Puranic Cosmos and Modern Astronomy 2; Lee Interview
Thompson discusses Puranic astronomy with radio show host, Laura Lee, by initially comparing the “rings” of Bhu-mandala with modern mathematical calculations of the planetary orbits. This leads to a technical discourse on ancient measurement systems that suggest a sophisticated appreciation of the geometry of planetary motion. Thompson describes how Puranic accounts offer a comparative analysis of Kepler’s elliptical orbits, since refined with telescopic data. In addition, calculations such as these also offer realistic degrees of latitude as well as precise predictions of stellar locations.
TRANSCRIPT: Puranic Cosmos and Modern Astronomy 2; Lee Interview: Laura Lee Show – February 23, 2001 / (302)
Laura Lee: And hello there. I'm Laura Lee. Thanks for tuning in to "Conversation for Exploration." This hour we continue with Richard Thompson, co-author of Forbidden Archeology and his newest work, Mysteries of the Sacred Universe: The Cosmology of the Bhagavata Purana. It is a Vedic, religious, sacred text.
He says: When you look at it through modern day astronomy you find a very sophisticated understanding and a four-tiered understanding, modeling of the Universe. And we'll get to some of the more esoteric, etheric interpretations therein as well. He's been explaining the astronomical sophistication in this very ancient text. And I want to mention that Richard's book, which tells the whole story... He's got a video which helps mightily in understanding this – wonderful graphics and 3-dimensional depictions of what he's talking about. And he's also got a CD which includes both some text and a little animated video and other pictures that you can go through and find very easily in the search function. So all three items on his Mysteries of the Sacred Universe are available at the Radio book store at (800)243-1438. You'll want to visit Richard's website as well.
And I want to mention that this is part 2 of a 2-part series. And if you haven't listened to part 1, you will want to do so as well. It will be up in the archives. So go to lauralee.com/archives and you'll find it on the... you'll find it in February of 2001 in that list.
Richard, as you're continuing you're telling us... and I also want to mention that, come to think of it, you've done a wonderful job of making this very clear by providing 3-dimensional pictures and moving graphics and such. The ancients didn't have that to convey from one to the other, from one person to another this body of knowledge which makes it so much easier to depict in 3-dimensions. So when you consider what limitations they had for the advance of knowledge, it's very interesting, isn't it? They did have a model as you put in the picture of the book. But I was just gonna say, it's much harder to convey information back then let alone preserve it. But then who's to know how long our understanding is going to be preserved. Who knows... if we blow ourselves back to the caveman days, who knows how much of our very sophisticated knowledge is going to remain. We depend so much on the state of affairs.
I want to talk to you later about the Kali-yuga and the Golden Age and the Dark Ages and such. But you were just explaining to us about the... this plane of the ecliptic, this vast plane. And you model it to a seed. You break open a seed that's split in down the hemispheres and this is a good representation of this... this LP wedged in the middle of an egg shape. And this LP is where all the action's taking place. This is where the Solar System and all the planets are, pretty much on a plane, residing. And you were mentioning how this ancient text itself, it wasn't just Earth, but it was the entire plane that they were concerned with. And we'll get to the realms of the gods and the demigods, their playground, in just a moment.
But you were also mentioning that somehow when... as they describe it in terms of their units of length. It pretty much got it accurate in terms of the length of the diameter of this unit of the Solar System. What are the chances of that? And also when you chart out the spirograph of the orbits of the planets around the earth, they got that pretty accurately too... was laid out on this map that they're constructing. What are the chances of that being random or coincidental?
Richard L. Thompson: Well that's a very good question because, of course, initially what you might expect is that something like that is just a coincidence. So as I was saying, basically what you find is that these orbits that are shaped like a spirograph design, the geocentric orbits of the planets, they are bounded, each one is bounded, on the inside and on the outside by one of the rings of Bhu-mandala and the alignment is quite accurate.
So you might ask: Well if we just took a bunch of rings... we just made up some numbers and just drew down some rings, what are the chances that they would line up with the planetary orbits in this way?
LL: Very small I would think.
RLT: Well it turns out you can study that. Because that will of course be initially one of the objections... that someone will say, “Well, it's just a coincidence.” It turns out though that it's a number of coincidences, not just one coincidence. And the interesting thing is that it's a consistent pattern. If you look at the way that the rings fall, you find that it's symmetric, it doesn't have gaps in it, and everything lines up in a very nice way as you would expect if it really was intended as a map of the Solar System.
LL: What would the authors of the Bhaga... Bhaga... this book... need to know in order to lay this out so accurately?
