A world where God's word carries more weight than Dr. Frog's latest speculations - that is the domain of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
It is the late sixties and everyone seems to be in moon consciousness - the reporters, the guests, even the disciples in every temple. Then, we will talk about the moon, and perhaps that will get around to the Vedas, and from there to real talk, talk about God. My message would be the same a billion years from now and a billion years in the past: kRSNas tu bhagavAn svayam. But they want to talk about current events. I must have compassion for their lack of discernment.
For me, the kingdom of God is not fanciful speculation, but a real place of beauty where blissful people enjoy perfection in God's presence. The moon is a real place where people drink soma-rasa and enjoy thousands of years of heightened knowledge and intelligence. Can man somehow get to this moon planet, Candraloka, without performing the necessary austerities and reaching the level of piety that is prescribed in the Vedas by Lord Krsna? No, I don't think so. Ravana couldn't get to heaven like that. So how can these rascals? No, they will never get to the moon planet.
Now they say they have landed on the moon and brought back some dust. They saw nothing there; no people, no soma-rasa, no life. Then, no, they were not on the moon planet. It is not like that.
But where were they ... surely they were somewhere? Rahu? Perhaps they mistakingly went to Rahu and thought they had reached the moon planet. Perhaps they just couldn't see the esoteric forms of the residents of Candraloka - they would be almost invisible to earth eyes? Perhaps they landed in a remote area? Perhaps the moon denizens diverted them with their mystical powers? Perhaps, I hate to say it, but perhaps they are just inventing the whole story to save their jobs and rationalize having spent billions of dollars that could have helped all the needy people on this planet right here? Indeed, if the sun is as far away as they say and we know that the moon is even farther, then they would have to travel twenty million miles a day! Oh my, Dr. Frog, what have you done?
But whatever it was, they definitely did not see the moon planet with its advanced culture.
Hopefully Srila Prabhupada will excuse me for having used this perhaps presumptuous literary vehicle to depict quickly the events surrounding the moon-thing.
My feeling after spending nine hours examining the Folio VedaBASE references to the moon in all the books, lectures, conversations, and letters is that there are three main phases of the moon-thing. Before landing: Srila Prabhupada was about convinced that they could not go to the moon planet because they would not be qualified. After landing and seeing nothing: Srila Prabhupada searched for some rational explanation of how this could have happened. A number of speculative conspiracy theories were advanced by the moon conscious group. The last phase, after the dust had settled: Srila Prabhupada is not sure how or why, but they definitely did not experience the real moon planet. It was all a waste of time.
As a mathematician, I can see that the argument about the distance is not necessarily a good one. That is, we assume firstly that their number for the distance to the sun is correct. Secondly and more importantly, the anomaly that causes them to mismeasure the distance to the moon will also produce a mismeasurement of the speed of the voyage to the moon (likely deviated proportionately).
Dr. Thompson in his book "Cosmography and Vedic Astronomy" has dealt with the moon-thing topic at some length. Some ideas I remember, in addition to that last one which I likely stole from him, is that the distance between the earth and moon may not be that great, when considering different understandings of the planetary descriptions given in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Oh my, were only Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saravati, the great Vedic astronomer, still here. May he shower his blessings on the good Dr. Thompson and his colleagues as they accept the monumental task of presenting Vedic astronomy in the upcoming Vedic Planetarium.
But back to kRSNas tu bhagavAn svayam, which is really what this is all about. Isn't it. Making the best use of a bad bargain, Srila Prabhupada would seize the interest of his audience, use their attachment to the moon-thing to help sustain their interest, and then deliver the prime message. God exists. He is your friend. You have an eternal relationship with Him. That is what life is about. Thank you very much. Hare Krsna.
Please allow me too to make the best use of a bad bargain. KRSNas tu bhagavAn svayam. Compared to knowing the eternal Lord Krsna, the Cause of all that is was and will be, knowing the moon, venus or vulcan in this temporary world is really not very important at all. And that, is logical, Mr. Spock.
The above article was first published in the mid 1990s in the now defunct soc.religion.vaishnava newsgroup. The following are the Bhaktivedanta sources relating to the moon-thing: