Vedic Cosmography and Astronomy

 Sadaputa das - 14.11 2017

Roughly speaking, by the "dimensionality" of space we mean the degree of access to other places that is possible at any given place for a conscious observer. This degree of access depends on the sensory arrangement of the observer, and thus we conceive of space as being relative to the consciousness of living beings.  

 Krsna has full access to all locations at once, and thus for Krsna, space has the highest possible dimensionality. It is therefore possible for Krsna to appear in any location at will without having to travel, as we see in the story of Krsna's appearance in the womb of Uttara to save Maharaja Pariksit. Another way of expressing this feature of Krsna is to say that He is all-pervading.   

For embodied beings in the material world, different levels of spatial access are possible, depending on their karmic status and corresponding sensory constitution. According to the Vedic literature, there are 400,000 species in this universe having humanlike form, and many of these have levels of sensory power superior to that of ordinary human beings of our modern civilization. These include, for example, the Kimpurusas, who are endowed with "mystic powers by which one can disappear immediately from another's vision and appear again in a  different form " (SB 4.18.20).   These humanlike species all have their countries and dwelling places, even though these may not be visible or accessible to us. Indeed, our thesis is that many regions of the earth, or Bhu-mandala, are not accessible to ordinary human senses. These regions are actually part of our immediate environment, but we can reach them only through higher-dimensional travel.

UNINDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECTS

  In this subsection we will discuss some modern empirical evidence suggesting that we are part of a larger world of humanlike beings that is largely inaccessible to our senses and that may involve higher-dimensional inhabited realms. Before we begin, we should emphasize that all empirical evidence is faulty, since it is subject to the four defects of sensory imperfection, mistakes, illusion, and the tendency to cheat. This is particularly true of empirical evidence regarding phenomena that cannot be readily controlled or subjected to systematic experimentation. It is even more true of the evidence we shall consider here, which may involve the independent actions of living beings possessing human or superhuman powers. Evidence of this kind will tend to be controversial no matter how strong it is, since it contradicts fundamental assumptions lying at the root of modern Western civilization. Unfortunately, such evidence will also tend to be imperfect and fragmentary, since we are unable to control the phenomena involved and there is a natural tendency for people to suppress reports of these phenomena.

  Thus far in this book, we have presented arguments that are intended to show that Vedic cosmology might be true. These arguments can be divided into two categories: (1) explanations that clarify Vedic cosmological ideas and hopefully make them more plausible and understandable, and (2) refutations of objections to Vedic cosmology raised by modern scientific theories. (Chapters 6 and 7 and Appendix 2 contain additional material in this category.) Although these arguments may remove various objections to Vedic cosmology, they do not provide any direcy empirical evidence indicating that Vedic cosmology is true. Of course, according to the PARAMPARA system,

Vedic cosmology should be accepted simply on the basis of sastric authority. However, the doubt may arise that if Vedic cosmology really is true, then it would seem strange if no empirical evidence could be adduced that directly supports it.   We suggest that there is actually abundant evidence for the existence of realms of intelligent living beings operating almost entirely outside the range of our ordinary senses. This evidence is what we would expect to find if Vedic cosmology is true, and it is definitely not what we would expect to find on the basis of accepted scientific paradigms. It can therefore be interpreted as giving support for the Vedic world view, although it does not refer directly to the structure of Bhu-mandala and other features of Vedic cosmography.   This evidence falls into three broad categories: (1) folklore and traditional world views, (2) psychical phenomena, and (3) the evidence regarding unidentified flying objects, or UFOs. Each of these categories provides direct testimony indicating that interactions have occurred between human beings and other intelligent beings possessing paranormal or superhuman powers. In this chapter we will discuss category three, although, as we will see, these categories are interrelated and show considerable overlap.   

