5 reflections for reconciling science and scripture
Transcription of Lecture:
Transcribed by: Sadananda Prabhu
5 reflections for reconciling science and scripture
The fifth canto of the Bhagavatam is among the most challenging cantos in the Bhagavatam. For many reasons, broadly speaking this sixth canto can be divided into two parts: one is the first section which will go upto chapter fourteen and fifteen, which talks about basically detachment from material nature. First there is Lord Rishavadevas instructions and then we have Jada Bharat’s instructions. Both are focusing on detachment from material nature; and then from the fifteenth chapter onward to the twenty fifth chapter there is the description of the cosmos, and that is primarily a surveying of the universe with the purpose of understanding how dharma and bhakti ultimately pervade the holy names. So, the point is that the first half of this Bhagavatam can be very challenging for our material conceptions; we all have the conception that this world is a place of enjoyment, and instructions that have been swamped; and from that enjoyment centered conception a worldview emerges. That is the worldview that predominates the modern world today; a scientific and technological worldview, and that is strongly challenged by the Bhagavatam’s description of the cosmology.
I will take this class in finite points. The theme of the topic will be: deescalating the conflict between science and scripture. We can escalate a conflict and we can deescalate a conflict. We will try to understand what the Bhagavatam’s purpose and Srila Prabhupada’s purpose is, and we will see how we live in a world where we follow scripture, and we live in a world which is tremendously influenced by science. Right now we are using science; we have mike, I have a computer and we have a camera. So, we need to use both these. How can we live in a way that there is some conflict that is unavoidable, but we can overall deescalate the conflict, especially for new people who have a lot of faith in science.
The five parts will be:
I will first talk about multiple perspectives towards the universe within the Vedic tradition; then multiple perspectives towards the universe within science. Then I will talk about the purpose of scriptural knowledge, and then the fourth point, the purpose of scientific knowledge, and lastly reconciling or harmonizing scriptural and scientific knowledge in today’s world.
The first point I will start with is that, multiple perspectives within the Vedic tradition; multiple perspectives towards the universe. Sometimes we position science and
scripture as inherently at conflicting nature. Actually by positioning scripture as a competitor of science, we devalue scriptures. Scriptures are actually giving much higher knowledge: knowledge of how to transcend this world. Science only gives us knowledge of how to operate in this world, like how to make a computer, how to fly a plane, how to measure the temperature of the body; all these are practical things in this world. So, scripture may also give us practical knowledge, but the scripture’s primary knowledge is to give us transcendental knowledge.
When Arjuna is about to fight the war and he surrenders to Krishna, he is not asking knowledge of archery at that time. When Parikshit Maharaja surrenders to Sukhadeva Goswami, he is simply asking how he can fix his mind on Krishna. There may be knowledge of material things, but that is not the primary purpose.
In the Vedic tradition itself there are different visions of the cosmos. There are a whole set of scriptures called the Jyotisha Sastra. One of them is Surya Siddhantha on which Bhaktisiddhantha Saraswati Thakura commented. That is how he got the title Siddhantha in his epithet. Now the Jyotisha sastras give a very different vision of the cosmos from what is given in the Puranas or in the Bhagavatam. Now our Acharyas have commented on the Bhagavatam, and they have commented on the Bhagavatam’s cosmology also. At the same time whenever they have had to do any practical astrology, may say, if they see the horoscopes of Lord Krishna or Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu or the horoscopes of many great saints; no Acharya has used the Bhagavatams cosmology for astrological purposes, they have referred to the Jyotisha cosmology. Now they do not see the usage of Jyotisha Cosmology which is substantially different from the Bhagavatam cosmology; they do not see the Jyotisha cosmology and the Bhagavatam cosmology in conflict.
