SAILING TO JAMBŪDVĪPA
Modern Blasphemy: Earth is Not a Globe — Part Two
BY: MAYESVARA DASA
May 19, 2016 — IRELAND (SUN) — Part Two.
(1.1) A DISPARITY BETWEEN VEDIC AND MODERN CONCEPTS OF THE EARTH
In this article we will look at the statements of Srila Prabhupada on the flat-Earth issue. In the above two articles, Rajasekhara dasa presents a number of quotations in which Srila Prabhupada states that the shape of the Earth is round and globe-shaped. There are other available conversations in which Srila Prabhupada seemingly rejects the idea of the flat-Earth concept. Certainly, from many of the available conversations and purports, Srila Prabhupada spoke as if he naturally assumed that Earth was a globe. Rajasekhara dasa wants to take certain quotations from Srila Prabhupada as infallible proof that the Earth is indeed a globe in space, and any idea to the contrary is offensive to Srila Prabhupada, heretical, and anathema.
However, Rajasekhara dasa's immovable position does not take into consideration that the whole question of the Earth's shape and location became a serious issue and source of contention in July 1977 when Srila Prabhupada was for the first time presented with maps of the Vedic cosmos based on the Srimad Bhagavatam's cosmology. We shall look at some of these conversations presently; and as we shall see, by July 1977, it became very evident to everyone involved in the research for the Planetarium (Srila Prabhupada included) that a major disparity exists between the modern conception of the Earth as a globe in space, and Sukadeva Goswami's description of Bharata-varsha's shape and location on the Bhu-mandala (where our Earth is situated). According to Sukadeva Goswami, Bharata-varsha is one of the nine sections of Jambudwipa, the central island of Bhu-mandala (the great circular horizontal plane that crosses the universe dividing the universe into higher and lower sections). There is no description by Sukadeva Goswami of Bharata-varsha being a globe in space. Srila Prabhupada instructed his disciples to investigate this disparity and a conclusion was not reached. In September 1977 Srila Prabhupada entered Samadhi. The discussion continues...
So bear in mind that most of what Srila Prabhupada said regarding a globe-shaped Earth came before March/July 1977 when the TOVP discussions began in earnest. It was only when Srila Prabhupada's disciples presented the first maps of Bhu-mandala in July 1977 that the question of Bharata-varsha as flat or globular became a very real and serious question. The question of the Earth's shape had been posed before, to which Srila Prabhupada gave various replies, but only at this point in 1977 when the maps of Bhu-mandala were drawn did anyone have a means of comparing one model against the other – and to everyone's disconcertment, the two models did not match up.
(1.2) BHARATA-VARSHA AND THE BHU-MANDALA
Although, Srila Prabhupada was not an astronomer, astrologer, cartographer, astro-physicist, or a specialist in any of the other fields of modern cosmological ideas, he was very much interested to counteract the prevailing materialistic science that advocates a godless, impersonal universe. Srila Prabhupada thus founded the Bhaktivedanta Institute so that his disciples and followers could be trained in the spiritual science of the Vedas and thereby present an alternative scientific paradigm based on theistic principles. As with many topics of discussion, whether it was on science and philosophy, government and military, farming and business, or music and the arts, Srila Prabhupada's procedure was to give the essential theology and philosophy of Srimad Bhagavatam, with the directive that his disciples learn to apply this knowledge in to details of their respective fields of study (including, of course, cosmology). Consider, for example, the following letter from 1976:
"Now our Ph.D's must collaborate and study the 5th Canto to make a model for building the Vedic Planetarium…So now you all Ph.D.'s must carefully study the details of the 5th 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.
I am sending this letter to you, and you can make photocopies of it and send to our other Ph.D.'s and begin serious research into the matter in detail."
(Letter to Svarupa Damodar, 27 April 1976)
So here we have a very direct instruction from Srila Prabhupada to study the Srimad Bhagavatam's Fifth Canto and present it scientifically. It is significant that Srila Prabhupada himself did not provide 'a working model of the universe'; rather, he requested his disciples to do so. As we shall see presently, the same directive was given in 1977 when Srila Prabhupada requested diagrams to be made that would illustrate the layout of the Vedic cosmos. Since it was first initiated by Srila Prabhupada in the 1970's, the study of the Srimad Bhagavatam's Fifth Canto has remained somewhat of a mystery, and certainly (as of May 2016) the question of Earth's shape and location has not yet been satisfactorily concluded by either the Bhaktivedanta Institute or the Temple of Vedic Planetarium (TOVP); indeed, many questions regarding the situation of the Earth remain unanswered. Thus, it cannot be settled up that Srila Prabhupada would have definitively accepted the globe-Earth model as final; or that he would have explicitly rejected the horizontal plane model. In other words, we have to assume that Srila Prabhupada is himself still waiting for the results of research into the Vedic cosmos – including of course, the controversial topic of the Earth's shape and location.
The horizontal plane model purports that the Earth is not a globe floating in space, but rather is part of the vast horizontal plane of Bhu-mandala. To put it dramatically, there are vast areas of inhabited land and ocean that continue beyond are known continents and oceans. This is exactly how Srimad Bhagavatam describes it. We have presented a summary of this model in "Part One of Modern Blasphemy – The Earth is Not a Globe" and at greater length in a paper called "Sailing to Jambudwipa".
So where is our Earth on the Vedic map, and what does it look like? It is not actually as we all assume it to be - a round globe floating in space! In the image below we see the central island of Bhu-mandala called Jambudwipa:
Here we see the round-shaped island of Jambudwipa surrounded by the blue-coloured saltwater ocean. Both the island and its surrounding ocean are 800,000 miles in breadth. The golden coloured Mount Meru stands in the centre of Jambudwipa. Our Earth is an area called Bharata-varsha which is the southernmost part of Jambudwipa. According to Sukadeva Goswami, Bharata-varsha is 72,000 miles long, and makes up a small part of a much greater landscape; he does not describe it as a globe of 24,901 miles in circumference and floating in space. According to Sukadeva Goswami's description, there are much greater areas of inhabited lands and oceans surrounding our known Earth area that have yet to be discovered, or rather, re-discovered. According to the Vedic histories (Puranas) our Earth area was once politically and socially connected to this greater land-mass of Jambudwipa (see sections 1.7-1.9 of Sailing to Jambudwipa). Such a description is at complete variance with the idea that Earth is a small rotating globe in space.
So, if Srimad Bhagavatam does not describe Bharata-varsha as a globe in space, then how is it described? Actually, that is very straightforward if one simply accepts the literal translation. Bharata-varsha is just a small part of the same horizontal terrain as the rest of Bhu-mandala! In the image below we see an aerial map of Jambudwipa (the central island of Bhu-mandala) divided into nine sections with Bharata-varsha in the south:
Thus, going north from Bharata-varsha along the same plane one comes into Kimpurusha-varsha and from there to Hari-varsha etc. These areas cover hundreds of thousands of miles and are inhabited by other types of living entities including human. A brief description of these areas is given in Srimad Bhagavatam Canto Five. Although it is not indicated here on the map, the Markendaya Purana further describes that Bharata-varsha itself is also divided into nine further sections or islands with each section being completely surrounded by water and inaccessible to the other. Bharata-varsha is thus divided into nine sections of which our know Earth area is only one. Since Bharta-varsha is altogether 72,000 miles, we can infer from this that there must be eight other areas of Bharata-varsha to the east and west of our own Earth. This is the idea presented by Danavir Goswami in his Vedic Cosmos documentary, and one which seems to make most sense. Each of these other eight areas would thus be approximately equivalent in size to own our known Earth area and lie somewhere further to the east and west of our known Earth along the same horizontal plane (see section 2.5 of Sailing to Jambudwipa: Our Limited Understanding of East and West). Going north from our own part of Bharata-varsha we come into the next varsha of Jambudwipa called Kimpurusha-varsha. Thus, after crossing the so-called North Pole, we would not circumnavigate around a globe, but rather, we would proceed further along the same plane until we came to the other areas of Jambudwipa.
From the above map we see that as one goes north from Bharata-varsha to kimpurusa-varsha one traverses the same horizontal plane as one would when going, for example, from Southern to Northern Europe. The Earth's position on the horizontal plane would thus look something like this:
In the above picture we see circular island of Jambudwipa with the nine divisions of Bharata-varsha on the southern side. These divisions are represented here as nine islands (each about the size of our Earth) with our with our own Earth area depicted as a small round globe. Actually the continents of our Earth should be lying flat on this plane (as we experience in reality) and not as depicted in the animation, curving around a globe floating on water. As we can see from the diagram, however, Earth is certainly not a ball in space, but a small area of a much greater world that surrounds us in every direction.
The Srimad Bhagavatam and Mahabharata describe how the Pandavas, and later their grandson Pariksit Maharaja, controlled this vast area of Jambudvipa from their capital in India. A question thus inevitably arises for Rajasekhara dasa and other advocates of a round-shaped Earth: Where is the round Earth in relation to Jambudvipa? If Earth is a 24,901 mile round ball in space, where is the rest of the 800,000 mile Jambudvipa to be found? Where is Jambudvipa and the rest of the Bhu-mandala in NASA's pictures?
The depiction of Earth as a globe ball in space does not make any sense in the light of Srimad-Bhagavatam's description. Srimad-Bhagavatam describes that Earth is part of Bharata-varsha and literally next door to Kimpurusha-varsa. Bharata-varsha is surrounded by Jambudvipa's salt-water ocean; not by space. Past the northern point of our known Earth (Arctic) is an 80,000 mile high mountain over which the Pandavas crossed to control the 800,000 mile land mass of Jambudvipa. None of this makes any sense from the understanding of Earth as a globe in space; but it makes perfect sense with the understanding that Earth continues on a horizontal plane. So which version of reality is correct?
The problem for many followers of the Vedas in conceptualizing the flat-Earth or horizontal plane conception of Srimad Bhagavatam is because of starting on a wrong premise. We begin with the certain belief/assumption/premise that the Earth is actually a globe floating in space. This is the image that has been presented to us for all of our lifetime, and particularly beginning with the iconic images of Earth from the moon presented by the so-called Apollo moon-landings of 1969-72. We may feel there is no need to think or believe otherwise; and to do so is only to invite scorn and ridicule. Thus when the followers of Srimad Bhagavatam don't see any sight of Jambudwipa in the photos and videos of Earth from outer space, they may prefer to assume that it must be in another dimension and that the Earth really is as NASA presents it to us - a rotating ball in dark lonely lifeless space. This may be a convenient way of disposing with the huge disparity between the Vedic and the modern conception of the Earth, but it is unworkable for the following reason: Sukadeva Goswami does not describe the rest of Jambudwipa as being in another dimension. Although special qualification is certainly required for entering other parts of the universe, the passage to Jambudvipa is not like going through Professor Digory Kirke's wardrobe and ending up in Narnia. The Srimad-Bhagavatam is actually very precise in its description of the size and shape of Jambudvipa and its distance from where we are. Sukadeva Goswami describes it using our measurements and dimension. He describes its physicality in the dimension that we understand. In other words, he wishes to inform the reader (here in this part of the Earth) of more parts of the Earth that are literally a few thousand miles away to the north.
Sukadeva Gosvami explained the Vedic cosmography to King Pariksit who was sitting by the bank of the Ganges in India - which of course is part of our known Earth. In other words, Sukadeva Gosvami is explaining the position of Jambudvipa relative to a person here on Earth. It's just like someone sitting by the Thames River and explaining the position and distance of England to Europe:
"The great Rsi Sukadeva Gosvami said: My dear King, there is no limit to the expansion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead's material energy. This material world is a transformation of the material qualities [sattva-guna, rajo-guna and tamo-guna], yet no one could possibly explain it perfectly, even in a lifetime as long as that of Brahma No one in the material world is perfect, and an imperfect person could not describe this material universe accurately, even after continued speculation. O King, I shall nevertheless try to explain to you the principal regions, such as Bhu-goloka [Bhuloka], with their names, forms, measurements and various symptoms."
We do not, therefore, require any fanciful ideas of other dimensions to account for Earth's position to Jambudvipa. Srimad-Bhagavatam uses commonly understood distances and dimensions that are intended to help us here in Bharata-varsha to understand where and how far other places in the universe are from us. We should, therefore, take the Srimad-Bhagavatam's description of the Earth's relationship to Jambudvipa as it is. According to Sukadeva Goswami, the rest of Jambudvipa is past our northern land areas and oceans. Our limitation in reaching Jambudwipa is not because (as we have been falsely taught) that we live on a globe, and are thus restricted to simply circling around its outer circumference. Rather, our inability in reaching Jambudwipa is due to being presently denied access by certain forces to those places beyond the Arctic and Antarctica. As Srila Prabhupada argued in a fascinating conversation with Tamala Krishna Goswami (Discussion about Bhu-mandala, July 3, 1977, Vrndavana) we cannot go further east and west because we are like an animal bound by a rope that is restricted to moving within a limited sphere (see section 2.5 Sailing to Jambudwipa). Which one of us has personally crossed the Arctic or Antarctica to see, if indeed, there are further expanses of land on the same plane? Rather, we have all most likely been convinced by so-called satellite images that show the Arctic and Antarctica to the north and south of a globe-shaped Earth. On closer inspection, however, the images are all merely computer generated images, and not one real photo showing the true extent of Arctic and Antarctica actually exists:
In the 1959 book by Amadeo F. Giannini called World Beyond the Poles: Physical Continuity of the Universe, an argument is made by the author that military expeditions by Admiral Byrd and others revealed 'indeterminable land extent beyond both poles,' and that 'there are no northern or southern limits to the Earth.'
The relegation of Jambudwipa to invisibility or to other dimensions is to my mind a lack of faith in the Srimad Bhagavatam's actual description of our precise location and position in relation to the rest of Jambudwipa. Taking the literal description of Sukadeva Goswami, we should understand that the Earth is thus not a ball in space; but rather, a small part of a greater horizontal plane that stretches across the middle of the universe. This plane is called Bhu-mandala.
So in the light of two completely opposing depictions of reality, followers of Srimad Bhagavatam have to seriously consider the following possibility: what if the premise of a round Earth is wrong; not only wrong, but a deliberately manufactured fake presentation of reality. In my opinion, the greatest success of the recent flat-Earth advocates has been in successful discrediting the images and videos of so-called Earth from outer space as inauthentic and indeed, fraudulent. We have looked at some of these images in section 2.2 of Sailing to Jambudwipa. There are thousands of other on-line videos and articles dedicated to exposing the same fraudulent images. Such investigation not only exposes the greatest lie of all time, but also opens up a serious possibility that the Earth may indeed extend further into vast areas as Srimad Bhagavatam describes.
The depiction of Bharata-varsha's shape and location on the Bhu-mandala thus immediately creates a clash of world-views not only with modern science, but it also creates a disparity between many of Srila Prabhupada's own statements that the Earth is a globe in space, and his translation of Srimad Bhagavatam which describes Earth as being on the horizontal plane of Bhu-mandala, (what others may call the flat-Earth model). I prefer to use the words 'horizontal plane' because that more accurately describes the Srimad Bhagavatam's description. I believe this disparity can be easily resolved by considering Srila Prabhupada's own directive on the issue which was to instruct his own scientifically-minded disciples to basically figure out the cosmology of the Srimad Bhagavatam and present it in a scientific manner to the modern world. As we shall see presently, in the conversations entitled Discussions About the Bhu-mandala (Vrindavana, 3-5 July, 1977), Srila Prabhupada presented himself as a layman on the issue of cosmology, and left the details of the Vedic cosmos for his disciples to figure out.
(1.3) SRILA PRABHUPADA AND COSMOLOGY
From available conversations which we will present later in this paper, Srila Prabhupada by his own admission was not a specialist in Bhagavata cosmology. Indeed, in 1977 when the designs for the Vedic Planetarium were just beginning, Srila Prabhupada had sent some of his disciples to search around India for Vedic astronomers who could help with drawing the maps that would depict the Vedic cosmos. Srila Prabhupada himself acknowledged his own limitations. Speaking of his difficultly in conceiving the Srimad-Bhagavatam's description of the universe:
Prabhupada: And it was not possible for me to digest. (laughs) Somebody else helped me to... I am a layman. I do not know.
Tamala Krishna: How did you write it?
Prabhupada: That somebody, Krishna, helped me. That He manufactured… …When I was writing, I was praying Krishna that "I do not actually accommodate all this knowledge. Please help me." Yes. That's all right.
(Room Conversation, June 18, 1977, Vrindavana)
Srila Prabhupada again mentioned to one astronomer:
Prabhupada: I have tried to translate it as far as possible, but I am not satisfied.
(Conversation with India Astronomer, April 30, 1977, Bombay)
Actually, Srila Prabhupada's translation of Srimad-Bhagavatam was perfect, but it appears there was some difficultly to visualize what Sukadeva Goswami was describing. Srila Prabhupada had sent some of his disciples to locate Vedic astronomers around India who could help with drawing a map for the Vedic planetarium but the result was disappointing. He then basically left it to his disciples to figure it out taking guidance from Krishna:
Tamala Krishna: And what to do? How to get...?
Prabhupada: Krishna will help.
Tamala Krishna: Hm?
Prabhupada: Krishna will help. He has no idea.
(Conversation with India Astronomer, April 30 1977, Bombay)
Srila Prabhupada again suggested advertising in newspapers for Vedic astronomers to help:
Prabhupada: "Astronomer knowing the planetary system," you can advertise. "Expert astronomer who knows the planetary systems as described..."
Tamala Krishna: "...in Srimad-Bhagavatam."
Tamala Krishna: Yeah, we can advertise. Instead of having somebody going all over India.
(Conversation with India Astronomer, April 30 1977, Bombay)
From these conversations it is obvious that Srila Prabhupada was requesting help in order prepare maps that depict the Vedic Universe. To their credit, the devotees involved done a marvellous job in preparing a map for the Bhu-mandala which was eventually presented to Srila Prabhupada in July 1977. However, as we shall see presently, when the issue of the Earth's shape and location was presented to Srila Prabhupada, a direct answer to the question of whether Earth was round or flat remained unanswered. Certainly, Srila Prabhupada himself did not retain the same staunchness as in previous conversations where he spoke very definitively of the Earth as globe-shaped.
When Srila Prabhupada saw the maps of Bhu-mandala, and was presented with Tamala Krishna Goswami's direct questions about the shape of the Earth, it became apparent that the Earth of Srimad Bhagavatam was not the same as everyone had assumed. As pointed out to Srila Prabhupada by Tamala Krishna Goswami, the Earth of Srimad-Bhagavatam is not 'round' as depicted by NASA. In the following conversation, Tamala Krishna Goswami shows his clear comprehension of Srimad Bhagavatam's description of Earth's position on the Bhu-mandala:
Tamala Krishna: Look at the earth. Now, this is a real question that we still have to answer. They picture the earth round, and we say, no. Bhu-mandala is like a lotus, like this, and the earth is only one part of one island in Bhu-mandala, and it's not, you know, it's not round(?). It doesn't look like that. And all the pictures they take of the earth when they go up in their satellites show round. And we're going to tell them that it's not. This is a very tricky question. In other words, if this is the picture of the world, like this, and we say that... If we take an airplane from here, from Los Angeles. Now, supposing we go to India, which is here. So there's two ways to go. One way, you can go like this, and the other way, you can go like that. But if the earth is not a round globe, then how is it sometimes people go from Los Angeles via Hawaii to Japan and then India? So we can't figure this out. We have experience, those of us who have flown, that actually the plane went from Los Angeles to Hawaii to Tokyo to Hong Kong and then to India. So it doesn't work out in our maps so far, right? We can't figure it out. This thing has to be very complete in its answers. Otherwise everyone will laugh at us. We can't leave any loopholes.
Prabhupada: So are you thinking on this?
Bhakti-prema: In the Srimad-Bhagavatam... According to Srimad-Bhagavatam, it is (indistinct).
Prabhupada: Find out from our side, according to Bhagavatam.
(Bhu-mandala Diagram Discussion, July 2 1977,Vrindavana)
In the above conversation Srila Prabhupada is attentively listening to what Tamala Krishna Goswami and the other devotees have ascertained to be the real fact of the matter: I'll repeat Tamala Krishna Goswami's words:
"They picture the earth round, and we say, no. Bhu-mandala is like a lotus, like this, and the earth is only one part of one island in Bhu-mandala, and it's not, you know, it's not round(?). It doesn't look like that. And all the pictures they take of the earth when they go up in their satellites show round. And we're going to tell them that it's not."
Tamala Krishna Goswami then goes on to explain the inconsistency which this creates with the globe conception. Srila Prabhupada is clearly understanding what the issue is, and then he asks Tamala Krishna Goswami, "Are you thinking on this?"
This is a very important instruction: "Are you thinking on this?" So here is our mandate from Prabhupada "to think on this." Think on what? We have to think about the inconsistencies that arise between the Srimad Bhagavatam's description of the Earth as resting on the horizontal plane of Bhu-mandala, and the modern presentation of the Earth as a globe in space. And what is Srila Prabhupada's directive? He says, "Find out from our side according to Bhagavatam." The most recent acharya, therefore, gives a clear directive: "Find out from our side according to Bhagavatam." In other words, Srila Prabhupada is not giving the answer to questions regarding inconsistencies between the two world views of the Earth's shape and nature; rather, he is requesting an investigation in order to find the answer. The statement 'Find out from our side, according to Bhagavatam' would obviously include further research into the Srimad Bhagavatam (shastra), as well as the commentaries by previous acharyas (guru), and of course from other devotees of Krishna who may have knowledge in this field (sadhu). Therefore, an argument for the horizontal plane model based on research into the Fifth Canto hardly puts one in the bracket of 'jumping over guru' or being an offender as Rajasekhara das has accused.
