Vedic Evidence - Understanding the Earth realm we are on in relation to Bhu-mandala
Is Earth A Globe?
An excerpt from the forthcoming book
By Rajasekhara Das Brahmachari Das ACBSP
A summary study of the 5th canto of Shrimad Bhagavatam
All the relevant verses from the Vedic scriptures including quotes from the Vaishnava acharyas, which establish the earth as a spherical globe floating in space (ether) that have been found while researching this subject.
As this summary study on the 5th canto continues it is expected that more verses confirming the earth as a globe will be found hidden within the Vedic scriptures.
DIRECT QUOTES FROM THE SHRIMAD BHAGAVATAM SUPPORTING THE ROUND GLOBE-LIKE SPHERICAL EARTH
Shrimad Bhagavatam 3.22.31:
Transliteration excerpt: bhuvam—the earth.
Manu spread a seat of kusas and kasas and worshiped the Lord, the Personality of Godhead, by whose grace he had obtained the rule of the terrestrial globe.
Shrimad Bhagavatam 5.16.4:
Transliteration excerpt: Bhu-goloka [Bhuloka] —the earth.
“The great rsi Sukadeva Gosvami said: My dear King, there is no limit to the expansion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead's material energy. This material world is a transformation of the material qualities [sattva-guna, rajo-guna and tamo-guna], yet no one could possibly explain it perfectly, even in a lifetime as long as that of Brahma.
No one in the material world is perfect, and an imperfect person could not describe this material universe accurately, even after continued speculation. O King, I shall nevertheless try to explain to you the principal regions, such as Bhu-goloka [Bhuloka], with their names, forms, measurements and various symptoms.”
NOTE: For an explanation of this verse [5.16.4] see the commentary below by Srivamsidhara & Viraraghava
Shrimad Bhagavatam 10.8. 37-39:
Transliteration excerpt: bhu-golam—the surface of the earth;
“When Krishna opened His mouth wide by the order of mother Yashoda, she saw within His mouth all moving and non-moving entities, outer space, and all directions, along with mountains, islands, oceans, the surface of the Earth, the blowing wind, fire, the moon and the stars.
She saw the planetary systems, water, light, air, sky, and creation by transformation of ahankara. She also saw the senses, the mind, sense perception, and the three qualities goodness, passion and ignorance.
She saw the time allotted for the living entities, she saw natural instinct and the reactions of karma, and she saw desires and different varieties of bodies, moving and non-moving. Seeing all these aspects of the cosmic manifestation, along with herself and Vrindavana-dhama, she became doubtful and fearful of her son's nature.”
Shrimad Bhagavatam 3.23.43
Transliteration excerpt: bhuvah—of the universe; golam—the globe.
“After showing his wife the globe of the universe and its different arrangements, full of many wonders, the great yogi Kardama Muni returned to his own hermitage.”
NOTE: For an explanation of this verse [3.23.43] see the commentary below by Shrila Srivamsidhara)
QUOTES BY THE VAISHNAVA ACHARYAS ON SHRIMAD BHAGAVATAM ESTABLISHING THE EARTH AS A GLOBE-LIKE SPHERE (Adapted from the book ‘Commentaries’)
Commentary by Srivamsidhara on SB.5.20.38 [C.p445]:
Parikshit has questioned (SB.5.16.4) about the Bhu-gola (the earth sphere) & Suka has replied. This confirms the spherical shape of astronomy. There is another word in that context - it is “vishesa” which means the golden anda (egg, universe). It is said that earth rests like a mustard seed on the hood of Ananta. The anology implies the spherical shape. In the Kardama story (SB.2.23.43) the word “bhuva golam” is used, which confirms the above fact.
NOTE: In the above statement, it is clear that Srivamsidhara has translated the Sanskrit word ‘bhu-gola’ as earth-globe. Furthermore, in classical Vedic astronomy (Jyotish-veda) mentioned by Shrivamsidhara, which is sometimes referred to as the ‘Siddhanta literatures’, the earth is always depicted as being a globe.
