be substantially heard.

  4. Maharaja, I have not seen any movie about 2012 and certainly have no interest to watch any Hollywood movie about the subject.
    The 2012 issue and the Mayan calendar has been revealed to some very highly intelligent beings of light and they have revealed it to the world.
    Hare Krishna’s think they know it all and have some monopoly on Vedic understanding, as a new dispensation of light is taking place totally outside their tunnel-vision paradigm.

    Srila Prabhupada predicted polar shift in Srimad Bhagavatam.
    Most of his disciples are not aware of that.
    Anyone with a rosey outlook on our modern civilization is obviously under the spell of the illusion mongers who feast on human flash.

  5. As far as the works of Sadaputa prabhu are concerned, we mostly agree with him though we do see certain limitations in his understanding or at least in what he revealed about his understanding.

    There are still some issues yet to be fully resolved and grasped in the works of Sadaputa prabhu, though it is a very valuable supplement to the works of Srila Prabhupda.

    The actual dispensation of understanding the universe properly according to the very complex and sophisticated formula of the Bhagavat is beyond the range of Sadaputa prabhu though he did discover some important principles and enhance the works of Srila Prabhupada which certainly did not reveal much about the esoteric nature of Bhagavat cosmology which was originally meant for highly intelligent beings graduating their Vedic studies and beyond the capacity of us Kali-yuga derelicts.

    • Great. I look forward to your revelations on the matter before you move into your cave in Tennessee. By the way, who are the “beings of light” you refer to? Where can we meet them? And where in the Bhagavatam did Prabhupada predict a “polar shift.” Since you are learning so much form your son, please invite him to participate here on the Harmonist so we can also benefit from his wisdom. There is always something to learn.

      • That is a refreshing tone Maharaja and I certainly expected no less from such a progressive, open-minded sage as your good self.
        My son might not be obliged to join the forums as he is not very much in an evangelistic mood as most us old school Hare Krishna people. He is mostly about personal understanding than in evangelism or preaching his beliefs.
        I feel that in fact he will crack much of the mystery of the Bhagavat cosmlogy and is already doing so, though I keep coming up with new challenges for him to resolve.

        Our team research on Bhagavat cosmology is not done. We still have a few issues to sort out, but I am certain that it can be done.

        I am a little hesitant to reveal my sources and the “beings of light” that I referred to because I do not wish to subject them to the negativity that seems to usually target anyone who is not a card carrying Hare Krishna espousing Saraswata Gaudiya doctrine.

        We haven’t got around to really organizing the material for presentation, as we are still in the discovery and analysis phase.

        I am thinking about possibly publishing the discoveries in a book that would reveal the most esoteric aspects of the Bhagavat cosmology.

        I can tell you that all this study and research is very exciting and inspiring, because answers are coming and the mystery is unfolding.

  6. Not all of us Swamis are either scientists or have the capability of understanding even Sadaputa’s carefully researched explanation of the Bhagavata’s cosmology, although it is surely helpful to try.

    I think the more important issue here is that Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara Maharaja were in agreement that the “Temple of Understanding” should be built as Babru has stated, “not on an ephemeral, empiric understanding of how the physical universe is constructed. Rather, he thought of it as a demonstration of the different levels of material and spiritual experience.”

    Their emphasis, as I understand it, is on the spiritual gradations of devotion, not the material construction of planets. This is indeed a “very contemporary outreach.”

    • In fact Maharaja, my son much appreciates your works as they were very instrumental in taking him out of a life of computer gaming into using his abilities to understand Vedic knowledge.

      My son is more Vedic in thinking than Gaudiya in creed, but he does understand the Gaudiya theology.

      In fact Maharaja, you are one of the greatest Gaudiya Swamis in the movement on the absolute cutting edge of thought.

      My son and I are great students of yours and we love all your works.

      Please give us more of your nectar!


    • That is indeed a more recent wisdom of the contemporary Vaishnvas, but history does record that Srila Prabhupada originally wanted to commission a Vaidic Brahmin to compile the charts and illustraions, though he could not find the qualified person, admitting that such did not exist within the Gaudiya sect.

      In time, the devotees have seemed to want to default to a Gaudiya slant on cosmology, though I don’t believe that was what Srila Prabhupada ended up deciding was the best concept for the Vedic Planetarium. He did end up referring to it as a “Vedic Planetarium” even though the “Temple of Understanding” might have been the initial idea he shared with Sridhar Maharaja.

