This conversation is inspired from my post titled Magnificence of Srimad Bhagavatham with an amazing seeker that I have ever come across in my infinitesimal spiritual journey so far.
The topic of discussion is primarily on Canto 5: Chapter 23 – The Śiśumāra Planetary Systems of Srimad Bhagavatham.
This has opened both of us to reveal our latent understandings of this magnificent scripture.
Here it is:
Seeker 1: Bhagavatham is one of the grand keys to open the Pandora of Puranas. Have you really read/gone through the scripture? Just curious. Because, the chapters on. Sisumara chakra (tortoise back), Kapila and Devahuti discussions, Vidura and Maitreya discussions, etc are filled with many interesting points. In fact, the metamorphosis of Life from Mineral, Plant and human kingdoms is very secretively given in this Purana. The Darwin’s theory of material evolution forms a subset of our grand theory of evolution of soul. Also, can you give me the sources of your knowledge that will give me a hint as to what line of thought influenced your writings? It helps me to tailor my comments in best way possible, if I am aware of that source of course! Anyway, I will be reading other articles of yours.
Seeker 2: Thank you very much for this valuable insight. Bhagavatham is the key to my life since 2011 🙂 it continues to inspire for lifetimes of learning. Sisumara chakra is dolphin. The symmetrical arrangements of 27 stars on both sides, the arrangement of various other planets and luminaries…
Tortoise or kurma avatar comes in the 8th canto during churning of ocean by demigods and demons for nectar…
There are so many topics in Bhagavatham that are so subtle…
for example Hiranyakashipu’s sermon to his mother Diti and Hiranyaksha’s wife Kayadhu on the nature of the soul when they were lamenting for Hiranyaksha’s death at the hands of Lord Varaha,
the story of the king of Ushinara kingdom and Lord Yama in the form of small boy instructing on the illusions about death and material relationships,
the Hamsa Guhya prayers by Prajapathi Daksha for creating progeny through the womb of his wife Pāñcajanī,
the story of King Chitraketu and his small son teaching the philosophy of the soul through the dhristi of sage narada and angira after re-entering the dead body,
the story of King Anga and King Vena,
the most important story told to prachinabaari on puranjana by sage narada on transmigration of soul,
song sung by lord shiva to the prachetas,
the narayana kavacha for killing vritrasura,
the story of jada bharath,
the enigmatic comparisons meted out to son of Daksha – Haryaśvas and Savalāśvas by narada for their renunciation from material life,
the bhumi gita, the uddhava gita, the aila gita (part of Uddhava Gita),
the gopi gita on the prayers of their separation with lord krishna,
the story of various incarnations,
the teachings of the sages at kurukshetra,
the chatur sloki bhagavatham on the absolute truth,
the concept of absolute time,
the dimensions of universe,
the concepts of creation, annihilation and dissolutions,
the three modes of material nature,
the various types of Mayas of the supreme lord,
the prayers by vidura, akrura, chitaketu and the demigods at several times and several situations,
instructions by nine yogendras to king nimi,
the lilas of krishna in 10th canto. etc.
I just mention whatever that comes straight out of my mind. there is much much more direct as well as subtler aspects. I mean Bhagavatham is more than everything to me…and it is the driving force in my life 🙂
Seeker 1: Sisumara is Tortoise and kurma is turtle (both have a difference), just a humble correction. I can see your immersive joy in Bhagavatam. This is the intended purpose of outcome of Bhagavatam by Vyasa. You are blessed. A continuous effort on knowing and being with something is called Dharanaa and this reveals many secrets that cannot be understood by normal read. Since 2011 implies your deep constant connection with it and so the unfoldment of wisdom like a lotus flower.
Seeker 2: Thank you so much…I would do more exhaustive study on Srimad Bhagavatham than anything else for the rest of my life if given a chance 🙂
https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/5/23/4/ – The Sisumara Planetary Systems – “This great machine, consisting of the stars and planets, resembles the form of a śiśumāra [dolphin] in the water. It is sometimes considered an incarnation of Kṛṣṇa, Vāsudeva. Great yogīs meditate upon Vāsudeva in this form because it is actually visible.”
The form could also be interpreted as a tortoise as you have been mentioning.as mentioned in this link:
https://dictionary.babylon-software.com/sisumara/ – “a group of stars and constellations said to resemble a dolphin, porpoise, or tortoise; held to be a form of Vishnu, and often considered as a representation of the great circle of time. As an imaginary belt, a symbolic representation of the celestial sphere, or a theoretical revolving zone or belt within which move the celestial bodies — which are the bodies of spiritual entities.”
More information here: http://www.decodinghinduism.com/search/label/sisumara%20planetary%20system
This is another link – http://www.kamakoti.org/kamakoti/details/bhagvatpurana24.html – (not related to ISKCON 🙂 ) – Sisumara Planetary System.
