The validity of the Shiva Puranas

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  • #14630
    Baba Asahd
    Participant

    I have question regarding the ShivaPurana, and their validity in the light of other texts such as the Shrimad Bhagavatam.

    How does one make sense of these conflicting ideas. Who is to say that one text is true versus the other. Clearly, they contradict themselves.

    The Shiva Puranas make it clear that Shiva is the supreme Being.  Yet in other texts, Vishnu is the Godhead. Etc. How do you make sense of this?  Which text is true?  Why should I trust any of these texts in the first place?

    I am confused. Thank you.

    • This topic was modified 5 months ago by Baba Asahd.
    #14632
    Ashish Dalela
    Keymaster

    First, the nature of truth

    All the Vedic texts are true. This includes Shiva Purana. However, truth is of many kinds. There is higher and lower truth, bigger and smaller truth, prior and later truth. The lower truth is derived from higher truth. The smaller truth is derived from the bigger truth. The later truth is derived from the prior truth. Shiva Purana is also true. But it is smaller, lower, and later truth, derived from bigger, higher, and prior truth.

    A simple example is spiritual and material worlds. Both worlds exist. Both have their Lords. And the spiritual world is superior to the material world. So, there is no contradiction in saying that there is a Supreme Lord of the material world from saying that there is a Supreme Lord of the spiritual world. And yet, the Lord of the material world is a lower, smaller, and later Lord than the Lord of the spiritual world who is higher, bigger, and prior.

    Another example is the use of the word “President”. There is the President of a smaller nation. And there is the President of the bigger nation. The citizens of the smaller nation say “Our President is the supreme leader (of our nation)”. The citizens of the bigger nation say “Our President is the supreme leader (of our nation)”. There is no contradiction between claims. To know who is bigger of the two Presidents, one has to compare the nations whose Presidents they are.

    The Western notion of truth (coming from Greek times) is true vs. false. The Vedic notion of truth is higher vs. lower, bigger vs. smaller, and prior vs. later truth. So, those who create contradictions (or see contradictions) between the many claims are not operating under Vedic notion of truth.

    Second, many truths out of one truth

    A short excerpt from the manifesto:

    God has three natures—(a) enjoyment, (b) exertion, and (c) solitude. The enjoyment nature is what God truly is, and to fulfill this nature, God creates the spiritual world. This world is God’s home, where He has a father, mother, brother, friends, lovers, personal servants, and so on. In His home, God’s deepest nature is revealed. However, just like people leave their home to go to an office, similarly, God creates the material world. The office is governed by rules and regulations; there are challenges, troubles, and sacrifices, followed by a reward. Here, God is the boss, and there is formality and distance between Him and His employees. The sincere workers are rewarded and the insincere are punished. An office is a place of enjoyment by achievement. However, since achievement needs a sacrifice, hence, it is not as great as the home. One needs to repeatedly prove one’s worth in the office. But one doesn’t need to prove themselves in the home; they can be whatever they are. Finally, God likes solitude: Being for the self, in the self, and with the self. This nature creates a world between material and spiritual worlds in which everyone is self-absorbed, self-satisfied, away from both their home and office. The happiness of solitude is greater than the happiness of office. And the happiness of home is greater than the happiness of solitude. God’s three energies—the spirit, matter, and the soul—pertain to these three natures: home, office, and solitude. God creates these domains to enjoy in different ways.

    The higher, bigger, and prior truth is the inner nature. The lower, smaller, and later truth is outer nature. We cannot say that there is an inner nature but no outer nature. And we cannot equate inner nature to outer nature.

    In the Western way of thinking, there is only one nature. This is called the logical principle of identity (A is A). One thing cannot be more than one type of thing. Hence, there is no inner nature or outer nature. Hence, there is no understanding of what is lower, smaller, and later relative to higher, bigger, and prior. Those who come from Westernized thinking of true vs. false, also come from the ideology of one nature. This is called universalism. Vedic philosophy is not universalism. There are inner and outer natures. Inner nature is superior to outer nature. Both are natures of God.

    Third, six aspects of a truth

    From the post Philosophizing in Six Perspectives:

    Without undue complexities, we can state the doctrine of six perspectives by noting the six questions necessary to completely describe causality—What, When, Where, Why, Who, and How. If any of these questions remain unanswered, causality is incomplete.

    Then we must note that the answer to one of these questions underdetermines the answer to others. What happens—i.e., the events that occur in the universe—can happen in different places, and times, caused by different people, in different ways, and for different reasons.

