Puranic Cosmology Updated 9

22 March 2010

There is an interesting element of Puranic Tradition that ought to be studied – in and for itself, and later in the context of this updating exercise. This is the prominent feature of Hindu temples throughout India: the Navagrahas (Nine Planets) at their entrance in the form of a 3x3 square diagram, which the devotee is expected to acknowledge and propitiate before all else. Scientists and rationalists point to this tradition as another indication of superstition and ignorance because apart from giving a human-like personality to the planets, included among the nine are simply not planets at all – i.e., Sun and Moon, for instance. But what causes the most derision is the inclusion of Rahu and Ketu, the lunar nodes. And yet it is precisely this gross scientific ‘flaw’ that provides a hint to the remarkable advancement of higher knowledge in those early days.
The Head and Tail of the ‘Serpent’, as it is known, or the ‘Dragon’ as in St John’s Apocalypse, the last Book of the New Testament, is simply the crossing of two orbits, the Moon’s and the Earth’s, in their dance together around the Sun. Yet even while knowing that there was no solid body involved, the Ancients went to the extent of listing Rahu and Ketu as part of the scheme of 9, in a sense personalising this nothingness.

The Cobra’s Head marking
(the astronomical symbol of Rahu and Ketu
from where the name Serpent arose)
From The New Way, PNB
Aeon Books, 1981, p.408

The truth be told, Rahu and Ketu, while lacking a consolidated body provide us with an even more interesting perspective vis-à-vis the ancient lore. In formalising the pre-eminence of this elusive Pair, the ancient sages were once again emphasising the role of Time in the Cosmic Order, and particularly of its cycles. In addition, emphasis is laid on orbits, above all else.
As we know, the Lunar Nodes hold the key to the occurrence of eclipses and therefore the Saros cycle of 18+ years. The number 18 has always been a significant key that the Tradition has nurtured throughout the ages. For example, the 18 Major and 18 Minor Puranas – no more, no less. This number figures in a wealth of extant cultural documents, as in the 18 Books of the Mahabharat and its 18-day war, the Gita in 18 chapters, and many more.
If we return to elements already discussed about the Churning Myth, there is an important part of its symbolism which has not been treated so far: precisely the Serpent Vasuki – the rope the Devas and Asuras use to churn Mt Meru. Vasuki is the symbol that conveys the role of Time in the action. But this serpent is not Ananta, endless, infinite Time who forms the bed whereupon Vishnu reclines before the grand moment of awakening when Time and Creation are ‘set in motion’ as it were. Vasuki, the same symbol, is here a part of the awakened action and the representative in the Myth of the evolutionary Becoming, central to which is Time. But Vasuki bears a special feature, given the stage of the avataric descents and the Order emerging out of Chaos as the tale informs us. Vasuki is Time in its periodicities rather than its endlessness or infinitudes. When Order is established, this is the most salient feature of the cosmos born of chaos. Only if and when Time is established in its recurring periods can we truly appreciate that Cosmic Order applied to life on Earth. And this is what is honoured when Rahu and Ketu are included in the Navagraha schematic of every Hindu Temple.
Again, as an indication of the prophetic quality of the Puranas, what was fundamental to preserve for posterity was simply the Measure of 9 because this number-power holds the key to Time’s periodicities. And it needs to be repeated: in the Puranic Age the higher knowledge went underground to be preserved in Myth primarily. The ‘science’ we know from this period of concealment is not veda in the sense that we find in the Rig Veda, for example. Therefore, it is no stretch of the imagination to state, as Sri Aurobindo has done, that for the past two thousand years no Indian has understood the Veda. That was the objective: occultation, a veritable eclipse of the Light. To retrieve that knowledge the process has to be through a restoration of the earlier Vedic initiation: we have to retrace our steps.
Thus, by giving a prominent position to the 9 grahas in the Puranic Age, and even imbuing each one with an approachable human aspect to which the devotee could easily relate in spite of the eclipse of the Light, and thereby further the Knowledge albeit unknowingly, this special key could be preserved across the centuries and the millennia. Puranic Tradition has once again demonstrated its ‘method to the madness’ – that is, a means was devised to utilise the temple and the individual worshipper as channels for the preservation of the Dharma through a very dark age. That key had to be camouflaged, along with everything else of significance, re-clothed as it were in a garb suitable to the darkness that set in when the Precession of the Equinoxes entered the Age of Pisces after Sri Krishna’s 8th appearance and the close of the Vedic Age proper. However, we can appreciate the value and importance of the ‘method’ only when we enter fully into the period of the 9th Avatar and can engage in an updating exercise where the 9 plays an essential role, without which the Appearance could not be seen to be factual thereby re-establishing the Dharma as it has been done. Thanks to the Puranic preservation our times can offer factuality that updates Science itself. Heaven is no longer elusive and imaginative. The Vedic Swar descends on Earth.

When I highlight 9 as the key to Time in the old and new cosmologies, it is important to note exactly how this number plays the role that it does. This is carried out through the division of the circle of 360 degrees into 9 parts, resulting in sections of 40 degrees each. Most important of all is to bear in mind ever and always that the CIRCLE IS ONE. We are always analysing one circle within which all divisions are done and find their place. This One Circle of 360 degrees is also the solar year, established by the Earth’s circumambulation of the Sun.
Vedic Tradition has a special characteristic. It is the ability to carry forward the realisation of oneness and unity in this simple manner – the Circle is one, all actions take place in this one field of our endeavour. The circle is everywhere present – in the micro and macrocosm which can all be reduced to the same 360 (=9) degrees of an infinitude of circles always and ever within the One Circle.
To illustrate the method further, we observe that the fourfold harmony is, once more, a product of the Circle. To render concrete the perspective, the ‘one circle’ is our solar system’s ecliptic. In this division, each quarter consists of 90 of the 360 degrees which are marked off by the Equinoxes and Solstices, thereby actualising what would otherwise be just theory or a mental abstract. Thus, the division of 12 (x 30 = 360) with its fourfold balance is the field of the Sacrifice, the 12-month year. Its physicality is easily appreciated by the effects of the Equinoxes and Solstices on the seasons as experienced in the course of the year.
The 12-part division of the One Circle is to be equated with space and the horizontal (expansion) bar of our equal-bodied cross . The circle of 9, on the other hand, is more elusive in that it is the vertical axis expressed in the Solstices (contraction) which require a more initiatic approach to understand as we find in the Veda in its pristine form. In the Puranas the division of 9 is equally present but embellished by tales which camouflage the Knowledge as a form of protection and preservation. From individualised consciousness to consciousness, the initiatic perspective is passed down across the ages in the sacred form of Myth, thereby assuring its survival through periods of great tribulations such as the subcontinent has known throughout the Age of Pisces. Thus, the Navagrahas at each temple’s entrance serve to ‘focus the lens’ of perception right when we enter the sacred precinct, as if to state, ‘This is the Key with which, similar to the Vedic Age, you may enter those ‘worlds’ through the months and the years, i.e., the very solar system we inhabit whose measure is 9 and 12.
To summarise, we have two features of the One Circle, vertical and horizontal. The latter is its division of 12 – spatial, resting on the four Cardinal Pillars; the former is the division of 9, experienced by us as cycles in periods of 9 and multiples thereof. The two together, superimposed, offer the most formidable key of higher knowledge of all times. I have called it the Gnostic Circle. Without it there could be no updating.

I am of the view that the superimposed 9 and 12 was known in the Vedic Age. There are clues in the Rig Veda to suggest that this was the case. The principal clue is the enigmatic phrase, ‘The 9 (navagwas) becomes the 10 (dashagwas).’
Indeed, this ‘becoming’ of 9 to 10 is the hardest, most demanding stage of the Initiate’s journey to Swar because in the lived experience of Number and Unity at the level of 9 there has to be an integration of the two divisions, 9 and 12; that is, Vertical (9) and Horizontal (12) have to intertwine, as it were, to become the equal-bodied cross out of whose centre the Axis is born. Sri Aurobindo writes in this context:

‘Tradition asserts the separate existence of two classes of Angirasa Rishis, the one Navagwas who sacrificed for nine months, the other Dashagwas whose session of sacrifice endured for ten. According to this interpretation we must take Navagwa and Dashagwa as “nine-cowed” and “ten-cowed”, each cow representing collectively the thirty Dawns which constitute one month of the sacrificial year.’

‘The victory is won in twelve periods of the upward journey, represented by the revolution of the twelve months of the sacrificial year, the periods corresponding to the successive dawns of a wider and wider truth, until the tenth secures the victory…What may be the precise significance of the nine rays and the ten, is a more difficult question which we are not yet in a position to solve.’ (The Secret of the Veda, Sri Aurobindo, pp 174-5.)