There is extensive documentation on the subject of UFOs, which is largely generated by three groups of people: empirical investigators, debunkers, and UFO cultists. One prominent characteristic of this field of study is that the evidence tends to generate strong emotions, both positive and negative, in the people involved. This makes objective discussion of the evidence difficult. Nonetheless, the UFO evidence can be potentially useful in helping people understand the overall validity of the Vedic world view, and therefore we will briefly consider it here.   We will begin by considering two examples of sightings of unidentified flying objects. The first sighting took place during the evening of July 14, 1952. Second Officer William Nash was at the controls of a Pan American DC-4 flying at 8,000 feet in the vicinity of Norfolk, Virginia, and Third Officer William Fortenberry was acting as copilot. It is described that the night was clear, with unlimited visibility, and the lights of Newport News could be seen out of the port window.

  Shortly after 8:00 P.M. (EST), both men spotted a redish glow off in the distance, apparently east of Newport News. As the glow resolved itself into six bright points, it became obvious that the objects were approaching at a very high speed. Within seconds, the objects could be clearly recognized as reddish, glowing discs, as they streaked under the airliner. Then, abruptly, the entire group flipped on edge, made a sharp-angled turn, and reversed direction. As this was happening, the procession of six discs was joined by two more identical objects coming from under the plane, and all eight blinked out, back on again, and then off for good, while heading westward north of Newport News [RS,p.138].

  Both Nash and his copilot had been military pilots, trained in observing and identifying aircraft. They maintained that the discs looked solid, with sharp, well-defined edges. Based on their observations of the flight paths of the discs, they estimated that they had been traveling at least 12,000 miles per hour.   A closer sighting of what seemed to be a strange flying machine was reported by several witnesses near Exeter, New Hampshire, during the early-morning hours of September 3, 1965 (RS, pp.176-178). At 1:30 A.M. Police Officer Eugene Bertrand investigated a parked car and found a distraught woman who claimed that her car had been followed for some 12 miles by a spaceship with red lights. Bertrand rejected this story, but was soon summoned back to his police station to investigate a similar story by 18-year-old  Norman Muscarello.

The teenager had burst into the station at 2:24 A.M. "in a state of near shock." He stated that while he was hitchhiking along route 150, a glowing object with pulsating red  lights suddenly came floating across a nearby field in his direction. He said that the object was as big as a house and that it was completely silent as it moved toward him. After he dove for cover, the object backed away, and he flagged down a car, which took him to the police station.   Bertrand and Muscarello returned to the scene, and at about 3 A.M. both saw the object rise silently from behind two seventy-foot -tall pine trees. As Bertrand later described it, it was a "large, dark, solid object as big as a house... It seemed compressed, as if it were round or egg-shaped, with definitely no protrusions like wings, rudder, or stabilizer" (RS, p.177).

The object had a row of five blinding red lights that blinked cyclically, casting a blood-red glow over the field and a nearby farmhouse. As nearby horses kicked in their stalls and dogs howled, it floated about two hundred feet off the ground with a fluttering motion, like a falling leaf.   This testimony was confirmed by officer David Hunt, who arrived on the scene in time to observe the object for five or six minutes as it departed in the direction of Hampton. The police also received a phone call from an excited man in Hampton, who reported seeing the object.   Here we will briefly touch upon some of the interpretations that have been proposed for such sightings, but we will not try to resolve the many controversial issues they involve. Broadly speaking, these sightings have been interpreted as involving (1) illusions or hoaxes, (2) secret military vehicles, (3) alien spaceships from other planets, and (4) vehicles piloted by beings from higher-dimensional realms. Without going into great detail, we would evaluate these interpretations as follows.   There are, of course, many instances in which sightings of strange phenomena turn out to be illusions or even deliberate frauds. However, there aslo seem to be many reports - such as the two we have summarized here - that are not amenable to this interpretation. If we dismiss either of these reports as the result of illusion or fraud, then it would seem that we must cast grave doubt on the reliability of human testimony in general. Let us therefore consider what consequences follow if we give at least as much credence to human testimony as is customarily done in courts of law.  