So this is a very important later conversation when considering Srila Prabhupada's earlier statements about the globe-shape of the Earth. It shows Srila Prabhupada was now aware that the Srimad Bhagavatam's description of the Earth was different from the globe version, and so we should note carefully his response here. He doesn't confirm, "Yes it is a globe." Rather he gives an instruction and says, "Find out from our side according to Bhagavatam." So there you have it. We have to find out from our side according to Bhagavatam. That is Srila Prabhupada's instruction. Certainly Srila Prabhupada at the time was not presented with some of the really amazing arguments and presentations coming from the flat-Earth advocates that would confirm the Srimad Bhagavatam's description that Earth is indeed on a horizontal plane and not a globe in space. The topic wasn't current at the time. Nor was the information available that we have now regarding NASA's skulduggery in faking images of the Earth from outer-space. I believe if Srila Prabhupada was here now, a very good case could be presented to him that Bharata-varsha is not a globe in space, but is indeed part of the horizontal plane of Bhu-mandala as described in Srimad Bhagatavam.
In any case, whilst Srila Prabhupada asks us to 'think' about this subject, Rajasekhara Prabhu, without a clear understanding of Srila Prabhupada's directive and intention, and in a misplaced attempt at fidelity to Srila Prabhupada, would literally have us all 'stop thinking' on the subject. Consider the following rant:
"The entire presentation of Mayesvara on the Shrimad Bhagavatam is null & void and equal to milk that has been touched by the lips of a serpent. One who hears the invalid explanations on Shrimad Bhagavatam given by Mayeshvara is simply going to be bewildered and ultimately die a spiritual death due to having consumed poison along with the milk."
And to Acintya Govinda das, an Australian devotee who also advocates the flat-Earth model, Rajasekhara dasa, again, sounding more like a reincarnation of a medieval inquisitor hurls the following damnation at the globe blasphemer:
"You have attempted to contradict Shrila Prabhupada's teachings in a futile attempt to prove that the Earth is flat. All those who promote the 'Flat Earth' doctrine are diametrically opposed to the teachings of Shrila Prabhupada and are thus committing the most serious offense, for which there is no redemption in this lifetime. To contradict the Acharya, simply based on one's own pea-sized brain and completely limited sense perception is suicidal."
(1.5) 'BLIND ACCEPTANCE OF SOMETHING DOES NOT GIVE EVIDENCE OF INTELLIGENCE'
Despite the ravings of Rajasekhara dasa, I believe Srila Prabhupada would appreciate that his disciples and followers are seen to be thinking about the subject, and that may mean questioning things that appear to be inconsistent in his own presentation. We have the example of Pariksit Maharaja who rejected the process of atonement offered by Sukadeva Goswami. Prabhupada writes:
"When Pariksit Maharaja inquired how a human being could free himself from sinful activities so as not to be forced to go to hellish planetary systems after death, Sukadeva Gosvami answered that the process of counteracting sinful life is atonement. In this way Sukadeva Gosvami tested the intelligence of Maharaja Pariksit, who passed the examination by refusing to accept this process as genuine. Now Parikisit Maharaja is expecting another answer from his spiritual master, Sukadeva Gosvami."
We see here in this purport how Srila Prabhupada appreciates that Pariksit Maharaja was using his intelligence to question the logic of Sukadeva's presentation and not just docilely accepting everything that Sukadeva Goswami said. I believe Srila Prabhupada would similarly also appreciate some questioning of his belief that the Earth is a globe. Why do I say this? Because Srila Prabhupada's main concern was that the TOVP present the Vedic cosmology according to Srimad Bhagavatam. Srila Prabhupada himself admitted his own limitations in understanding the cosmology of the Fifth Canto and directed his disciples to make the necessary research to understand the thing correctly and present it in a scientific manner.
Srila Prabhupada's own translation of Srimad Bhagavatam describes the horizontal circular Earth (Bhu-mandala), and Srila Prabhupada decisively stated to take the version of the Bhagavatam. Considering these final discussions on the topic in July 1977, Srila Prabhupada seemed to leave the final decision on the round or flat-Earth to his disciples to intelligently figure this out, and then present it to the world via the Temple of Vedic Planetarium (TOVP).
By Srila Prabhupada's own admission, he did not seem to have a complete conception of the Fifth Canto's cosmology, and that would obviously include Bharata-varsha's shape and location to the rest of Bhu-mandala; this explains why Srila Prabhupada always spoke in the conventional understanding that the Earth is a globe. But the Bharata-varsha of Srimad Bhagavatam is not a globe in space; it is only one tiny area of the complete Earth plane which is called Bhu-mandala. To say, therefore, that the Srimad Bhagavatam describes a horizontal plane model of the Earth is not going against Srila Prabhupada's translation; although it does seemingly contradict some of his earlier statements about the Earth being round.
Again we have to apply the attributes of intelligence to this question:
"Doubt, misapprehension, correct apprehension, memory and sleep, as determined by their different functions, are said to be the distinct characteristics of intelligence.
Doubt is one of the important functions of intelligence; blind acceptance of something does not give evidence of intelligence. Therefore the word samshaya is very important; in order to cultivate intelligence, one should be doubtful in the beginning. But doubting is not very favorable when information is received from the proper source. In Bhagavad-gita the Lord says that doubting the words of the authority is the cause of destruction."
Here Srila Prabhupada says that we should exercise our faculty of doubt as a function of intelligence, and admonishes the mentality of blind following. Both attributes of intelligence have to be applied to this question of the Earth's shape and location because obviously a disparity exists between the Srimad Bhagavatam's description of Bharata-varsha as a horizontal plane and Srila Prabhupada's description of Earth as a globe. In the above purport, Srila Prabhupada also cautions that we should not doubt information from the proper source or authority. Now the question that rises here is whether doubting Srila Prabhupada's words (the authority in this case) about the shape of the Earth will become a cause of destruction to the disciple or follower. Such is the course that Rajasekhara dasa threatens to anyone advocating the horizontal plane model. Yet we see, from the available conversations that Srila Prabhupada himself was deferring his own understanding to the authority of Srimad Bhagavatam (sastra) and ultimately to the great sage Sukadeva Goswami the speaker of Srimad Bhagavatam. Srila Prabhupada thus instructed his own disciples to try and understand Sukadevas Goswami's description. In other words, Srila Prabhupada is not presenting his own understanding or pronouncements on this topic as final. He is requesting his disciples and followers to present the version of Srimad Bhagavatam. That is what we are attempting in the horizontal plane model – presenting the literal description of Sukadeva Goswami's Bhu-mandala, and explaining with examples from empiric observation how the flat-Earth science indeed confirms Sukadeva's description that Earth is situated on a horizontal plane, and is not a ball floating in space as presented by NASA.
Raising a doubt about Srila Prabhupada's understanding of the Earth's shape and location on the Vedic map of the cosmos is not motivated by the false ego of thinking oneself more intelligent than the guru. Think of a family driving on an adventure somewhere with their loving father. As the father takes a particular turn, the boy looks at the map and says "Dad, I think you need to check the map. We may be going in the wrong direction" Now both the boy and the father and the rest of the family wish to go to the desired destination, so the father in this scenario would have no reason to be upset by the boy's honest uncertainty and questioning; nor should the other family members get angry if they are forced to stop to take a second look at the map. Likewise, if the members of ISKCON are all committed to accurately presenting the Srimad Bhagavatam's cosmology in the Temple of Vedic Planetarium, then the issue should be made open for discussion. Srila Prabhupada himself encouraged discussion of his books from different "angles of vision," an expression he used on countless occasions:
"Therefore, I recommend you to read books more and more and try to understand the subject matter from different angles of vision and be always discussing it with your godbrothers" (Letter to Bhargava, Los Angeles, 13 June 1972)
"And I am very much stressing nowadays that my students shall increase their reading of my books and try to understand them from different angles of vision. Each sloka can be seen from many, many angles of vision."
(Letter to Tribhuvanatha dasa, Los Angeles, 16 June, 1972)
Whilst this is not an open invitation for promotion of speculative ideas that depart from, or contradict the Vedic teachings, it does certainly encourage a congenial atmosphere in which members of ISKCON can freely discuss ideas from different angles of vision. It certainly does not endorse the type of crimethink and crimestop proposed originally by Big Brother, and more recently by Rajasekhara dasa who threatens 'spiritual death' and 'no redemption in this lifetime,' for anyone who hears about or promotes the flat-Earth concept:
Crimestop - Orwell's definition: "The faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. In short....protective stupidity."
(1.6) TAMALA KRISHNA GOSWAMI'S QUESTIONS SRILA PRABHUPADA ABOUT THE EARTH
Srila Prabhupada himself acknowledged to Tamala Krishna Goswami that the nature of the Earth was a difficult subject. Contrary to the mood of Rajasekhara's protestations on the issue we have raised, we have the following examples from 3-5 of July 1977 of how gracious Srila Prabhupada was in accepting the doubts raised by Tamala Krishna Goswami on this very issue. Beginning on 3rd July 1977, in answer to a series of questions by Tamala Krishna Goswami about the shape of the Earth, Srila Prabhupada did not give a definitive answer, but said that whether the Earth is round or flat should be decided by the version of Srimad-Bhagavatam, not by the changing theories of Western astronomy.
Tamala Krishna: Do we accept the contour of the continents? Do we accept the general continents?
Prabhupada: We accept nothing of their theory. They are prejudiced and nonsense. Formerly they were speaking that the world is flat. Now they have changed: "It is round." So what is the value of his estimate? And you'll find in that book, "probably."
Tamala Krishna: That was the most frequent word used.
Prabhupada: Yes. So what is the value of their knowledge?
(Discussion about Bhu-mandala, July 3, 1977, Vrindavana)
Here as in other places when the question was raised by Tamala Krishna about the shape of the Earth, Srila Prabhupada didn't give a decisive yes or no as to whether Earth is flat or round like a ball. He says, that the materialists sometimes say it is flat, then change their minds and say it is round. He concludes that we should reject their speculations and present the Srimad-Bhagavatam's version instead:
Yasoda-nandana: Prabhupada, what is the shape of this tiny portion of earth or whatever place we are on? What is the shape of this, whatever you call...
Prabhupada: Ask them. Why don't you ask them? Sometimes they say flat, sometimes they say it is round. Why don't you ask them, the scientists?
Yasoda-nandana: We don't accept what they say.