‘Here cried (or, moved) the stone impelled by the hand, whereby the Navagwas chanted for ten months the hymn…(RV, V. 45-7) ‘I hold for you in the waters the thought that wins possession of heaven, by which the Navagwas passed through the ten months…(RV. V, 45, 1).

And finally regarding the difficulty, Sri Aurobindo wrote,

‘The expression in the hymns, daso maso ataran, indicates that there was some difficulty in getting through the full period of ten months. It is during this period apparently that the sons of darkness had the power to assail the sacrifice; for it is indicated that it is only by the confirming of the thought which conquers Swar, the solar world, that the Rishis are able to get through the ten months…(The Secret of the Veda, p.169).

From The New Way, PNB, Aeon Books, 1981, p.273.

In the composite diagrammatic of the Gnostic Circle this act of the 9 wrapping around the 12 to become the realigned axis is actualised in time and by Time, and is thus forged in the consciousness-being of the Initiate. Herein lies the answer to why the Rishis declared the 10th month/sign to be the stage where the Victory is attained. The 9 of the planetary system must at some point in the initiatic process form that cross balanced on the Cardinal Poles of the 12 Circle: the two must join, and to do so the way forward is the forging of a realigned Axis, cosmos then arises out of an amorphous chaos.
This is accomplished in the 10th month/sign, which is the first of the horizontal 12 to stand before the Initiate when he or she has successfully travelled through the 9 prior stages vertically (in consciousness). The horizontal enters the scheme of things at the 10th sign Capricorn/Meru/ Bharat; hence, the month of Victory, just as the Rishis proclaimed. Thereafter two more sign/months remain, Aquarius and Pisces, which I will discuss further on in relation to Varun, Mitra and Bhaga, the ‘weightiest’ of the Vedic Gods. The diagram above will help to visualise the superimposition of the two, the circle of 9 (planets) and 12 (zodiac sign/months).

The previsionary character of the Puranas is again to be noted because this updating could only come to pass when our solar system had reached a measure of 9. When that occurred in the first half of the last century, coinciding with the arrival of the 9th Avatar of Vishnu exactly on time – that is, just when his Age of Preservation had arrived – the correct number scale could be used, 0 to 9, along with the spatial field of 1 to 12 which had been known from time immemorial and handed down as the 12-part zodiac. In this time of updating we add the Circle of 9 to the equation. Thus we have the equal-bodied cross actualised through a Key that had been preserved through the Puranic period, albeit somewhat camouflaged by the personalisation of Myth – the ‘method to the madness’ to keep the Knowledge alive for us to retrieve today.

Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet
Aeon Centre of Cosmology


Puranic Cosmology Updated 8

17 March 2010

In discussing Form and Essence, my intention was not to minimise the outstanding art that has come down to us from the Puranic period, a comparable quality of which surfaced in Europe only many centuries later. Rather, I would like to demonstrate how the direction of the quest – the Journey in the Veda – was reflected in art itself. To illustrate, I reproduced in Update 7 the exquisite Ankhor Vat bas-relief of the Churning Myth, certainly one of the finest sculptural renditions of its kind, as the grandest of all myths merits. Then the same tale is retold in our century/millennium in the form of what could almost be described as graphic art, in the sense that the artistic refinement of the former Age has been set aside in favour of the more graphic representation. Art today has certainly undergone a change from both the oriental and the European styles of times gone by. In itself this displays the ‘levelling’ process, if you will, a universalisation such as Aquarius demands more clearly than anything else.
Art as a representation of the collective experience and level of consciousness in any given age, we observe through this expression the same levelling in the ideologies that surfaced right at the turnover from Pisces to Aquarius. With the demise of monarchies after World War 1 as effective means of governance, and the surfacing of movements demanding larger and more comprehensive participation of the masses, the indications were that the Aquarian Age had begun. Noblesse oblige came to an end as the new Age set in; and with that we witnessed the gradual elimination of colonialism that was a natural corollary to the monarchic system, both being justified as having a sort of divine sanction that could not be questioned.
The direction of the cosmic evolutionary process has been more than clear. But equally clear is the shift of the cosmic contest to the world stage today; and, in one form or another, we observe that the struggle for supremacy between Gods and Titans has moved into a position of pre-eminence, as it were: witness totalitarianism and democracy, for example. Both advocate rule of the people (democracy), or for the people (communism). To solve the conundrum, on which the future of Earth societies hinges, understanding the cosmic sense and purpose of the Harmony provides clear lines we can follow if we truly wish the Daivic/Asuric struggle to be resolved.
To return to the Churning Myth and its various depictions – at the height of Puranic glory and its contemporary version – it is noteworthy that the two examples provided have come from lands beyond the actual Indian landmass and in what have become Buddhist nations. However, the reach of Puranic culture was so widespread and penetrating that we have a Muslim nation, Indonesia, honouring the very backbone of Vedic civilisation through the formal adoption of the Ramayana as its national epic. How else can this be explained except to state that Myth and Epic speak with the language of the Soul which is universal?
Further to be noted is that the Vishnu abode at Ankhor Vat itself finally fell into disuse and was ultimately covered over by the tropical jungles of the region not long after Buddhism had displaced Hinduism as the national culture. It was predictable in that the Soul is not given pride of place in Buddhism – if it is given a place at all; therefore, its ‘language’ cannot receive the revitalising sustenance Myth requires from time to time, as we find on the Indian subcontinent where it is alive and well even today. The contemporary graphic rendition of the Churning Myth, though of lesser artistic value is precious in that occupying centrestage at a main international airport in a Buddhist country (ironically, an unthinkable occurrence in secular, socialist India), again drives home the point that the Cosmic Spirit envelops the entire Earth and is boundary-less. It is our modern concept of Nation that has to evolve further so that we may embody the highest ideals of the Age we entered in 1926. Indeed, during the former Piscean Age passports were not required to travel from one point of the known world to another, as we demand today. Rather than drawing closer to the Aquarian one-world ideal we seem to be moving in the opposite direction.
Further, hidden in the Puranic artistic renditions of this sublime myth is a clue to the shift that was taking place at the time it was formulated, and as it has come down to us today. To put it in perspective, we need to appreciate that the very same tale is the essence, if not the form, of the Vedic ‘journey’ on the backdrop of the Sacrificial Year. In the earlier Age the question of universalism had not figured. Its time had not yet come.
This may explain the stand taken by governments in adopting restrictions which seem to close borders even tighter than had ever been done in the past, precisely as an indication that this ‘knot’ in human consciousness had to become tightened in the extreme before release can come. (In one’s individual sadhana in the practice of Integral Yoga, the same situation is often experienced: when the Yoga Shakti has decided that it is time for a certain breakthrough, the issue in question seems to arise more vehemently than ever. Then we know that with her Grace its hold over our consciousness is nearing its end, the ‘knot’ is about to be undone if we participate in the required action.)
Thus, in Vedic times the Journey was, strictly speaking, reserved for the Initiate-Warrior; the masses were not involved, except insofar as the struggle of the Initiate reflected the condition of each soul participating in the evolutionary process. But knowledge was restricted to an elite, as the Cosmic Order of the day demanded. That Knowledge was, however – and this is the point to note – passed on to the whole of Vedic civilisation through the calendar formulated by the Sages to implement the cosmic scheme, thereby uniting the energies of ALL members of the society around the Cosmic Truth (the central Axis) which is the sense and purpose embedded in the Sacrificial Year. The Initiate had to realise that Truth of the Year, that realignment, make it his or her own conquest, if the masses at large were to benefit from the struggle. But the very same process is displayed in the later Puranic Myth, though its subtlety reveals the gradual directional shift to otherworldliness that was then taking place. It seemed to be presented more as the Ideal rather than the actualisation process of the Vedic period.
Thus, the vertical/horizontal axes in the Puranic sculptures clearly reveal the ideal of a harmonised, balanced world. Moreover, placing Mt Meru as the central axis makes the position even clearer. Mt Meru is the tool without which no ‘churning’ can take place. However, equally if not more indispensable is the presence of none other than Mahavishnu to control the action according to rhythms the Time-Spirit sets in motion. Mt Meru resting on the Tortoise (Kurma Avatar following Matsya), apart from all else, indicates that the churning displayed is a movement of the Cosmic Ages – hence the perspective as mirrored in the precession of the Earth’s equinoctial plane over ‘tortoise-like’ slow-moving vast cycles of time. In this myth the question is not the individual’s transformation and participation; it is the cosmic angle almost exclusively. More particularly, it is Vishnu’s ‘play’, the understanding of which must come from Vishnu Himself through the periodic avataric appearances of his emanations.
Kurma, the avatar as Tortoise, is one of the most significant stages in what Sri Aurobindo has referred to as ‘a parable of evolution’. This second appearance is not just evolution per se. It is Order out of Chaos, the Cosmic Order. Kurma Avatar initiates the quest for the Nectar of Immortality for which the churning is required; its various stages describe with great exactitude just how order finally emerges out of a primordial Chaos. The task of Vishnu’s Avatars is to guide the evolutionary process according to the rhythms set by the Time-Spirit toward this end. No other myth presents such a superb exposition of deep cosmic workings as this one.
Vishnu is obliged to take the form of the mythic Tortoise, an amphibian creature, to prevent the Meru-churning stick from sinking relentlessly while the Devas and Asuras seek to carry out their labour of ‘accelerating Time’ – that is, to allow evolution to reach higher stages in this round of 25,920 years on the road to a full apotheosis. Kurma supports the churning stick from below, while Vishnu/Garuda enters the operation from above by restraining the measure of the rise of the churning stick until the perfect measure/stability is reached for the success of the endeavour: Time’s orderly march is established after which evolution cannot fail to manifest what is contained in the original ‘seed’ (of the Veda) that Matsya Avatar had hidden in that very Ocean for its protection. The Ocean acts as protective covering of the Seed; it is both covering and medium within which or by which the subsequent Churning can ensue.
What is clear in this mythic formula is that the Vertical is the Axis of the Avatars, in this instance involving Kurma and Matsya; the myth is clear on this point. Moreover, the link of the Vertical with Time is further corroborated because the Avatars are offspring of the Time-Spirit. We will observe further on how immaculately this arrangement has played itself out in contemporary India (Meru) with the appearance of the 9th Avatar in the last millennium, and how by the use of Number and the universal calendar (not the Hindu Calendar), and more particularly the number system India bequeathed to the world, we can APPLY what until now has remained mere ‘myth’. In the process Myth comes to be understood differently, at least in the Indian context: it is actually recurring history. Mt Meru holds the key to the past, but more specifically to the future of the evolutionary process. No other Myth in the Puranic lexicon presents such an accurate description of the cosmic process as the Churning of the Primordial Ocean, nor is there any other as prophetic. This is proven, however, only when the updating of the old cosmology takes place. But the new cosmology is not prophecy as we understand the term today. This will become clear in the course of the updating exercise centred on the Puranas.

