Bharat / Mount Meru
The Puranas and Puranic Cosmology - Updated
‘From time immemorial civilisation on the subcontinent evolved on the backdrop of a unique pattern which made sense of many aspects of collective and individual life in India. In fact, it was unthinkable that a society could successfully evolve without such a pattern. And indeed it still exists. Its persistence lies at the heart of what is known as the Sanatana Dharma – the eternal Way, the eternal Truth.’ (Thea, Puranic Cosmology Updated, 1)
With these words Thea opens a series of articles titled Puranic Cosmology Updated (image left); she will focus on how the priceless wisdom these myths contain is at the core of the Sanatana Dharma. What will become obvious in this analysis, Thea writes, is that ‘the new order is simply an UPDATING of the old’ – nothing is discarded, all knowledge is brought forward.
This kind of Updating can only happen in a culture where there is a Stable Constant to uphold the old and the new. The ‘seed ‘ for this renewal was set in place during the Vedic period, where the ‘way of life’ was based on a cosmic foundation. It is the only civilisation on this Earth, Thea writes, to produce a means to escape from ‘a morbid fossilisation’, which is often the outcome in those civilisations based on the constraints of religion.
As well, a study of the body of sacred writings preserved in India – the Veda, the Upanishads and Puranas, leads the student to see that the ‘light’ of the Veda takes on a more and more concrete form. Finally our times reveal the last level where the ‘seed‘ is brought to ‘full bloom’ in the writings of Sri Aurobindo (image right). Along with the other two members of the Solar Line, he has revealed the final level of the original ‘Word’ for this particular cycle, our 9th Manifestation (The New Way, 2, p. 378)
Mount Meru - Axis of The Earth
‘Myth is the language of the soul across the globe and across the Ages. But nowhere has it survived to the degree that we find in the subcontinent. Myth is alive and well in India – much to the chagrin of the secular scientist; and it is precisely myth that provides the method for updating Puranic Cosmology.
This cosmology allows myth to be applicable; or better, cosmology is the application of myth. Consequently if we wish to engage in any renewal or re-establishment of the Tradition, the methodology would have to be the same: myth taken from the cosmic harmony via the soul which each of us carries within as the birthright of all human beings on the third planet.’ (Ibid, no.2)
Puranic Cosmology is a vision of the cosmos, which is Order, Oneness and Unity (Image right). Its language is ‘perennial’, known to the sages of all time. It is a gift from the world around us, the tales contain lessons to be applied. Our ancient seers were far closer to nature than we are, Thea writes. We must try to find a ‘method of enquiry’ that allows us to understand their scripts, their documents. To brand their narratives as ‘quaint tales’ or ‘superstition’ is downright unscientific.
And if an Updating process is to be meaningful, she adds, and not confined to the narrow parameters of contemporary science, a certain clarification is required: ‘Puranic cosmology is its own science; it does not require an imprimatur of the contemporary product that bears its name’ (ibid). The Puranas can be applied now to the whole world, given the geographical sciences have progressed and that a certain universalisation has been acquired since our Earth has moved into the Age of Aquarius, in our 9th Manifestation.
Thea notes that the transmission of myths arises out of the abiding truths of our Solar System. One of the most central truths, according to all ancient traditions, is that India was considered the ‘centrepiece of the entire globe’, given that in one of our most universal myths, Mount Meru was considered the ‘axis mundi’ of the entire world (ibid, no. 3).
Mount Meru is the ‘sacred mountain of gold around which the entire universe extrapolates… the centre of the universe with its axis passing through the centre of the Earth…the support of the highest of the Hindu heaven.’ (Wikipedia).
Thea notes that Shiva’s abode, at the top of Mount Meru (also Kailasa), is located at 15 degrees Capricorn (image left), on the 76th longitude (see Theme 8 for more details on Thea’s Cosmic Ruler and its application).
