The documents and other materials in this section represent projects on Puranic cosmography and astronomy that Richard Thompson pursued during the 1990s and 2000s, located in his personal files. Please click the buttons at the bottom of this page for more information. In addition, please click here for recent reports on Sadaputa's work posted on the TOVP website.
Since his 1989 publication, Vedic Cosmography and Astronomy, Thompson, known by his devotional name Sadaputa Dasa, had been a leading pioneer working to decipher the cosmography described in the Fifth Canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam. This project was in good part inspired by Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's directive to the Bhaktivedanta Institute members, "Now our Ph.D.'s must collaborate and study the Fifth Canto to make a model for building the Vedic Planeterium . . . 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."
Hari Sauri Dasa, a long time friend of Sadaputa with whom he worked on Bhaktivedanta Institute projects, and who is presently a director of the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium in Mayapur, described his appreciation of Sadaputa's contributions in a 2008 In Memoriam tribute:
Sadaputa's real gift lay in translating these theoretical and other-worldly constructs of the Bhagavatam into practical discernable truths that almost anyone can understand. He had a power of brain, an intellectual precision, a penetration of mind that could pluck from the ether the hidden verities of universal existence and make them manifest to we lower living beings of the three dimensions.
Hari Sauri continued:
By 1989 he produce his seminal work Vedic Cosmography and Astronomy. It was a revelation, an exposition of the text that for the first time made devotees believe that the Fifth Canto could indeed be presented in a relevant, comprehensive way.
Sadaputa had achieved a task so singular in nature that in the past millennia it seems none has come even close to it. What had descended into myth even within the culture it supports he had presented in a scientifically credible way. There were still many questions to answer but he showed a way forward when there was no hope of progress. The TOVP, Srila Prabhupada's beacon of light, could now be built according to his desires.
Years later, with the establishment of the present Mayapur planerium project, Hari Sauri reports that "after consultations with the TOVP cosmology and construction teams, Sadaputa was commissioned to design . . . the Bhagavatam's description of our cosmos. He had all the necessary skills and knowledge plus the practical bent of mind needed to accomplish the task." After a meeting with many of the leading members of the TOVP project held in Gainesville June 2008, Sadaputa received the assignment to
submit drafts outlining the various shows he would present in the planetarium theater. He assured us that he had enought material to keep the planetarium working to capacity. True to form, in the two months that followed, Sadaputa prabhu worked methodically and efficiently on the design of the planetarium chandelier. With his knowledge of the Fifth Canto and his learning in physics and mathematics, he came up with a thirteen page paper which gives sufficient detail to enable the chandelier to be built. The next step was for him to create a computer model . . . and then move onto the actual engineering of it. He submitted his proposal in mid-September – just days before his departure.
During the 1990s Sadaputa designed numerous planetarium and museum exhibit proposals intended for Mayapur related initiatives, and he planned to draw upon and expand on them for the present project. He had also completed his ground breaking work, Mysteries of the Sacred Universe, which built upon Vedic Cosmography and Astronomy. This new work additionally explored constructs such as mathematical analyses embedded within ancient Sankrit texts that correspond well with the visible universe along the plane of the ecliptic. The goodness of fit of these astronomical calculations of planetary motion from a geocentric perspective, appeared only surpassed with the 19th century development of powerful light telescopes. Sadaputa felt that insights such as these suggest the Bhagavatam can be “understood from a multi-perspectival standpoint that emerges with clarity when the text is seen against a background of deep knowledge,” subsequently offering supplemental arguments “that could be of interests to scholars.”
It could also be seen as an expansion upon Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's directive to his Ph.D. disciples in 1976, to explain visable cosmographical features such as the "passing seasons, eclipses, phases of the moon, passing of day and night, etc." in a manner that Hari Sauri likewise noted, "could indeed be presented in a relevant, comprehensible way."