RLT: Well that's pretty amazing because they would need to know the modern astronomy of the Solar System. Basically we know today that the planets orbit the sun in elliptical orbits. Now if you make a geocentric orbit, the way to do it accurately goes to... let's take the orbit of Mars for example. To do it accurately you'd have one point moving along the orbit of Mars which is an ellipse and another point representing the orbit of the earth which is also an ellipse. And the combination of those two motions would give you the geocentric motion of Mars.
Now if you just approximate that and say: Well we'll use a circle instead of an ellipse. And we'll make the circle the average radius that the elliptical orbit has just to simplify it. Then you find that the alignment is not as good with the rings of Bhu-mandala. So it would appear that in order to get that alignment, you have to take into account the actual elliptical orbits of the planets.
Now in modern times this knowledge was not available...well... until about, let's say the middle of the 19th century. If you go back to Johannes Kepler in the 1600s... he was the one who discovered that the orbits are elliptical, but he didn't know the total scale of the Solar System. Kepler thought that the sun was a bit more than 13,000,000 miles away from the earth. But of course we know today that it's 93,000,000 miles away. So he would have been able to plot out the orbits in a proportional form, but he would have had everything too small. So it wasn't until the, let's say, the late 18th century that the sun-earth distance was measured with any degree of accuracy. And it really wasn't until about the middle of the 19th century that it approached it's present value of about 93,000,000 miles. So that's an idea of what people would have had to know in order to make this diagram in the distant past.
LL: How... How could they have known that back then?
RLT: Well that is perhaps the greatest mystery of this because we tend to think: Well they couldn't have known because they couldn't have done what we have done. Of course, modern astronomers have figured these things out based on two things. One is the theoretical knowledge, namely the knowledge of the elliptical orbits, Kepler's Laws of planetary motion, and so forth. And the other is that they've been able to build telescopes which enable them to make very accurate measurements of planetary distances. So we don't have any direct historical information indicating that people in the past, let us say, before the time of Christ, were able to do that.
LL: Now some people would bring in the vimanas, those ancient flying ships that are talked about in other texts. And they also talk about in other texts, I understand, when humankind was conversing regularly with aliens and off-planet, off-worldly visitors, etc. I guess this was during one of the Golden Ages, one of the... a hallmark of the Golden Age. And so one would imagine if that were true, that much of this knowledge was mapped and known and all of that. However one wonders, even if that were true – that's a huge "if", just conjecture at this point – that we were once traversing and flying; if you can fly in a ship on earth, why not, you know, from here to Mars and such? Big if!
We can do it today. It doesn't seem so fantastical that some period in time we might of been that equally advanced. Go back to Atlantis or something and those legends. Then one wonders: Well how do a little tiny bit of information like that, come forward all the way through the Kali-yuga, and we can discuss when the... or the Satya-yuga when... the last time the Satya-yuga was according to this time scale from the traditional Vedic scholars, you know. So one even wonders: What are the various avenues they could have known this?
Also the story goes that sages were able to tune in to the akasic records and this record of how the world is, maybe tune in that way for understanding. And we're gonna talk a bit about that, and some of these powers this accessing this non-ordinary reality. So, many things to put on the table to consider. But certainly an achievement isn't it?
LL: Or maybe they had some way of calculating things through... I mean, we've talked with Chris Knight and Robert Lomas about maybe back in Neanderthal times they were able to set up Henges at the right places on earth, and calculate through shadows and through various really ingenious methods. But that's something here. How do you calculate a distance from here to Jupiter, from here to Saturn? That's something else entirely I would think. So.
RLT: Well I wondered myself how they could have known. But of course as you say, one possibility is that they're getting knowledge from some other source. I mean from off the planet perhaps. Or from some higher dimension and later on I'll talk about the whole idea of higher dimensions of reality because that's also...
LL: Yeah. Yeah.
RLT: ... the cosmology...
RLT: ... of the Bhagavatam. But one thing that lead me to think there was human knowledge on this level of sophistication is the connection that I discovered with the Egyptian pyramids. So it seems, as I mentioned, the Bhagavatam has a unit which is called the yojana and that's about 8 miles. So naturally when I made this discovery I wanted to know more about the yojana. What is the history of that unit and how do we know just how long it was and so forth.
LL: What did you find out about this unit of measure, the yojana?
RLT: Well it turns out that I was able to trace it historically because there are various pieces of evidence. For example, just to give you an idea of some of the elements: There was an ambassador to an Indian king around 300 BC, an ambassador actually from the king named Seleucus Nicator who ruled what is now called Persia. This Seleucus Nicator was a successor of Alexander the Great. So he sent an ambassador named Megasthenes to the court of king Chandragupta living in India. And this Megasthenes later wrote a book about his experiences there. And although the book itself has been lost, different quotations from it have come down to us from various sources. So it turns out that on that basis, he gave the length in Greek stadia of certain units that were used in this kingdom of Chandragupta in India.
