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    Akhil Babu

    Hare Krishna Prabhu. In your book Mystic Universe you have explained the meaning of directions as various combinations of Gunas. When it comes to Bhumandala center represents the original idea (Satwa) and it expands to the boundary as activity and objects. Does that mean that Jambudwipa is more Satwik than other dwipas? It creates a confusion because Puranas describe beings in other dwipas as more spiritually evolved. Or is Bhumandala a step-like/basket-like structure with Jambu dwipa at the bottom and other dwipas at higher planes forming a hierarchy? I have one more question. I found some similarity between the intermittent oceans of milk, honey, ghee, water etc.. with offerings in Yajna. These substances are also used in Yajna. Also the entire cosmology is replicated in Yajna. The Causal water coming from above to Bhumandala resembles the Soma that we pour and the Ananta Naga at the bottom symbolizes the Kaalagni. Can we interpret this entire cosmology in terms of Vedic Yajna?

    Ashish Dalela

    Does that mean that Jambudwipa is more Satwik than other dwipas? It creates a confusion because Puranas describe beings in other dwipas as more spiritually evolved.

    Which Purana are we talking about? Some parts of Jambudvipa are “earthly heavens”. In the Illavarta Varsa, for example, Lord Shiva resides in one of His forms. It is described that Lord Shiva is the only man there. Any other man that goes there becomes a woman. Arjuna went to Illavarta Varsa to get Pasupatastra from Lord Shiva. However, because Bharata Varsa is to the south of Jambudvipa it is possible that it is inferior to the other places on the north and east of the outer dvipa. In general, there are better and worse places in all the dvipa. The best place in one dvipa can be better than the worst place in another dvipa. They are not uniform. Just like even on the present planet, there are many horrible places where there is continuous war, starvation, famine, and so on. And these things also change with time. So, lots of factors are there to determine what is good or not good, in which planet, and at which time. We have to develop a system for quality combinations to understand these things. Then we will be able to understand and reconcile all the varied descriptions.

    Can we interpret this entire cosmology in terms of Vedic Yajna?

    It may be possible, but I don’t want to go down that path. Everything is factually a Yajna. Yajna means a sacrifice of one thing into another thing. Some sacrifices are done to get something in return, but other sacrifices are done for the sake of it. For example, if you work hard in the office and sleep less, that is a sacrifice to earn money. So, you are soma, the office is agni, and working is vayu. In this way, Yajna is a basic model for all reality. Even devotional service is a Yajna in which the soul offers itself in the service of the Lord. So, the Lord is the agni, the soul is the soma, and the service of the Lord is vayu. But in this case, this offering of the self is not done for getting something in return.

    All these oceans are places of living. That means there are living entities that live inside ghee or milk. How they live is something I cannot imagine. But that is just like I cannot imagine what it is like to be an owl or fish. To sleep all through the day and remain awake all through the night and fly here and there in the dark is a different kind of mentality. Similarly, to always keep bathing, even while sleeping, is something strange to us. But there are living entities like that. We cannot understand that mentality because we have to be like them to understand what kind of mentality they are having.

    The Causal water coming from above to Bhumandala resembles the Soma that we pour and the Ananta Naga at the bottom symbolizes the Kaalagni.

    When you go to learn physics, “momentum” doesn’t mean what it means when we say “the business has momentum”. But they are not completely different either. There is a deeper conceptual similarity in which both pertain to inertial movement, which means you have to see the deeper meaning rather than equate business to a cricket ball. Similarly, there is a “hot food” and “hot-headed”. There is a “soft bed” and “soft yellow”. The softness of yellow is not the softness of the bed, but they are both soft. You understand both, but only because you understand “hot” and “soft” deeply. In the same way, we have to understand milk and ghee deeply. Then we will not be confused. The problem is that we don’t understand these words deeply. We rely on superficial understanding. It is not what you are thinking and it is not completely different or disjointed from what you are thinking either.

    Akhil Babu

    I read it from Vishnu Purana. It says that from Plaksha Dwipa to Shaka Dwipa there are no  Vriddhi-Kshaya for Yugas. They are always in Treta Yuga. People live for 5000 years without diseases following Varnashrama Dharma. Also in Pushkara Dwipa(Outermost Dwipa) there is Manasottara mountain where people live without Raga-Dwesha, lobha, moha, bhaya and shoka.They live for 10000 years. Vishnupurana calls it as Uttama Swarga. There is no Varnashrama Dharma and Danda Niti there. Resources are abundant. Beyond Pushkara Dwipa there are two more realms called Suvarna Bhumi and Vajra Bhumi. Vajrabhumi ends with Lokaloka mountain. Brahma, who is at the top of Meru also resides in this outermost realm of Bhumandala. So all these descriptions gave me an impression that they are more evolved than beings in Jambu Dwipa.