Yet another Bhagavatam commentator, the original Vaishnava commentator on the Shrimad Bhagavatam in the 11th century, the highly respected Shrila Shridhara Swami, whose commentary was read by Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, has mentioned in his commentary on the Vishnu Purana (2.8.43),
“The Puranas should not contradict astronomy”.
This means that when presenting the cosmology of the Bhagavata Purana & other Puranas, it should not contradict the opinion of the astronomical treatises known as the Jyotish-veda, which includes the famous Surya-siddhanta, which clearly states that the earth is a globe (bhu-gola).
Thus according to Shrila Shridhara Swami & Shrila Srivamsidhara, there must be a synthesis between the Puranas & the Siddhantas (Jyotish-veda).
The Sanskrit word "jyotish" means "jyoti" (light) and "isha" (lord). Therefore jyotish translates into "Light of the Lord" or " Light by which one can see the Lord”, as well as ‘Light of the Vedas'.
Although the cosmos is present before our eyes & explained in the verses of the Shrimad Bhagavatam, we cannot envision it without the help of the Jyotish-veda, which ‘illuminates’ the cosmic order of those things that are beyond our sensory perception.
Commentary of Viraraghava on SB.5.17.4 [C.p14]:
“After having been questioned, the sage-son of Badrinarayana replies that, “as the forms of the Lord are infinite, it is impossible to deal with them exhaustively by mind or words. Still, I promise to explain in more detail the earth globe.
Oh great king! Bhagavan’s treasure of amazing attributes, manifested into myriad, infinite globes for his sporting are countless and cannot be ascertained even through the entire life-span of any human being.
Hence instead of attempting to contemplate the impossible, I shall dwell on the prominent details of the earth-globe, its divisions, including the names, extents & nature etc. to answer your query.”
NOTE: It should be seen that in the above statement of Viraraghava, he has used the term “myriad, infinite globes” to describe all the planets in the Lord’s creation.
The same term ‘globe’ has also been applied to the earth. All of the previous acharyas were well versed in Vedic astronomy (Jyotish-veda) & fully conversant with the Siddhanta literatures. Thus, when using the word ‘bhu-gola’ they are definitely describing the earth-globe.
Commentary by Shridhara Swami on SB.5.25.12: “The earthen sphere along with mountains.”
Commentary by Yaduvarya on SB.5.25.12: “He bears the earth on His head like an atom.”
Commentary of Vijayadvaj Tirtha on SB.5.16.1: “The knowledge of the world-globe & its particulars is illustrative of Sri Narayana’s greatness & hence is essential for liberation.”
Commentary by Vishvanatha Chakravarty on SB.5.25.12:
“The earth rests like an atom on only one head (of Sesha).”
Commentary of Bhagavataprasadacarya on SB.5.16.1 [C.p4]:
(Commenting on Shridhara Swami’s second verse) “The periphery, the top, the bottom & the configuration of the earth globe & Meru, the central part of the earth lotus, are explained in the 16th chapter. The purport of this chapter it was said;
“As much as the sun in going around Meru illuminates it, it lights up half the surface of the earth & covers half.”
By this is to be understood that the sun makes day in one half of Meru by illumination not endowed with the darkness of night. The moon, along with the stars illuminating the portion of Meru not illuminated (by the sun) with qualities of moonlight surrounded with darkness makes night. Because this is the intention of the sages, followed by smrtis, it is not repeated.”
QUOTES BY THE VAISHNAVA ACHARYAS ESTABLISHING THAT
THE SAPTA-DWIPA ARE LOCATED ON THE EARTH-GLOBE
(Adapted from the book ‘Commentaries’)
Commentary of Shridhara Swami on SB.5.16.1 [C.p.1]:
“In the previous chapter, while narrating the story of King Priyavrata, mention was made of the divisions of the globe into islands.”
