WHAT IS THE SHAPE AND COSMOLOCATION OF THE EARTH,
ACCORDING TO SHRIMAD BHAGAVATAM AND COMMON SENSE ?
Modern Blasphemy: Earth Is Not a Globe, Part Two BY: MAYESVARA DASA May 19, 2016 — IRELAND (SUN) --
+ a few comments and added references by: Solbjoern Brajendra Nd
A lotus leaf is round and flat like a plate, not round like a ball. So according to Srimad Bhagavatam, Jambudwipa is round like a lotus leaf, and Bharata-varsha (where we are), rests on the same flat plane as the rest of Jambudwipa. In other words, according to Sukadeva Goswami, the continents of our Earth rest on a horizontal plane; they do not curve around a globe-like circular ball. Indeed there is no place in Srimad Bhagavatam where Sukadeva Goswami describes Bharata-varsha as a globe in space. We will come back to this point presently.
So keep this image of the lotus leaf in mind as we turn now to Jambudwipa. The image is very appropriate because Jambudwipa is a round circular continent surrounded by water.
"Jambudvipa is also surrounded by an ocean of salt water. The breadth of Jambudvipa is 100,000 yojanas [800,000 miles], and the breadth of the saltwater ocean is the same." (SB 5.20.2)
So now let us take a closer look at Bharata-varsha itself. The description of Bharata-varsha is given in the 5th Canto of Srimad -Bhagavatam, in sections of the Mahabharata, as well as in other Puranas (Vedic history). Bharata-varsha has a total land area of 72,000 miles and sits in the southern region of the larger area of Jambudvipa (800,000 miles). Just as Jambudwipa is divided into nine sections, so Bharata-varsha itself is further divided into nine sections of which our Earth is only one part. This is described in various Puranas such as Vishnu Purana, Brahmanda Purana, and Markandeya Purana. In the Markandeya Purana it is stated:
"Kraushtuki spoke. Adorable Sir! Thou hast fully described this Jambudvipa...Therefore tell me, O brahman, about this Bharata in detail, and what are its divisions, and how many they are, and what is its constitution accurately; it is the country, and what are the provinces and the mountains in it, O brahman?
Markandeya spoke. Hear from me the nine divisions of this country Bharata they must be known as extending to the ocean, but as being mutually inaccessible. They are Indra-dvipa, Kaserumat, Tamra-varna, Gabhastimat, and Naga-dvipa, Saumya, Gandharva and Varuna; and this is the ninth dvipa among them, and it is surrounded by the sea. This dvipa is a thousand yojanas from south to north."
Srila Prabhupada's quotes from the Siddhanta-Siromani to confirm the existence of these divisions of Bharata-varsha: see Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila, 2.10)
In the above quote from the Markandeya Purana, Markandeya Rsi says that the region of Bharata-varsha which we know as Earth is 8,000 miles from north to south and is completely surrounded by the sea. To the east and west of our Earth re eight other areas of Bharata-varsha presently unknown to us. Markandeya Rsi's measurement of the Earth's diameter is very close to the modern calculation of approximately 7,920 miles, and his depiction of the Earth being completely surrounded by water is, of course, exactly how Earth can be experienced by any of us living here. For the vast majority of us who have not yet taken a ride on a rocket ship or a UFO to confirm by personal experience whether the Earth is round or flat, we can at least experience by direct perception that wherever we go by land, sea, or air, the horizon below us is always flat.
"News even reached the celestial planets about Maharaja Yudhisthira's worldly possessions, the sacrifices by which he would attain a better destination, his queen, his stalwart brothers, his extensive land, his sovereignty over the planet earth, and his fame, etc." (SB 1.12.5)
Maharaja Yudhisthira is one of the eternal associates of Krishna that periodically incarnate on the Earth in order to re-establish dharma. Yudhisthira along with his four brothers Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, and Sahadeva are known as the Pandavas. Together they serve Krishna's mission to annihilate the demons when they become a burden on the Earth. In the above verse the Sanskrit word for Yudhisthira's sovereignty over the planet Earth is jambudvipadhipatyam. The place name of Jambudvipa is clearly mentioned. King Yudhisthira's sovereignty was over the whole of Jambudvipa, not just India which is in Bharata-varsha. Srila Prabhupada translates the above verse jambudvipadhipatyam (SB 1.12.5 ) as Yudhisthira's 'sovereignty over the planet Earth.' Srila Prabhupada would translate words in that way because he had the understanding that Earth was a much larger domain that what we experience now. Srila Prabhupada may have used the nomenclature of the day to call Earth a planet, but what Srimad Bhagavatam means by planet, and what NASA depicts as a planet are two entirely different things. This understanding makes sense when we consider the more detailed description given in Mahabharata of the Pandavas conquest of areas in Jambudvipa on behalf of their brother Yudhisthira. For example, we hear of Arjuna conquering Kimpurusha-varsha and taking tribute from the residents of Hari-varsha. This is an area of hundreds of thousands of miles. The details of the conquest of Jambudwipa are given in section 1.8 of "Sailing to Jambudwipa".
In another fascinating purport to Srimad Bhagavatam 1.16.12, one will see how Srila Prabhupada uses the words 'Earth', 'world', and 'Jambudvipa' interchangeably to describe the vast territories of Jambudvipa covering hundreds of thousands of miles that were conquered by Maharaja Pariksit the grandson of Arjuna who ruled the empire after Yudhisthira.
The verse in question narrates the conquest of Maharaja Pariksit over Jambudvipa, naming specific places. These are not place names within India; they are the place names of Jambudvipa. Bharata-varsha (where our Earth is situated) is mentioned almost incidentally. One should note again that these areas of Jambudvipa cover an area of 800,000 miles:
"Maharaja Pariksit then conquered all parts of the earthly planet—Bhadrasva, Ketumala, Bharata, the northern Kuru, Kimpurusha, etc.—and exacted tributes from their respective rulers." (SB 1.16.12)
We should also immediately reject the many foolish explanations that try to place these huge areas of Jambudvipa either within India and its surrounding area, or within the Earth itself. Speculations abound in this regard and display a complete lack of faith and understanding of Vedic cosmology.
If NASA's claim to be photographing Earth from outer space is authentic, then according to the followers of Srimad Bhagavatam they would show other regions of land in the vicinity of Earth's continents - these being the eight other regions of Bharata-varsha that stretch over an area of 72,000 miles on the same salt water ocean as our own. From an even further distance in space they would see the huge circular island of Jambudvipa itself, and looking even further from outer space they would see the huge tracts of land forming the other concentric islands surrounding the central island of Jambudvipa. It has to be one or the other. Either both NASA and other space agencies are lying, cheating, and deceiving people with their so-called images of a globe Earth rotating in dark empty space, or the Srimad Bhagavatam is a nice fairy story to entertain its Vedic followers with nothing more than fantastic myths and legends.
