Recently Dr. Nagaraj Patauri, Indic Academy had a conversation with Ganesh Swaminathan author of upcoming book “From the Beginning of Time”. In this book, Swaminathan explores the universe of the Puranas in five parts—sun, moon, earth, the heavens (planets and stars), and the netherworlds. For each of these five parts, as many references as possible are taken from each of the Puranas. The account constructed for each component incorporates the vast majority of references to it. The narrative that emerges is tested in a couple of ways.
The first test is to see if the narrative constructed is close to the current scientific framework. Many are, as this book will reveal. The narrative is built as close to the current scientific context as an interpretation of the texts will allow. Any differences are allowed to stand. This book, therefore, presents three separate narratives. The first view is informed by science and the second, as inferred from the texts. Often the two are not very different from each other. The third, of course, is the Puranic story, such as the sun’s marriage; that in itself makes for absorbing reading.
The second test is to confirm if the narrative constructed is internally consistent. The account developed should be coherent, representing a plausible sequence of events. For example, the sun’s story covers all the stages of the lifecycle of a star in a clear and concise narrative. The third is to see if the description developed for one part works well with those for the other parts.
Swaminathan is an engineer from IIT Delhi. He has had an interest in space science ever since he was in school. After completing his MBA from IIM Ahmedabad, he spent most of his professional life in a multinational organization in the field of technology.
About eight years ago, Ganesh developed an interest in the Puranas. He was fascinated by the insights the ancient text offered, particularly the parallels to space science. He has researched most of the Mahapuranas, besides other texts, in preparation for writing this book.
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