About the Book
Bhagavata cosmology consolidates and summarizes the descriptions of universal geography presentedin srimad bhagavatam, Bhugola varnanam Surya-siddhanta, Ramayana, Mahabharata, visnu Purana, Vayu Purana and other books. This book reconciles this scriptural understanding and the modern understanding by drawing parallels between them.
This book systematically presents the process and purpose of the creation of universe and the variety of living entities pupolating it. It briefly outlines the structure of the universe, with its horizontal and vertical divisions, as presented in the bhagavata Purana. The 2D and 3D pictorial representations, flow charts and summary tables in this book reveal the working of the universe by explaining the passing of day and night, the phases of the moon, the passing of seasons and the eclipses and many more.
Srila Sukadeva Gosvami says that the expansion of the Supreme Lord's material creation is unlimited. It is not possible even for a person with the lifespan of a devata to understand it by words or mind. But in order to answer the querry of King Pariksit that he wants to know the details of the structure of the universe, Sukadeva Gosvami presents a general description of the principal regions, such as Bhu-goloka (Bhuloka), with their names, forms, measurements and various symptoms (SB 5.16.4). Srila Sukadeva Gosvami himself admits that to give full details of this material universe would be impossible, and then what to speak of us with our insignificant limited understanding. Nevertheless, this is an attempt by a team of students at Bhaktivedanta Vidyapitha, Govardhan Ecovillage, to understand and describe the structure of the universe, or brahmdnda, as described in the fifth canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam. Bhaktivedanta Vidyapitha is a two-year, full time study course at Goverdhan Ecovillage. It covers the systematic study of Srimad- Bhagavatam and Sri Caitanya Caritamrta translated and commented by Srila Prabhupada.
As part of the two-year curriculum of this Bhaktivedanta Vidyapitha course, we have undertaken this project to understand and present the Structure of the Universe, as described in the Vedic texts, in a pictorial way. This has started with an intention to come up with a 3-D working model, which presents the Structure of the Universe and the movement of various planets, such as the sun and the moon, in an understandable and simple way. We have tried to draw a parallel between the Vedic understanding of the Universe and the Modern understanding of the Universe. The commonalities and differences of the above two descriptions are presented for the consideration of the reader.
In doing this, we have drawn information from the following sources: (1) The commentaries of various Acaryas on various Puranas, specifically the Srimad- Bhdgauatam (2) The commentary of Srila Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakura on the Srimad-Bhdgavatam (3) Other writings in the Vedic tradition, including the Surya-siddhdnta and Bhugola varnanam of Srila Vadiraja Tirta Svami, and (4) Modern Western science about the description of the Solar System.
Our aim is to share an easy-to-understand presentation that will harmonize the descriptions of the Vedic texts and the descriptions of modern science related to the descriptions of the universe. This will help the reader to appreciate that the descriptions given in the scriptures are not mythical but factual.
This book primarily constitutes a preliminary study of the Vedic Cosmology as described in the Fifth Canto of the Srimad-Bhdgavatam, supported by the descriptions given in Srila Vadiraja Tirtha swami's "Bhugola varnanam", The later part reconciles both the Vedic and Modern approaches in describing the Structure of the Universe.
The book includes the study of-
(1) The Structure of Bhu-mandala as presented in Srimad-Bhdgavatam.
(2) The Structure of Fourteen-planetary System.
(3) The movements of sun, moon and other planets (primarily the nava-grahas).
(4) The calculations of the Vedic Calendar (Traditional Indian Calendar).
(5) The Science behind the Eclipses and the change in the Seasons.
According to acaryas we should accept the cosmological statements in the Srimad-Bhagavatam as authoritative and simply try to appreciate them. We will therefore adopt the working assumption that even though these statements may seem very hard to comprehend, they nonetheless do present an understandable and realistic description of the universe. To simplify these descriptions of the Srimad-Bhagavatarn, we have reffered to various acaryas commentaries and quoted them all through the book, specifically Srila Vadiraja Tirta Svami's "Bhugola varnanam", This will help the reader to appreciate the descriptions of the Srimad-Bhagavatam.
It is my earnest desire, that this book can enable the reader to effectively appreciate the "Mystery behind the working of the Universe." It is also our hope that thise book along with the tiny 3-D Model of the Universe (Vedic Planetarium), can practically demonstrate the Working of the Universe. Thus, we can effectively present Krsna Consciousness in the context of Vedic Cosmology. This, of course, was the plan of Srila Prabhupada for the Temple of Vedic Planetarium (TOVP) in Sridhama Mayapura.
Modern Western science is based on the idea that nature can be fully described by a single, rational world-model. However, the Srimad-Bhagavatam points out that no person of this world is capable of fully describing the material universe "even in a lifetime as long as that of Brahma" (SB 5.16.4). Thus the Vedic approach to the description of nature is based on the strategy of presenting many mutually compatible aspects of one humanly indescribable complete whole. This is the approach used in Srimad-Bhagavatam while explaining the details of cosmology. The Universe described in the Vedic literature is higher-dimensional and beyond the range of our sense perception, thus it cannot be fully represented within three-dimensional space or within sense perceivable pictorial description. This requires the understanding of higher dimensional representation.
It was Srila Prabhupada's earnest desire to explain the complex descriptions of the Fifth Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam through the construction of a very large "Vedic Planetarium", a working 3-D Model. Srila Prabhupada also desired that detaile information shall be presented on open verandas at different levels by means of dioramas, charts and films, etc. This is evident from Srila Prabhupada's letter given below.
"Now our Ph.D.'s must collaborate and study the Fifth Canto to make a model for building the Vedic Planetarium. My final decision is that the universe is just like a tree, with root upwards. Just as a tree has branches and leaves, so the universe is also composed of planets which are fixed up in the tree like the leaves, flowers, fruits, etc .... So now all you Ph.D.’s must carefully study the details of the Fifth Canto and make a working model of the universe. If we can explain the passing seasons, eclipses, phases of the moon, passing of day and night, etc., then it will be very powerful propaganda" (letter from Srila Prabhupada to Suarupa Damodara ddsa, Ap