I find Vedic cosmology difficult to believe. What should i do?
Question: I find Vedic cosmology with ideas like the sun is closer than the moon or that man didn’t go to the moon etc very difficult to believe. At the same time, I have strong faith in Krishna and Bhagavad-gita, and I find the practices of Krishna consciousness likeable and beneficial. But the doubts about Vedic cosmology keep troubling me. What should I do?
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KC phil: central and peripheral aspects
Central: Always fix the mind on Krishna
Contemplation on cosmology is also a means to fix the mind on Krishna. If this means is not suitable for you, then pratikulyasya varjanam… (avoid that which is unfavorable). Even through modern cosmology, one can get awed and inspired by a sense of the greatness and the glory of God, and that can inspire us to become more devoted to him, which is also the purpose of Vedic cosmology.
Humility in the realm of knowledge means, “I don’t understand everything – and even I can’t understand everything.”
Even modern science, impressive as it is, has revealed far more gaps in our knowledge than what it has filled.
Eg. Modern physics:
- Light being both particle and wave is like saying the stone that causes a ripple and the ripple are the same.
Even when we don’t understand physics fully, we keep using whatever part of it works for us while also striving to understand the part that doesn’t make sense to us.
The same principle applies to KC:
Different aspects of KC philosophy:
- Aspects that will strike us as true on first hearing: eg. The real cause of the world’s problems is the lowered consciousness of people, their being predominated by lust, anger, greed, envy, pride and illusion.
- Aspects that will be understood as true after questioning and contemplation: eg. I am not the body; I am the soul.
- Aspects that will be understood only through practice and experience: eg. This world is primarily a place of misery; The process of chanting Hare Krishna – and fixing the mind on Krishna in general – frees a person from lust, anger, greed…
- Aspects that will be understood only after a lifetime of service and purification: eg. How Krishna’s relationship with the gopis is pure and is the expression of the highest love.
- Aspects that will be understood only after returning back to the spiritual world: eg. If all the residents of Vaikuntha look exactly like Vishnu except that they don’t have Kaustubha jewel, then how do they identify each other?
The main engine that will take us onwards from the first level to the fifth is our practice of KC, of fixing the mind on Krishna and become purified.
While purifying ourselves, keeping both our belief and disbelief about a subject in abeyance is not wrong.
Placing a portion of the scripture on the backburner is acceptable
eg. SP: When SP asked how to present a certain Bhagavatam section that was difficult to believe, SP replied, “So you want to preach this particular portion and no other portion?” and then again, “You can give up that portion. You can take other portion.”
We may not be able to believe it, but we shouldn’t disbelieve or deny it; an acceptable attitude is, “I don’t understand it right now.”
Disbelieving it is not necessary even if we are scientifically-minded – and is actually not possible if we are truly scientifically-minded
Eg. Science is like a map – reveals reality selectively and at times deceptively
Vedic cosmology – a parallel reality seen from a different perspective, it’s a different map
That map was understandable for the people at that time and helped them fix their mind on Krishna at that time; we need to be sara-grahi (essence-seeking), not bhara-grahi (burden-seeking).
SP wanted his leading scientist-followers to understand that map and then depict it in 3D to the rest of the world. So let them understand it, make it understandable to us and then we can adopt it.
For an answer to the question on the sun-moon proximity, please click here
For an article about the moon mission, please click here