What would you say if I were to tell you that an ancient text contained the most advanced findings of modern astrophysics? In this section, we will explore the ancient Sanskrit texts known as Puranas. In these texts, we will discover stunningly accurate scientific data regarding the origin and evolution of the Sun.
The Age of the Sun
The consensus among modern astrophysicists is that our Solar System formed from a “proto-Solar” molecular cloud consisting mostly of hydrogen and helium with a small admixture of heavier elements. The process started with the collapse of a region of the proto-Solar molecular cloud. A major part of this region’s mass became gravitationally concentrated at the center, forming the “proto-sun,” while the rest flattened out, by rotation, into a compressed disk of gas and dust, which kept rotating due to conservation of angular momentum. Subsequent gravitational evolution of the disk created the Solar System, which consists of the planets with their satellites, as well as asteroids and comets.
Although this general scenario was known for centuries to Western scientists, the mechanism of solar energy generation was a major enigma confronting the western scientists until the year 1938. Moreover, an accurate value for the age of the Sun was unknown until the 1950s. The stunning truth I reveal here is that the latest scientific value for the age of the Sun is recorded in the Puranas, which were written thousands of years ago.
The View of Modern Science
In the 19th century, Western scientists had no idea how old the Solar System is. In the year 1903, the British physicist Ernest Rutherford was the first person to propose that rocks could be dated by comparing the ratios of radioactive isotopes. Thus, the year 1903 marks the advent of radiometric dating. However, five decades of arduous technological development was required before radiometric dating became accurate enough to obtain an age of 4500 million years for the oldest meteorites in the Solar System. Thus, the mid 1950s was the first time at which scientists were able to obtain a fairly accurate value for the age of the Solar System. It took scientists another 50 years to obtain the precise value of 4567 million years (see the above diagram). It is very easy to remember because it is a simple progression 4 – 5 – 6 – 7.
The View of the Puranas
In contrast with modern scientific view the processes of Solar creation and disintegration are orchestrated by a person, named Brahma. The authors of the Puranas do not deny the findings and mechanisms of modern science; rather, they supplement these mechanisms with personal control. The concept of invoking personal control in the process of solar creation is so radical that we would be laughed out of the classroom were it not for the fact that the Puranic date for the age of the Sun is within 0.1% of the modern scientific value.
Let me give you a simple example to help illustrate this point: When describing the process of baking a cake, one could describe the thermodynamics of an oven acting upon certain raw ingredients for a specified length of time. While this is certainly true, it neglects a very important aspect of the overall process, namely the fact that a person deliberately puts certain ingredients into the baking tray and deliberately set the oven temperature at a specific value designed to bake a cake properly. In a similar way, the Puranas do not deny the physical forces and mechanisms identified by modern science for the formation of the solar system but they add an additional significant element in recognizing that personal control is also involved.
According to the Purāṇas, at the end of each Day of Brahmā, the Sun expands in size, thereby destroying all life on Earth and, thereafter, the Solar System disintegrates. Brahma is a superhuman being in charge of our Solar System. Then, during each of Brahmā’s Nights, there is no activity. Brahmā, near the end of each of his Nights, reconstructs the Solar System. Brahmā partially reconstructs the Brahmāṇḍa and its inhabitants every Day of his life. In this context, the word partial means that Brahmā reconstructs the portion of the Brahmāṇḍa that is destroyed at the end of his Day. In Purāṇic cosmology, there are six lokas situated above the plane of Bhū loka or Bhū-maṇḍala: Bhūvaḥ, Svaḥ, Mahaḥ, Janaḥ, Tapaḥ, and Satya. Of these six, the first three and Bhū loka are destroyed at the end of the Day of Brahmā (Vāyu Purāṇa 2.38.160) and are reconstructed at the beginning of the next Day of Brahmā (Vāyu Purāṇa 1.8.16).
As discussed in Chapter 3 of my book, each Day of Brahmā has the duration of a Kalpa, which includes 14 Manvantaras and 15 Saṃdhyās. The period of time between the Night and the Day of Brahmā is called the Pratisaṃdhi, which equals a Manvantara in duration. Since Brahmā feels the urge to reconstruct the Solar System at the end of his Night, the reconstruction starts at the beginning of the Pratisaṃdhi.
