Guru Poornima-2016 Message

THE SPACE

gurujeeThere are certain questions that spontaneously provoke the mind of all human beings – the innocent children as well as the mature persons alike. If we delve into the history of human civilization, we will come to realise that human beings, at different points of time and at different places on earth, have been fascinated by the concept of ‘SPACE’. Be it the Hindu mythology or the Vedic literature or the Greek mythology, the queries about space, the sky and the inhabiting orbs can be found everywhere.

For example, in Brihadaaranyaka Upanishada1 there is a dialogue between Gargi2 and Yagynavalkya3 on this subject. Gargi asks “Oh Yagnavalkya, which they say is above Heaven and beneath the Earth and which is between these two? Which is that the people call the past, the present and the future, which is woven across the space like the warp and woof”? In short, she asks ‘which is above the heaven and earth and which the people call the past, present and future woven across the space like warp and woof.’ The Vedic seers were concerned with the concepts of cosmos, universe, space, sky and time. Such queries, originating in human mind as an intellectual process, gradually resulted in the origin and growth of philosophy, metaphysics and science. The space science of today, may be said to be the emanation of the thoughts of the ancient seers and modern age scientists.

In the same Upanishada, Gargi further asks Yagyavalka, if everything is ‘Ota-Prota’ which means intermingled, like water with air and air with Antariksha4 . The Vedic Sanskrit word, ‘Ota-Prota’ can be interpreted as ‘covered with’ or ‘filled with’. Be as it may be, my purport of referring to Vedic literature is to state that the Vedic seers, over thousands of years, carried on serious research on space and time. For the understanding of this magnificent Vedic concept in a simpler manner, mythological characters were introduced through various Puranas5 like Brahma Purana6 and others.

From the point of view of Hindu mythology, it is stated in Bhagavata Gita 7.4 that Space is one of Krishna’s energies:

“bhumir apo nalo vayuh
Kham mano buddhir eva cha
Ahankara itiyam me
Bhinna prakrutir ashtadha”

Meaning: “Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego – all together these eight constitute My separated material energies.” Other Sanskrit terms for this energy are akasha and nabhah, all three terms can be translated as ‘space’, ‘sky’, or ‘outer space’……”

In Atharva Veda7 and in some of the Puranas one finds the mention of fourteen lokas or worlds. The seven higher lokas or worlds are called – Bhu-loka8 , Bhuvar-loka9 , Svar-loka10 , Mahar-loka11 , Jana-loka12 , Tapa-loka13 and Satya-loka14 . The Lokas, inter-alia, have a spatial notion. They also have significant spiritual connotations. The word Trailokya – the three worlds consisting of the earth, atmosphere or sky and the heaven – makes up the universe. The Abrahamic religions like Judaism, Christianity and Islam, also refer to the concept of seven heavens and seven earths. Some such worlds are said to be inhabited by subtle beings.

Today, after the landing of spaceship on the surface of Moon and Mars, the technology-empowered human beings are planning to promote extra-terrestrial real estate ventures in future.

A few websites on the internet advertise for the purchase of extra-terrestrial real estate. “Lunar Embassy was showered with Internet awards and an overwhelming press attention worldwide, which is continuing today. Reportedly, it has been planned that by the year 2023, astronauts would enter the planet Mars.”

Thus, the Vedic seers’ research on space and sky is relevant in today’s context for understanding the origin of such thoughts at a time when space science has made unimaginable progress.

Dr. C.B. Satpathy, Gurugram

Endnotes

  1. Brihadaaranyaka Upanishada: The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is a treatise on Atman (Soul, Self), includes passages on metaphysics, ethics.
  2. Gargi: Gargi Vachaknavi, the daughter of sage Vachaknu in the lineage of sage Garga (800-500 BCE) was named after her father as Gargi Vachaknavi. Born in about 700 BC, she was an ancient Indian philosopher. In Vedic Literature, she is honored as a great natural philosopher, renowned expounder of the Vedas, and known as Brahmavadini, a person with knowledge of Brahma Vidya.
  3. Yagynavalkya: Yajnavalkya of Videha (fl. c. 7th century BCE[1]) was a sage and philosopher of Vedic India. He was one of the first philosophers in recorded history. In the court of King Janaka of Mithila, he was renowned for his expertise in Vedic rituals and his unrivalled talent in theological debate.
  4. Antariksha: In the Vedas, antariksha is the middle or second of three lokas (spheres) usually enumerated as bhur, bhuvar, and svar. It is the mid-region; the firmament or space between earth and heaven, the abode of apsaras (nymphs), gandharvas (celestial musicians), and yakshas (nature spirits of many types) along with the mythical wish-granting cow of plenty, Kamadhenu.
  5. Puranas: The word Puranas literally means ‘ancient, old’, and it is a vast genre of Indian literature about a wide range of topics, particularly myths, legends and other traditional lore.
  6. Brahma Purana: It is a Sanskrit-text and listed as the first among the eighteen major Puranas. It is also called Adi Purana. The surviving manuscript carries 245 chapters.
  7. Atharva Veda: The Atharva Veda is composed in Vedic Sanskrit, and it is a collection of 730 hymns with about 6,000 mantras, divided into 20 books. Atharva Veda originated from ‘atharva?as’ and Veda means ‘knowledge’. It is the “knowledge storehouse of atharva?as, the procedures for everyday life”. The text is the fourth Veda, but has been a late addition to the Vedic scriptures of Hinduism.
  8. Bhu-loka: It literally means ‘the earth-world’ which is considered as a ‘loka,’ a place for doing karma or actions and enjoy their fruits.
  9. Bhuvar-loka: Means ‘Plane of atmosphere’. The second of the seven upper worlds, realm of svadhishtana chakra, consisting of the two astral regions closest to the physical plane: pitriloka, “world of ancestors,” and pretaloka, ‘world of the departed’.
  10. Svar-loka: In Sanskrit, it means ‘Celestial or bright plane’. The third of the seven upper worlds, the midastral region (equated in some texts with Svarga), realm of manipura chakra
  11. Mahar-loka : In Sanskrit it means ‘Plane of greatness’, originated from mahas, “greatness, might, power, glory.” Also called the Devaloka, this fourth highest of the seven upper worlds is the mental plane, realm of anahata chakra.
  12. Jana-loka: In Sanskrit, it means ‘Plane of creativity’, or of liberated mortals. The third highest of the seven upper worlds, realm of vishuddha chakra.
  13. Tapa-loka: Abode of tapas or of other deities. Ayohnija devadas live here.
  14. Satya-loka: In Sanskrit, it means ‘Plane of reality, truth’, also called brahmaloka; the realm of sahasrara chakra. It is the highest of the seven upper worlds.
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