    Whenever there is a world, there are six complementary aspects of causality. These causes are neither independent of each other nor completely determined by each other. For example, what happens is not independent of how it happens, and what happens is not completely decided by how it happens. You can think in terms of road and destination. Some highway goes to many destinations, but not to all destinations. Some destinations can be reached through many highways but not all highways. The destination is what and the highway is how. They are not mutually independent and they are not fully determined by each other This is called Bhedābheda. What and how are distinct (bheda) and yet not independent (abheda). You can read the above post in its entirety and you will get an understanding of many kinds of six-way divisions of truth.

    Fourth, the personification of truth

    The six categories of causality above are divided into three pairs. From the post A Personalist Foundation for Social Sciences:

    Time controls when and what. The material energy controls how and where. The demigods (under Lord Viṣṇu) control why and who. The book Conceiving the Inconceivable discusses this six-fold causality in greater detail in case there is interest.

    Time is personified by Lord Śiva, space is personified by Śakti, and object is personified by Lord Viṣṇu. There are no material “objects”. There are only spiritual “persons”. Time is one person. Space is another person. And whatever we call an object is also a person. The individual soul is a part of Lord Viṣṇu. But in the material world, when the soul lives for some time and lives in some part of space, it also becomes a part of Lord Śiva and His Śakti. However, being part of some space and time is temporary, and being part of Lord Viṣṇu is eternal. So, we cannot say that right now we are not part of Lord Viṣṇu, Lord Śiva, and His Śakti. And we cannot equate all these parthoods.

    Lord Śiva decides what will happen when. His Śakti decides where it happens and how. Lord Viṣṇu decides to whom it happens and why. Hence, there are three important controllers of the material world. Based on these three controllers, there are three prominent traditions called Vaishnavism, Shaivism, and Shaktism. In each of these texts, it is said that Lord Viṣṇu, Lord Śiva, and His Śakti are supreme. All of these statements are true. The destinations at a time are supremely decided by Lord Śiva. The highways to reach the destinations are supremely decided by His Śakti. And the passengers who go on some highway to reach some destination are supremely decided by Lord Viṣṇu.

    One needs a little scientific bent of mind to understand how time, space, and object are three categories in modern science. Likewise, Lord Śiva, His Śakti, and Lord Viṣṇu are three categories in Vedic theology. The difference is that all objectivity is replaced by personhood. The difference is also that modern science tries to merge the six questions into one universalist theory and fails. Vedic philosophy divides these six questions into three pairs, and it succeeds. You can read the above post about these problems in science, and how they are solved in Vedic philosophy.

    Fifth, the master of the soul

    Lord Śiva is the master of the material destiny, and Lord Viṣṇu is the master of the soul. What has to happen will happen, but it does not have to happen through me and to me. Lord Śiva decides what has to happen. And Lord Viṣṇu determines whether it happens through me and to me. When the soul leaves the material world for the spiritual world, then Lord Viṣṇu continues to be the master of the soul, but the soul is no longer under the control of Lord Śiva, so He is no longer the soul’s master.

    By worshipping Lord Śiva, one can get out of the material world. However, that “getting out” pertains to a timeless state, which is different from the eternal state in the spiritual world. The corresponding words in Sanskrit are ananta and nitya. When a soul worships Lord Śiva, he can leave the temporary body and enter the ananta or timeless stage instead of nitya or eternal stage in the spiritual world.

    The ananta stage is similar to deep sleep. Hence, is called yoga-nidra. The difference between deep sleep and yoga-nidra is that the soul is self-aware in yoga-nidra but not self-aware in deep sleep. But just like deep sleep, there is no experience other than the self. There is no world and there is no experience of the world. We can also say that the ananta state is a static state.

    The nitya stage is just like waking. We can also call it a dynamic stage. However, this dynamism is different from material dynamism where a body gets old and dies with passing time, relationships are made and broken with passing time, and love comes and goes with passing time. In the nitya stage, the body, relationships, and love are eternal. Every day there are new things, but the old things do not cease to exist. Therefore, the material dynamic stage is a cycle, and the spiritual dynamic stage is constant expansion and progress. So, there is time, and yet, there is no birth and death.

    The soul’s true master is Lord Viṣṇu, but the soul can also accept Lord Śiva as the master. These are higher and lower truths, prior and later truths, and bigger and smaller truths. They are not true vs. false. The meaning of smaller, later, and lower truths is that the soul eventually gets tired of the timeless state and desires the eternal state. This is because it cannot stay in deep sleep forever. Lord Śiva, however, can stay in deep sleep forever, although He is woken up by His Śakti to create the material world. The simple implication is that God can be solitary and self-absorbed forever, but the soul cannot be like this. However, the soul can accept the self-absorbed state temporarily.