The Bhagavatam cosmology is primarily given for the purpose, and the purpose is clear: What should a person do at the time of death? He has to fix his mind on Krishna. So, the Bhagavatams cosmology is given for a particular purpose, and the Jyotisha cosmology is for an operational purposes. So, even in the Vedic tradition itself there is this differentiation of the operational and transcendental. The operational and the transcendental don’t need to make sense together at that same time. We can use the operational for practical purposes and at the same time accept the transcendental for increasing our focus on the Lord.
In today’s world for operational purposes we may use modern scientific cosmology, and there are some ways there are conflicts, and if this approach is taken far away, it can lead us down…7.02-7.04?? slow, but inherently we don’t have to see the two as contradictory; they are for different purposes. So, just as for operational purposes our
Acharyas have used Jyotisha cosmology; similarly, today we may use modern scientific cosmology for operational purposes, and that doesn’t in any way militate?7.22 against the acceptance of the Bhagavatam’s transcendental cosmology.
The second point is, somebody from the scientific perspective may say – somebody from the scriptural perspective may say that we have to reject science because science is against the Bhagavatam. No, they are two different perspectives at two different levels, and somebody from the scientific perspective may say that actually this Bhagavatams cosmology is mythological. How can you living in the scientific age today believe such pre-scientific nonsense ?
Now if the progress of science has taught us anything, it has taught us humility. The more we have studied the universe – actually the paradox is: the more we know, the more we come to know how little we know. For example, Dalton thought that the atom is one infinitesimal particle or a fundamental particle. Today atomic physics is a huge branch of knowledge, and there are hundreds of papers published, hundreds of books published practically every month. Just as at the microscopic level the more we have come to know about the atom, the more we have realized how little we know, how much more there is to be known. Similarly, some people would say, “We have sent space crafts and people out of space. We have conquered space, but the reality is that, just by going to outer space we have realized how big the outer space is. The vastness of the space even as we know from science, the earth is just a tiny pebble very vulnerable to all kinds of projectiles shooting around the vast cosmos. So, the more we come to know we realize how much more there is to know.
Within science itself, originally some scientists thought that we are trying to understand the nature of the world, but since the start of the twentieth century science, especially Physics, which is considered to be the most fundamental of science, has become fragmented between two branches – Quantum Physics and Relativity. And Quantum Physics holds that there is ultimately nothing ultimately existing except waves. For example if we take this mike; there is no such thing as a mike, there are only waves, and when there is an observer, the perception of the observer causes the waves to collapse, and we are making the bare most explanation over here; but then that is how we see an object. So, even a scientist as great as Einstein couldn’t make sense of Quantum Physics. He said, I would like to believe that the moon continues to exist even if I am not looking at it. It is common sense, but according to Quantum Physics, only when I look at it the moon exists, and when I am not looking at it, the moon doesn’t exist. Now this is so counterintuitive and illogical. At the same time – So, Einstein was a champion of relativity which holds that the particles exist, and the matter is made up of
fundamental particles. Now the problem with this common sense view that particles exists – Quantum Physics doesn’t seem at all as common sense right, but the problem is that the Quantum Physics works, and it works phenomenally well.
The calculations done based on the predictions of the Quantum Physics are so astonishingly accurate, that those who criticize Quantum Physic’s counterintuitive postulations, they just don’t know why it makes sense. So, basically now there are two theories in science broadly speaking: there is relativity and there is Quantum Physics. And now what is the world actually like? Is it particles or is it waves? Nobody knows. And scientists have been trying to bring both these theories together, and Steven Weinberg said that, “Last two decades we have made tremendous progress, but the more we have acquired knowledge, the more we have realized how different the theories are. The further we from the solution.”
Currently even the scientists don’t tell that science tells us anything about reality. Science simply gives us models of reality. So, Quantum Physics is one model of reality and Relativity is another model of reality. So, what is reality? Science doesn’t tell.
In science there is the Ontological view and the operational view or functional view. Ontological means the nature of the reality. Mainstream science has more or less given up any claims of telling us, what is ontological reality, “See, we have this model, this model works in this areas , and this model works in this area”, and which models scientists use that depends on whichever works. Even scientists have also realized that all that they have is models.