    Ashish Dalela
    1. Yama is more evolved than us, and he rules over the hellish planets. But because he is evolved does it mean that his planet is evolved?
    2. Bali Maharaja rules in one of the demoniac planets and Lord Vamana lives with him. So does it mean that it is no longer a demoniac planet?
    3. Manasottara and Lokaloka are identified as mountains, which means they are raised places. So why would you equate them to bhu-mandala?
    4. All the demigods are said to live on top of Meru, which is also in the center of Jambudvipa. Would you include that as part of Jambudvipa?
    5. When bhu-mandala is divided into 7 parts, why would you include places like Suvarna Bhumi and Vajra Bhumi in that which are mentioned to be beyond that?
    6. Finally, I would like you to describe what you understood about the nature of space from Mystic Universe and how that space is described in Sankhya.
    Akhil Babu

    I will answer your last question first.

    6. The space in Vedic cosmology is a tree like structure with roots above. This space is a conceptual space and it is the underlying reality behind the physical space which we experience with senses. Root is the abstract from which details branches out. The detailing of abstract realm is what Sankhya describes as the evolutes of Prakrithi. i.e from Mahat to Pancha mahabhootas. This forms a matrix in which the Jiva goes through different kinds of experiences according to his position in this tree like space. So even though I am closer to a group of people in physical space my experience, world view, behaviour etc.. depends on my position in the conceptual space. In short the physical space is appearance and conceptual space is reality.  This is what I have understood.

    1. Yes. Yama is more evolved than us and is ruling the hellish planets. But the Jivas who come there are sinners. Each dwipa in Bhumandala has a presiding diety. Their presence is not a sufficient reason for determining whether a dwipa is evolved or not. I have no doubt in that. But here it is giving description of a social order. A specific group of Jivas are taking birth in that realm and they are devoid of attachments, jealousy, anger, miseries, diseases etc.. They don’t require a king like Manu to teach Dharma and Dandaniti. A state similar to Satya Yuga. It is also true that such realms are also in Jambu dwipa and among all Dwipas Jambu Dwipa is the greatest. I have no doubt in that too. My doubt is like this: Deva Swarga is above Bhumandala which is higher in the hierarchy. But Devas from above always want to take birth in Bhuloka. This shows the greatness of Bhuloka. Similarly, are these dwipas higher in hierarchy than Jambu dwipa even  though they are not greater than Jambu dwipa. This we also say in case of Kaliyuga. Satya yuga has more spiritually evolved people but our Puranas call kaliyuga as great because it makes progress faster.

    2. No. Here also ruler and ruled are different.

    3. I thought they are also part of Bhumandala. That was a mistake. Now I understood that they are similar to Meru which is higher than Bhumandala.

    4. No.

    5. I thought Lokaloka mountain is the boundary of Bhumandala. In Vishnu purana Suvarna bhumi and Vajra bhumi are located between lokaloka and Pushkara dwipa. That’s why I included it in Bhumandala.

    Ashish Dalela

    Yama is more evolved than us and is ruling the hellish planets. But the Jivas who come there are sinners.

    Somebody has chosen a job to punish other people which means they have violent tendencies. In fact they are more violent than demons which is why their place is lower than demoniac planets. And yet, there is some goodness in it due to which they are violent against the sinful and not against everyone. By excessive violence, one falls low in tamo-guna. But when a little sattva is mixed in that tamo-guna, then violence is used for a good purpose. But a highly sadistic tendency exists. The tamo-guna people do the job of hangman, skinning dead animals, burning bodies, etc.

    Each dwipa in Bhumandala has a presiding diety. Their presence is not a sufficient reason for determining whether a dwipa is evolved or not.

    That is false. The presiding deity determines everything. Yatha raja tatha praja. This idea that place is different from the presiding deity is impersonalism. The place and the deity are non-separable.

    A specific group of Jivas are taking birth in that realm and they are devoid of attachments, jealousy, anger, miseries, diseases etc.. They don’t require a king like Manu to teach Dharma and Dandaniti. A state similar to Satya Yuga.

    I have had these kinds of questions before, and my answer is: I don’t have the time to investigate. Some people gave me translations of Purana and it all turned out to be bogus. Then I had to pick the original Sanskrit verses, and do word-for-word translations, and then explain what it is. I don’t have the time to do that. The same problem exists for every book. I have been translating the Six Systems of Philosophy and in my hand they are different than in everyone else’s hands. The same thing goes for cosmology. So, you can read something from my book, and then read 10 other books by other people. But I don’t have the time to resolve the contradictions between various books. Moreover, I don’t want to invest my time because I don’t know whether the translation is correct or I need to start from scratch.