Prabhupada: No, no. Formerly they were under the impression the world is flat. And now they are saying round. So what they'll say after few years?
Yasoda-nandana: They are not consistent. That's a fact. They're very inconsistent in their theories.
Prabhupada: Ask them which is correct. "Probably" this is correct.
Bhakti-prema: When someone asks this question, first one would reply.
Prabhupada: I answered it. You people say like that, so which is correct? Flat or round?
Tamala Krishna: They will say "What does the Bhagavatam say?"
Tamala Krishna: They may reply to us, "All right, we are rascals. So please tell us what is the fact."
Prabhupada: That is, we are...
Tamala Krishna: That's what he's asking. What should be shown? Actually we're a little stumped by... I mean...
Prabhupada: Yes, you must have proper answer as far as possible.
Tamala Krishna: We just read... We got a version from South India, and we've even found that there are different conceptions of what the Bhagavata is saying. But the Puranas, they give some Puranic references.
Bhakti-prema: It is written the world... The earth is round and flat.
Bhakti-prema: Earth is round and flat both, together.
Bhakti-prema: First we should reply it is acintya. This should be the reply. "Inconceivable."
Yasoda-nandana: If it is inconceivable, then they will say how we can conceive it?
Prabhupada: Take the version of Bhagavatam.
(Discussions about Bhu-mandala, July 5 1977, Vrindavana)
Rajasekhara Prabhu and Antardwipa Prabhu (current head of cosmology at the TOVP as of May 2016) have tried to work this conversation to support the idea of a dual flat-Earth/round Earth conception; but that is not what is being conveyed. There is no elaborate philosophical discourse anywhere either from Srila Prabhupada or in the commentaries of the previous acharyas on the fifth Canto to support the idea that the Earth manifests as both a round planet and a flat plane. It is an absurd conception. Srila Prabhupada's reply of 'yes' to Bhakti-prema's statement that the 'Earth is round and flat together' may simply be a figure of speech acknowledging the statement of the speaker without necessarily implying an agreement. Bhakti-prema himself is only presenting it as one of the different conceptions that he had come across and even then without a proper understanding of what it meant. If anything, Srila Prabhupada's affirmation of Bhakti-Prema's statement that "Earth is round and flat both, together" supports the Vedic description that the circular Earth (Bhu-mandala) is lying flat and round like a roundabout, not round like a ball. Certainly that is the nature of Bhu-mandala of which our Earth is only one tiny part. It should be carefully noted that when the Vedas talk about the Earth, they are referring to Bhu-mandala, not to Bharata-varsha which is only a small part of the Earth. Since, Srila Prabhupada never before or after, spoke of Earth as being simultaneously a round planet and a flat plane, any attempt to deduce a supporting argument from this conversation is simply a massive interpolation.
The important point in this discussion is Srila Prabhupada's directive to take the version of Bhagavatam.' In other words he is not offering his own understanding of the Earth as conclusive, but rather, directing his disciples to basically figure out what is being described by Sukadeva Goswami. I think this statement should be regarded as holding greater authority than some of his earlier statements and purports in which he speaks of the Earth as a round globe. Srila Prabhupada mood in the conversations of 1977 also seemed to indicate a freedom to his disciples to intelligently figure it out. This mood certainly comes across in the various conversations in 1977 regarding the depictions for the Vedic planetarium, and such a mood is consistent with his previous letter to Svarupa Damodar Goswami (27 April 1976) requesting his disciples to make a study the Srimad Bhagavatam's cosmology.
From these last available conversations on the topic in early July 1977 it appears Srila Prabhupada was not necessarily committed to the idea of presenting Earth as a ball-shaped globe. In the above conversation Srila Prabhupada states very decisively that we should 'take the version of Bhagavatam.' This of course puzzled the devotees because they couldn't ascertain whether it was depicted as flat or round. This led to some more interesting exchanges with Tamala Krishna Goswami who wanted to get to the bottom of the issue.
In the wonderful exchange between guru and disciple that ensued on that occasion, we hear Srila Prabhupada and his beloved disciple Tamala Krishna Goswami discuss back and forth about the shape of the Earth. Tamala Krishna Goswami who wanted nothing other than to present an accurate depiction of the Srimad-Bhagavatam's description of Earth, felt forced to press Srila Prabhupada again and again for a specific answer regarding the shape of the Earth.
Tamala Krishna: I mean I'm sorry I have to take this thankless task to ask all these questions.
Tamala Krishna Goswami describes this exchange in his published Diary (TKG'S Diary, July 3 1977). He writes of feeling that his attitude had been a little offensive for heavily questioning said there was no wrong as they were simply discussing and trying to understand a difficult subject. Again we should mark Srila Prabhupada's philosophical approach to the question and his appreciation for the questions of Tamala Krishna Goswami. Compare this to the fanatical raving of Rajasekhara dasa who threatens 'no redemption in this lifetime' for anyone questioning the holiness of the globe.
Actually Tamala Krishna Goswami's love for Srila Prabhupada comes across very clearly in these discussions; his only intention being how to accurately depict the Srimad-Bhagavatam's cosmography as it should appear in the Vedic planetarium. From TKG's Diary:
"When Srila Prabhupada awoke after a night's rest, he opened his eyes and said, "They go from Los Angeles. You all think over it. Then I shall tell you." Srila Prabhupada was referring to the question which we had not yet solved: If the world is not a globe but part of Jambudvipa, which is the center of the huge, lotus-like Bhumandala, how does an airplane fly from Los Angeles to Hawaii to Tokyo and on to India? The scientists explain by saying that the airplane circles the globe. But according to Srimad-Bhagavatam, there is no planet Earth as the scientists say, floating in space. Rather, there is Bharatavarsha with its seven continents and oceans and Himalayan Mountains. After challenging us thus, Srila Prabhupada went back to sleep. When he again awoke, Prabhupada began to reveal the answer. "They are bound up and cannot go beyond a point. They are conditioned and are forced to return. They can only go so far and not farther." I told Prabhupada that we accepted that point, but it still did not answer the question. Prabhupada replied, however, that it did. "You are prejudiced. You are conditioned with preconceptions of how everything is." He was saying that my difficulty to understand was due to my acceptance of the scientists' assumptions. "It is just like a bull grinding, going around in a circle. He is tied up and simply going around. So everyone is tied up. They cannot go beyond a point, and they cannot move in any way they like, just like the bull only has certain limits to his movement. How can a frog in the well understand the ocean?
…After lunch, Srila Prabhupada spoke again about the planetary system. In trying to understand the fact of flying from Los Angeles to India, I had an energetic discussion with Srila Prabhupada. I left feeling very perplexed with Prabhupada's admonition, "You are prejudiced." Later in the afternoon, I was still feeling disturbed, mainly because of my argumentative attitude during the earlier discussion. I felt that perhaps I had been offensive in questioning too much; thus, I came in and apologized. Srila Prabhupada said there was nothing wrong; we were merely discussing a difficult subject. After some time, Prabhupada called me back to the room and said, "Why you are thinking this way, that I am offended?" My mentality seemed to disturb Prabhupada. He said, "Now the atmosphere is disturbed. I cannot translate." The emotions produced by this situation were very difficult to understand. Perhaps I will realize their implications as I become more Krishna conscious.
Instead of translating, Prabhupada had me call the others: Bhakti Prema Swami and Yasodanandana Swami. A conversation ensued, similar to the one Srila Prabhupada had with me after lunch. Our question of how the Bhagavatam's description of Jambudvipa can accommodate traveling west from Los Angeles to reach India seemed to remain unanswered. Prabhupada stressed, however, that we were overly concerned with such a minor issue, just "a drop of water" (Prabhupada's description of the Pacific Ocean). "With your experimental logic you cannot understand. It is inconceivable. Just accept the sastra. True understanding only comes by the mercy of the spiritual master. You cannot adjust the description of the Bhagavatam within the limits of your knowledge.
(TKG' Diary, July 3 1977)
We should note here the spirit of Tamala Krishna Goswami who questioned Srila Prabhupada, not with the intention of proving him wrong, but with the intention of coming to the right understanding so that Srimad Bhagavatam would be glorified. Srila Prabhupada appreciated Tamala Krishna's questioning him on the round/flat-Earth debacle and stated that it was a difficult topic and he did not take offence.
(1.7) THE FAKE MOON LANDINGS AND THE FAKE EARTH
What is also really interesting here in all of these discussions on the Vedic Planetarium is Tamala Krishna Goswami's reaction and attitude to the whole thing:
"Yet when they take a flight, they say, "We go around the earth." But we say, "You cannot go around the earth." So far, our understanding... So far—unless we have not completely understood yet—it is like a lotus, Jambudvipa, and the whole Bhu-mandala is like a lotus. So how do... You cannot fly around Bharatavarsa, or earth. Yet every day the whole science of aeronautics, of flying, is based upon the fact that they're flying around different places of the earth. And everyone who sees this, that, our description, is going to ask this question. It's a very important question to answer, and Bhakti-prema has not yet answered it. None of us can. We are avoiding it at this point until we get further information. There must be an answer, but we have not yet been able to give the answer. I have absolute faith in these, the Vedic description. I am completely convinced. I just know that I have not understood perfectly yet. Therefore the answer's not apparent. But it's definitely a question that they will raise."
(Conversations with Srila Prabhupada, June 30, 1977,Vrndavana)
To his credit, Tamala Krishna Goswami, very sincerely expressed to Srila Prabhupada his 'absolute faith' in the Srimad-Bhagavatam's description of Earth's depiction, but admitted that he was unable to explain such things as the existence of photographs that show a round Earth floating in space. Tamala Krishna Goswami was also struggling to understand the fact that we can sail and fly around the world from east to west or from west to east and come back at the same spot which seems to indicate evidence for a globe-shaped Earth.
However, in the paper Sailing to Jambudwipa, we have already looked at the concept of sailing and flying around the Earth from a horizontal plane perspective. It works just as well.
And the moon landing images and subsequent satellite images of Earth from outer space can clearly be established as fake.
Regarding the moon-landings of 1969-72, Srila Prabhupada was probably the first person to denounce the whole escapade as a colossal hoax with power and money as its motivating factor. Flying in the face of what the rest of the world believed, Srila Prabhupada denounced the moon-landings of 1969-72 as a complete fake. He did not accept either the photos or videos as evidence:
Tamala Krishna: What about these pictures we have seen on the television showing them jumping on the moon?
Prabhupada: That you can make in laboratory. That is not very difficult.
Tamala Krishna: Colossal hoax…
Candanacarya: How are they able to perpetuate such an enormous hoax?
Prabhupada: Enormous hoax for the fools, not for the intelligent persons.
Hari-sauri: They never fooled you, Srila Prabhupada.
Hari-sauri: They never fooled you. (Prabhupada laughs)
Candanacarya: That means that some people must know the actual truth about the hoax in the American system, so if we can find them...