 The hypothesis of secret military vehicles may explain some sightings, but it seems doubtful that it can account for all of them. For example, if the flying discs seen by Nash and Fortenberry in 1952 were the product of human military technology, then one might ask why no technology of an even remotely similar nature had been used by any nation during World War II, only seven years before. Of course, it might be argued that technology had  advanced by leaps and bounds in the post-war period, as shown by the example of computers. But this does not seem to be true of aerospace technology. For example, in the 1980's the space shuttle is being propelled into earth orbit by dangerous, unreliable solid-fuel booster rockets quite similar to the rockets used by the ancient Chinese, and atmospheric flight still depends on conventional propellers and jet engines.   

We should also point out that more is involved here than mere technology; many sightings seem to involve phenomena that are incomprehensible in terms of the known principles of physics. Secret military developments certainly take place, but we know of no example in which fundamental scientific advances were made that were unknown to civilian scientists. For example, the basic scientific principles underlying the atomic bomb were well known to European scientists prior to World War II, and the Manhattan Project was devoted to routine but expensive engineering  developments. It is difficult to see how government scientists working under conditions of secrecy could make spectacular advances if fundamental physics that remain inconceivable to scientists in the world at large.   

The hypothesis of aliens from other planets also has its drawbacks, when presented in conventional form. Let us examine this hypothesis from the perspective of modern science. According to modern scientific thinking, the other planets of our solar system are devoid of life. Many scientists think that intelligent life may have developed on planets circling other stars, but they believe that this could happen only by a process of evolution similar to the process that has produced life on the earth. It is therefore important to note that prominent evolutionists have ruled out this possibility. These evolutionists point out that many random events are involved in the production of human beings, and the chance that something even remotely comparable to ourselves could evolve independently on another planet is essentially zero.   The evolutionist George Gaylord Simpson has raised this question in the following form: "Even in planetary histories different from ours might not some quite different and yet comparably intelligent beings - humanoids in a broader sense - have evolved ?" (GS, p.268) His answer is that the essential nonrepeatability of evolution makes this extremely unlikely. A similar conclusion was reached by the evolutionist Theodosius Dobzhansky (TD).   

In fact, we agree with the analysis of Simpson and Dobzhansky, and we would go further by noting that, according to their reasoning, the probability is nearly zero that evolutionary processes would produce humans on the earth. By a probability of nearly zero, we mean a probability of the form 1 out of 10 to the power N, where N is a number in the hundreds or thousands. If an event occurs on one planet with this probability, then the probability that it will occur independently on two planets out of a billion possible planets is about 1 out of 10 to the power 2N-18. (Here we are assuming the existence of one billion planets suitable for life, and the 18 is the log of one billion squared.) In short, it seems highly unlikely that the evolution of matter would produce builders of flying machines on the earth, and far less likely that it would do this independently on other planets. (For a detailed discussion of the low probabilities associated with the evolution of advanced life forms, see the book

MECHANISTIC AND NONMECHANISTIC SCIENCE (MN), by the author.)   Of course, we can depart from the scientific hypothesis of extraterrestrial aliens by proposing, say, that one superintelligent being (i.e., Brahma) may have created humanoids on other planets. However, we are still confronted by the fact that, according to modern astronomy, the nearest star is several light-years away. Given the limitations imposed by the known laws of physics, a vehicle traveling between the nearest star and the earth would take several years at the very least to make the trip.   Many thousands of sightings of unidentifiable flying vehicles have been reported in the period following World War II, and practically all have involved brief encounters followed by no significant developments. Since it is inconvenient to make many journeys, each of which lasts for years, these observations suggest that either (1) the aliens have established local residences or (2) they are able to travel faster than the speed of light.