Scientists do not have any monopoly on the understanding of reality, because within their own theories there are different theories which are not reconcilable. So, therefore based on science to claim that another perspective of reality is wrong, that goes against the very direction in which science is going. So, all that we can say is, science cannot say anything about the …3.17?? of cosmology. As Prabhupada writes in one of the purports over here, modern science can neither prove it nor disprove it, it is just beyond. So, even if somebody is scientific, that doesn’t mean that they have to reject the Bhagavatam’s cosmology. The Bhagavatam is describing it from a very different perspective, and what science describes is not a reality, it describes simply a model of reality, and there can be some other model entirely of which we have no understanding, because we are perceiving from a different scale.
Just like say if we have coal and if we have chalk; coal is black and chalk is white. We grind both of them into powder and mix them in bowels, and then if we look at that powder, there will be grey granules, and if we look at the powder under the microscope,
we will see something is black and something is white. What is really? Are there black particles and white particles, or are they grey granules? It depends on the scale of perception.
The vision at the human eye of the grey particles, and the vision of the black and white particles at the microscopic level; these two are not reconcilable. Unless we understand that the same thing can be perceived very differently at different scales of observations. So, even from the scientific perspective we can see that the Bhagavatams cosmology is from a different scale of observation, from a different perspective.
The third point is – this was what I talked about multiple perspectives within science. The third point is that we understand what is the purpose of the Bhagavatam. Now if we look at the Bhagavatam itself, from the fifteenth to twenty fifth chapters there is description of cosmo-traffic?44.40 to some extent. At the same time the purpose of the Bhagavatam is not to give an exhaustive description of cosmology??. The purpose of the Bhagavatam is clear. Even at the start of the section of the Bhagavatam, as well the end of the section, it is described that by meditating on the universe we will understand the glories of Lord Hari, and we will become more absorbed in devotion to Lord Hari. The purpose of the Bhagavatam is not to describe the cosmography. The purpose is to help us meditate on the Lord, and the Bhagavatam uses different ways to help us meditate on the Lord. In the second canto basically the Bhagavatam starts from matter and goes towards spirit, and ultimately to the supreme spirit. So, it starts from matter towards spirit in three ways; one is through the Virat Rupa ; we look of the huge universe, conceive of it as the universal form, and then go beyond the universal form to the Lord’s remembrance. That is the second canto, and third canto there is the sankhya analysis; the first is to see the universe as one form and go to the possessor of that form; and the second is break down the universe into its components; Sankhya is basically breaking down and analyzing the world in its components, and seeing all those components as energies of the Lord, and thereby focusing on it.
Similarly, in the fifth canto there is the description of the universe. The purpose of the description of the universe is to help us to fix our mind on Krishna. Now Srila Prabhupada was very clear. If we look at the fifth canto purports, again and again he is focusing on the principles of spiritual life, on practicing bhakti, on fixing the mind on Krishna, on attaining Krishna’s abode, and Srila Prabhupada was so clear in his purpose that he said that, even that which is the culmination of the Bhagavatam; that is the Rasapanchadhya, the five chapters of the Rasa Lila, the twenty ninth to the thirty three of the tenth canto; Srila Prabhupada said that if you read that, and if reading that
makes us feel agitated; because rasalila pastimes can appear like ordinary male female attractions and they may agitate us. So, Prabhupada said that if that happens, then don’t read it. The point is that this is the most cherished section of the Bhagavatam, but Prabhupada was seeing even this most cherished section of the Bhagavatam in the light of the purpose of the Bhagavatam.