LL: How handy! So we can calculate what they were exactly.
RLT: Yes. So we can relate, then, the yojana to the Greek stadium. Now when we do this we discover an interesting thing. The yojana had more than one different length. There were yojanas of different sizes. And in fact there's testimony from a Chinese source that tells us about this. There was a Chinese Buddhist pilgrim named... well actually I can't pronounce his name too well so I'll just call him the Chinese pilgrim. This person visited India on a pilgrimage and he related the Indian units of distance to his own unit, which was called the li. That's a unit of distance used in China. And he mentioned that there were three standards for the yojana. And he said: Well one of them is so and so many li and the other one, so and so many, and so forth.
LL: They do like to make it complicated don't they.
RLT: Excuse me.
LL: I said they do like to make it complicated don't they.
RLT: Well one thing you learn if you study ancient units is that very often they had multiple values. It's something you have to get used to. It doesn't mean, though, that they were just defined in a helter skelter way. One thing that we tend to be taught in school is that units were very crudely defined in the old days. For example, take the foot. You'll be told: Well...
LL: Someone's foot...
RLT: ... originally it was just the length of somebody's foot.
RLT: And that varies like anything. So it shows how crude their units were.
LL: Or when a new king came in, you would start the unit of measure from his foot.
LL: You hear stories like that. Yeah.
RLT: Right. Or the yard was the length of the tip of his nose out to his extended finger and so forth.
RLT: Well it turns out that's not quite true. Here I discovered a very interesting source of information. Well, there were two scholars: one was named Livio Stecchini and the other is named Schwaller de Lubicz.
LL: Oh, The Temple of Man.
RLT: Pardon me?
LL: Schwaller de Lubicz and The Temple of Man, his work on Egypt.
RLT: Yeah. Schwaller de Lubicz is a very interesting scholar. He spent years in Egypt making measurements of different monuments and temples and so forth. And he discovered, first of all, that some of the... in fact all of the units of length used in ancient Egypt had scientific definitions. In other words, they weren't just crudely defined as the length of the pharaoh's foot or something like that.
LL: And they also had a means of accurately assessing it, right? You didn't have to go to some standard unit and measure off from it and then create all your own measurements. You could calculate it using this definition, I'm assuming.
RLT: Yes. Well the interesting thing is, the units turned out to be based on subdivisions of latitude. And this is a very useful way to define a unit.
LL: And then you tie in time as well. Okay.
RLT: Pardon me?
LL: And then you tie in a measure of time as well. You've got a standard, the earth, from which to always derive from.
RLT: Right. In other words, if things were lost, if you remember what the definition was, then the earth is there waiting to be measured. Then you can recover the unit. Where as if your unit is just a rod sitting in the king's palace, then if there's an invasion and the palace is burned down...,
LL: You're lost.
RLT: ... there goes your unit.
LL: Yeah. Okay.
RLT: So units were actually defined in terms of subdivisions of a degree of latitude. Or a subdivision of the entire distance, let's say, from the equator to the North Pole. Now the curious thing is that this was started again in modern times with the metric system. The meter was defined in the metric system, and this was done in around the time of the French Revolution... it was defined as 1/10,000,000 of the distance from the equator to the North Pole along the meridian through Paris.
So of course nowadays the meter is defined in terms of an atomic standard. But the original definition was based on the length of this meridian. It turns out that Schwaller de Lubicz found that the units used in Egypt were similarly defined. Not only that, but he found that the units had a variable length based on different latitudes. So let me tell you the story behind that.
RLT: I'll give you an example. There's a certain temple in Luxor in Egypt in which he was measuring the main sanctuary. And the northern wall of the sanctuary was a certain number of fathoms. The Egyptians apparently had the same unit that we call the fathom. The south wall was also a certain number of fathoms, but the distances weren't quite the same. It turns out that the northern wall was measured in the fathom based on a subdivision of a degree of latitude at the North Pole, and the fathom for the southern wall corresponded exactly to what you would get if you took the same subdivision of a degree of latitude at the equator.
LL: Oh how funny. It sounds like the NASA project where they miscalculated. One team was working in centigrade and the other in Celsius or something.
RLT: Yeah but this wasn't a miscalculation.
LL: Oh this was intended?
RLT: This was intended. You see, it's the symbolism of the room. The room represented the whole earth.
LL: Oh I see. So they want the northern and the southern hemispheres.
