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On Preaching to Scientists and Scholars

Thursday, 28 November 2019 / Published in Articles / 6,833 views

By Sadaputa dasa

This write-up is not intended as a criticism of the preaching efforts of any particular devotees. I am sure that all devotees involved in preaching to scientists and scholars are doing their best to promulgate the philosophy of Krsna Consciousness. However, there are certain general issues that are of great importance. Inevitably, the discussion of these general issues involves illustrations taken from the preaching work of particular individuals. I hope that these individuals will forgive me for any offenses that I may commit in an effort to clarify some important points regarding our preaching strategy.

I. Issues involving science.

When Galileo began his pioneering scientific work, did he set up an Institute with an advisory board of prestigious Aristotelian scholars, learned Jesuits, pompous prelates, and eminent Bishops and Cardinals? Well, no. He was connected with an society of like-minded researchers called the Academy of the Lynxes, and he received funding from the powerful Medici family. If he had burdened himself with a board of people who were hostile to his basic program of research, he never could have made any scientific progress. As we all know, his researches eventually got him in trouble with the accepted intellectual authorities of his day, and he was tried for heresy by the Church. Science came into sharp conflict with the prevailing world view of the Church, but by making a convincing case, science eventually triumphed.

Today, the Catholic Church has responded to this by creating a Pontifical Academy of Sciences staffed by a host of scientific luminaries, including several Nobel laureates. The Academy discusses current scientific issues from a mainstream scientific viewpoint, and it recently proclaimed that, “We are convinced that masses of evidence render the application of the concept of evolution to man and the other primates beyond serious dispute.” Meanwhile, Catholics continue to believe in such things as the miracles of Jesus Christ, which are part of a world view completely alien to the mechanistic, evolutionary world view of modern science.

For those who are ignorant of the issues, or who are able to enter into a dissociative state of double-think, this contradictory situation may be tolerable. But for thoughtful, well-educated people, it leads ultimately to one conclusion: science is right, religion is wrong, and there is no God in any traditional sense of that term. To see this, consider the following words of Ernan McMullin, a professor in the Dept. of Philosophy at Notre Dame University and a Catholic priest:

“If we set aside natural theology, if we are unable to identify a distinctively “psychic” agency operating through the evolutionary records of earth, we may in the end lack an argument for God’s existence that would convince a science-minded generation. The obverse of a [totally] transcendent God is a universe with no “gaps,” a universe where there are no barriers to complete scientific explanation… if Nature is complete in its own order, if there are no barriers to the reach of science, does not belief in a Creator drop away as superfluous?” (McMullin, 1987, p. 82)

I should stress that McMullin is not just talking academically about other people’s ideas. He is confronting a serious crisis in his own religious faith. In line with modern science, he -does- set aside natural theology (i.e. arguments against evolution and in favor of creation). He -is unable to identify any “psychic” agency in Nature, and he -does think that Nature is complete in its own order, i.e. it is not an integral part of a larger subtle and spiritual reality. So what can he conclude? Answer: There is no God.

The Catholic position is one of hopeless compromise leading inevitably to atheism. But what about ISKCON? Leaders of ISKCON will staunchly deny that ISKCON could ever fall into a similar position of compromise. But in spite of these denials, there is abundant evidence indicating that this is gradually happening. Perhaps it is even happening in ISKCON faster than it happened in the Catholic Church.

The quote from McMullin was taken from “Synthesis of Science and Religion, Critical Essays and Dialogues,” published by the Bhaktivedanta Institute. This book contains a foreword by the eminent Nobel laureate George Wald. Here are three statements that Wald made in that foreword: (1) “I feel myself to be deeply religious, for example; yet there is nothing “supernatural” in my scheme of things. For me to reach the supernatural, I should have to believe that we had exhausted nature, and we have not nor ever will.” (2) “Benedict Spinoza… ended by equating God with Nature, insisting, however, that we shall never go beyond a very limited conceptualization of either. I accept that position entirely, though I–as I believe was also true for Einstein–use the term God only as a metaphor.” (3) “The point of ritual is not to inform, but to assert a unity of those practicing the ritual, at times to create or produce the illusion of such a unity. ‘We are this and not that,’ the ritual insists; for it is important for it to declare its difference from others as its own unity. Unity for what? For action of one kind or another, if only the actions needed to maintain and perpetuate those practicing the ritual.” (Wald, 1987, p. xv)

To put it briefly: there is nothing supernatural, God is just a metaphor, and worship of God is nothing but rituals that create social cohesion in the worshiping group.

In order to acquire prestige through association with a famous Nobel laureate, the editors of this book found it necessary to place expressions of the Nobel laureate’s atheistic views in the very beginning of the book, thus setting the tone for the entire volume. This may seem harmless enough if it happens once, but why should it happen only once? It is an example of a general principle: If you want to gain prestige by associating yourself with an eminent scientist or scholar, you must pay the price of publicly promoting his views and agreeing not to publicly disagree with those views.

One might say: “All right. We will agree not to disagree with eminent scholars. After all, ‘cultivating academics is a delicate exercise in tolerance, maturity, and subtle steadfastness.’ But we certainly won’t wind up in the position of Father McMullin.”

