Ancient Indian cosmology

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Ancient Indian cosmology

Postby Indrajala » Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:14 pm

Queequeg wrote:If you have decided to live your life 100% according to a book written by people who thought the earth was a giant disk floating in the ether, you are going to run into some problems.


What is your basis for making this assertion -- how do you know they believed the earth was a giant disk?
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Re: How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

Postby Queequeg » Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:31 pm

Huseng wrote:
Queequeg wrote:If you have decided to live your life 100% according to a book written by people who thought the earth was a giant disk floating in the ether, you are going to run into some problems.


What is your basis for making this assertion -- how do you know they believed the earth was a giant disk?


Wikipedia knows all! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_cosmology

You're right - I don't know. The books they left us, however, apparently take this cosmology [with minor variations] for granted and they seem to treat the subject as though it were true. The facts tend to show that some, maybe many, literally believed this cosmology. But you're getting hung up on a throwaway point.

My point is, if you try and shrink yourself to fit into the limits of knowledge the compilers of the Sutras had, in some ways you might find advantage, in others you might find that you'll have to ignore 2000 years of history and the accumulation of a lot of knowledge. That's why I suggested these books should be approached with common sense. Take the transcendent points and leave the products of a limited mind behind.
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Re: How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

Postby Indrajala » Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:37 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Wikipedia knows all! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_cosmology

You're right - I don't know. The books they left us, however, apparently take this cosmology [with minor variations] for granted and they seem to treat the subject as though it were true. The facts tend to show that some, maybe many, literally believed this cosmology. But you're getting hung up on a throwaway point.


You might be interested in this work:

Vedic Cosmography And Astronomy
By Richard L. Thompson

http://books.google.com.tw/books?id=9oi ... &q&f=false

He explores a number of Indian treatises on astronomy and demonstrates that many were aware of planets beings spheres in space. The idea of a disc in one context is simply the diameter of a planet as a good point of reference for measurements. The Meru cosmology in his conclusion represents a model which is not entirely material where the transcendental locations have their place.

In other words, ancient Indians were not as ignorant and backwards as you would claim they were.
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Re: How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

Postby Queequeg » Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:56 pm

Huseng wrote:
Queequeg wrote:
Wikipedia knows all! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_cosmology

You're right - I don't know. The books they left us, however, apparently take this cosmology [with minor variations] for granted and they seem to treat the subject as though it were true. The facts tend to show that some, maybe many, literally believed this cosmology. But you're getting hung up on a throwaway point.


You might be interested in this work:

Vedic Cosmography And Astronomy
By Richard L. Thompson

http://books.google.com.tw/books?id=9oi ... &q&f=false

He explores a number of Indian treatises on astronomy and demonstrates that many were aware of planets beings spheres in space. The idea of a disc in one context is simply the diameter of a planet as a good point of reference for measurements. The Meru cosmology in his conclusion represents a model which is not entirely material where the transcendental locations have their place.

In other words, ancient Indians were not as ignorant and backwards as you would claim they were.


It looks like an interesting book... but, a very brief look gave me this: "Bhu-mandala is described... as a flat disc with a diameter of ..." p.48 I didn't read more, but the brief parts I did read - the book had the tone of being an apology for ancient mythology.

Even if there was some minority of Indic scholars in the distant past who taught about the round Earth and revolution around the sun, etc., it does not change the fact that the Buddhist Suttas/Sutras take the disc as the accepted cosmology.

To be clear, I'm not calling ancient Indians "ignorant and backwards". That's your characterization of what I wrote. I don't blame people for their limited knowledge; our modern world with all its technologies and knowledge is the yield of centuries of hard thinking and work by many many brilliant people. THIS is a marvel, not an indictment of our ancestors.

All due respect, I think you are reacting on the basis of some of your personal sensitivities, and not to anything in particular that I wrote.
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Re: How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

Postby Indrajala » Thu Sep 27, 2012 3:26 pm

Queequeg wrote:It looks like an interesting book... but, a very brief look gave me this: "Bhu-mandala is described... as a flat disc with a diameter of ..." p.48 I didn't read more, but the brief parts I did read - the book had the tone of being an apology for ancient mythology.


