Vedas on Cosmos
Astronomers and cosmologists study outer space and describe as best as their knowledge allows the structure and characteristics of the cosmic bodies and their interrelationship. The only question that they never answer is NOT HOW but WHY everything is organized one way and not another and WHO is taking care of its maintenance. Why do the planets occupy a specific place and don’t fall down, why do they move on fixed orbit with constant speed? Since macrocosm and microcosm function by the same laws, we can ask: Why is my body not falling apart, what allows me to walk and sit? Obviously it is not because of bones and muscles. And not even because of nerves and brain. Our body is held up just because there is consciousness inside of it. This consciousness is primordial invisible electricity that switches on everything else. As soon as this individual consciousness goes even a very young and strong body is not worth anything anymore.
The same law works in cosmos. Every atom of it is also permeated by consciousness. This is not individual consciousness though, but higher universal consciousness, Paramatma. It penetrates every atom of the universe and enters the heart of every living being, sustaining all.
The cause of everything is the will, God’s intention, His idea, His plan. Everything else is a materialization of this plan that is working just because He wants it to work. Similarly a car is running not because it has an engine and gas, but because someone wants to go from one place to another faster than a pedestrian could.
Vedas say that cosmos is multi-dimensional. These dimensions can exist in the same place at the same time and are accessible for beings with the corresponding level of consciousness. What we see here is a three-dimensional projection of some other reality, and a key to that reality is another layer of awareness. We can understand this using an example of a balloon. A balloon has three dimensions, but when we look at its shadow on the ground, we see a two-dimensional projection.
An insect living inside a computer thinks that it knows the computer very well; and it is true from his point of view. The other truth is, that this insect doesn’t have an access to the real potentialities of this tool. The same way people can live in the universe not having an access to its higher aspects. The world cannot be reduced to physics and chemistry. An access to the truth beyond physics and chemistry is given by the Creator, Author of this world. In Vedic scriptures the Creator Himself tells how everything is arranged and how to live in tune with all creation (See Origin and Structure of Vedas).
The difficulty of understanding this description is that a higher reality needs to be somehow described so that we understand. This is similar to trying to explain to your two-year-old how the television works. You must find some words, examples, metaphors, and parallels that she is able to comprehend. The sage Vyasadeva, who gave Vedic knowledge to mankind lives on the planet of sages, which is much higher in planetary hierarchy and has more dimensions than our Earth. His consciousness differs from ours to the same extent as one of a Nobel prize-winner differs from one of an insect. Which words should he use to describe to an insect the principles of his invention? Thus we need to keep in mind that what is said are principles, formulas, and laws in a way it was a feasible task for us.
The structure of cosmos.
Vedas teach that this material world is a perverted reflection of the spiritual world. As the reflection of the tree in the water gives an idea of the actual tree so this material world gives us an idea of the original spiritual world. But there is a difference in quality between the original tree and the reflected tree. Both trees have fruit. The fruit on the original tree is real and can be tasted and actually enjoyed, however, the reflected fruit is simply illusory. Similarly the enjoyable things in the material world are illusory. Even if it looks like an enjoyable object, it lacks the enjoyable substance. That enjoyable substance is in the spiritual world only.
According to Vedic knowledge there is a central point of reality, a source of all kind of energy. This omnipotent and inexhaustible source of energy is the Supreme God. The place where everything is coming from is called Goloka, planet of love. All kinds of reality are emanated from that central point.
Around the capital of Goloka there are other planets, sort of satellites, Vishnuloka or Vaykuntha, where God abides in His multiple forms and manifestations. Even a conditioned human being manifests himself in different ways: the same person is a husband, a father, a son, an employee, a tax payer, a library user, a customer, a patient and so on. We change our roles all the time. Furthermore it is true for such a multi-lateral personality as God.
Outside the material world, there is a place called Primordial Ocean (Karana Sindhu). The Supreme God in one of His forms Maha Vishnu is lying asleep on a couch made of the great snake Adishesha who floats upon this ocean of milk. Maha Vishnu’s sleep though is not oblivion like ours, He is aware even in sleep, His mind is working generating all our material reality. Everything that we see here exists due to energy produced during this mystical sleep. If He wakes up, we wake up too and realize that this world is an illusion. Since it was our choice to live in the illusory world He doesn’t wake up, fulfilling our wishes (See Fulfillment of all Desires is the Cosmic Rule).
In sleep Maha Vishnu’s body emits innumerable air bubbles that are indeed countless universes, existing only during the pause between His in and exhale, which lasts 311,040 million Earth years.
Why did we find ourselves in the material world, where Time is the most powerful force and eventually destroys everything, including the universe? Why are we not in the Spiritual world along with immortal souls without material shells? This happens because of our dual nature: divine and material one. As particles of God, who is independent and self-sufficient we own the same qualities and might wish to try how it is to be separate from Him. If we didn’t have such a choice our free will was worth nothing. A few living beings who experience a desire to be independent just like God, leave the spiritual world and get into the Maha Vishnu’s body; then along with His exhale they go inside of one of material universes getting a material body according to their inclination.
A universe is called Brahmanda due to its egg-like shape (Brahma is the creator of material world; Anda means egg). Maha Vishnu, being outside of all those material universes, puts inside of each of them one of His expansions called Vishnu. Maha Vishnu locates ordinary Vishnus into innumerable universes. Divine sweat of Maha Vishnu (Garbadha) fills the bottom of a universe and supports it from beneath. These waters go up from time to time forming so-called universal floods, after which a new stage of creation begins.
