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December 2, 2022 at 12:55 pm in reply to: External reality and sense perception in Vedic philosophy #14833
Everything is already within you. Everything that you see right now, have seen in the past, or will see in the future is already in you. When you “see” something, it is produced from the senses. During dreaming it is produced without an external trigger. By various techniques, it can manifest in some order. During waking, it is triggered from the sense, due to the presence of an external object. But the external object can be a rope and the image triggered in the senses can be a snake.
So, dreaming (seeing a world that you cannot see if you had your eyes open), hallucination (such as by pressing your eyelids), misperception (seeing a rope as a snake), and correct perception (seeing a rope as a rope) are all explained in the same way: Something is manifested from your senses. To be manifested, it has to be eternally present in the senses. This eternal presence of the effect in the cause is called Satkāryavāda. This is the technical name for “everything is already in you”. It means—sat (exists eternally), kārya (the effect), vāda (the doctrine of).
The whole world, this entire universe, trillions of universes, and all the spiritual worlds are already in you. They are all compressed in your senses. And when you see something, one of the many things compressed in your senses is expanded and manifested from the senses. It can be expanded during dreams, waking, hallucinations, misperceptions, and so on. It is all pratyakśa or direct observation. Many things in you are so compressed, that you cannot see them. One such compressed thing is Krishna. He is also compressed inside you, but you cannot see.
The process of purification of the senses is to compress everything else and uncompress Krishna. After that, whatever you see will be Krishna only. You may see a rope, and it will be seen as Krishna. It will be called misperception. You may press your eyes, and it will be seen as Krishna, and it will be called a hallucination. You may go to sleep and you will see Krishna, and it will be called dreaming. You may wake up and still see Krishna and it will be called correct perception.
When everything is compressed and only Krishna is seen, then the distinction between correct perception, incorrect perception, hallucination, and dreaming disappears, because it is all true, and yet it may be a dream, hallucination, or misperception. But it is all correct perception because there is nothing else.
Such a perfect soul is called Krishna Conscious because he is not conscious of anything else. Krishna Consciousness means always being conscious of Krishna alone. Prabhupada coined the term “Krishna Conscious” and in the initial days after forming ISKCON, he was asking his Gaudiya Math godbrothers in India what they thought of the term. Nobody said anything much. Then he stopped asking.
The sum and substance of all philosophy are that God is in everything, and everything is in God. We are part of God, and God is part of us. So, we make the part the whole and sole, and then God makes us His whole and sole. When Krishna danced with the gopis, every gopi saw Him dancing with herself. So, Krishna became the whole and sole of each gopi. Sole means that she sees nothing else. And the whole means that she saw Krishna completely. Krishna was not divided into parts or conflicted about which gopi to be with. His full attention was on each gopi.
Some gopis could not go dancing with Krishna because their family members restrained them. They left their body and danced with Krishna with the subtle body of senses. They did not die, but they fell unconscious. But they are not actually unconscious. They are just not conscious of their body and this world. They are conscious only of Krishna. Krishna is also the whole and sole for them. Sole means that they don’t want anything other than Krishna. And whole means that they want to know Krishna fully and not partially. They are not interested in money, power, fame, knowledge, and so on, which are partial aspects of Krishna. They want the whole, and they solely focus on the whole. Hence it is Krishna Consciousness.
Krishna consciousness means the sole focus on the whole. And that whole and sole are there in every part, including your senses. Krishna is inside each soul, just like color is in each eye. When the soul is purified, then Krishna springs out of the soul like water from a fountain. This is called sevonmukhe hi jihvadau svayam eva sphuraty adah. When you produce various sounds, all those sounds are hidden inside your tongue. Right now there is some effort required in manifesting that sound from the tongue. That is because the tongue has been wagging in so many other ways for so many reasons. But if Krishna is whole and sole, then the tongue will automatically produce the sound of His name. That automatic production is called svayam eva sphuraty which means “automatically springing out” like water spouting from a fountain. That is whole and sole. It means that the tongue doesn’t wag for anything other than Krishna. And it wags endlessly for Krishna. So, if the tongue only wags for Krishna and always for Him, then it is a Krishna Conscious tongue. In the same way, everything can be made Krishna Conscious slowly by a spiritual practice.
Krishna inside you is not an illusory Krishna. It is the same Krishna as outside. So, when the whole reality is compressed inside every part of reality, then, in the same way, many parts are compressed in every part. It is just a question of which part is uncompressed and manifested. Even lies, deceit, malice, hypocrisy, etc. are compressed in every person. So, one has to compress and hide many things, and uncompress and manifest the other things. When we focus on Krishna, then everything else gets compressed and hidden away. Hence it is said: Krishna is like the sun and māyā is like darkness; where there is the sun of Krishna there cannot be māyā because the darkness is the negation of light. Māyā is still present in a hidden form within us, but it has been compressed and hidden, not to be seen. But the moment you forget Krishna, some type of māyā will grab you immediately.
So, just chant Hare Krishna, and everything will become clear slowly. You may not know the name by which it is called, such as Satkāryavāda. You may not know that this thing is called out in some verses as svayam eva sphuraty. But you will know the meaning of all these words. That meaning is Krishna Conscious. It means Krishna is the whole and sole. He will be with you even when you sleep. He will not leave you alone. You cannot have “me-time” after that. But it is better than “me-time”.
Even the self is not fully realized other than in relationship to Krishna because there are so many aspects of the self that are manifest only in relation to Krishna. The greatest capacity to love is only manifest in a relationship with Krishna. We cannot love ourselves as much as we can love Krishna. We don’t know that right now. We think that we cannot love anyone more than ourselves. That is false. We can love Krishna more than we can love ourselves. So we discover more about ourselves when we discover Krishna. Hence, Krishna Consciousness is a more complete self-realization. Every other type of self-realization is partial and incomplete.
Knowledge is not required to become a devotee. Devotion and chanting are sufficient. Knowledge can be a byproduct of chanting. However, because our minds cannot chant or remember Krishna always, therefore, many other ways to engage the mind, such as singing, deity worship, reading books, and so on, are also prescribed. They are various ways to engage the mind so that we can occupy ourselves more and more. However, chanting alone is necessary and sufficient for this age.
Philosophy is specifically recommended in this age due to the sahajiya tendency in which we are not able to distinguish between mental emotion and spiritual emotion. Mental emotion is always sad or happy, depressed or motivated, but spiritual emotion is opposites simultaneously. There are many sahajiya teachers at present. They sing, dance, and cry, but they don’t have true devotion. Just after singing, dancing, and crying they go back to their regular materialistic activities. Professional singers, dancers, and tear-shedders are also available. They charge money to sing, dance, and cry. To dissuade people from following these kinds of teachers, it is recommended to follow only those who are experts in philosophy. It is not that these philosophers are necessarily perfect devotees. But it is better to follow such a person than to follow a sahajiya because the philosopher will tell us many things which make us realize “I did not know this”. Factually, it is not necessary to know that. But if we think “I did not know this” we become humble. Otherwise, we think “I am already perfect”.
Philosophy is the manifestation of Krishna’s chit-śakti. Various kinds of practices like breath control and mind control are manifestations of Krishna’s bhūti-śakti. Bhakti is the manifestation of Krishna’s māyā-śakti. The creation is the result of Krishna’s chit-śakti. The control of the creation is the result of Krishna’s bhūti-śakti. And enjoyment of the creation is the result of Krishna’s māyā-śakti. They are all different powers and aspects of Krishna. But the most fundamental aspect of a person is their desire to be happy. The creation of the world and the control of the world are secondary to that. Therefore, when we speak about bhakti then we are talking about the highest aspect of Krishna. But philosophy is not separate from Krishna. It is also an aspect. But somewhat inferior to the emotional aspect.