We must view the vertical/horizontal axis in the terms laid down in Update 7: Asuras and Devas, time and space. What is displayed is the orderly harmonisation of the two in the course of the year, Cosmic or Earthly. In the Vedic Age it was the latter primarily; in the Puranic the focus was Cosmic. The sacred task of our present Age is the lived experience and APPLICATION of that harmonisation which we do experience on Earth in the progression of the year across the solstices and equinoxes. But the issue is to become conscious participants, thereby fulfilling the dharma of the Age: universal transformation.

Some in the academic world hold a similar view regarding the progression from equinoxes to solstices. For example, we note that the mid-20th-century conservator of Angkor, Maurice Glaize, along with Eleanor Mannikka, a scholar who specialises in East Asian art and religion, hold the view that the difference in the number of Asuras (92) and Devas (88) depicted in the Ankhor Vat bas-relief represents the number of days between winter solstice and spring equinox to summer solstice; certainly numbers chosen not randomly but deliberately by the executors of the temple’s sacred architecture in appreciation of the cosmic vision prevalent in the Puranic period. The Ankhor Vat plan uses the Tropical Solar Year as the Measure with its equinoxes and solstices, just as in the Vedic Age and well into the 12th Century, the time when the Ankhor complex was constructed.
Interestingly, it was at this very time that Al Biruni, the Arab scholar, was travelling in India and translating Hindu texts on astrology and cosmology into Arabic. The undermining of the Vedic prescription seems to have begun then, for we have his own words to substantiate this statement: ‘The solstice has kept its place, but the constellations have migrated, just the very opposite of what Varaha has fancied.’ (India, II, p.7). Al Biruni implies what post-Vedic astrologers sustain today: Capricorn is ‘not there where once it was’; but with their floating constellations they are chasing a phantom because Capricorn is not ‘out there’, disregarding the Earth’s harmonies and rhythms. What is even more interesting to note is that through his translations of the Hindu texts Al Biruni was responsible for the adoption of the Vedic method of horoscopy in the West, while suggesting the sidereal method for pundits of the subcontinent! But the final, total eclipse of the Vedic Tropical Year in India occurred closer to our times. This was the definitive adoption of the Nirayana system in lieu of the Vedic. Interestingly, it was supplanted on the subcontinent just as Science gained the upper hand over the sacred and the division was then complete.
Advantage in carrying out the universal transformation seems to lie with the West not the East this time around, because though the subcontinent preserves a vast treasure of Myths, all of which describe the Cosmic Truth, and incomparable examples of sacred art and architecture which display that same Truth, the masses are left out of the experience. Or at least as in contemporary India’s case, 80% of the population is excluded from participation through the mis-calculation of the Hindu calendar. Originally it served to unify and draw the energies of the population into the yearly Sacrifice through the celebration of certain outstanding landmarks in consonance with the cosmic harmony. Two are of are primary importance, Mahavishuva (March Equinox) and Makar Sankranti (December Solstice), the establishment of which would ensure the right temporal insertion of all the other celebrations, festivals, pilgrimages, and so forth. These commemorations continue and are noteworthy because they make identification of the unbroken Thread traceable into our times. But equally significant is the distortion of the Vedic measure of the year, the chief protagonist of the Sacrifice, which speaks volumes of the condition of the Dharma today.
Given the present conditions, it would appear that the West is better positioned to make the process consciously lived. But what we find lacking in the occident is the age-old tradition that the subcontinent carries over from the hoary past into the present via the unbroken Thread. It is for the reader to judge which pole, oriental or occidental, would have a better chance at actualising the Dharma of the Aquarian Age: the West which experiences the solar year as it was known in the Vedic Age, but which lacks the foundation in myth and cosmic sense and purpose that we find alive and well in the subcontinent. Or the eastern end of the pole where treasures lie buried somewhere beneath the coverings of the ages. Thus the conscious participation is denied to the masses because of errors in transferring that cosmic measure to the populace. The means to do so, the proper calendar for the purpose, is opposed by those who hold the power to determine which system is to be used, Nirayana based on the constellations, or Vedic based on the Earth’s own measure.

The constant reference I am making to the erroneous Measure used for the computation of the Hindu calendar of observances is extremely important, though it might appear as a tedious repetition to readers. Be that as it may, its singular importance is twofold. First and foremost is the fact that the Cosmic Truth cannot be perceived, much less actualised or applied, on the sidereal backdrop of the current post-Vedic Nirayana system. Simply put, that Order, that Cosmic Truth vanishes in the post-Vedic system. It remains submerged in the Piscean Ocean, or imprisoned beneath coverings and ‘cobwebs’, as I call them, which demand removal if that Sense and Purpose is to be restored and the Churning Myth is to be made a reality of our contemporary world.
Next is the effect of this mis-measure on the subcontinent: 80% of the energies of the majority population continue to be dispersed rather than unified via an enlightened calendar, whose primary purpose is the fulfilment of the great ideals of Aquarius, for which the subcontinent plays a central role, as the Thread itself reveals through the Capricorn hieroglyph.

Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet
Aeon Centre of Cosmology


Update 7 (continued)

