Astronomy and Vedic Science

There are many astrological and astronomical references in the Rig Veda, that many scholars have ignored in the West. Instead, they have the view that Hindus got their idea of planets and their respective deities etc., from the Greeks, around 300BC,as per Alexander’s arrival.

Here, we present the notion that this is entirely incorrect.In fact, the Rig Veda, the oldest text of Hinduism itself has many references, in relation to astrology and astronomy, as we shall show.

Let us start off first of all by noting the Goddess Prishni, a Vedic Goddess closely associated with the later dark goddess Kali of Hinduism.

Prishni means ‘Spotted’, and thus would refer to a star-cluster in the sky, such as the Milky Way region. Prishni is mother of the sky-gods in the Rig Veda – the Maruts (flashing ones), who are hence stars, in this relation.

Prishni is also associated with a Cow, being mother to calves (Maruts), in this connection (Rg.X.123.1). This connects her to cow, milk etc. and hence the Milky Way region. She is also the Sky in general, being connected to Ratri (Night), another Vedic Goddess, and again to later goddess Kali.

Another Vedic Goddess, Aditi also has a similar astronomical nature. Aditi comes from the Sanskrit root “Ad” (To Eat). Aditi is thus the “Eater” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.I.2.2). Aditi is thus the representative of the “Black Holes” in Space, which swallow/eat up everything that enters them. It hence shows that the Vedics knew well of Astronomical Sciences.

Such concepts here may seem quite generalised, but are important to note that the oldest texts of the Hindus showed that they were “star-gazing” from a very early period!

We also cite the Devas or the Vedic-Gods, meaning ‘Shining Ones’.

This comes from the root “Div” (o Shine/illuminate). As their name suggests, and as they are Sons of Dyaus / Zeus (Sky, Illuminated), sometimes of Aditi (which also means ‘unbounded’ – the Sky). This shows that the Devas are also the Constellations orLunar Mansions (Nakshatras).

The Krishna Yajurveda (IV.4.10) elaborates on this point, and describes them and their respective deities that govern them!

So, such notions were in use in early Hinduism, and such sacrifices described in the Yajur-Veda to them reflect the fact that Vedic rituals were based primarily on the Stars and their Movements – thus in accordance with Astrological Time-keeping methods, only possible through the invention of Vedic-era Astrology (Jyotish).

The Nine Planets (Nava-Grahas) also have their place in the Vedic traditions also and can be found in the earliest texts as the Rig Veda.

The Planet Venus (Shukra, Effulgent in Sanskrit), who (secretly) appears in the Chandogya Upanishad as the teacher of the Asuras or Anti-Gods, Virochana (Greatly Effulgent), which also suggests he is Venus (As Shukra, the Shining One, since Venus is the Greatest Shining Planet and leader of the Asuras or Anti-gods and their Guru as Virochana).

In Chandogya Upanishad, this same Virochana also fights with Indra the Self-deity, who here is Brihaspati or Guru as planet Jupiter of the Devas or the Positive Stars or Planets (MaitareyaUpanishad.VII.9). In later astrological texts, the god Indra himself is the god or ruler of Brihaspati or Jupiter, as well as Venus.

It all shows the ancient Hindus were well-versed in Astrology and Astronomy and also shows the esoteric significance behind the stars and astrology. Shukra (Venus) also has mention in the Maitreya Upanishad (VII.9), as a form of Brihaspati or Jupiter himself. Maitreya Upanishad is long before the Greeks in India.

This shows that the ancient Hindus knew (as they did in later times) of the two-sides of Venus (Shukra) and Jupiter (Brihaspati), as the teachers of the Demons (Asuras) and Gods (Devas) respectively.

The Vedic King Vena (Rg.X.123) and Soma, the Moon (Rg.IX) are deities of Rig Veda that can also be compared to Venus, because of their blissful and material nature. King Vena (vs.7), is compared to a Gandharva (celestial musician of Vedic lore), on this note, and is compared to the Maruts (‘Shining Ones’ or Asuras, demons – vs.1), which connects him to the name of Asuramaya (Wise Demon), one of his famous later epithets.

The Vedic Rishi Brighu, father of Shukra (Venus) in later times, is also said to be Venus.
Sri (Lakshmi, goddess of wealth) also is connected to Venus and is the daughter of the Seer Bhrigu.

These are well-known facts…

Soma (Moon) is also Shukra (Semen) or filled with Shukra (semen) referring to Soma’s (Moon’s) more material-planet (or form), as Venus (Rg.IV.27.5). Soma is also compared to the Seer Ushanas, a later name for Venus, as the Poet (Rg.IX.87.2-3) – all these show Planet Venus in the Rg Veda, is well-documented.

