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Question about dinosaurs

Q: Did dinosaurs really exist? In which yuga did they live? Is the Earth same after a yuga ends and a new one starts? Is there a destruction?

A: Sure they did. Can you imagine a hoax of such a colossal proportion? Also the lore from all over the world knows about some kind of big animals like dragons, giant sea serpents etc. They are found on all continents. Which yuga is hard to say but in the Bhagavatam there is at least one possible allusion to them (8.10.10-12). There is probably more in other Puranas. During my study of the North American Native lore I found a hint in Ojibwa tribe legends that their predecessors lived together with huge animals which were destroyed by a comet. It seems though all weren't killed since there is evidence that some survived to the Tertiary era, over one million years after the Mexican Gulf asteroid's fall.

Destructions (pralaya) of various dimensions happen regularly, after every maha-yuga, manvantara, kalpa and dvi-parardha (Brahma's life span) and at some special occasions. See SB 8.24 (Matsya-lila). About how Earth changes after each particular pralaya there is not much written in sastra as far as I know. One thing is that the sea level changes over time and after the last glacial era some 12 000 years ago, the sea went several hundred feet up. One example is Lanka of the Ramayana fame, allegedly located some 800 miles south from India, nowadays submerged. Modern Sri Lanka is a different island, historically known as Sinhala, from which came the British name Ceylon.

Q: Srila Prabhupada doubted that dinosaurs ever existed, whereas much evidence is available to at least support the view that dinosaurs did once exist on this planet. He also stated that there was no such thing as 'extinction' of species. Please elucidate.

A: Below you'll find compilation of everything recorded about what Srila Prabhupada said regarding dinosaurs. I will try to comment on it a little bit.

First thing is that he didn't deny their existence. He mentioned that the existence of big forms of animals is recorded in the Vedas (super-eagles - Srimad Bhagavatam 5.23.3, timingila super-whales - SB 8.7.18, 8.10.10-12, 10.1.5-7). SB 8.10.10-12 mentions "big lizards" (whatever they are). In SB 10.64.1-5 Yadu dynasty boys found an amazing (adbhutam) lizard (krkalasa) resembling a hill (giri nibham) fallen into an old well. Since they couldn't lift it out, Krsna had to help them.

In general he didn't consider the matter of their existence or nonexistence very important. He repeatedly stressed that our sense perception is imperfect and that there are many life forms which we don't know about.

This is very true. Humans actually know quite a small portion of the land on this Earth, what to speak of the sea. Every year there are many "new" organisms discovered and some of them are quite big (reptiles, fish, birds, mammals). Just in 20th century there have been discovered many big animals like a species of jungle hog from Vietnam, a species of cat from Ryu-kyu archipelago, a big species of shark from the Hawaii islands, the onza (an animal from Mexico resembling the puma), the giant octopus from the ocean abysses around Bahamas, giant species of calmars etc.

Srila Prabhupada also said that no species of life becomes extinct.

It is important to remember that the Vedic definition of species is different from the modern one. The Vedas mention 8,400,000 species of life and all of them are repeatedly created after every partial or total cosmic devastation. The Vedas also mention that with the progression of time the life forms become smaller.

Regarding the survival of the "living fossils" there is an example of the coelacanth fish (Latimeria) which exactly resembles the rock imprints of the fossil Devonian species etc.

To study the possibility of existence of such animals a group of scientists (mostly biologists) in 80's formed a new scientific discipline called cryptozoology. Their approach is very serious although mainstream media considers this discipline cranky. They meet regularly, organize expeditions and publish the Journal of Cryptozoology in which they discuss the existence of unknown (mainly big) life forms from all over the world whose existence is supported by ancient writings, local lore and both native and non-native witnesses (soldiers, tourists, scientists etc.) There are also many websites dedicated to this field of study. The popularity of this topic grows.

On their "wanted" list there are several species of hominids from all over the world (known locally as yetti, jeren, almas, menk, orang pendek, sasquatch, big foot, mapinguari, agogwe, yowie, etc.), dangerous cats, sometimes larger than lion from the jungles of equatorial Africa (some of them with huge fangs like Tertiary species Smilodon or Homotherium), great species of reptiles or dinosaurs from the oceans and lakes (e.g. Loch Ness in Scotland, Lake Champlain in Canada, etc.) and the jungles (equatorial Africa, South America), flying dinosaurs resembling Pteranodon and other types (Zaire, Southwest USA, Kurupira table mountain in Brazil), megalodon shark and many other.