We see this erroneous understanding even in our own cosmological scholars in ISKCON. For example, a simple question can be raised: "If Bharata-varsha is part of the huge island of Jambudwipa, then where is the rest of Jambudwipa to be seen from our tiny little ball globe?" Being unable to reconcile the description of Srimad Bhagavatam's huge flat-Earth concept with the modern understanding that Earth is a globular plant floating in dark lonely space, the answer is usually given that Jambudwipa is not visible to our senses because it is in another dimension. But Jambudwipa is not in another dimension. The rest of Jambudwipa can be found to the north of our known Earth continents, in other words, across the Arctic. This is how Sukadeva Goswami describes it: To the north of Bharata-varsha is the great Himalaya that brings us onto the rest of Jambudwipa. This makes sense if we consider the Earth as resting on a horizontal plane that continues beyond our known Earth area; however, it makes absolutely no sense if we stick to the illusion that we are on a 25,000 mile spinning round ball in space.
In the 5th canto there is the description of the sky and outer space, ie: the antariksa. There are two chapters - 21-22 - which describe the motion of the sun and other planets - grahas. Nowhere in those chapters is there any mention of 'earth', or Bhu-mandala, or Bharata-varsa being one of the grahas/planets in the antariksa. Why not?
Because 'earth' is not a globe in the antariksa, or it would have been clearly described as such and included with the other planets orbiting around Meru. But it is not. The only planets mentioned are: sun, moon, rahu, mercury, venus, mars, jupiter and saturn. That's it.
The antariksa is clearly described as being above Bhu-mandala and as being the same in length and breadth as Bhu-mandala, ie: 4 billion miles in diameter. The celestial svargas are also described as being the same size, length and breadth-wise, and they are positioned above the antariksa. The antariksa is thus 'above' Bhu-mandala and 'below' the celestial svargas - in between them both.
So if the earth is a globe, then where exactly is it 'floating'? Why is its position in the antariksa not mentioned at all? And there is certainly no mention of it 'spinning' or hurling through space along with the sun and other planets. The sun moves clockwise around Meru, as do the other planets and constellations and the kala-cakra. So how does the sun cause night and day for the so-called earth globe if it is floating 'somewhere' above Jambudvipa and it isn't spinning at 1,000 mph? And why are we assuming that Bharata-varsa, or more precisely justbone of it's dvipas, is a globe but not the other 8 dvipas of Bharata or varsas of Jambudvipa? How is it that they are part of the flat round area of Jambudvipa, which is described as being flat and 'round' like a lotus leaf, but Bharata-varsa deviates from that for no particular reason?
And what about the lower seven realms, which are clearly described as 'subterranean', and accessible via tunnels located on Bhu-mandala? Are we to believe that they are within the so-called earth globe? That isn't likely since their dimensions are given as 80,000 miles in height and breadth and each one is 80,000 miles below the other. That clearly cannot be within an earth globe that is 8,000 miles in diameter. And they are not described as grahas either. They don't orbit Meru, nor are they in the antariksa.
We cannot simply conclude that the earth, ie: one island of Bharata-varsa, is a globe simply because the word bhugola is found in some texts. All of the relevant information must be properly reconciled to arrive at the final and correct conclusion.
JAMBUDWIPA IS NOT IN ANOTHER DIMENSION
So let us put aside for a moment what we assume the Earth to look like, and just take in the actual description of Bharata-varsha. If we present the Earth as a globe in space, it means we haven't listened to, comprehended, or represented (re-presented) the actual description given by Sukadeva Goswami and the other Vedic sages who provide geographical descriptions of Bharata-varsha in many places throughout the Puranas. At least from the descriptions of Earth provided, we are not hearing anything that remotely resembles a globe-shaped planet.
The branch of the Ganges known as Alakananda flows from the southern side of Brahmapuri [Brahma-sadana]. Passing over the tops of mountains in various lands, it falls down with fierce force upon the peaks of the mountains Hemakuta and Himakuta. After inundating the tops of those mountains, the Ganges falls down onto the tract of land known as Bharata-varsha, which she also inundates. Then the Ganges flows into the ocean of salt water in the south. Persons who come to bathe in this river are fortunate. It is not very difficult for them to achieve with every step the results of performing great sacrifices like the Rajasaya and Asvamedha yajnas. (SB 5.17.9)
So here it is explained that the same sacred Ganges water that is seen by Brahma at Brahma Puri (atop Mount Meru) is likewise seen by devotees in Mayapur. She is coming from the southern side of Brahmapuri which rests on the top of Mount Meru. She flows into the ocean of salt water in the south. It is the 800,000 mile ocean that surrounds Jambudwipa. That is our salt water ocean. It is not in a different dimension or 'higher realm' or anything of the sort. It is the same salt water we swim in, and sail upon; it's just that we only get to see a small part of it. But it is otherwise clearly within our dimension and physicality. If we were to keep sailing on the salt water ocean in any direction we would reach other parts of Bharata-varsha and Jambudwipa. At the present moment a 'superior force' to quote Prabhupada prevents us from going further.
Tamala Krishna: But we say that we're going west and...
Prabhupada: That's right, west up to this point, rascal, not more than that. Why don't you understand this? West you have gone. That's all right. But up to this point, no more. You cannot go. You don't say that there is no more after this western...
...That you can go further, but you cannot go. Therefore you are thinking, "This is end of the position." The same dog mentality. He is within that small area. He is thinking, "There is no more, other space." That example is another, that bull. His eyes are closed, and he crushes the oil mill, going. He's thinking he is going three hundred miles.
Tamala Krishna: They keep the eyes blinded so he won't...
Tamala Krishna: ...understand what's going on.
Prabhupada: Because in one place, simply going round, going round, it makes one mad. So those eyes are closed. He is thinking, "This is the end of world." ...Kupa-manduka, the frog in the well, he is thinking that "This is the whole water area."
Tamala Krishna: That's the problem...They can go from New York, that direction, or they go from Los Angeles, the other way. Either way, they come to India, and they say, "That proves the world is round 'cause we can go like this or we can go this way." But we say, "No, you can only go this way." But the compass shows I am going due east...
Prabhupada: So we don't say differently. You can go this way.
Tamala Krishna: But we don't say that. Because there's no round, we say... Simply it's a lotus. It's not...