Ushanas himself descends from the Vedic Seer or Rishi, Bhrigu.

Thus, the Vedic peoples knew well of the Stars in the Universe – they were not ignorant at all of astrology and astrological concepts.

In fact, the 360 Day Year, with Twelve Months and Three Ascendants or Lagnas is mentioned in the Rig Veda (Rg.I.164.48):

“Twelve are the fellies, and the wheel is single; three are the naves. What man hath understood it?
Therein are set together spokes three hundred and sixty, which in nowise can be loosened.”

The 360 spokes here are the 360 degrees or divisions of the Zodiac. The Twelve are the Vedic Star-Signs (called Rashis). The Three Naves are the Three Lagnas or Ascendants in the Vedic Tradition.

These are the Ascendant-Rashi (Position of Birth-Star in the First-House); Chandra-Rashi or Lagna (Position or Chandra or the Moon in the Star-Signs) and the Surya Rashi or Lagna which is the position of the Sun in the Chart with regards to the Star-Signs.

These three are employed in the circular Sudarshana-Chakra in later India – an astrological charting system where all three Ascendants (or Lagnas) are drawn on the Zodiac.

It appears this Sudarshana Chakra is described in the Rig Veda!

Hence, the Vedic people knew of the Twelve Signs of the Zodiac and also the Twelve Months.

The Adityas (Sun-Gods) are the Twelve Months in Vedic texts (Brhadaranyaka Upanishad.II.3.9.5) – it takes little intellect to work that out, as the text mentions this!

This is quite something, since many modern books on ‘Hindu Astrology’ state that the Hindus adopted the 12-Month Calendar of the Greeks! Are we to admit that the West’s ‘intellects’ have perhaps missed a few things out in their History of Vedic Sciences?

In the Vedas, the Adityas (Sun-Gods; thus Devas), or the Planet-Deities, as noted are the Months also. This relates us to the sister-science of Astronomy, Astrology, and the Adityas are lead by Vishnu or the Sun-God himself, who is their Lord, the Lord of the Planets.

We can explain these further.

The Devas or Vedic Gods would hence be related in the same manner, as in latter times, as they are connected to such planets, as we will discuss here:-

Deva Brihaspati is Jupiter
Brihaspati is the later name for Jupiter. In the Vedas, he is the deity of Wisdom andinner-illumination. He is also the guide or Priest of the Devas or Gods.

Deva Soma is the Moon (Indu), and also Venus (Vena is Venus, also Soma as Shukra)
Soma is the Vedic deity of the Moon and Delight. Indu means a circle or drop, meaning the Moon and also the immortal elixir that Soma or the Moon represents ,on an inner level.

Deva Bhaga (Enjoyment) and Ushanas the Seer would be more Venus, as also Pushan, forms of Venus and Soma Bhaga is the Vedic deity of delight, wealth and prosperity, relating to the Moon and also Venus, the more material aspect. As noted, the Seer Ushanas is also Venus in later times, as is his brother, the King Vena, noted for their materialistic and blissful outlook. Pushan is another deity like Bhaga that connects with wealth but more allied with the Moon or Soma in form.

Deva Agni is Fiery and hence is Mars

The Vedic deity of Fire, Agni is also the youthful warrior, called Kumara (boy) and Karttikeya (who born of the Pleiades) in Hinduism. According to the Vedas, he is the planet Mars and hence the Divine warrior, or Aries.

Deva Rudra and Varuna as well as Yama have Dark-natures such as Death (Mrityu) and Law (Rtu) as Saturn
Rudra is later known as Mahakala (Great Death) and the conqueror of death. He is Saturn in his transcendental aspect. Saturn is generally a death-planet and a planet of Karma and Divine Law (Dharma or Rtu). Hence he is connected to Varuna, the Vedic deity of death and judgement, and Yama, the lord of the underworld, as in later times.

Deva Surya is obvious as the Sun

Surya is the Vedic Sun-God, also called Savitar. He is the chief of the Adityas or Vedic Solar-Gods, as he rules them in later times. His nature is that of a King and also inner-illumination. Many Royal families in India trace their lineage from the Sun, such as Lord Rama, the hero of the Indian Epic, Ramayana.

Vishnu, would be Budha (Mercury)

Budha himself as the ruler of Mercury descends from the Soma-Seers, from Soma-Atreya, who is his father. The Atris or Atreyas are lauded for their wisdom in the Rig Veda for finding the Sun or the Self in the darkness of illusion of creation (Rig Veda, Book V.40). Vishnu himself is the Vedic deity of buddhi or intellect and inner-wisdo, having out-witted the King Bali and extending himself across the cosmos. In Hinduism Vishnu is the deity called upon when other deities require higher help of intellect and wit.