    There are many impersonalists who have a lot of good qualities. But they have flaws which make it extremely difficult to rise upward. They need thousands of years to rise from that mentality. If one has all these “pure qualities” but there is egotism that will make it hard to become a devotee, then that person is lower than a drunkard or drug addict who will easily love Krishna. These “distances” are all relative to the top, namely, spiritual perfection. A clean man, following Varnasrama dharma, living for thousands of years, is not necessarily an advanced man. He can be lower than a drunkard who loves Krishna but has some temporary flaw due to the situation or some short-term effect. A spiritual vision is required to judge high and low.

    Another point is that if you want to claim that outer is better then you have already broken the basic model of Sankhya where inward and upward are superior to outward and downward. After that whatever you say may work for this case or that case, but that “working” is an illusion. There is something else that is not understood and an oversimplified solution is being proposed. This is why it is important to grasp fundamental principles first, and then understand details later on.

    My doubt is like this: Deva Swarga is above Bhumandala which is higher in the hierarchy. But Devas from above always want to take birth in Bhuloka. This shows the greatness of Bhuloka. Similarly, are these dwipas higher in hierarchy than Jambu dwipa even  though they are not greater than Jambu dwipa. This we also say in case of Kaliyuga. Satya yuga has more spiritually evolved people but our Puranas call kaliyuga as great because it makes progress faster.

    Then what is the confusion? It is superior in one way and inferior in another way. There is confusion because we are not able to quickly develop a perfect science of modality combination, and nobody wants to do the hard work for that. Without doing the hard work everyone wants answers.

    No. Here also ruler and ruled are different.

    This is again impersonalism. The spiritual world has expanded from the body of God. Like that the earth planet has expanded from Bhu-Devi. That person is the root of the tree. An orange seed does not grow a banana tree. The things that can change your thinking are being rejected so easily.

    I thought Lokaloka mountain is the boundary of Bhumandala. In Vishnu purana Suvarna bhumi and Vajra bhumi are located between lokaloka and Pushkara dwipa. That’s why I included it in Bhumandala.

    There is no room for “I thought” and some scripture. Everything requires mental development by which you can see something that you cannot see right now. This is why it is called darshan. I gave you an example of deeply understanding milk and ghee, and you ignored it. If you don’t understand milk and ghee then don’t go forward. Try to understand that first. Otherwise, just listen to the sound attentively and don’t let your mind interfere in that. Both are valid processes. Either understand step by step, or don’t try to understand and just hear it attentively. The problem is we don’t want to do either of these. Then who can solve our problem?

    Akhil Babu

    I have understood the model of going inward and upward in Sankhya by reading your books and I am convinced with that. That is also seen in other mystic drawings like Sri Chakra, Kalachakramandala etc.. Also this is the concept with which temples are constructed: From outer walls to Garbha Griha and from there the sadhaka transcends the mundane levels of experience. That is exactly the reason why I asked you this doubt when I read something that contradicts my understanding. Also I haven’t ignored the example of deeply understanding milk and ghee. Words in its primary sense denotes something deeper than what we experience. This is the nature of Sanskrit words: Slesha. Same word can be used for different substances due to conceptual linkages at a deeper level. Also different words can be used to denote same substance. But I haven’t attained that state in which I can take the meaning from Vaikhari level to Para. For example, I believed that taste is the meaning of Sanskrit word ‘Rasa’ used in the context of Ayurveda though I know that it has different meanings when it comes to Bhakthi and Art. But an ayurvedic doctor has given a talk in which she has said that ‘Rasa’ is not taste. We cannot classify substances into Six Rasas by tasting it. The example she gave is that of honey. Honey tastes sweet(Madhurya) but in Ayurveda its rasa is Astringent(Kashaya). So what exactly is Rasa? How can we know this? This is the dilemma. Certainly Ksheera is not the milk we drink. I was aware of this while asking. But for every higher reality there is a representation in gross level. That’s why I asked you whether Milk used in Yajna has any relation to Milk ocean.

    Ashish Dalela

    I don’t try to understand everything. If something is needed to serve Krishna, then Krishna provides the understanding. I have never faced a problem in understanding anything that was required to serve Krishna. But I never tried to learn any subject that was not required to serve Krishna. So I don’t understand everything.