    Hence, there are Shaiva texts which talk about the timeless state. There are Vaishnava texts that talk about the eternal state. And there are Shakta texts that talk about an effortless state (which is like cruising on the highway to the destination, rather than jumping through potholes), which feels almost timeless because it is very smooth. The effortless state is better than the struggling state. The timeless state is better than the effortless state. And the eternal state is better than the timeless state.

    Sixth, higher and lower texts

    Based on the principle of higher and lower truth, prior and later truth, and bigger and smaller truth, there are many Vedic texts. Everyone doesn’t want the highest, biggest, and earliest truth. That is because the highest, biggest, and earliest truth also has a much bigger cost than others.

    You can imagine going to a shopping mall to buy shoes. Some shoe is cheaper and another shoe is expensive. The expensive shoe is also better, but everyone cannot pay for the expensive shoe. Like that, the eternal stage is more pleasing, more experience, and constantly increasing. But it has a higher cost. That cost is the complete surrender of the soul. In the timeless state, the cost is much lower because you can give up the material world, and yet, not surrender your identity fully.

    So, the Vedic texts are like a shopping mall in which higher and lower, prior and later, and bigger and smaller truths are available. Each truth comes at a different cost. If you can pay the higher cost, then you buy the bigger, prior, and higher truth. If you cannot bear the cost, then you take a smaller, later, and lower truth. The cost brings proportionate rewards. It is a fair price for the product.

    Accordingly, there is nothing wrong in saying that some Vedic texts give a higher truth that is also more expensive, and there is a lower truth that is also less expensive. Higher truth has a higher cost. Lower truth has a lower cost. You get what you pay for. Nothing is free. Hence, those who can pay the higher cost are also considered superior souls, and those who don’t want to pay the higher cost are considered inferior souls. Accordingly, the religious system is also superior or inferior.

    It doesn’t mean what people think it means, namely, asserting our ego to claim superiority. It just means that someone is ready to pay a much bigger price and someone is not. Superiority is not artificial and it is not without evidence. Everything can be explained clearly and rationally. The materially rich man is superior to the materially poor man. Like that, there are spiritually rich and spiritually poor. These are all relative terms. It is not true vs. false. It is expensive vs. cheaper truths.

    Seventh, the ignorance of philosophy

    Most people arguing about these things at present do not know much philosophy. They might have heard something during childhood, and those memories are ingrained deeper in their minds. But that is not enough. One has to study Vedic philosophy, extensively and scientifically.

    The Vedic system has been fragmented into many sects and traditions in the last 1200 years. Each tradition cites their texts, and they neglect other texts. All these texts have been compiled by Veda Vyas to offer a variety of options. This is just like a shopping mall has many kinds of shoes. The shopkeeper doesn’t want to reject the poorer shopper. But he is happier to receive a richer shopper.

    Eighth, ignorance is dispelled by reading

    Logic and common sense are enough to distinguish all these things. But logic and commonsense are not common. Hence, all the debates will continue until the end of the universe. Some deeply interested people study. Others just talk. Only the interested people achieve the results.

    The links that I have cited above are probably 10% of the places where I have discussed these topics. All these topics (along with many more) are discussed extensively in the introduction to the book Conceiving the Inconceivable. We bring confusion upon ourselves when we run hither and thither to look for the most popular opinion. Truth is not democratic. Truth is not decided by popularity (or the lack of it). The criteria for truth is reason. Then to experience that truth we have to pay a price.

    If you go to a bazaar, every hawker shouts loudly about how his product is the best. That doesn’t mean they are the best. Like that, there is a marketplace of spiritual options. The hawkers selling these options are shouting that their product is the best. But the buyer has to decide which product to buy based on how much price he is ready to pay. Just like you don’t get confused in a bazaar of hawkers, similarly, there is no reason to get confused in the bazaar of spiritual options.

    Examine the product being sold. Inquire about benefits and shortcomings. Inquire about the price to be paid. This simple and commonsense process of buying applies even to spiritual options.

    #14635
    Baba Asahd
    Participant

    Brother.  I very much appreciate you taking the time to respond to me in such great detail.  As usual, your texts are extremely enlightening. In your mind, things are extremely clear and sharp.  

