The Vedic Fathers of Geology
BY: SUN STAFF
India's Continental Shelf
Aug 05, 2016 CANADA (SUN) A serial presentation on Vedic discoveries in Geology, from the book by Narayan Bhavanrao Pavgee.
We are pleased to reprise this serial presentation on Vedic discoveries in Geology, excerpted from the book by Narayan Bhavanrao Pavgee, The Vedic Fathers of Geology, published in Poona (1912). Bhavanrao addresses a number of unique aspects of Vedic history, including the great antiquity of the Vedas from the Geological point of view, and modern Geology's confirmation of numerous Vedic records of time and place.
THE VEDIC FATHERS OF GEOLOGY
"It had struck me some time back, that our very ancient Forefathers that belonged to the Tertiary Period, as I would show later on, were not only the framers of the most wonderful language, the Sanskrit, but were, as observed by the learned Professor Max-Muller, the fathers of the most natural of Natural Religions, the makers of the most transparent of legends, the most genuine inventors of very subtle philosophies, the first givers of the most elaborate laws, the first workers in the construction of our fundamental concepts, the oldest ancestors that framed our first words, and the most ancient Poets of our thoughts.
Thus, they were the acknowledged benefactors of Mankind, and were therefore naturally supposed by the East and the West to be the repositories of varied knowledge and diverse arts and sciences, especially as they had made great advances in almost all the important branches thereof, even in ancient times, and in the still more remote past.
In the circumstances, I could not believe that our fore-fathers of yore had practically left untouched the very important subject of Geology, or that they were totally in the dark, even as regards the elementary knowledge of the science. And, it soon appeared to me that there was no reason to rest merely on surmises, as the whole mist had gradually vanished, and solid ground was, by and by, vividly perceived, which clearly showed that the Vedic Rishis had not only superficial knowledge of, but intimate acquaintance with Geology.
For, while writing in Marathi The Bharatiya Samrajya or the History of the Hindu Empire (in twenty-two volumes, of which, by the bye, eleven have already been placed before the Public, the remaining eleven having been in course of publication), as also another work in Marathi and in English, viz, The Aryavartic Home and the Aryan Cradle in the Sapta-Sindhus, or From Aryavarta to the Arctic and from the Cradle to the Colony, I had naturally to ransack the whole field of the Rig-Veda, and other Vedic and ancient Sanskrit Literature; and it was then, that I had come across many passages, numerous comments, and sundry arguments. The study of these first made me think, that our Vedic fore-fathers were, in all probability acquainted with the main features, and perhaps with even the minute details of Geology. I, therefore, gave a second thought to what had occurred to my mind as only a probability at first, and continued my researches with persistent energy.
I then minutely examined the various original Sanskrit texts from this standpoint, carefully scrutinized them with the object of gaining some insight into the matter, and found the probability to be a certainty, as I thought that there were very cogent grounds and strong evidence to affirm, that the Rig-Vedic Rishis and subsequent sages had, in truth, very wide acquaintance with, and intimate knowledge of Geology, since, they, every now and then referred to the Geological formations and incidents of the Azoic, Palaeozoic, Mesozoic, Tertiary, and Quaternary Epochs, as also to the most prominent life-types thereof.
And here, it would not be out of place to remark, that the colossal Sanskrit Literature viz.) Vedic, Puranic, and Classical, which forms an astounding monument of the everlasting and commanding genius of our ancestors, contains but stray passages in respect of the Earth's crust, its Geological formations, its fossils, its various life-types, in short, its palaeontology; and I have ventured to make copious use thereof, as these only formed the sources of my information and the basis of evidence, on which the present superstructure has been built, no Geological works in Sanskrit worthy of the name having been found, owing probably to the immense Sanskrit Literature on a variety of subjects having been destroyed by foreigners who had neither sympathy nor taste for it.
The Reader, perhaps, will scout and pooh pooh the idea, by asking with an air of sneer and contempt, "What! The Vedas and the Puranas contain germs of Geology!! Absurd!!!" But, with all deference, I would here request him to pause, to wait, and to exercise patience, before pronouncing his hasty judgment. For, as rightly observed by Professor Max Muller, "It is far easier and far more amusing for shallow critics to point out what is absurd and ridiculous in the religion and philosophy of the ancient world than for the earnest student to discover truth and wisdom under strange disguises."
