The Moon — Sadaputa’s is the Bona Fide ISKCON Opinion?
Thank you for your letter. It is a real eye-opener for me. Probably as most other devotees, I was just considering that opinion of Sadaputa Prabhu is bonafide ISKCON opinion. I forgot that the mission of our scientists is to present Bhagavatam to karmi scientists.
Dear Madhudvisa Prabhu
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
Thank you for your letter. It is a real eye-opener for me. Probably as most other devotees, I was just considering that opinion of Sadaputa Prabhu is bonafide ISKCON opinion. I forgot that the mission of our scientists is to present Bhagavatam to karmi scientists. As Caitanya Candrodaya Prabhu quoted:
“Regarding the scientists, we have entrusted our own three scientists namely Svarupa Damodara, Sadaputa, and Madhva and we leave the matter to them, we do not say anything ourselves, but are leaving it to them.”
So their methods may be valued in that way. As Danavir Maharaja writes in his book: “The job with which Vedic scientists are faced is to utilize their knowledge of the material world to provide to the materially-affected persons that what is stated in the shastras is perfect and unasillable, even by material calculations”.
And then he continues with saying for devotees that: “A Devotee should be satisfied with the knowledge and parameters given to him by the spiritual authorities. …”
It is so clear, thank you for pointing this out.
> However if we transfer the same absolute faith to some other devotee and
> that devotee turns out not to be on the highest transcendental platform
> that can be very dangerous for our spiritual advancement. In Hari-Bhakti
> So knowingly or unknowingly you have accepted Sadaputa Prabhu as your
> spiritual master. You have accepted his words on the same absolute
> platform as Srila Prabhupada’s words. But you do not really know if
> Sadaputa is a self-realized soul who has seen the truth.
I don’t think the problem is not so much in being on highest transcendental platform or not. I’d rather maintain the view that the mission of Sadaputa Prabhu is to explain Bhagavatam to karmi scientists, and to teach other devotees how to do the same. But as far as understanding of devotees goes, we should be satisfied with Bhagavatam itself. I heard this later statement so many times, and thought I understand it, but just see….
> It is quite well known in ISKCON that Sadaputa Prabhu is siding with the
> scientists. Danavir Maharaja has even published a big, big book on this
> subject challenging Sadaputa’s most recent cosmology book. It is called
> Vedic Cosmology and you can get it at
Yes, the book of Danavir Maharaja! I purchased it quite a while ago, but was still waiting on the bookshelf. Yesterday I opened it and there it is, simple and pure view on Bhagavatam, “Vedic Cosmology Taken Literally”. Pure nectar. I don’t think it will pass with scientists though, but it sure brings nectar to devotees.
I noticed that you already had some discussion on this points with Gauranga Premananda das and Madhu Gopal das.
> In this book Maharaja shows very clearly how Sadaputa is deviating from
> the teachings of Srila Prabhupada in so many ways and siding with the
Well, deviating is strong word, and it implies on purposeful intention to distort. I rather see it as part of his work, to present SB to scientists in their way. Problem is in our response to his work. Maybe we just need to accept, that his books are not ment for devotees, but for scientifically oriented karmis. This is his preaching, one of many bridge preachings in ISKCON.
> You have somehow accepted Sadaputa as your guru without going through the
> system of checks and balances, and you are instructing the people who come
> to you with the teachings of Sadaputa. The checks to see if a guru is bona
> fide are 3. Guru-sadhu-sastra. He must preach in line with his guru, he
> must preach from the sastra and his teachings must be in line with the
> recognized and approved sadhus. Otherwise he is not a guru.
You are hard on this point, I see. Even if I agree, that I accepted Sadaputa prabhu as siksa guru, this still doesn’t require him to be actually qualified as Guru. It just shows my foolishness. I can take from him any valuable siksa, and apply it according to my judgement. I can take siksa from any devotee, like for example local temple president, although he is not Guru. But how i react to such siksa, that is my responsibility. Anyway, we can discuss this points aBOUT Guru understanding in another thread on “Understanding Srila Prabhupada’s Teachings” conference.
> The whole basis of Krishna consciousness is to receive perfect knowledge
> from a perfect authority. That is getting knowledge from the descending
> process, not the ascending process.
And that perfect authority is in our case of course Srila Prabhupada, and of course any other devotee, who is strictly presenting teachings of Srila Prabhupada. I considered Sadaputa prabhu as strictly presenting SP, but I may adjust my understanding about this in near future. Give me some time, please, to consult some devotees. I will write in conference about my findings.
> So the bigger picture here is not really about the moon at all. It is if
> we should accept knowledge gained by the ascending process or knowledge
> gained by the descending process.
Yes, exactly. And this is exactly what this conference is all about. To differentiate what is Srila Prabhupada, and what not, to understand his teachings. Thank you for pointing this things out.
> Exactly what the Suriya Siddhanta says we really do not know. When people
Danavir Maharaja in his book says the following about consulting Surya Siddhanta, Siddhanta Siromani and Aryabhatiya: “Although Srila Prabhupada didn’t recommend that these be consulted, they are nonetheless being used by some of today’s Vedically-oriented writings, even antithetically to the direct meaning of the Srimad Bhagavatam’s statements. Thus these nineteenth century texts are included as a reference to prevent their misuse.”
