A priori knowledge defies reason
Posted June 18, 2005
I can only speak for myself and, in this case, Srila Prabhupada.
Srila Prabhupada always accepted what he read in the sastra as the Absolute Truth. In 1975, when he was translating the 5th Canto in Australia, he called Parmahansa and myself into the room and said, "Now I am convinced we never went to the moon."
He told us the reason he was 'convinced' was that, while he was translating that early morning, he read how the moon was further away from us than the sun. As soon as he saw clear evidence in the Bhagavatam, he was satisfied with the conclusion. He didn't care that modern scientists had proof that could refute it.
"Our knowledge should be through the sastra. That is practical. And our process of knowledge is this: we get knowledge from sastra, like Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Vedic knowledge. We do not claim to be very big scientists. That is not possible. But we get knowledge from the best scientific man or person, the Personality of Godhead, Krsna, Vyasadeva, Narada, Asita, Devala, later on the acaryas, Ramanujacarya, Madhvacarya, Sankaracarya, Caitanya.
"Our process of knowledge is not any speculation: "It may be," "Perhaps." No. We don't accept this knowledge. "It may be," "Perhaps" -- these are all foolishness. That means one who has no perfect knowledge, he will say, "It may be," "Perhaps." One who has definite knowledge, why he will say, "It may be"? It must be.
"So far as we get information from Srimad-Bhagavatam, there is sun, then moon, according to Bhagavatam. We were talking about these things: whether the moon is the first planet or the sun is the first planet. So far as we understand from Vedic literature, the moon is the second planet. The sun is the first planet.
"If we consider like that, then the moon is beyond the sun planet. The estimation is there in the Srimad-Bhagavatam:1,600,000 miles above the sun, the moon is situated. Now, if we take consideration of the sun planet situated 93,000,000 miles from earth, then add 1,600,000 miles again, it comes to 95,000,000 miles away from the earthly planet. And how you can reach there in four days, 95,000,000 miles away? If we apply our common sense, then it appears they have never gone to the moon planet. It is all bogus propaganda. It is not possible."
(Lecture, Nov. 28, 1975)
Only a few days earlier he had asked me what the scientists would say when asked, "How can you know who your father is except by asking your mother?" When I responded they might say, "You have to accept your mother is telling the truth." He yelled loudly, "If you don't believe the sastra, what are you doing here?"
How does one decide which are stories and which are real? Based on the scientist? Did Krishna lift Govardhana Hill? Did Lord Nrsimhadeva appear from a pillar? During the same visit to Australia, Srila Prabhupada told a devotee that if he didn't understand something in the sastra, he should focus on the parts he could accept.
The following are Srila Prabhupada's words:
"There are many invisible planets and stars. For example, when the Rahu planet passes before the sun and moon, there is an eclipse. But the scientists describe an eclipse differently. Actually, the Rahu planet causes an eclipse. There are many questionable points regarding the modern scientists' theory of the eclipse. Their explanation is incorrect according to Vedic information.
"They say that science proves everything. But that is nonsense. The scientist has proved everything except what he is. That he does not know. And why does he die? That also he does not know. That is the extent of his knowledge.
(Morning Walk Dec. 10, 1973)
Thirty years later I am convinced that if you want to know who your
father is, you have ask your mother and you can only understand
Krishna through the eyes of the sastra and the pure devotee.