The purpose of the Bhagavatam is to help us fix our mind on Krishna, and if this section which is the heart of the Bhagavatam doesn ’t help us to fix our mind on Krishna, and if that agitates our mind, the Prabhupada is saying that we better don’t read it. The point is, we should be clear what is our purpose; so, if by reading the fifth canto of the Bhagavatam we find that our mind gets too agitated, and we think, “How will I make sense of it?” So, we have to be clear of the purpose. It is not that we reject the rasa lila; we accept the rasa lila, but at the same time we don’t focus on it. Similarly, if we read the fifth canto cosmology it doesn’t make sense. If I have come from a scientific perspective how will I make sense of it? If that is what is happening with new people who are coming, we have to be clear what is our purpose. Our purpose is to help them fix our mind on Krishna, our purpose is to help them come closer to Krishna. So, if they find it very difficult to understand, then we can tell them; “We follow the principle of anukulasya sankalpa pratikulasya varjananam; we accept that which is favorable, and put aside that which is not favorable.” That means that we don’t have to read the fifth canto Bhagavatam; we don’t need to focus on it.
There is one very beautiful pastime of Srila Prabhupada. Once some devotee asked Srila Prabhupada, “Prabhupada! When we talk with the scholars and we tell the scholars that, “Maharaja Ugrasena had some millions and millions, huge astronomical number of bodyguards that is described in the Bhagavatam”, the scholars are laughing at us, and they say, “Where were they all living in Dwaraka? Where were their toilets, how could they possibly accommodate it over there?” Now Prabhupada could have given any answer. He could have said, “Krishna is omnipotent, Krishna can do anything.” But Prabhupada gives a surprisingly non-confrontational answer. Prabhupada said, “Among the thousands of verses in the Bhagavatam was that the only section that you found to talk with the scholars?”
The purpose of sharing scriptural knowledge is to help people come close to Krishna. We are not questioning the Bhagavatam’s fifth canto cosmology, but we are only considering what is most important for people in the world to do. Everybody is busy today. We ourselves are busy. We have limited time; for ourselves and our own bhakti we have limited time to interact with others, and even that time we have to share with
them that which is the most important for their spiritual growth.
If we see, the Bhagavatam itself is condensed into Catursloki Bhagavatam. The Catursloki Bhagavatam doesn’t even contain one verse on the cosmology. It focuses primarily on the Lord and the relationship of the Lord with the devotee. How? By searching from this word we should culminate in understanding the glory of the Lord. So, that way the purpose of the Bhagavatam is clear; that is to help us to fix our mind on Krishna.
Bhakti Vinod Thankura also in his essay on the Bhagavatam says that – he is basically anticipating what all obstacles people may have at his times in understanding the Bhagavatam, and he says that in the cosmology it is very difficult to understand. So, the purpose of the Bhagavatam is to focus the mind on Krishna. So, focus on that. We don’t have to highlight this parts of the Bhagavatam during our talks and we don’t have to make this into a faith issue; that the essence of the Bhagavatam is to focus our mind on Krishna, and if we don’t understand some things – see, every field of knowledge there are things which we don’t understand. If you go into science or any academic degree also, who can say that, “Everything in the text book I can understand.” There are many things that you won’t understand, but just move on.
Our purpose is to get to get a job, get a degree, get good grades, and we understand what we can understand, and we put aside other things; if they are important, we will revisit them later and then we will try to understand. So, we should know that the purpose of studying the Bhagavatam which is fixing the mind on Krishna.
In today’s world certain section of the Bhagavatam – just like if we come from a sensual background, meditating on the rasa lila may agitate our mind, not fix it on Krishna. Similarly, focusing on the fifth canto may also agitate our mind and prevent us from focusing on Krishna.
Now the fourth point is, “What is the purpose of scientific knowledge?” Science operates based on a particular methodology. That methodology is that it looks for natural explanations of natural phenomenons. That means, if Newton saw the fruit falling, now what caused the fruit to fall? He could have said, “God caused the fruit to fall.” That is fine. Ultimately God is the cause of everything, but science is not looking for the ultimate cause, science operates by the principle of, if not all science, but most science operates on the principle of methodological naturalism. That means it looks for natural explanations for natural phenomenon, and so by definition itself science doesn’t look for that which is beyond natural. Now when science uses the word natural, that is the different from the way we use nature; like natural we refer to that which is innate to us.
