Why study Geo-Centric Astronomy?
To understand the astronomical significance of the Puranas, it is necessary to have some idea of the geo-centric (earth-centred) astronomical model used by Ancient Indian Astronomers (Rishis and others).
A helio-centric (sun- centred) model, simplifies a lot of calculations and is the preferred model in modern science.
But if you step outside and look at the sky and see the sun-rise and sun-set, the full moon and the new moon, you will find that geo-centric astronomy makes more intuitive sense.
So what we will be doing is trying to place ourselves in the minds of our forefathers and see the world as they saw it.
Much of the knowledge that they had did not require extra-terrestrial genes or divine revelation. It required careful observation, excellent mathematics, brilliant insights and great dedication to the science.
It also needed a society which valued truth and knowledge. And that was the society of Ancient India.
It was as difficult to afford advanced education for all then as it is now. So puranas with their high appeal were overlaid with astronomical significance, such that the ‘facts’ were retained even if the ‘derivations’ and ‘logic’ was available only to those who dedicated their life to study.
It was a society that placed the knowledgeable and wise people above the rulers in status while at the same time ensuring that they had neither the power of wealth nor arms and at the same time required strict discipline and self-denial from them.
It was a society that trusted the spoken word and put all the knowledge in to metrical form such that any mispronunciation or interpolation would be evident. It was a society that then introduced many different forms of preserving the oral tradition, with recitals from back to front, alternating words etc, such that the word was incorruptible.
It is possible that the most knowledgeable phycists today know more about astronomy and physics than the rishis of the ancient times. It is certain that the rishis of the ancient times knew more than the ‘average’ or ‘lay person’ of today, and definitely knew more than they are given credit for, by the general populace.
Then why study ancient science at all? Why not study modern physics and be done with it? There is too much to know anyway.
A part of the answer to this can be national pride. A part of the answer to this can be justice and giving credit where it is due. A part of the answer to this can be curiosity. A part of the answer to this can be social reform. If we know what the puranas actually said and what they actually meant, we can make more informed decisions with regard to our religious and spiritual life.
Some people are not comfortable with recognising that ancient wisdom was science. They don’t like taking the magic out of ancient science. Humans like miracles and magic. They entertain and reassure us. But I think the fact that we are all here at all is a miracle. The fact that we can speak and pray and dance is a miracle. All technology is a miracle. When Nature or Prakruthi is such a great miracle, why seek unnatural miracles?
Let us give the rshis of India their respectful and rightful dues as the original scientists of our human civilization and not just as philosophers.
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