Hopefully not. But consider the following statement from the paper “Quantum Epistemology–A View from Gaudiya Vaisnava Vedanta,” presented by Ravi Gomatam (Rasaraja dasa) at a convention of the American Philosophical Association: “…we hold that QM [quantum mechanics] provides a complete description of physical reality. The semantic content of the traffic signal (‘stop/go’) is beyond explication by physical laws, but the light itself works according to physical laws. The semantic content can be understood by studying the intent of the traffic department. Similarly, physical reality itself works according to causally complete physical laws.” (Gomatam, draft, p. 20)

I am sorry to take this statement from a draft of Gomatam’s paper, but I mention it because of its serious implications. He says that quantum mechanics provides a “complete” description of physical reality. This means that everything that happens in the world that we see, happens in accordance with the theoretical calculations of quantum mechanics. Anything that violates those calculations is ruled out: such things do not happen.

Many phenomena mentioned in the Vedic literatures fall in this category of things ruled out by the laws of physics. To pick one basic example, consider reincarnation. When a soul plus subtle body takes birth in a gross body, the karmic tendencies of that conditioned soul become manifest as gross, measurable activities (like Mozart’s music or Hitler’s politics, for example). These gross physical activities are “caused” by the soul, the subtle body, the karma carried by the subtle body, and the Supersoul. Quantum mechanics says nothing about this, and the calculations of quantum mechanics do not predict these gross physical effects. Putting it succinctly, if the laws of quantum mechanics are causally complete, then there is no transmigration of souls.

But Gomatam’s statement might be defended as follows: “Doesn’t he say that the meaning, the semantic content, of nature is provided by the higher consciousness of God? Isn’t it good that he is able to say this to scholars and scientists in a way that is acceptable to them?”

No. It is not good. He is not introducing a new idea. He is introducing the same old idea that Ernan McMullin was discussing, the idea that Nature is complete in its own order. As McMullin pointed out, this idea brings us to the point where belief in a Creator drops away as superfluous.

The idea that God gives meaning to things but does not contravene the “causally complete” laws of physics is a favorite among atheistic scientists. For example, Steven J. Gould harps on this point regularly in his essays and book reviews. In a book review in “Scientific American”, Gould recently said, “Science treats factual reality, while religion struggles with human morality.” He argues that God doesn’t “cause” things to happen in the factual world–this is done by the laws of physics and the evolutionary processes that take place according to those laws. What God does is give semantic content to life. God provides meaning and moral values.

This idea is used to argue that there is no conflict between science and religion. As Pope John Paul II said to the Pontifical Academy, “The collaboration between religion and modern science is to the advantage of both, without in any way violating their respective autonomy.”

The problem is that there is actually a big conflict between religion and science. Science strictly rules out the supernatural phenomena that play such an important role in religious scriptures. Science also requires an evolutionary–not supernatural–explanation of the origin of behavior relating to semantic content and moral values.

Any scientifically trained person who wants to take religion seriously must confront this conflict sooner or later. This includes all scientists and scholars that we may wish to cultivate and all students who might become devotees as a result of our preaching. What are these people going to think about the stark contradictions between the world views of science and religion? It boils down to the question: What is the truth?

Even if we don’t want to face this issue, each prospective college-educated devotee will have to face it. It will become very difficult for such neophyte devotees if they see that ISKCON has a policy (tacit or explicit) of agreeing not to publicly disagree with scientists and scholars.

Thus far, I have spoken in general about science and religion. However, all of the remarks that I have made apply to Vaisnavism and to the Vedic literature as a whole. There are obvious contradictions between the Vedic world view and the modern scientific world view. The question is: What is actually true and what is false?

Srila Prabhupada wanted us to challenge the scientists and scholars. He was quite uncompromising about this, as we can see from his conversation with the physicist Gregory Benford. However, it might be argued that we are not in a position to challenge the scientists. Their position is strongly supported by evidence and arguments, and we have practically nothing to offer in opposition to it. If we oppose the scientists simply on the basis of religious scriptures, then we will become known as foolish, ignorant creationists. Therefore, we should follow a policy of appeasing the scientists, recognizing our own helplessness, and simply depend on Krsna to change their hearts.

Actually, it is possible to challenge the scientists, as Srila Prabhupada wanted us to do. There exists a vast amount of evidence that supports the Vedic world view and contradicts the modern scientific world view. All we have to do is systematically gather this evidence and present it in a scholarly way.

For example, Drutakarma Prabhu and I have written a 900 page book giving extensive evidence showing that human beings have been present on the earth for millions of years, a conclusion that agrees with the Vedas and disagrees with modern science. Before we did this work, we had no idea that this evidence existed. But it was there, waiting to be used to support the Vedic world view.

We have also done extensive research into psychical phenomena and related fields of study. There is a vast amount of evidence there that strongly supports the Vedic world view and is contrary to modern science.

Someone might object: This evidence is disreputable and we will be disreputable if we mention it. The answer is: Of course, it’s disreputable. It’s disreputable because it disagrees with established science. Anything which goes against established scholarly authority will be branded as disreputable, but this does not mean that it isn’t true. Keep in mind that Galileo was certainly considered disreputable by the church authorities.

There are many fields of study in which extensive evidence supporting the Vedic world view can be gathered. These include archeology, anthropology, history, astronomy, cosmology, molecular biology, evolutionary studies, physics, psychology, neurophysiology, parapsychology, and ufology (which, contrary to common prejudice, is not a kooky subject).

To make our case in these fields a great deal of work is necessary. This work cannot be done by one or two people working independently with uncertain funding. A well-funded, secure research institute is needed that can support a large number of devotee scholars. This institute must be dedicated to the task of putting together the case for the reality of the Vedic world view. It cannot be hobbled by the presence of a board of scientific advisors who are fundamentally opposed to its goals. Nor can it flourish if its own leaders are opposed to the goal of openly facing the conflict between science and the Vedic world view and carrying out vigorous research to resolve this conflict in favor of the Vedic picture.