    If you allow me to ask you a few more question as a response, it would be much appreciated.  Please note that my objective is not to challenge you, but simply push further my own reflection with your assistance:

    Is your understanding not-based on interpretations of the Sacred Texts?  Could the same Texts not be understood completely differently?  Or are they organized to show a very clear non-negotiable picture that has been misdiagnosed over the years due to mental confusion or I am not sure what?  Is it safe to assume then that Veda Vyasa must as been a Vaishnava if the entirety of the Sacred Texts point to the same fundamental truth and organizing principle?  How can we trust that Vyasa compiled the Works properly and not based on his own interpretations?

    In order to see the Whole Picture, mustn’t an individual read all texts?  How can one accomplish this? And even if we succeed in reading all the text, who’s to say that we have organized them appropriately in our mind’s eye?  Are we not tainted by the Lineage we subscribe to?

    How can we arrive at the truth by reading the Veda’s, that is my concern?  How can I trust a teacher if he himself is tainted by his teachers and we are all somehow bound to Sacred Texts and their interpretations?

    When I read the Sacred Texts, I only see bits and pieces.  I can accept that my vision is limited.  But whom can I trust then?  Who has read the entire corpus? And how can I trust their synthesis? What am I missing here?

    I trust that you receive what my fundamental concerns via my multiple questions.  I am not certain how to better word them.

    Thank you Ashish.  Your help in this matter is greatly appreciated.

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 4 weeks ago by Baba Asahd.
    #14639
    Ashish Dalela
    Keymaster

    Is your understanding not-based on interpretations of the Sacred Texts?  Could the same Texts not be understood completely differently?  Or are they organized to show a very clear non-negotiable picture that has been misdiagnosed over the years due to mental confusion or I am not sure what?

    This topic is discussed extensively in the introduction of Conceiving the Inconceivable by tracing the evolution of Vedanta philosophy as a succession of problems created by each interpretation, which were solved by the next interpretation, which then created a new problem that was solved by the next interpretation. They are not simply interpretations. They are responses to the problems created by the previous interpretations. If you read that introduction, you will get an understanding of how each interpretation leads to a problem. It is not due to “mental confusion” as you say. It is rather due to seeing a part of the elephant, while the other parts have been left out. We cannot universalize one part of the elephant as the whole elephant, and we cannot say that the part does not exist.

    Is it safe to assume then that Veda Vyasa must as been a Vaishnava if the entirety of the Sacred Texts point to the same fundamental truth and organizing principle?

    Krishna bhakti is not Vaishnavism in the truest sense. It is a combination of Vaishnavism, Shaivism, and Shaktism. I have explained this in my response above. The material energy is Krishna’s external nature, the soul is Krishna’s marginal nature, and the spiritual energy is Krishna’s inner nature. Shaivism and Shaktism pertain to Krishna’s external nature. Vaishnavism pertains to Krishna’s marginal nature. And the internal nature was relatively unknown prior to the advent of Sri Chaitanya. His exposition of Krishna bhakti revealed Krishna’s internal nature. It is not Vaishnavism because Vaishnavism pertains to the marginal nature. And yet, it is seen as an extension or progression of Vaishnavism. These things are clearly discussed in the Bhagavata Purana where 24 incarnations of Lord Vishnu are described as parts and aspects of Krishna. You cannot say that the hand is not the body. And you cannot say that the hand is the full body. A sophisticated philosophy is required to discuss all these matters, which is what I have done. But Veda Vyas is a disciple of Sage Narada. And Narada is a Vaishnava, although he is a son of Brahma. So, you can say that he is a Vaishnava. The hard and fast distinctions you have in mind are the results of binary logic. We don’t subscribe to it.

    How can we trust that Vyasa compiled the works properly and not based on his own interpretations?

    Since you may not trust it, therefore, I have translated all the philosophy into a modern language of science. We know that many people in the West do not accept Veda Vyas’s authority. Many people in India also do not accept Veda Vyas’s authority at present. So if someone doesn’t accept his authority, then there is an alternative way to approach the same subject through scientific subjects.

    Study the problems of mathematics, and you will get an understanding of modalities. Study the problems of physics, and you will get an understanding of the necessity for an alternative view of space, time, causality, and law. Study the problems of biology, you will get an understanding of an alternative view of the body. Study the problems of psychology and you will get an understanding of an alternative view of the mind. Study the problems of cosmology and you will get an understanding of an alternative view of the cosmos. Study the problems of time, and you will get an understanding of a personal view of time. The viewpoint is not just Veda Vyas’s opinion. It is necessary to solve the problems of science. When something is necessary, then it is true, and the person whose view it is, is the presenter of truth. This is why Veda Vyas is an authority on the nature of truth and reality.

    Since all these things can be presented in a scientific way without any reference to Veda Vyas, hence, if you think that he has created his own interpretation, then we can go in another way. It is up to you.

