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Prabhupāda translates the Sanskrit word bhūgolam in verse 5.25.12 of Bhāgavata Purāṇa as the universe. Should it be earth instead? Or does the word (bhūgolam) in this context suggest a universe with earth as its center (geocentrism)?

SB 5.25.12

mūrdhany arpitam aṇuvat sahasra-mūrdhno
bhū-golaṁ sagiri-sarit-samudra-sattvam
ānantyād animita-vikramasya bhūmnaḥ
ko vīryāṇy adhi gaṇayet sahasra-jihvaḥ

Synonyms:

mūrdhani — on a hood or head; arpitam — fixed; aṇu-vat — just like an atom; sahasra-mūrdhnaḥ — of Ananta, who has thousands of hoods; bhū-golam — this universe; sa-giri-sarit-samudra-sattvam — with many mountains, trees, oceans and living entities; ānantyāt — due to being unlimited; animita-vikramasya — whose power is immeasurable; bhūmnaḥ — the Supreme Lord; kaḥ — who; vīryāṇi — potencies; adhi — indeed; gaṇayet — can count; sahasra-jihvaḥ — although having thousands of tongues.

Translation:

Because the Lord is unlimited, no one can estimate His power. This entire universe, filled with its many great mountains, rivers, oceans, trees and living entities, is resting just like an atom on one of His many thousands of hoods. Is there anyone, even with thousands of tongues, who can describe His glories?

  • It means universe as Adisesha holds all the material lokas on his hood. – Chinmay Sarupria Sep 24 '18 at 17:33
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    'great mountains, rivers, oceans, trees and living entities' - these are all features of earth? @ChinmaySarupria – sv. Sep 24 '18 at 18:08
  • They are most certainly present on other lokas as well. – Chinmay Sarupria Sep 24 '18 at 18:40
  • It's neither universe nor earth. Prabhupada believed the earth is just bharatvarsha and there are other varshas within the same continent Jambudwipa as well. All the 7 continents together comprises the Bhugola. The Earth is just a small country within continent Jambudwipa. So there is nothing correspond to bhugola in cosmology. It's neither earth nor universe. – Mr. Sigma. Sep 26 '18 at 5:43
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It is wrongly translated. Traditional translators are often not scientific and rigorous.

Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary, 1899 lists only earth-related senses. Note that it even cites BhP = Bhagavata Purana as one of the texts with this occurrence!

bhūgola: m. ‘earth-ball’, the terrestrial globe, earth, Kāv. ; Pañcar. ; BhP.

  • Can you elaborate more about this citation? Does Bhugola appear only once in the Bhagavata Purana? Is this the only verse? For answering guidelines on our site, See Guidelines for new users answering questions. – Sarvabhouma Sep 25 '18 at 5:01
  • @Sarvabhouma: I cited only the dictionary entry (which in truns simply cites BhP.) and not the Bhavata Purana entry. So there are no pending clarifications here. – Periannan Chandrasekaran Sep 25 '18 at 14:08
  • There are many verses in the Bhagavatam which have the word Bhu golam. See YDS's answer. How are you so sure that the verse here is the same as the one quoted in the answer? OP is specific about the translation of 5.25.12 – Sarvabhouma Sep 25 '18 at 16:37
  • Thanks for your answer but I'm also looking for the context in which it was used. Simply looking up in the dictionary doesn't clarify that. – sv. Sep 25 '18 at 19:42
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Earth or BhuMandal (भूमंडल) seems to be fit in this context rather than entire universe:

  1. Similar verses are there in Devi Bhagvatam: Skandha 8: Chapter 21 too:

मूर्धन्यर्पितमणुवत्सहस्रमूर्ध्नो

भूगोलं सगिरिसरित्समुद्रसत्त्वम् ।

आनन्त्यादनमितविक्रमस्य भूम्नः

को वीर्याण्यधिगणयेत्सहस्रजिह्वः ॥ ५ ॥

एवंप्रभावो भगवाननन्तो

दुरन्तवीर्योरुगुणानुभावः ।

मूले रसायाः स्थित आत्मतन्त्रो

यो लीलया क्ष्मां स्थितये बिभर्ति ॥ ६ ॥

He is upholding the earth with the mountains, oceans, rivers and all the beings as if an atom on his thousand heads. He is infinite. His power knows no decrease in any time. No one can describe his actions even if one had thousand tongues to speak.