Because this type of research, if successful, can undermine the official teachings of Darwinian evolution of species, the scientific establishment views it with incredulity and suspicion. Therefore the cryptozoology will probably remain a "marginal" science.

Vaisnava scientists, on the other hand, use this type of evidence to show that the Vedic version of history fits the evidence. The book Forbidden Archaeology by Richard Thompson (Sadaputa Das) and Michael Cremo (Drutakarma Das) from the Bhaktivedanta Institute was a breakthrough in this regard. If you have some questions for our scientists write to Bhaktivedanta Institute.

Room Conversation, Hyderabad, April 14, 1975 (750414rc.hyd)

Devotee: Srila Prabhupada, the other day we were talking about proving different assumptions through archeological findings.
Prabhupada: That is also bogus. Archeological findings is bogus.
Brahmananda: But it seems that big skeletons of all these big dinosaurs...
Prabhupada: That we have already information. We have got timingila. Just like big house. They can swallow up, what is called?
Devotee: Whale. Whale.
Prabhupada: Whale (indistinct).
Tamala Krsna: No but these dinosaurs move on the land. They're not fish. And they're very big and we have information...
Prabhupada: So what is to you? You are also a created being. He's also created being. That's the (indistinct). You are not creator of the (indistinct)
Tamala Krsna: But you say that there was more intelligent life previously, whereas we see these dinosaurs were previously.
Prabhupada: But you do not see, you simply imagine.
Tamala Krsna: No. We have the skeletons.
Devotee: We have the bones, the bones of animals.
Prabhupada: But that's all right. There was a big animal, that's all. Just like you are a foolish animal, so there was a big animal. What is the difference? They are animals.
Tamala Krsna: But we have skeletons showing the men at that time also and their brains were very tiny.
Prabhupada: That you say. But I don't believe it. I have not seen.

Morning Walk, Los Angeles, June 8, 1976

Ramesvara: Srila Prabhupada, I was once told by some devotees that you had said in some previous age of Kali, the dinosaurs, gigantic animals, were on the earth.
Prabhupada: I said?
Ramesvara: They say that you said. (laughs)
Prabhupada: (laughs) I never said. I never bother with these nonsense things.
Ramesvara: They have got so many bones in the museums showing these gigantic animals.
Prabhupada: Not gigantic. There are bones. But that animal is still there, whalefish.
Ramesvara: Whalefish.
Prabhupada: Oh, yes. Very big body.
Ramesvara: Some have become extinct.
Prabhupada: Why they should be extinct?
Hrdayananda: No longer on the earth.
Ramesvara: No longer on this planet.
Prabhupada: (too much noise) Not necessarily. They are within the ocean.
Hari-sauri: No, other animals.
Prabhupada: What other animals?
Ramesvara: Those gigantic, they called them...
Hrdayananda: Brontosaurus.
Ramesvara: Tyrannosaurus.
Gigantic animals, they say are meat-eaters.
Hrdayananda: Dinosaurus.
Hari-sauri: Tetrasaurus.
Prabhupada: Another imagination. These are actual facts.(?)
Hari-sauri: They just made up different compositions of bones and then drew some outlines on them.
Prabhupada: Yes. They are imagination.
Hari-sauri: But you said in Hawaii though that there are some animals that are as big as skyscrapers?
Prabhupada: Yes, these are birds. It is far from this earth though. They travel from one planet to another.
Ramesvara: So these bones that they have found of these gigantic animals, they were all living underneath the water.
Prabhupada: Yes.
Ramesvara: Not on the land.
Prabhupada: Maybe. But the list is there: jalaja nava-laksani. There are 900,000 different forms, and how many we have seen? There is information in the sastra. Pasavas trimsal-laksani. Three million different types of animals.
Hari-sauri: We've seen a few hundred at most.
Prabhupada: That's all. (laughs) That is also doubtful.