He was a proponent of the Vedas, but quite an intelligent mathematician and scholar. In any case he backs up his arguments as best he can, though it won't entirely satisfy materialists after a certain point who don't accept the immaterial realms and so on.

Even if there was some minority of Indic scholars in the distant past who taught about the round Earth and revolution around the sun, etc., it does not change the fact that the Buddhist Suttas/Sutras take the disc as the accepted cosmology.


Heliocentrism versus geocentricism is just a point of view. Your measurements can be adjusted to either model and the result will be just as accurate. The whole point of geocentricism is not that everyone who uses such a model thinks the earth is the absolute center of everything (this is a gross generalization), but just that it is a convenient point of reference. Why use a distant object as your point of reference rather than where you are presently stationed?

The whole issue between the two models in the west in any case was largely a power struggle. It became a symbolic gesture of obedience necessary for position and respect in society to accept heliocentrism over geocentricism. It still is. To suggest the latter now is to be mocked, ridiculed and condemned as backwards, ignorant and hopeless. This is typical of non-mainstream approaches to science in our present world where they are immediately targeted and attacked. Few really realize their own biases in this regard. Western science unfortunately inherited a bad habit from its parent Christianity: an unstoppable instinct of intolerance for alternate views. Many people just parrot whatever the mainstream says without thinking twice.

Buddhist cosmology clearly incorporates realms which are not part of our immediately perceived physical world. This has no place in materialist astronomy of course, but that does not render the Buddhist ideas superstitious and outright wrong. It is just a different perspective based on a completely different worldview.


To be clear, I'm not calling ancient Indians "ignorant and backwards". That's your characterization of what I wrote. I don't blame people for their limited knowledge; our modern world with all its technologies and knowledge is the yield of centuries of hard thinking and work by many many brilliant people. THIS is a marvel, not an indictment of our ancestors.


You implied it:

You're right - I don't know. The books they left us, however, apparently take this cosmology [with minor variations] for granted and they seem to treat the subject as though it were true. The facts tend to show that some, maybe many, literally believed this cosmology. But you're getting hung up on a throwaway point.


You are implying that we definitely absolutely know better than ancients did in all respects. This is of course the typical narrative we hear in our present day where we are absolutely certain we have progressed and now know more than the ancients did without regard for differing paradigms, worldviews and assumptions about time and space.

The Meru cosmology looks ridiculous from a materialist point of view, but again the whole thing is a provisional map that includes both our realm and all those other realms which the Buddha and countless other yogis attested to. From the occult point of view the prevailing materialist cosmology of our present day is extremely limited as it exclusively explores what is visible to the physical senses and detectable via instruments. The rest of reality is denied as even having an ontological basis.


All due respect, I think you are reacting on the basis of some of your personal sensitivities, and not to anything in particular that I wrote.


I am trying to demonstrate, like Thompson does in his work, that we should not outright dismiss and mischaracterize how ancients viewed the universe. There is a widespread belief of definite progress in our modern day, which you incidentally display, that suggests without question we know better about reality than anyone else before us.
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Re: How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

Postby Queequeg » Thu Sep 27, 2012 4:35 pm

Huseng, the problem here is that you take a few things I wrote and then some considerable liberties to interpret what I wrote. You end up with a character. You then proceed to have a conversation with this character you created. We call this a straw man. Its annoying when I get turned into a straw man, not so much because of what it is, but because the discussion is very difficult to participate in.

In other words, what you are doing is like saying to someone - "Why did you rape that woman?" You're assuming facts that are not the case and one can't even begin to answer it without first addressing the assumptions.

I suppose that's OK, so long as we understand that this is what's going on. We all need someone we can bleed on, and if you want to, well, you can bleed on me.

You are implying that we definitely absolutely know better than ancients did in all respects.


You must have missed this:

My point is, if you try and shrink yourself to fit into the limits of knowledge the compilers of the Sutras had, in some ways you might find advantage, in others you might find that you'll have to ignore 2000 years of history and the accumulation of a lot of knowledge. That's why I suggested these books should be approached with common sense. Take the transcendent points and leave the products of a limited mind behind.
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Re: How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

Postby Seishin » Thu Sep 27, 2012 4:54 pm

Queequeg wrote:My point is, if you try and shrink yourself to fit into the limits of knowledge the compilers of the Sutras had, in some ways you might find advantage, in others you might find that you'll have to ignore 2000 years of history and the accumulation of a lot of knowledge. That's why I suggested these books should be approached with common sense. Take the transcendent points and leave the products of a limited mind behind.