The fact is that we can cook for Krishna even if we don’t know cooking. Sabari was giving wild berries to Lord Rama, and He was eating them with gratitude. In the same way, Sanatana Goswami was giving dry chapatis to Krishna every day. Krishna was eating that. But, ideally, we give nicely made recipes. For that we need knowledge. Like that, we need knowledge to do good quality work with devotion. There is poor quality work with devotion. There is good quality work without devotion. And there is good quality work with devotion. Knowledge is required to improve the quality of work. While both quality work and devotion are recommended, if we have to choose, then devotion is more important. Krishna can eat dry chapati if given with devotion, but not fancy recipes without devotion. Hence, He says one who gives Me water, fruit, leaf, or flower with devotion, I accept it.
Philosophy is also required to organize society. We need knowledge to distinguish between good and bad, right and wrong. Similarly, philosophy is required to refute false ideas, including our own false ideas. We are surrounded by propaganda, lies, and deceit. It is rare to find the truth. So we take guidance from philosophy because otherwise, we will take guidance from propaganda.
We can summarize everything by Bhedābheda. Philosophy and devotion are distinct but inseparable. This means that by devotion we get knowledge, and by knowledge we get devotion. If devotion is strong, then knowledge will automatically come. Likewise, if knowledge is strong, then devotion will come automatically. But every person has different inclinations and abilities for different things. Therefore, many options are given, and each person can choose one of the many. The necessary thing is chanting, and it is for everyone. Everything else is recommended but it is optional.
The simple practical tip is to chant the Hare Krishna mantra. Since most people ask many questions about why this mantra, why not this exercise or that ritual, and each question expands into many more questions, therefore, there is also philosophy to answer all those questions. Ultimately, when all the questions are answered, then the conclusion is still to chant Hare Krishna mantra.November 24, 2022 at 3:49 pm in reply to: Planetary placements and their relation to an individual’s guna and karma #14803
I’m not an astrology expert. There are a few things I understand that I can point to for reading. First, read the book Mystic Universe. The last chapter has a discussion on astrology. Second, you can read this post. The following is a relevant excerpt, but it would be understood if you read the post.
Economists talk about the “invisible hand of the market”. That invisible hand is these puppeteers. The working of this invisible hand is elaborated in the book The Balanced Organization. There are ten kinds of movements—five of which occur within each person and the other five in the environment of that person (which is also within another person). These are the five prāṇa. They involve inward, outward, upward, downward, and around movements. They are also in control of the above six puppeteers by dividing each prāṇa into six aspects. This means that the inward, outward, upward, downward, and around movements are sometimes due to what and when causality, sometimes due to how and where causality, and sometimes due to the who and why causality.
There are times when a person automatically develops spiritual inclination due to time making Jupiter prominent. This makes the upward prāṇa prominent. How this spiritual inclination is expressed, however, depends on the other planets influenced by time. For instance, if Mercury is raised along with Jupiter, then the person will go around exploring many different spiritual systems. If instead Mars is raised with Jupiter, then the person will go inward to meditate and introspect. If Venus is raised with Jupiter, then the person will make spiritual friends or join a society of spiritualists. If instead Saturn is raised with Jupiter, a person may learn lessons from his previous mistakes. If the Sun is raised along with Jupiter, then the person will seek intellectual answers to religious questions. If the Moon is raised along with Jupiter, then the person will try to express their creativity through religious activities. If Rahu is raised along with Jupiter, then a person will try to become a religious leader and focus on bringing other people under his control based on religious pretexts. If Ketu is raised along with Jupiter, then the person will perform charities; even if he speaks about religion, it would be for charity rather than for control.
Below are general aspects of the mind-body complex:
- Ketu – moral sense
- Rahu – ego
- Sun – intellect
- Moon – mind
- Jupiter – upward prāṇa and the ether element
- Saturn – downward prāṇa and the earth element
- Mars – inward prāṇa and the fire element
- Venus – outward prāṇa and the water element
- Mercury – round-and-round prāṇa and the air element
There are three positions of each planet:
- The house from 1 to 12 – these decide the Karma
- The 12 zodiac signs from Aries to Pisces – decide the Chitta
- The 27 (or 28) Nakṣatra – these decide the Guna
So, a single planet placement decides the Karma based on the house, Guna based on the Nakṣatra, and Chitta based on the zodiac sign. Then there is a general understanding of ādidaivika, ādibhautika, and ādiātmika. Whatever you call the “lord” is the ādidaivika. Each “lord” has some houses which are the ādibhautika. And then these “lords” have their effects on other “lords” and “houses” which is called their “dṛṣṭi”. Then there is a system of deciding which planet is the most prominent, called its “bala” or “strength”. When a planet is strong, its “dṛṣṭi” on other planets and houses is stronger than if the planet is weak. Accordingly, a strong planet’s “dṛṣṭi” can make a house stronger, which can change the karmic effect, which will then change the occurrences in their life.