In the yearly circumambulation of the planets around the Sun, the Time and Space axes are brought into alignment. This process is given physical validity in the Equinoxes (space) and Solstices (time). It means that the equal cross is an astronomical fact and is our birthright as inhabitants of Earth. Logically, being so Earth-oriented, this had to be the crux of the Vedic Sacrifice, made evident by the stated ‘victory’ in Capricorn, the 10th month, the last and highest Solstice; indeed, the ‘abode’ of the Great Time himself. To appreciate that Capricorn is the ‘location’ (in time and space) of the realisation, naturally the zodiac of the Vedic Journey has to be understood in initiatic terms, bearing little resemblance to the practice of the Art in India today, or even in the West, though there the situation is somewhat improved because the proper calendar/time reckoning is used for these sacred purposes, unlike in India today. In the West the whole society moves through the Year according to the Vedic calendar. But while the alignment occurs through calendar synchronicities, what is lacking is the initiatic realisation to accompany the physical phenomenon. By the testimony of the Veda we find both supporting each other. This lasted for a time into the Puranic era as well; but due to the Ruse the focus of the ritual turned to the Beyond, and the twain became irrevocably separated. We see this clearly reflected in the exclusion of the Vedic Calendar in favour of the ‘otherworldly’ sidereal Nirayana computation employed in all temple worship and astrological configurations.
We learn from this reflection that it is not enough to follow an accurate calendar to govern a society as we find in western nations. Nor is it sufficient to carry out rituals parrot-like that have lost their ‘knowledge content’. In both cases ignorance prevails. This draws us close to understanding what the focus in this Age of Mitra/Aquarius is: the establishment of a ‘higher purpose’ in the human being where the physical joins the spiritual based on solid Knowledge.
Nonetheless, all is as it should be. If the Deluder could draw the Asura off the Vedic path so effectively, thereby enfeebling the Gods – and we have the wise words of the Puranas as confirmation – then the direction of the quest was destined to veer AWAY from the Earth. Essentially both abandoned her – one by the inability to contend with the exigencies of a creation in matter; the other out of delusion born of ignorance. Naturally the Earth’s rhythms and harmonies were doomed, central to which is the solar Vedic Year. Sooner or later this mis-direction would take its toll.
By consequence, this cosmic ‘mis-step’ had to reflect ultimately on the Vedic Sacrifice, whose efficacy depended on the precision alignment of the Year. As a result of delusion and to illustrate the loss, the Hindu calendar, which all temples and astrologers follow, is miscalculated by twenty-three days. We can seek to explain away the mis-calculation by hiding behind ‘scientific’ subterfuges and claiming that time has moved on and with it the zodiac which it propels; therefore, they advocate, Capricorn is ‘no longer there where once it was’ – i.e., joined to the shortest day of the year. The truth be told, and we tell it in the simplest terms to avoid adding to the delusion/confusion, these latter-day pundits and astrologers of the POST-VEDIC school (though they call themselves ‘Vedic’ Astrologers) are using the wrong circle. They base their deductions on the circle of constellations out in the Beyond (astronomically and yogically speaking) rather than the actual Vedic Journey through the ecliptic where our Earth finds her home. Lamentably, we will have to bring up this point off and on in this updating because it is central to the condition of things Vedic as well as Puranic in the subcontinent, which caused Sri Aurobindo to state that ‘…for the past two thousand years no Indian has understood the Veda’. And if the Veda are not understood, how can the deep sense in Puranic myths be seized, having their roots in the more ancient body of yogic knowledge?
The culminating realisation of the Veda is therefore an impossibility under the circumstances, if we agree that the Veda are cosmically rooted, as indeed they were and remain, the Deluders notwithstanding. For the simple fact is that entry into the kingdom of Swar through the 10th month gateway is barred by this mis-calculation. Indeed, the Makar Sankranti celebrated on 15 January each year cannot present the seeker or the larger community with an actual portal to enter. Access would be barred for lack of the right ‘key card’ – which is the Capricorn alignment with the December Solstice; they must click into place together for the month/door to open. But on 15 January there is no such portal to cross; it passed by 23 days earlier. Therefore, the means to effectuate the required alignment of Time and Space which the Vedic Sacrifice demands, remains unfulfilled both for the individual and the community that follow these latter-day prescriptions.
Again we note that Capricorn holds the key. That sankranti or gateway must coincide with the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere so that the experience of contraction (of the Light), its maximum compression to a point is the singularity/portal to the kingdom of Swar. But let us be clear: the Vedic swar is not the ‘heaven’ of the religious experience inherited from the Age of Pisces. Materialisation on Earth of Capricorn unequivocally reveals that Swar is of this Earth and is not found in any unprovable Beyond. The means to prove the point further will be dealt with in the course of this updating.
For now we must consider that when the terms of the Sacrifice are honoured, then Capricorn is revealed as the stage of the Journey, Vedic or Puranic, where an AXIS is forged to materialise in the Initiate the equal-bodied cross. Capricorn is the month/stage of the Initiation where this alignment/realignment is achieved. And given that Capricorn has ‘descended’ onto the body of our planet, we know that this realisation is no longer confined to the experience of an elite but is now destined to embrace the entire Earth. This is the importance – nay, the imperative requirement – of updating the Puranic Cosmology.
The whole of the Earth is experiencing the passage that brings realignment. But before the full apotheosis, residue must be dissolved, encumbrances must be shed which have been accumulated during passage through Pisces. This ‘shedding’ lies at the root of the physical stresses and strains the Earth is experiencing; but the pressure is not only confined to the physical with its constant upheavals in the form of unprecedented floods, earthquakes, tsunamis and the like. All parts of her fourfold being (the cross) are being ‘compressed’. To illustrate, the second part, the vital, encompasses economics, finances, trade, the suppliers of society’s need, the energy factor, and so forth, which are now globally felt because of the universalism of Aquarius. The third sector/plane, the mental, covers governing bodies and the way we elect our rulers, the military, the justice system and so on.
Last but not least, the hardest pressure is felt on the fourth body, the spiritual, for reasons I will continue to describe well into the series, since this, the highest, is the Unknown when access to Capricorn is barred. Presently it is akin to a black hole: the Light is somewhere in there but cannot be reached. For all practical purposes the withheld energy/light (the ‘cows’/rays of the Sun in the Veda) is the most potent one-quarter of the circle that we cannot tap and integrate to facilitate the emergence of the next evolutionary specimen which Sri Aurobindo calls the Gnostic Being.

The Churning of the Ocean on display at the international airport of Thailand, August 2007.
This contemporary depiction reveals more clearly Devas and Asuras on a par, tugging Mt Meru as churning stick, atop of which stands Vishnu balancing the action.


Puranic Cosmology Updated 7

15 March 2010

There is a way of looking at Time (and Space) which may be described as initiatic, but of the Vedic sort. To do so, complexity is shed in favour of a compelling simplicity that cuts to the bone of perception. If we observe how the Knowledge has come down to us from the Vedic Age in its large, sweeping design, we see clearly this simplicity actualised – but only when compared to the embellishment it underwent over the post-Vedic centuries.
To illustrate, the focal point of the Vedic Sacrifice was the vedi, simple geometric constructions; however, their geometry itself was anything but simple. Rather, Tradition reveals that the geometry used to construct the vedi was highly complex. I repeat as in Update 6, geometry was the means to imbue the arena of the Sacrifice with a ‘substance’, ethereal though it was, to uphold the endeavour in the physical dimension for the goals of the ritual. These vedi were instilled with power by the Vedic Laws of Correspondence and Equivalence.
In later times these Laws were passed on to Europe, through Egypt and then Greece, to become the basis of astrology as it is practiced still today throughout the world. It was conveyed in the Hermetic aphorism, ‘As above, so below’. Astrology does not operate on the basis of planetary influences, as erroneously believed by the scientific community to debunk astrology. It functions by the Vedic Laws as cited. But astrology suffered a decline in the Puranic Age on the subcontinent. We note the decline, if it may be so called, in the gradual change that overtook the ‘altar’ for the Sacrifice; indeed, by the time the decline had set in fully, the Vedic Sacrifice itself was in name only. The Vedic chants, the mantras continued to occupy centrestage perhaps, but, as Sri Aurobindo eloquently wrote, ‘…the soul of knowledge had fled from its coverings’.
The Hindu temple reflects a complexity that set in when the geometry of the vedi had faded into the background. It would appear to be an enhancement via embellishment; but in actual fact form had overtaken essence. The vedi were replaced by the temple’s permanent garbha griha or sanctum sanctorum. A certain densification was taking place but we see how form came to cover essence by ever grander temples. The simple geometric altar was supplanted by the elaborate temple, where geometry still exists but is not as obvious as in earlier times. It is interesting to note that this development was accompanied by the rise of Science as a separate discipline at the service of the Profane, dramatically different from the Vedic Age. The Sacred, on the other hand, went underground for its protection and preservation. Certainly it is still present in the temple, but, I repeat, covered in the complexity of Form.
If this exercise of updating is to succeed, obviously the focal point of the Tradition must find its place in this process. But this becomes complicated today given the loss of ‘the soul of knowledge’. The question is how do we retrieve that Soul, now submerged in the Ocean of Pisces as a legacy of the Age we left behind in 1926? Bear in mind, this is not a condition limited to the subcontinent. The Piscean Flood covered the entire globe with Truth ever present but increasingly difficult to ‘retrieve’ the higher the ‘waters’ reached. The experience today demands that we peal off the layers covering Truth; however, at the same time we need to accept that they are also connected by the Thread which does make sense of the seemingly negative along with the positive. Though the coverings are a legitimate aspect of the Earth’s integral evolutionary process, similar to the need for ‘ruse’, while necessary we must accept that a resultant residue is carried over and somehow needs to be dissolved if the evolutionary process is to rise to heights never before reached – i.e., the summit of the Capricorn Mountain.
If Capricorn encapsulates the essence, as demonstrated in the Thread carried over to the actual geography of the subcontinent it astrologically rules, then that ‘chosen’ location itself becomes, as it were, the Altar, the vedi of the yearly Sacrifice. What was previously confined to a sanctified point in the Vedic Age is today enhanced to cover the entire subcontinent. This reflection alone reveals that in this Age of Mitra/Aquarius, the Knowledge that was reserved for an elite can now spread across the globe from the Capricorn centre that is the subcontinent.