The Headless Vritra would be the ‘tail of the serpent’ or Ketu

Vritra is the Vedic serpent-demon who was cut in two. His head became Rahu and his tail or trunk became Ketu. It relates to the Swarbhanu tale. The headless form of this demon is Ketu.

The Head of Vritra (also Svarbhanu:-Rg.V.40) is well-known as Rahu
As noted above with Ketu, Rahu is the head of this serpent-demon. The tale of him as Svarbhanu in the Rig Veda, where he swallows the Sun and the Moon is the origin of his later form. He is the demon of Lunar and Solar eclipses.

The famous Svarbhanu Myth (Rg.V.40), also talks about the Solar Eclipse, which shows of the ancients and their knowledge, or rather, observation of the Stars (yet, our scholars would have them making Rock-Stoves!).

As noted, Svarbhanu is the ancient ‘demon of darkness’ who hides the Sun.

Later Hinduism knows of these Nava Grahas or Nine Planets that have influences over many things. They are subtly mentioned in the Rig-Veda (I.191.13, III.9.9, X.27.15, X.81.5), as also through their deity-counterparts who rule them in later times, as mentioned above through their characteristics.

They are also the various Devas, as noted above, as the Navagrahas (Nine Planets).

As for the astrological knowledge, the Vedic people and Seers are also said to possess flying Rathas (Chariots), which could viewed as either space-ships, or even orbital Sattelites. Each Deva(Star), meaning either a Planet-God, or planet possessed one.

We see many such references of aerial crafts:

“O Pusan, with you Golden Chariots that travel across the Ocean, in the Mid-Air,
You go on an embassy to the Sun, tamed by love, desirous of the glory.”(Rg.VI.53.3)

Perhaps such crafts were ,like UFO’s, possessed by Royalty, Kings and Gods, as In Mahabharata, and the Ramayana. Yet, there is also the possibility of a weather-balloon like device, or even satellite-technology, that they possessed, for each star, or Deva.

Perhaps they were controlled run by mantras or sacred chants to the planets etc.
These Rathas (Vimanas or Flying Ships), especially the Pushan or Surya Rathas, relate to the Sun. This could be seen as an ancient Solar-Powered spaceship, satellite etc., used to transverse and explore the planets.

Such Solar-Powered devices would be similar to today’s Solar-Energy sources for heating, electricity and also Engines. It shows the ancients, being against pollution, had such devices that ran on natural energies, such as the Solar, as in the case of Pushan’s.

Yet, these are late/advanced concepts in today’s technological world, and Scientists call this ‘evolution’ – rather, it is a sign of humanity “rediscovering” or returning to more ancient methods, employed in the Vedic Era, or Satya Yuga, the Age of Truth and Dharma (Righteousness)!

The ancient must have had either crafts or satellite-like devices, or some kind of telescope. Otherwise, how else did they worship Mars as the God of Fire, showing Mars’s Fiery Nature, thousands of years ago? It is more than just a guess, and shows they had devices to see the planets, long before we could!

The god Indra’s Chariot runs by mantras and has Ten Sides, showing it to be a large temple-like complex [does this not remind us of why later Hindus built in such styles, their own Mandirs or Temples?]:

“The rich new chariot has been equipped at morning; it has four yokes, three whips, seven reins to guide it: Ten-sided, friendly to mankind, winner of light, that must be urged to speed with prayers and wishes.” (RV.II.18.1)

This also has a subtle nature. The Ten-sides are the Ten Senses or the Body. The Four yokes are the four regions, four Vedas etc. The Three whips are the three lokas (states), and the Seven reigns are the Seven Chakras or Pranas. The Prayers are the Vedic suktas or hymns.Thus, even Chariots were made in accordance to Universal Principles, such as the Cosmic Body of Man, which is the “model” of the Universe and it’s Truths itself!

The Vedic Ashwin gods, gods of healing and their Chariot, as we see, reach the Heavens, or the Skies, which also shows of ancient flight technology in the Vedas, undoubtedly:

“We call the two Ashwins, the Gods borne in a noble chariot, the best Of charioteers, who reach the heavens.” (RV.I.22.2)

“Prepare that [chariot] which passes thought in swiftness, that has Three Wheels and Three Seats, you mighty, whereon you seek the abode of the pious, whereon, Threefold, you fly like birds with pinions.” (RV.I.183.1)

The Ashwins are the Twins of Heaven, the so-called ‘Ashwini Nakshatra’. These also show of not only beings living on these planets (in subtle realms), but also of their crafts. Such wisdoms are far beyond the reach of modern Science, which shows our Fathers were not mere Primitive cave-dwellers!