– “Some 13,00,000 yojanas ( 10,400,000 miles) above the ‘Great Bear’ shines high the Pole Star and the‘Sisumara System’ or the Great Machine, comprising the Stars and Planets, resembling a Dolphin in water.”
Anyways it’s an aquatic with the arrangement of the various celestial bodies at various places and varied interpretations through various sources always results in ambiguity 😦 but what we require is the right conclusion and the form doesn’t matter 🙂
I hope this provides some clarification.
Seeker 1: There is a difference between exoteric and esoteric approach of Scriptures. A symbol is unique and very special association of spiritual and mundane aspects. I respect the links and info you sent. But, the truth of it lies in “Why” of the reasoning. The form is important, for it encompasses the subtle aspects that cannot be grasped on first sight. A dolphin is no symbol for Sisumara because, it’s back is smooth. The Tortoise back has divisions and a symmetry of arrangement of scales. This symmetry is mapped to the upper dome of visible skies (mahaakaasa) and inner dome of psychic skies (chittaakaasa). Also, the reference point from where all the measurements given in Bhagavatam are made, is not our solar system or our galaxy, but a far of star, in which is one of the 7 evolved solar systems (out of 12 – hint: Dvaadasa Aadityas).
But one should ask, why speak of these magnitudes in a scripture whose sole goal was divine romance? One of reasons is the internal mapping of external Universe – called “Yay Pinde Tat Brahmaande – As above so below”. Without this, one is left with mere glamour of vastness of scripture without applicability. And for this reason, turtle is used to suggest the role of Vishnu in preserving the secrets of Visible and invisible cosmos.
Another point is, the exoteric astrologists and astronomers think that the zodiac we are given the names of Ram, Bull, etc., for the shapes they resemble. This is absurd. The same reasoning I saw in above links when they said “resemble dolphin”. No group of stars or constellation resemble any living being. It is the effects produced that resulted in their esoteric symbolical name. For example, if you refer to T.Subbarow’s essay on Zodiac, you will know how the constellation Leo or Simha got its name. Simha does not mean lion, bit in one of its derivative forms implies lion, in Sanskrit. Same with Aswa. So, unless the effects are perceived, it’s futile to understand visible arrangement as particular being. I hope you understand the roots off the approach. Exoteric helps you up to certain extent. But true esoteric intuition from within tales you and helps you cross the ocean of mysticism.
Seeker 2: I can clearly observe your analytical brain to put forth logical arguments at the drop of a hat. Tortoise is used to a great effect in Bhagavad Gita’s second chapter as well as to how to withdraw our senses and keep it under control. Vishnu or Rishikesha is master of senses and sense control and so it is for a big reason to specify tortoise and give so much importance to it.
Bhagavatham says there are millions and millions of universes floating in the causal ocean and virata rupa is associated with each one of them…Lord Brahma is associated with each one of them…the arrangement of 14 planetary systems is associated with each of them…and so on…
Likewise each living organism itself is a universe with a microcosmic arrangement with the equivalent arrangement of planetary systems. the part from the waist is considered asoucha or impure and it is where the lower 7 planetary systems starting from atala to patala are situated…and then similarly we move upwards from bhur loka towards the top of the head which is satyaloka where the supreme consciousness and the control system or brain centre is located.
This body is a temple and the heart is the altar where the deity of supreme God resides. When we abuse the body mind and soul with impure food impure thoughts and impure actions the entire universe (our body) is polluted and similarly the entire physical universe is polluted in that way as we try to dominate the material nature rampantly! Material Universe has its own process to circulate itself in the form of eternal time through yuga cycles but this material body decays and the soul just keep transmigrating from body to body having failed to realise the ultimate purpose of life.
Seeker 1🙂 Let’s reserve this for our later topic – conversation: “The mysteries of multiverse and monoverse in scripture”. The comment section will be bloated with incoherent comments (when we look back in future).
Seeker 2: To conclude for now :), my last comment is in connection with the virata rupa or the universal form of the Supreme Lord floating in the waters causal ocean – the concept of Nara – Naarayaana – in a particular shape equating In the form of an aquatic organism like dolphin or tortoise or porpoise (or whale (dolphin is an evolved sub-species of whale) etc.) existing in the real world for us to perceive the universal form of the Lord and the various entities in the universe situated at various points in the body to initiate us in our spiritual realisation/meditation process to conclude that there is nothing beyond this in the material world. This is just to summarise the entire universal process. It is the first stage of God realisations as we look at things externally. Then we start to look at the Paramaatma or the Super soul residing internally in our own heart as the first intuitive spiritual guru. The final stage is the realization of the Absolute Truth as the Bhagawan or The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Shri Krishna as a reservoir of the 64 transcendental qualities in full opulence. (https://mykrishnaourkrishna.blogspot.com/2016/11/krishnas-transcendental-qualities.html). This transcedental realisation enables us to be in full communion or in union with the Supreme!