    In order to see the Whole Picture, mustn’t an individual read all texts? How can one accomplish this? And even if we succeed in reading all the text, who’s to say that we have organized them appropriately in our mind’s eye?  Are we not tainted by the Lineage we subscribe to?

    This problem is also discussed in Vedanta Sutra. The correct interpretation of Veda is that which makes all Vedic texts true simultaneously. Nothing should be false. This is why we need an alternative conception of higher vs. lower, prior vs. later, bigger vs. smaller, and expensive vs. cheaper truths. If you are not convinced of one interpretation, and you accept Veda Vyas as an authority, then you have to study all the texts. How can you accomplish it? Well, if you want something great, then it requires great sacrifices. Isn’t it? Who is to say that you will get it correctly after reading it? The test is simple—all the texts are true simultaneously. If you see a contradiction then you don’t have the truth. Are we tainted by lineage? The test is the same. All texts must be true at once. This is the issue I noted above, namely, that one lineage solves the previous lineage’s problem and then creates a new problem. The lineage is perfect when all the problems have been solved systematically and provably in a way that no new problems will arise. This is a mathematical principle called consistency and completeness. Everything must be known without any internal contradiction in knowledge.

    How can we arrive at the truth by reading the Veda’s, that is my concern? How can I trust a teacher if he himself is tainted by his teachers and we are all somehow bound to Sacred Texts and their interpretations?

    When I read the sacred texts, I only see bits and pieces. I can accept that my vision is limited.  But whom can I trust then?  Who has read the entire corpus? And how can I trust their synthesis? What am I missing here?

    This is a problem of kali-yuga, but it did not exist previously. It has been greatly magnified after Shankaracharya’s advent in India, and by the advent of Socrates in the West. Let me explain.

    The interpretation that Shankaracharya created was inconsistent with other Vedic texts. It was grossly inconsistent with Puranas, Tantras, Pancharatras, the four Vedas, and the other five systems of philosophy, namely, Mimamsa, Yoga, Sankhya, Nyaya, and Vaisesika. It was less inconsistent with the Upanishads, although there are clear passages that discuss how Brahman originated from a Purusa. The Advaita system, therefore, said that everything other than Upanishads is not the ultimate truth. Since Advaita is not fully consistent with Upanishads either, therefore, they started selectively citing verses from Upanishads. Sometimes they would only cite a part of a verse. They were very good in debates, as most people had stopped reading most of the texts. They won debates. In the eyes of the public, they were true. But they were inconsistent with other Vedic texts. This sowed the seeds of disunity in the Vedic system, which is exploited by everyone to this day. It is most exploited by Westerners by saying that the Vedic texts are not one system. They are rather composed by many authors, one by one, over the ages, and the authors do not agree with each other. Your cynicism comes from this problem, because the seeds of disunity were sowed by Shankaracharya.

    Cynicism in the West was created by Socrates. He would ask questions, and when anyone gave some answers, he would cross-question them. Ultimately he proved that all their ideas were inconsistent. The result was that Greeks became cynical about everything. This is why they created democracy. They could never arrive at any answer rationally. So, they relied on majority opinions. Romans did not like democracy. So, they invented Christianity as some God-given laws that were not open for discussion. A system of blind faith was created in response to the Socratic cynicism. This then led to numerous other problems, and ultimately, religion was relegated to a “private subject” at the dawn of the Enlightenment. It was not subject to rational inquiry. It was not a science. It was one’s opinion. However, since democracy was already entrenched, these opinions spilled over into the democratic voting process, and society has been divided into many sects with contradictory opinions.

    This is the symptom of kali-yuga. The root word is kalah, which means arguments, fights, and disintegration. It begins with a seed of doubt, and it spreads like wildfire in society. Once it has spread, nobody trusts anybody else. They think every one must be a liar or a cheat because there have been so many liars and cheats, and there are so many contradictory opinions.

    We can solve these two problems, one Western and the other Indian, by setting two additional criteria for truth. For the Indian problem created by Shankaracharya, the criteria for truth is that all scriptures are true. The correct interpretation is that which makes all of them true simultaneously. We can either uphold the unity of the Vedic system, or it will fragment indefinitely, and ultimately everything will be rejected over time. For the Western problem created by Socrates, the criterion for truth is reason, critical inquiry, rejection of blind faiths, and a scientific understanding of the truth which can be discussed in a secular and non-sectarian manner by applying it to all worldly subjects.

    In simple words, there are two additional criteria for truth, when cynicism enters our minds and the society at large. These are—(a) unity of the Vedic system, and (b) scientific truth of the Vedic system.