RLT: So the northern wall represented the North Pole. And the southern wall represented, well the equator. And I should explain how that works. You see the earth is slightly flattened. It's not a perfect sphere. So if the earth was a perfect sphere, the length of a degree of latitude would be the same as you go from the equator up to the North Pole. It wouldn't make any difference where you were. But because the earth is... slightly bulges out at the equator, that creates a slight difference.
LL: And they knew that? And they were able to calculate the difference? That's amazing!
RLT: Yeah. They were. Well Schwaller de Lubicz wrote this in his book. And he said: Well you could call this a coincidence.
LL: But I'm not going to.
RLT: Then he said: But I've found the same thing in repeated measurements in many other places in Egypt. So let us call it a repeating coincidence. That was the way he put it. So it would seem... It turns out there's a lot of evidence for this. And another scholar who studied this in detail, as I mentioned, was Livio Stecchini. So it would seem that the Egyptians not only were able to measure latitude accurately and define their units in terms of subdivisions of a degree of latitude, but they also knew that the degree of latitude varies as you go from north to south and they could do that quantitatively. They knew with accuracy how it varies.
LL: That I can understand. Measuring earth I can understand in human terms. What clues do you use to measure the distance between here and Jupiter...
LL: ...on that plane?
RLT: ... it turns out that to measure the distance from here to Jupiter... pretty much you need some of the same equipment you need to measure the earth.
LL: And what equipment is that?
RLT: Well today we do it with telescopes. And these are not just any old telescopes, but they're telescopes mounted on a very carefully calibrated scale so that you can accurately measure angles.
LL: Which then...
RLT: So if you're measuring the earth then what they do is use trigonometry. They lay out triangles and in this way they're able to calculate distance. Because otherwise, the earth is so irregular, you can't accurately calculate the distance from one point to another.
LL: How far back do you think the telescope goes? And they couldn't have calibrated back then I wouldn't assume. So how do you think they did it?
RLT: Well we don't know. What we do know is that apparently they did it. So...
LL: And what date does the Bhagavata Purana date to?
RLT: Well the traditional date for the Bhagavata Purana is in fact, about the beginning of Kali Yuga. In other words, 3102 BC.
LL: How do we know that that's the original date or that it wasn't an incarnation of an earlier text when you incorporate this and you build on it? You know with...
RLT: Well if you go to...
LL: How do we know...
RLT: ... the position of modern scholarship, what you'll hear is that the Bhagavatam dates back to around 1000 AD. Now that's a big difference.
LL: That is a big difference.
RLT: 1000 AD versus 3000 BC. In the book I actually listed a table of dates given by various scholars. And as it turns out, those range from 1200 AD back to 1200 BC. And that simply tells you that even scholars...
LL: Can't agree.
RLT: ... can't agree on these things.
LL: Yeah. So...
RLT: So there is some possibility that things were changed or added to the Bhagavatam at different times and I do discuss that in the book. For example, the names that are used for the signs of the zodiac look very much as though they came from the Greek and Babylonian tradition.
LL: But then you point out there are earlier lists, 18 instead of 12 signs of the zodiac that don't correlate. So this might have been imported information later on and adapted. Funnily enough, there's also the signs of the zodiac that correspond to many of the same planets in the New World, in the Americas. So it just shows you the wide dispersion of knowledge way back when... and the means to do it. And if you're interested in diffusionism, [unclear]... the scholar on that. And his books are also available at the Radio book store.
Richard's newest book is the Mysteries of the Sacred Universe, there's the video, there's the CD, and there's the book, all available at (800)243-1438. Visit his website sacreduniverse.com. And we have more in store for you looking at ancient wisdom in the light of modern science, and seeing just how accurate and in depth and surprising it is.
When we come back, let's make that point about the pyramids themselves, Richard. And I also want to ask you about this non-ordinary reality where the gods reside, the access points you point out here on earth. The Himalayas and other important sites were seen to be access points to this – or meditation consciousness could get you there as well – and some of the stories of what takes place when humans are able to contact that realm. And also I want to understand the Satya-yuga, the Kali-yuga, that whole time scale when humankind was more in contact with these celestial realms to a greater degree in the Satya-yuga, how long ago that was; and understand also the vast time scales imagined by the Vedic scholars. We continue with Richard Thompson. I'm Laura Lee.
LL: Laura Lee here on the Laura Lee show. We continue our conversation with Richard Thompson. His newest work, sacred... Mysteries of the Sacred Universe. Richard, you're telling us about units of measure. And you're talking about how the ancients wisely pinned their units of measure on the earth itself, subdivisions of a length of a latitude or from pole to earth to equator or such. They're smart. Also I understand they pinned time into the movings of this gear clock that you could construct from the motions of earth and sun and moon around the Solar System. Also a wonderful method.