He is of an infinite strength, of the endless high qualities and of unlimited understanding. Thus staying at the bottom of the earth, the Bhagavân Ananta Deva is upholding with ease this earth for her protection, unaided and independent. ~English translation from sacred-texts

  1. As explained here, Prabhupäda himself explained the term Bhügola as below:

Bhügola, the earth is round

Bhü-gola. Bhü means the earth; gola means round.

  1. Dictionary meaning of Bhügola from spokensanskrit :

earth or earth-ball or terrestrial globe or planet earth

  1. Other Translation for 5.25.12-13

After adding 5.25.13 (to have more context), below is the traslation by vedabase (refered in the Question)

SB 5.25.12 — Because the Lord is unlimited, no one can estimate His power. This entire universe, filled with its many great mountains, rivers, oceans, trees and living entities, is resting just like an atom on one of His many thousands of hoods. Is there anyone, even with thousands of tongues, who can describe His glories?

SB 5.25.13 — There is no end to the great and glorious qualities of that powerful Lord Anantadeva. Indeed, His prowess is unlimited. Though self-sufficient, He Himself is the support of everything. He resides beneath the lower planetary systems and easily sustains the entire universe.

And this is how these verses are traslated by others:

By Gita Press

Who can (hope to) exhaust by counting, even if endowed with a thousand tongues, the (list of) exploits of that infinite Lord, whose prowess cannot at all be measured because of its unlimited nature, and on whose (one) head has been placed (by Him of His own free will) the terrestrial globe—with (all its) mountains, rivers, oceans and (numberless) living beings like a (mere) atom, while He is possessed of a thousand (such) heads? (12)

Such is the glory of Lord Ananta, possessed of infinite strength and numberless virtues and potencies, who supports the earth (on one of His heads) as a (mere) sport (without any effort) for the maintenance of the entire creation, residing below the earth. Himself supported by ( none but) His own Self." (13)

By Motilal

  1. On one of the heads of the thousand-headed Lord lies like an atom, the terrestrial globe with all its mountains, rivers, seas and the living beings (inhabiting it) , owing to the infiniteness of the immeasurable and innumerable exploits of the Almighty Lord, who can, even if endowed with a thousand tongues, hope to count completely all his herioc acts ?

  2. Of such prowess is the glorious Lord Ananta. His energy and excellent attributes and potencies are limitless. Unsupported by anyone else, he stays at the bottom of the earth bearing it easily for the preservation and wellbeing of the entire creation.


Footnotes: Bhagavatam's other verses such as 5.25.2, 5.20.38 and 5.16.4 etc. are related verses to understand this in more clarity.

  • "Earth or BhuMandal (भूमंडल) seems to be fit in this context rather than entire universe" - why does earth fit the context more than universe? Can you add some more explanation in your own words to support that statement? 'an atom on his thousand heads' - this might be the key? – sv. Sep 25 '18 at 22:25
  • @sv. I hv already added 4 points to support that statement... :) If u read complete answer and then check other verses mentioned in footnotes from all 3 translation sources then I think it would be clear that it's translation issue and Earth or Bhumandal is the right term here... – YDS Sep 26 '18 at 3:08
  • I see a few alternate translations in your answer but you don't explain in your own words why earth is more apt. You are asking me to figure out how you arrived at the conclusion. Alternate translations/references themselves are no good, you need to explain why they are correct. This is missing in your answer. – sv. Sep 26 '18 at 18:11

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