      My problem is that ISKCON is tauting it as a “Vedic Planetarium”, when in fact Sridhar Maharaja wanted a more Gaudiya version of cosmology, though such a Gaudiya planetarium would be wrongly referred to as a “Vedic” planetarium.

      • Well, in case that is of any help, I’ve heard somewhere that the ISKCON members in charge of the project have consulted with Jyotishas, Vastu experts as well as one or two persons from the Sri Sampradaya. So that could maybe allay your fears over the eventual acceptance of the temple by followers of the generic ‘Vedic’ culture.

        Regarding the cosmology of Sanatana Gosvami’s seminal work, it is in line with that of the Srimad-Bhagavatam down to the last detail, at least with regards to the lokas of which this brahmanda consists, from Bhuloka up to Satyaloka (life in the 7 lower levels of existence are not the subject matter of the Brhad Bhagavatamrta, hence these are not mentioned) and even beyond to the seven coverings of the material universe and the causal ocean on which Lord Maha-Visnu reclines, in deep spiritual slumber.

        It is solely with regards to the layout of the Paravyoma, or spiritual sky, that the Brhad Bhagavatamrta provides details in more explicit fashion.

  7. However, that those concerned have messed up badly on the new design for the famed temple-to-be is undeniable. The following deserves a glance in that regard, in my humble opinion:

    • The planetarium is of course a great idea and a great project for India, but it doesn’t do much for the rest of the people of the world.
      Ultimately, what would be more universally useful and available to people for understanding Vedic cosmology would be an animated digital rendering in the style of say the movie Avatar (which I haven’t seen but am told it is amazing animation.)

      I think that a very first class animated rendering would benefit more people around the world than say the stationary planetarium temple and would also be easier to produce.

      The problem is that NOBODY involved in the project at this time really has a solid grasp of Bhagavat cosmology, which is of course the most important cosmology to the transcendental Vaishnavas.

      There are a couple of key principles that must be understood before the cosmology of the Bhagavat can be figured out rationally, because in fact the cosmos in some ways defies scientific analysis because science does not yet understand the esoteric dimensions of the universe.

      Sadaputa prabhu probably understood a lot more than he revealed, but explained only the things that were most likely to correspond to known scientific theories.

      • In the days of Nintendo and 3D IMAX theaters, the bar for impressive technological presentations is set extremely high.

        The article above speaks in part about association and faith in the efficacy of bhakti. In terms of outreach towards fostering those ends, all the grandiose plans for mega-temples, devotional theme parks, or what have you really pale in comparison to simple agrarian or rural monasteries/retreats. In such places, sadhusanga and immersion in a culture of service is virtually guaranteed.

        For the increasing % of the global population that resides in cities, exposure to the scent of a forest, a night sky with visible stars, and the company of saintly people will be transformative. These things are simple, but increasingly rare.

        I am not trying to be dismissive of ISKCON’s plans for the planetarium. Executed properly, the outcome could be astounding and draw vast audiences. But as time goes on, I think the “smaller” miracles of nature and those who practice bhakti in harmony with the natural environment will have a qualitative impact in ways that permutations of technology will not.

        • Yes. Nature in fact contains the most complex, beautiful geometrical and mathematical formulas that when understood open up the mind to finer sentiments and perceptions.

          Sri Yantra, for example, is the geometrical form of the material creation if seen from the proper perspective.

          In fact, Vishnu uses perfect geometry in manifesting the cosmos.

  8. ‘Sadaputa prabhu probably understood a lot more than he revealed, but explained only the things that were most likely to correspond to known scientific theories.’

    This is in all likelihood the truth, because one of the areas on which he did expend a good while was his attempt to reconcile the easy-to-figure astronomy of the jyotisa-sastras such as the Surya-siddhanta and Siddhanta-siromani with the cryptic, if not nebulous cosmological sections of the Puranas and Itihasas. Based on his extensive and rigorous analyses, Sadaputa, as sceptical as his nature was, nevertheless opined that many of the measurements of astral quantities found in ancient and medieval Indian treatises on the subject were made not less than 40,000 years ago approximately.

    Still, this information was never published in any official work of his, because he was no doubt alive to the fact that doing so would create a stir and possibly vitiate the credibility of his efforts in general, given that this material flies directly in the face of accepted historical norms and academic consensus.

  9. The article is on the money and devotees need more of such article to learn to understand how much we have been graced by generous nature of bhakti rather than qualifications.

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