Commentary of Viraraghava on SB.5.17.1-3 [C.p9]:
“Thus having heard the episode of Priyavrata & his progeny, King Pariksit asks about the particulars of the division of islands etc. which were only briefly mentioned. Earth’s length (extent) & the world (globe) etc.”
Commentary of Srivamsidhara on SB.5.16.1 [C.p.2]: Comment by Shridhara Swami’s first verse. “The term “etc” after “islands” indicates continents.”
QUOTES FROM SURYA-SIDDHANTA & SIDDHANTA-SIROMANI
(Translated & commented upon by Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura)
Surya-siddhanta 12.53: “The shape of the earth is spherical & situated in ether”.
Surya-siddhanta 12.53: “the shape of the Earth is spherical (vartula).”
Siddhanta-siromani 7.4: Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati’s comment; “the lunar eclipse takes place when the shadow of the earth falls on that of the moon.”
Siddhanta-siromani 12.9: “During the eclipse the shadow of the earth covers the moon and in case of a solar eclipse the shadow of the moon covers the sun”
NOTE: Only a round spherical earth-globe floating in ether can cast a shadow on the moon. Not a flat earth that is 4 billion miles in diameter.
From the Surya-siddhanta, Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura created the famous Gaudiya Panchang (panjika) for himself & for the devotees of the Gaudiya Math, so they could perfectly follow all the bhakti rituals, festivals & vratas of the Vedic calendar, including events like ekadashi & Surya/Chandra-graha (eclipse).
Even though a brilliant astronomer & child protégé, after reaching adulthood, the Thakura left the study of Jyotish-veda to concentrate on the study & dissemination of the bhakti shastras. Nevertheless, he strictly followed the Gaudiya Panchang throughout his life.
Even after sixty years since its inception, the Gaudiya Panchang is still being followed by millions of Vaishnavas in Bengal, Assam, Manipur & Orissa, as well as all the Gaudiya Goswami temples in Vrindavana. Shrila Prabhupada also followed this Gaudiya Panchang which he introduced into Iskcon from the time of its foundation in 1966.
QUOTES FROM THE PURANAS
Vayu Purana 18.52.80-81: “Rahu moves from Surya to Chandra in lunar epochs (full moon). He again moves from Chandra to Surya in solar epochs (new moon).”
NOTE: This verse is also found in the Vishnu Purana.
Linga Purana 4.57.13: Rahu controls the shadow of the earth which is circular in shape
NOTE: The Puranas also support the version of Surya-siddhanta that the circular shadow of the earth causes the eclipse of the moon.
Markendeya Purana 51.13: Both the southern & northern hemispheres of the raised Jambu Island, there are three varshas each. Ilavrta is in the middle like a half moon attached to both hemispheres.
NOTE: The Markendeya Purana says that Jambudwipa has both northern & southern hemispheres. This indicates that Jambudwipa is a spherical globe, simply because only a sphere has iether northern & southern or eastern & western hemispheres (hemi-sphere = half of a sphere).
The descriptions found in the Markendeya Purana closely resemble those found in the Surya-siddhanta, particularly the description of Jambhudwipa having four prominent petals. Bharata-varsha, Ketumala-varsha, Kuru-varsha & Bhadrashva-varsha.
The Markandeya Purana also says that the Earth is flattened at the poles and bulging at the equator & that it is not perfectly spherical.
Vishnu Purana 2.7.15: “Whatever is attainable by feet is called Bhuloka.”
NOTE: According to this quote from the Vishnu Purana, only the earth planet is qualified to be called Bhu-loka as only on the earth can one transverse by foot.
OTHER SHASTRIC QUOTES
Rig Veda: There are verses that suggest that the earth was considered to be spherical. In the Satapatha Brahmana it describes the earth as parimandala, or in other words a globe-like sphere.