    There are so many people who ask me questions that I have never thought about and I don’t know the answer when I read the question. But most of the times, Krishna gives an answer within a few seconds. But sometimes He doesn’t give any answer and the mind remains blank. That is what has happened from the start of your questioning. My mind is blank. So it is best that you ask Krishna.

    Akhil Babu

    Hare Krishna Prabhu. I am sorry if I asked the questions at an inappropriate time. I was using an easy method to solve the confusion. Because you have explained the same problem in case of Jambudwipa in this old shabda blog article Jambudvipa mountain heights. Here you explained the steplike structure of Jambudwipa. But you haven’t mentioned about entire Bhumandala here. Many years ago I have heard from some source that Bhumandala has a basket like structure but I was not even aware of the fact that Sankhya is the darshana with which we should explain the Vedic model of cosmology and my mind was not ready to go forward with the details at that time. So this was not there in my mind when I read Mystic universe. But when I read the descriptions about other dvipas and your article on step like structure of Jambudwipa this old memory came back. But I don’t remember the source from which I have heard this. So I was unable to verify it. And also from the descriptions of other dvipas in Vishnu Purana I faced a problem in visualizing the mandala i.e which one is higher and lower in the hierarchy. Yesterday I referred a work called Bhugola Varnanam by Vadiraja Tirtha (Madhva Sambradaya). He says that the Bhumandala is a terraced structure and not a uniform circular plane. But contrary to what I thought after reading Purana Jambu dwipa is at the top and Other dvipas are lower. i.e  the outer dvipa called Pushkara dvipa is lower and from there other dvipas are arranged in steps. He also says that these lower dvipas are populated by beings like Devas, Gandharvas, Siddhas etc.. So these places are heavenly abodes but still lower than Jambudvipa in hierarchy. Interestingly the Kalachakra mandala of Tibetan Buddhism is also a terraced structure with Jambudvipa at top and center of the mandala.  This resolves the contradiction with Sankhya darshana i.e we are also moving upward when we move inward. I have also understood that I haven’t understood the Guna combinations properly. These abodes are populated with Satvik people but still they are lower in hierarchy. Also I have read that these intermittent oceans contains a form of Agni which boils the oceans called Badavagni  and consumes everything that flows into the oceans and send back flames. This has some resemblance to the Agni in Yajna because Agni also has seven tongues and seven arms. I try to understand this by connecting it with Vedic Yajna because this cosmology comes to my mind as a Grand Yajna  which creates a sense of wonder and mystery.

    Ashish Dalela

    In the Vedic system, we go to one person and learn. But your inquiry model is to dip your beak into a thousand ponds, taste a little bit here and there, and try to make up your mind. In the hundreds of Vedic texts, you will not find a single instance of the question: “So and so said such and such, and now I am confused, hence it is your job to resolve my confusion”. There is no answer to a person who says: “You say this, and he says that, and that man says such, so whom should I believe?”

    Therefore, I have no answer to your questions and I don’t want to discuss them. You can read as many books as you like from as many sources as you want and get as confused as you desire. It is your choice. You can collect as many sources and citations for your research and I have nothing to do with that. If a problem arises from dipping the beak in a thousand places, then it is a problem that you have created through your actions, and you have to solve all the self-created issues.

    Ashish Dalela

    I want to add that this is my response to everyone trying to reconcile what different authors are saying. I’ve had several of these queries regarding cosmology in the last few months. One person asked a question about the age of the universe, suggesting that someone has done a calculation that the age is 5 billion years, which matches with the present-day calculations, and my response is that it is false. The correct age is approximately 155 trillion years. Another person asked a question about someone reducing the age of kali-yuga from 432,000 years to 2,000 years. They do some star sign calculations and come up with a new number. Then they say that we are already in Dvapara Yuga because we have developed modern science now. The fools don’t understand that this modern science is adding to our ignorance and is not true advancement. Sleeping in a high-rise building is not advancement. It is degradation. But everyone wants to think that it is more advanced. Who can say otherwise?

    There have been similar questions about different orders of dvipa and oceans in different Puranas. Nobody has analyzed if that is actually ordered, or just a list of things being mentioned, not in any specific order. For example, I don’t describe the five sense perceptions in a precise order everywhere. It is understood what the order is. But if someone tries to read order into a list then they create contradictions when no such contradiction exists. When verses are written in Sanskrit, they have a fixed number of syllables. To accommodate the longer name in the same fixed number of syllables per line, some names may be moved to the next line after a shorter name. This can create the illusion that the order has been changed because the person is not reading the Sanskrit verse. He is just reading the English translation and he doesn’t understand the principles used in verse formation.