Prabhupada: No, I... It is the same example. Just as animal is bound up, so he's going this round or this round, the same thing. But you cannot go beyond that.
(Discussion about Bhu-mandala, July 3, 1977, Vrndavana)
"In Jambudvipa there are nine divisions of land, each with a length of 9,000 yojanas [72,000 miles]. There are eight mountains that mark the boundaries of these divisions and separate them nicely." (SB 5.16.6)
"Similarly, south of Ilavrta-varsha and extending from east to west are three great mountains named (from north to south) Nisadha, Hemakuta and Himalaya. Each of them is 10,000 yojanas [80,000 miles] high. They mark the boundaries of the three varshas named Hari-varsha, Kimpurusha-varsha and Bharata-varsha [India]." (SB 5.16.9)
Here Sukadeva Goswami explains that Bharata-varsha is one of the nine varshas of Jambudwipa and the length of Bharata-varsha is 72,000 miles. To the north of Bharata-varsha is a mountain called Himalaya which is 80,000 miles high and separates Bharata-varsha from our neighbour Kimpurusha-varsha. Obviously none of this fits into your globe understanding. So why do airplanes not fly further afield if Bharata-varsha is actually 72,000 miles long? They do not fly further because certain karmic obstructions imposed by devas prevent us from travelling further. And why do satellites from outer space not show the great scale of the Flat Earth? Quite obviously because they don't have satellites in space.
Actual science in the sense of empiric observation, hypothesis, and demonstration has now come back to take the side of a geo-centric and flat Earth model. There have been some truly revolutionary books and documentaries produced which blow apart many of our ideas about the globe-shaped Earth. Interestingly, part of this revolution has involved taking a hard look at the authenticity of the photos and videos from the Apollo moon-landings (1969-1972), as also those subsequent images and videos circulated by NASA that depict the Earth as a rotating ball is space. Srila Prabhupada denounced the moon-landings as a colossal hoax and the subsequent images of Earth provided by NASA are clearly part of the same deception.
?ﾟﾘﾇ?Now we come to Shrila Prabhupad quotes ?ﾟﾘﾊ?
So bear in mind that most of what Srila Prabhupada said regarding a globe-shaped Earth came before March/July 1977 when the TOVP discussions began in earnest. It was only when Srila Prabhupada's disciples presented the first maps of Bhu-mandala in July 1977 that the question of Bharata-varsha as flat or globular became a very real and serious question. The question of the Earth's shape had been posed before, to which Srila Prabhupada gave various replies, but only at this point in 1977 when the maps of Bhu-mandala were drawn did anyone have a means of comparing one model against the other – and to everyone's disconcertment, the two models did not match up.
Srila Prabhupada's procedure was to give the essential theology and philosophy of Srimad Bhagavatam, with the directive that his disciples learn to apply this knowledge in to details of their respective fields of study (including, of course, cosmology). Consider, for example, the following letter from 1976:
"Now our Ph.D's must collaborate and study the 5th Canto to make a model for building the Vedic Planetarium...So now you all Ph.D.'s must carefully study the details of the 5th Canto and make a working model of the universe. If we can explain the passing seasons, eclipses, phases of the moon, passing of day and night, etc. then it will be very powerful propaganda.
I am sending this letter to you, and you can make photocopies of it and send to our other Ph.D.'s and begin serious research into the matter in detail."
(Letter to Svarupa Damodar, 27 April 1976)
So here we have a very direct instruction from Srila Prabhupada to study the Srimad Bhagavatam's Fifth Canto and present it scientifically. It is significant that Srila Prabhupada himself did not provide 'a working model of the universe'; rather, he requested his disciples to do so. As we shall see presently, the same directive was given in 1977 when Srila Prabhupada requested diagrams to be made that would illustrate the layout of the Vedic cosmos
"The great Rsi Sukadeva Gosvami said: My dear King, there is no limit to the expansion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead's material energy. This material world is a transformation of the material qualities [sattva-guna, rajo-guna and tamo-guna], yet no one could possibly explain it perfectly, even in a lifetime as long as that of Brahma No one in the material world is perfect, and an imperfect person could not describe this material universe accurately, even after continued speculation. O King, I shall nevertheless try to explain to you the principal regions, such as Bhu-goloka [Bhuloka], with their names, forms, measurements and various symptoms."
We do not, therefore, require any fanciful ideas of other dimensions to account for Earth's position to Jambudvipa. Srimad-Bhagavatam uses commonly understood distances and dimensions that are intended to help us here in Bharata-varsha to understand where and how far other places in the universe are from us. We should, therefore, take the Srimad-Bhagavatam's description of the Earth's relationship to Jambudvipa as it is. According to Sukadeva Goswami, the rest of Jambudvipa is past our northern land areas and oceans
SRILA PRABHUPADA AND COSMOLOGY
From available conversations which we will present later in this paper, Srila Prabhupada by his own admission was not a specialist in Bhagavata cosmology. Indeed, in 1977 when the designs for the Vedic Planetarium were just beginning, Srila Prabhupada had sent some of his disciples to search around India for Vedic astronomers who could help with drawing the maps that would depict the Vedic cosmos. Srila Prabhupada himself acknowledged his own limitations. Speaking of his difficultly in conceiving the Srimad-Bhagavatam's description of the universe:
Prabhupada: And it was not possible for me to digest. (laughs) Somebody else helped me to... I am a layman. I do not know.
Tamala Krishna: How did you write it?
Prabhupada: That somebody, Krishna, helped me. That He manufactured... ...When I was writing, I was praying Krishna that "I do not actually accommodate all this knowledge. Please help me." Yes. That's all right.
(Room Conversation, June 18, 1977, Vrindavana)
Srila Prabhupada again mentioned to one astronomer:
Prabhupada: I have tried to translate it as far as possible, but I am not satisfied.
(Conversation with India Astronomer, April 30, 1977, Bombay)
Actually, Srila Prabhupada's translation of Srimad-Bhagavatam was perfect, but it appears there was some difficultly to visualize what Sukadeva Goswami was describing. Srila Prabhupada had sent some of his disciples to locate Vedic astronomers around India who could help with drawing a map for the Vedic planetarium but the result was disappointing. He then basically left it to his disciples to figure it out taking guidance from Krishna:
Tamala Krishna: And what to do? How to get...?
Prabhupada: Krishna will help.
Tamala Krishna: Hm?
Prabhupada: Krishna will help. He has no idea.
(Conversation with India Astronomer, April 30 1977, Bombay)
When the issue of the Earth's shape and location was presented to Srila Prabhupada, a direct answer to the question of whether Earth was round or flat remained unanswered. Certainly, Srila Prabhupada himself did not retain the same staunchness as in previous conversations where he spoke very definitively of the Earth as globe-shaped.