The Sacred Books of the East are no longer a mere butt for the invectives of missionaries or the sarcasms of philosophers. They have at last been recognised as historical documents, aye, as the most ancient documents in the history of the human mind, and as palaeontological records of an evolution that begins to elicit wider and deeper sympathies than the nebular formation of the planet on which we dwell for a season, or the organic development of that chrysalis which we call man. (India, What Can it Teach Us? , pp. 253,254. Edition 1883). I may, therefore, take this opportunity to remind the Reader, without fear of contradiction, that the Vedas contain many things not yet known to anybody, as they form a mine of inexhaustible literary wealth that has only partially been opened, and has still remained unexplored.
Now, another objection also might be raised to the effect that, the Vedas may perhaps contain elements of Cosmology; yet, Cosmology and Geology are two very different things altogether, and the one has nothing to do with the other. But to this, a better reply cannot be given than in the words of Professor Judd, as he says, "The first who endeavoured to draw a clear line of demarcation between Cosmogony and Geology was Dr. James Hutton, who declared that Geology was in no way concerned with questions as to the origin of things." But his doctrine on this head was vehemently opposed at first, and, though it has been continually gaining ground, it cannot even yet be said to be universally accepted." (Vide The Student's Lyell. Edited by John. W. Judd, p. 5, Edition 1896; and pp. 17, 23, 24, of this Work).
However, anticipating all the 'objections in respect of the question, I have endeavoured to clear the ground, as far as possible, even at the beginning of the first Chapter of this Work, and quoted acknowledged authorities in regard to every argument, in view of fortifying my conclusions. (Vide pp. 1 @ 4)
Here, I need hardly mention, that I am aware of the dangers that beset the student of Research, and shall therefore attentively bear them in mind, without losing sight thereof, in as much as, there is great chance of erroneous observation and consequent risk of incorrect inference from it. Moreover, I am aware that one has also to keep himself perfectly free from all prepossessions and prejudices, when, in the very nature of things, just reasoning from careful study demands the sacrifice. And, having due regard to all these facts, I have endeavoured to continue my researches, with the essential care and assiduity which the subject ever demands. [ ]
These Researches, therefore, I beg to place before the Public, with not a little diffidence, in the following few chapters, and therefore, respectfully crave their indulgence for the venture undertaken by me. For, I may here be allowed to observe, that in regard to facts stated in the sequel, I humbly believe that I stand on solid ground, and shall, therefore, leave no stone unturned to establish and prove them, by producing evidence to strengthen my arguments - I, however, beg to remark that the testimony which I promise to offer in proof of Vedic acquaintance with Geology only represents but stray reminiscences and past impressions of our Vedic Fathers as regards the Science of Geology, in the absence of Geological works or Puranic Geological treatises, which in the ruthless foreign vandalism appear to have been lost forever to the world.
Naturally enough, therefore, in the humble work placed before the Reader, there would creep errors of judgment, and there would perhaps, I am afraid, be much difference of opinion as well. But, at all events, nothing would be stated without authority, nor any the least attempt made to misrepresent facts, or pervert them to suit the desired end.
I am aware of the sharp criticism and even deep resentment that I shall probably provoke.
And yet, for the sake of filial duty to my Primitive Ancestors and greatly revered Vedic
Fathers, I shrink not from the encounter, nor desist from the undertaking, simply for fear of public stricture, derision, or contempt. For, in the atmosphere of freedom, free thought must needs be duly ventilated without any restraint, in the interest of Science and Research. I therefore, submit this my humble Work to the candid judgment of the Public.
Finally, I take this opportunity to state that I have already endeavoured to place before
the Public the original (now in the Press) of this Work in Marathi, my Mother Tongue, and have now ventured to give, with a few alterations and additions, the same in English
dress, in view of its being reviewed by the savants of the East and the West.
Dated 20th Feb. 1912
Edited slightly for readability.
To purchase soft-cover copies of Vedic Fathers of Geology, please contact the author's grand-grandson, Sanjiv Pavgi at or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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