A working model of the Puranic universe

A working model of the Puranic universe

For some time now, Taruna das brahmacari has been working on an intriguing physical model of the universe according to the approach taken in the Srimad-Bhagavatam.

There are a number of ways one can try to understand the universe as described in the Puranas. Taruna das’ model is based on a particular interpretation of the plane of Bhu-mandala as proposed by the late Sadaputa das (Dr Richard L. Thompson): A map of the solar system from a geo-centric (earth-centred) perspective. Taruna das’ model also includes the divisions of planetary systems that are described in the Second and Fifth Cantos.

To find out more, Radha Mohan das interviewed him…

Radha Mohan das: How did you come to the idea of building a model?

Taruna das: The concrete idea sprung into my mind whilst reading the Srimad-Bhagavatam as well and the Sri Brhad-bhagavatamrta, in particular its descriptions of the progression of a yogi from the lower to the higher realms. The descriptions are spectacular, and I thought it would be great to be able to show realms of the universe in the form of a mechanical model.

 Radha Mohan das: What was your purpose in building it?

 Taruna das: Personally, it’s different than one may first think. I don’t aim to win-over astronomers, astrophysicists, etc. with this model. After all, Puranic cosmology mostly describes unseen realms, which are well beyond the scope of modern science. Rather, my idea is to show the spiritual side and purpose of the universe, the reality about the soul’s position in this creation, and the living entity’s travels throughout the universe. Especially about the progression from lower realms towards higher ones, and how the Supreme Lord is worshipped across the universe in different ways. Also about the ultimate perfection of life and understanding the purpose of this universe.

This model, once it is completed, can be used to highlight these topics for a scientifically minded audience as well as people in general.

Radha Mohan das: Apart from the practical challenges you have faced in making the moving model, have there been any other challenges?

Taruna das: I’m asked again and again the same question: ‘What is this unusual thing I am making in the workshop?’ I am, of course, happy to explain. But when the project is complete I will need a suitable space to keep it. Somewhere safe, where it can be seen and appreciated by devotees and guests. And I’m already planning a few other related projects to fit in as well. I envision that this will be a very attractive feature for visitors, at festival times, for school groups, and general tours.

The model will include a number of mechanical, light, and sound effects. Overall it will be a very impressive spectacle, indeed a piece of art!

Radha Mohan das: “When are you planning to complete the model?

Taruna das: Mostly due to other engagements, other projects, and emergency work at the Temple, I am not working to a specific deadline. For example just a few days ago I resumed work on it after pausing for a couple of months. I’m planning and designing it in successive steps, and the model takes a course of its own. At the moment, I’m more than halfway through. Due to its complexity, it is hard to give a final date, but I’ll make a special endeavour to finish it sometime next year.

The electrical control panel of the planets’ epicycle motions are complete. And I almost finished the last part of the Bhu-mandala plane.

The next step is mostly the artwork, making it attractive. That will include the golden Mount Meru, regions of Bhu-mandala with miniature landscapes as described the Bhagavatam, and for example, building the ring of Lokaloka mountain, which extends as high as the planet Dhruvaloka.

Above that I will include the heavenly planets, then represent the coverings of this universe and finally Vaikuntha, the spiritual realm. I will also include representations of the realms of the siddhas, caranas, vidyadharas, and ghosts! Below Bhu-mandala there will be an open section to show the subterranean realms.

Relevant Youtube links: 

Temple of the Vedic Planetarium videos webpage:

Vedic Cosmology Videos

‘Invisible Realms in the Vedic universe’ by Radha Mohan das):

‘Mysterious Orbits’ by Sadaputa das: