Recently, a puranic conundrum came to mind- the one depicting how the Krishna Avatar and His parallel "brother" avatar, Shree Balarama, went to the summit of, and jumped off of, an 88 mile high mountain (nothing less). Now, the highest mountain in the solar system is only 15 miles high- it is Olympus Mons, on Mars. So either the Puranas are in error, or else we have to come up with an explanation which does not easily come to mind.
As follows is the link to the relevant narration in the form of a summary from Krishna Book, by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, Prabhupada:
The reader may scroll down to the paragraph beginning with "After traversing a very long distance ....", then at the bottom of that paragraph, the reader will find that it says: "Krsna and Balarama jumped from the top of the mountain down to the ground--a distance of eighty-eight miles."
In spite of the preposterous nature of an 88 mile, top-to-bottom geological feature, this narration´s claim should not be simply brushed aside. The Puranas were written in a complex and sophisticated language, Sanskrit, by a culture which was developed in terms of mathematics and astronomy; and which had a developed calendar system. So why would foolish tales be included in the historical narrations of this culture?
When the British first translated the puranic narrations, they also had to confront this claim and others which seemed equally flabbergasting, such as claims of guided arrows which followed their prey; all kinds of flying vehicles, even with the abrupt performance characteristics of UFOs; weapons activated by mantras; and much, much more.
The point has been made before that many of these phenomena actually came into existence. The world has seen, for example, the appearance of guided missiles, UFOs, and voice-activated weapons. So again, we do not want to carelessly dismiss the more fantastic side of the puranic narrations.
To tell the truth, this 88 mile, top-to-bottom geological jump is probably the hardest, singular claim in all the Vedic literature to justify, bar none. All of the fantastic activities and pastimes attributed to Vishnu Tattva and the demigods can simply be justified by the fact that they are exactly that- Vishnu Tattva and the demigods. There is even scope for explaining the fantastic life spans mentioned in the Puranas. First of all, by way of a negative justification, there is no way of gathering direct experience of human society on our planet during prior yugas, so how can one deny, or even confirm, the reported life spans? Conditions on the planet were presented as having been different because of kala, planetary influence, and a cloud mantle which protected the surface of the planet from the more harmful rays of the Sun. Even the Old Testament tells of a flood, which is analogous to the falling of the cloud mantle; and it tells of a span at that time of 960 years for Noah, and something similar for several prominent figures of that time.
But how do we justify the description of an 88 mile high geological feature, which supposedly existed on this planet only 5,000 years ago, according to the narration? After all, we don´t know of such a mountain, and in modern times, we can verify every geological feature on the surface of this planet, especially with the help of satellite viewing.
Or can we? Because definite comments are made in the Puranas about the existence of an inner world. In fact, the inner world provides the setting, and is involved with the story lines, of several puranic narrations- it is not just that some word crops up without a context. For example, in Chapter 52 of the Brahmanda Purana, which narrates the story of the Sons of Sagara, we find:
39-43. " At the behest of their father they took the horse and made it wander over the entire earth. … Then those princes reached the lower ground surface of the salt ocean wherein there was no water. With great delight they encircled the horse and entered the interior of the earth. “
Note: The ocean mentioned must be the Arctic Ocean. In the Bhagavat Purana, it is stated that the Sons of Sagara went in a Northeastern direction in order to find this ocean. The only ocean in a Northeastern direction from India is the Arctic Ocean.
And then we have comments from Shree Krishna to King Yudhistir
"You are fit
in every way to perform the Rajasuya sacrifice and
become the world emperor, but you will first have to overthrow the
powerful Jarasandha, who has formed a near invincible alliance with
numerous other monarchs. He has extended his influence and control
throughout the middle portion of the Earth and designs on the rest.
He is the biggest stumbling block to your plans."
the Mahabharata, abridged version by Krishna
Dharma, Torchlight Publishing. 1999, ch. 16, p. 164.
The narration of the Kalki Avatar also takes place in the hollow earth, in the city of Shamballa, which is still present in the collective memory of both the Hindus and Tibetans- a city in the hollow earth. The Bhagavat Purana does not go into much detail on this narration, but other puranas tell that at the end of the Kali Yuga, the Kalki Avatar will procede to the surface of the Earth and annihilate the miscreants, and that the outer surface will again be colonized by inner earth inhabitants as the satva yuga dawns.
The Krishna Book summary does not exactly tell the reader where the Two Divine Brothers went to, nor does the narration of the Bhagavat Purana, from which the Krishna book is derived. The translated texts only tell that "After traversing a very long distance …” What if They traversed into the hollow world? This brevity is not at all unusual for the Bhagavat Purana. This purana is rather brief with most of the descriptions of Vishnu Tattva pastimes, except for the rasa lila/divine love pastimes. For example, the Bhagavat Purana describes the pastime involving the Sons of Sagara in about three verses, while the Brahmanda Purana dedicates three chapters. This leaves the door wide open for the Transcendental Brothers to have traveled to the inner world, i.e., for the pastime to have taken place there.
Perhaps, then, there really is scope for such a mountain on the surface of the Earth, the idea being that the mountain exists on the inner surface of the Earth, and that this, in turn, becomes indicative of where the pastime took place.
Evidence from the Puranas may be enough for dyed-in-the wool followers of Vedic culture, but what about most other people? For most other people, the idea of presenting Vedic authority in order to justify an 88 mile high geological feature in the hollow earth backfires, and only inclines people to dismiss the validity of the Vedic literature and the Hollow Earth Theory together.
Mother Nature´s own recipe, however, may appeal to the mind of the average citizen in the sense that geodes are analogous to hollow planets. The alternative geologist Neal Adams develops this idea in his paper entitled Dear Geologists:
A brief reading will allow the reader to absorb his entire idea. In short, though, Neal asks: “What if I told you that a geode was a model for the Earth, all planets, moons and even suns?”
At the end of his paper, he makes one last interesting point that we will latch onto: “Rocks don't have skins do they? Earth and all planets, moons and suns have skins, don't they? A skin, just like a geode”.
Let´s examine Neal´s logic, his analogy, in depth.
The proportional difference between the surface relief of a geode and the geode´s inner-surface relief is huge. The outer surface of a geode is comparable to sandpaper, while the inner surface is comparable to (and composed of) jagged crystals. However, if this difference is any indication, it allows us to accept the possibility, even the probability, of huge mountains hanging down from the inner surface of the hollow earth, almost like stalactites. They would only seem out of proportion to us surface dwellers because we are conditioned by our experience, or lack of it.
The outer surface of a geode is quite smooth when compared with the sharp points of the crystals which jut out from the inner surface of the geode. And the Earth? The inner surface must have much sharper mountainous regions when compared with the outer surface, which is more exposed and more subject to the erosive effects of turbulent climates and forces of nature. Our mountain chains may seem like merely hilly regions when compared to the mountains of the inner earth.
As surprising as it may seem, geodes vindicate the Hollow Earth Theory, which vindicate the Puranic version, or perhaps it is vice-versa. One thing is for sure, though- the inner nature of geodes certainly offer justification for the amazing jump taken by Shree Krishna and Balarama.
Maricha and Other Shapeshifters