One might say that what we need is a Vedic university. This is a laudable goal, but before we can really present things properly in a Vedic university, we must do the research needed to solidly establish the truth of the Vedic world view. If we don’t do this, then our university courses will fall into the pitfalls of compromise or dogmatism. At the very least, a strong research institute must be an integral part of a Vedic university project.

It might be objected that at the present time, very little of the research that I am proposing has actually been carried out. Therefore we cannot realistically make plans depending on such research. The answer is that to correct this deficiency, we need a strong research institute now. If we don’t establish such an institute soon, then the needed research will not be done–at least not in our lifetimes.

The following argument might be made: Today the world view of science is solidly established and highly respected. Therefore, what we should do is show that in ancient India, people knew many important things that have recently been discovered by science. That is, we should show that the ancient Indians were really very scientific in the modern sense.

We can point to some things along these lines. For example, in the Mahabharata it is recognized that the moon causes tides. However, in the vast body of Vedic literature there are relatively few items of this kind. Basically, the world view of the Vedic literature is very different from that of modern science.

The modern scientific view is based on the idea that nature works mechanically. Nature is made up of little mechanical parts, and all phenomena occur through the interaction of these parts. In the early days of science, these parts were the “billiard ball atoms.” Today they are quantum waves, but the basic idea is the same.

The Vedic world view is based on the idea that life is the fundamental basis of all reality, and the original life is Krsna. This is the fundamental point that Srila Prabhupada emphasized. In more detail, the Vedic view is that living form starts on the spiritual level. From spiritual living form, subtle living form is produced, and from this, gross living form is produced.

This basic Vedic picture is supported by a vast body of evidence from psychical research, ufology, anthropology, subtle energy medicine, and so on. Many books have been written about all this material, and one might ask: What will we contribute by talking about it? The answer is that the Vedic literatures provide a systematic philosophical framework that enables us to understand all this evidence. This is a key contribution that the Vedic literature has to offer. Thus far, people dealing with these subjects have largely been groping in the dark, and they have not been able to put together a satisfying theoretical explanation of the phenomena they are studying. Nor have they been able to relate these phenomena to fundamental spiritual issues. However, the Vedic literature can remedy this deficiency.

The Vedic literature can help us understand the laws governing subtle and spiritual forms of energy. The scientific idea that natural phenomena obey laws is not wrong. However, the laws of physics as they are known today represent only a very incomplete understanding of the actual laws of nature.

II. Issues involving Indology. Indology is a field of academic research that is related to history, the study of religion, and the scientific fields of archeology and linguistics. Indology deals directly with the Vedic literatures, and it attempts to explain their historical development. It is based on the scientific presuppositions that (1) everything happens according to the accepted laws of physics and (2) everything has come about by historical, evolutionary processes obeying these laws. There are very strong contradictions between the Vaisnava understanding of the Vedic literatures and the understanding developed by the Indologists.

Recently, Steven Rosen (Satyaraja dasa) has published an important book containing interviews with prominent Indologists and students of Vaisnavism. This is entitled “Vaisnavism: Contemporary Scholars Discuss the Gaudiya Tradition.” Some of the same issues that I discussed above also arise in connection with this book. Since these are important issues that will come up repeatedly in the future, I will make some comments about them here. The aim is to address the general issues, not to criticize Satyaraja’s work. I will proceed by quoting some extracts from the book and then making some comments about them.

Michael Witzel is chairman of the Department of Sanskrit and Indian studies at Harvard University. Here he comments on the historical development of the concept of Visnu:

“Visnu, you know, is even mentioned in the Rg Veda. So it goes back to the earliest texts. Now, the problem is this: in those texts he is considered a minor Vedic god whose basic feat is that he took three steps….

“To simplify this very complex issue, let us just say that Visnu undergoes a long development or unfolding, if you will, and by the time you get to latter-day Vaisnavism, of course, he is identified with the supreme god. Now a practitioner might say that this truth was there all along, but you cannot really get that from the Vedic texts proper. You would need a “guru” who reads the tradition in a particular way, perhaps.

“From a strictly scholarly point of view, however, Visnu goes through a transformation, from what is perceived as a minor god to the all-important divinity one sees today in the practice of Vaisnavism. One can debate this subject from various angles of vision. But if you are going by modern scholarship, particularly in terms of inner textual and philological evidence, you would have to concede this point. In any case, Visnu is there in the earliest part of the Veda, and that cannot be ignored.” (Rosen, 1992, pp. 23-24)

Comment: If we do concede Witzel’s point, then we abandon the authority of the Vedic sastras, accepting them as a product of historical processes of evolution. If we really do accept this, then we must conclude that Visnu is really fictitious. How then can we be devotees of Visnu? It is not possible.

In the book “Vaisnavism”, Witzel’s position is neither refuted nor seriously challenged. Witzel himself comes close to challenging it by pointing out the existence of a Vaisnava sect, the Vaikhanasa, that make use of texts related to the Yajur Veda. This is an interesting lead, but it means little by itself, and it needs to be followed up by further research.

My point is this: If we are going to publish and give prominence to the views of scholars such as Witzel, we must also be prepared to do the extensive research work needed to effectively refute their views. This requires a research institute of the kind that I outlined above. Witzel’s views represent the standard, mainstream position for Indologists. Since they are quite incompatible with Krsna consciousness, if we promulgate them and do not oppose them effectively, then we will ultimately have to give up Krsna consciousness. Of course, this has happened to a number of devotees in the past.

Dr. H. Daniel Smith is a professor of religion at Syracuse University. Here he comments on the Ramayana:

Dr. Smith: Aranya-kanda. That’s when you enter into what I call a kind of Walt Disney world–truly another world altogether… Steven Rosen: [laughter] I see. Dr. Smith: What I mean is that in it there are talking birds, and talking animals, and demons, and witches, and all sorts of wondrous, wonderful things. Steven Rosen: Seems like Walt Disney would be envious of some of these things. Dr. Smith: Well, I think he certainly missed the boat by not making it into an animated spectacle… (Rosen, 1992, p. 34)

Comment: A devotee might regard Smith’s statements as being somewhat offensive. But what can we say in response to them? One response is to simply laugh, say, “I see,” and roll with the punches. After all, do we ourselves really believe in a world full of talking birds, talking animals, demons, and witches? If we do, how could we rationally defend such a belief in a conversation with intelligent people?

Answer: It is necessary to really make to case for Srila Prabhupada’s position on the nature of life. Grossly embodied life comes from subtly embodied life, which in turn comes from spiritual life. The big picture regarding life is very remarkable indeed, but it can be backed up by vast amounts of evidence. We can gather together this evidence and make a case for the reality of the Vedic world. We can argue reasonably that the Vedic world is the real world. But to do this, we must have a well-funded research team dedicated to carrying out this task.

Note, by the way, that S.P. Hinduja liked the movie “Ghost”. This movie presented a world that included ghosts, psychic powers, Yamaduta-like evil spirits, and an effulgent heavenly realm. This is somewhat like the Vedic world, and I presume that this is why Hinduja liked the movie. To show the scientific validity of the Vedic world view, we have to make a solid, empirical case for the “wondrous, wonderful things” contained in that world view. We can then show how the Vedic philosophy gives a coherent, rational explanation of these wondrous things, even though official science is completely in the dark about them. This can be systematically done, and Hinduja is in a position to fund this effort.

Now Dr. Smith lays it on the line: Dr. Smith: Well, to get right down to basics, it has to do with how one understands the word “avatara”, more specifically, in what sense, if any, the “avatara” of Rama was historical. If so, when? If so, where?

Steven Rosen: They say Treta yuga.

Dr. Smith: That’s the answer given. And the literalists can even give a date, in July or something of such-and-such a year. And that’s fine for the believer–but it’s only one of several possible perspectives. You see, it’s that literalist commitment to the historicity of it, just like Christians are absolutely committed to the historicity of Jesus, that is at the crux of the matter.

Steven Rosen: Right.

Dr. Smith: Just as many Christians affirm that Jesus really did exist in Jerusalem in the year One, also many Hindus say with the Ramayana: Rama really did exist and he lived in Ayodhya, and when he went, he went out to Lanka, and there he fought and defeated Ravana and laid low all the Raksasa hosts. Now that’s a real tight bind that people put themselves in. Whereas on the other hand, another way of dealing with it, is to say that it is all a myth. Now please don’t misunderstand me: this view doesn’t necessarily hold that the story is fictional; what it says is that the Ramayana is telling a story that doesn’t have to be taken literally on all counts, and that it is basically a story, if nothing else, that tells us quite a bit about human nature.

Steven Rosen: And some believers take it like that?

Dr. Smith: Oh, indeed. Quite a few Hindus share that perspective–not many but there are definitely those who do. For example, how do college educated Hindus deal with it? Well some, to be sure, just go back to their childhoods, saying, “Oh Rama. Bless Rama.” Others, however, “do” try to think in terms of mythic meaning, and try to probe for deep, psychological references in their own experiences.” (Rosen, 1992, p. 42.)

Comment: Note the attempt to soften the blow: A myth is not necessarily fictional, it’s just a story that doesn’t have to be taken literally and that tells us something about human nature.

A fundamental point is that you cannot be a devotee of Rama if you think that He is not a real historical figure. But this does raise the issues of when and where. We have to face these issues, especially if we are going to publish books and journals in which Smith’s views are respectfully presented as scholarly and prestigious.

Here is Steven Rosen’s response to Dr. Smith’s remarks:

Steven Rosen: So you’re not questioning the story’s veracity–on some level you see it as true. But you would say that we should look more deeply at its implications. The how, where, and when are secondary considerations. But it’s the deeper aspect that is to be considered important. Well, there’s certainly truth to that. But I wonder how much of it is just resignation: “We can’t possibly, at this time, find the answers to the how, where and when questions. So we’re going to say the story can’t be understood in that context. Rather, it is to be understood in terms of its deeper implications. So it is not a subject for historians.”

Comment: Steven Rosen does not say, much less convincingly argue, that Lord Ramacandra really did exist historically. He accepts that the “how, where, and when are secondary considerations.” Of course, Smith is saying that we definitely should not regard Rama as a real historical figure. That would put us in a real tight bind, indeed.

Now we turn to the Bhagavata-purana. Clifford Hospital teaches at Queen’s University at Kingston in Canada, and he has been Principal of the Theological College since 1983. Here he discusses the date of the Bhagavatam:

Steven Rosen: And it [the Bhagavatam] predates Vopadeva?

Dr. Hospital: Oh yes. Absolutely. On a separate note, though, what’s interesting about their [J.A.B. van Buitenen’s and Friedholm Hardy’s] work is that they do a detailed analysis about the relation between certain parts of the Bhagavata and the South Indian Alvar tradition. I think they make a very good case for what people have long suspected: that many of the ideas of the Bhagavata are coming out of the South Indian tradition.

And I suppose the way the theory goes, then, is that the full blossoming of the Gaudiya tradition really comes through the contact that Caitanya had had in the South when he had gone there and brought back a version of the Krsna-karnamrta, which, as you know, is a South Indian text.

Steven Rosen: And Brahma Samhita.

Dr. Hospital: Right. And there are a few verses in the Bhagavatam (11.5.38-40), which van Buitenen describes as “a post factum prophecy,” and in which there is reference to “devotees of Narayana in great numbers everywhere in Tamil country…” (Rosen, 1992, p. 71.)

Comment: Dr. Hospital is “very favorable” towards Krsna Consciousness. Yet he accepts that the Bhagavatam was written recently, perhaps under the influence of the medieval Alvar tradition. Let’s face it: this means that the Bhagavatam is not what it purports to be, namely a 5,000-year-old sastra compiled by Srila Vyasadeva. In other words the Bhagavatam is a pious fraud. What implications does this conclusion have for a devotee’s spiritual life?

Note that “post factum prophecy” means a prophecy made after the events occurred, i.e. a phony prophecy.

What should we do about this? Should we all pretend that there is no problem, and agree tacitly to ignore the issue? Clearly, the trend in ISKCON is to publish statements by scholars like Hospital in order to enhance ISKCON’s prestige. This means that such statements will presented to devotees as respectable and prestigious. As time goes on, we can expect to see more and more of this. If we say nothing to counter these prestigious statements, and simply act so as to enhance their respectability within ISKCON, then they are bound to have a subversive effect on the faith of devotees. The only way devotees will be able to retain a semblance of Krsna Consciousness is by splitting their minds into two mutually exclusive halves–one for respectable, scholarly, intellectual thinking, and the other for narrow-minded, glassy-eyed, dogmatic fundamentalism.

But what choice do we have? Isn’t it true that we don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to contending with scholars and scientists? Isn’t it true that they have logic, reason, and evidence entirely on their side? Isn’t our choice limited to (1) agreeing not to openly disagree while cultivating the scholars and thereby gaining a respectable status as enlightened religious thinkers, and (2) being justly scorned and rejected as ignorant fundamentalist Yahoos lying somewhere between the Creationists and the Flat Earth Society?

No.

If Krsna Consciousness is right and the mundane scholars are wrong, then this can be demonstrated rationally, so that an intelligent, unbiased person can accept it. However, to do this, it is necessary to do a lot of careful scholarly work. This means that we need an institution in which this work can be carried out. This institution requires funding to provide for the needs of many full-time scholars. And these scholars must be free to pursue Krsna Conscious objectives. They cannot make progress under the yoke of a board of advisors made up of prestigious mundane scholars that fundamentally oppose their goals. Nor can they make progress under the direction of a devotee management dedicated to “agreeing not to disagree” with the scholars.

4 Ways to Stay
God and Science: Christian and Vaisnava Perspectives

15 Responses to “On Preaching to Scientists and Scholars”

  1. Gauragopala dasa says :

    Very nice mature article, Sadaputa prabhu also wrote we should not be so naive to believe this Earth planet is flat, yes devotees need mature direction and not fundamentalist fanaticism that reject everything the material scientists have achieved saying if its not in sastra then it is not true.

    Well, we accept Moscow exists based on the evidence and those who has been there and not sastra because it is not mentioned in sastra. The same goes for the 15,000 or so photos taken by Astronauts on the International Space Station of Earth as a globe, many devotees are quick to say they are fake or cgi but not the thousands of photos taken by Astronauts on their personal cameras, they are not fake or cgi they are real.

    Also if our Earth planet was really flat don’t you think these Astronautas would of told us by now?

    Why would they keep that as a secret?

    Seriously its now time devotees mature and stop denying the facts

    At least Danavir Maharaj and the late Sadaputa dasa explain our Earth planet is a global sphere and so does Srila Prabhupada in Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 4 Chapter 21 Text 12

    Srila Prabhupada – ”Mahārāja Pṛthu was an unrivaled king and possessed the scepter for ruling all the seven islands on the surface of the globe”.

    One thing is certain, there is far more going on in just this material universe than what the mundane limited material senses can perceive what to speak of Vaikuntha beyond this material universe with its gross and subtle bodily vessels we are trapped in.

    However, we must understand what is going on in this material world also in a mature way and present all our points scientifically about the Bhu-mandala Universe we are in instead of foolishly writing everything off the material scientists achieve as hoaxes based on silly Youtube conspiracy sites when we know they are not because every day we experience most their scientific achievements as real.

    Hare Krishna

    Gauragopala dasa ACBSP

  2. Tim says :

    In relation to the point of the Earth being a spinning sphere mentioned in the comment of Gauragopala Prabhu above, I could make some points.

    (1) We know the Lord is trying to help conditioned souls get out of illusion, and He manages this. For example, Buddha, Shankara and others gave information with a view to gradually revealing the truth.

    (2) Therefore although the Bhagavatam gives us information that the Earth is Bhumandala, the Lord has to gradually re-introduce this aspect of knowledge as for many centuries human society was thinking about a spinning sphere.

