Hidden corners of the Earth

Let’s start with typing on the computer – as I am doing it letters appear one after another, building up words from left to right. That’s how typing was designed from the start. Each letter adds one more character, each letter does it equally, they are all on the same level and none of them are more important than others.. There is even a category of fonts called “monospace” where each letter takes the same width on the line, doesn’t matter whether it’s a thin “i” or a fat “w”. This is how it was worked originally and assigning each letter its optimum width was a later improvement.

This design is very Anglo-centric, however. Devanagari and related family of scripts conceive of forming words very differently. Basically, only consonants matter and only consonants deserve to be placed on the line. Vowels do not deserve the same privilege. Vowels are meant to modify the meaning of consonants and if they do not do so, like the default vowel “a”, they are not even written down. Others, like “i”, “u”, “e” etc, are attached to and written around consonants. They do not have a standing of their own. Okay, not always – every vowel has its own free standing form and sometimes you see them in the text, but not very often. It happens when they have no consonants to be attached to, like in the beginning of a sentence, in which case they are not considered as attached to the first consonant. No sir, vowels have to follow consonants, they cannot come ahead of their consonant “masters”.

This treatment of language and vowels specifically comes from a different concept of space. I mean physical space here. Western thought has developed from ancient Greeks’ understanding of space as being uniform and continuous. Continuous means that there are no gaps in space and each “gap” is, theoretically, filled with an infinite number of points. There are mathematical theories demonstrating that, comparatively speaking, there are as many of these points between the start and the end of one inch line as there are outside of this inch. It’s not like for each point inside one inch line there are two or more points outside. This leads to a very interesting discussion of how the entire space can be contained within an infinitely small box – because all the points on the outside can be copied into the inside, just put them there more densely, but it’s beyond the scope of this article.

Uniform means that one meter here is the same as one meter there. This has been challenged by Einstein’s relativity where distances can shorten, but Greeks didn’t know about that, science didn’t know about that until a hundred years ago, and it hasn’t tricked into public consciousness either. Advanced math might be there but we still think of the world as being a continuous and uniform space. Therefore westerners developed democracy – it’s just extending this concept of space to human society. Everybody is equal, just like letters on this line, and everybody, just as every letter, has the potential to start a new sentence and become “first”, and also capitalized.

Vedic space is not like that at all. They rather go from people to things – in the west the things (atoms, inches, and kilograms etc) are equal and so should be people, but Vedic sages see that people are organized hierarchically and so should be things, including meters and pounds. “Hierarchically” means like a tree (which is also a “thing”, btw), and hierarchically doesn’t simply mean first, second, third, but that each node can have many children and these child nodes can start their own branches. People have children, too – that’s how the world works, and so that’s how matter is arranged as well. I speak of this as “ancient Vedic sages thought” rather than as it was revealed but it’s only for convenience, don’t hold it against me. How about this – “Vedic sages saw the society and dull matter as organized in the same way”, and let’s leave the question of how they come to this vision out of this discussion.

Anyway, the point is that if matter is organized hierarchically like that then it means it’s neither uniform nor continuous. Rather there is a discrete number of nodes – parents, siblings, and children, and there is no “space” in between, pretty much like in quantum mechanics where continuous placement or continuous state change of quantum particles is impossible. When we place something “in space” it means we are talking about the parent node and in this space we can find all the siblings available under that node. That parent node has its own parent and its own siblings, and it will be in its parent space which is categorically different from the space below, where we are now. What I mean to say is that our physical space is not all-encompassing and it has its own parent and its own siblings and in that space, higher than our empirical reality, there are no meters and miles.

This is easy to understand on the example of dreams. Dreams create new spaces where we live like in a waking reality but meters of this world do not measure distances in our dreams – they are qualitiatively different form of reality. There ARE distances in dreams but flying up there doesn’t mean equivalent movement of our bodies down here.

On a tree model a dream is like a branch attached to a trunk of our body. When we measure things along the trunk, a branch is a spot a few centimetres wide and a few centimetres long, but it doesn’t tell us anything about the length of the branch itself. Similarly, our dreams are attached to a few pounds of our brains but it doesn’t tell us anything about the breadth and length of our dream experience.

Here I can finally introduce the main point of this article – our physical space can have its own branches as well. In popular literature they are called “portals”. Like there is this old wardrobe in the house, you go inside and there is entire world of Narnia there, but from the outside it’s just an old wardrobe. Crucial objection here is that Narnia is a work of fiction and we never seen such portals in real life. As devotees we can agree on dreams and upper planetary systems as being some kind of multidimensional reality imperceptible to our senses, but we never think of our Earth being organized in the same way. We’ve never seen empirical reality behave like that.

Fine, we’ve never seen it, but why? I would argue it’s precisely because we think it’s impossible. We created this theory of uniform and continuous space, which I mentally refer as “flat”, btw, and so the world appears to us according to this conception. We have become conditioned to perceive it like that. We have these shores on our eyes. We control our senses never to request access to hierarchical space and so access is never given. Pretty much lie if you don’t know what a “lassion” is you will never recognize it – you must have a concept before you can perceive the thing, otherwise you will interpret it as something else. We purged “portals” from our consciousness and we never see them, never perceive them even when they are theoretically there.

I don’t want to discuss how we can develop such concepts and how we can start perceiving these “portals” – it’s something for those interested in karma, I’m only mildly curious, but what it does explain is all kinds of weird things and numbers from shastra.

We can’t comprehend a quadrillion of Ugrasena’s bodyguards, for example, only because we try to fit them into our space where they have to stand next to each other and so our allotted square mileage can accommodate only so many of them. Hierarchical space, on the other hand, means that there is a branch called “bodyguards” and this branch has a quadrillion children. It’s attached to our physical space through a portal the size of a “guards house”. Once you enter there you can see the space inside where there are barracks upon barracks, there are access roads, there are armories etc etc. When you come back out there is a building called “living quarters” next to the “guard hourse” and it’s also a portal with quadrillions of houses, wives, and babies inside.

Or take the case of Narada observing 16,108 Krishna’s palaces in Dvaraka – each palace is its own space and, as siblings, they are not connected to each other so each queen thinks she has Krishna all to herself. They are only connected through their parent portal. There are many many more examples like this. Everything in Vrindavana works like this. Putana had a twelve mile long body lying outside of Nanda Maharaja’s house and it won’t fit on our maps of Vrindavana but it becomes easy if we have a portal called “Nanda Maharaja’s backyard and orchards” next to a portal called “cowshed” where there are 900,000 calves plus their mothers and all the bulls. Or was it 900 million calves? You get the point.

Puranas similarly describe our Bharata Vasra as being divided into nine “khandas” which are inaccessible to each other, only through a portal located in Himalayas. Okay, it doesn’t say “portal located in Himalayas” but that’s what is being described – all the entrances are in the Himalayas and each land goes from Himalayas to the sea.

To sum it up – subdivisions of physical space exist even on our Bhu-mandala, there are “portals” into spaces which are as physical as ours, and this idea of space branching out is not applicable only to the higher planets in the universe or other states of being like dreams.

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