Prabhupada: So you are knowing that. State it.
(Morning walk, June 4 1976, Los Angeles)
Prabhupada: And they are going to moon. They are going nowhere, simply taking laboratory photo, studio photo, and cheating. Why this cheating can go on? You do not know. That's all.
(June 28, 1977, Vrindavana)
So for all those followers of Srila Prabhupada who believe that the Earth is a round planet floating in dark space, ask yourself this question: in the light of Srila Prabhupada's assertion that NASA faked the moon-landings, will you continue to accept the photos of the Earth from the surface of the so-called moon as evidence of a round Earth? Do you actually believe that an American astronaut was standing on the surface of the moon taking snap shots of the Earth planet (370,300 miles) away? Think again! After nearly fifty years of research and investigation into the moon-landings, there is massive evidence to vindicate Srila Prabhupada's position that the moon-landings were a hoax. I would personally encourage that an expose of this hoax should form one of the major exhibitions at the TOVP. In the above conversation, Srila Prabhupada says in reply to Candanacarya dasa that if you know who can explain this moon hoax then you 'state it.' So that's what we should do at the TOVP. We should state boldly to the world that the moon-landing was a hoax, and we should have the exhibitions to prove it. But as well as exposing the moon hoax, we have to also expose the series of bogus Earth photos from so-called outer space beginning in 1969 and continuing to the present day.
Astonishing as it sounds, the photos of Earth from outer space are not real. This would take some time on the reader's part to research, and is beyond the scope of our present paper. A few examples of these fake Earth photos are included in section 2.2 of Sailing to Jambudwipa. NASA wrongly figured that since the sun and the moon appear round, the Earth must be of a similar shape. The Srimad Bhagavatam describes otherwise. Unfortunately, no one in Srila Prabhupada's entourage at the time, made the connection between the fake moon landing and the fake Earth photo from the fake moon set. The images of the round Earth in space had perhaps become so quickly engraved in everyone's mind that the question of doubting its authenticity never even arose, even when the first 'photographic evidence' of Earth from outer space came from an obviously faked moon-landing that never set foot out of a television studio.
However, the fake moon landing and the so-called photos of Earth from the surface of the fake moon definitely calls into question the authenticity of all subsequent images of Earth as presented by NASA and other space agencies. How these first images of the Earth were faked is presented in Bart Sibrel's documentary: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Moon which clearly shows the astronauts caught red-handing faking the shots. Subsequent photographs have also been subject to minute analysis, and demonstrated to be fraudulent. The images of our Earth from outer space are nothing more than computer generated images. Videos of astronauts (astro-nots) in outer space are just fantastic productions from the special effects department of NASA. The modern so-called satellite images and video footage from the International Space Station are just further renditions of the same hoax that began in 1969.
I'm following Srila Prabhupada's advice here that if the military, government, and media agencies continue to present this moon hoax as a fact then we shouldn't accept any of the propaganda that they send out - and that would include all subsequent space propaganda of astro-nots on their famous space walks with a so-called round planet thousands of miles below their feet. These images and videos are easy to create in special effects studios.
Prabhupada: Why if one is settled up that he's a rascal, we should not hear anything. And why not? He has not gone to the moon. They are insisting, "Yes, we have gone," by false propaganda. Why the one who makes false propaganda and one who says nonsense, we have to believe? Immediately, whatever he says, reject. There's no argument. You have proved yourself rascal so we don't accept any statement.
(Conversation about Bhu-mandala, July 5, 1977, Vrindavana)
Since the same agency that faked the moon landing continues to present this lie to the public, I share Srila Prabhupada's cynicism about the integrity of NASA, and have every reason to doubt whatever presentations they make including the whole International Space Agency saga.
I've no doubt that after a thorough inspection of the exposes of the fake photos and videos of Earth as a round-globe from outer space that Srila Prabhupada would have equally dismissed them as fraudulent. Thus taking the shastras description of the actual relationship between Bharata-varshas position to Jambudvipa, as well as the observable science refuting a heliocentric and globe-shaped Earth, and not forgetting the innumerable exposes of NASA's fake Earth images from outer space, we have every reason to suspect the present depiction of the Earth as a globe. In the light of such a presentation, I would be confident that Srila Prabhupada would reconsider his previous statements that the Earth is a round planet in space.
(1.8) VARAHADEVA LIFTED THE BHU-MANDALA NOT AN EARTH GLOBE
We have a very important example in this regard of Srila Prabhupada changing his understanding in the light of alternative evidence. When it was pointed out, for example by Bhakti-prema dasa in the conversation of June 28, 1977 (Vrindavana) that Varahadeva lifted the entire Bhu-mandala and not simply what we think of as the Earth globe, Srila Prabhupada accepted his version because it was backed up by the shastra:
Devotee (2): Srila Prabhupada, previously we painted in the art department... Just like Varaha lifted the earth, and the earth was a globe, and we showed also a globe of the earth. How does that relate to this? Previously, when we painted, we showed the earth a ball. So now the artists will be very confused. How it fell in the Garbha Ocean as a ball?
Yasodanandana: It depends on what we mean by earth. The Western conception of earth is just five continents and a few oceans, but according to Bhagavatam, earth means Jambudvipa, because earth is connected with Jambudvipa.
Devotee (2): So whole Jambudvipa fell.
Bhakti-Prema: Bhagavata describes the height of Himalayas, eighty thousand miles.
Prabhupada: No, about this earth globe.
Bhakti-Prema: About the earth it describes four billion miles.
Tamala Krishna: That means Jambudvipa.
Bhakti-Prema: No, that means complete earth, four billion miles. That is eight lakhs miles, Jambudvipa.
Tamala Krishna: Four billion is the universe.
Tamala Krishna: Bhu-mandala. Oh, the Bhagavatam describes Bhu-mandala as earth.
Bhakti-Prema: ...has come right from the ocean, from the bottom of the ocean.
Prabhupada: So explained there. Then this question is solved.
Tamala Krishna: Yes. The whole Bhu-mandala fell.
Bhakti-Prema: So the universe is round, and from bottom of the Garbhodaka ocean to top of Satyaloka there is four billion miles. Then the again, from east to west again is another four billion miles. Because Bhu-mandala is situated in between the earth.
Prabhupada: Explain. He'll explain.
(June 28 1977, Vrindavana)
Here we see an example of Srila Prabhupada's humility wherein he defers to the research study of his disciple Bhakti-prema who explains that it was the whole bhu-mandala that fell into the Garbhodaka Ocean, and not (as assumed) some tiny Earth globe. Srila Prabhupada even refers the other devotees to his disciple's opinion: "He'll explain!" This is an example of Srila Prabhupada (guru) favouring the understanding of his disciple (sadhu) above his own understanding. Bhakti-prema's understanding is indeed confirmed in the shastra: Srimad Bhagavatam 3.13.41 states: ca saukaram bhu-mandale natha data dhrtena te, in the form of a boar you lifted Bhu-mandala on your tusk.
inline image 6 Varahadeva lifting the flat-Earth (Bhu-mandala) 19th C. Patna
Despite this change of mind, there are many earlier statements in Srila Prabhupada's archives about Varahadeva lifting the Earth 'planet.' So which version should we present in order to be loyal to Srila Prabhupada? When a speaker gives a lecture about Varahadeva lifting the Earth, should they refer to the Earth as a globe or a horizontal plane? Should we regard Sadaputa Prabhu as a heretic for presenting the following conclusion in his book on Vedic Cosmography:
"In the pastime of Lord Varaha's lifting the earth from the ocean, the earth is frequently depicted by artists as our familiar earth globe. However, the Sanskrit verses of Srimad-Bhagavatam describing this pastime do not use any words denoting a sphere when referring to the earth, and the Visnu Purana indicates that Lord Varaha lifted Bhu-mandala as a whole. The relevant passage states that after lifting the earth from the waters, Lord Varaha divided it into seven great continents, as it was before, thus indicating that the earth that was lifted included the seven dvipas of Bhu-mandala (VP, p. 65). The Vaisnava commentator Vamsidhara, in his commentary on SB 5.20.38, he also points out that the earth lifted by Lord Varaha is Bhu-mandala (see Appendix 1).
In the Fifth Canto the earth is directly described as the vast disc of Bhu-mandala. The word bhu-golam, or "earth-globe," generally refers to the sphere of the universe, and the Bhagavatam seems to make no direct reference to the earth as a small globe.
(Vedic Cosmography and Astronomy VCA 3.C Planets as Globes in Space)."
Prabhupada previously instructed his disciples to depict Varaha lifting a globe-shaped Earth; so should we lose all our faith in Srila Prabhupada because he got a detail wrong? Let's not be childish here. Yes, Srila Prabhupada is our glorious acharaya and guide, but the Founder-Acharya of ISKCON taught us to follow sadhu, guru, sastra. On the question of the Earth, Srila Prabhupada directed us to the shastra. We therefore want to check the shastra with what guru says, and we want to also consider the understanding of the sadhus. We do this not with the intention of contradicting or diminishing Srila Prabhupada, but to make sure that we have got everything right and thereby reveal the actual truth and glory of Srimad Bhagavatam to the world. This is really what Srila Prabhupada wants.
(1.9) IS AN ACHARYA OMNISCIENT?
Srila Prabhupada's translation of Srimad Bhagavatam describes Earth (Bharata-varsha) as resting on the horizontal plane of Bhu-mandala, but Srila Prabhupada himself spoke as if he was living on a globe-shaped planet. So that disparity has to be discussed. Was Srila Prabhupada right in his translation, but wrong in his understanding of the Earth as a globe? That is an important question that we have to address. Ultimately everything has to be confirmed by shastra, and that was Srila Prabhupada's own stated position to Tamala Krishna when the question of a round or flat-Earth came up: 'take the version of Bhagavatam.'
The presentation of the flat-Earth obviously raises questions about Srila Prabhupada's understanding of Bharata-varsha's shape and location in relation to Bhu-mandala, which in turn raises the question about Srila Prabhupada's understanding of the very Earth that he flew around many times. We may question was Srila Prabhupada a victim of ignorance and illusion and that he did not understand the very nature of the Srimad Bhagavatam cosmology which he was personally translating? Could he possibly be in such a big illusion that he was also fooled by the asursic science into thinking he was on a globe when he was really on the great horizontal plane of Bhu-mandala. Why did Prabhupada not know this? If this understanding of the Earth is true, why is this important information regarding the Earth's situation not a central teaching of the parampara? Surely Srila Prabhupada would have been aware of the conclusions of the disciplic succession and stated it loud and clear. Such questions inevitably arise. The seeming deficiency in Srila Prabhupada may cause a crisis of faith in an immature follower who thinks that guru must perfectly know everything in every conceivable subject. Srila Prabhupada himself clearly rejected this conception of guru as the following conversation testifies:
Prabhupada: Yes. Pure devotee does not aspire anything, simply to be engaged in loving service to the Lord, wherever it may be. It doesn't matter.