Flying ‘like birds’ suggests that, like today, some Vimanas/Rathas were shaped like birds, like our present airplanes etc. These all suggest, however, that these crafts were superbly built, going places that, even today, NASA spaceships cannot go! Pushan’s going to the Sun, for example, shows of an ‘astralisation’ of the Craft and Body of the Astronauts, as not to burn on this fiery planet! Or, great tempered steel and suits were worn that would not wear in heat – as the famed Pillar at Delhi, which hasn’t rusted, shows these people had such technology!

Perhaps it also suggests that the ancients visited such planets (grahas/nakshatras) and used such crafts to do so. In any such manner, it would show of their great knowledge of such things, such as black wholes (Aditi, mentioned above).

The knowledge of planets is thus the knowledge of the Universe. That the Vedic Rishis has such knowledge, is also obvious by the name of their deities:- Agni Vaishvanara, the ‘Universal Being of Fire’ – Vishwakarma, the ‘Universal Worker/Creator’ or the Vishvedevas, the ‘Universal Shining Ones(deities)’ – the Stars or the Universe which is full of Devas (Deities).

They were not limited merely to primitive deities of Earth Fire, Wind, Water as in Oceans etc.! In fact, their deities were greater higher forms of such earthly elemental principles, which are themselves, lower forms of Higher Cosmic Truths.

Varuna, as Waters, for example, is more the Cosmic Waters, from where the Primal Egg emerged (Rg.X.121.7). Hence, the deities are not merely physical, but often Primal and Subtle Universal facts as well. Agni-Jatavedas, the ‘Fire who knows all births’, is hence the Jiva (Individual soul), that is reincarnated many times in the hearts of mortals (Rig-Veda.X.5.1).

In a sense, Agni as the Primal Unborn Self, is also, like Hiranyagarbha (in X.121.7), also the child of the (cosmic) waters (Rig-Veda.X.5.1).

Vedic Astronomy, then, is thus merely a small science to the Rishis, who knew the Higher Cosmic Truths of various elemental beings. If such Rishis knew theories such as the Big Bang etc. – then the Science of the Stars, to them, is merely small.

The whole Big Bang theory, originates, like as in the Bible, from the Word in the Vedic texts (Brahmanaspati, lord of prayer or word), who created a ‘blast’ or bang (Rg.X.72.2).

From there, the same verse mentions, that existence (or being), originated from non-existence. The whole hymn (Rg.X.72), speaks about the order of creation, from a Big bang, and also compares it as a dance of the deities (vs.6). It also mentions Surya (The Sun) emerging from Waters (vs.7). This whole Sukta (hymn), should be explored more by Scientists.

It is hence, no wonder that ancient knowledge, extended to the bounds that it did. The story of Prajapati/Hiranyagarbha as the Primal Embryo/Egg (Rg.X.121), is also the story of the Primal Atom, and shows it can be split.

Prajapati is the Primal Creator of all Beings and is associated with the deity Hiranyagarbha in Vedic lore, who represents the Sun. More specifically, the inner-sun. Hiranyagarbha itself means ‘Golden Orb / Egg / Womb’.

The ‘split’ atom, may also be explained as the two ‘offspring’ or forms, of Prajapati/Hiranyagarbha (the Primal Atom), as the Devas and the Asuras (Brihadaranakya.I.3.1).

This shows Ernest Rutherford and others discovered nothing new about the Atom, and merely ‘touched base’, on an ancient particle of the complex Vedic wisdom.

This all shows the inter-related Sciences to Astronomy, as the Cosmic Universal Truths, the origins of the Stars themselves, from which the Hindus credit their own sciences, through their planetary rulers, the Devas or Gods (Shining Ones).

Chandan Priyadarshi

Chandan Priyadarshi

A student of Spirituality from the ancient city of Nalanda, a Vedantic by faith, an independent philosopher and wanna be philanthropreneur by interest just trying to explore the subtle world of Ancient Philosophy with reference to Modern Science. Having an immense ineterest in Ancient Indian and Vedic Philosophy, Philology, Lexicography, Comparative Religion, Comparative Philosophy, Oriental and Occidental Philosophy, Astrophysics and Astronomy, Ancient and Modern History, Parapsychology, just want to project an integral and synthesized approach of Ancient Philosophy and Modern science to world.

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