Whilst I think Huseng has overreacted slightly, I can see from the highlighted above where he's getting the idea from. Sorry if I'm stirring the pot :stirthepot:

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Re: How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

Postby Queequeg » Thu Sep 27, 2012 7:09 pm

Seishin wrote:
Queequeg wrote:My point is, if you try and shrink yourself to fit into the limits of knowledge the compilers of the Sutras had, in some ways you might find advantage, in others you might find that you'll have to ignore 2000 years of history and the accumulation of a lot of knowledge. That's why I suggested these books should be approached with common sense. Take the transcendent points and leave the products of a limited mind behind.


Whilst I think Huseng has overreacted slightly, I can see from the highlighted above where he's getting the idea from. Sorry if I'm stirring the pot :stirthepot:

Gassho,
Seishin


Well, I suppose if you want to be obtuse.

Are we really going to argue whether people in India, circa 2600 BCE to say, even 1000 CE,had "knowledge" in anything like the conceptual categories and detail we have now (and vice-versa)? We now have dharmas that had not yet even occurred to anyone (dharmas that are subject to the same destabilizing (and affirming) Buddhist analysis as any other, including dharmas apparently referenced in the Suttas/Sutras, I will add). However, we also know things about this world that ancient Buddhists had no idea about - the Americas and Antarctica, for instance.

If these matters are up for debate, I tap out. That is just not a discussion that I can fathom any benefit from.
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Re: Ancient Indian cosmology

Postby Seishin » Thu Sep 27, 2012 7:17 pm

I wasn't commenting on Ancient Indian cosmology nor the knowledge of or lack of those people. I was merely pointing to what Huseng might had seen in your post. That is all. I'm not interested in the subject matter for what it's worth :smile: :focus:
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Re: Ancient Indian cosmology

Postby Queequeg » Thu Sep 27, 2012 8:12 pm

:stirthepot: :applause: :hug: :smile:
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Re: Ancient Indian cosmology

Postby greentara » Thu Sep 27, 2012 11:20 pm

queequeg, "I suppose that's OK, so long as we understand that this is what's going on. We all need someone we can bleed on, and if you want to, well, you can bleed on me."
Your comments were interesting but you come on too strong!
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Re: How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

Postby viniketa » Thu Sep 27, 2012 11:58 pm

Queequeg wrote:Are we really going to argue whether people in India, circa 2600 BCE to say, even 1000 CE,had "knowledge" in anything like the conceptual categories and detail we have now (and vice-versa)?


I don't think anyone could successfully argue that, as their manner of conceptualization and categorizing was (and in many ways, still is) quite different from Western reductionist approaches. However, the sophistication of ancient Indian thought in their presentations of astronomy and measurement of that most illusive of all "things" - TIME - through the power of sheer mind (no pencil and eraser, much less telescopes and computers) is really quite extraordinary.

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Re: How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

Postby catmoon » Fri Sep 28, 2012 4:19 am

viniketa wrote:
Queequeg wrote:Are we really going to argue whether people in India, circa 2600 BCE to say, even 1000 CE,had "knowledge" in anything like the conceptual categories and detail we have now (and vice-versa)?


I don't think anyone could successfully argue that, as their manner of conceptualization and categorizing was (and in many ways, still is) quite different from Western reductionist approaches. However, the sophistication of ancient Indian thought in their presentations of astronomy and measurement of that most illusive of all "things" - TIME - through the power of sheer mind (no pencil and eraser, much less telescopes and computers) is really quite extraordinary.

:namaste:


Huh? In what way did they measure time again? Doesn't measuring imply a measuring tool?
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Re: How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

Postby viniketa » Fri Sep 28, 2012 5:29 am

catmoon wrote:Huh? In what way did they measure time again? Doesn't measuring imply a measuring tool?