Our point at this stage in the argument is that in making necessary modifications of the scientific extraterrestrial-alien hypothesis, we have brought it closer, step by step, to the Vedic world view. According to Vedic cosmology, there are 400,000 created humanoid life-forms in the universe. Many are locally based (such as the Yaksas and Vidyadharas), and many are capable of unusual modes of travel (such as travel at the speed of the mind).   Another aspect of the UFO phenomenon is what could be called its psychic component. UFO sightings are frequently accompanied by telepathic impressions that observers tend to interpret as communications transmitted by UFO occupants. Psychic healings are reported in connection with UFOs, and UFO encounters are often followed by the appearance of typical psychical phenomena. Here is one case that illustrates some of these features (JV, pp 173-6):  

 On November 1, 1968, a French medical doctor was awakened by calls from his 14-month-old baby shortly before 4:00 A.M. On opening a window, he saw two hovering disc-shaped objects that were silvery-white on top and bright red beneath. After moving closer for some time,  the two discs merged into a single disc, which directed a beam of white light at the doctor's house. The disc then vanished with a sort of explosion, leaving a cloud that dissipated slowly.   The doctor testified that he had received a serious leg injury while chopping wood three days before. After the departure of the mysterious object(s), the swelling and pain from this injury suddenly vanished, and during subsequent days he also noticed the disappearance of all the chronic after-effects of the injuries he had received in the Algerian war.   During a two-year period following this incident, there was no recurrence of symptoms associated with either the war injuries or the leg wound. However, strange paranormal phenomena began to take place around the doctor and his family. According to the French scientist Jacques Vallee, "Coincidences of a telepathic nature are frequently reported, and the doctor has allegedly, on at least one occasion, experienced levitation without being able to control it." [JV, p.176,259]

The doctor apparently did not experience such things prior to his UFO sighting.   Psychical phenomena are a standard feature of human societies in all times and places, and they are referred to almost continuously in the Vedic literature. In modern human societies there seems to be an almost inverse relationship between the development of mechanical technology and the development of various psychic powers. However, in the Vedic literature we read of beings, such as the Danavas of BILA-SVARGA, who possess both advanced mechanical technology and mystic SIDDHIS, and who are apparently able to combine the two. The UFO phenomenon seems to involve something similar, and this is another reason for thinking that this phenomenon can be better understood in terms of Vedic cosmology than in terms of standard theories involving high technology and interstellar evolution.   In addition to sightings of UFOs from a distance, there are many reports of close encounters with UFO occupants.

These beings are often reported to communicate directly by telepathic processes, and they are also said to be able to project illusions through some kind of hypnotic power. Here is a typical example of this kind of report (JV,p.192):   On November 17, 1971, at 9:30 P.M., a Brazilian man named Paulo Gaetano was driving back from a business trip, accompanied by his friend Elvio. Paulo informed his companion that the car was not pulling normally, but his companion reacted by saying that he was tired and wanted to sleep. The engine then stalled, and after pulling to the side of the road, Paulo saw some kind of craft about twelve feet away. Next, he later maintained, several small beings appeared, took him into the craft, and subjected him to some kind of medical examination, which included taking a blood sample from his arm. He could not recall how he and Elvio got back home.   For his part, Elvio did not remember seeing a strange craft, but only an ordinary bus following the car at a normal distance. He saw the car pull off to the side of the road, and he remembered finding Paulo on the ground behind the parked car.

But he did not remember seeing Paulo get out of the car, and did not know what had happened to him. He took Paulo by bus to the nearby town of Itaperuna, but he could not explain why they had abandoned the car. The police noticed the cut on Paulo's arm and later found the car parked on the highway.   Of course, there is a natural temptation to dismiss stories such as this as crazy nonsense. However, there are evidently many cases in which events of this kind are reported (including many that do not involve the questionable procedure of hypnotic regression). One possible explanation is that these stories involve delusions caused by some kind of mental disorder. However, there is psychiatric testimony indicating that common forms of nervous and mental disease do not involve delusions of seeing UFOs. For example, the psychiatrist Berthold Schwarz has stated,