Tamala Krishna Goswami shows his clear comprehension of Srimad Bhagavatam's description of Earth's position on the Bhu-mandala:
Tamala Krishna: Look at the earth. Now, this is a real question that we still have to answer. They picture the earth round, and we say, no. Bhu-mandala is like a lotus, like this, and the earth is only one part of one island in Bhu-mandala, and it's not, you know, it's not round(?). It doesn't look like that. And all the pictures they take of the earth when they go up in their satellites show round. And we're going to tell them that it's not. This is a very tricky question. In other words, if this is the picture of the world, like this, and we say that... If we take an airplane from here, from Los Angeles. Now, supposing we go to India, which is here. So there's two ways to go. One way, you can go like this, and the other way, you can go like that. But if the earth is not a round globe, then how is it sometimes people go from Los Angeles via Hawaii to Japan and then India? So we can't figure this out. We have experience, those of us who have flown, that actually the plane went from Los Angeles to Hawaii to Tokyo to Hong Kong and then to India. So it doesn't work out in our maps so far, right? We can't figure it out. This thing has to be very complete in its answers. Otherwise everyone will laugh at us. We can't leave any loopholes.
Prabhupada: So are you thinking on this?
Bhakti-prema: In the Srimad-Bhagavatam... According to Srimad-Bhagavatam, it is (indistinct).
Prabhupada: Find out from our side, according to Bhagavatam.
(Bhu-mandala Diagram Discussion, July 2 1977,Vrindavana)
This is a very important instruction: "Are you thinking on this?" So here is our mandate from Prabhupada "to think on this." Think on what? We have to think about the inconsistencies that arise between the Srimad Bhagavatam's description of the Earth as resting on the horizontal plane of Bhu-mandala, and the modern presentation of the Earth as a globe in space. And what is Srila Prabhupada's directive? He says, "Find out from our side according to Bhagavatam." The most recent acharya, therefore, gives a clear directive: "Find out from our side according to Bhagavatam." In other words, Srila Prabhupada is not giving the answer to questions regarding inconsistencies between the two world views of the Earth's shape and nature; rather, he is requesting an investigation in order to find the answer. The statement 'Find out from our side, according to Bhagavatam' would obviously include further research into the Srimad Bhagavatam (shastra), as well as the commentaries by previous acharyas (guru), and of course from other devotees of Krishna who may have knowledge in this field (sadhu).
... and finally after many years, luckily the TOVP team has dropped the globe model ...
Beginning on 3rd July 1977, in answer to a series of questions by Tamala Krishna Goswami about the shape of the Earth, Srila Prabhupada did not give a definitive answer, but said that whether the Earth is round or flat should be decided by the version of Srimad-Bhagavatam, not by the changing theories of Western astronomy.
Tamala Krishna: Do we accept the contour of the continents? Do we accept the general continents?
Prabhupada: We accept nothing of their theory. They are prejudiced and nonsense. Formerly they were speaking that the world is flat. Now they have changed: "It is round." So what is the value of his estimate? And you'll find in that book, "probably."
Tamala Krishna: That was the most frequent word used.
Prabhupada: Yes. So what is the value of their knowledge?
(Discussion about Bhu-mandala, July 3, 1977, Vrindavana)
He concludes that we should reject their speculations and present the Srimad-Bhagavatam's version instead:
Yasoda-nandana: Prabhupada, what is the shape of this tiny portion of earth or whatever place we are on? What is the shape of this, whatever you call...
Prabhupada: Ask them. Why don't you ask them? Sometimes they say flat, sometimes they say it is round. Why don't you ask them, the scientists?
Yasoda-nandana: We don't accept what they say.
Prabhupada: No, no. Formerly they were under the impression the world is flat. And now they are saying round. So what they'll say after few years?
Yasoda-nandana: They are not consistent. That's a fact. They're very inconsistent in their theories.
Prabhupada: Ask them which is correct. "Probably" this is correct.
Bhakti-prema: When someone asks this question, first one would reply.
Prabhupada: I answered it. You people say like that, so which is correct? Flat or round?
Tamala Krishna: They will say "What does the Bhagavatam say?"
Tamala Krishna: They may reply to us, "All right, we are rascals. So please tell us what is the fact."
Prabhupada: That is, we are...
Tamala Krishna: That's what he's asking. What should be shown? Actually we're a little stumped by... I mean...
Prabhupada: Yes, you must have proper answer as far as possible.
Tamala Krishna: We just read... We got a version from South India, and we've even found that there are different conceptions of what the Bhagavata is saying. But the Puranas, they give some Puranic references.
Bhakti-prema: It is written the world... The earth is round and flat.
Bhakti-prema: Earth is round and flat both, together.
Bhakti-prema: First we should reply it is acintya. This should be the reply. "Inconceivable."
Yasoda-nandana: If it is inconceivable, then they will say how we can conceive it?
Prabhupada: Take the version of Bhagavatam.
(Discussions about Bhu-mandala, July 5 1977, Vrindavana)
Rajasekhara Prabhu and Antardwipa Prabhu (current head of cosmology at the TOVP as of May 2016) have tried to work this conversation to support the idea of a dual flat-Earth/round Earth conception; but that is not what is being conveyed. There is no elaborate philosophical discourse anywhere either from Srila Prabhupada or in the commentaries of the previous acharyas on the fifth Canto to support the idea that the Earth manifests as both a round planet and a flat plane. It is an absurd conception. Srila Prabhupada's reply of 'yes' to Bhakti-prema's statement that the 'Earth is round and flat together' may simply be a figure of speech acknowledging the statement of the speaker without necessarily implying an agreement. Bhakti-prema himself is only presenting it as one of the different conceptions that he had come across and even then without a proper understanding of what it meant. If anything, Srila Prabhupada's affirmation of Bhakti-Prema's statement that "Earth is round and flat both, together" supports the Vedic description that the circular Earth (Bhu-mandala) is lying flat and round like a roundabout, not round like a ball. Certainly that is the nature of Bhu-mandala of which our Earth is only one tiny part. It should be carefully noted that when the Vedas talk about the Earth, they are referring to Bhu-mandala, not to Bharata-varsha which is only a small part of the Earth. Since, Srila Prabhupada never before or after, spoke of Earth as being simultaneously a round planet and a flat plane, any attempt to deduce a supporting argument from this conversation is simply a massive interpolation
From these last available conversations on the topic in early July 1977 it appears Srila Prabhupada was not necessarily committed to the idea of presenting Earth as a ball-shaped globe. In the above conversation Srila Prabhupada states very decisively that we should 'take the version of Bhagavatam.' This of course puzzled the devotees because they couldn't ascertain whether it was depicted as flat or round. This led to some more interesting exchanges with Tamala Krishna Goswami who wanted to get to the bottom of the issue.