Science uses naturalism in the sense of material. So, it looks for material explanations for material phenomenon, and not just material, you could even say to some extent physical, because the physiological is also not so much included in the natural science. So, it looks for physical explanations for physical phenomenon. From that perspective science cannot provide answers about ultimate questions.
If somebody goes for fishing, and they have fishing net whose hole is about say one inch by one inch. They may cast the fishing net for a hundred years in a river that is filled with fish, but they will never catch a fish that is smaller than one inch, because the tool itself is not suitable for it. So, science by itself cannot give us any spiritual knowledge because spiritual reality slips out of the net of the knowledge that casts. It focuses on material explanations. That is why the spiritual and the material are not inherently contradictory. Science gives us material knowledge. Now of course in every branch of knowledge there are imperialist tendencies. It is like everybody, whatever field – any country in the world that you go; even if it is small country, the people of the country think they are the greatest in the world. They have some way of thinking that they are the greatest. So, wherever we are situated, the human ego is such that it claims that this is the greatest. So, even within science there is a strand of imperialism. Imperialism means, there are some scientists who claim that science can answer all questions about everything, and this is scientific imperialism, or the word for it is scientism. Now scientism is different from science. Scientism is the idea that science is omniscient, science can give all knowledge about everything. Now scientism itself is unscientific. Why? Because there is no scientific experiment to proof that science can give all knowledge that is there to be known. What experiment can we device to say that all knowledge that is there to be known, we can know through science. There is no experiment to know it.
The whole of medical science is meant to free people from pain, but in all of medical science there is not a single device that can measure pain. Because pain is experiential; it not quantifiable. You can’t have a painometer. So, the point is, science gives a particular kind of knowledge. It gives it very powerfully, but it gives us natural explanations for natural phenomenon, and when we understand this, there is a difference between science and scientism.
There is a conversation of Srila Prabhupada in L.A which was later published as Life comes from Life; here Prabhupada says that, “We are not against the knowing spirit of science, we are against their atheism.” That means that science is extrapolated to make statements about God; inherently science can neither proof nor disproof the existence of God, because God by definition is non-material. So, now from the evidence of
science inferences can be made about the existence of God, and there are many scientists who by their understanding of the universe have actually felt themselves deepened in their devotion to God. Pascal said famously, “Little of science takes man away from God, but emersion in science brings him back to God.”
The same purpose of the Bhagavatam: Fixing the mind on Krishna, that can also be served by science for some people. But science itself is primarily not giving us any transcendental knowledge. If any scientist claim that God doesn’t exist or the world doesn’t exist, they are actually going beyond the jurisdiction of science. They are making non-scientific extrapolations from scientific theories; they are actually not proving science but they are extrapolating beyond science.
The last point is that how can we reconcile or harmonize science and spirituality. It is based on the purpose. The purpose of science is getting operational knowledge in this world, but the purpose of the Bhagavatam is fixing the mind on Krishna.
Now, suppose a patient is sick and is in pain; the doctor will give a curative medicine, maybe an antibiotic for treating the patient, so that the patient will be healed. Along with that if the patient if the patient is in a lot of pain, then the doctor may also give some painkillers. Now the pain killer and the curative medicine, both of them work together. They are complementary; they are not inherently contradictory.
The Isopanishad also says, vidyam ca vidyam ca….. that with material knowledge and spiritual knowledge we can transcend this world and we can attain immortality. So, material knowledge from whatever source it comes, it is like a pain killer, it is basically a painkiller. Spiritual knowledge is the ultimate medicine. We are eternal souls caught in material existence attached to temporary material things 29.18-20. We have to function in this world. To function in this world we need some practical knowledge. Just like for treating the body there is Allopath and there is Ayurveda. Now Srila Prabhupada preferred Ayurveda, but Prabhupada was not a campaigner against Allopathy. His idea was, “Take whatever medicine that works and focus on serving Krishna.” So, for maintaining the body we will need something practical. Like that whatever material knowledge we acquire, that is like the painkiller. The spiritual knowledge that we have is the ultimate medicine.
