The Flat Earth?
Devotees often ask me what I think of the Flat Earth movement which has become very popular these days. And what the Vedas, particularly the Srimad-Bhagavatam, have to say about the shape of the earth.
Firstly I would like to point out that we are not very interested in the earth. We are interested in going back home, back to Godhead. We are interested in Krishna, serving Krishna, chanting Hare Krishna and helping the other residents of this planet to awaken their dormant Krishna consciousness by chanting Hare Krishna, dancing in ecstasy and feasting on sumptuous Krishna prasadam… And we can chant, dance and feast on any world, flat earth or globe earth, it doesn’t matter.
And secondly I would like to point out, in this mood, many of the great Acaryas have referred to this planet as a globe including Srila Prabhupada who has referred to the earth as a globe in many places throughout his writings. So it is not a very big thing to us, the shape of the earth. In many cases irrelevant things like this we can just accept the current view and it is OK for preaching. It makes no difference if it is a globe or flat. We want to get off it and go back home back to Godhead. In this regard flat earth or globe earth does not matter. We chant Hare Krishna.
But Srila Prabhupada has a great vision. As an integral part of his preaching mission he wants to build a giant Vedic Planetarium and the purpose of that is preaching. The purpose of that is to illustrate the factual structure and workings of the universe as they are revealed in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Not that we are really very concerned about the structure of the universe. But the scientists have got everything wrong, and the two areas where they are most outrageously wrong are:
1. The origin of life [life comes from life, not chemicals]
2. The structure and workings of the Universe.
So Srila Prabhupada wants us to build a Vedic Planetarium which shows the actual workings and structure of the universe. This will be fascinating to every thoughtful person on the planet and everyone will understand what a great source of real scientific knowledge Srimad-Bhagavatam is. Of course ISKCON have turned the Vedic Planetarium into a joke so someone else will have to build the real thing. However it will be built and it will revolutionize everyone on the planet’s word view.
To build the Vedic Planetarium based on the description of the universe in Srimad-Bhagavatam we have to understand the Bhagavatam’s description. And therein lies the problem at present. I am not aware of anyone on the planet at this point in time who is able to understand the Bhagavatam’s description of the universe to the extent they can actually grasp how it works and where we are situated within it in sufficient detail. Which makes building a Vedic Planetarium at the moment impossible. You can not build something you don’t understand… The first step is to comprehend the model. And I humbly suggest I have not seen any evidence that anyone has yet comprehended the model of the universe in Srimad-Bhagavatam. If someone has please contact me and share it with me. I would be very, very interested to hear from you!
However everything is there in Srimad-Bhagavatam and it will be revealed by Krishna when He desires to someone who is sincere and serious and submissive and who is most importantly prepared to throw out all the garbage we have been brainwashed with from birth and start fresh with a blank slate.
There are many things we do know as facts from Srimad-Bhagavatam. As far as the earth Srimad-Bhagavatam does not describe it as a ball spinning in space.
In the Bhagavatam the earth is most certainly stationary. We can say that for an absolute fact. It is certainly not spinning or moving in any way. Because all the movements we see in the sky are explained in the Bhagavatam as movements of the wheel of time [sisumara chakra, which has all stars fixed on it in the constellations and that whole thing is rotating in the sky] and the sun, moon and planets move with the sisumara chakra but have their own independent movements also.
The wheel of time, a gigantic wheel consisting of all the stars, constellations, etc, all fixed in their respective places is connected to the wheel of the chariot of the sun god. It has an axle that rotates once every twenty-four hours. That causes the whole wheel of time to rotate 360 degrees in 24 hours. And this is the rotation that scientists mistakenly presume is the earth rotating. That is what makes the sun and moon and stars rise and set every day.
The axle of the sun god’s chariot is resting on the top of Manasottara mountain, which is a huge ring of mountains circling the whole Bhu-mandala island complex. In 360 days the axle of the sun god’s chariot moves all the way around the 360 degrees of the Manasottara mountains. This movement accounts for the different rising and setting positions of the sun, moon and stars, and also accounts for the seasons. So these two movements of the wheel of time, sisumara-chakra, prove that the earth is stationary and everything else is moving around the earth.
So that accounts for all the movements we see in the sky that the scientists presume are caused by the earth rotating.
As far as what the earth is, Srimad-Bhagavatam explains there is a plane called Bhu-mandala spreading out horizontally and it is concentric rings of land surrounded by oceans of various types. And Bhagavatam describes earth as Jambhudvipa [or part of the Jambhudvipa island] which is the central island surrounded by a salt water ocean. And that is what we experience the earth as. A land mass [that has been chopped up over time by various incidents described in the Bhagavatam [originally it was one land mass]] surrounded by a salt water ocean.
So there is no ball earth floating in space in the Bhagavatam.
So it appears the flat earth people are heading in the right direction but they are really not much better than the scientists. In scientific terms they are worse than the globe earth people because the globe earth people have a working model [which is wrong of course…] but they do have a practical working model which does predict most of what we observe happening around us. The globe earth model is a wonderful and ingenious model built by some of the most intelligent scientific brains. Unfortunatly it is wrong…
There are many faults with the globe earth model but it is a scientific model and it is the best model they have. Whereas the flat earth people have no scientific model at all. They can not present any scientific model. They all have different ideas when it comes to the details and when you try and test the partial models they put forward they are all faulty in so many ways.
But we can say for sure on the strength of the authority of Srimad-Bhagavatam the earth is not a globe spinning in space…
So the point is flat earth people and globe earth people are both useless because they are both trying to establish the truth based on their limited sense perception and their limited imagination.
Neither the scientists nor the flat earth people have access to any actual information as to how the universe is working. So it will never be possible for either group to ever understand using the faulty ascending process of knowledge. Both groups want to find the truth based on the power of their own intelligence, observations and research work. Both groups are ignorant that their observations, research and intelligence are all limited and faulty and this ascending process of knowledge will never lead to any actual knowledge.
Real knowledge descends from someone who knows. If we want real knowledge we have to find a person who possesses that knowledge in perfection. Such a person who possesses the knowledge can share it with us. This is the only way.
The Vedic literature, of which Srimad-Bhagavatam is the cream, the ripened fruit, is all written by Srila Vyasadeva. The spiritual master of Srila Vyasadeva is the transcendental spaceman Srila Narada Muni. Narada Muni travels throughout the entire universe and the spiritual world at his will playing on his musical instrument the Vina. Because Narada Muni is traveling everywhere he has full knowledge of the universe, the way it works and how it was created. He has heard all this information from his spiritual master Lord Brahma who is the engineer who built the universe, and he has seen the universe and its workings from all angles of vision.
So if we want to find out about the universe then we need to get the information from the engineer who created the universe, Lord Brahma, and we can get that through his disciple Narada Muni who has transferred it to his disciple Srila Vyasadeva who has most mercifully recorded this vital information in books approximately five thousand years ago.
The principle subject matter of the books of Srila Vyasadeva is not the structure of the universe. But there is an extensive discussion on this subject in the Fifth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam. He also mentions things about the structure of the universe in other places in the Bhagavatam and throughout his other books including the eighteen Puranas, 108 Upanisadas, Mahabharata, etc.
This system of acquiring knowledge is called the descending process. It is the only way to obtain real knowledge. You have to find someone who knows the subject matter and learn it from him.
For more information please go to:
Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!