  In thirteen years of private practice ... I have never noted symptoms related to UFOs. A similar finding was confirmed on questioning Theodore A. Anderson, M.D., a senior psychiatrist, and Henry A. Davidson, M.D., then Medical Director of the Essex County Overbrook Hospital. Dr. Davidson recalled no patients with gross UFO symptoms out of three thousand inpatients, nor among all those presented to the staff while he was superintendent; nor of the thirty thousand patients who have been hospitalized since the turn of the century. (ET,pp.23-24)

  It is possible that UFO close-encounter cases may involve the action of beings endowed with Vedic mystic SIDDHIS. We do not wish to insist on this point, but we note that such a state of affairs would be consistent with Vedic cosmology. Srila Prabhupada describes the VASITA SIDDHI as follows:

  By this perfection one can bring anyone under his control. This is a kind of hypnotism which is almost irresistible. Sometimes it is found that a YOGI who may have attained a little perfection in this VASITA mystic power comes out among the people and speaks all sorts of nonsense, controls their minds, exploits them, takes their money, and then goes away. [NOD,p.12]

  The story of Paulo and Elvio clearly involves some kind of illusion (either of the bus or of the strange craft). We should also note that many people reporting close encounters with UFOs maintain that the UFO occupants overcame their will with some kind of telepathic power.   The appearance of humanoid beings in UFO reports enables us to strengthen our remarks concerning the theory of evolution. The literature on UFOs is filled with reports of a wide variety of humanlike beings. These beings often exhibit recognizable emotions, and sometimes are said to communicate various philosophical teachings. If such beings actually exist, then it is very hard to see how they could have arisen by evolution, either on this planet or elsewhere. Paleoanthropology has no place for them on the earth, and the probability that beings so similar to ourselves would evolve independently on another planet is certainly infinitesimal. They fit consistently into the Vedic world view, but their existence is strongly incompatible with the theory of evolution.   Our final topic in this section is the tendency of UFO phenomena to abruptly appear and disappear from the viewpoint of human observers and their electronic instruments. Here are two cases illustrating this. The first case involved Air Force observations of a UFO in the south-central U.S. on July 17,1957, and was summarized in the journal ASTRONAUTICS AND AERONAUTICS, as follows:

  An Air Force RB-47, equipped with electronic countermeasures (ECM) gear and manned by six officers, was followed by an unidentified object for a distance of well over 700 mi. and for a time period of 1.5 hr., as it flew from Mississippi, through Louisiana and Texas and into Oklahoma. The object was, at various times, seen visually by the cockpit crew as an intensely luminous light, followed by ground-radar and detected on ECM monitoring gear aboard the RB-47. Of special interest in this case are several instances of simultaneous appearances and disappearances on all three of these physically distinct "channels," and rapidity of maneuvers beyond the prior experience of the crew. [AAA,p.66]

  One of the disappearances of the object occurred as the RB-47 was about to fly over it. The pilot remarked that it seemed to blink out visually and simultaneously disappear from the scope of ECM monitor

2 (an electronic surveillance device). At the same time it disappeared from radar scopes at ADC site Utah (a radar station on the ground). Moments later the object blinked on again visually, and simultaneously appeared on the ECM monitor and ground radar.   Abrupt appearances and disappearances of this kind are reported in many UFO accounts (including the Nash and Fortenberry sighting, with which we began this section). Although one might propose that invisibility was being produced through techniques involving known physical laws, this behavior of UFOs has suggested to many observers that they are illusions or projections of some kind, rather than physical objects. This is also suggested by the ability of these entities to accelerate abruptly to remarkable speeds without generating noticeable sonic booms. Of course, the hypothesis of illusion raises the question of how radar-reflecting illusions exhibiting intelligent behavior are generated.   The idea of illusion is also suggested by our second case, which took place at Nouatre, Indre-et-Loire, France, on September 30,1954. At about 4:30 P.M. Georges Gatey, the head of a team of construction workers, encountered a strange-looking man standing in front of a large shining dome that floated about three feet above the ground. Our concern here is with the way in which these odd apparitions disappeared:

  Suddenly the strange man vanished, and I couldn't explain how he did, since he did not disappear from my field of vision by walking away, but vanished like an image one erases suddenly.   Then I heard a strong whistling sound, which drowned the  noise of our excavators; the saucer rose by successive jerks, in a vertical direction, and then it too was erased in a sort of blue haze, as if by a miracle. [VJ2, p.68]

  Mr. Gatey, a pragmatic war veteran, maintained he was not used to flights of fancy, and his story was corroborated by several of the construction workers. Although such stories seem bizarre, they are not uncommon, and they are consistent with the more prosaic long-distance sightings reported by pilots and military personnel. They are also consistent with the mystic powers attributed to the Kimpurusas and other intelligent beings described in the Vedic literature.

THE LINK WITH TRADITIONAL LORE

  When the reports of UFOs are surveyed broadly, they are seen to resemble stories from traditional folklore that have been recounted in cultures all over the world since time immemorial. Jacques Vallee illustrates this point with the following story from ninth-century France:

  One day, among other instances, it chanced at Lyons that three men and a woman were seen descending from these aerial ships. The entire city gathered about them, crying out they were magicians and were sent by Grimaldus, Duke of Beneventum, Charlemagne's enemy, to destroy the French harvests. In vain the four innocents sought to vindicate themselves by saying that they were their own country-folk, and had been carried away a short time since by miraculous men who had shown them unheard of marvels, and had desired to give them an account of what they had seen. The frenzied populace ... were on the point of casting them into the fire, when the worthy Agobard, Bishop of Lyons, ... having heard the accusations of the people and the defense of the accused, gravely pronounced that both one and the other were false [JV,p.19].

  The story refers to the "miraculous men" as sylphs, a class of beings thought by Paracelsus to inhabit the earth's atmosphere and to have the power of appearing or disappearing at will before humans.   In medieval folklore, such beings were thought to coexist with ordinary humans in this world and to inhabit invisible abodes, sometimes associated with lakes, mountains, or subterranean regions (EW). They were thought to interact with people in ways that were sometimes beneficial, sometimes sinister, and sometimes mischievous or trivial. Similar patterns of interaction are to be seen in the UFO literature.   According to the Vedic literature, interactions of this kind occur between humans and a variety of near-human beings, including Yaksas, Kimpurusas, Raksasas, Vidyadharas, and Gandharvas. These beings occupy Bhu-mandala, the lower planetary systems, and the upper system of Bhuvarloka. They are to be distinguished from the demigods and RSIS of Svargaloka and the higher planetary systems ranging up to Brahmaloka.   Such beings are frequently described in the Vedic literature as possessing aerial vehicles called VIMANAS. This is illustrated in the story of Salva from SRIMAD-BHAGAVATAM. There it is described that a king named Salva engaged in severe austerities to please Lord Siva and thereby obtain an airplane that could be used to attack Krsna's city of Dvaraka. Lord Siva granted the benediction and arranged for the airplane to be manufactured by the demon Maya Danava, an inhabitant of the lower planetary system of Talatala in BILA-SVARGA. The airplane is described as follows:

  The airplane occupied by Salva was very mysterious. It was so extraordinary that sometimes there would appear to be many airplanes in the sky, and sometimes it would be seen that there was none. Sometimes it was visible, and sometimes it was not visible, and the warriors of the Yadu dynasty became puzzled about the whereabouts of the peculiar airplane. Sometimes they would see the airplane on the ground, and sometimes they would see it flying in the sky. Sometimes they would see the airplane resting on the peak of a hill , and sometimes it was seen floating on the water. The wonderful airplane was flying in the sky like a firefly in the wind - it was not steady even for a moment [KB p.649].