Just as the Sacrifice of the Vedic Age was precise and mathematical, so too the enhancement of today, which serves to update the Tradition, is equally precise. In this exercise it becomes imperative to join together what had been torn asunder. We are obliged to wed the profane and the sacred in a greater unity which heals the divide the Puranic Myth describes so eloquently in the seemingly unavoidable struggles between the Titans and the Gods for supremacy. But the most magnificent myth of all times, the Puranic Churning of the Milky Ocean, presents us with an accurate image drawn from the soul: Devas and Asuras are joined on a par in the great labour that VISHNU controls.

The exquisite Angkor Vat bas-relief of the Churning of the Milky Ocean
( Cambodia, 12th Century CE , image Wikipedia)

We may just as well describe the conflict in terms closer to our contemporary formulation. This would be Time and Space. By a simple formula that has reached us across the Vedic and Puranic Ages, we can explain how Time and Space are the Gods and the Asuras of today, respectively. But it may be simpler to view them geometrically as vertical (Time) and horizontal (Space). When the Harmony is pure and unencumbered, the symbol is thus . When it is not, when it is encumbered by the residue inherited from of the Age of Pisces, that ‘excess’ creates an imbalance and the cross of Time and Space, or Devas and Asuras, is no longer equal-bodied but off-centred and hence in conflict to regain the lost balance. Therefore, the task today is to re-align­ in our lived experience these cosmic properties of Time and Space which in the soul-language of Myth are personified as Devas and Asuras. This will perhaps help clarify why asura in the Vedas did not carry the negative connotation of the Puranic Age. The split between the sacred and the profane had not yet occurred. Nonetheless, it was the crux of the Sacrifice – i.e., to bring about the superior alignment in the Initiate/Warrior who had to face his inner demons before all else.
The same situation faces today’s Initiate; but the scope is global now, as we have seen in the localisation of the Capricorn Hieroglyph over the subcontinent. What in the Vedic Age was reserved for the Initiate, today, after passage through the Piscean Ocean and into the airy Aquarian heights, has become the Yoga for the World as the first step in the construction of the highest symbol of all, the astronomical/astrological symbol of the Sun: . To engage its Periphery the only way is through the Centre – be this in the individual or the collective: the soul each of us carries in our deepest recesses, or the Soul of the Earth which has now been unveiled through this cosmological updating to be geographical India, once known as Mt Meru.
Unveiling that Point can be done when the direction of the endeavour reverts to what it was in the Vedic Age, albeit universalised today. This means that the strategy of ‘ruse’, drawing the Demons off the Vedic path to thus enable ‘conquest’ by the Devas, has to be understood in much deeper terms than we have cared to appreciate so far. In the process the origin of the present conflicts across the world may become clearer. For the fact is the weakness of the Devas forced a reliance on subterfuge, the residue of which continues to burden the evolutionary process as played out in India, for herself and for the rest of the world. Ridding themselves of the Asuras amounted to abandoning the Earth because power was withheld by this unhealthy divisionary tactic – as in the separation of the sacred from the profane. The ultimate result has been the gradual and now seemingly definitive division between Science and the Spiritual, or Matter and Spirit. The Gods being considered the sole legitimate possessors of the spiritual in today’s world, the only direction possible, given the split, was a quest for the Beyond. This direction began to take hold from the time of the ‘magic deluder’ and has troubled us ever since.
Be that as it may, Vishnu’s intervention through his Line of Ten continues unperturbed, unrelenting. Thus, the (legitimate) 9th’s task was explicit: to reverse that mis-direction to the Beyond and the trend of otherworldliness, while establishing the Earth once more as the ‘Altar of the Sacrifice’. Thus, the Year must come again to our aid as the ‘map’ in this perilous journey ahead.

(To be continued)


Puranic Cosmology Updated 6

12 March 2010

In the Puranic Cosmology Mt Meru is the centre of the universe, which was not confined to material creation alone. It embraced subtle planes or dimensions primarily, lokas, since there were no empirical means to draw those planes onto and into the physical. Thus, the old cosmology was largely metaphoric, if you will. This fact alone makes it difficult to apply to it the term science. It has to be taken as a great symbol – but in my view it was a vision that transcended time and space. The perspective was largely vertical: the subtle universe held to the axis that Mt Meru provided. Continental, geographical India may be identified in the Puranic vision as the continent at the centre of the perspective, but the way the vision has been formulated and as it has reached us today, its symbolism is its principal value.
I would add something more which I believe has not been appreciated to date. Given the exercise of updating that has already taken place, Puranic Cosmology continues to be largely metaphorical, but at the same time it is prophetic in that its structure and the various components of the Symbol have been materialised today. Therefore, by this largely unappreciated quality, that great Symbol is in the act of becoming physical before our very eyes. What was a postulation or an hypothesis in the Puranic Cosmology has become concretised in physical/geographical terms. This was not possible in the old cosmology, whereas it is the distinguishing feature of the new.
I refer primarily to the temporal component of cosmology. In former times, before science had progressed to where it now stands and tools had been provided for this updating, even the Puranic flow of the Ages has to be understood as a symbol. When compared to the new cosmology it does not provide the distinguishing feature of our updated version: applicability.
In this light we see a certain previsionary aspect to the Puranic model by a ‘densification’ of its symbolic postulation. The ‘worlds’ of the Puranic when the Vedic Age had passed were subtle dimensions or occult planes of consciousness-being. On the other hand, the ‘worlds’ of the Veda, as in the Hymn quoted in Update 4 (RV, II. 24. 5.), cannot be said to be of a dimension in any way removed from the physicality of our Earth and its measurability. To render those ‘worlds’ material – or of our Earth earthly – the Rishis used the same ‘science’ we use for updating the Puranic Cosmology. It is the Science of Time. And the single factor that makes measurable the subtle nature of things temporal is the very essence and focus of the Veda – the Year.
The Vedic Sacrifice unfolds on the backdrop of the Year, this none can dispute. That unfolding is what the Hymn describes: ‘…without effort one world moves into another’. And even more explicitly it is stated that entry into those ‘worlds’ is through the months and the years. Further, there is a reason why the Rishi mentions specifically months and years only, a point that can easily be overlooked. In discovering the Rishi’s intent we learn that the Sacrificial Year was both the annual rotation of the Earth around the Sun, producing our 12 months of the year; and the larger ‘year’ with its cycles due to the Precession of the Equinoxes, composed of 25,920 years. The Rishi is explicit – annual and precessional. However, we do not recognise the reference perhaps because it is too simply put and ‘uncluttered’. Or else, if we assume a priori that the Rig Veda has no ‘science’ and that it represents a primitive society, then naturally these simple, straight forward declarations pass entirely undetected. And there are many spread throughout the Hymns.
Thus Time, elusive as it is, was the altar of the Sacrifice, hence only vedi were required of precise geometric forms which could reproduce the ecliptic as backdrop/altar; and if we can further ‘materialise’ Time in this updating exercise, we bring ‘heaven’ down to Earth just as the individual realiser had done in that far-off Age. To reach this ‘kingdom’ we do not disregard or dismiss the component of Reality in this universal manifestation that can allow us to pass into and through those ‘worlds’ – i.e., the Soul; rather, we embrace the core-essence of life on Earth where the Soul serves precisely as the nexus between Time and Space, - indeed, our vahana.1