Of course, which is simply a standard for comparison. After that, most measurement (even modern) is a matter of calculation rather than direct comparison.

See here: Carl Sagan on Hindu Cosmology and here: Vedic Calculation on Speed of Light on cosmic time; this thread for quantum time: viewtopic.php?f=36&t=9632.
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Re: How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

Postby Indrajala » Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:49 am

viniketa wrote:
Queequeg wrote:Are we really going to argue whether people in India, circa 2600 BCE to say, even 1000 CE,had "knowledge" in anything like the conceptual categories and detail we have now (and vice-versa)?


I don't think anyone could successfully argue that, as their manner of conceptualization and categorizing was (and in many ways, still is) quite different from Western reductionist approaches. However, the sophistication of ancient Indian thought in their presentations of astronomy and measurement of that most illusive of all "things" - TIME - through the power of sheer mind (no pencil and eraser, much less telescopes and computers) is really quite extraordinary.

:namaste:


They also had atomic theory and measurements for things at the atomic level.

Even by Aśoka's time there was advanced knowledge of metallurgy as well. Think rust free iron sitting out in the open for centuries.

There is also the question of how much knowledge from ancient periods has simply been lost with no record of it. Take for example the antikythera mechanism which was pulled out of the sea about a century ago. Until it was discovered we really had no idea people in that period of Roman/Greek history could build such things.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antikythera_mechanism

It leads one to wonder about other lost technologies, sciences and knowledge.

In India especially given the vague historical record we're really uncertain about its ancient periods. Some of the ancient literature even speaks of flying devices and metal automatons of all things. When it comes to astronomy, as Thompson points out in his book, they had no shortage of accurate astronomical knowledge. Some of it doesn't match up with contemporary numbers, but then much of it actually does correspond close enough. There's also the possibility of data being corrupted over the centuries in the transmission of the texts (Thompson indicates this as well).

Curiously, Vedic astronomy also claims its knowledge was bestowed unto humanity from gods. It was originally knowledge not of this world. Vedic mathematics are also associated with various gods. Apparently some gods like math. :smile:
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Re: Ancient Indian cosmology

Postby Lhug-Pa » Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:08 am

In Isis Unveiled, H.P. Blavatsky wrote:If the Pythagorean metempsychosis should be thoroughly explained and compared with the modern theory of evolution, it would be found to supply every "missing link" in the chain of the latter. But who of our scientists would consent to lose his precious time over the vagaries of the ancients. Notwithstanding proofs to the contrary, they not only deny that the nations of the archaic periods, but even the ancient philosophers had any positive knowledge of the Heliocentric system. The "Venerable Bedes," the Augustines and Lactantii appear to have smothered, with their dogmatic ignorance, all faith in the more ancient theologists of the pre-Christian centuries. But now philology and a closer acquaintance with Sanskrit literature have partially enabled us to vindicate them from these unmerited imputations. In the Vedas, for instance, we find positive proof that so long ago as 2000 B.C., the Hindu sages and scholars must have been acquainted with the rotundity of our globe and the Heliocentric system. Hence, Pythagoras and Plato knew well this astronomical truth; for Pythagoras obtained his knowledge

[[Vol. 1, Page]] 10 THE VEIL OF ISIS.
in India, or from men who had been there, and Plato faithfully echoed his teachings. We will quote two passages from the Aitareya Brahmana:

In the "Serpent-Mantra,"* the Brahmana declares as follows: that this Mantra is that one which was seen by the Queen of the Serpents, Sarpa-rajni; because the earth (iyam) is the Queen of the Serpents, as she is the mother and queen of all that moves (sarpat). In the beginning she (the earth) was but one head (round), without hair (bald), i.e., without vegetation. She then perceived this Mantra which confers upon him who knows it, the power of assuming any form which he might desire. She "pronounced the Mantra," i.e., sacrificed to the gods; and, in consequence, immediately obtained a motley appearance; she became variegated, and able to produce any form she might like, changing one form into another. This Mantra begins with the words: "Ayam gauh pris'nir akramit" (x., 189).