The Mountain has been ‘the most abiding symbol in Indian myth and cosmogony’ (ibid, no. 4). In the Vedic Age it was derived from the Capricorn hieroglyph in the Tropical Zodiac, which is the symbol of the Mountain. In the Puranic Age, the symbol of the mountain shifted to stone and sculpture, where we see that every Hindu Temple represents the mountain (the triangular shape of the gopuram). There is as well the Garbigriha – the cave at the centre of the mountain – and the vertical shaft that runs through the centre. Capricorn, known in India as Makar, the Crocodile, is a symbol in prominent display on many Temple structures (ibid).
Thea confirms that the symbol of the mountain in sacred architecture is the Gopuram. She writes: ‘When the devotee passes through and beneath the main ‘gopuram’ to enter the sacred precinct, it brings to his visit the lived experience of Mount Meru, the sacred mountain of Capricorn.’ (Those Unsettling New Paradigms, 2015).
All ancient cultures had different versions of the Puranic Mount Meru, the concept of ‘Axis’ or ‘Navel’ (omphalos), which epitomised the most cherished aspirations of the nation; but none compare to India, where that special symbolism survives into the present, in the Hindu Temple, and in the yearly celebration of Makar Sankranti. (see Theme 8 for a discussion on the loss of this cosmic connection and the reason for this aberration).
Mount Meru is found at the centre of the most well known myth, The Churning of the Milky Ocean at the Dawn of Time (image right): there can be no churning without Mount Meru as the ‘axis’ or the churning stick (ibid no. 8).
The churning is an elaborate process: Vasuki, king of the Serpents, is employed as the rope which is wrapped around the churning stick; and the great tugging back and forth uses the forces of both Darkness and Light to set things in motion.
Vishnu is central for anything to happen, he controls the action ‘according to the rhythms the Time-spirit’ (ibid); out of the movement of chaos, he brings order.
He holds up Mt Meru from sinking into the Ocean by taking the form of a tortoise, Kurma Avatar, and when it becomes evident that something else is required to restrain the rise of the stick, the services of Garuda, the Eagle, Vishnu’s own carrier or vahana, presses down from above. Thus both cosmic directions, involution and evolution are necessary for the great churning movement to succeed.
The essence of the Churning Myth – The Mountain Axis
The symbol of churning is the movement of the Cosmic Ages, based on the Precessional cycle of our Earth, i.e., these are slow moving vast cycles of time, tortoise like (ibid). Hence, Thea instructs, this myth is not about individual transformation, it is wholly a cosmic manifestation. In each Age, 6420 years apart, the Evolutionary Avatars manifest on earth, as the leaders of the evolutionary process. Therefore the Churning narrative is more than mere myth, it is ‘recurring history’ (ibid); in myth we have the key to the past, but more specifically to the future of the evolutionary process.
Sri Aurobindo has written that ‘the Puranic Line of Ten’ (Evolutionary Avatars) is ‘a parable in evolution’ , referring to the particular form that Vishnu Avatar has taken in his descent into creation. His second appearance as Tortoise (Kurma) – following Matsya Avatar (as a fish) – indicates that the evolutionary process had already begun, and development embraced both water and earth.
Thea indicates that the Churning of the Milky Ocean occurs at three stages in the spiral of evolution (graphic left): the 1st Manifestation, the 5th, and the 9th. (Thea, The Evolutionary avatar in the Cosmic Harmony and in Contemporary Vedic Culture, The Vishaal Newsletter, volume 8, no. 2).
Our planet entered the 9th Manifestation in 234 BCE, based on the precessional cycles of the Earth (see The Gnostic Circle). There are three Ages comprising a Manifestation, each one lasting 2,160 years. The Age of Pisces opened the first stage of this Manifestation, during which time all the cosmic energies that needed to take part were drawn together for the great labour.
The Earth experienced the depth of the Piscean ocean and India saw her darkest hour; she became subject to countless invasions and conquests lasting through the centuries (ibid). It was during this time the nation lost her cosmic connection to the Vedic vision of unity; (see themes 3, 4 and 8), and as the knowledge declined the divine wisdom was driven underground and preserved in her myths and through the Temple rituals.