Beyond that, there is a general understanding of space based on guna. All the locations in space are not the same. Every location is different. This is a quality space or a “semantic space”. So, every moment the planetary quality is changing, and due to this change, the corresponding house strengths, influence strengths, and their “dṛṣṭi” on the other planets are also changing.
This science is not understood at present because the ability to understand guna, see the interaction of guna, and then determine the effect of that interaction is not understood. I tried to study Brihat-Parasara Hora but even that is just giving “if-then-else” types of rules. Then there are differences in Surya Siddhanta and Drik Siddhanta calculations. Without the fundamental principles of space, time, object, change, laws of change, etc. it is very hard to understand astrology. So in my view, we should study the fundamental principles before we try to understand all the resulting complexities.
The type of bodies we get is a combination of guna and karma but our bodies also resembles our parents and in turn the entire ancestors. Does that mean we have some similar gunas of that of our parents and we get a similar body like theirs?
Based on our guna and karma, and the guna and karma of the parents, a match is created by nature. It is not necessary that we are like or unlike our parents. If the parents are devotees, and in their destiny there is happiness from the child, then they will get devotee children. If they are devotees, and in their destiny there is unhappiness from the child, then they will get non-devotee children.
For example, in Hiranyakasipu’s destiny, there is unhappiness from the child, so he gets a devotee child. Hiranyakasipu wanted his child to be demoniac like him, but he turned out to be a devotee. Hiranyakasipu is also fortunate because he was killed by Lord Narasimha. But Prahalada is unlike his father, and both father and son suffer because of that. So it is not guaranteed that the parents and children are similar or dissimilar. Generally, there is a similarity but it is not always like that.
When talking about “obtained without endeavor” we should not forget the previous statement “according to one’s past fruitive activities”. If you have earned money in the past, then you can buy clothes easily without endeavor just by swiping your debit card. Obtaining without endeavor means it is as easy as swiping the debit card. But you must have some money in the bank for that to work. Endeavor is required to earn money, and put it in the bank so that you can enjoy it in the future.
Prahalada Maharaja is talking about how animals get to eat grass without sowing seeds, watering the grass, or ensuring that weeds are not growing. So, if someone doesn’t endeavor, then they become animals due to laziness. They don’t get to eat delicious meals served on a plate and they have to chew grass in a field. But they give something more valuable like milk, which the humans can take and make something delicious out of it. So by this process of eating grass and giving milk, they are building some bank balance which they can use in the future.
Different things are emphasized in different contexts. It doesn’t mean the other things are irrelevant. This is a general pattern everywhere. Context determines what is emphasized or not.
Chitta is ability or inability; guna is likes and dislikes; karma is the opportunity or lack thereof. In one sense, chitta is the least important because if you have a strong liking and an opportunity, then you can develop the ability. This is how chitta is purified by our effort. In another sense, chitta is most important because if you are incapable of doing something then even if you want the results of that ability, and there is an opportunity to get those results, you may not get quick results and abandon the effort. Accordingly, we emphasize or deemphasize different things in different places.
A good example is learning music. Someone may enjoy listening to music, may want to play music themselves, and there is an opportunity to learn music, but they may not have the ability to play music. So, if someone persists long enough, they can learn how to play music. In this case, they will use the desire to play the music, and the opportunity to learn music, to develop their ability. But another person may want to play and has the opportunity to learn, but that desire is not strong. So, he may make a little effort and then stop, because they get frustrated with their inability.