In the wonderful exchange between guru and disciple that ensued on that occasion, we hear Srila Prabhupada and his beloved disciple Tamala Krishna Goswami discuss back and forth about the shape of the Earth. Tamala Krishna Goswami who wanted nothing other than to present an accurate depiction of the Srimad-Bhagavatam's description of Earth, felt forced to press Srila Prabhupada again and again for a specific answer regarding the shape of the Earth.
Tamala Krishna: I mean I'm sorry I have to take this thankless task to ask all these questions.
Tamala Krishna Goswami describes this exchange in his published Diary (TKG'S Diary, July 3 1977). He writes of feeling that his attitude had been a little offensive for heavily questioning said there was no wrong as they were simply discussing and trying to understand a difficult subject. Again we should mark Srila Prabhupada's philosophical approach to the question and his appreciation for the questions of Tamala Krishna Goswami.
From TKG's Diary:
"When Srila Prabhupada awoke after a night's rest, he opened his eyes and said, "They go from Los Angeles. You all think over it. Then I shall tell you." Srila Prabhupada was referring to the question which we had not yet solved: If the world is not a globe but part of Jambudvipa, which is the center of the huge, lotus-like Bhumandala, how does an airplane fly from Los Angeles to Hawaii to Tokyo and on to India? The scientists explain by saying that the airplane circles the globe. But according to Srimad-Bhagavatam, there is no planet Earth as the scientists say, floating in space. Rather, there is Bharatavarsha with its seven continents and oceans and Himalayan Mountains. After challenging us thus, Srila Prabhupada went back to sleep. When he again awoke, Prabhupada began to reveal the answer. "They are bound up and cannot go beyond a point. They are conditioned and are forced to return. They can only go so far and not farther." I told Prabhupada that we accepted that point, but it still did not answer the question. Prabhupada replied, however, that it did. "You are prejudiced. You are conditioned with preconceptions of how everything is." He was saying that my difficulty to understand was due to my acceptance of the scientists' assumptions. "It is just like a bull grinding, going around in a circle. He is tied up and simply going around. So everyone is tied up. They cannot go beyond a point, and they cannot move in any way they like, just like the bull only has certain limits to his movement. How can a frog in the well understand the ocean?
Regarding the moon-landings of 1969-72, Srila Prabhupada was probably the first person to denounce the whole escapade as a colossal hoax with power and money as its motivating factor. Flying in the face of what the rest of the world believed, Srila Prabhupada denounced the moon-landings of 1969-72 as a complete fake. He did not accept either the photos or videos as evidence:
Tamala Krishna: What about these pictures we have seen on the television showing them jumping on the moon?
Prabhupada: That you can make in laboratory. That is not very difficult.
Tamala Krishna: Colossal hoax...
Candanacarya: How are they able to perpetuate such an enormous hoax?
Prabhupada: Enormous hoax for the fools, not for the intelligent persons.
Hari-sauri: They never fooled you, Srila Prabhupada.
Hari-sauri: They never fooled you. (Prabhupada laughs)
Candanacarya: That means that some people must know the actual truth about the hoax in the American system, so if we can find them...
Prabhupada: So you are knowing that. State it.
(Morning walk, June 4 1976, Los Angeles)
Prabhupada: And they are going to moon. They are going nowhere, simply taking laboratory photo, studio photo, and cheating. Why this cheating can go on? You do not know. That's all.
(June 28, 1977, Vrindavana)
... when they lied then, then why shld we believe what "space agencies" sell us now???
Prabhupada: Why if one is settled up that he's a rascal, we should not hear anything. And why not? He has not gone to the moon. They are insisting, "Yes, we have gone," by false propaganda. Why the one who makes false propaganda and one who says nonsense, we have to believe? Immediately, whatever he says, reject. There's no argument. You have proved yourself rascal so we don't accept any statement.
(Conversation about Bhu-mandala, July 5, 1977, Vrindavana)
We have a very important example in this regard of Srila Prabhupada changing his understanding in the light of alternative evidence. When it was pointed out, for example by Bhakti-prema dasa in the conversation of June 28, 1977 (Vrindavana) that Varahadeva lifted the entire Bhu-mandala 3.13.41 bhu-mandalenatha SB-3.13.43-bhuvah) and not simply what we think of as the Earth globe, Srila Prabhupada accepted his version because it was backed up by the shastra:
Devotee (2): Srila Prabhupada, previously we painted in the art department... Just like Varaha lifted the earth, and the earth was a globe, and we showed also a globe of the earth. How does that relate to this? Previously, when we painted, we showed the earth a ball. So now the artists will be very confused. How it fell in the Garbha Ocean as a ball?
Yasodanandana: It depends on what we mean by earth. The Western conception of earth is just five continents and a few oceans, but according to Bhagavatam, earth means Jambudvipa, because earth is connected with Jambudvipa.
Devotee (2): So whole Jambudvipa fell.
Bhakti-Prema: Bhagavata describes the height of Himalayas, eighty thousand miles.
Prabhupada: No, about this earth globe.
Bhakti-Prema: About the earth it describes four billion miles.
Tamala Krishna: That means Jambudvipa.
Bhakti-Prema: No, that means complete earth, four billion miles. That is eight lakhs miles, Jambudvipa.
Tamala Krishna: Four billion is the universe.
Tamala Krishna: Bhu-mandala. Oh, the Bhagavatam describes Bhu-mandala as earth.
Bhakti-Prema: ...has come right from the ocean, from the bottom of the ocean.
Prabhupada: So explained there. Then this question is solved.
Tamala Krishna: Yes. The whole Bhu-mandala fell.
Bhakti-Prema: So the universe is round, and from bottom of the Garbhodaka ocean to top of Satyaloka there is four billion miles. Then the again, from east to west again is another four billion miles. Because Bhu-mandala is situated in between the earth.
Prabhupada: Explain. He'll explain.