Tradition holds that Time played a very important part in Puranic Cosmology. But its role was, I repeat again, almost entirely symbolic. It was utilised to illustrate the higher Cosmic Order of the universe as seen from Earth. However, that Order was not given a ‘body’ as it were, that could serve to materialise the Ideal, to bring it down from that subtle sphere and implant it here on Earth. For example, we are all familiar with the four Yugas of Puranic lore: Satya, Treta, Dwapara and Kali, which are given very precise figures. It is believed that we are in the Kaliyuga which is said to consist of 432,000 years, barely some 5000 of which have passed, leaving more or less 420,000 ahead! The truth be told, if indeed Kaliyuga is synonymous with darkness and ignorance, we might be justified in seeking some form of escape from a seemingly endless entanglement with this darkness. In such a scenario, if it were indeed true, escape from this universal manifestation would be entirely justified, just as the Deluder suggested.
If we refuse to succumb to the ‘ruse’, we attempt to cover up this incongruence by claiming that the figures for the Yugas should be read differently, as divine not human years. But such mental acrobatics are not acceptable. We are nailed to the Kaliyuga cross and the figure 432,000 regardless of how we try to fit it into our contemporary exigencies.
Clearly a cycle of hundreds of thousands of years is not realistic, nor does it tally with the practical and pragmatic nature of Indian spirituality, particularly of the Vedic Age and early Puranic period. Therefore, it must be part of a symbolic representation, as indeed it was: the Yugas of the Puranas convey a sense of Order but not applicability. They were never intended to be factual, as we demand today. Analysts of the last century have examined the Puranic Cosmology with a contemporary bias and have consequently missed the forest for the trees. To apply our temporal experience to the Yugas is to do great injustice to the seers whose intention was entirely in keeping with what was possible at that time, but with, I repeat, a prophetic component included. It was the same as the fourfold arrangement of the Chaturvarna; and both the Yugas and the caste divisions were taken from the same cosmic structure. We will deal with the latter further on.
Mt Meru was truly the heart of that Order – ‘heavenly’ in nature, not Earthly. In the new cosmology these patterns are brought to Earth in both Time and Space and measurable today. They are no longer symbolic, as we understand the word – i.e., representing or standing for ‘something else’. It is rather a question of ‘the symbol being the thing symbolised’. To do so we may use the Capricorn hieroglyph, ruler of the subcontinent, as an illustration.

Here is the hieroglyph that has been a part of the Ancient Mysteries from time immemorial, uninterruptedly until today. Given its antiquity, are we not justified therefore in seeing this element as the legitimate ‘thread’ linking us to the ancient past? Notwithstanding the belief held by some Sanskritists and Indologists that it was a Babylonian formulation and was imported into India by the Greeks along with the other symbols that comprise the 12-part zodiac as we know it today, the Rig Veda proves otherwise; and we all agree it was penned long before the Greeks arrived in India. This will be the topic of Update 7 and need not detain us for the moment. What is of interest at this point is to see just how the Mountain 10th sign/month can be LOCATED on Earth, by which means the hieroglyph itself becomes a means to materialise the Symbol, to divest it of a ‘heavenly’ or ‘otherworldly’ significance, to actualise the symbol. We give a spatial ‘body’ to Capricorn which appears to have been known in a very ancient past but was then forgotten or rendered otherworldly; to such a degree that in the Puranic Age, when the goal of the Sacrifice became the Beyond, Mt Meru continued to stand for centrality and Bharat, but could do so only symbolically. Was this a part of the ‘ruse of the Supreme’, the magic of the great Deluder himself?
What is certain is that this direction beyond was POST-Vedic. Meru would have been an axis holding to itself in a vertical line the universe from subtle to dense. But Time gave it applicability then as it does today, always hinging on the 10th Month Victory, the supreme goal of the Warrior/Initiate. Time and Space converge when the symbol becomes the thing symbolised.

                                      The Subcontinent of Capricorn,
                                           10th month/sign of Victory

1.The very advanced ‘science’ the Rishis employed in the construction of their vedi to allow them to BE that ecliptic, not merely a symbolic reproduction, has been reproduced in an enhanced form by the Mother of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry. See www.matacom.com for a complete presentation of this revolutionary ‘science’; but again updated to suit the times.


Puranic Cosmology Updated 5

9 March 2010

A study of Update 4 may result in an assessment by some readers that this exercise is too ‘bare’, or too simplistic, and that by focussing on a single ‘thread’ from the Vedic Age through the Puranic and into the present, too much is left out that might contradict my thesis, i.e., that such a thread exists and can be located in space as well as in time. This assessment, if indeed it has arisen, leads to a truly important element in the study of cosmic harmonies. A careful observation of the condition of spirituality today is the best proof that ferreting out the Thread I have described is a fundamental first step if this updating is to succeed. The strategy in this Age has been to ‘confuse the issue’. It was well-thought out and is confirmed by the Puranas themselves; once again in connection with the ‘backbone’ of the Veda, the Dasavataras.
To illustrate, in these times of ‘updating’ we observe that the market is flooded with countless books on spirituality, many of which have no substance at all. It needs to be stated that discrimination in these arcane matters is almost impossible to acquire, given the ‘flood’ we are submerged in today. To do so Knowledge is a prerequisite; but by this I do not mean book-learning. For true discrimination such as the Vedic Realisation demands, a long and arduous sadhana is required which very few are willing or able to undergo. To complicate matters even more, we live in an age of ‘instant enlightenment’ where matters of the spirit are concerned. On the other hand, this would never be allowed in the various fields of science and academic learning. There the tendency to speculate without substance or to demand only belief without empirical proof is checked by the rigours of the disciplines involved. However, with that safeguard, so necessary in the field of the material sciences, the intuitive and other higher ‘methods of enquiry’ have to be eliminated or at least held in abeyance. And yet these are the cornerstones of the true spiritual/supramental experience.
We live in a world that demands instant results; or else miracles, or a transmission of ‘power’ that overwhelms the individual and convinces him that he is in the presence of a true man or woman of the God of his imagination. Nothing further is demanded for adherence because the means to discriminate – that is, to know with precision where such ‘miracles’ or ‘powers’ actually come from or which forces are responsible for these displays – is not cultivated because in today’s spirituality there are no means for verification since the focus is away from material creation rather than an embracing of all its involved planes of being. And this is the methodology required for the integral Knowledge that results in an immaculate discrimination.
Unquestioning belief is precisely what is eliminated in the updating exercise of the new cosmology. To counter the strategy of hiding by submergence in an ocean of excess, the new cosmology provides proof of its postulations at every step of the way. This is what qualifies it to be considered science. However, it is a new science because it arises in the consciousness-being of an individual who has integrated all parts of the being by due processes of sadhana; for this, a very long period of one-pointed determination and intense tapasya are required. Thus, the higher faculties referred to by Prof. Pandurangi (Update 3 – ‘superior methods of enquiry’) are never set aside in favour of scholarship; and in this I include the Sanskrit scholar who believes that higher levels of understanding can be reached by a focus on the word in its more literal sense.
The discipline required today is sufficiently explained in the Rig Veda to provide certain keys of Knowledge that can serve as signposts to guide us along the way that now has been cluttered with useless baggage over the ages. In fact, the Rig Veda lays the entire map at our feet with full details of the yearly Sacrifice – the Journey, as it is called – both in its becoming and its being. That is, both the path and the destination; the latter being that ‘mountain’ of the 10th month. The Thread must therefore be found in the Veda and carried across the centuries in the same form.

Though appearing different, the tactic today is rather the same as in the ancient past for the preservation and protection of the Knowledge. At that time secrecy was demanded: the Knowledge was reserved for very few, for those who were willing and able to undergo the tapasya required. In the Vedic Age based on the then prevailing cosmic Order this was reserved for the Brahmin, not as a birthright but earned through realisation. In the Dark Age that followed, it was not so much that secrecy was demanded, since that was proving increasingly more difficult to maintain once the Vedic Initiation had fallen into oblivion. The true and sincere seeker had to be tested, similar to the disciple in the Vedic Age; but in the midst of an effective method to preserve the Knowledge for future generations.
We are given a clear example of how this strategy was implemented in the Puranas themselves in their inimitable style – for example, the inclusion of Gautam the Buddha as 9th Avatar of Vishnu. Not only was this established some 2000 years before the Age of Vishnu had arrived – during which period alone do his Emanations descend to re-establish the Dharma and which in itself would exclude the Buddha from the Dasavataras – his inclusion was entirely incongruous given the Buddha’s dismissal of the very foundation of Vedic knowledge: the soul. But by doing this, incongruous as it was, wisemen of the day made the strategy clear; and this has been carefully preserved in the Puranic tales recounting the intercession of Vishnu to assist the Gods who were unable to conquer the Titans since they had been rendered invincible by their Vedic practices. To this effect, Vishnu made use of the Buddha to mislead the Asuras, to carry them off the Vedic path and therefore make them vulnerable. The argument/logic used by the commissioned Deluder could be identical to what we hear today in our world of Relativity:

‘…With many deductions, examples, and arguments…the magic deluder led the demons from the path of the Vedas: “This would be dharma, but it would not be dharma; this is, but it is not; this would give release, but it would not give release; this is the supreme object, but it is also not the supreme object; this is effect, but it is not effect…This is the dharma of those who are naked; this is the dharma of those who wear many clothes.” Thus the magic deluder taught a varying doctrine of more than one conclusion to the demons, who abandoned their own dharma
‘When the magic deluder had caused the demons to abandon the dharma of the triple Vedas, they themselves became his disciples and persuaded others; and yet others were persuaded by these, and still others by those, and so in a few days most of the demons abandoned the three Vedas…’ [from the Vishnu Purana, presented in the ‘Penguin Classic’ edition of Hindu Myths, 1994, pages 233-4]