    Then there are issues based on erroneous translations. People dissect words that don’t have to be dissected and don’t dissect words that have to be dissected. Dissection depends on the knowledge of Sanskrit vocabulary. If you have a large vocabulary, you will not dissect. But if you have a small vocabulary, then you will dissect it unnecessarily. Bad translations have done these dissections incorrectly and arrived at erroneous translations. People are consulting many different books and asking me to reconcile the contradictions. You cannot tell them anything because they don’t know Sanskrit and they think that I am splitting hairs when I point out the errors in translation. They think that the other translation is also valid.

    The perfect answers will come when we can do guna combination logic. That has been my emphasis while doing cosmology all through. Just because Purana mention so many planetary systems, doesn’t mean that we can see them. So, from a scientific perspective, the standard question is: Why we don’t see them? And the answer is that a person in one guna cannot see something in a different guna. This is just like a person involved in business thinks that even a devotee teaching spiritual knowledge is doing business because they cannot see their selfless intentions. They just see the superficial similarity and they cannot see the deep-seated differences. Chalk and cheese look white, but chalk is not cheese because there are deeper levels of qualitative differences. So, guna is absolutely essential to understand which parts we can see, and which parts we cannot see. In the current state, we can see some of the planets in the Bhu, Bhuvar, and Svarga levels, but not everything. We cannot see the top four planetary systems, the bottom seven planetary systems, and the hellish planetary systems. So, unless we do the guna combination, we cannot explain why we are not seeing them. That inability to see is a fundamental issue.

    With guna combinations, we can construct every location in space as a different guna combination (which I call semantic space for lack of a better word). That’s when we can talk about what is higher and lower. Similarly, what seems to be close is not necessarily close. Just like standing next to a pure devotee doesn’t mean that if I walk into his position I have become what he is. He is actually very far but he is interacting with us right now, so he seems close. Likewise, if something is seen far, doesn’t mean it is far. These things are absolutely essential to map what is in Vedic cosmology to what is available in astronomy. How Vedic cosmology becomes Vedic astronomy depends on guna. This is how cosmology becomes a science.

    This is also related to the problem of why the earth is sometimes described as flat and sometimes as round. That round description is a detailed description of one dimension of sense perception into three dimensions. And the flat description is an abstract description of two dimensions of two kinds of sense perceptions, namely, the sense of knowledge and action. Hence, all these problems of whether Bhu is round or flat keep going on, because we don’t understand the guna. The activity sense is in rajo-guna and the knowledge sense is in tamo-guna. Our vision is prominently in tamo-guna so we think that this round earth is the real earth. If we had the rajo-guna vision, then we will understand how the earth is flat, but it seems to be round to the tamo-guna vision person which includes most people.

    The general principle of guna combination is that it is like a hierarchical tree, which means that we branch outward from the center (in a plane) and then top-down (to construct several planes). Each such branch is always lower than the trunk it is branching out from. These branches are just like adding more and more attributes to a concept. For instance, if the concept is a “table”, then there are branches like “square table” and “round table”. Then we can have subbranches like “black square table” and “yellow round table”. This is a crude example. When a higher mode is added to a trunk, we can get a subbranch like a “white round table”. This can seem to be better than a table, but it is not. Just like you can have a dull-looking table and an attractive table. But “table” is still the fundamental concept. By making it attractive, we don’t change the fundamental quality of the said entity. Likewise, there can be a sturdy long-lived table but it is not anything fundamentally better; it is still a table. Hence, all these mode combinations are always subclassifications and they can sometimes seem better but they are not. We have to understand the science of guna combination as the fundamental science before cosmology.

    So, if contradictions arise, I don’t try to resolve them because (a) there are no contradictions, (b) if people understood the science of guna, then they will understand why the contradiction sometimes appears due to guna combinations, (c) speculating on what specific guna combinations are in each case, is potentially very dangerous as it can set a bad precedent for everyone and counterproductive, and (d) we should focus on developing the science of guna combination and construct these inverted-tree spaces to understand the qualities of the different places.

    Srila Prabhupada explained these issues in very simple words when he would say that there are four things all humans are doing, namely, eating, sleeping, mating, and defending, which even animals are doing. So, what is the difference between humans and animals? Someone might say: I made this scientific theory, so I am advanced. And Prabhupada will always say: That science is simply leading to eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. So, it is still animal life. This is because he perfectly understood the scientific principles of guna combination. The fundamental activity is eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. Even if someone complicates it by adding more qualifiers to it, the basic quality is the same. This is my argument too.

