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
Once two boys went to a music teacher to learn to play flute. One boy had no experience of playing any musical instruments while other boy had some experience of playing musical instruments, including flute. When asked about the fees, the music teacher would charge, the music teacher said Rs 200/- for a boy without experience and Rs 2000/- for a boy with experience. Surprised by this proposal the second boy asked “Why this discrimination? I have already some experience in playing flute, so I should be charged less”. The music teacher smiled and replied “you already have some knowledge about playing musical instruments, hence you are filled with pre-conceived notions. First I have to work on removing all the wrong things you have studied and then teach you the right way playing flute. But in case of other boy I can directly start him teaching playing flute as he is not pre-conditioned. Hence he is charged less and you more.”
Our position is similar to the second student in above story. Being educated in modern science from our childhood we have heard so many things from science that we find them sometimes contradicting the Vedas. But if you look carefully we have never cared about asking proofs to scientific claims. We assume that there is proof for everything that science or scientists say. We have never ourself verified if moon is closer to earth or sun is closer. But when Vedas say “Sun is closer to Earth” we feel this may not be true. Someone might say modern science is correct because they can predict eclipse and other celestial events but using Vedic Astrology also we can predict eclipses and rains. So it is just matter of time, when one progresses in Krishna Consciousness, the truth will be revealed slowly.
It is evident that all intelligent people of this material world accept the presence of a
Supreme One GOD. To understand this, one needs his intelligence, logical reasoning ; a power with which humans have been blessed and which separates it from all other living beings and lastly but the most important one blessing of the LORD. So just praise whatever complex you see in the world to be the intelligence of the Ultimate Creator . HARE KRISHNA
my response. as for the “sun closer than moon to earth.”
the vedic cosmology is very much allegorical. for example, the take the vedas themselves. if u read them, u will find a lot of allegories and metaphors. the bhumandala “earth flat disc” in the bhagavatham is a diagram with 18 concentric circles with jambudweepa at the centre. the name itself means “earth”, so we mistakely take it to be earth itself. but if u compare its sizes(the radii of the circles 8 to 18), we find that the radii of circles 8 to 18 correspond to apogrees and perigrees of other plants with respect to the earth. thus at first sight, we might find that it is unscientific, but a deeper understanding proves the bhumandala theory is actually scientific. in comparing the dist. btwn other planets and earth ring no. 11 and 12 stands out, but if u take their mean distance, we get earth sun distance correctly.this is not the only relation of bhumandala with the modern understanding of the world around us, there are 4 such understandings. this makes the bhumandala to be a composite map of the realistic universe.
as for “sun closer than moon to earth.” these might be distances of moon and sun to earth along another fourth spacial dimension. this is explained by richard l thompson in his book “mysteries of the sacred cosmology” and “vedic cosmography”. these two book are authentic and are highly praised by different scientists and mathematicians. i here give u the video where he explains (along with a question answer session) decribing the multidimensional universe according to the vedas.