The Cosmology of the Bhagavata Purana
by Richard L. Thompson, Ph.D.
From the flat earth to the sun’s chariot — traditional spiritual texts seem wedded to outmoded cosmologies that show, at best, the scientific limitations of their authors. The Bhagavata Purana, one of the classical scriptures of Hinduism, seems, at first glance, to be no exception. However, a closer examination of this text reveals unexpected depths of knowledge in ancient cosmology. Mysteries of the Sacred Universe shows that the cosmology of the Bhagavata Purana is a sophisticated system, with multiple levels of meaning that encode at least four different astronomical, geographical, and spiritual world models. By viewing the text in the light of modern astronomy, Richard Thompson shows how ancient scientists expressed exact knowledge in apparently mythological terms. Comparison with the ancient traditions of Egypt and the Near East shows early cultural connections between India and these regions — including a surprisingly advanced science. However, quantitative science is only part of the picture. Mysteries of the Sacred Universe also offers a clear understanding of how the spiritual dimension was integrated into ancient Indian cosmology.