    So the very recent (like from 2015) so-called “flat earth” videos on Youtube giving senses-based evidence that we are not in fact standing on a sphere spinning at 1000mph, could be seen as assistance from the Supreme Lord. I could mention that:

    (a) if we were on a sphere spinning at 1000mph then a helicopter hovering in the air for one hour can expect to come down on the earth 1000 miles away when its hour is over, as has not the earth moved beneath it? …or (b) there are multiple examples of people looking at objects of a certain height which are 50 or 80 miles away which in the Earth-as-a-sphere idea should be out of sight below the curve, and yet these objects are visible … or (c) an airplane travelling around a sphere of diameter 7900 miles must constantly, or at least occasionally, dip its nose downward in order to adjust for the curve – but all airplanes don’t do this. They fly “straight across”. etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc

    BUT the main point really is that the Bhagavatam tells us about Bhumandala, and Srila Prabhupada instructed us to find out what is happening from the Bhagavatam. More info: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=22790

    I agree with Sunanda Prabhu that had the great Sadaputa Prabhu been alive today he would have adjusted his conception of the Earth in the light of new evidence. Modern science is all about adjusting to new evidence. Hare Krishna.

  3. vishnudas says :

    Sriman Sadaputa prabhu was dealing with and confronting modern scientists and historians and so you can sense his frustration with having to defend at every instance the sacred texts and philosophy of Sanatan Dharma and Vaishnavism. There’s that ol’ saying “East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet.”
    Unfortunately in Kali yuga Western influence has been getting it’s tamo-guna grip on cultures and educational systems of Eastern countries more and more intensely than appreciated by the traditional pandits and Vaishnavas of India.
    If we study Srila Prabhupada’s overall mood about these historians, scientists, astro-physicists, astronomers, astronauts etc. we find thousands of quotes of sharp criticism and unflinching unacceptance of their positions, on mostly everything they present.
    The BBT archives reveal that Prabhupada used the word “rascal” more than 4,000 times. We know who he is referring to.
    na mam duskrtino mudhah
    prapadyante naradhamah
    mayayapahrta-jnana
    asuram bhavam asritah
    “Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons, do not surrender unto Me.”
    Prabhupada says in his purport:
    [Those who are not actually philosophers, scientists, educators, administrators, etc., but who pose themselves as such for material gain, do not accept the plan or path of the Supreme Lord. They have no idea of God; they simply manufacture their own worldly plans and consequently complicate the problems of material existence in their vain attempts to solve them. Because material energy (nature) is so powerful, it can resist the unauthorized plans of the atheists and baffle the knowledge of “planning commissions.”
    Under illusion and the modes of passion and ignorance, all his plans are baffled, as in the case of Hiraṇyakaśipu and Rāvaṇa, whose plans were smashed to dust although they were both materially learned as scientists, philosophers, administrators and educators.

  4. vishnudas says :

    The next class of duṣkṛtina is called māyayāpahṛta-jñāna, or those persons whose erudite knowledge has been nullified by the influence of illusory material energy. They are mostly very learned fellows-great philosophers, poets, literati, scientists, etc.-but the illusory energy misguides them, and therefore they disobey the Supreme Lord.
    Therefore, (1) grossly foolish persons, (2) the lowest of mankind, (3) the deluded speculators, and (4) the professed atheists, as above mentioned, never surrender unto the lotus feet of the Personality of Godhead in spite of all scriptural and authoritative advice.]
    Scientists and astronomers, astro-physicists and historians who distort the truth are simply descendants of Maya Danava, the Danavas and Daityas who are the asuric influence today on those in power who wish to create a godless civilization where they can be gods to rule the world, and Science is the religion they proselytize. They are attractive and appealing to those of similar mentality.
    Prabhupada’s attitude was that material scientists are all Dr. Frogs and their dumbed down followers are the naradhamas.
    SB 7.7.19-20, Bombay, March 18, 1971 – “The material scientists, they have no information of atma. Therefore they think that in the Moon planet there is no life, in the sun planet there is no life. Simply… This is kupa-manduka-nyaya. Dr. Frog PhD., he’s thinking in his own way. Dr. Frog thinks that this three feet dimension of the well is all in all, there cannot be anything. These rascal philosopher and rascal scientist, they think in that way, Dr. Frog. There cannot be Atlantic Ocean. That three feet dimension, well water is sufficient. Therefore we have to receive knowledge from authorities. We cannot speculate. Speculation will not help us in approaching the real destination.”

  5. vishnudas says :

    Pandal Lecture at Cross Maidan, Bombay, March 26, 1971 – “Just like in the material science they are trying to go to the Moon planet or other planets also by certain standard of speed in the sputnik. They are finding it difficult even to go to the Moon planet, which is the nearest planet to the earth. And there are innumerable other planets. And the modern scientists calculate that the highest planet, if we want to go there, it will take the sputnik speed, which is running eighteen thousand miles per hour, in that speed if we go forty thousands of years, we can reach the highest planetary system within this material world.”
    Notice he says Moon is the “nearest planet to the Earth”.
    Of course he knew and spoke many times of the Sun being closer to Earth than the Moon. So in character with his preaching methodology for the benefit of those still in ignorance, he would sometimes describe Earth as globe to make other points, when in fact he knew the truth of the horizontal plane of Bhumandala (Earth) described in Srimad Bhagavatam. Srila Prabhupada would give a child a cookie, knowing that’s what the young bhakta wanted, but the underlying and ultimate goal was the gift of His Divine Grace’s blessings on that child. The cookie prasad is simply one of many magnets to bring the soul closer Krishna.

