For the past couple of days I’ve been discussing production of the details in the universe as described in “Mystic Universe: An Introduction to Vedic Cosmology”. There’s one chapter left there that describes the bigger picture and then the book goes on to highlight problems with scientific approach to measurements. Let’s see how far I’ll get today.
The biggest picture we’ve seen so far is that of the universe as an inverted tree but our universe is only a small part of the material creation, in fact the smallest, as will be argued later. To us it looks like a complete tree but actually it’s just a small branch on the tree of the entire material world.
The material world first exists as pradhāna, the sum total of material elements which stays unmanifested and undifferentiated. The Lord – sometimes described as Sadā Śiva, sometimes as Śambhu, sometimes as Viṣṇu, which leads to occasional confusion about who is superior – casts a glance on this pradhāna and brings it in motion. In the book pradhāna is described as material guṇas being in balance and the glance of the Lord as a push to tip that balance off. One guṇa then become more prominent than the others and these others then start the eternal game of catch up, it creates ripples in pradhāna, as I understand. Agitated pradhāna is called prakṛti. In each location in pradhāna the combination of guṇas is different and each particular combination is described as mahat-tattva.
From this mahat-tattva a certain kind of prakṛti specific to the selected universe is further elaborated and this is how each universe starts. There are only three guṇas but their combinations are unlimited and so each particular combination can be accepted as a set of axioms true for each universe. The same three guṇas work on this set further and further in a pretty much mechanical way. This process, or a method or production, or a theory of universe creation, is the same for each and every universe but due to the different set of axioms, different starting point in agitated prahāna no universe is like any other.
This complements yesterdays’ topic of how knowing one node of the universal tree in full is sufficient to know the rest of the universe, except in this case one needs to know the starting set of axioms, the mahat-tattva. If you know the mahat-tattva for any particular universe then you can apply the “universal” theory of creation and describe this universe in full detail.
Jumping a little ahead I can say that our universe has four axioms, or four moral principles, and therefore our Lord Brahmā has four heads. Everything within our universe is produced by subdividing these four principles by three guṇas. Other Brahmās have more heads, more moral principles, and thus greater variety within their universes.
The number of moral principles, ie the principal ways of enjoyment, and their particular combination depends on universe’s location within pradhāna with its unique combination of guṇas. Once you know that location, which isn’t physical, of course – because morals aren’t physical objects, you can know absolutely everything about the insides of the universe that sprouted from there. I don’t think anyone observing material creation from that level of abstraction cares to dive into it and know all the details but it is possible by the cit potency present not only in the Lord but in every jīva as well.
Our Lord Brahmā, btw, knows everything inside our universe but not the complete truth about it because he is still inside it, still conditioned by a given set for morals. He can’t judge the truth of his axioms from within the system because they are self-obvious to him. To know their relative position compared to other sets of axioms he needs to transcend the entire material creation.
Next the book goes into discussing how assumptions made in science mislead the scientists when they try to judge distances to stars, for example. One of the ways to measure distances to cosmic objects is “parallax method”, which means we use two places to look at a star and then compare this star’s positions against the background of the cosmos. It’s exactly how we judge distances by using two eyes – pictures from the left and right eye are slightly different. Greater difference means the object is closer and smaller difference means its far away. Or we could say we triangulate the position of the star, same principle. To create this “stereo” vision astronomers look at stars from two opposing points of Earth’s orbit around the Sun, say in June and December. This takes us as far apart as physically possible. The method is pretty simple though it has become very sophisticated to account for all possible factors. It still relies on universe being open, flat, and linear, and it’s this assumption that makes all such measurements completely unreliable.
Astronomers might observe a change in star’s position between June and December, so their parallax is real even from Vedic POV, but they assume that light travels in a straight line through open and uniformed space, but that’s now how information (light is information) travels in Vedic cosmology. Information travels up and down the semantic tree instead, and not at the speed of light either.
It can be compared to measuring distances between cities. We can open Google maps, right click, select “Measure distance”, and Google will tell us the distance in a straight line. To know the actual distance you have to travel, however, you need to right click and select “Directons” instead, and the Google will draw you several paths you can reach the destination and they will all be longer than the straight line.
The same principle applies to the universe as well – to travel from one location to another one needs to traverse the semantic tree pretty much the same as one has to follow roads when traveling the Earth. The distances measured with parallax method, therefore, are irrelevant for the purpose of Vedic space travel.
This is a big topic I don’t think I grasped in full and it probably needs more consideration but an example to illustrate it is given as this – a pupil and a teacher might be in close physical proximity but it doesn’t say anything about the semantic distance between them. Semantic difference between a teacher and a student lies in how well they both know the subject, meaning how much needs to be taught, and also in how fast the student can absorb the information and how quickly a teacher can deliver it.
This would mean that distance to the Moon calculated by astronomers might be relatively small but it doesn’t say anything about distance needed to be covered to EXPERIENCE the Moon.
There’s one caveat here, though – in both examples we still assume that light travels in a straight line between two objects so it’s possible to measure “straight” distance between them, which we then differentiate from semantic distance, but in Vedic cosmology this straight line travel doesn’t exist. What we interpret as a straight light travel still goes up and down the semantic tree and there is no other way. I hope I will be able to explain this confusion in the next post. It seems like a very important point to understand if we ever want to reconcile the modern and the Vedic models of the universe.