So you were saying that the... the way that this model as presented in the Bhagavata Purana used a unit of measure, this yojana, roughly about 8 miles. And you were also going to relate this to the pyramids. And...
LL: ... so tell me a bit more about how surprisingly sophisticated it is. That when you decode this as you've done, it looks like they knew a lot of information that we wouldn't have expected about the size of the earth, the distance between planets in the Solar System and such. Go ahead.
RLT: Yes. Well it turns out, if you look at the units used by the ancient Egyptians, you can trace them in the West, all the way up to the present time.
LL: How so?
RLT: And this was done in detail by Livio Stecchini for example. So the way it works is that, first of all, you're dealing with units of length, volume, and weight. Once you have a unit of length, you just make a cube out of it you have a unit of volume. And then filling that with water or gold as the case may be, you can define units of weight. Of course you use gold for the smaller units.
So this was apparently done. And Stecchini showed how you can trace some of these units up through the Greeks, through the Roman empire, from there in to the Islamic civilization, from there back in to Europe, and all the way right up to the present day.
LL: Did he do work in the New World as well?
RLT: I haven't myself. It would be very interesting to investigate these units in the New World.
LL: Another case for diffusionism, but go ahead.
RLT: Yeah. What I did find though is that the yojana is tied in with these units. For example, the... as I mentioned, there are different standards of the yojana. And I found two basic standards of the yojana, one of which is divided in to 32,000 hastas. The hasta is the equivalent of a cubit. Roughly it's the distance from your elbow to your finger tip.
LL: Yeah but it depends on... Oh I see. Roughly. So elbow to fingertip.
RLT: You see, that's the key to the use of these units keyed to the human body. It's only rough. These units had accurate definitions just as we do today.
LL: But in a pinch you have a unit of measure right there in your own body that you can use to get at least a rough estimate.
RLT: If you want to lay out a distance, you can use your feet if you have standard sized feet that is. But... and just like in Germany in the Middle Ages, to measure a length they would bring the first twelve men who came out of the church on Sunday and take the average length of their feet to get a length for the foot. But the point is that the original definition was actually scientific. And this was merely a practical definition...
RLT: ... in terms of the human body. But the same is true of the cubit. Now if you calculate the length of the cubit from the yojana... You see the correlation between the orbits and the rings of Bhu-mandala which I discovered gives you an accurate length for the yojana. It comes out to 8.49 something miles, about 8.5 miles. So if you subdivide that into cubits, you find that that corresponds to some of the units used in Egypt. And in particular consider the great pyramid of Giza in Egypt. Now that building, however they did it, is laid out with surprising accuracy. The side of the pyramid comes out to about 500 of these cubits. It's accurate to within +/- a couple of millimeters to a square for the entire base of the pyramid.
LL: Considering how big it is, that's an incredible degree of tolerance.
RLT: Yeah. It has incredible accuracy considering it's enormous size. And then it's even worse if you consider that this building was made out of 2 1/2 ton blocks on the average. So imagine moving 2 1/2 ton blocks into position with that kind of accuracy.
LL: And expecting them all to line up.
RLT: Yeah. Furthermore as you go up the sides of the pyramid or the faces of the pyramid, the courses of masonry made out of these 2 1/2 ton blocks do not skew. In other words, they keep the same alignment as you go up which would be very difficult to do especially if you have a bunch of slaves pulling blocks on rollers or something of that nature as you see in the movies.
LL: And it's not easy to adjust this thing either. I mean it's weighing tons so how do you adjust it here, adjust it there? Yeah.
RLT: Right. So in terms of the hasta that I calculated based on the orbital study, the size of the great pyramid at the base is exactly 500 hastas +/- a very tiny fraction.
LL: Were they counting in base 10? Is the 500 significant? Was it a nice round number for them?
RLT: Could be. I mean 500 is a suspiciously round number.
LL: If you're in base 10.
RLT: Yeah. Well in India they use base 10. That we know. In fact, India is the home of the decimal number system.
LL: Oh is it? I didn't know that.
RLT: Yeah. We call the... our number system Arabic. But in fact the Arabs got it from the Hindus.
LL: And probably body measure, ten figures.
RLT: Well base 10 of course is common, but the use of a series of digits, zero through nine, to represent numbers in base 10, is actually something coming out of India.
LL: Right. And too bad the Romans didn't have them too. Their math was so cumbersome with those multi-digited numbers.
RLT: Yeah. If you try to add and subtract Roman numerals, you can see what an improvement it was to have the base 10 system based on digit zero through nine..
LL: Right. Each has their own representative. You don't have to represent a 4 with four different symbols. Yeah.