And so, the 9th was cleverly included in the Line of Ten, but to distract the demon-seekers.
Therefore, incongruous as it was, the Buddha has come down in the Puranic cosmology as the 9th, ‘the ruse of the Supreme’ to mislead the asuric seekers. Consequently we have the words of Aurobindavatar himself to the effect that Kalki comes to ‘correct the error of the Buddha’. In this series we will explore in depth just what that ‘error’ might be.
Who were the demon-seekers?
Asuras are those who distort the Truth, just as the above tale suggests. The asuric expression is through the mental instrument and faculties primarily; Rakshasas, on the other hand, operate from and through the vital-physical. Thus, the mental ability to distort so effectively is why the Asuras had to be ‘misled’; it is their second nature and is therefore compulsive. But by far the most perplexing component in the ‘ruse’ is that today with the media at our disposal, with the possibility of flooding the world of spirituality by a mere click of a mouse indiscriminately, the Truth is hidden as effectively and securely as it was in the time of the Rishis; thereby again revealing a certain prophetic capacity in that a future play of circumstances was accommodated long before its onset. In the Vedic Age it was by an elitist approach – which we abhor today. But the very same result is attained when the Flood overtakes us through overexposure and we are left afloat in a sea of falsehood, distortion, dissimulation, and indeed, as the Deluder informs us, carried away by this tactic into the world of confusion and ignorance.
To escape this fate, to find a way out of this manipulation, a means must be inbuilt in the cosmology itself to assist sincere seekers who wish to be a part of the new creation that does not demand blind faith but is based on a new science, a third way. It is the hallmark of our times.
When all is said and done, when the chaff is separated from the wheat, when discrimination is honed through serious tapasya, then we can say a new world order is arising. The first step to reach that goal is to decipher just what that ‘thread’ is which has been carried over intact from ancient times into our 21st century. That elusive ‘secret’, which is not at all secret but is openly lauded in the Hymns and in every Hindu Temple, is Capricorn. How fitting that Capricorn should still be considered the ruler of India across the globe. Firstly, the sign’s own hieroglyph will therefore be our precious key as we set out on this voyage of discovery and updating that we are embarking on through this series. But we must realise that it is the symbol describing Mahakala, the Great God of Time himself; therefore, truly a warrior’s temperament is required in this new era just as it had been required in the Vedic Age, if we are to be granted access to His chamber of coveted secrets.
The Puranic Gods are not especially known for their valour since power, properly speaking, was the legitimate preserve of the Asuras whom they themselves had tricked into abandoning the field. Such being the case, when the moment of reckoning arrived they invariably rushed to Brahma to beg for his intersession. Brahma, in turn, accedes to their pleas and in the first instance he sends a WOMAN(!) to handle the mighty Mahishasura. When time moves on and another moment of reckoning is reached, again the Gods rush to Brahma; and since the message had not been grasped the first time around, he sends a mere boy to handle the mightiest Asura of them all, Tarak!
The truth be told, BOTH were left vulnerable – which goes to prove the need for an integral, all-inclusive Order.
How many messages do we need to show that indeed the Knowledge had to be hidden from those who would distort it by the well-documented ‘trickery’ of the Gods in the Puranic Age? Indeed, India suffered invasion upon invasion during that passage, attesting to the fact that the Gods could not handle the situation when deprived of the power the Titans possess! But a price must nonetheless be paid for subterfuges, as noble as they may seem. Consequently, we are left with the residue (some would call it karma) of that ‘trickery’, that ‘distortion’ as in the form of a ruse of the Supreme to ‘mislead’. This present exercise is part of the endeavour to clear that distorting residue away, to retrieve and to unveil the Vedas that had to be hidden by the Asura in the Ocean, as the Puranas record.
Again the Vedic/Puranic line of Dasavataras comes to our aid. Matsya is the sign of the Fish, Pisces. Therefore every time we move into and through the Age of Pisces the Fish, we must retrieve the Veda from the ocean where they were hidden by the Asura. To do so Matsyavatar was then sent by Vishnu, first of his Ten Avataric appearances.
In Vettam Mani’s Puranic Encyclopaedia [Motilal Banarsidass Publisher,] this episode, under the heading ‘Avatara’ (Matsyavatar), is recorded thus: ‘Once while Brahma was reciting the Vedas Hayagriva, an asura, stole the Vedas of Brahma and with them he went under water to the bottom of the ocean and hid himself there. So Mahavishnu decided to take the form of a fish (matsya) to recover the Vedas.’
The question to ask is what is this ‘ocean’ and where is it? Clearly it is symbolic, but is there a way to materialise the symbol, to make fact out of fiction?
The meaning of ‘ocean’ is more than clear if we follow the map the Rig Veda provides – that Thread. This would be the map of the Journey through the 12 signs of the ecliptic just as in the days of old. In point of fact, the Puranas have given us very clear indications not only about the precise meaning of Matsya Avatar, but also when that stage of his appearance would be reached. The ‘submergence’, the ‘hiding’ began precisely when, through the Precession of the Equinox a certain alignment was reached in 234 BCE, or the beginning of the Age of Pisces the Fish (a Water sign). This period lasted up to 1926. The Age of Submergence is reached once in the 25,920 years of each precessional round, the very first Age. In point of fact, Aurobindavatar considered the Dasavataras to be a ‘parable of evolution’, agreeing with the evolutionary meaning of each zodiacal Age. The first would set the tone for the rest and the task ahead. ‘Retrieval’ begins thereafter, in our very times. This would be the re-establishment of the Dharma.
Without the Map provided by the Veda, the world does not present a very hopeful picture. But with this formidable key in hand, the path ahead is admittedly not entirely without hardships and obstructions, but at least these difficulties are faced with the clear and precise knowledge of where civilisation is moving and what that timeframe might be to fulfil the destiny of India and the Earth as written in the cosmic harmony.

Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet
Aeon Centre of Cosmology


Puranic Cosmology Updated 4

4 March 2010

By far the most abiding symbol in Indian myth and cosmogony is the Mountain. It stretches back to the Vedic Age. In that remote period, however, we do not find the Vedic geometric altars (vedi) displaying the symbol of the Mountain as overtly as in the Hindu Temple of the Puranic period; rather, it was more cosmic and subtle. An initiation into the ancient mysteries was required (then and now) to appreciate the symbolism and its relevance and place in the yearly Sacrifice. This was understandably reserved for very few and required a special initiatic ‘journey’ which is the motif of the Sacrifice. During the Puranic Age that same symbol was rendered in stone and sculpture. Durability and preservation were the imperatives since a Dark Age had set in that required very different methods of transmission once the Vedic Way had been forced underground. The earlier initiation fell into oblivion.
The Mountain in the Vedic Age was derived from the zodiacal symbolism of the 12-part division of the ecliptic through the sign Capricorn, precisely the Mountain. The 12 are the ‘eternal worlds’ in the following hymn:

     Certain eternal worlds are these which have come into being,
     their doors are shut to you (or opened) by the months and the       years;
     without effort one (world) moves in the other, and it is these that
     Brahmanaspati makes manifest to knowledge. (RV, II.24.5.)

So much emphasis was placed on this sacred symbol that the Rishis proclaimed the victory of the Aryan Warrior on the path of initiation to be precisely in the 10th month of the year after the March Equinox, the month/sign Capricorn. To this day throughout the world the tenth month/sign is considered to be the astrological ruler of India. On the subcontinent it is known as Makar, the Crocodile. This emphasis is carried over to the Hindu Temple where the Crocodile surfaces in a number of prominent places in the structures.
In the Puranic Age the mountain symbol became less subtle, if you will. For example, every gopuram represents the Mountain, and by correspondence the tenth sign/month. It all stems from the Veda and from there it was passed on to the Puranic Mt Meru, axis of the world.