Jayadvaita: They know everything and they are perfect in everything. But sometimes, from our material viewpoint, we see some discrepancies. Just like we think that …
Prabhupada: Because material viewpoint. The viewpoint is wrong; therefore you find discrepancies.
Jayadvaita: So we should think that we have the defect.
Prabhupada: Yes. Acarya is explained, bhakti-samsanah: "One who's preaching the cult of devotional service, he's acarya." Then why should you find any discrepancy?
Jayadvaita: Because we see … For instance, sometimes the acarya may seem to forget something or not to know something, so from our point of view, if someone has forgotten, that is an imperfection.
Prabhupada: Then you do not understand. Acarya is not God, omniscient. He is servant of God. His business is to preach bhakti cult. That is acarya.
Jayadvaita: And that is the perfection.
Prabhupada: That is the perfection. Hare Krishna.
Jayadvaita: So we have a misunderstanding about what perfection is?
Prabhupada: Yes. Perfection is here, how he is preaching bhakti cult. That's all.
Satsvarupa: Prabhupada, in one purport in the Bhagavad-gita, you write that a disciple of a bona fide spiritual master is supposed to know everything.
Prabhupada: Yes, if he follows the spiritual master.
Satsvarupa: But how could he know? … What does that mean, "everything?"
Prabhupada: Everything means whatever his guru knows, he should know, that much. Not like God, everything. Within his limit, that's all. If he tries to understand whatever his guru has said, that much is "everything." Otherwise, "everything" does not mean that we know everything, like God, like Krishna. That is not possible. If he regularly chants and follows the regulative principles, follows the orders of guru, then he knows everything. That's all. Not very much … knows everything, then what is the use of reading books when he knows everything? You cannot expect anyone to know like Krishna, everything.
Jayadvaita: Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita that one who knows Him knows everything.
Prabhupada: Yes. Because if he knows that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then he knows everything. That's all. Not that he should know as Krishna. Yasmin vijnate sarvam eva vijnatam … If he accepts Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Absolute Truth, then he knows everything. That is finish.
Jayadvaita: That knowledge itself is complete.
Satsvarupa: If there's some material information that such a person doesn't know, that's not really knowledge anyway.
Prabhupada: I did not follow.
Satsvarupa: If he doesn't know how many people live in …
Jayadvaita: Just like Gaurakisora could not write. So it appeared that he did not, there was something that he did not know, although he knew Krishna.
Prabhupada: Yes. He knows everything. Otherwise how Bhaktisiddhanta accepted him as guru? He knows Krishna. That's all.
Naline-kanta: What the spiritual master says, that is also perfect?
Prabhupada: Yes. Because he does not say anything concocted. Whatever he says, he says from sastra and guru.
(April 8 1975, Mayapur, Morning Walk)
So here Srila Prabhupada rejects the idea that he is omniscient or all-knowing like Krishna. Srila Prabhupada explains that the perfection of guru is in teaching Krishna bhakti, not that he has to be an expert in all aspects of the material universe. Srila Prabhupada says here that the bona-fide guru repeats guru and sastra. So when Srila Prabhupada states that the Earth is round like a globe, should we instinctively assume that he must be repeating the standard version of guru and sastra? In the case of the shape and location of the Earth, we have to remember that when the discrepancy between the Vedic and modern conception was pointed out to Srila Prabhupada, he directed his disciples to take the Srimad Bhagavatam's version (shastra). In this case, he did not present his own understanding as authoritative because by his own admission he was a layman in Vedic cosmology.
Srila Prabhupada was convinced of life in other regions of the universe and this is the essential point for us to take. Srila Prabhupada referred to these other areas as 'Earthly planets,' but according to Srimad Bhagavatam the humans live along the seven dwipas of Bhu-mandala. The dwipas are not planets floating throughout space; they are a series of islands that rest on the same horizontal plane of Bhu-mandala. The continents of our known Earth are surrounded by these other areas, but the fake pictures of the Earth as a lonely globe in outer space has completely confused and bewildered everyone about the actual situation of Earth, and how its land and oceans continue further along the flat or horizontal plane of Bhu-mandala.
On this point, we can also refer to an earlier conversation from 1976 wherein Srila Prabhupada did indeed speak of the Earth as a dwipa (island). As is the case with many subjects that Srila Prabhupada taught, we have to consider that Srila Prabhupada sometimes answered questions with seemingly contrary replies. In the following conversation, he was asked directly is the Earth round like a ball, or round like a plate? Here we have a direct answer that the Earth planet should be depicted as an island (dvipa) indicating the roundness of a plate, not a ball:
Satsvarupa: Srila Prabhupada, are the planets shaped liked balls or more like plates? Because it's, it's hard to understand, 'cause they're called dvipas, "islands." Their roundness is the roundness of a plate or like a ball?
Prabhupada: Which one?
Satsvarupa: The earth planet?
Prabhupada: If it is like a tree, then these things can be as dvipa, island.
Tamala Krishna: Wow. You know...
Tamala Krishna: The scientists are getting smashed to bits by your statements, Srila Prabhupada. This destroys their whole theory. Orbs, round spheres. I think that this Mayapura building, we must build a big planetarium in it.
Prabhupada: Yes. That, that I am going to do, Vedic planetarium.
(Morning Walk, March 18, 1976, Mayapur)
So here Srila Prabhupada is saying the Earth is round and flat like an island. Tamala Krishna Goswami shows his comprehension by saying this "destroys their whole theory of orbs, round spheres." Contrary to Rajasekhara dasa's insistence that Srila Prabhupada always spoke of the Earth as a globe, there are instances such as the conversation above when he spoke of the Earth as a dwipa. So at the least we can say that there is some ambiguity in Srila Prabhupada's reply to this question of the Earth's shape, and that also gives one room to at least consider the horizontal plane conception. It certainly does not leave room for Rajasekhara dasa's dogmatic insistence that we must present the Earth as a globe because "Prabhupada says." Especially important is Srila Prabhupada's own instruction to take the Srimad Bhagavatam's version and he left it to his disciples to work out what that meant.
Though perhaps lacking in specific details, Srila Prabhupada in his books, lectures, and conversations, conveyed a few major and essential teachings regarding Vedic cosmology: namely, that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, that Krishna created the world in the manner described in Srimad Bhagavatam, and that there are other forms of life everywhere in both the material and spiritual universe. Accepting these essential points, we may have to second check, Srila Prabhupada's statements about the globe, but we should not take that as a sign that Prabhupada was ever bewildered by asuric science that presents a godless and impersonal world. Regarding the true nature of the Earth, Srila Prabhupada directed us time and again to the Srimad Bhagavatam's literal description and indeed his own translation reveals the truth of the matter:
"Under no circumstances can the words of persons bewildered by the illusory energy of the Lord deviate the intelligence of those who are completely surrendered souls."
I don't think Srila Prabhupada had a false ego in which he was unable to second check his understanding of the detail of things. In order to resolve the inconsistencies arising in regard to the Earth's shape, we've heard how Srila Prabhupada specifically instructed Tamala Krishna Goswami to "Find out from our side according to Srimad Bhagavatam." Why did he ask Tamala Krishna Goswami? Why did he not give the answer himself? Obviously, because he did not know the precise answer; thus Srila Prabhupada requested his disciples to research the issue! In quite a few of these later conversations he did not give his own understanding but repeated the same instruction: Take the version of Srimad Bhagavatam . The version of Bhagavatam obviously includes the commentaries made by the previous acharyas who provide the paramapara understanding.
Regarding the paramapara teachings on the nature of Bharata-varsha, it is not mentioned anywhere by the acharyas that Bharata-varsha is a globe in space. Such a conception was introduced by the Western translators of the Vedic texts who could not accommodate the idea of the Bhu-mandala, and thus imposed a foreign idea of a globe onto the Vedic concept of the bhu-mandala or bhu-gola which is just another name for the same thing. In a third part of this paper we will address Srila Prabhupada's own usage of the word bhu-gola. Ultimately the covering of the real feature of the bhu-mandala has to do with the progression of Kali-yuga and the withdrawal of Vedic knowledge from the materialistic people born in this age. As explained in the following analogies from Srimad Bhagavatam:
"In the evening twilight during the rainy season, the darkness allowed the glowworms but not the stars to shine forth, just as in the age of Kali the predominance of sinful activities allows atheistic doctrines to overshadow the true knowledge of the Vedas."
During the rainy season the roads, not being cleansed, became covered with grass and debris and were thus difficult to make out. These roads were like religious scriptures that brahmanas no longer study and that thus become corrupted and covered over with the passage of time."
The correct understanding of the Vedic cosmos thus appeared momentarily lost. Nonetheless, Srila Prabhupada's instruction to construct a Vedic Planetarium based on the cosmology of Srimad Bhagavatam may be taken as an indication of Krishna's desire to revive and reveal this information to the world once again - hence the importance of the Temple of Vedic Planetarium. However, if the TOVP management simply continue to try and convince everyone that they are indeed living on a ball in space, the whole purpose of the TOVP will be lost as people will remain in blissful ignorance about the true expanse of the Earth they live on. Since Sukadeva Goswami describes Jambudwipa to the north of our Earth, is it not the duty of the TOVP to seriously investigate the possibility of an expanded Earth concept? Rather than glibly dismissing the idea, and favouring instead the ball in space (with Jambudwipa conveniently relegated to other dimensions), perhaps those responsible for the TOVP should take seriously what Sukadeva Goswami is describing. Or is the whole description mythological after all? If the TOVP simply reinforces the already existing false construct of reality, pilgrims to the temple will remain bound to the prison planet conception; thus, rather than gaining freedom by acquiring faith in Krishna's actual creation, they will remain fearfully bound to the prison planet illusion that is perpetrated and governed by their asuric rulers.
(2.0) DETERMINING WHAT IS REAL ON THE BASIS OF SRIMAD BHAGAVATAM: A LESSON FROM TAMALA KRISHNA GOSWAMI
"Completely rejecting all religious activities which are materially motivated, this Bhagavata Purana propounds the highest truth, which is understandable by those devotees who are fully pure in heart. The highest truth is reality distinguished from illusion for the welfare of all.
Unravelling the globe deception is part of distinguishing reality from illusion for the benefit of all. Canto 1, chapter 5, verse 11 of Srimad-Bhagavatam predicts that this literature will bring about a revolution in the impious lives of this world's misdirected civilization (janatagha-viplavo ). The Mayapur Vedic Planetarium is based on the cosmography of Srimad-Bhagavatam and was one of Srila Prabhupada's main projects to counteract the prevailing materialistic world-view of life and the cosmos. The horizontal plane concept of Srimad Bhagavatam is certainly a revolutionary concept that brings transcendental peace to the mind by revealing the truth of Krishna's creation, and thereby exposing the lies and deceptions of asuric science and government.