    A better type of eating, sleeping, mating, and defending is like the “round white six-legged table”. It is fundamentally a table. You can add a million qualifiers to the table, but it is still a table. Adding qualifiers makes it seem better, but by adding these qualifiers, we complicate the concept and that complication makes it harder to rise upward because there are more qualities to be stripped to remove the table entirely. This so-called “advancement” is degradation. It attaches the soul to the material world and makes liberation or bhakti very difficult. People now get the illusion that material life can itself be so nice. Then, why should we leave this world? The same problem arises when we talk about a long-lived healthy and peaceful life. It is the same type of life because there is still eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. And yet, it has become more materially pleasing thereby creating the illusion of advancement. Due to this illusion, it is better to have a bare-bones table because it serves the same purpose as a “round white six-legged table” and it is easier to throw it away. The calculation of better and worse is from a spiritual perspective. But we are making the calculation from a materialistic perspective.

    When boys are bachelors, they can live with a bare-bones table. But when a woman enters their life, then she wants a “round white six-legged table”. She is not happy with a bare-bones table. This is why a woman is called māyā because she wants to expand a simple concept into a complicated concept. Due to this expansion of simplicity into complexity, the woman is called stri. Prabhupada explains in one place that stri means vistāra or “expansion”. Expansion of what? Every single concept is expanded. The table becomes more complex, the bed becomes more complex, the house becomes more complex. And this complexity makes it harder to become detached from material existence. The man is then entangled in the process of expanding simplicity to complexity. This is also the science of guna combination.

    Unfortunately, everyone is absorbed in the distance and angle calculations with zero understanding of modes of nature. They think humans are more advanced than animals because they have a better place to sleep, comfortable clothes to wear, they can cook food, and they go to college to get educated. They don’t understand that it is the same kind of animal life unless we are involved in spiritual development. So you can make human life even more sophisticated, but it is not a better life.

    All their so-called advancement of motor cars, skyscraper buildings, airplanes, and education is nothing more than complexity added to eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. Big missiles, bombs, rockets, and fighter jets are nothing but defense. A tiger defends with claws and we defend with missiles. Both of them live for a fixed predestined life duration. So, all the time we are spending developing instruments for warfare is just degradation. One needs a spiritual vision for that. The same basic quality is being modified by adding more and more qualifiers to it.

    Therefore, if we don’t understand guna combinations, then we should stop reading Vedic cosmology. When the basic idea is not clear, then the advanced idea cannot be clear. And yet, nobody is interested in the basic idea. They want to study cosmology without understanding guna. They don’t understand what space is, but they want to measure distance. This attitude has become so toxic that people are reading book after book, written by author after author, all of whom are ignorant, and trying to figure something out that I cannot fathom. And my response to these things is always the same: You are wasting your time, but please don’t waste mine.

    Akhil Babu

    Thankyou very much for the detailed explanation of guna combinations. I think you have misunderstood my intentions.  I am not a researcher who is searching various sources for citations to write and publish a book or an article. My only interest is to know the Truth and experience it. I consider this pursuit as a Yajna because Jnana Yajna is something that pleases Krishna. And this knowledge will make us more humble by purifying the Chitta and results in the natural evolution of pure Bhakthi. I am not even interested in preaching others because nobody cares. I am also not interested in meaningless knowledge exhibition. I will discuss it with similar minded persons because I need some association.  But I have to dip my beak into many ponds because that is part of the role that I have to play in my life.  Another reason for doing that is because everything is not available from one pond.  But I will never dip my beak into a dirty pond. Because I don’t like diluting or polluting the Vedic knowledge. I need knowledge with all its purity.  I am not at all interested in reconciling Vedic knowledge with Modern science. That’s why I read  your books to get a framework to understand Vedic knowledge. I always look for authenticity and authority. I am comfortable with confusions and contradictions because it churns the mind and lead me to a higher level of understanding, clarity, conviction and courage. This is my experience till now. But I don’t think that Puranas have contradictions though there are some interpolations in Puranas like Bhavishya Purana. Puranas are written in different combinations of Samadhi Bhasha (As-it-is knowledge), Darshana Bhasha(Experiences of different observers), Guhya Bhasha( Completely different meaning) which appears as Satwik, Rajasik and Tamasik to different people according to their gunas.. If it is not an interpolation then such contradictions are reconcilable because Vyasa will not compose something to deceive us. Since I am aware of this mystical nature of Puranas I will always ask someone who has authentic knowledge in the subject to get more clarity.