With the Age of Aquarius beginning in 1926, our Earth moved into the second stage of the Great Churning; the labour of this part of the journey has been in progress for 94 years. 1926 is also the year that Sri Aurobindo Avatar went into seclusion and intensified his Yoga, the result was the light of dawn became manifest again, and the ‘consciousness of Bharat Mata was awakened’.
He, along with the other members of his Solar Line, was called to come to the aid of our troubled Earth and once again, ‘put order into chaos’. Their cosmic task was not only to retrieve the hidden Vedic roots of wisdom but also to update and apply them for our contemporary use. In Thea’s words, during this stage of the Great Churning, the 9th Manifestation, our earth must re-set its cosmic clock and re-establish the Dharma (ibid).
Thea calls attention to the symbols (image right) used in the churning myth to help us understand the significance of the Avatar’s task in this new Age. First, she notes that material creation does not come into being through what science calls ‘The Big Bang’; it is rather by the creation of an axis. Second, it is through motion or churning that the physical treasures of our universe begin to arise from the ocean.
Thea asks us to consider: ‘What is the nature of this axis and what are its origins’… that is, ‘how did they come into being?’
The forces of both the Darkness and the Light engage together in the great tugging of the head and tail of the serpent Vasuki. The contemporary depiction of the Churning Myth at the Thailand Airport (image above) reveals very clearly the Devas and Asuras are on a par, tugging Mt Meru as churning stick, atop of which stands Vishnu balancing the action.
Thea instructs us that the Churning myth makes it clear it is the Mountain which produces the axis –‘ it is the perfect Centre’ ; and it is Vishnu avatar who is necessary for the churning to take place. He provides the ‘stable point’ that allows the churning to proceed, which creates an energy to propel creation forward in Time (not backward, or to collapse upon itself).
‘The human structure is equally a generator of energy’ but the present level of our species is ‘hopelessly aligned to produce collapse’ (ibid). Thea explains her statement: the human form, at this level of evolution does not ‘repose upon the Tortoise’, it has no stable point for support for the churning. Without this ever – replenishing source, at critical points it turns upon and consumes itself, and ceases to expand or grow.
Contraction overtakes expansion or growth; the system becomes ‘self-enclosed’ and the result is a ‘binary’ system with tremendous tension. The two directions do not mutually support one another (ibid).
The primary focus of Thea’s volume 3 of The New Way, is on the shift from a binary system to a unitary system. She uses Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing of Vetruvian Man (image left) to present a vision of this new world: the movement from the square (representing the secular and material man/woman) to the circle ( the cosmic and the divine man/woman).
Churning the Milky Ocean - A Myth For Our Times
While It is true that both the Forces of Darkness and Light are needed to complete the churning process, it is important to see the differences in the two: the negative instruments are used to serve the ‘purposes of the One’, i.e., these ‘forces of darkness’ act in ignorance and often out of arrogance, while the positive ‘forces of light’ act in full consciousness, or knowledge about the churning process.
They know that our Earth is at a critical point in the ‘churning’ of Time, and that with the coming of the 9th evolutionary Avatar a new principle has been imprinted into the evolutionary matrix. Referring to the Map of the 12 Manifestations (above), Thea states that during the first seven Manifestations ( 45,000 years), there were only fragments of knowledge left from the earlier cosmic cycles. The cosmic language had been preserved and becamet became the foundation for the Sanatana Dharma, but full knowledge was not yet a part of evolution.
During Sri Krishna’s appearance in the 8th Manifestation, some 6000 years ago, (image below) all was a preparation for the ‘birth’ to come in the 9th. The setting for the Mahabarata, which held the highest teaching of that time, was a battlefield, and war was the central theme. Its message, Thea writes, is that
‘a great darkness would befall India (and indeed the entire globe). The Eagle would be replaced by the Scorpion at the end of that Age when, as the Epic describes, relatives, kinsmen turned on each other, compelled by complex cosmic imperatives. There was total devastation from a war that was the mother of all wars. This indicated that India, which was destined to preserve the sacred thread of that long line of Knowledge, would herself fall into darkness because after the 8th Manifestation the luminous Child would be born in the 9th. Indeed, the darkest hour before the Cosmic Dawn…’ (Thea, September Trilogy, plus One )
And it did happen – India fell into darkness and lost the cosmic Script which focused on the sacred place of our Earth in the Divine Scheme. Because the great ‘birth’ was to take place in India in the 9th manifestation, the cosmic foundation had to survive in some way; so the ‘pagan’ system found its way into the great Myths welling up from the soul of the nation.