  It is interesting to compare the appearance and disappearance of Salva's airplane with the "blinking on and off" of the UFO observed by the crew of the RB-47. The observers on the RB-47 also noted that their UFO sometimes generated two signals with different bearings on their electronic monitoring equipment.   We have argued that the domain of Maya Danava can be reached only by higher-dimensional travel, and we suggest that even today, people of this earth may be interacting with beings originating from higher-dimensional regions of the universe. In Vedic times, people in general could directly see such phenomena as Salva's airplane. But they presumably had little direct access to Maya Danava's abode and could learn of the existence of such places only through hearing from higher authority. It can be suggested thet we might be in a similar situation today.   In the BHAGAVATAM it is described that the inhabitants of Maya Danava's abode have excellent material facilities, including cities with beautiful architecture and attractive gardens. There is no fear of the passage of time there because the distinction between day and night does not exist. The inhabitants are highly atheistic and materialistic. They are expert in various mystic powers and are free from disease and old age. However, they must all meet eventual death in accordance with the strict arrangement of the Supreme Personality of Godhead (SB 5.24.10-14).   The Vedic literature describes the universe as having a hierarchical organization, with a graded series of domains occupied by beings with different levels of consciousness. As we described in Section 4.a, these domains can be divided into the lower, middle, and upper worlds, whose inhabitants are characterized by the respective modes of ignorance, passion, and goodness. Beyond the material world lies the transcendental domain of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, which is characterized by pure goodness (VISUDDHA-SATTVA).   Given this hierarchical structure, one would expect interactions between humans and higher beings to be characterized by a variety of psychological modes, ranging from ignorance up to pure goodness. This seems to be the case, and it is interesting to note that cases of interaction on an apparently higher, sattvic level provide some of the best-attested evidence for the existence of higher beings and realms.

THE EVENTS AT FATIMA

  An example of interaction with higher beings on a sattvic level is provided by the events that occurred in 1917 in Fatima, Portugal. These events centered on a series of revelations made to three children named Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta by a divine personage whom they understood to be the Virgin Mary. The revelations occurred on the 13th of the month for six successive months in a natural amphitheater called the Cova da Iria, near the town of Fatima. Here we will not be concerned with the theological content of the revelations (which, as far as it goes, is compatible with the philosophy of Krsna consciousness), but will focus on the evidence they provide for the existence of higher -dimensional realms.   The revelations were made in the presence of the three children and a large throng of onlookers, which increased greatly from month to month as news spread. The actual visions of the beautiful divine personage could be seen only by the three children, and so our knowledge of these visions is limited to their testimony. However, during the revelations there occurred related phenomena that were witnessed by large numbers of people.   These phenomena included the appearance of a glowing, globe-shaped vehicle and the occurrence of a shower of rose petals that vanished upon touching the ground. One witness, Mgr.J.Quaresma, described the appearance of the globe on July 13, 1917, as follows:

  To my surprise, I see clearly and distinctly a globe of light advancing from east to west, gliding slowly and majestically through the air. Suddenly the globe with its extraordinary light vanished, but near us a little girl of about ten continues to cry joyfully, "I still see it! Now it is going down!" [FJ,p.46].

  He reports that after the events,

  My friend, full of enthusiasm, went from group to group ... asking people what they had seen. The persons asked came from the most varied social classes and all unanimously affirmed the reality of the phenomena which we ourselves had observed [FJ,p.47].