(June 28 1977, Vrindavana)
Here we see an example of Srila Prabhupada's humility wherein he defers to the research study of his disciple Bhakti-prema who explains that it was the whole bhu-mandala that fell into the Garbhodaka Ocean, and not (as assumed) some tiny Earth globe. Srila Prabhupada even refers the other devotees to his disciple's opinion: "He'll explain!" This is an example of Srila Prabhupada (guru) favouring the understanding of his disciple (sadhu) above his own understanding. Bhakti-prema's understanding is indeed confirmed in the shastra: Srimad Bhagavatam 3.13.41 states: ca saukaram bhu-mandale natha data dhrtena te, in the form of a boar you lifted Bhu-mandala on your tusk.
how can our earth be part of bhumandala that was lifted by Lord Varaha
and simultaneously be a globe spinning and wobbling on it,s own axis, while being one island of Bharata Varsha seperated from the other islands by salt water ocean?
Despite this change of mind, there are many earlier statements in Srila Prabhupada's archives about Varahadeva lifting the Earth 'planet.' So which version should we present in order to be loyal to Srila Prabhupada? When a speaker gives a lecture about Varahadeva lifting the Earth, should they refer to the Earth as a globe or a horizontal plane? Should we regard Sadaputa Prabhu as a heretic for presenting the following conclusion in his book on Vedic Cosmography:
"In the pastime of Lord Varaha's lifting the earth from the ocean, the earth is frequently depicted by artists as our familiar earth globe. However, the Sanskrit verses of Srimad-Bhagavatam describing this pastime do not use any words denoting a sphere when referring to the earth, and the Visnu Purana indicates that Lord Varaha lifted Bhu-mandala as a whole. The relevant passage states that after lifting the earth from the waters, Lord Varaha divided it into seven great continents, as it was before, thus indicating that the earth that was lifted included the seven dvipas of Bhu-mandala (VP, p. 65). The Vaisnava commentator Vamsidhara, in his commentary on SB 5.20.38, he also points out that the earth lifted by Lord Varaha is Bhu-mandala (see Appendix 1).
In the Fifth Canto the earth is directly described as the vast disc of Bhu-mandala. The word bhu-golam, or "earth-globe," generally refers to the sphere of the universe, and the Bhagavatam seems to make no direct reference to the earth as a small globe.
(Vedic Cosmography and Astronomy VCA 3.C Planets as Globes in Space)."
IS AN ACHARYA OMNISCIENT?
Srila Prabhupada's translation of Srimad Bhagavatam describes Earth (Bharata-varsha) as resting on the horizontal plane of Bhu-mandala, but Srila Prabhupada himself spoke as if he was living on a globe-shaped planet. So that disparity has to be discussed. Was Srila Prabhupada right in his translation, but wrong in his understanding of the Earth as a globe? That is an important question that we have to address. Ultimately everything has to be confirmed by shastra, and that was Srila Prabhupada's own stated position to Tamala Krishna when the question of a round or flat-Earth came up: 'take the version of Bhagavatam.'
The presentation of the flat-Earth obviously raises questions about Srila Prabhupada's understanding of Bharata-varsha's shape and location in relation to Bhu-mandala, which in turn raises the question about Srila Prabhupada's understanding of the very Earth that he flew around many times. We may question was Srila Prabhupada a victim of ignorance and illusion and that he did not understand the very nature of the Srimad Bhagavatam cosmology which he was personally translating? Could he possibly be in such a big illusion that he was also fooled by the asursic science into thinking he was on a globe when he was really on the great horizontal plane of Bhu-mandala. Why did Prabhupada not know this? If this understanding of the Earth is true, why is this important information regarding the Earth's situation not a central teaching of the parampara? Surely Srila Prabhupada would have been aware of the conclusions of the disciplic succession and stated it loud and clear. Such questions inevitably arise. The seeming deficiency in Srila Prabhupada may cause a crisis of faith in an immature follower who thinks that guru must perfectly know everything in every conceivable subject. Srila Prabhupada himself clearly rejected this conception of guru as the following conversation testifies:
Prabhupada: Yes. Pure devotee does not aspire anything, simply to be engaged in loving service to the Lord, wherever it may be. It doesn't matter. Jayadvaita: They know everything and they are perfect in everything. But sometimes, from our material viewpoint, we see some discrepancies. Just like we think that ... Prabhupada: Because material viewpoint. The viewpoint is wrong; therefore you find discrepancies.
Jayadvaita: So we should think that we have the defect.
Prabhupada: Yes. Acarya is explained, bhakti-samsanah: "One who's preaching the cult of devotional service, he's acarya." Then why should you find any discrepancy?
Jayadvaita: Because we see ... For instance, sometimes the acarya may seem to forget something or not to know something, so from our point of view, if someone has forgotten, that is an imperfection.
Prabhupada: Then you do not understand. Acarya is not God, omniscient. He is servant of God. His business is to preach bhakti cult. That is acarya.
Jayadvaita: And that is the perfection.
Prabhupada: That is the perfection. Hare Krishna.
Jayadvaita: So we have a misunderstanding about what perfection is?
Prabhupada: Yes. Perfection is here, how he is preaching bhakti cult. That's all.
Satsvarupa: Prabhupada, in one purport in the Bhagavad-gita, you write that a disciple of a bona fide spiritual master is supposed to know everything.
Prabhupada: Yes, if he follows the spiritual master.
Satsvarupa: But how could he know? ... What does that mean, "everything?"
Prabhupada: Everything means whatever his guru knows, he should know, that much. Not like God, everything. Within his limit, that's all. If he tries to understand whatever his guru has said, that much is "everything." Otherwise, "everything" does not mean that we know everything, like God, like Krishna. That is not possible. If he regularly chants and follows the regulative principles, follows the orders of guru, then he knows everything. That's all. Not very much ... knows everything, then what is the use of reading books when he knows everything? You cannot expect anyone to know like Krishna, everything.
Jayadvaita: Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita that one who knows Him knows everything.
Prabhupada: Yes. Because if he knows that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then he knows everything. That's all. Not that he should know as Krishna. Yasmin vijnate sarvam eva vijnatam ... If he accepts Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Absolute Truth, then he knows everything. That is finish.
Jayadvaita: That knowledge itself is complete.
Satsvarupa: If there's some material information that such a person doesn't know, that's not really knowledge anyway.
Prabhupada: I did not follow.
Satsvarupa: If he doesn't know how many people live in ...
Jayadvaita: Just like Gaurakisora could not write. So it appeared that he did not, there was something that he did not know, although he knew Krishna.
Prabhupada: Yes. He knows everything. Otherwise how Bhaktisiddhanta accepted him as guru? He knows Krishna. That's all.
Naline-kanta: What the spiritual master says, that is also perfect?
Prabhupada: Yes. Because he does not say anything concocted. Whatever he says, he says from sastra and guru.