Similarly, many people want to learn spiritual knowledge, and there is an opportunity to learn. But they don’t have the ability. If they persist, then they can get the ability. But they will persist only if there is a strong desire. If the desire is weak, and the ability is absent, then they will try a little, and then abandon the effort. If they don’t understand something due to their inability, they might even blame the books, teachers, or circumstances. They want quick success, not realizing that it takes time to become a good musician, sportsperson, or surgeon if one doesn’t have the inborn talent for it, so the same thing applies to spiritual knowledge as well. They are all different kinds of abilities.
Since talent can be acquired by practice, hence, chitta is the least important. But since most people don’t have the talent, and they are not prepared to struggle, hence they abandon the path, and it becomes most important. There are also people who don’t have a liking for spiritual knowledge and practice. So, even if they have the ability, they will never try to understand and practice it.
It is said that a chain breaks at the weakest link. Chitta, guna, and karma can all be the weakest link. If there is a desire, and there is an opportunity, but there is no ability, then chitta is the weakest link. If there is ability and opportunity, but no desire, then guna is the weakest link. Finally, if there is ability and desire, but no opportunity, then karma is the weakest link. So, depending on the context we can speak about one, two, or three different factors. They are all important in different cases.
Time is also an additional factor that mixes chitta, guna, and karma. Sometimes, time is the weak link because we may have the ability, opportunity, and desire, but we might say: “I am too young to learn about spiritual knowledge; right now, I will focus on earning money and enjoying life, and when I am old and not able to do these things then I will focus on spiritual knowledge”. That is because the chitta, guna, and karma are not being combined appropriately due to the effect of time.
The greatest impact is by the change in guna, or likes and dislikes. If we have a strong desire or liking then we will acquire the ability, even if there are few opportunities. We will seek the opportunity to acquire the ability to fulfill the desire. So, desire is the most important, because everything else can and will be arranged in due course of time. But if there is no desire, even if the time is right, the opportunity is present, and there is an ability, nothing of consequence will be achieved.
When you worship someone, you call them, invite them, and the idea is that you want to feed them, satisfy them, and ask them to come again. But you want to worship Agni, invite him to come, with the idea that you will not feed him, not satisfy him, and then tell him to never come again? That is not decency. If Agni disappears, then you may not feel hungry, but you cannot control the other functions of the body, which means that the body will be starved of nutrition, without you feeling hungry. The result of indecent behavior is always worse on the indecent person than on person being insulted.
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.
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.
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.
Yes, each receiver has to be tuned to listen to the signal and ignore the noise. When the receiver is fully tuned, then the noise disappears. The attachment for signal grows while the attachment for noise decreases. It is a gradual process. If we persist, then very quickly we develop a distaste for the noise and taste for the signal. Then it becomes easier to ignore the noise and focus on the signal.
This is the text of verse 18.20 from Prabhupada’s Gita.
TEXT 20: That knowledge by which one undivided spiritual nature is seen in all living entities, though they are divided into innumerable forms, you should understand to be in the mode of goodness.
Yes, I already explained this above:
When our senses are contaminated, we see everything as separate from each other. When they are purified, everything is seen to be interconnected.
The material vision is diversity, and the spiritual vision is unity. There are two kinds of unity—unity in diversity and diversity in unity. The unity in diversity is called Paramātmā and diversity in unity is called Bhagavān. And the diversity is Brahman. In this verse, unity in diversity is spoken of, which means the vision of Paramātmā. Beyond it is the vision of diversity in unity, which is Bhagavān.
We can illustrate this with the example of the elephant and blind men. The blind men see each part of the elephant, and they call the tail a “line”, the trunk a “pipe”, the leg a “cylinder” and so on. This is the vision in tamo-guna. In this vision, each part is independent and separate from the other parts. If one part moves, then it is due to the force exerted by the other parts. Then, in the vision of rajo-guna, we can see the other parts, but we think that these parts are accumulated because each part is profiting from being with the other parts. However, the whole is not realized. Then, under sattva-guna, we see that everything is a part of a whole elephant. So, there is no force to be together, and they are together even if there is no profit from each other. They are just doing their duty. Then, each part is described as a tail, trunk, and leg, because they are now part of the elephant. But the men are still blind, which means that they cannot see the whole elephant. And yet, they understand there is an elephant and therefore the parts are not disjointed or aggregated for individual profit.