  During one of the revelations, the child Lucia had requested that a miracle be shown so that people who could not see the divine lady would believe in the reality of what was happening. She was told that this would occur on the 13th of October, and she immediately communicated this to others.   On this date it is estimated that a crowd of some 70,000 people congregated in the vicinity of the Cova da Iria in anticipation of the predicted miracle. The day was overcast and rainy, and the crowd huddled under umbrellas in the midst of a sea of mud. Suddenly, the clouds parted, and an astonishing solar display began to unfold. We will describe this in the words of some of the witnesses.   Dr. Formigao, a professor at the seminary at Santarem:

  As if like a bolt from the blue, the clouds were wrenched apart, and the sun at its zenith appeared in all its splendour. It began to revolve vertiginously on its axis, like the most magnificent firewheel that could be imagined, taking on all the colors of the rainbow and sending forth multi-colored flashes of light, producing the most astounding effect. This sublime and incomparable spectacle, which was repeated three distinct times, lasted for about ten minutes. The immense multitude, overcome by the evidence of such a tremendous prodigy, threw themselves on their knees [FJ,p.63].

  Dr. Joseph Garett, Professor of Natural Sciences at Coimbra University:

  The sun's disc did not remain immobile. This was not the sparkling of a heavenly body, for it spun round on itself in a mad whirl, when suddenly a clamour was heard from all the people. The sun, whirling, seemed to loosen itself from the firmament and advance threateningly upon the earth as if to crush us with its huge fiery weight. The sensation during those moments was terrible [FJ,p.62].

  Similar testimony was given by large numbers of people, both from the crowd at the Cova da Iria and from a surrounding area measuring about 20 by 30 miles. The presence of confirming witnesses over such a large area suggests that the phenomena cannot be explained as the result of crowd hysteria. The absence of reports from a wider area and the complete absence of reports from scientific observatories suggest that the phenomena were local to the region of Fatima. It would seem either that remarkable atmospheric phenomena were arranged by an intelligent agency at a time announced specifically in advance, or that coordinated hallucinations in thousands of people were similarly arranged at this time. By either interpretation, it is hard to fit these phenomena into the framework of modern science. They do, however, fit naturally into the multidimensional, hierarchical cosmos of the Vedic literature.   At this point we should briefly summarize the conclusions of this chapter. The Vedic literature maintains that we live in a hierarchically structured universe occupied by 400,000 species of humanlike form and some 8,000,000 nonhuman species. These living beings inhabit a graded system of worlds such as Bhu-mandala, which possess variegated geographical features. The thesis of this book is that these worlds are literally real, even though they are almost entirely inaccessible to ordinary  human senses. We have tried to relate this idea to modern mathematical thought by describing the universe as a multidimensional system.   

We can ask, If this description of the universe is correct, then is there anything that humans could expect to observe that would tend to corroborate it? First of all, we could not expect to readily see the demigods, for human beings generally do not have the karmic qualifications required for this. (See Section 6.c.1.) This means that we also cannot expect to gain access to the regions where the demigods are active, such as the slopes of Mount Meru, since this would surely entail being able to see the demigods themselves.   We might expect to interact with beings lower than the demigods but slightly higher than ourselves in the cosmic hierarchy. However, since these beings are higher than ourselves, we could not expect to fully control these interactions. We might expect that they would have access to us but that we would not have access to them or their abodes.   The beings between humans and demigods range from powerful types of ghosts to demonic entities such as Yaksas and Raksasas, and to more attractive beings such as Vidyadharas, Caranas, Siddhas, and Gandharvas. Interactions with these various beings might take various forms, depending on their own interests and on level of consciousness.

These interactions are likely to involve mystic powers. They must involve higher-dimensional transformations, because the abodes of these beings are invisible to our senses. They may also involve remarkable flying machines, since such machines are often ascribed to these beings in the Vedic literature.   We propose that these ideas about what we might expect to see in the Vedic universe are consistent with the evidence provided by psychical phenomena, UFO reports, folklore, and reports of miracles. This broad body of evidence is consistent with the Vedic world picture. However, none of this evidence is compatible with modern science, and all of it is rejected by the scientific community. We suggest that Vedic world view is broadly supported by empirical evidence, but this evidence can never be respectable until the Vedic world view itslef is restored to a respectable status.