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A Novel Way
the Vedic Worldview
By Krishna-kripa das
One might be skeptical how much interest might be generated by presentations on the ancient Vedic world view amongst educated audiences in today's fast-pace hi-tech lifestyle. There is a great deal of responsiveness out there, according to the experience of His Holiness Romapada Swami. Romapada Swami, a longtime teacher of Krishna consciousness in the northeastern region of the United States has had remarkable success using Sadaputa Prabhu's CD Mysteries of the Sacred Universe to introduce the worldview of Srimad-Bhagavatam to both academic and professional audiences.
Romapada Swami started scheduling programs with the help of university bhakti-yoga clubs and Indian congregational members, but persons impressed with his presentation have arranged that he speak to employees within such places of business as Lucent Technology and Microsoft. Audiences ranging from 25 to 80 have attended these presentations.
Romapada Swami presents an overview of the topics covered in the CD by selecting chosen segments from the menu of the CD, and then plays segments of the forty-eight minute Mysteries video to illustrate the concepts, pausing after key segments are shown and discussing them to make sure the audience understands each topic.
The Srimad-Bhagavatam's description of the universe is very different from modern science's description. Although the Bhagavatam's presentation of Earth as the disk-shaped Bhu-mandala may look unrealistic, careful study shows that the Bhagavatam uses Bhu-mandala to represent at least four reasonable and consistent models: (1) a polar-projection map of the Earth globe, (2) a map of the solar system, (3) a topographical map of south-central Asia, and (4) a map of the celestial realm of the demigods. These are described in the video one after another.
As an introduction to Romapada Swami's discussion of the "Mysteries" CD, particularly at the hi-tech venues, he presents three reasons why it is worthwhile for the audience to thoughtfully and attentively consider this subject.
1) The subject matter is interesting. One reason that makes it very interesting is that the Bhagavata understanding of the solar system, which encodes planetary distance information and sophisticated understandings of the structure and the relative motion of various planets within the universe, presents understandings with great empiric accuracy, compared to modern science, close to a one-to-one match, without the use of technology. In contrast, the early Greek and medieval calculations were very far from matching our modern scientific calculations. How was this accuracy and sophistication reached? Answer: Descending knowledge.
2) Based on the strength of the Jyotisa parts of the Vedas being so profoundly accurate, credibility is added to the portions of the Srimad-Bhagavatam and other Vedic texts that are not empirically verifiable.
3) Since we are part of the universe, as Sadaputa says in the beginning of the video, "The way we view the universe has a great impact on how we view ourselves."
"What is life? What is this place in which we live?" Thoughtful persons ask these questions, and in any case we all are carrying some conception of the universe, and we in turn live our life resonating with or accommodating that conception.
From the historical point of view, when India was colonized by the British years ago, some Westerners, motivated by a desire to decrease the faith of the indigenous people in their own scriptures and a hope to convert them to Christianity, sought to discredit the statements of India's scriptures. The cosmological descriptions in the Puranas, with their oceans of milk and yogurt and mountains many miles high, appeared to be a weak point that could be used to dismantle faith in the entire worldview, and so they were ruthlessly ridiculed.
One can argue that Srila Prabhupada's insistence that the monumental Mayapur temple contain a Vedic model of the universe or planetarium is meant to reverse this process and use astronomy to establish faith in the authority of the Vedas. Srila Prabhupada said in a letter to Svarupa Damodara (now Goswami), dated April, 27,1976, "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."
If a person develops faith in the authority of the Vedas by seeing that they contain truth in different departments of knowledge like astronomy, then it is easier for such a person to understand the philosophy and practice of Krishna consciousness, which are described in the Vedas.
After his presentation, at his book table, Romapada Swami has had great success in selling Sadaputa Prabhu's Mysteries of the Sacred Universe books and Interactive CDs. With the exception of distributors like Bhaktivedanta Books Limited and Bhaktivedanta Library Services, Romapada Swami has purchased and sold more of these books than any other individual devotee customer. Since the book and CD came out in November of 2000, Maharaja has purchased 103 books and 176 CDs for resale.
Other devotees also find these materials useful. Longtime GBC for Southern California, Badrinarayana Prabhu, who has bought 23 CDs himself, gives them as presents to the teenage children of his life members. Of the CD, he said, "It is excellent. By the way, people get a real kick out of the animated movie of the flow of the Ganges (down Mount Sumeru to Bharata-varsa). You feel like you need to buckle up for the ride. Please offer our appreciation to Sadaputa prabhu for this important work, skillfully presented."
If you think the subject of astronomy is not of interest, Mysteries of the Sacred Universe deals with much more. Evidence of very similar ideas in geographically separated cultures is described, as well as evidence that ancient units of measurement including the Bhagavatam's yojana were based on the size of a degree of latitude, and also correlations between the date of the start of Kali-yuga and the Biblical flood of Noah's ark, etc.
For more information on the Mysteries of the Sacred Universe book, CD, and video, please consult our web site at http://www.sacreduniverse.com, write an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (386) 462-0466. (If you want to order, please do so by July 28, since our shipper will be away for much of August.)
© CHAKRA 27 July 2002
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