The Posturing of Milky Way in Hindu Culture

By Bishal Neupane posted 08-08-2023 22:57

In the Bhagavada Purana, a collection of Hindu narratives, the celestial bodies moving through space are metaphorically compared to a dolphin swimming through water. This allegory illustrates how gracefully human culture embraced the universe.

It is temple located in  South Deccan plateau, currently the region of Karnataka, between the 11th to 14th century. Photographer Pratap J captured this breath taking picture of Milky Way galaxy over the Temple.
Image Credit: Pratap J

Referred to as the "śiśumãra cakra," or the Leviathan disc, this concept encapsulates the notion of a cosmic cetacean traversing the celestial oceans. This imaginative metaphor is driven by the contemplation on the macrostructure of the cosmos, that came from the same sense of wonder and connectedness with the universe. 
Additionally, the Milky Way assumes a symbolic role as the "Akasaganga" - the Ganges River of the Sky. Just as the Ganges River holds deep spiritual significance for Hindus, the Milky Way represents for Hindus, a channel of transcendence, interlinking the celestial realms. This association further underscores the intricate fusion of careful observation and human nature to make sense of things, offering a unique perspective on the celestial wonders that grace our night skies, as this arises from same urgency to understand universe that surrounds.