Since we are now in the 28th Kali Yuga of the 7th Manvantara, which means that 244.512 million years have elapsed since the end of the 6th Manvantara. Since, a Pratisaṃdhi equals one Manvantara in duration, seven Manvantaras and an additional 244.512 million years have elapsed since the last time Brahmā reconstructed the Solar System. Each Manvantara is accompanied by its Manvantara-Saṃdhyā. A Manvantara plus its Saṃdhyā equals 616.896 million Solar years. Multiplying 616.896 by 7 equals 4318.272, to which we must add an additional 244.512, which yields 4562.784 million years.
Thus, according to the Purāṇas, the last time Brahmā reconstructed the Solar System was 4562.784 million years ago, which was at the end of his most recent Night. This value is remarkably close to the modern scientific value of 4567 million years ago, which was only discovered after a lengthy period of arduous technological development.
The Future of the Earth
According to Modern Science
According to modern science, the Sun’s energy output will increase in the future to such an extent that it will evaporate all the oceans and extinguish all life on Earth. This prediction for the Earth has been consistently maintained over the last half-century. In the year 2015, astrophysicist Rene Heller of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research wrote: “In general, the habitable zone of a star is the distance range in which an Earth-like planet would have the ability to sustain liquid surface water – the essential ingredient to make a world habitable. As time goes by (see panel titles), the Solar luminosity and radius increase, and so the Solar habitable zone moves away from the Sun. In about 1.75 billion years, the Earth will leave the habitable zone and become a desiccated giant rock” (Heller, 2015). All modern scientists agree that the Earth will become a desiccated giant rock, but they disagree regarding the time at which this will occur in the future. Some researchers, including Professor Normal Sleep and colleagues at Stanford University, suggest that this will occur in 5 billion years (Abe et al, 2011) instead of 1.75 billion years, as predicted by Heller.
According to the Puranas
The Vāyu Purāṇa states that, as the end of the Day of Brahmā approaches, greatly amplified Solar radiation will evaporate all water remaining on the surface of the Earth, thereby destroying all life on Earth, including small life forms (possibly insects and microbes). Subsequently, the surface of the Earth will melt.
aharante prakurute sargasya pralayaṃ punaḥ /
suṣupsurbhagavān brahmā prajāḥ saṃharate tadā //
Again, at the end of Brahmā’s Day, there is disintegration. At that time, Brahmā feels the desire to sleep, and he destroys all living entities (Vāyu Purāṇa 2.38.135).
tadā bhavatyanāvṛṣṭiḥ tadā sā śatavārṣikī /
tathā yānyalpasārāṇi sattvāni pṛthivītale //
tānyevāch pralīyante bhūmitvamupayānti ca /
saptaraśmiratho bhūtvā udattiṣṭhadvibhāvasuḥ //
Then, a hundred-year drought occurs. Thereafter, whatever small living entities still survive on the surface of the Earth, having become very weak, die and merge into the Earth. Then, seven types of Solar radiation increase (Vāyu Purāṇa 2.38.137-138).
asahyaraśmirbhagavānpibatyaṃbho ganastibhiḥ /
haritā raśmayastasya dīpyamānāstu saptabhiḥ //
The unbearable rays of the Sun evaporate whatever water remains on the surface of the Earth. Out of the seven bright rays, those of yellow-green color are the most prominent (Vāyu Purāṇa 2.38.139).
bhūya eva vivarttante vyāpnuvanto ‘mbaraṃ śanaiḥ /
bhaumaṃ kāṣṭhe dhanaṃ tejo bhṛśamadbhistu dīpyate //
The intensity of the Sun’s rays, which are spread all over the sky, gradually increase. Fire, which is the essence of wood, consumes the Earth, making it glow (Vāyu Purāṇa 2.38.140).
The Viṣṇu, Brahmāṇḍa, Kūrma and other Purāṇas contain essentially the same description of this cataclysm. According to the Purāṇas, life on Earth will end 4690.656 million years from now, and the Solar System will be completely disintegrated 5307.552 million years from now.
From this we see that all the models of modern science qualitatively agree with the Purāṇic account of the future demise of life on Earth, and one of these models agrees with it quantitatively. Regarding quantitative prediction, the Purāṇas predict that life will remain on Earth for the next 4.69 billion years. It will be interesting to see if, in the future, Western scientists unanimously reach the conclusion that life on Earth will persist for the next 4.69 billion years.