Now for the painkiller, there are two extreme approaches for it. One is to say that, no need to take painkillers. Different people may have different levels of resistance. I may not feel the need of a painkiller, but for somebody else who is in great pain, they need a painkiller. Similarly, some people may not have any scientific interest at all. For them there is no need of scientific analysis. They say, O the Bhagavatama is the right
science. They don’t have to go through all the intellectual process of trying to make sense of everything. So, they don’t need it at all, but just because – for them Bhagavatam gives the ultimate knowledge, and they are satisfied with it. Chant Hare Krishna and be happy. They can do that. But there are others who have gone through a whole basis of scientific education and are not able to make sense of the two, it causes pain. Different people have different diseases and have different levels of pain. Some person may not need a pain killer, but others absolutely need a pain killer. Similarly, some people may need going through a whole process of sophisticated analysis so that they can make sense. Now different people will need different doses of painkillers. To say that nobody should take a painkiller; that means that you reject all scientific knowledge. Like that we just can’t function in this world today. Somebody may be living in some far community, and they might be able to live without scientific knowledge, but even if they want to promote the success of their farm community, and they use the internet for it. So, they are also using science. Nobody lives without science in today’s world. It is operational. So, they don’t have to go on a campaign against painkillers. Now the other extreme possibility is to think that the painkiller alone is enough.
Somebody may think that, “Science has given his so many comforts, so many luxuries, life is so nice, why do I need God?” It is only going to give us something temporary. Actually we want lasting benefits and science cannot offer us that.
Einstein said that we can talk about the ethical foundations of science, but we cannot talk about the scientific foundation of ethics. Science cannot give us knowledge about what is right and what is wrong. Science can tell us that if we put arsenic in the breakfast of our grandmother, then we can get her inheritance very quickly, but science cannot tell us whether we should do it or not do it. That comes from our ethical sense, and that comes from somewhere else. That doesn’t come from science. The point is that we need knowledge beyond scientific knowledge also for functioning in this world, for ultimately growing in our life.
To say that somebody was satisfied with painkillers, scientific knowledge alone is enough, they are making a mistake, just temporarily from pain they are mistaking it to be a cure. That is also a mistake. So, we need to harmonize both, and the way to harmonize both is by recognizing that they have their roles. Now definitely there are some cases where the two will not be reconciled. For example, when scientist’s claim that consciousness comes from matter; that is as I said is not a scientific claim, it is a non-scientific extrapolation of scientific data. When it is done, there will be conflict. So, there are areas where there are confrontation, but there is no need to see them as inherently incoherent. If we understand the purpose we can use each of them for the
right purpose and grow spiritually and help others to grow spiritually without having to go through too much of a cognitive dissonance, of an intellectual crisis of not being able to make sense perspectives, and have seen conflicts, and ultimate purpose is to help people fix their mind on Krishna and go towards Krishna. That can be served when we learn to expertly bring them together; as Prabhupada said, “Thus one can become free from the clutches of matter.” So, the purpose is to become free from material consciousness and become Krishna consciousness, and whatever needs to be done to help people do that, we present Krishna consciousness accordingly.
I will summarize.
I spoke in five parts about how to make sense of the Bhagavatam which is called cosmology in today’s scientific age. We don’t have to position scripture as a competitor to science; we will devalue scripture. We look at the multiple perspectives within scriptures.
The Gaudia acharyas and the Bhagavatam commentators have accepted the Bhagavatam’s fifth canto cosmology. At the same time for astrological, operational purposes they have used Jyotisha cosmology which is quite different. There is no precedent in our tradition of using a cosmology different from the Bhagavatam for operational purposes.