    One easy way to address the problem of unity is to show how the six systems of philosophy, namely, Vedanta, Sankhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vasesika, and Mimamsa are consistent, although they sometimes talk about different aspects of the truth, like the trunk and tail of an elephant. One easy way to address the problem of scientific truth is to take this understanding of the six systems of philosophy to all modern scientific subjects, namely, logical sciences, natural sciences, life sciences, mind sciences, social sciences, and philosophy. The former relies on the Vedic tradition, and the latter relies on proving the usefulness of the Vedic tradition ideas in the context of all secular subjects. I have done quite a bit in both areas, but there is still a lot more to do. I keep doing as much as I can.

    Obviously, you have to read a lot to overcome cynicism. You have a doubt, and if you want to overcome it, then you have to read. But there is another sense, in which this approach is already superlative compared to everyone else. For instance, nobody else in the Vedic tradition is capable of claiming today that they can apply their claims to solve the problems of modern science. Likewise, nobody else in the Western tradition is capable of claiming today that they can unify their varied subjects, or solve their current problems without creating new problems. I am making that claim. I am also subjecting my claim to more tests, more rigorous tests, more pervasive tests, and greater scrutiny than anyone else. I’m sitting here answering everyone’s questions, whatever they may be. I’m not hiding behind a book or scriptural reference to say that I know the truth. I’m open to any kind of question or challenge. The only restriction is that it must be done decently and with a mood to learn. You will not find this clarity, consistency, unity, and completeness anywhere else. You can call it bragging, but it is also true. Yes, I’m bragging but only on the strength of the Vedic system.

    You can search across the globe and you will not find anyone who is capable of claiming—(a) we will unify all our scientific subjects with one theory, and (b) we can resolve all the inner contradictions within our religion, and (c) we will use that understanding for solving the problems of science. You will not find any adherent to Vedic philosophy who even accepts all the Vedic texts as true. When they accept one scripture, they always reject another scripture. If their view is true, then someone else is false. I can challenge you to scour the internet, or the whole world, to find even one person who can even make the claim of unity. We can decide on the truth of their claim after they make it. There is simply nobody who is capable of making that claim today. And nobody is making it.

    So, all the options are open for you. You can approach the subject scientifically. You can approach it from the perspective of Vedic texts. You can apply more rigorous tests to validate it. And ultimately, if you practice bhakti-yoga, you can validate it in your experience. It is empirical, rational, scriptural, and practical. Every kind of test that has ever been imagined can be applied to this. You will get convinced when you apply all these tests one after another. These are not merely empty claims. These are provable claims. But you have to know the claims and then know their proofs.

    #14640
    Ashish Dalela
    Keymaster

    One more important thing you have to understand is that this vision of the scientific truth of Vedic scriptures has been envisioned by Srila Prabhupada. So many gurus, yogis, and sannyasis have come and gone. They teach this and that. But not one of them has the courage to apply their so-called knowledge to mathematics, physics, biology, cosmology, sociology, economics, and so on. They don’t even know what these subjects are, how they have been rigorously debated over centuries, their foundational assumptions, and they cannot contrast Vedic philosophy to these subjects. Whatever they are talking about is inconsistent with all the modern scientific claims and theories. Most of their claims are even inconsistent with other Vedic texts. But Srila Prabhupada did not think like that. He was convinced that Vedic knowledge is scientific and we can challenge modern science on its own grounds based on this knowledge. He wanted to translate and comment even on Upanishads but he did not have the time. But he gave us enough to do all these things.

    Whatever I’m doing is simply based on the strength of his vision and conviction. Personally, I’m nothing. He has set a new standard for religion–that it must be scientific. If we establish that, then it is the process by which we demolish all other false religions, all other imaginary scientific ideas, and every other so-called philosophy that has existed in the past whether in India or in the West. This is also the process by which you can challenge every other so-called guru, swami, yogi, etc.

    It is a sledgehammer by which everything can be demolished, and I’m convinced that it will be demolished in time. The problem today is that nobody wants to put in any effort to do anything. Everyone wants someone else to do everything and they will stand on the side and throw darts at it. Or, just ignore it and wait for someone else to jump on it. If it is successful, then they will say–we always knew it was going to be successful. If it fails, they will say–we were always doubtful about it. Basically, they are not convinced that Vedic knowledge is scientific, and they don’t want to put in the effort to find out. They are also convinced that modern science is true, although they also don’t want to put in the effort to find out its problems. They are relying on popularity as the measure of truth. If everyone else says it is true, then it must be the truth. If very few people say it is true, then it must be false.

