Date: March 14, 2008
Verse: Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.13.26
Speaker: HH Danavir Goswami
By Deenanath das
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utksipta-valah kha-carah kathorah
sata vidhunvan khara-romasa-tvak
khurahatabhrah sita-damstra iksa-
jyotir babhase bhagavan mahidhrah
TRANSLATION: Before entering the water to rescue the earth, Lord Boar flew in the sky, slashing His tail, His hard hairs quivering. His very glance was luminous, and He scattered the clouds in the sky with His hooves and His glittering white tusks.
PURPORT: When the Lord is offered prayers by His devotees, His transcendental activities are described. Here are some of the transcendental features of Lord Boar. As the residents of the upper three planetary systems offered their prayers to the Lord, it is understood that His body expanded throughout the sky, beginning from the topmost planet, Brahmaloka, or Satyaloka. It is stated in the Brahma-samhita that His eyes are the sun and the moon; therefore His very glance over the sky was as illuminating as the sun or the moon. The Lord is described herein as mahidhrah, which means either a “big mountain” or the “sustainer of the earth.” In other words, the Lord’s body was as big and hard as the Himalayan Mountains; otherwise how was it possible that He kept the entire earth on the support of His white tusks? The poet Jayadeva, a great devotee of the Lord, has sung of the incident in his prayers for the incarnations:
vasati dasana-sikhare dharani tava lagna
sasini kalanka-kaleva nimagna
kesava dhrta-sukara-rupa jaya jagadisa hare
“All glories to Lord Kesava [Krsna], who appeared as the boar. The earth was held between His tusks, which appeared like the scars on the moon.”
Danavir Goswami: In the pages of Srimad-Bhagavatam, we hear many things which challenge our experience and present things beyond our conceptions. In other words they are inconceivable to us in our present state of consciousness. Before entering Srimad-Bhagavatam, it is generally recommended that one carefully study the Bhagavad-gita because in the Bhagavad-gita one learns about the position of the living entities and the material nature and the isvara, the Supreme Personality of Godhead and some of his glories and opulences. With that information and knowledge, then when one approaches the Srimad-Bhagavatam he can have some faith in the descriptions of the Bhagavatam.
For example we are in the Thrid Canto now and we are hearing about one of the incarnations of the Lord, God appearing as a boar. He is very large, itâs described here that His body is expanded throughout the universe. Someone may have a question about this, âIs this an exaggeration? Is the size being exaggerated to impress the devotees to make some point? Are we to take this literally or can it be taken as symbolic or analogous of something else, that the Lord is great?â This question may come to our minds because after all we are coming from a different training, a different education. We are trained in the system that we have to accept things that are proven and can be perceived by our senses or our extended senses in the form of some kind of machines or technology that we have created. If it doesnât meet that criteria it simply cannot be accepted because if it doesnât meet that criteria has to go to a different category called superstition, mythology, religion, faith, something like that, something that is not tangible, something that cannot be proven with hard science, mathematics, physics.
Therefore the Puranas including Srimad-Bhagavatam has been summarily rejected by scholars and scientists around the world for quite some time because it doesnât meet the criteria of real science. Therefore when scholars hear these types of descriptions, that would say âThis is a fanciful description, exaggerated or completely concocted, God comes as a boar, thatâs already a concoction and then whether His size is big or small we wonât even discuss that because the whole idea is absurd.â And it will be very difficult for them to really appreciate such a description.
Srimad-Bhagavatam in the beginning describes that it is meant for those who are not envious. It is meant for devotees and devotees are not envious. Envious of whom? Beginning with envious of God. Envy begins with Him. What does it mean to not be envious of God? It means that a devotee has no difficulty accepting that God can do anything, that there is no limits to His potency. Now if we think that âHow can God be so big, as a boar to extend throughout the universe, or as big as the Himalayan mountains? I can accept that he might be maybe 100 miles long but not a million or a billion, itâs too much to ask for me.â
But what are these universes in comparison to the Lord? It is described in the Caitanya-caritamrta that if a man has a big basket of mustard seeds and one mustard seed falls off, the man doesnâtâŠif someone comes up and says, âSir, you dropped a mustard seed,â the man says âItâs okay, no problem, I have billions more.â So for the Lord one universe is just like a little mustard seed. So within that mustard seed, if you say âWell the boar canât be too big, He has to fit inside that mustard seed, we canât make him too large,â itâs all absurd. The Lord is unlimited, he has unlimited potencies. He is generating millions and billions of universes simply by his exhaling for a moment.