> they have is a “predictive model.” That means they have observed what is
> going on in the sky and made some hypothesis, which really means “educated
> guess” as to what is going on. Then they make predictions of what will
Thats obvious. What else could they have? They are observing from the faaaaaar.
We can easily privide to them explanation, which will be viewed by them as another predictive model. They may not agree, but at least they will value it as another “predictive model”. And we can be happy, to know that it is model of reality, not just another predictive model. I hope that Vedic Plentarium can provide such model to them for alternative, and to us for inspiration.
> it serves their purpose. The Suriya siddhanta is not based on the
> Bhagavata astronomy. It comes from a book from an even earlier Indian
> astronomer. I am not very knowledgeable on these things. You could do some
> research and let me know.
Lets see. I’m personally not so much into astronomy, I just deal with it because Srila Prabhupada spoke of it, otherwise I have no special inclination towards it. If I get some additional information, I will post it here, for sure.
> But the Bhagavatam is different. It is not a predictive model. The
Exactly. Lets see how it develops with Vedic Planetarium. I will speak personally with one devotee, astrophysics PhD, who is involved in planetarium project. I will ask those points about distances, lets see what will be the answer. I will post here asap.
Dear Giri-Nayaka Prabhu
Hare Krishna! Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
>You are opening a whole new point of view here. I see, my problem was, that
>I accepted explanations of Sadaputa prabhu for bonfide as by definition. I
>never considered, that he may be wrong, since I had faith, that he knows
>what he is talking about.
This is certainly a problem. We can not blindly accept. Of course if you blindly accept Srila Prabhupada there is no problem. It is proven far beyond any question of doubt that Srila Prabhupada is a pure devotee of Krishna and if we simply accept everything he says as the absolute truth we will not go wrong.
However if we transfer the same absolute faith to some other devotee and that devotee turns out not to be on the highest transcendental platform that can be very dangerous for our spiritual advancement. In Hari-Bhakti Vilasa it is recommended that before accepting a spiritual master he should live with him and serve him and enquire from him with the object of testing him to see if he can actually deliver us from the cycle of birth and death. We know Krishna tells us tad viddhi pranipatena pariprasnena sevaya upadeksyanti te jnanam jannainas tattva darsinah. Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master, render service unto him, enquire from him submissively, such a self realized soul can give you real knowledge because he has seen the truth.
The key here is that the spiritual master must be a self realized soul who has seen the truth. Otherwise, if he has not seen the truth himself, how can he teach the truth to us?
So knowingly or unknowingly you have accepted Sadaputa Prabhu as your spiritual master. You have accepted his words on the same absolute platform as Srila Prabhupada’s words. But you do not really know if Sadaputa is a self-realized soul who has seen the truth.
>Although you plainly reduce authority of Sadaputa Prabhu, I hope you can
>understand if I take some time before doing the same. I will try to gather
>some more opinions, maybe some explanation pops out, which will prove, that
>Srila Prabhupada is correct, but also that Sadaputa prabhu is correct. I
>believe there may be some explanation lie this, I will try to find it.
It is quite well known in ISKCON that Sadaputa Prabhu is siding with the scientists. Danavir Maharaja has even published a big, big book on this subject challenging Sadaputa’s most recent cosmology book. It is called Vedic Cosmology and you can get it at http://www.thekrishnastore.com/Detail.bok?no=1807
In this book Maharaja shows very clearly how Sadaputa is deviating from the teachings of Srila Prabhupada in so many ways and siding with the scientists.
You have somehow accepted Sadaputa as your guru without going through the system of checks and balances, and you are instructing the people who come to you with the teachings of Sadaputa. The checks to see if a guru is bona fide are three. Guru-sadhu-sastra. He must preach in line with his guru, he must preach from the sastra and his teachings must be in line with the recognized and approved sadhus. Otherwise he is not a guru.
>I can only agree with your observation of hopeless situation, in which
>academics are, due to their huge false ego.
False ego is of course the symptom of the bodily concept of life. Really that is what it means. Ego means self so false ego means a false understanding of the self, or understanding the self to be the body. So ultimately you are right, the scientists are in a hopeless situation due to their false ego. But the main point is all conditioned souls have 4 defects. We make mistakes, cheat, have imperfect senses and are illusioned. So these 4 imperfections render all knowledge coming from “scientific research” practically useless. That is the real point. There are 2 ways of receiving knowledge. One is the ascending process. That is the “scientific process” of observation and experimentation. But we do not accept that process as being a valid way of receiving knowledge because of the aforementioned 4 defects. The other process is the descending process. That is to receive knowledge from an authority. And that is a perfect process, if you can find a perfect authority.
The whole basis of Krishna consciousness is to receive perfect knowledge from a perfect authority. That is getting knowledge from the descending process, not the ascending process.
This idea that we can not understand the world around us and the universe and how things are working on our own strength by scientific research but rather if we want real knowledge about these things we have to hear it from someone who knows is not very attractive to scientists who have dedicated their whole lives to and who have become completely captivated by the “scientific process” of observation and experimentation.