Upon researching evidence for the flat-Earth, and the faking of images of the globe from outer space, it quickly becomes obvious that we are living in an artificially manipulated reality of stupendous proportions, and one must be prepared for a major shock to the system. Listening to the many arguments in favour of the flat-Earth, it may come as a great shock to discover the extent of how our present experience of reality has been manipulated by a very clever ruling class. Srila Prabhupada himself referred to the present world governments as asuric (demoniac).
Since the TOVP is a key element in the mission bequeathed by Srila Prabhupada, the depiction of Earth within that Planetarium is meant to vastly impact those who live on the Earth. This is meant to be a show-down between the Vedic and asuric description of life and the universe. The horizontal plane model changes everything because it shows the true design of Krishna's creation and thus exposes the colossal lie that the asuras have perpetrated for the last few hundred years (in changing from the geo-centric to the heliocentric system) and particularly since the 1960's with the advent of NASA and the mind-boggling deception it has perpetrated on the world.
The vast majority of people have been taught to scoff at the flat-Earth idea as primitive and unscientific, and have been indoctrinated otherwise into believing the pseudo-science and fake images that support the globe model. Rajasekhara dasa has presented a few conversations from Srila Prabhupada in which he also seems to scoff at the flat-Earth concept; but as we have seen, the issue of the Earth's shape and location is more complex than a few cursory comments from Srila Prabhupada may indicate. The recent expose of NASA's so-called images of Earth by members of the flat-Earth society not only uncovers the greatest hoax in history, but opens up a whole new understanding and appreciation of Srimad-Bhagavatam's horizontal Earth concept. Distinguishing reality from illusion means to see through the eyes of scripture in order to avoid being misled by the contemporary asuras who are bewildering everyone with false ideas and images of the creation, and thereby creating a false construct of reality that supports atheistic and impersonal explanations for the origin and purpose of life.
A doubt in the horizontal plane model obviously arises when one considers the very possibility and likelihood of covering the real feature of the Earth. Could the asuras be really so bold and expert as to fake the very idea of Earth itself? Actually, this potency has more to do with the arrangement of maya: due to the progression of Kali-yuga, Vedic knowledge is withdrawn and maya engages various agents to bewilder everyone about the nature of reality. For example, by the process of mental speculation and psudeo-science (Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton) one can easily become bewildered about what is real and what is unreal regarding the Earth's true nature. Most people have never conducted their own research into the validity of such ideas such as heliocentricity and gravity, but simply accept the standard version of reality. More recently, by the usage of photography and television (tell-lie-vision ), the asuras can make anything appear possible; and what to speak of more advanced technology such as holographic images that are yet to come. Bear in mind, by the grace of maya, asuras are also expert in creating illusion. Consider the following lila between Varahadeva and Hiranyaksa as they fought for the Earth:
"O descendant of Kuru, Brahma, the most independent demigod of the universe, accompanied by his followers, came to see the terrible fight for the sake of the world between the demon and the Personality of Godhead, who appeared in the form of a boar.
The fight between the Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and the demon is compared to a fight between bulls for the sake of a cow. The earth planet is also called go, or cow. As bulls fight between themselves to ascertain who will have union with a cow, there is always a constant fight between the demons and the Supreme Lord or His representative for supremacy over the earth."
"Lord Brahma continued: My dear Lord, there is no need to play with this serpentine demon, who is always very skilled in conjuring tricks and is arrogant, self-sufficient and most wicked."
Here Brahma refers to Hiranyaksa as maya-vinam - skilled in creating illusions. Bear this in mind the next time you see astro-nots in space: are they actually in space looking down upon the globe earth, or have they simply created the illusion of being in space using clever special effects and other tricks in studios here on Earth? Why not investigate the truth of the thing?
"The demon, however, employed many conjuring tricks against the Personality of Godhead, who is the Lord of yogamaya. At the sight of this the people were filled with alarm and thought that the dissolution of the universe was near."
The words used here are athorudhasrjan mayam yoga-mayesvare harau , meaning that although the demon Hiranyaksa could also create maya or illusions (athorudhasrjan mayam ), his illusions could not defeat Lord Hari who is described as yoga-maya-isvara , the Lord of illusion. In the above verse Krishna is glorified as yoga-mayesvare harau. We should understand that same yoga-mayesvare is presently appearing in the form of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra in order to again save the world from the Hiranyaksas who are bent on destroying it:
nama haite haya sarva jagat nistara
In this Age of Kali, the holy name of the Lord, the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, is the incarnation of Lord Krsna. Simply by chanting the holy name, one associates with the Lord directly. Anyone who does this is certainly delivered."
(Caitanya Caritamrta, Adi-lila, 17.22)
As the sun rises dispersing darkness, so the sound incarnation of Godhead (Hare Krishna mantra) is presently dispersing all illusions, deceptions, and untruths that have upheld the asuric system of government for the last few thousand years.
"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself.
To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I Myself appear, millennium after millennium."
(Bhagavad-gita As It Is 4.7-8)
Through the medium of Srimad Bhagavatam and the Temple of Vedic Planetarium, the Lord of all mystic yoga is dispersing the asuric illusions that cover the true nature of the Earth. If one listens without prejudice, the flat-Earth revolution can also be appreciated as a movement directly inspired by Krishna to help usher in the truths of a new Vedic era.
Varahadeva kills the demon Hiranyaksha and saves the Earth (Bhu-mandala)
Let's go back now to July 1977 in order to learn a lesson from Tamala Krishna Goswami about how to best present the Earth of Srimad Bhagavatam in the new Temple of Vedic Planetarium. Although struggling to find an answer as to how people can sail and fly around the world, as well as being perplexed by the so-called images from outer-space that depict Earth as a globe, Tamala Krishna Goswami's integrity, and faith in Srimad-Bhagavatam's description of Earth, is displayed by his willingness to wait for a suitable explanation that was consistent with the Srimad-Bhagavatam's description, not that he favoured continuing to present the Earth as globe-shaped Earth simply because it appears to match our present experience of reality. In other words, he was willing to challenge that very model of reality which is being presented to us from non-Vedic sources:
Tamala Krishna: Our question was mostly coming out of how to draw what the Srimad-Bhagavatam is saying. We're not supporting any kind of mundane argument, nor do we have any doubt in Bhagavatam. We're simply trying to understand the Bhagavatam…
Prabhupada: Bhagavata is there. You try to understand.
Tamala Krishna: We're not siding with the preconceptions that we had before. We'll throw them away. We're trying to accept the Bhagavatam. Everything has to be according to the Bhagavatam.
(Conversation about Bhu-mandala, July 5, 1977, Vrindavana)
In this same spirit, I think the followers of Srila Prabhupada should be courteous and open to listening to the many quite fascinating arguments in favour of the flat-Earth, which at least are consistent with what Srimad-Bhagavatam describes. These arguments, of course, would have to be adjusted (were necessary) in line with the complete Vedic understanding of things.
(2.1) THE FLAT-EARTH AND THE TEMPLE OF VEDIC PLANETARIUM EXHIBITIONS
Contrary to Rajasekhara dasa's claim that the horizontal plane model is some kind of schismatic and heretical idea, it is ironic that the horizontal plane model will be the one exhibited in the main dome of the Temple of Vedic Planetarium which itself is based on sketches that were first prepared and presented to Srila Prabhupada in 1977. This is a screen shot from the official TOVP animation called Vedic Planetarium Chandelier which depicts Earth's position on the central island of Bhu-mandala called Jambudwipa:
Here we see the 800,000 mile round circular island of Jambudwipa with the golden Mount Meru in the centre. In this video, Antardwipa dasa (present head of the TOVP cosmology) narrates the following: "Here we can see Jambudwipa the central island of Bhu-mandala, and Bharata varsha is situated on the southern side of that." In other words Bharata-varsha (of which our Earth is one section is situated on the same horizontal plane as the rest of Jambudwipa. You won't see a globe-shaped Earth depicted here for the simple reason that Srimad Bhagavatam does not describe Bharata-varsha as a globe.
Below is another image by a renowned disciple of Srila Prabhupada called Sadaputa dasa who pioneered much of the research on Vedic cosmology within the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. The image below shows a side profile of Jambudwipa:
In the small inset picture we again see the round island of Jambudwipa with Meru in the center. Bharata-varsha or what we call Earth is one section of this land-mass. The main picture shows a side profile of Jambudwipa surrounded by the salt water ocean. Meru is the golden mountain to the left of center of the picture and at the base are side profiles of the main mountains that divide Jambudwipa into nine seperate varshas (Bharata-varsha which contains our Earth is one of the nine varshas or sections of Jambudwipa). My apologies to the reader who may not be familiar with these images and what they represent, but this has more to do with the failure of our society to educate its members about the actual shape and location of Bharata-varsha to the rest of the Bhu-mandala or Earth sphere. However, it should be clear, that the concept of the horizontal plane model of the Earth is not some deviant idea, but rather, it is completely consistent with the Srimad Bhagavatam's description.
Despite accurately depicting the Srimad Bhagavatam's description of Bharta-varsha's relationship to Jambudwipa in various animated presentations, both Sadaputa dasa and the current TOVP management are going with the idea that Bharata-varsha is simultaneously manifest as a globe in space (the so-called Earth planet). Thus the TOVP proposes a secondary exhibition which will depict the Earth as a globe. I shall state some further arguments against this secondary exhibition in a later paper, but a few facts should be mentioned here. Nowhere in the verses of Srimad Bhagavatam or indeed any of the Puranas is the place name Bharata-varsha described as a globe or a planet. With the exception of Srila Prabhupada, none of the acharyas in their commentaries on the Fifth Canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam describe Bharata-varsha as a globe. Bharata-varsha is consistently understood to be simply a small section of a much larger area called Bhu-mandala which is a huge horizontal plane crossing the universe.
The attempt by the current TOVP cosmology department to present the Earth as a globe is based primarily on selected extracts from secondary literature such as the Surya Siddhanta , but the acharyas in their commentaries on the Fifth Canto do not reference such books to support the purported idea that Bharata-varsha is a globe. In any case, it is impossible that the authorized Vedic sages quoted in texts other than Srimad Bhagavatam could be describing something different from the Srimad Bhagavatam itself which is the essence of all the Vedic scriptures. sarva-vedetihasanam saram (SB 1.3.41). I have debated previously with representatives of the TOVP that the references to such books are simply based on interpolations of the texts to support a preconceived and ill-conceived idea that the Earth is indeed a globe in space when Srimad Bhagavatam itself gives no such description. Perhaps in another paper we can present some of the details of that debate.
