Over the last few years, some devotees have mistakenly thought that I am the one who has written elaborate articles attempting to show how the Vedas support a flat earth universe. The mistake is understandable considering the many years I have written articles about the Vedic “Science of the Soul” etc, which have been published and distributed around the internet on a variety of websites. (Google returns over 3500 hits on my Sanskrit name “mayesvara” ). This confusion is further exacerbated by the fact that I AM the artist/author of the Universal Map of Vedic Time available here. (http://jagannatha.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/VedicUniverse34̮Printed̮VSml.png)
This coincidental confusion has drawn me into numerous unanticipated conversations about what my particular understanding is in regards to the shape of the universe. I considered this a minor dilemma that I had no burning passion to resolve although I have been quite concerned regarding what the devotees will present to the world about our understanding of the universe when the doors open to the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium in 2020. (https://tovp.org)
I have been a firm believer in the absolute authority of the Srimad Bhagavat Purana from so many years ago when we would wait anxiously for the next volume to be printed. Shortly after the publication of the 5th Canto, my curiosity drove me to study it intensely and draw up my own crude mapping of the way it described the shape of our universe. The results of that effort left me very confused and uncomfortable. What I drew was not at all as reflective as the many other extraordinary things we learn in the Bhagavatam which are easily confirmed by our own investigation once it is pointed out to us. I simply could not understand the strange map that I had drawn based on the various regions described by Vedavyasa. My illustration was not at all compatible with the generally accepted understanding of a global earth which held it’s own place in a multi-planetary system that revolved around the sun.
That early experience was the catalyst which drove me to the uncomfortable task of trying to mitigate the cognitive dissonance that came up in regards to reconciling these conflicting understandings of what our universe looks like. It was a difficult conundrum to resolve. On one hand, the authority of the Srimad Bhagavatam reigns indisputably convincing knowledge regarding matters on Faith, Time, Devotional Service, Karma, Nature, Life Purpose & God etc., yet that was not the case in regards to how I understood it described the physical shape of our world! YIKES! It was later rumored that some devotees lost faith in Krishna Conscious due to the contents of the 5th canto at least partially because it presented such a universe that was not at all the way Copernicus and Issac Newton convinced the world it looked like. Perhaps it was also the fact that the 5th Canto presented such vivid details about the hellish planetary systems that it literally scared neophyte devotees, away to less demanding faiths. I was even led to believe by some leaders close to Srila Prabhupada that he knew this part of the Bhagavatam would be very challenging for the Western mind. It was for that reason why he chose to translate the Caitanya Caritamrita before he moved beyond the 4th Canto.
I can only speak for myself on this issue and as a matter of pragmatic necessity, I have had to reconcile the rational side of my consciousness with the devotional empathy that has played such an important role in my life. The conclusion I reached is, that I don’t believe we have matured enough collectively in our own purifying process as Vaishnavas to resolve the way Vyasadeva describes Bhumandala and what our cognition tells us. The Bhagavatam certainly offers many references that seem to suggest that the terrain we walk upon is flat, but that model has difficulty explaining why the sea rises and drops from as much as 5 to 50 feet at different places around the world. Nor does the flat earth theory accommodate the Corvallis effect which causes storms to rotate in different directions depending on which hemisphere one resides in. I am quite aware of the numerous arguments made by the proponents of the flat earth society in their desperate attempt to provide alternative explanations for these easily observable events. Yet quite frankly, I do not find them to be very well thought out, compatible with physics as we currently understand it or even moderately persuasive. It is easy to notice that those in the southern atmosphere look up and see a completely different sky full of stars than what we see and nobody sees any plates floating in space. It’s just not at all reasonably deductive to conclude that we live on a terracotta Frisbee.
Many are under the impression that it was the early sea goers who changed the popular belief that the earth was flat when they circumnavigated the earth. However, history indicates that there was a very perceptive Greek called Eratosthenes that used simple physics to demonstrate that the earth is round over 250 years before the birth of Christ. Carl Sagen does a good job explaining how his simple study of shadows led him to his convincing conclusions that the earth is a ball, way before the Europeans were capable of understanding this point. Link: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4AjYgjhwdw)
So for those who are delving deeply into the study of what our universe looks like, please note that I have not been the one authoring all the papers promoting a flat earth model. I concede that this is a difficult topic to resolve and encourage those who are interested in pursuing this line of research. My personal caveat is that it will probably be generations before we can provide a convincing explanation of the differences we see thru a telescope and what we see through scripture. Meanwhile, I pray that the managers of the TOVP proceed with cautious prudence in regards to the model they intend to unveil to the world in 2020. A failure to do so could give the world the embarrassing impression that the Hare Krishnas are a bunch of ignorant Luddites and the huge international public relations conundrum that would follow such a snafu would only complicate and impede the dissemination of Lord Caitanya’s glorious sankirtan movement. Let prudence be our guide before we hang the chandelier of the universe.
Jai Jagannatha! Hare Krishna!
(Mayesvara dasa ACBSP)
Note: my name is NOT MaHesvara which is a name for Lord Siva. To the best of my knowledge, I am the only disciple Srila Prabhupada gave this name to. It means: maya = illusionary energy isvara = controller of mayesvara = the one who controls the material energy.
I can be reached at: mdjagdasa @ gmail.com
The Mayesvara dasa who is the author of all the flat earth articles can be reached at: email@example.com