    So, the main problem is laziness. Everyone thinks that truth can be obtained without much effort. For earning money, we need to work a lot. But for getting salvation or God, we don’t need work. This is a delusion of modern times. And the cynicism is–What if we put in a lot of effort, and it fails? I would have lost the opportunity to earn a lot of money. Hence, let’s not do anything other than what everyone else is doing. There is safety in numbers. A crowd makes people safe. But it also indicates that we lack conviction and self-confidence in the very thing that we proclaim to be true.

    #14641
    Baba Asahd
    Participant

    This is amazing sir.  God bless you.  Thank you.

    So if I am not mistaken, your primary way of teaching is via your books. Correct? However, you are not a swami, nor representative of any Bhakti school?  Where would you recommend a person go to learn the practical science if they were so inclined?

    I purchased 13 or 14 of your books last summer.  You have renewed my zeal.  I wish to thank you very much for taking the time to respond to my questions.

    Blessings

    #14643
    Baba Asahd
    Participant

    In other words, there is so much to learn.  Of course, you have put in the time, this is evident, and I have tremendous respect for this, but where would. a person go to learn step by step all that you have learned, or at least, part of it, with clarity and distinction.

    There are your books of course.  Any other recommendations?

    Thank you.

    #14647
    Ashish Dalela
    Keymaster

    You can go to your nearest ISKCON temple, get an mālā and bead bag and ask them to teach you how to chant Hare Krishna. Do that every day and concentrate on the sound. Hear it attentively. Your mind will run here and there but bring it back to the sound. When your mind is 100% on the sound and is not roaming here and there then your consciousness is purified. It is a very simple process, very effective, and the progress is measurable. Progress is how much taste and eagerness you have for chanting. Prabhupada’s books are available online. Start with Bhagavad-Gita, then read Srimad Bhagavatam. Devote a certain fixed amount of time every day and increase it slowly.

    The mind is like a monkey. It nibbles a little fruit here and a little fruit there and throws away the rest. Try to bring this mind under your control by practice. This means, reading and chanting attentively. If some question is not answered, don’t worry. Everything will be answered in due course of time. The important thing is not answers to every question. The important thing is realizing and becoming convinced of known answers one by one. When there is the realization of one answer, there are answers to all other questions within that realization. It is seen by practice and sincerity.

    #14861
    Sanatana Dhara
    Participant

    We don’t have to justify anything we just cherry-pick the good stuff and throw all the rest out – its like winnowing grain – no farmer needs to “justify” the chaff – he just feeds it to the cows and goats.

    Seeds are the Puranas. Husk is all the anti-scientific stuff, superstition, fantasy, misogyny, androgyny, homophobia, Islamophobia, casteism, supremacism, triumphalism and anything else we don’t like. Grain is all the good wholesome digestible stuff like compassion, kindness, generosity, diversity, inclusivity, equality, knowledge, philosophy, yoga, austerity, discipline etc. etc.

    We have an entire library of Puranas, Agamas, Tantras, Vedas etc. – we don’t have the time to read it all – not even a single book – so we just take the beneficial essence and live on that. Or failing that we just use common sense.

    Content Written by Rami Sivan.

    #14863
    Ashish Dalela
    Keymaster

    We don’t have to justify anything we just cherry-pick the good stuff and throw all the rest out – its like winnowing grain – no farmer needs to “justify” the chaff – he just feeds it to the cows and goats.

    The Vedic system is like a ladder. There are many rungs in the ladder. Typically, it takes many lifetimes to progress step by step through the rungs of this ladder until one reaches the top. Each person tries to climb a few rungs of the ladder in a life, and he dies. He is reborn, and starts the next life from the highest rung that he had attained in the previous life. He can reject the lower rungs because he has been through that, taken its benefits, and climbed to the next rung. The person in the middle of the ladder rejects half of the lower rungs. The person nearing the top rejects most of the rungs. It depends on where a person is on that ladder, due to gradual progress, climbing one rung at a time.

    We have to justify absolutely everything. But only a few educated and enlightened people can give a justification. Those who have studied Vedic texts under a proper guru can tell you exactly what the ladder is, and which rung comes before or after which other rung. That ladder is fixed. However, each person can go up or down that ladder, so everything is not for everyone. The engligtened guru looks at a person, understands his current position on the ladder, and tells him the next steps. Those who don’t have any vision, and cannot see a person’s true state, remain confused. They think: Why so many paths? Why accept this and reject that? The answer is that we don’t reject anything, but we don’t recommend everything to everyone. It depends on where they are in their journey.