My argument is not, therefore, with the main exhibition in the central dome of the TOVP, but with the introduction of the globe concept in the secondary exhibition. The result of this globe model in a secondary exhibition will be that the actual location of Bharata-varsha to Jambudwipa as displayed in the main exhibition of the TOVP will be rendered practically meaningless. A secondary exhibition of the 'globe-Earth' wherein the main 'scientific preaching' will take place, will effectively obscure the true nature of Bharata-varshas location to the rest of Jambudwipa; and Jambudwipa will thus (again) be conveniently disposed to being in another dimension. The reality of the Earth which Srimad Bhagavatam reveals will remain hidden; namely, that the Earth continues on the same plane into vast areas of land occupied by other living entities. The central dome exhibit will thus appear to the uneducated public as merely a spectacular display of Vedic mythology with no practical relevance to their 'real' situation on the so-called Earth globe.
The secondary exhibition depicting Earth as a globe also completely ignores the Vedic history which states that only 5,000 years ago, the Pandavas were ruling this vast area of Jambudwipa from their capital city in India. If Earth is a globe, then where did the rest of Jambudwipa suddenly go? It makes no sense at all. Does anyone at the TOVP actually believe this history? As yet, none of the spokesmen can answer this simple question. The real fact is that Bhu-mandala is the Earth, not Bharata-varsha; Bharata-varsha is only one tiny section of the great Earth circle that stretches across the universe. We've just been cut off from the rest of the plane.
So although claiming to present Srimad Bhagavatam, the present head of the TOVP cosmology department will not actually defend the horizontal plane or flat-Earth conception of Srimad Bhagavatam in their scientific preaching. The horizontal plane model involves a complete revolution in understanding and perception which unfortunately those involved in the TOVP do not appear to have made. Rather, they prefer to defend the present concept that Earth is a globe which has neither scientific justification (see section 2.4 of Sailing to Jambudwipa), and is perpetuated using only pseudo-science, hoax images, and videos supplied by NASA's special effects department.
The horizontal plane on which Earth rests continues to the next varsha of Jambudwipa; indeed it stretches in all directions to the shell of the universe. This means that our world continues for much, much further than people are being told, and the information that there is more land mass all around us is being denied them. It is the duty of the TOVP to inform people of this reality. But whose version of the Earth do the TOVP believe in more - Sukadeva Goswami, or NASA?
If the proposed presentation of Bharata-varsha as a globe goes ahead and is introduced into the TOVP exhibitions, it must only be to appease modern science to some degree. My feeling is the management of the TOVP don't want to rock the boat by having to present to the rest of the world that the Earth of Srimad Bhagavatam is part of a massive horizontal plane, and thus coming into a huge contention with the world's governments, education systems, military/space agencies, etc. - well basically the rest of the world! The TOVP management are perhaps afraid of rejecting the globe concept for fear of looking foolish in the eyes of the world. The idea of the TOVP thus engaging in a Varahadeva-style epic battle with Nasasura (NASA) to expose their globe hoax is unfortunately not likely to happen any-time soon; sadly, the present TOVP cosmologists are themselves victims of NASA's propaganda.
Although the main dome of the TOVP will thankfully display the Srimad Bhagavatam's literal description, the secondary exhibition will unfortunately display the 'so-called' situation of the Earth as a globe in space. Perhaps, somewhere down the line the truth of the matter will be made apparent. Ironically, as the TOVP seeks to defend the globe in space idea, the rest of the world is waking up to the huge deception that NA$A has pulled ever since the first fake moon-landings of 1969-72). The internet is practically over-run with amazing people from all over the world exposing this colossal globe-Earth hoax and the pseudo-science supporting it. The proof of the flat-Earth or horizontal plane model is such a monumental discovery that it can shatter peoples faith in the credibility of scientists and governments practically overnight. Whereas we should be leaders in presenting the new Earth paradigm, the proposed secondary presentations for the new TOVP will simply reinforce the false Earth deception. Our main preaching base to the world will become reactionary rather than revolutionary.
We may concede that the introduction of a globe into the TOVP may also be a sincere attempt to justify Srila Prabhupada's statements that the Earth is a globe. However, in order to do this, those responsible for making the argument have to make concocted, interpolated, and convoluted arguments based on secondary sastra that depart fundamentally from the Srimad Bhagavatam. In my correspondence with a TOVP spokesman I found that they could not maintain consistency and integrity trying to reconcile interpolations from secondary sources with the straightforward description given in the primary source of Srimad Bhagavatam. The result I found to be a mammoth speculation on the part of the current TOVP presentation. But that of course is my opinion .
Since Srila Prabhupada himself wanted the TOVP based on Srimad Bhagavatam, one has to consider would Srila Prabhupada himself be satisfied with presenting a globe model in the TOVP since it can be otherwise presented that the rotating globe in space model is not only at variance with the Srimad Bhagavatam's description of Bharata-varsha, but is not even scientifically verifiable (see section 2.4 of Sailing to Jambudwipa). Aside from demonstrably fake pictures and videos of a round globe, there is otherwise no way to observe or measure a curvature on the Earth. One has to consider, therefore, would Srila Prabhupada approve of the horizontal plane model of Srimad Bhagavatam if that could be demonstrated to conform to the Srimad Bhagavatam's description, as well as being adequately able to explain day and night, seasons, eclipses, etc.
As mentioned Srila Prabhupada himself didn't give direct explanations for these phenomena, but instructed his disciples to study the Srimad Bhagavatam and provide adequate explanations. We cannot rule out a horizontal plane model from this research directive given by Srila Prabhupada. We must also bear in mind that Srila Prabhupada wasn't interested in cheap popularity from prevailing materialistic conceptions of cosmology. Srila Prabhupada wanted the TOVP presentations based on Srimad Bhagavatam regardless of what the modern scientists say and that disregard may well include rejecting the globe idea. It must be emphasised, however, that Srila Prabhupada did wish to present a model that scientifically explained the above phenomena. The horizontal plane must also be able to adequately explain day and night, seasons, etc., and this will require a collective effort to garner the relevant information.
My feeling is that those responsible for the exhibitions in the TOVP lack a certain faith and realization in the Srimad Bhagavatam's literal description; otherwise if one accepts Srimad Bhagavatam's straightforward description that to the north of our known continents and oceans is another area called Kimpurusha-varsha leading onward to Mount Meru, then why would one continue to present the Earth as a globe? Where is Kimpurusa-varsha, Hari Varsha, and the 800,000 mile high Mount Meru situated on the globe? Srimad Bhagavatam is a huge paradigm shift that even those responsible for the TOVP have not yet made. Therein is the problem! It seems those responsible for the exhibitions are somewhat lacking in the faith or realization of the thing being described. Yes, the TOVP can present a visual depiction of Bharata-varsha's place on the Bhu-mandala in videos, pictures, and other exhibits, but it seems they lack the realization to appreciate that this means our Earth extends along a horizontal plane and is surrounded by other inhabited lands. Due to either lack of faith or realization there is a reluctance to defend the Srimad Bhagavatam's model and all that entails. Instead, the policy is to take the safe option of defending the existing globe model which is nothing but a product of the speculations of Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton. Some simply research will reveal that none of the so-called science supporting the globe rotating in space can actually be supported. Like Darwin's theory of evolution, the whole idea of the globe is one huge speculation that is propped up and maintained by propaganda alone.
To defend the globe exhibition in the TOVP, its defenders may keep insisting that "Prabhupada said it was a globe," but Srila Prabhupada's last word on the issue was to take Srimad Bhagavatam's version and the Bharata-varsha in Srimad Bhagavatam is definitely not a globe. As a result of nearly fifty years research on the subject, the situation of the Earth on the Bhu-mandala is becoming very clear. It is not a globe.
It is interesting that although Srila Prabhupada had himself requested the help of other Vedic astronomers to help in the conceptualization of the planetarium's depiction of the universe, he was not satisfied with the understanding among the Vedic astrologers that he spoke to. The problem was that no one took the Srimad-Bhagavatam's description literally:
Tamala Krishna: No, he doesn't. He never thought about it. No one reads the Bhagavatam as a scientific book, Srila Prabhupada. That's the point. Except for Your Divine Grace, they are thinking it's story, "It is stories."
Prabhupada: Yes, they do not believe.
Tamala Krishna: No. And therefore no one takes it seriously. Modern people don't take it seriously.
Prabhupada: There was a Gosai. He was reading Caitanya-caritamrta. So the description of the planetary system there is. He used to say to his audience, "Actually these things are not there. These are imaginary descriptions." He was such a fool. So the whole world has taken like that, "symbolic, imagination."
Tamala Krishna: And he was lecturing on Caitanya-caritamrta. I think you mentioned that one of your Godbrothers once said to you, "You really believe that there is such a place, Krishnaloka, Vaikunthaloka?" He was himself...
Prabhupada: Bon Maharaja did not believe. No... Nobody ever thought of it.
Tamala Krishna: You are the only representative, the lone representative of religion left on this planet, Srila Prabhupada.
(Conversation with Astronomer, April 30 1977, Bombay)
But if we are to the take the Srimad-Bhagavatam literally, and not simply as some 'story-book,' then the description clearly points to a flat-Earth or horizontal plane concept with the rest of Jambudvipa somewhere to the north of our known oceans and continents. This means having to accept that the image of the globe-Earth as it has been presented to us is false, and that there are actually greater areas of land in the vicinity of Earth's oceans that expand for millions of miles along the horizontal plane of Bhu-mandala.
The TOVP's primary business is to enlighten people about the topmost place which is Goloka Vrindavana. Second to that is to enlighten people about their location and status within the Vedic Cosmos. It is the duty of the TOVP to inform people of the huge land masses that surround our known Earth area. Let us not continue the deception, but rather strive courageously to reveal the truth of Krishna's creation.
Apart from these few criticisms on the theory supporting a globe exhibition in the TOVP, I would like to say that the TOVP is an extremely important project for the spiritual awakening of people throughout the world; and regardless of differences in opinion, my sincere appreciation is extended to all involved for all the hard word and effort in the construction of this magnificent Temple.
Our main source of evidence for Srila Prabhupada's understanding of the round/flat-Earth discussion must come from his final discussions on the Vedic Planetarium of July 1977 when the topic was first seriously being researched and discussed. Srila Prabhupada, on that occasion, did not come to an unequivocal answer regarding the Srimad Bhagavatam's description of Earth as round or flat, but requested further research into the matter. The issue was never resolved and the question thus remains open for discussion.
We must also bear in mind that for a pure devotee of the Lord like Srila Prabhupada, whether the Earth is round or flat is not the most essential thing; the important thing is to serve Krishna in any circumstance. However, Srila Prabhupada wanted the TOVP to be built in order to present the cosmology of Srimad Bhagavatam, and so the question of the Earth's shape is an issue for the many reasons already discussed above.
END OF PART TWO - continued on part three