The Vedic Fathers of Geology, Part 12
BY: SUN STAFF
Wood Engraving, c. 1790
Sep 18, 2016 CANADA (SUN) A serial presentation on Vedic discoveries in Geology, from the book by Narayan Bhavanrao Pavgee.
Now, it would not be out of place here to remind the Reader that all ideas of our Primitive ancestors and Ancient fore-fathers, whether geological or astronomical, philosophical or governmental, literary or scientific, were ever clothed in the attire of Religion, as this had always to them the all-absorbing interest.
And, as observed by Max-Muller, in his India, What Can It Teach Us? (Ed. 1883, pp. 107-108), "it embraced not only worship and prayer, but what we call philosophy, morality, law, and government, all was pervaded by religion. Their whole life was to them a religion; everything else was, as it were, a mere concession made to the ephemeral requirements of this life."
Naturally, therefore, there was among Vedic Geologists and scientists difference of opinion, which, however, exists amongst scientists of all ages, and which, without detracting its value, only adds to its flavour and importance, as it indicates that the Vedic geologist, philosopher or scientist, had his own standpoint in the investigations in which he was engaged, and shows, moreover, that his researches were not only independent, but were continued without the slavish spirit of servile imitation.
All the description, therefore, in statement No. I, though clothed in mystical words, relates to the primary state of our globe, its gaseous, liquid or molten condition, and to the Azoic Period, when owing to the heat of the planet, life could not exist. But refrigeration was gradually proceeding in the very nature of things, and the consequent introduction of vitality after considerable time, had become compatible with its existence. For, the origin of life necessarily implied the fitness of the Earth for its sustenance, and when once the vitality commenced, there was progress from simpler conceptions to more highly organised orders, that is to say, from the weeds, herbs, and trilobites of the Palaeozoic Era to the bone-clad fishes of the coal-measures, the reptiles of the oolite and the huge mammalia of the Tertiary Epoch, with Man as the crowning piece of creation of the Period, as will be presently shown, in brief.
We shall, therefore, turn our attention for a while to the palaeontology of our Vedic Fore-fathers, and give a few details of the Proterozoic and Palaeozoic Period, Secondary or Mesozoic Epoch, and Tertiary or Cainozoic Era, (following Sir Charles Lyell, the great authority in the classification of Geological Periods), in the under-mentioned statements:
It may be observed that, one thing at any rate appears to be singularly prominent in the Geological Researches of our Rig-Vedic fore-fathers, and we cannot let this fact pass unnoticed, especially as the Vedic researches in Geology seem to be most convincing in the main fact, that the Rishis of the Rig-Vedic period had discovered, even at that distant date, that vegetable growth, or vitality in herbs and plants had appeared, or for the matter of that the very growth of life on Earth, first commenced in the Paleozoic Period, that is, some three Epochs before the advent of Man, the crowning piece of Mammalian order, nay, even of creation itself. Because, there appears an express mention of the fact in the Rig-Veda (X, 97.1), which we shall give in extenso, in the next statement No. II, p. 112.
In short, according to the Rig-Vedic and Puranic Geologists, the whole thing in a nutshell seems to be that, after our Planet cooled down, and acquired a condition compatible with the existence of life, herbs and fish, including trilobites, appeared in the first Geological Period, viz. the Palaeozoic Era; while in the third or the Tertiary Epoch, the Mammalian order, with the Man or the Gods as the crowning piece of creation, made its appearance (R.V. X, 97.I). We shall, therefore, for the sake of comparison, and for bringing conviction home to the reader, turn our attention for a while to the Western and modern geologists of note, and see what they have to state in the matter, as our Vedic Geological ideas and conceptions throw considerable light on the state of Geological Science, during the hoary Rig-Vedic Period.
Sir Charles Lyell, the great authority in Geology, makes mention of the Devonian Flora, viz. of the remains "of marine plants or fucoids" (vide pp. 349, 344, Manual of Elementary Geology, Fourth Revised Edition, 1852). Dr. David Page refers to the Silurian Flora and says that, "The Silurian Flora... consists chiefly of algae or marine plants." (Advanced Text Book of Geology, Edition 1861, p. 160) In the same manner, Dr. James D. Dana, the great American Geologist, and Silliman Professor of Geology and Natural History, in Tale College, refers sea-weeds and plants to the Silurian Epoch (p. 395), and fossil plants to the Coal- Era (p. 332).
He even goes further by observing that, "The earliest land-plants were the highest of the Cryptogams... The vegetable kingdom, began with the lowest of its tribes, the Algae, or sea-weeds, and probably with the lowest of sea-weeds, as far back as the Azoic Age," (p. 396, Manual of Geology, 1863, by James D. Dana L L.D.) Professor Judd also recognises Ordovician (Siluro-Cambrian) Flora, and says that, "Among these (examples of true algae) must probably be classed the curious Calcareous algae (Girvanetta, &c.)"… (The Student's Lyell, edited by John W. Judd, C.B.L.L.D.F.B.S, 1896, p. 411). While, from the observations of Dr. Noetling, it seems that even pre-Cambrian life, and fossils of older age than the Lowest Cambrian or Vindhyan are found in the North-West India. (Student's Lyell by Judd, p. 438, Ed. 1896)
I may here observe in passing, while noticing and following our ancient geological traces, that the Vedic and Puranic Rishis had probably classified the Indian Geological Epochs in their own way, by finding out and connoting roughly, the prominent life-types of each Geological Period, and naming the Geological Eras by these names. For instance, it was discovered by our Vedic Rishis, while making geological Researches, that the Palaeozoic Era had commenced with vitality, in the order of appearing first, in herbs or plants (R.V. X, 97.1) and then in the fish, all be it microscopic, including trilobites &c. This Geological Ere therefore, was said to be the First-Incarnation in the Puranic times, as religion first entered into everything Hindu, not to say even in their Science (vide ante p. 14,107).
[Omitted here was an erroneous rendition of the Dasavatar incarnations, correlated with the appearance of evolving life forms.]
The Proterozoic and Paleozoic Period
STATEMENT No. II
In this statement, the special mention of the fact that herbs or weeds had sprung up first, some three Epochs before the advent of Gods the superior human beings, is of great moment, as it bespeaks but original investigation and great Geological Research on the part of our Vedic Fore-Fathers of the hoary past, and compares very favourably even with the accepted modern geological ideas, which also place the Proterozoic flora and fauna in the Palaeozoic Era, and the Man in the Tertiary or Coinozoic Epoch, While, in respect of the Fish, I may venture to state from the Mahabharata and the Puranic works, that our Geologists of the Epic and Puranic times had found, or at any rate were aware of, the oldest known fossil-fish, inasmuch as the Fish seems to have represented the earliest organic body in their works. This organic body was perhaps the smallest, not to say microscopic, and belonged to the pre-Cambrian period. While, the fish-type, moreover, appears to have been foreshadowed even in the Shatapatha Brahmana (vide I, 8.1.1).
I may, therefore, quote here with advantage the very important and relevant observations of Professor John W. Judd, in regard to the earliest Indian life-types, as they have been declared by Dr. Noetling to be of the pre-Cambrian, that is Vindhyan Epoch, or of older age than the Lowest Cambrian.
For, "Noetling," says Professor Judd, " has recently described a series of strata as underlying beds containing Olenellus, in North-West India. He confirms the conclusions of Waagen that this series of strata containing fossils, *** and various remains of Annelida, is really of older age than the Lowest Cambrian with Olenellus." (The Student's Lyell, edited by Prof. John W. Judd, 1896, p. 438).
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