(2008). "The Chandelier Model," Bhaktivedanta Institute, Alachua, FL

(2008). The Chandelier Model

Bhaktivedanta Institute, Alachua, FL

Publication Info: 

Thompson, Richard. "The Chandelier Model." Alachua, FL: Bhaktivedanta Institute, 2008. 


On April 27th, 1976, Srila Prabhupada wrote a letter to Svrupa Damodara Das describing a model of the universe as described in the 5th Canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam. He asked his disciples with Ph.D’s to study the 5th Canto with the aim of making a model for a Vedic Planetarium. In this essay I will outline how such a model could be designed.

This model has been called the “chandelier model” since it hangs down from a point of suspension situated above it. Srila Prabhupada said, “My final decision is that the universe is just like a tree, with root upwards. Just as a tree has branches and leaves so the universe is also composed of planets which are fixed up in the tree like the leaves, flowers, fruits, etc. of the tree. The pivot is the pole star, and the whole tree is rotating on this pivot. Mount Sumeru is the center, trunk, and is like a steep hill... The tree is turning and therefore, all the branches and leaves turn with the tree. The planets have their fixed orbits, but still they are turning with the turning of the great tree. There are pathways leading from one planet to another made of gold, copper, etc., and these are like the branches. Distances are also described in the 5th Canto just how far one planet is from another. We can see that at night, how the whole planetary system is turning around, the pole star being the pivot. Each planet has its orbit fixed but the sun is moving up and down, north and south.”

From this we can imagine spheres representing planets connected to a central axis by pathways of gold, copper, etc. The axis is attached to the ceiling at its upper end. The entire arrangement will rotate about the central axis, and the planets will have their own orbits that also rotate as part of the upside-down tree. This is reminiscent of a mechanical solar system model known as an orrery, as shown in the figure. We can imagine this machine inverted and hung from the ceiling.