We can take another example. If two brothers fight with each other for their father’s property, then that is a life of tamo-guna. If the two brothers join hands to run a mutually profitable business, then it is rajo-guna. If the brothers don’t fight and don’t think about profit, but just do their duties toward each other as brothers, then it is sattva-guna. In this duty, there is a realization that we are brothers because we have the genes of the common father. So, the gene is in each person, and that unites us. However, the father is not seen. The brothers see each other as brothers without the father.
Finally, if the brothers see each other as brothers, and they know the father, then it is more complete. Even if they fight with each other, it is to make the father and each other happy. Fighting is not the loss of love. Similarly, even if they run a business together, it is not just for profit. And even if they stay silent and do their duty, no love is lost between them. This final stage is called pure sattva.
Some of the recent posts have discussed six different models of reality, namely, force, profit, duty, self-absorption, respect, and love. The first three, namely, force, profit, and duty are tamas, rajas, and sattva. After that, there are multiple stages of pure sattva. In the state of sattva, there is the realization that we have no friends and no enemies. Everyone is a brother or sister, and even if there is some fighting, it is superficial, because everyone is ultimately a brother or sister. So, the ability to see everyone as a brother or sister is to see that everyone has the same “genes” in them. That “gene” is the immanent truth in everything and is called the Paramātmā. He is the unity in diversity. This is the philosophy of peace, dutifulness, accommodation, sacrifice, empathy, and compassion.
To understand how the seed produces a plant, you can consider the example of speech. Sometimes, when you are very happy, you talk voluntarily. If you are excited, you go on talking. But when you are sad, you become quiet. Then if someone comes and abuses you, then you are forced to speak. Happy speech is not angry speech.
In the same way, there is a type of happy seed that produces a plant automatically. Then there is a type of unhappy seed which doesn’t produce the plant automatically. Then, there is the process of abusing the seed with fertilizer to make it produce a plant. The plant is already hidden inside the seed in an unmanifest form. It can be produced automatically if the seed is happy. But if the seed is unhappy, it has to be abused to produce the plant. The resulting plant is like the speech that comes out in response to abuses. It is not healthy but that is what we get everywhere nowadays.
The Vedic process is to make the seed produce a plant happily. That happens when the seed gets natural sunlight, fresh air, rain from the sky, and fresh soil. Then the seed is happy, and it produces the plant automatically. Of course, someone can also produce the plant in tube light, groundwater, contaminated soil, and polluted air. But that is not what is being discussed here. By eating such food our mind becomes naturally unhappy or agitated. So, either we will be quiet or abuse others.
To understand rain, we can apply the same principle. If the demigods are happy, they give the right type of rain which will produce happy seeds, and then happy plants. Then there is rain given by the demigods as a matter of duty. They are not happy to do it, but they do it as a matter of duty. It is not the ideal type of rain, but it is provided because otherwise, the people will die. Then there is rain produced by artificial processes called “seeding the clouds”. It is like abusive speech.
You can go to a shop with a smile and ask the shopkeeper for something politely. He will show you many things, guide you on which one is best, and even give you a discount. But if you go to the shopkeeper with a scowl on your face, he will still show you because he has to sell out of duty, but he is not going to guide you properly, he will try to misdirect you, and he will not give you a discount. Then you can go to a shopkeeper and start abusing him. Then he will hide everything and ask you to get out of the shop. The demigods are also working in the same way. They have a duty to do certain things. But they can go beyond the call of duty and do it happily, or they can do the bare minimum. If they do it happily, then the water is pure, and it produces plants automatically. If they do it unhappily out of duty, then it is not very productive. And if they feel abused, then they will create drought and flood. Just like Indra felt insulted when Krishna stopped his worship, so he poured rain for seven days. Hence, the ideal process is to have the demigods do their duties happily.