    The reason why I looked into Vishnu Purana to understand other dvipas was because you haven’t explained much about other dvipas in your book Mystic Universe. And I don’t belong to the category of fools that you have mentioned. Certainly not. They call themselves the guardians of Sanathana Dharma and they make sure the destruction of whatever Dharmic knowledge that is left. Some considers Yuga duration as 20 years and says that Swayambhuva Manu is only 10000 years old in order to match their theory with that of modern historians, Vyasa is not the author of Puranas, etc.. In my questions I have never mentioned the works of any such fools.  I have only mentioned Vishnu Purana and Bhugola Varnanam. Bhugola varnanam is used as a reference book in ISKCON and it is also mentioned in the TOVP project. The book actually confirms what you have said to me in the first two answers. I am sorry if I have wasted your time.

    Ashish Dalela

    I will make a few points, to broaden your thinking in some ways. It is not a criticism.

    First, scientific comparison is not a bad thing. Cosmology became prominent in Prabhupada’s mind only after the moon landing discussions. Prabhupada asked devotees to scout for experts in Vedic cosmology in India, especially in the Madhava and Sri Sampradayas. After a lot of searching, they found one person and he was called for a discussion. Very quickly it became evident that he did not understand anything. He knew all the names, but he did not understand anything scientifically. Then Prabhupada wrote a letter to the GBCs to gather all the Ph.D.s to study Bhagavatam cosmology. In that letter, he wrote about how the universe is an inverted tree. Till today, that inverted tree has been disregarded.

    All the reasons for which Prabhupada wanted cosmology studied have been left unanswered. These include: (a) why we cannot go to other planets like the moon, (b) why we cannot see the living entities on other planets, (c) why is it that what we see with a telescope such as craters is not the moon, (d) how the soul moves from one planet to another, (e) how each of the planets produces a different quality of life, including a different species of life and types of bodies, (f) why the planets are moving due to persons rather than gravity, (g) how the demigods in other planets are controlling life on this planet, and (h) issues like heliocentric and geocentric models, flat earth vs. round earth models, traveling at the speed of mind, etc.

    This is the case of “the operation was successful but the patient died”. And the reason is that the science of guna is disregarded, while cosmology is studied. This issue is not limited to you; it exists everywhere, including the other Sampradaya. It exists even in ISKCON, and specifically TOVP. People want to “fulfill” the instructions of constructing a model, without explaining anything in that model. Thereby, the instructions are seemingly fulfilled without achieving the goals for them.

    Comparison and contrast with modern scientific cosmological model is necessary, and the very reason why Prabhpuada emphasized cosmology. If we disregard that goal, then we can still study the Purana because cosmology is mentioned there, but it will lead other people to say that we believe in a flat earth and hence we are taking modern society backward. Jnana-yajna involves agni, soma, and vayu. The jnana is the fire, our mind is the offering, and offering our mind into that fire is the yajna. By that offering, our mind must be burned, or rid of the false ideas. However, if we make our mind the fire, and offer all the books to our mind as the soma, then it is not yajna. We can read the books as stories, and not as philosophy. Most of the book will be burned in our mind and whatever remains will also be unscientific.

    Second, the bhasha or language is not sattvic, tamasic, or rajasic. It is all transcendental sound. Everything is sabda-brahman. However, some people are attracted to one type of transcendental sound, and others are attracted to other types of sound. We can offer the Lord chapati or pizza. But some people want pizza and some people want chapati. To make them eat Lord’s prasada, variety is created. The book is not in a lower mode. But it appeals to a person in a lower mode, and it is given so that they can read what appeals to them. Krishna has also done violent pastimes, and if violence appeals to someone, then they can read about that violence. The nature of transcendence is that it is all the three modes, and yet, it is not any of those modes. The difference is that the transcendent violence is also kind, but ordinary violence is unkind. So, by reading about the kind violence, any unnecessary and unkind violence is destroyed and only the kind and necesssary violence remains. This doesn’t happen with other kind of unkind violence.

    Third, you can explain your actions in another way, because a different cause can produce the same effect. But when the effect is undesirable, then the cause is also undesirable. It may not be the problem that I point out, but it could be some other problem. My comparisons are not meant to attack you. They are meant to help you diagnose the problem (whatever it is) and correct it. By saying that “I am not like others” we can claim to be different in the deeper reality, which is good. But even that deeper reality is problematic. Whatever that problem is, should be examined by everyone and fixed. The examples are given to make us see that there are varied types of problems, not to say that one person is having only one problem, and by rejecting those problems it doesn’t mean that there is no problem.

    Fourth, time is wasted when we study in the improper order. For example, cosmology is studied after the descriptions of prakriti and guna. If we don’t understand prakriti, and try to understand cosmology, then time is wasted. When we study material nature, then we study it top-down. But when we study God’s nature, we study it bottom-up. Hence, Krishna’s pastimes are discussed after we have discussed the other incarnations. We have to know how God can lift the earth on His tusks, how He resides in everything including a pillar, how He can measure the entire universe with just two steps, before we talk about His loving pastimes. Love is misunderstood without that process. Similarly, when we study cosmology without studying guna, then cosmology is misunderstood and time is wasted.

    Finally, everything is measured by how much we progress in chanting. If we do a lot of work but the quality of chanting is not improving, then whatever we are doing is flawed. The flaws must be investigated for our benefit. It doesn’t matter if chanting is a prescribed process for elevation, and we are just following the process. If the results are not there, then the process is not being followed. So, everyone can measure if they are following the process by applying a simple test: Am I progressing in chanting by doing this? If yes, then its okay. If not, then I’m doing something wrong. If the effect is not there, then the cause is not there. So, by the effect we can judge if the cause is there or not. The same applies to cosmological study too. If we are studying properly, then the taste for chanting will improve. If not, then the taste for chanting will remain the same. Trust but verify.

    Akhil Babu

    It will take some time for me to completely absorb the nuances of modal combinations. But it is not that I haven’t given importance to Gunas while reading Mystic universe. It may be because of the limitations in expressing my mind completely through the forum that created such an impression in you. And also my main focus was on outer dvipas and oceans. The fact that guna and karma are responsible for hiding and revealing different realms of experiences was ingrained in my mind from the day I read Easy journey to other planets. And I knew that this was the reason why we are not seeing the actual moon and stars. Also why we are not able to access other realms mentioned in Puranas. Sadhana is the process through which we can access other realms and not space travel. In this process Sarira, through which the prana flows, is the yantra. And I read the book Sankhya and science first before reading Mystic universe. So this emphasis on gunas was there in my mind while reading Mystic universe though I don’t know much about the nuances in their combinations. And these combinations happen both at the gross and subtle levels. I found your old article on Arithmetic of concepts very useful in this study. There you have mentioned about the three modes of soul also (Sat-Chit-Ananda).

    Thank you for giving me the right model of Jnana Yajna. I will change my approach by making mind the soma and Jnana theAgni. I concentrated on the outer dvipas to complete my understanding of Bhumandala because that topic was not much discussed in the book Mystic universe. The reason why I connected it with Vedic Yajna is because the Puranas are giving us the hidden and complex meaning of Vedas in a relatively simple way. Vedas talk about Satya, Rta, Dharma and Yajna. Satya or Truth manifests as Rta(the cosmic order) and Rta when comes to the life is Dharma. Dharma is practiced in the form of Yajna. So the entire cosmos is a Yajnavedi. Chanting, learning and other meaningful things we do are different forms of Yajna. So Yajna also transforms us by creating new modal combinations and reveals previously hidden realms. When we look at 7 sons of Maharaja Priyavrata we can see that all of them carries synonyms of Agni shabda in them. Āgnīdhra, Idhmajihva, Yajñabāhu, Hiraṇyaretā, Ghṛtapṛṣṭha,  Medhātithi and Vītihotra. They are also known by other names in other puranas: Agnidhra, Agnibahu, Vapusman, Dyutiman, Medhas, Medhatithi and Jyotisman.Though the names are different in different puranas personalities are same. All of them carry Agni shabda. So the seven samudras are some combinations of gunas that hide/block access to certain levels of experiences from us which can be accessed by invoking certain forms of agni. So oceans are Avaranas(coverings) that hide new sets of objects and activities. This happens vertically also in the form of Kundalini rising. Kundalini is also a form of Agni. When we fix our mind on one Chakra, Prana flows there and creates Agni. This Agni reveals previously hidden Siddhis by transforming the modal combinations. At the level of Brahmanda this Kundalini is Sesa naga at the bottom who finally burns the entire samsara with his Agni. At a very gross level when we compare it with what Geologists are saying there are similarities. Earth was like a fire ball initially and this leads to the degassing and continuous rainfall which cooled the earth and resulted in the formation of land forms. This fire is still hidden inside earth. Why I am writing all these is because I would like to know whether this is the right way to understand things mentioned in Puranas.

    I would summarize what I have understood.

    1. Seven oceans are seven different combinations of three Gunas which have their roots in Karana Samudra.
    2. Seven Dvipas are condensed forms of Seven oceans that surrounds them and limit the experience of jivas to a particular set of objects and activities both at the gross and subtle level.
    3. Seven different forms of Agni are ruling these realms which act as transformative or evolutionary forces to access those respective realms.
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