Sri Krishna’s Milky Way Galaxy
by Govardhan dasa
Dear Prabhu’s and Mataji’s, my humble obeisances to you all!
I am an initiated grand-disciple of Srila Prabhupada and the son of devotees initiated by Srila Prabhupada. I grew up with Srila Prabhupada in the forefront of my early life — His great legacy, movement and devotees, his teachings & amazing books are super near and dear to my heart.
For the past few years or so I’ve been reading Srimad Bhagavatam with a focus on cosmology and creation (5th Canto and others), in parallel with a journey into the basics of modern Astronomy & Astrophysics.
The connections and discoveries I’ve stumbled upon by comparing modern science and Bhagavata cosmology and spirituality have been incredibly profound and “mind-blowing.”
I beg to share with you something about that here as a humble offering.
However, first here’s a very relevant conversation excerpt.
The following is from a conversation on April 30, 1977, in Bombay with ISKCON founder Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada talking to a renowned Vedic Scholar in an effort to find someone who could properly explain the Fifth Canto of Bhagavata Purana and help create a cosmology diagram for the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium.
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Agnihotram Ramanuja Tatachariar: …because as we prepare diagram on the basis of pañcama-skandha, Bhāgavata (5th Canto, Srimad Bhagavatam), all must be given there. (continues reading verses from Bhāgavatam in Sanskrit)
Gopala Kṛṣṇa: Begin the drawing now, so that Prabhupāda can see it before he leaves.
Agnihotram Ramanuja Tatachariar: No, because I am not able to prepare the diagrams and other things. With the help of my friends only I can do. I give the translation to them and all do the work. Simply we can show to them.
Srila Prabhupada: I have tried to translate it as far as possible, but I am not satisfied.
Agnihotram Ramanuja Tatachariar: A deep study of the text is absolutely necessary.
Srila Prabhupāda: Hmm?
Agnihotram Ramanuja Tatachariar: Deep study of text, and also with a mind of preparing diagram, study of the…, that is… We ask Padma-bhūṣaṇa. How is Padma-bhūṣaṇa…
Srila Prabhupāda: What is your idea of the seven planets, sun…?
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Reading and hearing this conversation for the first time was amazing for me. I didn’t know Srila Prabhupada wasn’t satisfied with his translation of Srimad Bhagavatam’s 5th Canto. I was also not satisfied (with my own understanding), but I was afraid to voice it.
The Srimad Bhagavatam is Srila Prabhupada’s priceless gift. It is the Supreme Lords magnificent sound and book incarnation. However there is still this canto [and other cosmological references] in this great scripture that remain somewhat mysterious and transcendental to logic and experience.
To recap, in 1977 in regard to his own translation of the [already published] 5th Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada said:
“I have tried to translate it as far as possible, but I am not satisfied.”
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Puranic Descriptions of the Universe beg our faith, because they rarely match up with the physical reality we see with our eyes and telescopes when we look out into the heavens.
As a researcher of Bhagavatam cosmology, my opinion is that Srila Prabhupada was not satisfied with his translation because certain words and constructs didn’t have appropriate Sanskrit dictionary translations or any logical explanations by Astronomers like the Indian man in the 1977 interview.
The actual science which the 5th canto Bhagavatam illustrates wasn’t clearly understood (or proved in reality) by astronomers yet. It was more in the realm of theory.
Scientifically speaking, the core of Bhagavatam cosmology was during Srila Prabhupada’s time mostly in the realm of Theoretical Physics and Mathematics.
Astonishingly, some of the most important aspects of Bhagavatam Cosmology was in part also predicted by Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity and revealed by Schwarzschild in his solution to Einstein’s field equations.
I suppose you’re wondering what I’m talking by now? Let me back up a bit in the story and explain.
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A few years back, after many years of not being satisfied with (or properly grasping) the 5th canto and other cosmological references, I eventually I ventured to see if the cosmology outlined in Srimad Bhagavatam had a “scientific basis.”
Not to challenge anything written or said by previous Acaryas — but rather to see if there were any new clues, because there have been many new and exciting scientific discoveries and observations in recent decades.
So, I set out to get an udpated perspective on the Universe from online learning materials (especially Astrophysics) provided by http://science.nasa.gov and similar sites.
I was especially intrigued with Galaxy formation & evolution, as well as Black Hole science and the incredible effects of Dark Matter and Dark Energy on our visible universe. I’m also fascinated with Paleoclimatology and cyclical climate change events as they relate to mass extinctions and evolutions, evident in our earth’s fossil record and other sources.
It is clear to me that the great four-sided Sumeru Mountain and Jambhudvipa is cosmically the central bulge region of our “barred spiral galaxy,” with the Supreme Lord as its basis — as the central core — the “timeless,” exponentially massive, infinitely compressed, gravitational “singularity” and “mathematically infinite” Supermassive Black Hole.