Mahabharata: Ch 5. (Jambhu-khanda-parva of Bhishma Parva): “This Bharata-khanda is called Sudarshana-dwipa, since it looks beautiful to the eyes of the onlookers. Being circular, it looks like the disc of the Lord & it is attached to the cycle of time in the form of a disc presided over by Bhagavan Sudarshana.
It is in the form of a globe since all the four corners of are rounded like a bael fruit. The nature of this Sudarshana-dwipa or Bharata-varsha is viewed from the moon. Half of this earth of Bharata-varsha appears like a rabbit & a small papal leaf, the other half appears in the form of a big pipal, & they are surrounded by all varieties of vegetation.
In this Bharata-varsha the rest of the portion other than the portions that appear like a rabbit & the papal leaf are almost covered with water except a few small portions of earth.”
Mahabharata: 3.188: “It is I who, assuming the form of Sesha support on my head this earth bounded by the four seas and decked by Meru and Mandara.”
NOTE: It should be understood in the above verse from Mahabharata, that there are only four seas mentioned & not seven oceans. Thus this verse is applicable to the earth globe only & not Bhu-mandala or the brahmanda.
The four seas mentioned are the Southern Ocean, Northern Ocean, Eastern Ocean & Western Ocean, or in other words the Ocean of Salt that surrounds Jambhudweep in the four cardinal directions. Thus the general perception found in Mahabharata is that the earth is a globe & there is only one salt ocean in the four cardinal directions.
SHRILA PRABHUPADA’S QUOTES ON THE EARTH-GLOBE (BHU-GOLA)
Morning walk. December 9, 1973, Los Angeles - In Vedic literature it is bhu-gola, jagad-andha.
These words are there. We can see also it is round, jagad- andha.. The universe is round. And Goloka. Or Bhu-gola. Bhu-gola, the earth is round. So in the Vedic literatures... Therefore their knowledge is also imperfect because they do not refer to the Vedic literatures. It is already there.
Bhu-gola. Bhu means the earth; gola means round. It is already there. And the geography's called, according to Sanskrit, it is called Bhu-gola. Long, long ago, before Galileo.
Lectures, Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.16.17, Los Angeles, January 12, 1974:
And again, if you start your plane in sunlight, in the morning, in daylight, so in the morning, and go to the western side, you will find never night. You will find never night, always light, always light. Sometimes we have got experience. We start from a place, say, at ten o’clock, and going western side.
Then, after few hours, we see it is still ten o’clock, and the light is there. This is our practical experience. (All the planets and the universes, they are egg shaped. Therefore they are called anda, jagadanda, brahmanda. (Lecture, Bhagavad-gita As It Is, 13.8-12, Bombay, September 30, 1973)
Lecture, Srimad-Bhagavatam, 1.2.5, Melbourne, April 3, 1972:
Jagad-anda means this universe is a big, I mean to say, volume. Just like anda, egg. Everything, every planet is just like egg. This brahmanda, this universe, is also like egg. So there are many many, many millions of jagadanda. And in each and every jagad-anda, kotisu vasudhādi-vibhūti-bhinnam, there are innumerable planets also.
Skanda Purana (I.1.31-71): “The earth revolves like a bhramarika (spinning top).”
Vayu Purana 17.51.7-9: “Dhruva revolves himself & makes all the planets & stars follow him like a wheel. By the will of Dhruva all these celestial bodies have an independent movement also. All the celestial bodies are tied to Dhruva with ropes of wind.”
NOTE: This verse from Vayu Purana clearly states that the planets also have an independent movement which can be interpreted as axial rotation.
Srimad Bhagavatam 3.11.13: “Influential stars, planets, luminaries and atoms all over the universe are rotating in their respective orbits under the direction of the Supreme, represented by eternal kala.”
NOTE: This verse above [3.11.13] can be interpreted in two ways: The planets are rotating in their orbits as well as the planets are rotating on their axis while orbiting the pole star.