(April 8 1975, Mayapur, Morning Walk)
Srila Prabhupada was convinced of life in other regions of the universe and this is the essential point for us to take. Srila Prabhupada referred to these other areas as 'Earthly planets,' but according to Srimad Bhagavatam the humans live along the seven dwipas of Bhu-mandala. The dwipas are not planets floating throughout space; they are a series of islands that rest on the same horizontal plane of Bhu-mandala. The continents of our known Earth are surrounded by these other areas, but the fake pictures of the Earth as a lonely globe in outer space has completely confused and bewildered everyone about the actual situation of Earth, and how its land and oceans continue further along the flat or horizontal plane of Bhu-mandala.
On this point, we can also refer to an earlier conversation from 1976 wherein Srila Prabhupada did indeed speak of the Earth as a dwipa (island). As is the case with many subjects that Srila Prabhupada taught, we have to consider that Srila Prabhupada sometimes answered questions with seemingly contrary replies. In the following conversation, he was asked directly is the Earth round like a ball, or round like a plate? Here we have a direct answer that the Earth planet should be depicted as an island (dvipa) indicating the roundness of a plate, not a ball:
Satsvarupa: Srila Prabhupada, are the planets shaped liked balls or more like plates? Because it's, it's hard to understand, 'cause they're called dvipas, "islands." Their roundness is the roundness of a plate or like a ball?
Prabhupada: Which one?
Satsvarupa: The earth planet?
Prabhupada: If it is like a tree, then these things can be as dvipa, island.
Tamala Krishna: Wow. You know...
Tamala Krishna: The scientists are getting smashed to bits by your statements, Srila Prabhupada. This destroys their whole theory. Orbs, round spheres. I think that this Mayapura building, we must build a big planetarium in it.
Prabhupada: Yes. That, that I am going to do, Vedic planetarium.
(Morning Walk, March 18, 1976, Mayapur)
So here Srila Prabhupada is saying the Earth is round and flat like an island. Tamala Krishna Goswami shows his comprehension by saying this "destroys their whole theory of orbs, round spheres." Contrary to Rajasekhara dasa's insistence that Srila Prabhupada always spoke of the Earth as a globe, there are instances such as the conversation above when he spoke of the Earth as a dwipa. So at the least we can say that there is some ambiguity in Srila Prabhupada's reply to this question of the Earth's shape, and that also gives one room to at least consider the horizontal plane conception. It certainly does not leave room for Rajasekhara dasa's dogmatic insistence that we must present the Earth as a globe because "Prabhupada says." Especially important is Srila Prabhupada's own instruction to take the Srimad Bhagavatam's version and he left it to his disciples to work out what that meant.
Regarding the paramapara teachings on the nature of Bharata-varsha, it is not mentioned anywhere by the acharyas that Bharata-varsha is a globe in space. Such a conception was introduced by the Western translators of the Vedic texts who could not accommodate the idea of the Bhu-mandala, and thus imposed a foreign idea of a globe onto the Vedic concept of the bhu-mandala or bhu-gola which is just another name for the same thing. In a third part of this paper we will address Srila Prabhupada's own usage of the word bhu-gola. Ultimately the covering of the real feature of the bhu-mandala has to do with the progression of Kali-yuga and the withdrawal of Vedic knowledge from the materialistic people born in this age. As explained in the following analogies from Srimad Bhagavatam:
"In the evening twilight during the rainy season, the darkness allowed the glowworms but not the stars to shine forth, just as in the age of Kali the predominance of sinful activities allows atheistic doctrines to overshadow the true knowledge of the Vedas."
During the rainy season the roads, not being cleansed, became covered with grass and debris and were thus difficult to make out. These roads were like religious scriptures that brahmanas no longer study and that thus become corrupted and covered over with the passage of time."
"Lord Brahma continued: My dear Lord, there is no need to play with this serpentine demon, who is always very skilled in conjuring tricks and is arrogant, self-sufficient and most wicked."
Here Brahma refers to Hiranyaksa as maya-vinam - skilled in creating illusions. Bear this in mind the next time you see astro-nots in space: are they actually in space looking down upon the globe earth, or have they simply created the illusion of being in space using clever special effects and other tricks in studios here on Earth? Why not investigate the truth of the thing?
"The demon, however, employed many conjuring tricks against the Personality of Godhead, who is the Lord of yogamaya. At the sight of this the people were filled with alarm and thought that the dissolution of the universe was near."
The words used here are athorudhasrjan mayam yoga-mayesvare harau , meaning that although the demon Hiranyaksa could also create maya or illusions (athorudhasrjan mayam ), his illusions could not defeat Lord Hari who is described as yoga-maya-isvara , the Lord of illusion. In the above verse Krishna is glorified as yoga-mayesvare harau. We should understand that same yoga-mayesvare is presently appearing in the form of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra in order to again save the world from the Hiranyaksas who are bent on destroying it:
"kali kale nama rupe krsna avatara
nama haite haya sarva jagat nistara
In this Age of Kali, the holy name of the Lord, the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, is the incarnation of Lord Krsna. Simply by chanting the holy name, one associates with the Lord directly. Anyone who does this is certainly delivered."
(Caitanya Caritamrta, Adi-lila, 17.22)
As the sun rises dispersing darkness, so the sound incarnation of Godhead (Hare Krishna mantra) is presently dispersing all illusions, deceptions, and untruths that have upheld the asuric system of government for the last few thousand years.
"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself.
To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I Myself appear, millennium after millennium."
(Bhagavad-gita As It Is 4.7-8)
Through the medium of Srimad Bhagavatam and the Temple of Vedic Planetarium, the Lord of all mystic yoga is dispersing the asuric illusions that cover the true nature of the Earth. If one listens without prejudice, the flat-Earth revolution can also be appreciated as a movement directly inspired by Krishna to help usher in the truths of a new Vedic era.
Tamala Krishna: Our question was mostly coming out of how to draw what the Srimad-Bhagavatam is saying. We're not supporting any kind of mundane argument, nor do we have any doubt in Bhagavatam. We're simply trying to understand the Bhagavatam...
Prabhupada: Bhagavata is there. You try to understand.
Tamala Krishna: We're not siding with the preconceptions that we had before. We'll throw them away. We're trying to accept the Bhagavatam. Everything has to be according to the Bhagavatam.
(Conversation about Bhu-mandala, July 5, 1977, Vrindavana)
In this same spirit, I think the followers of Srila Prabhupada should be courteous and open to listening to the many quite fascinating arguments in favour of the flat-Earth, which at least are consistent with what Srimad-Bhagavatam describes.
