Comets in the Vedas, Part Four


Great Comet of 1861

Nov 24, 2013 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial exploration of Vedic references to comets, their effects, and their association with great floods.

In our last segment we mentioned the numerous civilizations that appear to have collapsed around 2300 B.C., and the fact that cometary impact is increasingly suspected to be the likely cause. Around 1200 B.C., many civilizations again seem to have fallen to sudden ruin, including the Myceneans of Greece, the Hittites of Anatolia, the Egyptian New Kingdom, Late Bronze Age Israel, and the Shang Dynasty of China.

In The Cosmic Winter, a thesis on the microstructure of terrestrial catastrophism (1990), S.V.M. Clube and W.M. Napier state that the Taurid Complex of meteors, meteoroids, asteroids and Comet Encke have likely been a significant and regularly visible celestial hazard from the last Ice Age through to the present day. Data indicates that history has been punctuated by Tunguska-like impacts, singly or as part of fireball swarms, freezing events of decadal duration due to cometary dusting of the stratosphere, and occasional disastrous inundations of coastal areas due to small-body ocean impacts. Whether or not this is true, and to whatever extent, Srila Prabhupada puts the situation into right context:

    Bali-mardana: There's a comet in the sky and they're saying that some very inauspicious...
    Prabhupada: And what is auspicity now? Eh? What is auspicity now? We are describing all inauspicity, even without the comet. (laughter) Where do you find the auspicity? One man said that "He has kicked me, he has beaten me with shoes, and again he has said that 'I shall insult you.' " Where is the scarcity of insult? If he is beaten by shoes and kicked by his leg, and still he's expecting some more insult? You are already in inauspicity. Why you are expecting more inauspicity by the presence of comet? We are already in inauspicity. And therefore these descriptions are there. You have no fixture anything--where to live, where to take bath, where to eat, where to have sex life--nothing fixed up. Everything catastrophe, chaos. What more inauspicity you want? Everywhere. Here even one problem, another, in another country, another problem, another problem, another problem. He must be problematic. Daivi hy esa... Because anyone who is not Krsna conscious, he must be punished by the laws of nature. He must be punished. Therefore it is said, daivi hy esa gunamayi mama maya duratyaya, mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam... They're already, in inauspicity. The whole atmosphere is inauspicious. So if there is little more inauspicity, what is the wrong there? There is nothing... The more inauspicity will come. Now, still, in your country you are not poverty-stricken. You have got enough food. These things also will be stopped. Now you have got food in chaos, but there will be no food also. Then the mother and father will eat his own children. This is world, this Kali-yuga, everything. No food will be produced. Now by your talent, you are producing nice food, but producing food, the, tilling the ground some way or other, by machine or by this way... There must be rain, so many conditions. But time will come when there will be no rain. Then what you will do with your tractor and machine? You'll have to eat the tractor. (laughter) That's all. What you will do? There will be no rain. It is said that "There will be cloud, there will be lightning, but there will be no rainfall." These are stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. This is the result of our sinful life, restriction. Prakrteh kriyamanani gunaih karmani sarvasah, ahankara-vimudhatma. These rascals are thinking, "We are master." What master you are? You are under the control of nature fully. And they are, these rascals are thinking, "I am free. There is no God. I am free." So, gradually... (break) ...don't you appreciate how, the difference between them and ordinary people? Don't you feel it? You are already known as "the bright-faced." Is it not?

    (Lecture on Srimad Bhagavatam, January 18, 1974, Hawaii)

The Rig Veda is considered a primary source of data on the seeming chaos going on in the solar system, and it offers a record of the ordering of many events described therein. Modern science, meanwhile, is in a perpetual game of speculatively applying empirical evidence as they try to explain celestial phenomenon. Although these things were understood by the ancient rishis, scientists today are constantly re-shaping their data on comets.

    Prabhupada: The Indian astronomer, they correctly say, "This time, this moment, there will be eclipse." How do they say?
    Pusta Krsna: On the basis of Rahu.
    Prabhupada: Huh?
    Cyavana: No, he said they correctly know.
    Pusta Krsna: Yes.
    Prabhupada: Now recently some European astronomers, they said comet is coming, but he did not come. Just see. But no Indian astronomer said that comet is coming, no Indian astronomer. So he became a fool. So much arrangement was made: "Comet is coming." Nobody came. And in our childhood we saw one comet, and Indian astrologers, they very particularly said, "It will begin from this corner. It will rise like this," in this... Exactly it was done. The comet came, and as it is stated, "From this corner it will come," it happened so, everything correct. (break) ...comet did not come, what people said to this astronomer? Nothing?
    Harikesa: Nobody knows if it came or not.
    Prabhupada: No, it was advertised.

    (Morning Walk, October 25, 1975, Mauritius)

For example, since its discovery, scientists at NASA have been referring to Comet Ison as a hyperbolic comet. This means they assumed the comet will pass through the inner solar system once, then be flung out to interstellar space along a hyperbolic trajectory. Very recently, however, NASA re-stated their case, classifying Ison as a body on an elliptical orbit, increasing in speed and expected to come back this way in approx. 400,864 years.

Not surprisingly, NASA-watchers continue to argue about how the data is being crunched and interpreted, and the conversation is rife with speculative opinion. And this may well be one of the perennially negative aspects of comets: they inspire the conditioned jivas to speculate, and essentially to gamble in their ill-informed bids to protect against calamity and catastrophe. But all we can really be sure of is that like the occurrence of eclipses, the appearance of comets gives us an excellent reason to increase our chanting of the Holy Names.


Prof. R. N. Iyengar, Indian Institute of Science, Comets and the First Flood as per Parashara, Geological Society of India Journal, Vol. 67, March 2006.

NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, Small Body Database


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