The great Indian astronomer Aryabhata (476–550 CE), who wrote the famous book entitled ‘Aryabhatiya’, based on the Surya-siddhanta, concluded that the earth rotated on its axis and the stars were fixed in space. He goes on to say that the apparent rotation of the heavens was due to the fact that the earth revolved around its axis.
According to him the period of one rotation of the earth is 23 hours 56 mn 4.1s, while the modern value is 23 hours 56 mn 4.091s. His accuracy regarding this most difficult calculation undertaken at the beginning of the 6th century & without modern technology is simply amazing.
SHRILA PRABHUPAD’S QUOTES ON EARTH’S AXIAL ROTATION
Room Conversation -- June 15, 1976, Detroit: Madhavananda: They say that it's fixed. They say the polestar is fixed, but it doesn't revolve around. They say everything moves, but the polestar is fixed.
Prabhupada: Polestar is fixed, that is fact. And all, It is like pivot. Everyone round, round. Urdhva-mulam adhah-sakham (BG.15.1).
This tree is spread downwards. The root is upward.
Pusta Krishna: The scientists also say all of the stars are moving around. But they don't see the earth as moving around.
Prabhupada: Why not? What is this nonsense? If all the stars can move, what is the earth? That is their nonsense.
Lecture by Shrila Prabhupada on Bhagavad-gita [7.5] Bombay, February 20, 1974:
The spiritual force behind is moving the material world. Yayedah dharyate jagat. Jagat means gacchati iti jagat, which is moving or going forward. Everything is moving. All these planets are moving. Your earthly planet is also moving—within twenty-four hours covering 25,000 miles, day and night. The whole material planets, earthly planets, you have 25,000 miles, and this is rotating. Similarly every planet is rotating. The sun is also rotating.
Lecture by Shrila Prabhupada on Shrimad-Bhagavatam [3.26.3]
Bombay, December 15, 1974:
Just like on account of the sunshine all the planets are resting and rotating. That is scientific. Due to the heat of the sunshine, all the planets in the sky, they are rotating. It is due to sunshine. Similarly, this brahmanda, this universe, not only one universe, but millions of universes, they are also rotating in the brahmajyoti.
Room Conversation with Shyamasundara:
Shrila Prabhupada: Decision means because you are imperfect, human beings are imperfect, so their machine, these motorcars, there are so many accidents, so many killing. But because God is so perfect, although all the planets are rotating in their speed, just like this earth is rotating... What is the speed?
At least in twenty-four hours it is completing 25,000 miles. That means its speed is about 1000 miles at least. And similarly, other planets are also moving, similarly. And the sun planet is moving at 16,000 miles per minute or second, calculated. But all these planets are moving in this way, so much speed, but they are not colliding. The perfect arrangement is there, and they are floating. How it is possible? This is accidental? Do you think this is accidental?
Lecture by Shrila Prabhupada on Bhagavad-gita [16.8] Tokyo, January 28, 1975:
Now, as we see in the street that the cars are moving in high speed but they are within the orbit, within the line, demarcation of line, white line or yellow line, so there is some brain, there is some management, everything is there, Similarly, all these planets, they are rotating with high speed. Just like this planet. It is rotating 25,000 miles in twelve hours. Is it not? The circumference of this earth is 25,000 miles and... Yes, day and night, twenty-four hours. Almost one thousand miles per hour.
Lecture by Shrila Prabhupada in London, September 26, 1969:
And actually, scientifically, it is true that due to the heat of the sun planet all other planets are rotating; otherwise they'll fall down. But they're floating in the air, in the sky, due to this sunlight. Anyone who knows science, he'll admit, "Yes, that's a fact." And sun is the source of all energy in this material world. All this vegetation, all living condition, minerals—there are so many things—this is due to the sun. So sun in the king of all planets, as it is stated in the Vedic literatures.`
ALL GLORIES TO SHRILA PRABHUPADA