Here we see the 800,000 mile round circular island of Jambudwipa with the golden Mount Meru in the centre. In this video, Antardwipa dasa (present head of the TOVP cosmology) narrates the following: "Here we can see Jambudwipa the central island of Bhu-mandala, and Bharata varsha is situated on the southern side of that." In other words Bharata-varsha (of which our Earth is one section is situated on the same horizontal plane as the rest of Jambudwipa. You won't see a globe-shaped Earth depicted here for the simple reason that Srimad Bhagavatam does not describe Bharata-varsha as a globe.
Nowhere in the verses of Srimad Bhagavatam or indeed any of the Puranas is the place name Bharata-varsha described as a globe or a planet. With the exception of Srila Prabhupada (in some places), none of the acharyas in their commentaries on the Fifth Canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam describe Bharata-varsha as a globe. Bharata-varsha is consistently understood to be simply a small section of a much larger area called Bhu-mandala which is a huge horizontal plane crossing the universe.
My argument is not, therefore, with the main exhibition in the central dome of the TOVP, but with the introduction of the globe concept in the secondary exhibition. The result of this globe model in a secondary exhibition will be that the actual location of Bharata-varsha to Jambudwipa as displayed in the main exhibition of the TOVP will be rendered practically meaningless. A secondary exhibition of the 'globe-Earth' wherein the main 'scientific preaching' will take place, will effectively obscure the true nature of Bharata-varshas location to the rest of Jambudwipa; and Jambudwipa will thus (again) be conveniently disposed to being in another dimension (WHICH CANNOT BE TRUE, BECAUSE LORD VARAHA LIFTED THE WHOLE SOLID!!! BHUMANDALa!!!). The reality of the Earth which Srimad Bhagavatam reveals will remain hidden; namely, that the (SOLID) Earth continues on the same plane into vast areas of (SOLID)Bland occupied by other living entities. The central dome exhibit will thus appear to the uneducated public as merely a spectacular display of Vedic mythology with no practical relevance to their 'real' situation on the so-called Earth globe.
The secondary exhibition depicting Earth as a globe also completely ignores the Vedic history which states that only 5,000 years ago, the Pandavas were ruling this vast area of (SOLID) Jambudwipa from their capital city in India. If Earth is a globe, then where did the rest of (SOLID) Jambudwipa, with Mt Meru of SOLID GOLD suddenly go? It makes no sense at all. Does anyone at the TOVP actually believe this history? As yet, none of the spokesmen can answer this simple question. The real fact is that Bhu-mandala is the Earth, not Bharata-varsha; Bharata-varsha is only one tiny section of the great (SOLID) Earth circle that stretches across the universe. We've just been isolated by a dome from the rest of the plane for the time of kali yuga.
We may concede that the introduction of a globe into the TOVP may also be a sincere attempt to justify Srila Prabhupada's statements that the Earth is a globe. However, in order to do this, those responsible for making the argument have to make concocted, interpolated, and convoluted arguments based on secondary sastra that depart fundamentally from the Srimad Bhagavatam. In my correspondence with a TOVP spokesman I found that they could not maintain consistency and integrity trying to reconcile interpolations from secondary sources with the straightforward description given in the primary source of Srimad Bhagavatam. The result I found to be a mammoth speculation on the part of the current TOVP presentation. But that of course is my opinion .
Since Srila Prabhupada himself wanted the TOVP based on Srimad Bhagavatam, one has to consider would Srila Prabhupada himself be satisfied with presenting a globe model in the TOVP since it can be otherwise presented that the rotating globe in space model is not only at variance with the Srimad Bhagavatam's description of Bharata-varsha, but is not even scientifically verifiable (see section 2.4 of Sailing to Jambudwipa). Aside from demonstrably fake pictures and videos of a round globe, there is otherwise no way to observe or measure a curvature on the Earth. One has to consider, therefore, would Srila Prabhupada approve of the horizontal plane model of Srimad Bhagavatam if that could be demonstrated to conform to the Srimad Bhagavatam's description, as well as being adequately able to explain day and night, seasons, eclipses, etc.
It is interesting that although Srila Prabhupada had himself requested the help of other Vedic astronomers to help in the conceptualization of the planetarium's depiction of the universe, he was not satisfied with the understanding among the Vedic astrologers that he spoke to. The problem was that no one took the Srimad-Bhagavatam's description literally:
Tamala Krishna: No, he doesn't. He never thought about it. No one reads the Bhagavatam as a scientific book, Srila Prabhupada. That's the point. Except for Your Divine Grace, they are thinking it's story, "It is stories."
Prabhupada: Yes, they do not believe.
Tamala Krishna: No. And therefore no one takes it seriously. Modern people don't take it seriously.
Prabhupada: There was a Gosai. He was reading Caitanya-caritamrta. So the description of the planetary system there is. He used to say to his audience, "Actually these things are not there. These are imaginary descriptions." He was such a fool. So the whole world has taken like that, "symbolic, imagination."
Tamala Krishna: And he was lecturing on Caitanya-caritamrta. I think you mentioned that one of your Godbrothers once said to you, "You really believe that there is such a place, Krishnaloka, Vaikunthaloka?" He was himself...
Prabhupada: Bon Maharaja did not believe. No... Nobody ever thought of it.
Tamala Krishna: You are the only representative, the lone representative of religion left on this planet, Srila Prabhupada.
(Conversation with Astronomer, April 30 1977, Bombay)
But if we are to the take the Srimad-Bhagavatam literally, and not simply as some 'story-book,' then the description clearly points to a flat-Earth or horizontal plane concept with the rest of Jambudvipa somewhere to the north of our known oceans and continents. This means having to accept that the image of the globe-Earth as it has been presented to us is false, and that there are actually greater areas of land in the vicinity of Earth's oceans that expand for millions of miles along the horizontal plane of Bhu-mandala.
Our main source of evidence for Srila Prabhupada's understanding of the round/flat-Earth discussion must come from his final discussions on the Vedic Planetarium of July 1977 when the topic was first seriously being researched and discussed. Srila Prabhupada, on that occasion, did not come to an unequivocal answer regarding the Srimad Bhagavatam's description of Earth as round or flat, but requested further research into the matter. The issue was never resolved and the question thus remains open for discussion.
We must also bear in mind that for a pure devotee of the Lord like Srila Prabhupada, whether the Earth is round or flat is not the most essential thing; the important thing is to serve Krishna in any circumstance. However, Srila Prabhupada wanted the TOVP to be built in order to present the cosmology of Srimad Bhagavatam, and so the question of the Earth's shape is an issue for the many reasons already discussed above.
may loving-Self-alignment be with u and all your parts
Solbjoern Brajendra Nd