There is evidence in the Srimad Bhagavatam to show that the lotus bud in which Lord Brahma was born, was cosmically the “Fermi bubbles (video, article),” observed by the Rishis back eons ago when the bubbles emitted light in the visible spectrum (like this).
The beautifully perplexing thing is that our Bhagavata theology celebrates Sri Krishna and Vishnu as our Milky Way’s central Supermassive Black Hole and the source of the gravitational force itself.
Lord Krsna is the Paramatma of our Galaxy and we are all attracted to His flute sound emanating from the Center. For the Sages to have qualified Supermassive Black Holes like this gives me goosebumps!
“Bhu Mata” is mother earth and “Bhu Mandala” is the “svastika mandala” arrangement of stars, planets and matter that makes up our home Galaxy, again with the Lord and His abode in the middle.
SB 5.16.28 — In the middle of the summit of Meru is the township of Lord Brahma. Each of its four sides is calculated to extend for ten million yojanas [eighty million miles]. It is made entirely of gold, and therefore learned scholars and sages call it Satakaumbhī.
SB 5.16.11 — On the four sides of the great mountain known as Sumeru are four mountains — Mandara, Merumandara, Supārśva and Kumuda — which are like its belts. The length and height of these mountains are calculated to be 10,000 yojanas [80,000 miles].
Sages such as Vyasa were so incredibly genius, that along with the science of divine love they encoded Astrophysics into our Sastras! Also since ancient times and even in the Rig Veda, cows were microcosmically stars. Lord Krishna, the central fountainhead of divine love is the ultimate cow-herder.
Stories like the birth of Brahmaji paint a picture of something remarkably scientific, cosmically speaking — creation and cosmic-energy-ignited stellar birth. The Rishi’s worshipped cosmic energy. The “Rays of Visnu” is not simply a poetic phrase. Quasars are the most luminous objects in the Universe.
It’s strangely ironic and wonderful to me that Astrophysics — a branch of modern science — helps illuminate 5th Canto Srimad Bhagavatam cosmology. The Lord works in mysterious ways.
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Why would the Lord Appear as a Supermassive Black Hole?
Black Holes are literally “Masters of the Universe.” With help from Dark Energy Black Holes shape Galaxies, and thus mold most of the Universe. Active Black Holes/Quasars are sources of the most powerful blasts of energy observed in our Universe, yet paradoxically they are directly invisible or black, as they absorb light.
The most powerful and “exotic objects” in the universe are dark, black and attractive — and beautifully garmented if you ask me (see above). Sound familiar? Scientifically speaking, these incredible forces do destruction, maintenance and creation work.
Black Holes are at heart of our very own experience of Time, Space, Energy and Matter here in the material world. Our Sun is orbiting our Milky Way’s central Supermassive Black Hole as you read this. Far beyond Surya Deva (our Sun), it is Lord Vishnu or Lord Jagannath that spins our Galactic Disc round about.
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Rays of Visnu: what are the Brightest Lights in the Universe?
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More Specifics on Bhagavata Cosmology
A Brahmanda (or “brahma’s egg” or cosmic egg) is not our Universe, literally… it is our Galaxy and our “local” Brahmanda is our Milky Way Galaxy.
Billions of “anda’s” with different Brahma’s emanate from the pores or “holes” of the one great central source Maha-Vishnu, who is literally the Universe (this is my evolving understanding)…. all the anda’s or galaxies expanded from one great source. Science calls this expansion the Big Bang, because they — as did the Rishis of yore — observed that the Universe and all of its contents had originally expanded from one point. I believe the Sages observed and understood redshift.
The Lord of the Universe has two main Symbols: Disc or Wheel and Conch
Our observable Universe mostly consists of Elliptical Disc & Spiral Galaxies:
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Our Milky Way Galaxy — Our local Manifestation of Sri Visnu, tri-murti and Lord Govinda
The Srimad Bhagavatam explains the Milky Way Galaxy in so many different ways, always with the Lord in the Center surrounded by his Laksmis — or later in the Bhagavatam, Lord Shyama Sundar plays his flute in the center of the Rasa dance surrounded by the Gopis. This is analogous with the physics and constitution of our Galaxy and the process of creation (of stars and planets, and life!).
Interestingly, every millennium the Earth sinks into the cosmic ocean in despair, but the Lord heroically lifts her out of the muck and into the clear, and places her gently upon the surface of the ocean (Jaya Varahadeva!).
This Lila alludes to the perilous journey that earth takes through space and is most probably the cause of the Yugas and evolutions on earth. (Visnu causes extinctions and evolutions through his Cosmic Rays & Energy, not random processes).