That happy duty is enabled by Yajna. It is like going to a shopkeeper and smiling at them, asking them how they are doing, how their family is doing, if their business is doing well, etc. This is a selfish motive. Even the shopkeeper knows that you are talking nicely because you want something in return. For example, after talking nicely, you will ask for a discount in the end, and the shopkeeper will not be able to say no to you because you have talked to him nicely. So, this Yajna is not considered bhakti. But it is better than going to a shop with a scowl on your face.
Regarding the role of demigods, you have to understand the process of “seeding”. The same process is involved in the formation of crystals, which is sometimes called “seeding” and sometimes “nucleation”. For example, when sugar is produced from sugarcane juice, to form a sugar crystal, there has to be a “nucleus” or “seed” around which the crystal will be formed. There is no deterministic process for this nucleation. In theory, the nucleus can be formed anywhere in the liquid, but since it can be formed anywhere, therefore, there is no necessity for it to be formed anywhere. How the crystal nucleus is formed is a mystery, especially if the liquid is very pure. If there are impurities, then the crystal is formed easily. However, with the impurities, the crystal structure is not uniform. It has many internal flaws and its properties are different. This is why pure crystals are expensive. The same process of nucleation is involved in cloud formation. There are many kinds of clouds, which are just like good or bad crystals, where water is accumulated around a seed. The quality of the water in the cloud depends on how nicely this cloud has been formed.
So, if the demigods are pleased, then they produce nice clouds, which are like nicely formed crystals with wonderful structural properties. And when the cloud produces rain, that cloud slowly dissolves in a way that the structural properties of the cloud are reproduced on earth. It is like dissembling a crystal and then assembling it again. If the cloud is not well-formed, then even if it rains, the water doesn’t have structural properties. So, it is just dumped and it cannot be reassembled.
All these things involve the structural properties of water, different kinds of clouds, which type of cloud and water has what kinds of effects on soil and seed, and ultimately how that rain produces food automatically which is also highly nutritious and creates a peaceful and happy population. When food quality is high, then you need little quantity of food, because the body is also based on qualities. But if the food quality is poor, then you need a huge quantity of food. So, the body tries to produce some quality from a lot of quantity because the food is low quality.
Dull-headed people cannot understand these things. They look into a microscope and say, water is H20, and that’s it. They don’t know that there are millions of types of water. They try to produce rain by cloud seeding, which is throwing some impurity into the atmosphere to force nucleation. But the water you get like that is not good quality. So, in Bhagavad-Gita, Lord Krishna is talking about how a healthy and happy society is created when the demigods are worshipped. Of course, if we just worship Krishna, then all the demigods are pleased. This is just like when a relative of a shopkeeper comes to buy something, then the shopkeeper shows them the best things and gives them the best discount. So, if we become devotees of Krishna, then we will also become friends and relatives of the demigods. Then we don’t have to worship them separately and we still get all the benefits of that worship.
Below is the English translation from Prabhupada’s Gita:
Knowledge, the object of knowledge, and the knower are the three factors that motivate action; the senses, the work and the doer are the three constituents of action.
The first thing to note is the distinction between knowing and acting. There are two types of senses for these, and they are respectively called the knowledge senses and the action senses. These senses exist as potentials, which means there is a capacity for knowledge and action, but that capacity has to be realized by a process. That process is then further divided into three parts in this verse.
Let’s first delve into the knowledge senses, such as the eye. The eye is a potentiality in which everything we can see is already hidden in an unmanifest form. If the type of vision is not present in the eye, then we cannot see it. For example, some people are color blind. Others have difficulty recognizing shapes. This is because something is not inherently present in the eye.
Even if the external object is present, it only triggers one of those things that are innately present in the eye. For example, during dreaming, there is no external object, and yet, something present in the eye is manifested. Likewise, if a person is in fear, then even if the external trigger is a rope, the vision of a snake would be triggered from the eye. So, due to this triggering from within, we can get both correct perception and incorrect perception. When our senses are contaminated, we see everything as separate from each other. When they are purified, everything is seen to be interconnected.
