What Happened To Sastra Caksus?

 

BY: RAJASEKHARA DAS BRAHMACARI (ACBSP)

In his article entitled "Flat Earth or Spherical Earth?" published by Sampradaya Sun and ISKCON News in May 2019, Danavir Goswami has made a number of statements not supported by either Surya-siddhanta or Siddhanta-siromani, which he quotes as the main thrust of his article.

Although it is nice to see Danavir Goswami discussing the globular Earth, he appears to have some misconceptions on the subject.

In a major anomaly, Danavir Goswami, while providing evidence of the globular Earth from Surya-siddhanta and Siddhanta-siromani, actually violates the version of these two Jyotisha-shastras by interpolating his own conception of the Earth as Bharata-khanda.

By doing so, he is coercing the reader into believing that these two Jyotisha-shastras says that the Earth globe is called Bharata-khanda, which is contrary to the text of Surya-siddhanta and Siddhanta-siromani.

Even though Danavir Goswami says, "sastra caksus (seeing through the eyes of the sastras- scriptures) and hearing from the acaryas' as evidence", he is guilty of interpolating his own ideas when quoting from these shastras, which is most unfortunate and misleading.

This is Danavir Goswami's answer to a question posed in the above mentioned article:

"We don't find a description in the sastras of Jambudvipa as being spherical—circular yes, spherical no.

Regarding the earth we live on which is called Bharata-khanda, it appears that it is a completely round sphere. Here is the evidence using sastra caksus (seeing through the eyes of the sastras- scriptures) and hearing from the acaryas. Below see a quotation from Siddhanta siromani and a note (commentary) by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura."

Is Danavira Goswami not aware that we do not find a description of the Earth being described as Bharata-khanda, in Surya-siddhanta, Siddhanta-siromani, or even Shrimad-Bhagavatam.

What happened to shastra caksus? Here Danavir Goswami is interpolating his own version of 'Bharata-khanda' as the Earth, as part of a quotation from Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati.

In the next paragraph, Danavir Goswami provides a quotation from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati that cites four evidences concerning the Earth as a globe.

After which Danavir Goswami goes on to say,

"Srila Bhaktisiddhanta is placing forward four authoritative opinions regarding the circumference of the earth we live on (Bharata-khanda)."

Nowhere in the Surya-siddhanta or Siddhanta-siromani does Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati give the impression that the earth globe is called Bharata-khanda.

On the contrary, according to Surya-siddhanta (12.34-40) the Earth globe resembles Jambhudwipa with Meru located at the North Pole; to the east of the fourth quadrant of the Earth globe is Bhadrasva-varsha, to the south is Bharata-varsha, in the west Ketumala-varsha, and in the north Kuru-varsha.

Thus, for Danavir Goswami to impose his own view that the Earth globe is called Bharata-khanda is contrary to the text of Surya-siddhanta and Siddhanta-siromani and blatantly wrong, especially as he implies that it was the view of Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, by attaching it at the end of the above mentioned quote.

Further on Danavir Goswami again imposes his own view while referencing the statements made by Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati when he says:

"The terms "circumference" and "diameter" are given in the singular indicating that in all four views, earth (Bharata-khanda) is taken as a round sphere."

While referring to Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati's commentary, Danavir Goswami imposes his own conception that the Earth is Bharata-khanda. Then he goes on to say,

"The earth Bharata-khanda is spherical round that accommodates the view of day and night and the seasons."

Surely, when quoting from Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati's translation and commentary on the Surya-siddhanta and Siddhanta-siromani, Danavir Goswami should stick to the text, instead of injecting his own misconception about the location of the planet Earth when he says,

"The planet earth we live on is located on the southern-most portion of Bhu-mandala's central island of Jambudvipa."

So in accordance with Danavir Goswami's much hyped 'sashtra caksus', can he provide the exact quotation from the shastras that says Bharata-khanda, the planet earth we live on, is located on the southern-most portion of Bhu-mandala's central island of Jambudvipa?

Neither the Surya-siddhanta nor the Siddhanta-siromani says that the Earth globe is called Bharata-khanda, therefore why does Danavir Goswami repeatedly interpolate his own ideas when quoting from its text?

When presenting the commentaries of Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, or any of the Gaudiya Vaishnava Acharyas, one must strictly adhere to the scriptural text; otherwise a wrong impression will be transmitted to the readers. It is rather like putting words into the mouth of the revered Acharya and this is certainly offensive and wrong.

Danavir Goswami was the one who published the Surya-siddhanta, so he must be fully aware that Surya-siddhantadescribes the Earth globe as resembling Jambhudwipa with Meru located in the middle of the Earth planet (meru madhya) and protruding from the North Pole (vinirgata).

The Surya-siddhanta is a very important Vedanga on Jyotish-shastra and must be presented as-it-is and not as Danavir Goswami would-like-it-to-be.

Although the Shrimad-Bhagavatam does not mention the Earth globe as being Bharata-khanda, we are fully aware that Shrila Prabhupada had often said that the Earth was once named Bharata-varsha (not Bharata-khanda) during the rule of Emperor Bharata Maharaja.

However, Shrila Prabhupada's Bharata-varsha is very different from Danavir Goswami's Bharata-khanda; because Shrila Prabhupada described an Earth globe that rotates on its axis and having seven island continents, and never said that it was located at the southern tip of Jambhudwipa.

So Danavir Goswami's version of the Earth globe does not in any way resemble Shrila Prabhupada's presentation of the Earth globe. The message here is simple; there should be no speculation or interpolation when presenting the Vedic literatures.

As Danavir Goswami himself has clearly stated,

"evidence using sastra caksus (seeing through the eyes of the sastras-scriptures) and hearing from the acaryas."

Thus when quoting from the commentaries by acharyas like Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, or from any of the Vedic literatures, Danavir Goswami should follow his own instructions and strictly follow the principle of sastra-caksus.