The Tanjore Temple built by the Cholan emperor, Rajaraja the Great

In all ancient cultures the axis mundi in one form or another played a prominent role; as Delphi in Ancient Greece, for example, considered to be the ‘navel (omphalos) of the world’. All cultures had their version of Axis/Navel which, in the main, epitomised the highest truth of the civilisation and the embodiment of its most cherished aspirations; certainly Delphi is an example. But nowhere has this special symbolism survived into the present as in India, both in the Hindu Temple as well as in the yearly celebration of Makar Sankranti, the Capricorn Gateway. But though the Mountain is portrayed in every temple in the initiatic language of sacred architecture, its cosmic connection has been lost today by the miscalculation of the actual corresponding sankranti which should coincide with the shortest day of the year. Presently it is wrongly established as 15 January, 23 days AFTER the astronomically verifiable Makar Sankranti.
We will leave aside this aberration for the time being and concentrate on Capricorn, Makar, Mountain, Axis Mundi. Is there a means to update the Tradition in this essential aspect since it played such an important part in the evolution of Vedic civilisation?
In this endeavour science will come to our aid. For example, the introduction of longitudes (and latitudes) encircling our globe has permitted us to bring that golden heavenly Mountain down to Earth and to locate it in India, thereby making the tenth month victory, culmination of the Vedic Sacrifice, a vibrant truth of our times.

Let us proceed step-by-step. The Hindu Temple is oriented to the four Cardinal Directions, the equinoxes and solstices which are the four pillars on which our solar system’s ecliptic rests – the pathway of all the planets as they travel around the Sun. The fourth, uttarayana, is Capricorn/Makar, the highest of the four and known in astrological tradition as the position of the Midday Sun (that casts no shadows). In the northern hemisphere this synchronicity with the shortest day of the year occurs unfailingly on 21-22 December each year. The Mountain (Capricorn) was thus the focus of the Vedic Sacrifice, providing a sense of stability and permanence; this was carried over to the Puranic Age in every Hindu Temple and continues to be immensely significant for contemporary society by the yearly solar celebration of Makar Sankranti. This would be the clearly discernible thread from ancient times to the present. The only problem, lamentably of a serious nature, is the fact that while the solstices of December and March are astronomical facts and easily calculated, with no scope for error, somehow the Vedic calendar and cosmic connection, based on this simple astronomy, was laid to rest during the second half of the Age of Pisces (234 BCE-1926 CE); the un-Vedic Nirayana system was introduced and remains in place until today, thereby uprooting the 10th month from its verifiable cosmic moorings. This simple factor, having no sanction in the Veda, removed the cosmic connection between the populace and the heavenly surround. It has therefore become the singlemost valid reason to label as mere superstition temple worship, myth and astrology. Without that cosmic Order as the backdrop for all observances, the result is, simply put, chaos.
In the Vedic context by definition chaos is the peripheral play of the Becoming without the central point of Being; there is no ‘centre that holds’ and therefore the Becoming is deprived of knowledge, sense and purpose on which basis alone Being can ‘hold’. Consequently, the highest truth the world has ever known has gradually fallen into mere superstition born of ignorance. Sri Aurobindo understood the problem. He discovered that‘…for some two thousand years at least no Indian has really understood the Vedas…’. (‘Secret of the Veda’)
To summarise, the Mountain was first established as the main gnostic symbol on the subcontinent in the Vedic Age. This was done through the tenth month, Capricorn, the ‘Mountain’ of the zodiac. At that time it did not stand openly for the axis mundi as we find in the Puranic Mt Meru; rather, as all things Vedic, that pole holding to itself all of creation became personified in the most important of all the Vedic Gods, Agni of the sacred fire, leader of the hosts – navel of the worlds.
This symbolism was then carried over to the Puranic Age where we find the two, Mountain and axis mundi, joined in the mythic idiom of Mt Meru. This, in turn, is cemented in all Hindu Temples when preservation became an imperative in the period when the Tradition had to be safeguarded from complete obliteration. The connection with the ecliptic zodiac is still partially maintained with the orientation of all temples by their alignment to the four Cardinal Directions, though in day-to-day practices the timings for rituals and horoscopy are woefully inaccurate.
Finally, in our 9th Manifestation which began in 234 BCE, embracing from that point onward the entire Age of Pisces and into our own Age of Aquarius, the two have been brought together in a single integrated symbol. We update precisely by re-establishing both the cosmic connection and the axis mundi through zodiacal Capricorn. In this manner we are actually closing the circle and returning to the Vedic source, while bringing into the circle of the millennia everything that has transpired in between. Nothing has been discarded or eliminated, but by a process of integration we bring the Veda into the present. That is, by putting each thing in its place in both time and space.
Let us proceed now to observe how this is done and how updating therefore enhances the old cosmology and myth by a marriage of the Cosmic and Earthly. The issue is always the axis mundi and the Mountain, always Capricorn, always December Solstice and fourth Cardinal Pole, always Mt Meru located on Earth through the new cosmology.

Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet
Aeon Centre of Cosmology


Puranic Cosmology Updated 3

3 March 2010

The inspiration to begin this new series came when I was given a copy of Bhugola Varanam of Sri Vadiraja, translated and commented on by B. V. Bhadarayana Murthy (Akhila Bharata Madhva Maha Mandali, Madras Branch, 1989). In perusing this precious little document it became abundantly clear that updating is the need of the hour. Essentially this is what I have been doing for the past four decades; more particularly since 1971 when I came to reside in India. But all the volumes published to date, while giving full details of the new cosmology have not been specifically written to reveal the manner in which this new formulation is directly connected to the older cosmology, that it updates the latter and why it has become necessary to do so.
The cosmology itself answers these questions. Most important of all, it reveals that we are in the middle of a great transition which can best be described as the birth of a new world, a new creation. The Puranas speak of 9 creations and the manner of procreation specific to each. The highest, the 9th, is precisely where we stand as an evolving civilisation. At the 9th stage procreation is said to be by Will. It is not far-fetched to deduce that attempts made to procreate by artificial means of various sorts may be precursors or indicators of the direction the evolution is taking at this 9th stage. There are other indications as well – for example, same sex marriages and the like, while repulsive to some may well be society’s attempts to accommodate a very different relationship between the sexes, as the 9th Creation demands. In other words, there is a shift in the purpose of evolution taking place, a shift to a higher purpose, removed from the atavistic drives that have coloured our sojourn on planet Earth. In such a scenario, all religions born in the Age of Pisces are the strongest voices against this shift, if it may be so called; whereas the Puranas seem to have foreseen the direction evolution would take in the years to come.
It is not an entirely blissful fate to be a part of this transition. The condition of the world around us provides ample proof. However, there is a great advantage offered to us by the vision Puranic Cosmology provides. This is a vision of Order, Oneness, Unity. Be that as it may, this gift Tradition has bequeathed to humanity is useless without an updating that can allow it to be a truly applicable guide in this trying passage to a new world order. When, on the other hand, it is accepted that such an updating is possible and profitable and in the just order of things, the heart is filled with gratitude for being born at this moment and being able to observe the birth of a new creation as it transpires and in direct connection in an unbroken line to India’s ancient past.
The above-cited book exposes the problem in full. I will quote portions of the Preface contributed by Prof. K. T. Pandurangi, a Sanskrit scholar, to illustrate. The Professor presents two points for the reader as being the aim of B. V. Bhadarayana Murthy’s publication:

1) To make clear the concept and details of the Geography of the              whole universe as described in Bhugola Varanam…
2) To elucidate this concept and details in terms of modern                knowledge on this subject.

I question whether Point 2 has been achieved.
The professor states that the ancient seers had ‘much superior methods of enquiry. They were able to cultivate mental faculties of man that could probe into the mysteries of the universe much deeper [than contemporary science].’ This is certainly true, but it must further be stated that in desiring to update Puranic Cosmology the very same ‘method of enquiry’ must be used.
Further, he goes on to state that we must ‘accept the fact that our ancient seers were more close to Nature and had different methods of enquiry other than our present-day experimental method. But their conclusions are still available in our ancient literature and we must try to find the clues to understand them. If we are not able to read the script of certain ancient documents, we should not rush to the conclusion that these ancients had no language at all. Our branding of our ancient scientific thought as unscientific amounts to such an attitude.’
Indeed, there is a language which we may term perennial, known to sages of all times. I have referred to this method of transmission as ‘laws’ or a particular ‘methodology’. This transmission does not rely on words, even on a hallowed language like Sanskrit. It relies on certain abiding truths of our solar system particularly as experienced from Earth. We must never lose sight of the fact that this transmission is Earth-centred. And further, it is Bharat-centred. This centrality is the very first key the ancients provided for later generations in their perception of the world – with Mt Meru central.
In today’s updating, using the same method of enquiry the ancients used, I will verify and validate this concept in full. In the process it will be revealed that the progress of Science is a vital ingredient in the updating. Science has added a certain precision that was unavailable to earlier generations. Added to this is the fact that geographical science has also progressed: now we must apply the cosmology to the whole Earth in a true experience of oneness and integration. Given that Mt Meru was considered the axis mundi, nothing less would suffice. Indeed, it can be shown now that India is the centrepiece of the entire globe – the Mt Meru of today when Myth becomes applicable.

Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet
Aeon Centre of Cosmology