The description of the earth in the shape of a round and bald head, which was soft at first, and became hard only from being breathed upon by the god Vayu, the lord of the air, forcibly suggests the idea that the authors of the sacred Vedic books knew the earth to be round or spherical; moreover, that it had been a gelatinous mass at first, which gradually cooled off under the influence of the air and time. So much for their knowledge about our globe's sphericity; and now we will present the testimony upon which we base our assertion, that the Hindus were perfectly acquainted with the Heliocentric system, at least 2000 years B.C.

In the same treatise the Hotar, (priest), is taught how the Shastras should be repeated, and how the phenomena of sunrise and sunset are to be explained. It says: "The Agnishtoma is that one (that god) who burns. The sun never sets nor rises. When people think the sun is setting, it is not so; they are mistaken. For after having arrived at the end of the day, it produces two opposite effects, making night to what is below, and day to what is on the other side. When they (the people) believe it rises in the morning, the sun only does thus: having reached the end of the night, it makes itself produce two opposite effects, making day to what is below, and night to what is on the other side. In fact the sun never sets; nor does it set for him who has such a knowledge. . . ."**

This sentence is so conclusive, that even the translator of the Rig-Veda, Dr. Haug, was forced to remark it. He says this passage contains "the denial of the existence of sunrise and sunset," and that the author supposes the sun "to remain always in its high position."***

[[Footnote(s)]] -------------------------------------------------
* From the Sanskrit text of the Aitareya Brahmanam. Rig-Veda, v., ch. ii., verse 23.

** Aitareya Brahmanam, book iii., c. v., 44.

*** Ait. Brahm., vol. ii., p. 242.

[[Vol. 1, Page]] 11 ANCIENT ASTRONOMICAL CALCULATIONS.
In one of the earliest Nivids, Rishi Kutsa, a Hindu sage of the remotest antiquity, explains the allegory of the first laws given to the celestial bodies. For doing "what she ought not to do," Anahit (Anaitis or Nana, the Persian Venus), representing the earth in the legend, is sentenced to turn round the sun. The Sattras, or sacrificial sessions* prove undoubtedly that so early as in the eighteenth or twentieth century B.C., the Hindus had made considerable progress in astronomical science. The Sattras lasted one year, and were "nothing but an imitation of the sun's yearly course. They were divided, says Haug, into two distinct parts, each consisting of six months of thirty days each; in the midst of both was the Vishuvan (equator or central day), cutting the whole Sattras into two halves, etc."** This scholar, although he ascribes the composition of the bulk of the Brahmanas to the period 1400-1200 B.C., is of opinion that the oldest of the hymns may be placed at the very commencement of Vedic literature, between the years 2400-2000, B.C. He finds no reason for considering the Vedas less ancient than the sacred books of the Chinese. As the Shu-King or Book of History, and the sacrificial songs of the Shi-King, or Book of Odes, have been proved to have an antiquity as early as 2200, B.C., our philologists may yet be compelled before long to acknowledge, that in astronomical knowledge, the antediluvian Hindus were their masters.
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Re: Ancient Indian cosmology

Postby Jikan » Fri Sep 28, 2012 7:09 pm

How is HP Blavatsky warranted as a source on Ancient Indian cosmology?
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Re: Ancient Indian cosmology

Postby Lhug-Pa » Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:00 pm

Did you read the quote that I posted above from her Isis Unveiled ?

It relates directly to what Huseng and Queequeg are debating here.

For one, H.P. Blavatsky provided citations there.
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Re: Ancient Indian cosmology

Postby Jikan » Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:29 pm

Lhug-Pa wrote:Did you read the quote that I posted above from her Isis Unveiled ?

It relates directly to what Huseng and Queequeg are debating here.

For one, H.P. Blavatsky provided citations there.


We're talking about history. Bracket for a moment the question of whether or not Blavatsky was trained as a historian and remember that Isis Unveiled is a 100 year old text. The state of the scholarship is changed dramatically in the last century. This is why I ask: how is this text warranted?

if anyone is unclear on what I mean by warrant in this context, this link will catch you up:

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/588/03/
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Re: Ancient Indian cosmology

Postby Lhug-Pa » Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:35 pm

The said quote stands on its own. Please just read it. If there's anything in particular within it that ought to be challenged, then by all means go ahead and address it.
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