For us to try to place some restrictions on what the Lord can do, what He cannot do, how big He can be, how small He can beâwhat is this? This is frog-in-the-well philosophy. A frog in the well may try to estimate how big the Pacific Ocean can be in comparison to his three feet well, but how ridiculous that is. He has no experience of the ocean, he is limited by his frog brain, his froggish experience and yet he is making statements about the ocean.
So if the question comes up, âShould the Bhagavatam be taken literally or should it be taken some other way?â we have to say it has to be taken literally. Because as soon as you say, âThe boar canât be this big,â then you have opened a Pandoraâs box. If the boar canât be this big and the universe canât be this small, then what else can you question? You can question anything. What about flying mountains? What about the elephants, the four directions, the dig-gajas? They are so large, it says they are unimaginably large. The Puranas say that the air that we are breathing has already been recycled by the four gajas. They have already breathed in all the air and exhaled it so that we can breathe it. They had to purify it. âThis is too much, Iâm starting to have problems with faith.â Therefore we have to put aside all of our preconceived ideas. When we approach the spiritual master, we have to approach with a clean slate, not so many things written on it.
There is a story about a man who wanted to enroll in a very famous music school, the most famous music school. So he put in his application and he had to wait for a very long time, many years. Finally he was called and they said, âSo, now weâd like to accept you and here is the tuition fees you have to pay.â He said, âWait a minute, this is double what the advertised rate is. Why is that? Didnât you see my portfolio? I have studied at so many other great music schools. I thought I would get a scholarship.â
âYes, we saw that you studied so many other places, thatâs why weâre charging you double. Because first we have to unteach you everything you learned and then we have to teach you. Twice the work, twice the price.â
The more we think we know, the more it becomes a difficult task to teach us. But if one approaches, simply clean slate, âMy dear Guru Maharaja you write as you like on this slate, I accept whatever you say. Because when one approaches the spiritual master, when one takes initiation, arguments are over. Before that, there can be some debate. Just like Arjuna and Krsna. When they were friends, then there could be some, âWell I disagree with Krsna, that was a good point but I disagree with you in this one, and I think itâs better like this.â But there is no solution, no conclusion this way. When he accepted Krsna as his spiritual master then he had to accept everything.
What happens if we say, âThe Bhagavatam description may be an exaggeration, or it may not be taken literally, non-literally.â So what happens? What is the difference between saying, lets say, a law book. So one goes into court and thereâs a law. One lawyer says, âThis law says this and this,â and the other attorney says, âThat law cannot be taken literally. That law cannot be taken as something absolute. It may be taken as an exaggeration or non-literally.â
Then the judge will not be appreciative, âNo, it has to be taken as it is.â And if itâs not taken as it is then we have the problem of blaspheming the Vedic literatures, because to say that the Vedic literatures are not literal or to not to be taken as they are, unless they say that it is an analogy, or metaphorical unless they say that then it means we are rejecting scriptures. Bhagavatm says Krsna lifted Govardhana Hill at the age of seven. So if thatâs an exaggeration it means we donât accept it. Therefore we have to be careful because this is one of the offences in chanting the holy name of the Lord, to blaspheme the Vedic literatures.
Srila Vyasadeva has no business giving us stories and mythology and making up. He has better things to do. These speakers, we have Narada Muni speaking and Maitreya, we have so many great personalities, theyâre not simply wasting their time speaking fairy tales. Besides that, we see that all the statements of the Bhagavatam are also confirmed by other Puranas, Mahabharata, other scriptures. So we have complete agreement between the Vedic scriptures. There is no disagreement. Whatever appears to be contradictory we have to take it that this is due to my insufficient intelligence. This is due to my lack of faith that I am not able to conceive or perceive of this right now. And there may be so many things that are difficult for us to accept, but we should go in with our devotional service, with the practices of sadhana bhakti and gradually these things will be revealed:
tesam satata yuktanam bhajatam priti purvakam
I will give them the knowledge. Who? Those who are always sincerely engaged in my devotional service, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me. Then everything becomes revealed in due course of time. We cannot reject something that is beyond our conceptions or perceptions.