So the bigger picture here is not really about the moon at all. It is if we should accept knowledge gained by the ascending process or knowledge gained by the descending process.
Prabhupada’s strong condemnation of scientists is based on the fact that the “scientific process” is fundamentally flawed. One can never get perfect knowledge through the “scientific process” because of the 4 defects in all conditioned souls, the tendency to cheat, imperfect senses, mistakes and illusion.
It is our desire to establish in the world an understanding that if one wants real knowledge he has to get it from someone who knows. Through the descending process. We can not even understand material things by the ascending process, what to speak of spiritual subject matters.
>1. If Sadaputa Prabhu is wrong, then how to understand properly his work,
>and how to see his endeavors to be connected to Srila Prabhupada?
Sadaputa Prabhu has done a great deal of valuable work and research and so much service for Srila Prabhupada. But the reality is that things change. We can be Krishna conscious one day and in maya the next. We all have that independence. We can choose to serve Krishna or we can choose to serve maya. So because we may do some very nice sincere service for Srila Prabhupada does not mean that automatically everything we do forever will also automatically be on the same transcendental platform. You cannot blindly accept, you have to test, and that is what Danavir Maharaja has done in his book and Sadaputa’s most recent cosmology book certainly fails that test in so many ways.
>2. You condemn the scientists understanding, but how to understand the view
>of Surya Siddhanta, which agrees with observations of scientists. Surya
>Siddhanta was taken seriously both by Srila Prabhupada, and of course by
>Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, who took his time to translate it to
>bengali and for that received title Siddhanta Saraswati.
Before becoming “Bhaktsiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura” he was knowen as Bimal Prasada datta. And he was a great scholar and astronomer/astrologer. Prabhupada has described that every type of philosophy is there in India. Even atheism is there, the leader of the atheists is Chavaka Muni who said: Rnam krtva… Somehow get money, buy ghee and enjoy. Similarly all astrological knowledge is there in India, so the Western astronomical model is also present in India.
Exactly what the Suriya Siddhanta says we really do not know. When people translate something with a certain object in mind they find what they want to say and present that quote. It is one of the four defects mentioned before, the tendency to cheat. I can not speak authoratively on what is in the Suriya Siddhanta except that it is a translation of a much older Indian astrological/astronomical text.
I can let you know one thing however. I have discussed these issues with western astronomers in great detail and any thoughtful western astronomer will agree that they really have no idea how the universe is working. What they have is a “predictive model.” That means they have observed what is going on in the sky and made some hypothesis, which really means “educated guess” as to what is going on. Then they make predictions of what will happen in the sky according to their hypothesis and then test to see if that is actually what is happening. In this way they have come up with a predictive model which fairly accurately predicts what we see happening in the sky. And they have speculated things like gravity causes heavenly bodies to rotate around other heaver things in space. They have speculated that the earth and all other planets are rotating around the sun. And they have discovered this does not match the observations if the orbits are circular, so they have made the orbits oblongs. That means the earth is sometimes closer to the sun and sometimes farther away, etc. But if analyzed minutely there are many, many problems with their model.
As I was saying if you approach a thoughtful astronomer he will agree that all he has is a predictive model. All he knows is that by relying on the educated guesses the model is based on they can predict and explain to a certain degree of accuracy the position of the heavenly bodies at a particular point in time.
And as far as the Suriya siddhanta is concerned, that was mainly used by astrologers, astronomy and astrology were one in India and astronomy was to accurately determine the positions of the planets and constellations for the purpose of making astrological charts. So they need a predictive model. If it predicts the positions of the heavenly bodies that is fine, it serves their purpose. The Suriya siddhanta is not based on the Bhagavata astronomy. It comes from a book from an even earlier Indian astronomer. I am not very knowledgeable on these things. You could do some research and let me know.
But the Bhagavatam is different. It is not a predictive model. The Bhagavatam is spoken by Sukadeva Goswami who has heard it from his father Vyasadeva who has heard it from Narada Muni, who has heard it from his father Lord Brahma who created the universe!!! So if you have information directly from the creator of the universe who built everything and who, sitting on his lotus flower seat, can see the whole universe and who knows EXACTLY how it is working, and you have information from one of our “frog in the well” scientists who has no means of seeing more than what he can see out of the top of his 3 foot well, who would you take more seriously?
So the point is we have the prefect knowledge of the universe in the Bhagavatam. It does not agree with the ideas of modern science. Prabhupada has declared that the scientists are fools and rascals and that their “scientific process” is fundamentally flawed and useless. So if we are followers of Srila Prabhupada we have to accept this and instead of turning to science and mental speculation and intellectual juggling to try and discover the answers by the ascending process on our own strength, we can simply surrender to Srila Prabhupada, surrender to Krishna, and hear from a perfect authority. The knowledge will be revealed to us by Krishna from within our hearts. That is the only way we will understand it. These things are all avan manasa gochara, beyond the power of our mind to conceive and beyond the ability of our senses to perceive. If we want the real knowledge we have to find a perfect authority and hear from him…
Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!