Once the sense manifests a sensation, then the sensation unites with the sense. This is just like the soul is manifest from the Lord and unites with the Lord in a relation. So, the sensation is from the eye, caused by the eye, it is a sensation of the eye, and if we take into account the pleasure of sensation or desire for it, then it is also for the eye. When the eye and sensation are related, the eye becomes that sensation temporarily. Otherwise, the eye is the potential for many sensations which are unmanifest. Hence, we say that “I am seeing” because the sense is the sensation at the point of observation, and yet, the sensation is not the sense which means that I can see something else.
Even if an external object is present, the sensation is still triggered from the eye and unites with the eye. The external object is just a trigger. Potentially, the external object can trigger many sensations, including false sensations (e.g., seeing a rope as a snake). Hence, if the senses are not purified, then the external object triggers some latent impurity. However, if the senses have been purified, then the same object triggers a pure sensation, which means it corresponds to the external object. Therefore, the purification of the senses is important to ensure that we are having the correct perception.
Thus, in the waking case, there are two causes, namely, the knower and the object of knowledge. If you are seeing an apple, then there are two causes, namely, the apple and the eye. But you can look at an apple from a distance, and say: “I want to see it closely”. In this case, some knowledge—i.e., seeing the apple from a distance—is the cause of additional knowledge, namely, seeing the apple closely. This generally happens if we are attracted to something. So initially we get coarse-grained knowledge, and then we want to get detailed knowledge. If we had never obtained coarse-grained knowledge, then we will not try to get detailed knowledge. We will simply be unaware of the existence of an object. Thereby, there are three causes—(a) the senses can trigger knowledge, (b) an external object can trigger knowledge, and (c) some knowledge can trigger other knowledge.
All these three things happen during waking and dreaming. For example, sometimes you see something and it triggers your memory from the past. That trigger is external. But once a memory is triggered, then the sense attaches to it and wants to know even more about the past. Then, all the associated feelings, surroundings, time, place, etc. are progressively recalled from memory. So, a small trigger leads to a small recollection, but then it becomes a detailed recollection.
Now you can easily extend this to the senses of action. There is a sense of action that can do some work. That work is a potential lying latent in the sense. However, in this case, the external trigger is replaced by an internal trigger, namely, the doer. For example, if you saw the apple at a distance, and then you wanted to go close to see it, then the doer triggers the legs to walk, and the desire of seeing the apple closely triggers the sense of action. That triggering of the senses of action is called work. When one sense becomes active, then other senses may also be activated. For example, if you start walking, then slowly your hands start moving forward and backward with the legs. This is just like some knowledge triggers more knowledge. In this case, some activity triggers more activity.
Similarly, during a kirtan, initially, the legs move a little, then the hands move a little, then you start singing (speech is also a sense of action). Or, you can sing first, then move your hands, then move the legs. It can happen in any order. Generally, people who come new to the temple may just sing. But after they start singing, then the hands and legs start moving. Similarly, if you hear the sound of someone speaking, then immediately the eyes want to see who is speaking. So, some knowledge leads to more knowledge, and some activity leads to more activity. After some time, we have to apply effort to stop these activities because a chain reaction has already been set in motion.
These three things are also described in terms of the modes of nature. For example, the doer is sattva, the sense of action is rajas, and the work done by the sense is tamas. Similarly, the sense is sattva, knowledge is rajas, and the object is tamas. Context plays an important role. When other things are included in this, then in contrast to those things, the same thing can be called a different mode. This is just like if you meet a new devotee, you talk to them like a senior. But if an even more senior person comes around, then you don’t talk and let the more senior person talk. So, just by adding a person, the modes have changed. This is why there is an objective reality of potentials. But every potential is not always manifest. By adding or removing, some potential can be manifest. Whatever is manifest defines the mode in relation to other manifestations in other things.
Srila Prabhupada talks about more things in the purport. For example, he writes that before the work is actualized, work exists in a subtle form. This “subtle work” is a plan. You create a plan before you start acting. In this case, the mind is also included. Then, there is intelligence on whether the plan is feasible or not. Then there is ego, which decides if the plan will fulfill the goal. Then there is mahat that checks if this plan is legal and moral or illegal and immoral. So, there are many things involved. The three-part description is not everything, but it is important.