RLT: Right. So in any case, the yojana fits into the system of units in Egypt. And then it turns out that the weights also correspond between the East and the West. The link there turns out to be archeological. If you look at Mohenjo Daro which is an ancient city in what is called the Indus Valley civilization, which is dated back to about 2300 BC, you'll find that they had weights. Apparently these were weights used in the marketplace for weighing out produce. And they're found there in the archeological site.
RLT: These weights were based on a binary system, curiously enough.
LL: How do you base a system of weights on a binary system of zero, one, or...
RLT: Well each successive weight is twice the one before it.
LL: Oh okay. So it goes up exponentially.
RLT: You're basis for binary numbers, you have units and then 2’s, 4’s, 8’s, 16’s, and so forth.
RLT: Well, the commonest weight was, you might say, the base weight from which all the others were derived either from doubling or dividing by two, and that weight turns out to be very close to the Roman ounce. Now of course Rome came a lot later. This was 2300 BC. Well Rome was founded I guess at around 700 BC. So the same unit of weight was used in both places.
RLT: And curiously enough, the same set of weights that you find in Mohenjo Daro are still used in villages in India today.
LL: I love that continuity. Don't you?
RLT: Yeah. So...
LL: I understand that those clay jar batteries were still used up to recently or today to silver-plate objects for the marketplace too.
RLT: Yeah. A lot of things are very old. You know, in one of the Indus Valley cities, just as a side remark, they had a most unusual archeological find, namely a plowed field. Normally you don't expect to be able to dig up an ancient plowed field. But somehow this field had been overlaid with silt after it was plowed. And it remained that way until the archeologists dug down to that level. And they found that it had alternating bands plowed in different directions. And it turns out the peasants in that area still do the same thing today. They plot different crops in the different alternating bands. And this helps, for one thing, to keep insect pests from getting through the crops.
LL: So they don't have little pathways to follow quite so easily, huh?
RLT: Yeah. So the same custom has apparently been followed since about 2300 BC.
LL: What if they had crop circles way back then?
RLT: Well you wonder.
LL: Don't you!
RLT: But in those days...
LL: You know...
RLT: ... it turns out that there were quite a few links between the units in India based on this orbit study, and the units used in ancient Egypt. And then again, another link is that the orbit correlation required some more advanced knowledge of astronomy. But the accurate definition of units in terms of latitude in Egypt plus knowledge of how the length of the degree of latitude varies from north to south implies that they also had very accurate means of making measurements. So it seems that they have evidence there of a more advanced scientific culture which was international in scope. That is, it had its representatives both in India and in Egypt if not anywhere else.
LL: It wouldn't surprise me if it was global. But it just shows you how early sophisticated understanding of measurements of the earth must have taken place for them to think: Aha, what a great way to found a measurement system on this. I suppose you can... that would be a nice dating system too, looking at the units of measure. Do they match the other ones? I guess if you go way far back, you don't even need units of measure. You just sort of eyeball it, right? So...
LL: With the more sophisticated structures, one wonders. You also mentioned how the pyramids were lined up with stars and some of those shafts even though the shafts were plugged at the ends so couldn't really see the stars through them. Maybe it was a symbolic alignment but they do in fact align with stars, some major stars, where they would have been way back when. And the difficulties in putting together this massive solid structure and these accurate diagonal shafts running through these things, that would accurately line up with the stars. That took quite a bit of understanding, too, of geometry and building and stars and astronomy... all that. So boy, what a mystery, huh!?
RLT: Yeah it's quite mysterious. I mean even if you look at the alignment of those shafts, one assumes that they did their stonework during the day, but you can only sight the stars at night. So that means they had to have some way of recording and measuring out the angle so that the stonemasons could follow that angle during the daytime when they were actually building the structure.
RLT: And of course they were building out of two hundred and, you know ... I mean 2 1/2 ton blocks. So it was quite a challenge to do that.
LL: How do you see a mother culture? You mentioned that at one point there's the same unit of measure and so much astronomical knowledge and understanding of earth's dimensions was shared by many cultures across the globe. How do you see the whole question of Atlantis or a mother culture, whatever you want to call it, wherever you think it was founded?
RLT: Well it would appear that there was a great deal of diffusion of knowledge. We can only begin to piece together the different parts of the puzzle. The quantitative information that I've uncovered has mainly dealt with India and the near East and the area of Egypt. Although you can also go to the East into Indochina, you'll find that same yojana unit was used there also. Of course that's not so surprising because Indochina, after all, is obviously influenced by India. But if you look at the more qualitative description of the cosmology, you'll find the basic cosmology of the Bhagavatam with it's upper and lower worlds and so forth, was found all over the world. You can trace that in North and South America for example.