Lord Vishnu lies on waters of this ocean and out of his navel grows a lotus stem. This stem is a kind of tube through which Lord Vishnu delivers living beings (djivas) into a new universe. The lotus flower opens and the first living being to come out is Lord Brahma, Creator, and Architect of this particular universe. He has at His disposal 8.4 million different body models (bidjas), matrix or molds; and every living being gets a body and a place to live in one of the planetary systems of a certain universe according to their desires, since every inner content corresponds with certain external form.
As we see Vedas do not support the theory of evolution from simple forms to more advanced ones. They say that all forms existed and exist at the same time.
Lord Vishnu is the soul of the material universe, which is His physical body created according with His desire to answer our wishes. What on the divine level can be described as lotus stem becomes on the subtle material level a vertical axel, spine column (Meru danda) with flat disks (Mandalas) stringed on it. On the top of Meru danda there is Brahma’s lotus, (Brahmapuri – city of Brahma), invisible for us but not for more advanced living beings.
Mandalas serve as reinforcement for holding gross material objects such as stars and planets. There are fourteen mandalas that are influenced by different gunas (righteousness, passion and ignorance). According to ruling guna living beings of a planet (loka) have different type of communication with the outer world (See The three Gunas).
Four upper mandalas are ruled by sattvic or righteous guna:
– Brahma loka or Satyaloka – abode of Brahma (Creator).
– Tapa loka – abode of other deities.
– Jana loka – abode of Brahma’s sons.
– Mahar loka – abode of sages and rishis.
Their inhabitants are advanced living beings, demi-gods, and great sages. As a rule these souls have only subtle body and do not need physical body. Being free of the gross body’s needs they can use all their time for self-realization.
Three middle mandalas are ruled by rajasic or passionate guna:
– Svarga (or Svar) loka – place that corresponds with our notion of heaven, where 330 Million Demi-Gods live with their king Indra.
– Bhuvar loka (Pitri loka) – world of subtle spirits, abode of forefathers.
– Bhur loka – our planet (Earth)
The highest of the middle planetary system (Svarga) is where good people go, who follow holy commandments and worldly law, who do not commit violence and are very pious. Although the lifespan there is much longer than on Earth eventually when the earned good karma runs out the Svarga loka inhabitants return to Earth and start earning new karma.
Seven lower mandalas are under influence of tamas or ignorance.
– Atala loka
– Vitala loka
– Sutala loka
– Talatala loka
– Mahatala loka
– Rasatala loka
– Patala loka
These are lower worlds or “under – earth heaven” with advanced technology and very poor spirituality. Their inhabitants hate the idea of God and try to make themselves as independent as possible through developing mechanisms and machines.
Most living souls of our universe were placed here from the beginning of our Brahma’s life about 155 billion of earth years ago. Found ourselves here we became entangled in the wheel of bad and good reactions for our deeds (karma) and keep being embodied according to the karma on all fourteen levels of our planetary system (See Vedic Astrology: the Law of Karma). Souls that remembered that they belong to the spiritual world and that there is only one independent living being – the Supreme God, return back to their true home and forget the nightmare of this temporary life.
All three planetary levels have different mode of communication with the universe, means of fulfilling their desires. These three technologies are called mantra, tantra and yantra.
Mantra is the means living beings of the upper planetary systems use. Their purity, merits, and knowledge allow them an easy access to the fulfillment of their needs. It’s enough to recite a few sounds or words – a mantra – to get the necessary thing or quality to manifest themselves.
Tantra is translated as method or ritual and is the means used on our middle planetary system. For example if we need to cure some illness we need to see a doctor. The ritual (tantra) includes: calling the office, getting an appointment, waiting in line, being observed by the doctor, getting prescription, paying doctor’s fee, following the prescription and so on. Think of education, getting food, going somewhere, everything here is based on ritual. Tantra is rooted on our dependence from someone more powerful than us. This idea takes us eventually to the seeking the source of all sources, the God.
Yantra means device, mechanism or machine. An ignorant state of consciousness wants a device that fulfills one’s desires just because one wishes it. He doesn’t have enough piety to use a mantra. He doesn’t want to ask for something and perform rituals, so tantra is not applicable either. An “independent” living being believes only in himself. As a result, absolutely unmoral technologies and projects can be developed.
Nakara Loka – the hellish planets
Below the seven lower planetary systems there are twenty eight hellish planets – Naraka loka. This is place where living beings go in their subtle body to experience how it feels, what they created towards other living beings. All the impurities in our subtle body that impede our progress must be removed by our own understanding that what we did must never be done again. According to the higher plan all of us eventually purify and progress. This purification can be done not necessarily after death. God is not an avenger but a loving teacher, who shows us how others feel. And before punishment everyone, when still alive, gets innumerable warnings and opportunities to correct all the mistakes through realization, repentance and acting obedient to his dharma (unique mission in this life).
The meaning of cosmos.
The true understanding of cosmos is not how it is composed, but what its meaning is. And this meaning is:
Give the living beings a place to fulfill their material desires.
Means of communication between God and living beings who once decided to leave Him.
Chance to remember God when observing how harmonious His creation is.
Opportunity to progress and eventually return back home.
TODAY’S TIP: Located in the center of the universe our Earth is a battlefield influenced from both higher and lower worlds. It was time when humans were more inspired of higher guidance. They preferred simple living and an elaborate spiritual life. Now judging by our strong belief that technology can make us content (however it never did), the lower influences are taking over. We choose complicated living and primitive spiritual life. It is a way to degradation. However, the final choice is still in our hands.