The Universe of the Purāṇas
Question: Could you please shed light on how to reconcile puranic cosmology as described in the Purāṇas with that of Jyotiṣa, which is called the eye of the Vedas and which matches modern cosmology? I’ve heard answers that our senses are imperfect and hence we cannot grasp the message but this, I feel, is not proper logic, because the knowledge of Vedas has to be realized through our senses, pratyakṣāvagamaṁ dharmyam ... So how do we understand that we are not able to perceive the description of the universe as given in the Purāṇas?
Answer: It is true that the knowledge of the Vedas is meant for realization, as you have rightly mentioned. However, to realize, one needs to become qualified through sādhanā. The purposes of the Purāṇas and Jyotiṣa are different. You know fully well that the purpose of Jyotiṣa. The purpose of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, which is also the purpose of other Purāṇas, is stated in SB 2.10.2.
Because their purposes are different, their descriptions are different and they are meant for a different audience.
At the beginning of each traditional book or śāstra, four things are directly or indirectly mentioned: sambandha, abhidheya, prayojanaand adhikāri. This has to be understood before one studies a book so that one is clear about the person for whom the book is written, the subject matter of the book and the purpose one will achieve by reading it. The purpose of the Bhāgavata is not to teach about the structure of the universe but about Kṛṣṇa-prema. So don’t waste time and energy trying to reconcile the Vedic cosmology with Jyotiṣa or modern cosmology.
Question: You´ve quoted some śāstra to show how with the progress of Kaliyuga, there will hardly be any devotees on earth. I´ve also heard otherwise from a senior Vaiṣṇava, saying that at the end of Kali, Gaura´s yuga-dharma will be spread and the world so much immersed in prema-saṅkīrtana, that Kalki avatāra will descend only to join such saṅkīrtana, since there will be no miscreants to chastise due to Mahāprabhu´s influence.
What´s your opinion on this (since it contradicts in some way or another, your quotations, as well as some Bhāgavata statements from 12th Canto)?
Answer: I have not heard or read anything like this but I may be wrong. What I have read in the Bhāgavataand other places is that the situation will become worse and worse and there will be hardly any devotees left at the end of Kaliyuga. Therefore, unless I see some śāstric pramāṇa for people being immersed in prema-saṅkīrtana at the end of Kaliyuga, I have difficulty to concur with this view. I am willing to accept this view if I am presented some pramāṇa in its support.
It is also my own observation that dharma in general, and vaiṣṇavadharma specifically is going downwards. I have seen this happening here in Vṛindāvan as well as outside. Therefore it is hard to accept that suddenly the world will be filled with prema-saṅkīrtana.
There are some leaders who claim that now for 10.000 years it is the Golden Age within Kaliyuga and after that, the dark age of Kali will continue. So if this is true, then it does against the previous claim.
We like to be naked because then we are free from the dress – the conditioning. That is why everyday we want to undress completely and experience dreamless sleep. Our clothes, our house, our possessions – these are all our dresses. Sometimes it is good to meditate on deep sleep. When we are in deep sleep, we are free from the dress. And when we wake up, we should deliberate that this is just my dress, so we don’t become too much attached to it. Deep sleep is an experience of our own inner self.
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