    Seeds are the Puranas. Husk is all the anti-scientific stuff, superstition, fantasy, misogyny, androgyny, homophobia, Islamophobia, casteism, supremacism, triumphalism and anything else we don’t like. Grain is all the good wholesome digestible stuff like compassion, kindness, generosity, diversity, inclusivity, equality, knowledge, philosophy, yoga, austerity, discipline etc. etc.

    Everything we call “modern science” is based on quantities, whereas reality in Vedic texts is qualities. Qualities are also present in modern science, and they are called properties. For example, temperature, weight, and speed are properties, and science makes them dimensions. The problem is that there are infinite such properties, due to the combination of qualities. All the properties are not present in all objects and not observed in all phenomena. Some phenomena require one set of properties, other phenomena require a different set of properties. So, by this variation in properties across phenomena, you need infinite different sets of properties, and infinite theories, to describe infinite different phenomena. As you look closer at any phenomena, you see new phenomena within that phenomena, which requires a different theory. This is like opening a square box, and seeing a round box inside it, then opening a round box, and seeing a triangular box within it. The result is that all scientific theories are approximations; they work if you don’t look too closely. But if you happen to look closely, then you also need infinite theories to describe anything completely and perfectly.

    This is why we reject modern science because (a) nature is qualities, (b) by quality combination, infinite qualities are produced, (c) each theory only deals with a few of these qualities, (d) you need infinite theories to describe all qualities, (e) each phenomena becomes another type of phenomena, involving different qualities, if you look closely, (f) you can never construct a complete theory of anything because it requires us to look closely, (g) every single theory is a coarse approximation of the reality, (h) it may work sometimes, and it fails other times, and (i) science is compelled to restrict the theory’s application to when it works and ignore the cases when it doesn’t work.

    This problem is called the incompleteness of number systems and Godel’s incompleteness. It applies to everything that uses numbers, which means everything in modern science. The solution to that problem is using qualities, because that is the only universal and precise theory of nature.

    Whatever you call antiscientific stuff, superstition, etc. is based on the science of qualities, not based on the science of quantities. It is sometimes contradictory to quantity science. But that is not the flaw of the quality science. It is a flaw of the quantity science in which trying to describe everything using quantities leads to a contradiction, which is why quantity science is mathematically incomplete.

    I have explained all these problems and their solutions through my books, but we need intelligent people to study and understand them. When people use words like pseudo-science or antiscientific, they assume that there is only one definition of science, or there is only one type of science. They are wrong on two counts. First, there are infinite scientific theories within modern science that are necessary to explain some phenomena, but not applicable to other phenomena. Due to contradictory models of science, you can never say what “science” truly is; every definition is contradicted by another necessary definition. Second, the quality science is different from the quantity science; it also has infinite sub-theories, but we can combine all these theories into one complete super-theory; that combination of sub-theories into a super-theory is like a ladder comprising many individual rungs. Such a combination super-theory is impossible with quantities but it is possible with qualities.

    We have an entire library of Puranas, Agamas, Tantras, Vedas etc. – we don’t have the time to read it all – not even a single book – so we just take the beneficial essence and live on that. Or failing that we just use common sense.

    Everyone has 24 hours in a day. Nobody has more and nobody has less. Different people use this time in different ways, based on different priorities. There isn’t a shortage of time, there is a difference of priorities. Since acquring knowledge is not a priority for people, so most people are not reading. Since they are not reading, therefore, they cannot judge who is an expert and who is not. Thereby, they remain confused between experts and pretenders. They listen to many people and think: All these people are saying contradictory things, so there is no truth. But there are others who sincerely study, understand, practice, and perfect their lives. They don’t have that problem.

    So, the problem is not universal. It is widespread, but it is not universal. There are many shops that sell artificial jewelry, and extremely rare shops that sell jewelry with large diamonds. Those who can pay the high price of large diamond jewelry go to the diamond shop. The others go to the cheap artificial jewelry shop. There is a marketplace for everything. If someone wants to buy fake jewlery, there is a supplier for that. There is also a supplier for the large diamond jewelry. Since most people want to pay a low price, therefore, they flock to the imitation shop, pay a low price, and think that this imitation is the complete truth. The intelligent ones go to the real store and pay a big price.

    So, there is no “we”. Each person is a distinct individual, with a choice. Some people make good choices and others do not. There are always teachers available in every age and time to give the perfect truth. And the sincere people go there to learn, and perfect their life. They leave the “we” and “us” behind in the imitation shops. This is an individual prerogative, not a collective one.

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