Welcome to the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where Anu, Ashok, Conrad, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Ramana and I write on the same topic. Please do visit the linked blogs to get different views of the prism, colours of the same topic.
Today’s topic has been chosen by Conrad.
The concept of a universe is for human beings restricted to the Milky Way. In Indian scriptures our ancients were amazingly able to look at the skies with their naked eye and classify different galaxies or universes. This was possible because of their great meditative powers. One story is said about another universe, Trishanku Swarga, existing in creation.
Rishi Vishwamitra, a Raja Rishi or sage, is considered to be one of the most revered sages of ancient India. In the Puranas, (ancient texts of Hindus) 24 Rishis, led by Viswamitra form the core of blessed sages who taught the Vedas. Viswamitra was supposed to be the author of the majority portion of the Mandala 3 of the Rig-Veda.
Vishwamitra was born as ‘Kaushika’ and was the great-grandson of a great sage king, known as Kusha. Kaushika succeeded his father to the throne of his kingdom.
Once Kaushika came to the hermitage of the great sage Vasishta, with his entire army. The peace and the solitude surrounding the ashram impressed him and he entered the hermitage. He and his army were honourably received and served a splendid feast. Surprised at the instant meal served to all of them, Kaushika asked sage Vasishta that how he managed to feed such a large army.
The sage said that the food was provided by his calf, Nandini, gifted to him by Lord Indra himself. Nandini was born to Kamadhenu, the wish fulfilling milch cow that came out of the churning of the oceans. Kaushika offered the sage a large amount of wealth in return of the calf. However, the sage declined the offer. Enraged, he ordered his army to forcefully take the calf to his kingdom. The sage used his yogic powers to bring forth a huge militia of fierce warriors, who defeated the army of Kaushika. Kaushika was captured and brought before the sage, who pardoned him.
This incident deeply affected Kaushika and made him realize that power of penance was greater than that of physical strength. He relinquished his throne and began his journey to attaining enlightenment, greater than even Vasishta. After undergoing intense meditation and severe asceticism, he was bestowed with the title of Brahmarishi by Lord Brahma himself. He was given the name of ‘Vishwamitra’ (friend of all).
One of the stories associated with Sage Vishwamitra is that he created a parallel heaven, known as Trishanku Swarga, for King Trishanku. Trishanku wanted to ascend to heaven with his mortal body. Viswamitra was obliged to him and he used his powers gained through great meditation to send him thus to heaven. His entry to swarga (heaven) was barred and he was thrown into the paatala or underworld where too he was rejected. Then Viswamitra created a third universe for him called Trishanku swarga!! This was a universe between heaven and the hades—dangling in the middle.
“Trisanku Svarga in the sky is identified by Indian Astronomers [1, 2] with the constellation Centaurus; and trisanku is probably Alpha-Centauri or Rigel Kent, a triple star system in this constellation. The other star in this triplet is the Proxima-Centauri, the closest star to Earth next to our Sun. Closest as in about 4.3 light years close.”
“Sage Viswamitra is credited as one of the earliest Indian astronomers . He is credited with for cataloging the nakshatras (means stars, but sometimes constellations) visible in the Southern sky. Viswamitra is also identified by Indian Astronomers with the Southern Cross or the Crux, another prominent constellation in the southern sky.”
“Interestingly, the next set of nearest stars to Earth after the Proxima-Centauri, (Sirius etc.) are at least twice the distance of Proxima-Centauri away from Earth. Yes, there is an exception in Barnard’s Star, which is the next nearest to Earth after the centauri triplet. But it is not visible to the naked eye. This observation allows an interpretation that trisanku or Alpha-Centauri triplet is ‘midway’ to Earth and the ‘rest of the skies’, a literal meaning for ‘trisanku swarga‘ to be hung in the middle. Because it is possible to know from naked eye-sightings (without telescopes etc.) to decipher which star is closer to Earth, as a reasonable guess. Viswamitra, the astronomer, could have done it.”
Connecting Science and Scriptures : Satya Sarada Kandula