Descriptions from the scriptures are not mythologies, but tangible realities; with faith and knowledge, we can experience their truth.
Once upon a time, there flourished a civilization, cut-off from the rest of the world by mountains. However, as providence would have it, an epidemic plunged the entire population into hereditary blindness. Generations passed, and a new way of life evolved to cope with this challenge posed by material nature. Life went on without an event until a traveler lost his way in to this 'Kingdom of the blind'. The traveler was taken aback at the sight of a completely blind civilization, then amazed at the evolved lifestyle before, being submerged in sympathy- these people were missing so much of the variety of life ! The residents were equally amused at the arrival of an alien who seemed exactly like them. They were amazed when he spoke of the world beyond the valley. But when he spoke of things like 'seeing', they were sympathetic and considered the man crazy. Vision had become a concept of the fairy tales, a mythological phenomenon! Just as the valley was disconnected from the outside world, our world is disconnected from the spiritual world. All the scriptures of the world speak of the Kingdom of God. And the world, where we presently reside in, is described only as a temporary place, characterized by forgetfulness of our connection with that divine realm. The scriptures provide us with the information to visualize the spiritual domain and also give us the lifestyle to attain that. But especially in the present age, which is called 'Kali yuga', the epidemic of irreligion is predominant and people have lost faith in the scriptures. Thus, they are spiritually blind. A new lifestyle has now evolved which bases itself on modern scientific theories like the 'Big Bang' and the 'Theory of evolution'. Srila Prabhupada, when he first reached the shores of the United States, wrote a poem "Markine Bhagavata-dharma". A stanza from that poem reflects the thoughts of the 'visitor from the spiritual world' when he sees a 'blind' civilization: "Most of the population here is covered by the material modes of ignorance and passion. Absorbed in material life, they think themselves very happy and satisfied, and therefore they have no taste for the transcendental message of Vasudeva. I do not know how they will be able to understand it." Srila Prabhupada's heart was burning with compassion. Just as 'vision' was a mythology in the valley, many scriptural concepts appear mythological to the people of this world: beings with supernatural features and powers; ages wherein people had extraordinarily long durations of life; lands of talking animals etc. People find these subject matters difficult to believe. The Mahabharata therefore says, acintyah khalu ye bhava na tams tarkena yojayet . (Mahabharata, Bhisma- parva 5.22) 'How can that which is beyond the imagination or sensory speculation of mundane creatures be approached simply by logic?'
FAITH AND PHYSICS
Our logic often fails when we apply it to areas of which we have no experience. For example, when a student of Newtonian mechanics tries to solve a problem in the sub-atomic domain, which consists of very small particles, he will find his logic failing repeatedly. Newtonian mechanics can deal only with big objects, whereas one needs Quantum mechanics to deal with subatomic particles. But the student gains faith in the validity of the latter when formulae of quantum mechanics are applied to big objects; the results match with those obtained using Newtonian mechanics. Similarly, we can gain faith in the scriptures when they clearly explain subject matters within our experience and then based on that faith, we can 'see the invisible'.
The Vedas, which were compiled five thousand years ago, provide us with information that matches with conclusions of recent scientificdiscoveries: description of growth of human embryo within the womb, round shape of earth, seven continents of earth, fire bacteria etc. Moreover, the Bhagavad-gita even deals with the dynamics of human life within this world: human psychology, motivation, negative emotions, rational thinking, harmonious lifestyles etc. One can experience a more peaceful and happier life when th ese principles are learnt and followed. The Vedas recommend a practical meditation for this age: chan t ing of the mahamantra, Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna , Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. By practicing this chant anyone can 'see' the truth of transcendence which the scriptur es proclaim within a short period of regular practice. Unless one takes steps to understand the subject matter of the scriptures by practical application, one misses so much of the 'variety of life' due to spiritual blindness.
Gopinatha Candra Dasa has done M.Tech. from IIT Mumbai. He serves full-time at ISKCON Mumbai and teaches Krsna consciousness to students in various colleges.