This long period of darkness, or ‘Deep Sleep’ as Thea calls it, served a purpose: the new manifestation could not be based on ‘fragments’ of lost knowledge. It was to be a new birth, not a transformation of the old earth, as the Mother told her disciples when she spoke of the new Supramental stage of evolution. The ‘churning’ that took place during the long period of time known as our 8th Manifestation, served as a ‘womb’, a time of gestation. India is meant to rise as the Centre of the new world order, as a representative ‘soul’ of the Earth, the guide for all other nations.
During the long 6000 year ‘deep sleep’ there accumulated ‘encumbrances’, Thea continues. The old ‘order’ needs to be shed in order for the new to fully rise, and this is what we witness now throughout the globe. Can anyone ever forget the image (left) of the collapsing Twin Towers of the World Trade System in New York City on 11 September, 2001? The date and the images are imprinted in the collective psyche. ‘Succinctly’, Thea writes: ‘it was the end of the binary system’ (ibid).
Thea describes a nine month yogic process (‘an act of centering and realignment’) which she undertook during 1983/84. It introduced a new balance into creation, ‘as if the Earth’s subtle axis had been shifted’; it set in motion an undermining of the old world which is all creation on the earth has ever known for thousands of years. The human race, at this level of evolution, bears all the limitations that come with a polarity that Thea calls ‘a binary construct’, i.e., there is a void at the centre of the being; and the ego with its sex centre and its atavistic drives takes command in place of the soul and its ‘higher purpose’. Examples of this ‘ego-centrism’ are all around us, we are indeed a binary society born of a binary consciousness.
There is to be a ‘new way’ going forward: mankind is no longer confined to a binary pole of tension, that is, ‘the purpose of the species has changed – a unitary component has been introduced with a Divine Purpose at its core’ (ibid).
Soon after, events on the world scene confirmed that Thea’s yoga of ‘centering and realignment’ of l983/84 had an effect: the collapse of the USSR and dismantling of the Berlin Wall, in 1989 (i.e. collapse of one of the binary superpowers which had been in place for some time between Russia and the USA). And in 2001, with the collapse of the Twin Towers, our world will never be the same again.
Thea notes that ‘the symbol is the thing symbolized’, i.e. the vertical structure of these towers corresponds to the hieroglyph of the astrological symbol of Gemini (image right), which represents the mind or mental creation in the evolutionary journey. In her words:
‘Indeed, the Binary Structure has collapsed just as the Twin Towers indicated. That image of collapse and vaporisation will be forever engraved in the consciousness of humanity and will be known someday for what it was: the collapse of the old under the aegis of an impeccable power of control. In other words, a contained area within the One Field, at the heart of the old binary system. They were indeed symbols of America’s economic might whose devastating and almost instant collapse revealed the fragility of the old balance…’ (ibid)
There is a new ‘Kurushektra’ unfolding now, and the Avatar of this 9th Manifestation, the Great God, Mahakal, or the Time-spirit, is fully in control of the Churning. His weapon relies solely on Gnosis. Thea asks her students to consider the meaning of Sri Aurobindo’s 76th Aphorism: Europe prides herself on her practical and scientific organisation and efficiency. I am waiting till her organisation is perfect; then a child shall destroy her.’
Related Books: The Power Of One
References: The Power Of One
‘…From time immemorial civilisation on the subcontinent evolved on the backdrop of a unique pattern which made sense of many aspects of collective and individual life in India. In fact, it was unthinkable that a society could successfully evolve without such a pattern. And indeed it still exists. Its persistence lies at the heart of what is known as the Sanatana Dharma – the eternal Way, the eternal Truth.