This is something that may help us understand these pastimes of the Lord. After all, a little cockroach in the basement of a skyscraper cannot be expected to understand much about the skyscraperâs construction or the top floors. Compared to that cockroach we are much less qualified to understand the universe. Although someone may say, âWe have Hubble telescope, we have radio telescopes, we have so many things,â we have hundreds of millions of light years galaxies away,â but there is no proof for any of these things at all, simply words, there is no evidence, thereâs no experiment, thereâs no proof.
Therefore as followers of Srila A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada we have very little faith in the Western process of acquiring of knowledge about the universe. We prefer to take it from the Vedic viewpoint. Why? Because if we are hear from the Vedas, we are hearing from great personalities such as Lord Krsna, such as Lord Brahma, such as Lord Shiva, such as Sukadeva Goswami, persons who are completely self-realized. And in the case of some of them, they were directly involved in the creation of the universe and the maintenance of the universe. Or they can travel such as Narada Muni, he travels around the universe at will. One moment he is on the material universe, the next moment heâs in Goloka Vrindavan. He can travel to the upper, the lower, he goes to hell sometimes for preaching programs, he goes to Goloka the next moment, he moves. Who is a better authority about the universe? Narada Muni or some little cockroach here looking through a radio telescope?
I know itâ a little harsh but we have to speak such things because we are about, on the eve, on the precipice of constructing a very large planetarium here. That planetarium will be a great challenge to all the western scientists. So the question is, âAre we ready to defend it or shall we maybe put it aside for some time?â The answer is Prabhupada wanted it and he wanted us to defend it based on the Vedas. And we will be able to defend it based on the Vedas, provided we have sufficient faith in the Vedic knowledge.
Are there any questions?
. . . .
The question is about influences on Indian cosmology by foreigners. As you know, India was under subjugation for a thousand years, and the last two hundred years it was under Britain. And their appreciation for Vedic culture was not so great especially certain aspects because they wanted to establish their justification for ruling so they had to present the people as being quite primitive and backward in everything. So that influence is there, it is documented, its clear what their intentions were. And because they were ruling, whoever is ruling has the tendency to impose on the people.
Just like now, the world is being run by certain people who feel that the theory of evolution is acceptable therefore it is taught in all the schools. The Big Bang theory is the predominant theory and is taught in all the schools, so all the children are learning that the universe comes from a void and that void exploded afterwards. So whoeverâs is in charge imposes their views and thatâs what happened. There are of course more details but that is a kind of summary of that.
Question: How do devotees have the strong faith in the Bhagavatam to not deviate one inch from that to present the model of the universe?
Danavir Goswami: Weâre all going to have to defend, and represent. Prabhupadaâs giving a planetarium that will fly in the face so to speak, of modern science. But we donât have to be afraid, because as now we are proud that we are vegetarians. Thirty, forty years ago we werenât proud that we were vegetarians, we were a little bit intimidated. I remember a family of friends, doctors, telling me I was going to die of malnutrition, being a vegetarian. Now we are happy.
There was one, recently I was driving in Florida from Fort Lauderdale to Miami, there was a gigantic billboard over the freeway with lights on it and it had a big double juicy burger and it was an advertisement for a hospital. It said âOur hearts specialists are standing by.â So that means we won. Now they recognize that vegetarian diet is more healthy. And look at how many people died of AIDS, promiscuity. Now we are proud that we remained free from that. We didnât have to die because of AIDS because we were taught celibacy. And yoga was considered something very strange some years back but now itâs in vogue. People are appreciating it. Ayurveda is now being appreciated.
These things formerly were not taken very seriously and weâll see that all of the things in the Vedas will be taken seriously, at least by intelligent people. If people are not intelligent, what can we expect? The caravan goes on and the dogs will bark. You cannot be upset if dogs bark at a caravan, that is their business. You just go on. But similarly, if we present Vedic cosmology as it is in the Vedas, it will become a great victory for Srila Prabhupada.
All of Prabhupadaâs dreams and all his plans have been successful so far, is it not? Has Prabhupada failed in any particular areas? No. All of his plans have been glorious. Maybe we have failed to execute them carefully or to understand them, but Prabhupadaâs ideas, when they are properly executed, âŠjust like Russia. I remember receiving a letter from Srila Prabhupada in 1971, Prabhupada was in Russia and he was saying that, âThese Russians they want Krsna consciousness, they will take it.â At that time it was a little difficult to imagine that our enemies, the Russians, who we hated and we felt were some kind of demons, we didnât imagine how they could take to Krsna consciousness.
