An Introduction to Vedic Cosmology
Unlike previous works on Vedic cosmology, which discuss the model of the universe without describing its connection to a theory of nature, this book discusses the theory before it describes the model.
A deep understanding of the theory is essential if the model has to be understood, because there are numerous differences between modern and Vedic cosmology, such as a geocentric vs. a heliocentric solar system, round vs. flat descriptions of the planets, higher and lower planetary systems in a hierarchical space, dynamic vs. stationary models of the Earth, and linear vs. cyclic descriptions of time.
Unless the differences in the theories of matter, space, time, light, force, and motion are understood, the differences in the cosmic models seem to entail that if the scientific model is true, then the Vedic model must be false. The fact is that there is tremendous agreement between modern and Vedic cosmology with regard to phenomena, and no agreement on the interpretations of the phenomena. The differences in the cosmic models arise because space and time in Vedic cosmology are hierarchical, closed, and cyclic, while they are flat, open, and linear in modern science.
The book discusses the reasons in science for adopting a different theory of space and time, and how the problems of meaning, mind, and consciousness entail a different view. That this view changes the structure of the cosmos means that the worlds with and without mind are radically different.
The following are chapter summaries:
Chapter 1: Studying Vedic Cosmology
The chapter discusses the difference between models and theories in relation to cosmology. It describes how models are created by interpreting phenomena through theories, and how the Vedic model differs from the scientific model, because the theory of nature differs. The Vedic theory is hierarchical space-time, which changes assumptions in Euclidean geometry, which changes the notion of “distance”. With this new notion of “distance” a completely new understanding of cosmology can be developed.
Chapter 2: An Introduction to Sāńkhya Philosophy
This chapter describes now the hierarchical space-time theory emerges from Sāńkhya philosophy. Sāńkhya means counting, and the chapter illustrates that to count things, we must first distinguish them, and distinguishing requires concepts. So, the concepts must exist prior to the object distinction. This fact is used in Sāńkhya to describe a theory of matter in which concepts precede objects, judgments precede concepts, intentions precede judgments, and morals precede intentions. This view of matter is hierarchical and the chapter illustrates the connection between this hierarchical theory of matter and the hierarchical view of space and time. This hierarchy is like a tree in which the leaves, branches, and trunks emerge from a root. The world gets diversified, but it has a singular origin. The hierarchical theory of space-time replaces the idea of Big Bang in modern cosmology. In other words, Big Bang is necessary in a flat space-time, but unnecessary in a hierarchical space-time.
Chapter 3: The Vedic View of Causality
Once the hierarchical view of space and time is understood, other differences between Vedic theory of matter and modern science become more amenable. Simple ideas such as “motion” and “force” commonly used in science are now described in a radically new way. One important novelty in this description is that the relation between cause and effect isn’t the only causal relation; there is also an additional relation between cause and consequence. While the former is based on the meanings in matter, the latter is based on the truth of those meanings. The resulting view produces a natural understanding of karma which is based on truth, rightness, and goodness of meanings.
Chapter 4: Problems in Modern Cosmology
It is not enough to speak about a different viewpoint about nature, but also describe why the current view is problematic. This chapter surveys key problems in modern cosmology with regard to distance measurement. Distances in modern cosmology are measured in three ways: (1) Parallax, (2) The Inverse Square Law of Luminosity, and (3) Doppler Shifts. The chapter discusses the problems in each of these methods, followed by issues such as the constant speed of light, CMB radiation on which the Big Bang model of the cosmos is based, and the significance of anomalies such as Dark Energy and Dark Matter. The chapter illustrates why our current model of the cosmos is based on flawed assumptions, and how the same observations can be interpreted in a different way to create a different model.
Chapter 5: Fundamental Principles of Vedic Cosmology
This chapter discusses two key issues, namely the question of multiple universes, and the division of these universes into galaxies. It describes how the idea of multiple universes emerges in Vedic cosmology, and why the notion of multiple galaxies is rejected. These galaxies are, in Vedic cosmology, misinterpretations of observations arising from the belief that a star sends light equally in all directions. If light does not go equally everywhere, then the luminosity of a star is not an indicator of its distance; it is rather an indicator of the extent of its interaction with us. The new notions of causality previously developed help us see that a dim star doesn’t indicate a far-off star. It indicates a star that is weakly interacting with us. Why some stars interact weakly or strongly is understood based on a different notion of causality, rather than the uniform spreading of light as in current cosmology.