    All the quotes of Srila Prabhupada referring to Earth as a sphere or globe were obviously a part of his technique of using rhetorical strategy – appeal to the opposition (the scientists and astro-physicists) using their terminology, as a foot in the door, in order to enlighten them further on truths that would otherwise be extremely hard for them (and us) to comprehend. In like a needle, out like a plow, as the saying goes. Srila Prabhupada was expert at this, as well as being expert at training his disciples to not follow blindly but to study the Srimad Bhagavatam and his other books with a clear heart and open mind.

    Prabhupada talking about scientists: Let them talk all nonsense. We say in Bengali, pagale ki na bole, chagale ki na khaya. The goat can eat everything, and a madman can speak anything. (laughter) Pagale ki na khaya…, pagale ki na bole, chagale ki na khaya.

  6. sdmuni108 says :

    Dear Prabhus,

    Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

    Speaking on behalf of the devotees working to preserve Sadaputa’s research papers, I can honestly say we do not have a record of this essay in his archives. No doubt, if authentic, it would have had to have been written after Satyraja Prabhu published his book in 1994, as mentioned in this essay. If anyone has any information as to what was the source of this paper – where it came from, who posted it – that would be most helpful.

    Without that information, the Richard L. Thompson Archives can not vouch for its authenticity.

    Thank you.

    Your servant,

    Sthita-dhi-muni dasa

    • Dear Sthita-dhi-muni Prabhu,

      Hare Krsna.

      There is no doubt that it is authentic because I read a draft version of it before Sadaputa Prabhu sent it off. But I had forgotten about after 22 years.

      Also I think Satyaraja’s book must have been published before 1994 because I recall it being for sale in various ISKCON temple books stores in 1993 and perhaps even late 1992.

      The point of the letter was to get funding for an independent research institute to take the place of the Bhaktivedanta Institute. That unfortunately never happened hence Pusta Krsna Prabhu’s experience.

      dasa dasa anu dasa
      Shyamasundara Dasa
      krsne matirastu

  7. Hare Krsna.

    A few points:

    I am wondering how this letter has come to public attention as it was originally written to the GBC back in late 1993 early 1994 when I was with Sadaputa in San Diego?

    In my article about Sadaputa http://www.dandavats.com/?p=6484 I mention the part about his displeasure with Satyaraja’s book without naming Satyaraja.

    The following article indicate experiences that defy the mechanistic world view http://shyamasundaradasa.com/jyotish/resources/articles/adp/ashtamangala_deva_prasna_1.html

    dasa dasa anu dasa
    Shyamasundara Dasa
    krsne matirastu

  8. Pusta Krishna das says :

    In order to try to clearly state what I will about the dilemma put forward by Sadaputa das (bless his soul) that it is practically futile to take the material scientists’ point of view in order to prove the existence of God, or the actual nature of the material energy with regard to its unfolding. Having studied science first as a major in Chemistry, then as a Medical Doctor, and also having studied both as a practicing vaishnava and as a graduate student in South Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, (Sanskrit, Hindi modern and medieval and Ancient Indian History). I have had exposure to many features of the arguments that Sadaputa mentions. In two letters that Srila Prabhupada sent to me in 1977, while I was a graduate student, he requested that I work with Swarup Damodar and the Bhaktivedanta Institute. I approached him a number of times with this information, as I also approached Rasaraj…with no response. The only offer of service I was given was to speak in Calcutta at the Science Conference promoted by the BI to celebrate Srila Prabhupada’s Centennial in 1996. There he also tried to abbreviate my presentation severely. It was, as I recall, the only presentation that brought out great applause…because it glorified Srila Prabhupada and Krishna.

    Now, here is the issue. Please do not find fault in this, as this is Krishna’s doing completely. When I took to Krishna consciousness, with the details of that history written in my book God is Not Dead, The Testimony of a Fortunate Seeker, by Paul H. Dossick, MD, I was prepared to leave the Gainesville Krishna House in early January 1971. Without going into details here, Lord Vishnu, countless jiva souls with four arms, and then Lord Krishna in all His beauty and splendour, revealed Himself to me, came to see me, and with all my heart and soul I embraced Him full of love…touched by God literally. I dropped out of college, did not go to medical school to which I was already accepted, and went off to East Pakistan with Gargamuni Swami. When I met Srila Prabhupada physically in Bombay in March 1971, I related this event to Him privately and he said, “So not you must tell them that God is not dead!” My book was late in fulfilling his order and it was published in 2013. My intent was not only to relate this wonderful spiritual experience, the first time ever related by a westerner, especially a westerner who was also scientifically trained and practiced, but also to help provide the ultimate evidence of the existence of Krishna as the ultimate Truth for the skeptics, the scientists, and even the atheists. Pusta Krishna das