Prabhupada said, âThey will take to it very, very strongly, it will be a wonderful field.â Now we see that most of the people come up to us, now when they see a westerner they say, âYouâre from Russia right?â Here in Mayapur, âYouâre from Russia.â Mostly Russians here. Prabhupadaâs view, he knew. In every field. So we shouldnât doubt Prabhupada when it comes to cosmology. He knew this would be a tremendous thing.
And when we embarked on our research project we found out some interesting things. Its not that the heliocentric model, or the western model, the sun is stationary and the planets are moving around, itâs not that this is the only accepted scientific view. There is a geocentric model that is equally acceptable by great scientists like Einstein etc. So thatâs very supportive to our view because we have a geocentric model too. So if that geocentric model is established on the basis of their own conclusions then the Vedic view can be very easily accepted, that the earth is stationary and the sun and other planets are moving around. So there will be some support.
Even if thereâs no support it doesnât matter. The Vedas are perfectly intact and the fact that the Vedic literature was 5000 years ago at least was predicting eclipses thousands of years before the western view. Einstein said we owe a lot to the Indians because they taught us how to count, in other words the mathematical system was inherited from India, so many things to be proud of. We donât have to be ashamed of our âbackwardâ culture. Actually it is the most advanced culture.
Question: One of the problems of course is that Western science deals with very, very long distances, much longer than is the Bhagavatam. So we would say that is due to imperfect senses. Do you have any insight into the actual nature of the miscalculations they are making in order to come up with these numbers, like what are they doing wrong to come up with such incredible numbers?
Danavir Goswami: Itâs like saying when a cockroach is in the basement of a skyscraper, when he makes an estimate, âOn the 84th floor there are so many buildings, inside the room there is so many chair sand tables,â where did he go wrong? He went wrong because heâs trying to imagine whatâs on the 84th floor with his little antennae, down in the basement. Heâs never been to the 84th floor. He canât conceive of the 84th floor. Itâs beyond his experience and jurisdiction. Heâs just too small and too limited, his brain is too small, he has not been there.
So their methodology is defective. The inductive method has too many defects to understand the universe. The only way to understand the universe is to hear from someone who knows. Thatâs what weâre taught, thatâs our basic understanding. With that faith in the descending process, weâre accepting so many things which are inconceivable to us.
Weâre talking about the material universe, what about the spiritual world? Do you accept that? We can accept even a spiritual world that is eternal, that is far beyond the material sky that we canât even see. And that the living entities are living there and itâs shaped like a lotus flower, so many things. If we can accept the spiritual descriptions, why not the material descriptions? They are even less subtle. The problem is that we are so much conditioned to believe this is correct, that their views are correct that it is hard to give it up, hard to shake our faith in that.
As far as where they went wrong, from the first step they went in the wrong direction. Thatâs not the way to understand things beyond our experience. If one wanted to go and do and in depth study, he would find so many discrepancies, just as our devotee scientists have found so many discrepancies in the evolutionary system. They found that they took certain data and rejected other data then they fudged here and they fudged there, and they miscalculated here and miscalculated there and before long you have this amazing theory that has no supporting evidence. But it accepted as fact. Why? Because it was produced by an atheistic idea.
In other words, the atheists donât want to accept the divine principle. We learn in the Bhagavad-gita, anishvaram, the demoniac persons say that there is no God in control, thereâs no plan, thereâs no design, so in order to support that they have to come up with so many strange ideas. So when I visited Hayden(?) planetarium, the largest planetarium in the world, in New York, they present the Big Bang and they said that all of this came from the void. Those were their exact words. This is what they are teaching all the children and all the people that come there, that everything comes from the void. And then after the void comes, then so many things explodeâŠ.how can you have explosions in the void? A void is not supposed to have anything in there that can explode. So all these ridiculous statements are going on in the name of science.
Question: [paraphrased] We are building a planetarium and a DVD has been made, but what if other devotees have different interpretations about the meanings of the descriptions?
Danavir Goswami: Then we get together and discuss.
Thank you very much. Srimad-Bhagavatam ki jai!