Srila Vyasadeva and his ancestors observed and worshiped the great Milky Way Galaxy orbiting (doing “parikrama”) around a super-massive invisible yet radiant center, that is the “Supermassive Black Hole” in the Galactic Core of our Milky Way Galaxy.
That is the Sisumara (Dolphin) Cakra. The dolphin is the Milky Way, and within the core of her heart is situated Lord Narayana or, according to Brahma Samhita it is Lord Govinda in the center and there the geometry of the innermost region of the Galactic core is illuminated.
Once we learn even a little bit about our Galaxy and Black Holes, the 5th canto (and many other cantos) of Srimad Bhagavatam start to reveal an enormous meta layer of “spiritual astrophysics” that runs throughout this remarkable masterpiece.
Active Galactic Neuclei and Quasars are sources of the most energetic explosions of cosmic energy in the Universe, and Supermassive Black Holes are the hubs which spin the Galactic wheels round.
Black Holes swallow and destroy stars and planets with unimaginable force, but they do much more to sustain and organize and evolve the Galaxies.
It would appear that Vyasa and the Sages of Naimisharanya were also “proto-Astrophysicists” and were forming the earliest theories on Black Hole Physics, Galaxy formation, Star birth, as well as Paleoclimatology, Milankovich cycles, climate change, mass extinctions and evolutions etc etc its all in Srimad Bhagavatam.
But these were pure Vaishnava Astrophysicists, and they were devotees of their observations. Later in Bhagavata, it is Lord Sri Krishna who stands as the Supreme fountainhead, the Supreme attractor, the Supreme cause of Gravity and Supreme destination of gravity (singularity), who is the blackish complexioned flute player breathing in and out all the Galaxies.
There is so much more to this than what I can summarize here.
We should consider the possibility that there is a real solid Bhagavata Cosmology centered around our Milky Galaxy, as one of the infinite number of galaxies emanating from the one great source, Maha-Visnu — yet our Milky Way is the home, the playground of all the Lila Avatara’s. Most of what is dicussed in the Srimad Bhagavatam seems to have taken place within our Galaxy, from the birth of Lord Brahma to Krishna’s killing Aghasura, to the eventual annihilation.
I feel that studying the lengths and distances of mountain ranges in Bhu-mandala will not lead us in the right direction. The lengths and distances can be a distraction from the big Galactic picture, which is quite remarkable.
It doesn’t even matter if some or most of the distances are not accurate, because the overall understanding of the physics and spiritual perspective presented there in Srimad Bhagavatam is absolutely phenomenal and mind-bending in its own right.
Srimad Bhagavatam may be the most ancient and comprehensive proto-scientific document on Galactic Astronomy and Black Hole Phyics, which predates modern notions by more than 5 thousand years.
Bhu-mandala isn’t a magical, mythical plane. It a real, divine place and we are in it right now! Out on the outskirts, like dust on the Lords feet. You can see the Lords form partially in the night sky if you get out of the city!
In future posts I’d like to share many notes and interesting things I found in Srimad Bhagavatam… like the amazing fact that the story of Dhruva Maharaja contains within it a simple formula that outputs the approximate year count for the precession of the equinox (25,920).
I’ll end with a few quotes:
SB 2.6.22: From that Personality of Godhead, all the universal globes and the universal form with all material elements, qualities and senses are generated. Yet He is aloof from such material manifestations, like the sun, which is separate from its rays and heat.
SB 8.6.3–7: Lord Brahmā, along with Lord Śiva, saw the crystal-clear personal beauty of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose blackish body resembles a marakata gem, whose eyes are reddish like the depths of a lotus, who is dressed with garments that are yellow like molten gold, and whose entire body is attractively decorated.
SB 4.11.17: My dear Dhruva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead is uncontaminated by the material modes of nature (sub-cycles of creation, life & death). He is the remote cause of the creation of this material cosmic manifestation. When He gives the impetus, many other causes and effects are produced, and thus the whole universe moves, just as iron moves by the integrated force of a magnet.
SB 5.14.29: The personal weapon used by Lord Kṛṣṇa, the disc, is called hari-cakra, the disc of Hari. This cakra is the wheel of time. It expands from the beginning of the atoms up to the time of Brahmā’s death, and it controls all activities. It is always revolving and spending the lives of the living entities, from Lord Brahmā down to an insignificant blade of grass. Thus one changes from infancy, to childhood, to youth and maturity, and thus one approaches the end of life. It is impossible to check this wheel of time. This wheel is very exacting because it is the personal weapon of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.…
SB 2.10.7: The supreme one who is celebrated as the Supreme Being or the Supreme Soul is the supreme source of the cosmic manifestation as well as its reservoir and winding up. Thus He is the Supreme Fountainhead, the Absolute Truth.