‘…Myth is the language of the soul across the globe and across the ages. But nowhere has it survived to the degree that we find in the subcontinent. Myth is alive and well in India – much to the chagrin of the secular scientist; and it is precisely myth that provides the method for updating Puranic Cosmology. This cosmology allows myth to be applicable; or better, cosmology is the application of myth. Consequently, if we wish to engage in any renewal or re-establishment of the Tradition, the methodology would have to be the same.’
‘…there is a great advantage offered to us by the vision Puranic Cosmology provides. This is a vision of Order, Oneness, Unity. Be that as it may, this gift Tradition has bequeathed to humanity is useless without an updating that can allow it to be a truly applicable guide in this trying passage to a new world order.’
‘…If this exercise of updating is to succeed, obviously the focal point of the Tradition must find its place in this process. But this becomes complicated today given the loss of ‘the soul of knowledge’. The question is how do we retrieve that Soul, now submerged in the Ocean of Pisces as a legacy of the Age we left behind in 1926? Bear in mind, this is not a condition limited to the subcontinent. The Piscean Flood covered the entire globe with Truth ever present but increasingly difficult to ‘retrieve’ the higher the ‘waters’ reached. The experience today demands that we peal off the layers covering Truth…’
‘Kurma, the avatar as Tortoise, is one of the most significant stages in what Sri Aurobindo has referred to as ‘a parable of evolution’. This second appearance is not just evolutiony per se. He comes to make Order out of Chaos, the Cosmic Order. Kurma Avatar initiates the quest for the Nectar of Immortality for which the churning is required; its various stages describe with great exactitude just how order finally emerges out of a primordial Chaos.‘
Here is a striking image; it is entitled Bhugola Brahmanda with the Universe and the Nine Envelopes. True to the then prevailing concept, verticality is emphasised by the central axis resting on Kurma, with the universal planes connected to this pole, similar to most extant representations of Mt Meru. Lacking the defined horizontal spread, an important feature of the Churning process is left out – that is, its dynamic character which constitutes the very essence of the Myth. ‘
Thea, The Evolutionary Avatar in the Cosmic Harmony and its Contemporary Vedic Culture, The Vishaal Newsletter, volume 8, No 2, June 1993.
‘…But was there ever any such thing as a Big Bang? According to the myth creation did not come into being by anything of the sort, and especially not through any process of collapse of energy. It was simply the emergence of an axis and then the conspiracy to set that ‘churning’.
Science must then ask what the nature of an axis is and what are its origins. We are of course aware that macrocosmic bodies do indeed possess axes and that they ‘churn away’ around their fixed poles. But how did this come into being in the first place? ..’
Thea analyses ‘the state of the world according to the New Way Cosmology, in view of the events of 11 September 2001’. The area that was destroyed at that time, The Twin Towers in New York City, came to be called ‘Ground Zero’. She writes: ‘…we are presented ‘with the distinct image of containment. It was as if from the 0 centre a tight circumference was drawn and the power unleashed was not permitted to go beyond that demarcation…’
‘… we find that axial alignment, or indeed the coming into being of an axis in the first place, is the principal feature of the cosmic manifestation. This is to be verified in smaller cosmic bodies such as the planets, and in larger, i.e., the Sun. It is also the distinguishing feature of the very centre of our galaxy and indeed the supreme centre of all galaxies, in fact, wherever we find bodies in orbit of a central mass. This is simply because Skambha, that One, is the great secret of creation, the centremost principle of all that exists.
Thea, Cosmic Harmonies in Hindu Civilisation, The Vishaal Newsletter, volume 5, No 6, February 1991.
‘The Line (of evolutionary avatars) consists of ten… Although they are a string of births stretched over many millennia, it is one process with one finality: the establishment of the reign of Truth, or the Golden Age. In Hinduism it is known as the Satya Yuga. Each Avatar has added a portion to the mosaic. Sri Aurobindo has carefully explained this in his writings on the Ten Avatars… (He states) that Kalki (The Last) would come “to correct the error of the Buddha”.’