Chapter 6: The Structure of the Universe
We now begin discussing the structure of a universe in general. The universes exist in three dimensional space, but the nature of these three dimensions is quite different in Vedic cosmology. The vertical dimension represents the hierarchy of conceptual types, while the horizontal two dimensions represent two properties of objects: what they are, and what they do. The chapter describes how this notion of space is described in analogy to a “lotus”, how it divides into regions, the boundaries between these regions, and how the macroscopic structure of the universe is the structure of space.
Chapter 7: The Present Universe
This chapter discusses the structure of the universe in which we presently live. The idea of hierarchical space is used to understand the notion of “higher” and “lower” planetary systems. The divisions of space at a given level of hierarchy help us understand the structure of each planetary system. The relation between Earth and the other planets, and why some parts of the universe are visible or invisible, are described based on theory that light does not spread uniformly in space. Common topics in Vedic cosmology such as the “coverings” of the universe, the axis of the universe called Sumeru, the locations of well-known luminaries and stars, the “ocean” that fills half the universe, the nature of “mountains” that divide the universe into parts, are discussed at length.
Chapter 8: The Motion of Luminaries
Vedic cosmology has a radically different description of what we ordinarily call the “solar system”. Important Vedic astronomical texts such as the Surya Siddhānta provide elaborate descriptions of the planetary motion, which are amazingly consistent with modern observations of planetary periods, and yet radically different in the distances of the orbits. This chapter discusses both the agreements and disagreements between modern and Vedic notions, and how they arise out of different theories of nature. One key facet of this description is how planetary motions “drag” other objects in space, which is an idea that partially resonates with Ptolemy’s use of epicycles. The chapter illustrates how two kinds of motions—clockwise and counterclockwise—are used to construct two kinds of time, one of which represents forward looking desires, and the other that denotes the backward facing destinies.
Chapter 9: The Theory of Language
One might wonder what a theory of language has to do with cosmology. But in Vedic cosmology, there is a deep connection between language, numbers, and the structure of the universe. A similar idea existed during Greek times, in what Pythagoras called the “Music of the Spheres”. In Vedic cosmology, the connections are even deeper, and extend into the question of what language is, how it is produced from consciousness, and how the structure of the universe emulates the structure of language. This understanding is the basis of understanding how the other universes are different from ours (because they follow a different language structure), how many such universes must exist apart from the present universe, and how the lifetime of a universe is related to the size of the smallest atom in the universe. These ideas provide the basis on which the universe can be described mathematically.
Chapter 10: The Vedic Theory of Time
Time is divided into three distinct notions called universal, local and personal. The universal time represents the events that occur in the universe. The local time represents the parts of those events in which an observer participates. The personal time denotes the part of that participation that he or she becomes aware of. These questions are important in the context of determining the lifetimes of living beings, and the chapter discusses the differences between clock times and conscious times, and why some living beings have long lives. This helps us develop a more nuanced view of time, that is empirical in the sense it that it determines the lifetimes, and yet is dependent on the conscious observers, rather than just material objects.
Chapter 11: Calculation of Universal Time
This chapter discusses the Vedic theory of atomic time, the different times measured by the motion of planets, and longer cyclic time periods called yuga, manavantara, and kalpa. The chapter describes the lifetime of the universe, which is about 311 trillion years, and approximately 10,000 times larger than the estimated lifetime of the universe in modern science (30 billion years).
Chapter 12: Principles of Vedic Astrology
Vedic astrology is based on a Vedic cosmology, although most modern practitioners of astrology aren’t aware of this fact. The planets don’t exert a gravitational force, but partake in conceptual interactions that influence different parts of our life. This chapter discusses the influences of different planets, and the relation to Sāńkhya. Common astrological concepts such as “houses”, “divisional charts”, and the daśā system are also developed based on Sāńkhya. The chapter describes how the different living experiences are not physical entities, but different perspectives on a cosmic situation.