In the past Jyotisha cosmology was used. Today modern scientific cosmology can be used. Secondly, in science if somebody says that, since we are scientific, we reject the Bhagavatam as mythology, that is unwanted because science doesn’t tell us about reality, science simply gives us models of reality, and the models of reality do not describe realities so exhaustively. So, there can be always be another perspective of reality from another level of observation. Quantum Physics and Relativity are both valid in their own ways, but the reality is something more than that. Just as coal and chalk particles can look black and white at our level, but at a microscopic level they look grey. So, things can look very differently. It is not that one has to be wrong and the other has to be right.
The third is, the purpose of the Bhagavatam is to fix our mind on Krishna, and that’s what the Bhagavatam’s fifth canto says that this will happen by hearing cosmology, but sometimes some people’s mind may be getting very agitated and they are not able to fix their mind on Krishna, then what should we do? Prabhupada say, “If by hearing the Rasa Lila your mind is getting agitated, then don’t hear it.” We are not rejecting it, but we are simply on humble perspective recognizing that we should accept what is
favorable for our bhakti and put aside that which is not favorable.
The purpose of scientific knowledge is to give us material natural explanations for natural phenomenon. It is like, fishing net cannot catch a fish smaller than one inch; like that scientific knowledge can never tell us spiritual truth so conclusively. Now from scientific knowledge inferences can be made about the existence of God, and the same purpose of the Bhagavatam of fixing the mind on Krishna can be served even from the modern scientific model of reality also. Of course others may extrapolate atheistically; that is scientism. That is not science. That is extrapolation from science.
Prabhupada said, we are not against the knowing spirit of science, but we are against their atheism, and the way to reconcile both of them is to recognize that scientific knowledge can be painkiller solution knowledge, and spiritual knowledge is the curative medicine. Because different people may have different kinds of diseases, different people may need different processes of treatment. So, some people represent not from scientific background, they don’t need any kind of reconciliation, they just accept Bhagavatam, but those who are of scientific background they need a systematic analysis to place everything in a proper context. The negative painkillers, they don’t have to go on a campaign against painkillers saying that you have to reject scientific knowledge to accept God. Nor do we have to think that painkillers are enough, thinking that scientific knowledge can alone solve our problems; that is illusion because science cannot tell us about the purpose of our life or the ethics of our life, or what is the ultimate goal of life. For that we need spiritual knowledge. So, by properly understanding the areas of growth we can avoid unnecessary conflict and focus on the ultimate purpose of our life; that is by becoming liberated by going to Krishna.
Thank you very much.
CCP: The point is that, isn’t it that with the spiritual masters guidance we can understand things which we can’t normally understand like the rasa lila. Yes, definitely. Now there is a significant difference between fifth canto cosmology and the rasa lila. The Rasa Lila is manifested in the spiritual world; that is where we aspire to go, and that is what we will understand through purification, and it is said.
Now if you see the Bhagavatam, one of the conclusive verses of the fifth canto of the Bhagavatam is that, by understanding this cosmology we can understand that we can never understand the universe. So, that means that the glories of Lord Hari are endless
and nobody can fathom them. So, the point is that Srila Prabhupada himself when he gave the commentary on the Bhagavatam, he said that I have to prayed to Krishna that it is so complex that please help me to write a commentary on this, and then when the devotees started asking technical questions, how to depict this and how to depict that? Prabhupada gave some guidelines and then he told them, “You consult an expert in this fields”, and these devotees went to the Madhava tradition to look at some experts, and they met some traditional Madhava Pandits, and they asked different people. Prabhupada said that, “You ask some expert about this.”
Prabhupada, as far as the technicalities of the fifth canto of the Bhagavatam is concerned, Prabhupada did not get into the technicalities, and Prabhupada told to different devotees to refer to some expert, and devotees referred to many experts, but apparently nobody has been able to actually experience the Bhagavatam, 5th Canto Cosmology in a way that really make sense of that which is depicted.
CCP: That was Srila Prabhupada’s expertise.
When we start judging whether this is right or wrong, then it becomes a problem, but when we think from the perspective of what is practical – hear it and focus on the essential principles.