  9. Pusta Krishna das says :

    Continuing on from the above…Perhaps I am taking this wrong, but I hope that every scientists could read the Bhagavad Gita As It Is, and also my book to understand that God did not simply create the world, setting it in spin, and then neglected it to roll along under the laws of nature without His intimate supervision.
    Krishna is not merely the greatest personality, He is the Supreme Creator, and He is capable of expanding Himself as plenary portions (Vishna Tattva) and jiva tattva. His aparaprakriti or inferior energy, the material world, is also one of His energies. He remains the ultimate Controller of everything. And, He is all-knowing. This is vitally important. We have, many of us, come to think that we are ‘drivers’ of the car of the material body. We are not. Krishna clearly describes that the jiva soul is ‘doing nothing’. The jiva soul is a mere passenger in this material temporary form. We like to think that there is some type of DNA in the subtle body that takes us to a new material body in the next round of transmigration. Rather, it is the all-knowing Supersoul Who is orchestrating this. According to the modes of nature that the jiva soul becomes attracted by, Krishna has the ultimate control and arranges the environment for that soul. It is not done mechanically. Although the material world is going on like a yantra or machine by Krishna’s arrangement, the placement of the soul in various enviroments or coverings is arranged by Krishna. Eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman. Krishna teaches Arjuna the fine science of interaction between the conscious soul and matter in the 13th and 14th chapters of the Bhagavad Gita. He explains the nature of the field (ksetra) and the knowers of the field (ksetrajna, namely the jiva atma and the Paramatma). He is explaining this to Arjuna after he is already free from illusion. He is instructing Arjuna what is actually taking place. There is interaction between the conscious soul and the field of the body/senses, but the jiva soul is not doing anything, neither is the jiva soul driver of the material body. The material world is fully under the control of Krishna directly and indirectly. When the jiva soul is not longer enamored by the three modes of nature, the jiva soul can come to the brahma-bhuta stage of liberation. Krishna is inviting us, truly. Pusta Krishna das (continued)

  10. Pusta Krishna das says :

    page 3 of my comments:
    Without appreciating consciousness as an energy completely different from matter, ie the paraprakriti is part of the higher spiritual reality, the material scientists are doomed to beat a dead horse. Krishna has defined them as “naradhama”, lowest of mankind. One who is a genuine seeker will not fail to discover Krishna, as the seeker is very dear to Him and Krishna is dear to the seeker.
    So, what of all this. I wrote a 211 page thesis at Berkeley entitled “A Logical Approach to the Study of Ancient Indian History”. Indeed, as Sadaputa suggests, one who embarks upon the study of India as conceived of by modern scholars, both eastern and western, could very well come out of all this as an unbelieving person. My good fortune is the revelation which Krishna gave me, even more than the amazing literature we have in the form of the Srimad Bhagavatam and the Chaitanya Charitamrita, etc. Srila Prabhupada gave us nourishment, ongoing, to purify and inspire devotional service to the Lord. But, one will not find the definitive evidence of the existence of Krishna in the original 4 Vedas. Even Vyasadeva was despondent and given the solution by Narada Muni. You must write about the glorious pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His devotees.
    So, the platform for argument versus the scientists is the question of consciousness, the persistence of individual consciousness despite the changes constantly taking place in the physical world, including the body and mind, and ultimately, the hope of getting genuine experience (vijnana) of spiritual reality through spiritual inquiry and endeavor (chant the Holy Names professor, and see for your self). Pusta Krishna das

  11. Pusta Krishna das says :

    correction in the first of three of my offerings, the correct is: “so now you must tell them that God is not dead!” PK das

  12. sdmuni108 says :

    >>I am wondering how this letter has come to public attention as it was originally written to the GBC back in late 1993 early 1994 when I was with Sadaputa in San Diego?<<

    In light of Syamasundara Prabhu's comment inserted above, I wish to remind everyone that we just don't have a record of this document in any of Sadaputa's voluminous files, and he kept meticulous records. While we do have a report c1993 addressed to the GBC that covers some similar concerns, the document posted on Dandavats and identified with Sadaputa Prabhu, is not that document.

    Just saying. Interesting document, but the source appears to be an upload to a site titled "Iskconmedia.com" There is an upload date associated with the document suggests it was someone other than Sadaputa Prabhu.

    From an archival standpoint, we are sincerely interested to find out details involving the upload, and if it can be directly sourced to records associated with Sadaputa Prabhu. Correspondence can be forwarded to: rlthompsonarchives@gmail.com

    Thank you in advance.

    Your servant,

    Sthita-dhi-muni dasa
    Richard L. Thompson Archives.

    Note: The book I mentioned in my previous comment was rather initially published in 1992. I mentioned an incorrect date in that previous comment.

    • Dear Sthita-dhi-muni,

      Hare Krsna.

      It must have just slipped between the cracks. It could have been misplaced when we moved everything from San Diego to Alachua in 1994. I have no doubt in my mind that it is authentic. I don’t recall if that is just a draft version or the final that was sent to the GBC. Anyway I am glad that it has resurfaced after so many years.

      dasa dasa anu dasa
      Shyamasundara Dasa
      krsne matirastu

  13. sdmuni108 says :

    Dear Syamasundar Prabhu,

    Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

    Thank you once again, this time for your last comment written many years ago when this essay initially posted on Dandavats.

    While I share your confidence about your general recollections from what is now many decades ago, without an accessible original copy of this essay in Sadaputa's archival papers, we can not say with certainty if this essay has been edited by third parties since. In other words, if this essay, in its present form, authentically represents Sadaputa in the original.

    Secondly, as noted, if Sadaputa did not hold onto a copy along with his numerous other papers, that would suggest he didn't feel the draft copy, or any copy, was of central concern. Meanwhile, he has written many similar things in numerous other authentic works we can access from his personal papers, or that he otherwise published works he directly oversaw. My recommendation would be, best to focus on them.

    Again, we have no version of this particular essay on file – whether as a polished final copy, or draft working copy. Meanwhile, amongst his voluminous other papers, we frequently find numerous versions of essays, book projects, research, that he did find important. He was fastidious about keeping copies of his files, both hard copy and electronic.

    Thank you for your understanding, if at least as a disciplined concern related to preserving scholarly authenticity.

    Your humble servant,
    Sthita-dhi-muni dasa

    Please note: For direct access to the Richard L. Thompson Archives website, please consider sharing the link — www.sadaputa.com

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