LL: I was just going to ask you about the non-ordinary reality and if it was a diffusion of understanding, of mapping it out, or do you believe that people just accessed this on a regular basis through whatever means? I mean, many indigenous cultures, hunter gatherer societies, had well practiced access points to the non-ordinary reality. And they also can figure that in terms of upper world, and middle world where all the action happened, and lower world. So let's talk about the mapping out of that.
RLT: Well in the Bhagavatam, the world in which everything can be reduced to measurement is only part of the total picture. In the way the Universe is laid out, you have the disk of Bhu-mandala which we've been discussing in terms of the planetary orbits and the units and so forth. And then above that you have a series of higher worlds. And below it you also have a series of different worlds, call them underworlds or whatever. It turns out that these represent different levels of spiritual consciousness and at least some of them were regarded as being incomprehensible to the human intellect.
For example, there are seven upper systems described in the Bhagavatam. The topmost system is called Brahmaloka. And that is described using the Sanskrit word which means that it is beyond the power of the mind or words to describe. So you have these different levels of reality which are represented in terms of planes, parallel to Bhu-mandala, going up and down. And you certainly see the same idea in many different societies...
LL: You do, don't you.
RLT: ... all over the world.
LL: Yep. Do you suppose that the brain just allows us to have these mystical moments, and then we like to map them out because humans like to connect the dots and we love to put things into context and map things out for ourselves so to speak. Or do you believe these realms exist and somehow our Western society has ignored or denied their existence, but that they're there, they impact us and we're just blinded by scientific knowledge to understand the deep impact of the spiritual realm on our... upon our lives?
RLT: Well, what you find is that in science, as in any other field of human endeavor, the tendency is to stick with what works and what is familiar. So the main development of modern science dates back to Isaac Newton and his laws of physics.
LL: Even though Newton was a mystic.
RLT: Yes, Newton was a mystic. Newton was not a Newtonian as it turns out. He spent many years of his life writing treatises on theology for example.
LL: And astrology.
RLT: Astrology yes, and alchemy. Apparently he was trying to learn the secrets of alchemy. And alchemy is more than just chemistry. As Carl Jung discovered, it's also a mystical system of knowledge.
LL: Yep. And a way for mapping things out again right? A lot of these are maps.
RLT: Yeah, like the transformation of base metals into gold is actually a metaphor for self-realization.
RLT: So in any case, Newton wasn't a Newtonian but his scientific descendants largely have been influenced [by a] mechanistic perspective on reality. And so the tendency has been to edit out all those aspects of reality that don't fit into that picture. So the ironic thing, then, is that people in so-called primitive tribes often have more advanced knowledge of certain aspects of reality than people in the modern scientific community.
LL: More balanced, those ancients were. Because as you point out, this model that we've been talking about points to a geographical world, an astronomical world, a topographical world, and a spiritual realm as well. So you're saying this is where they felt these spiritual planes resided.
RLT: Well you see the... I mentioned earlier that the text of the Bhagavatam is written in such a way that you have multiple interpretations of one given piece of text. And that applies very much in this case. The ancient understanding actually was that the spiritual dimensions are basically interwoven with the gross material dimensions we directly perceive. And the idea was that there's communication between these different realms. And furthermore there were methods such as yoga and meditation and so forth whereby an individual could pass from one realm into the other. So this was the understanding. This was explained in the Bhagavatam, once again, in geographical terms.
LL: You know...
RLT: The geographical metaphor was used to refer to many different things. And so the structure of Bhu-mandala can be seen, on the one hand, as a map of the Solar System. On the other hand, and this is something I didn't go in to, it's a map of the basic area of geography of India and parts of Asia to the north, east, and west of that. That's another whole topic. Then a third meaning is that it refers to the earth globe and the passing of day and night and the seasons. Then finally the fourth meaning is that it's a model of the heavenly region or celestial dimension of existence.
LL: What are the access points? What are some of the stories of people who find themselves in this celestial realm? And I'll just bring up two examples. Missing time, you point out, very often is a symptom of having been there. When you come back to this reality you realize that days or hours might have passed. And you can't account for them. But that's interesting in light of certain people's experiences today.
The second was that there are reports of mysterious happenings to just ordinary people who go about their day. They're not practicing a spiritual technique to get to this non--ordinary reality. They're not a member of an indigenous society that travels through these doorways with ease, I'm told. But they might find themselves... for example, I remember one story I read was: A woman was just walking along, turns a corner, and there she's back in time to where she was supposed that part of the street was centuries ago, goes and walks through it, and then comes out, and she's back in her own time. So she was a time traveler for example... didn't know how it happened or how she got there. But the idea that parallel times can exist in the same space is interesting.
And so if a Vedic scholar from way back when was to hear those stories, they would know what happened: Oh that person happened to have a visit to the celestial realm. That's the way they would view them I'm thinking. Can you explain that?
RLT: Well yes. Basically the idea was that there were different dimensions which can be accessed. And the method of access was simple referred to as travel. But one has to understand that it's not ordinary travel. For example, one term in the Bhagavatam which is used quite a bit is vihayasa, which means basically to travel through the sky. And one might think: Well that means like an airplane flying through the sky. But that's not actually the meaning. It turns out that the meaning there is that the basic element of space which is called ether or akasa... Like you know the term, the akasic record.
RLT: Well akasa means space. And space was not regarded as a vacuum the way we may tend to think of it. But it was just the opposite, it was a plenum. And in this way it could, for example, record things like the akasic record.
LL: Ah okay.
LL: It was a mystical substance that had properties that ordinary reality doesn't.
LL: Yeah. It was intelligent and... and okay.
RLT: And furthermore, just as if you look at the ocean, the waves look very permanent to us when we're up on top of the ocean looking at it; but they're just very tiny ripples in this very deep ocean. They're very superficial phenomena. So similarly, matter as we know it is considered to be like a very superficial phenomenon on the background of this ether.
RLT: This space.
LL: Or as you point out, a modern version of that would be: Some scientists suggest that we're just born as one of many Universes from quantum fluctuations on an underlying space-time foam. Same idea.
RLT: Same sort of idea.
LL: Yeah. Different language.
RLT: Yeah. But here the concept was that you could actually decouple yourself from matter as we know it around us, and move directly through space. Now if you did that, because you've decoupled from ordinary matter, you could pass through walls and so forth and you wouldn't even notice it. And then in another place, you could reverse that decoupling and you'd be back in the ordinary world. So this is what they actually meant by traveling through the sky.
LL: Oh okay. That's the sky, that realm of the ether, is what they were referring to.
RLT: Yeah. The sky is not something up overhead necessarily although it's there too.
LL: It's the celestial realm.
RLT: It's the realm of the ether which is right here. It's everywhere. So the idea was, you could decouple from this world, travel, and you wouldn't have to necessarily re-couple back in to this world, you could enter in to a different world. Because there would be many different continua which are actually available.
LL: This also gets in to the idea that some mathematicians today use to describe our Universe as being composed of multiple dimensions. And isn't that interesting that this ancient idea... same space could occupy different dimension or different frequency or whatever
RLT: Yeah. Yes, it's the same basic idea. So in the stories in the Bhagavatam and the Puranas and so forth, this was taken for granted, practically speaking.
Now just to mention your missing time story: I have a story like that in the book actually. There's a reference in the Bhagavatam to lower worlds which can be entered. And there's a story that in one of these worlds, it seems that the conditions there are sort of like a rich man's paradise – a little bit decadent. The people there live in very opulent circumstances but it's said that if any man goes down there, these extremely beautiful and seductive women will captivate him. And he will remain there having pleasure with these women. That's the story.
Well, I discovered that in China they have a similar story about caves down under the earth. And there's a story about one man who went through a tunnel and came in to one of these caves. And once he entered the cave it was as though he was in daylight. There was no sun visible but there seemed to be a sky with clouds and so forth as though he was outdoors even though he was way under the ground.
LL: How interesting. We're getting into the hollow earth type of stories.
RLT: Right. Well, the story goes that these very beautiful women approached him and fed him with beverage, and he began to feel very attracted to them and so forth. But at that point he remembered his family. And he decided, well I better get out of here fast. So…
LL: Before the Sirens call.
LL: Before the Sirens call.
RLT: Yeah right. So he left the cave and wandered back through the tunnel, finally came back to his village. But everything had changed.
LL: Oh, years had gone by. Yeah.
RLT: Yeah. Years and years had gone by. And all the people of his time had died long ago.
RLT: So it was a case of missing time.
LL: Yep. Richard, we're out of time but I want to say thank you for all of the very in depth and insightful works that you do. And with the Mysteries of the Sacred Universe, you've really hit on another one of those wonderful pieces in which we can't explain how this sophisticated understanding of our world could be expressed in such an ancient text. So I appreciate all that you've done.
That was Richard Thompson. Don't forget his earlier work, Forbidden Archeology. Also we have the video with the book, all of that, as we do with this one, Mysteries of the Sacred Universe. The book, the video, the CD available at (800)243-1438. Look for other Richard Thompson interviews on the Laura Lee show in our archives. Thanks for listening. I'm Laura Lee.