Slideshow Discussion, Washington D.C., July 3, 1976

Svarupa Damodara: Do we know that in detail, Srila Prabhupada? What type of species are extinct? Not all the species extinct. As it is during Brahma's day, that partial annihilation, devastation, now some species are extinct?
Prabhupada: No species extinct. What you are reading? This is garbage.(?)
Svarupa Damodara: The physical forms.
Prabhupada: No, nothing is extinct. Everything is going on.
Svarupa Damodara: At that point, they are going to come up with the point that "How about dinosaurs?" They are going to ask like that.
Prabhupada: That is imagination, where is dinosaur finding.
Svarupa Damodara: They say they have all the bones.
Prabhupada: No, they are describing maybe another animal. That is existing. That is Timingila, they can swallow up big, big whale fishes. That big, bones, they are living still. Nothing is extinct. They are already there.
Rupanuga: Did these dinosaurs exist, or is it just their imagination?
Prabhupada: The big animal exists. I call it dinosaur or finosaur, that is your choice. Big animals existing. Timingila, I said the name, Timingila, still exist.
Rupanuga: Still exist.
Prabhupada: Oh, yes. They are always existing. Water elephants. There are elephants in water. Everything.
Rupanuga: So there is no such thing as extinction.
Prabhupada: No extinction, there is no question of extinction.
Rupanuga: If these animals were on this planet some millions of years ago, they are still here, is that correct?
Prabhupada: Yes. What do you know what are there within the water? You can take information from the sastras. It is not possible for you to see and go into the water, how big, big animals are there.
Hari-sauri: But it's possible that an animal may disappear from one planet, but still be on another planet, though, like that.
Prabhupada: No.
Hari-sauri: Because they claim that even within recorded history...
Prabhupada: They claim everything. That is... There is no question.
Svarupa Damodara: (indistinct) fossil, they are called fossil record.
Prabhupada:That is another thing. You can get a dead animal's body, but what is that?
Svarupa Damodara: They claim that many species are extinct.
Prabhupada: How they are extinct?
Hari-sauri: Well, like, they say that within modern history,
Prabhupada: First thing is they are all imperfect speculators. So what is the value of their sport? We don't take any value of it.
Rupanuga: They don't know where these animals are, that's all.
Prabhupada: They, simply like child, they are speculating. If he's
imperfect, then what is the value of his speculation? There is no value.
Svarupa Damodara: But then what happens at the time of partial devastation? At the end of Manu, the partial devastation, what happens to the species?
Prabhupada: Happens means these different ways become destroyed, but again, during creation, they come in.

Morning Walk New York, July 12, 1976

Ramesvara: They are convinced that dinosaurs, these gigantic animals, were living on this planet millions of years ago. They found some bones, and they have created the form of the animal body.
Tamala Krsna: Is it true that there were big dinosaur bodies?
Prabhupada: If they were, it is still now.
Tamala Krsna: Oh, wow.
Prabhupada: We don't say it is extinct.
Tamala Krsna: But you've explained that even if not here then it must be on another planet.
Prabhupada: Yes, another. This planet, what you have seen?
Ramesvara: That's the point, what we have seen about this planet?
Devotee (1): Could still be here. They found one in, where is that? In Ireland? [probably means Loch Ness in Scotland]
Prabhupada: Cannot be extinct, that is not possible.
Devotee (1): In that lake?
Tamala Krsna: But do you think they were on this planet?
Prabhupada: No, no, may be on this planet, but it doesn't matter that it is extinct. You have not seen.
Tamala Krsna: No, that's a fact.
Ramesvara: Their idea is that at that time man was living in the form of half monkey, half man in a cave, and gradually he evolved to become more civilized.
Prabhupada: That is still there. Kinnaras. Kinnaras means it is doubtful whether he is man or monkey.
Tamala Krsna: Wow.
Prabhupada: There is a Kinnara-loka. Kimpurusa. Kinnara. They are still existing. It is not that they are finished.
Hari-sauri: I was reading a magazine when we were on the plane, and it was describing this type of monkey man, that they are being called, they existed in snow wastes.
Prabhupada: Or what is called? The big...?
Tamala Krsna: Orangutan, gorilla.
Prabhupada: Gorilla, they are like men.
Tamala Krsna: Yes, they are. Very much like men. We see them in the zoo.
Prabhupada: They have got their senses like men.
Hari-sauri: There's another species they call the Yetti. They say it exists in the Himalayan regions. But they've not been able to capture one because, uh... But there's been many citings and reportings of it.

Q. Thanks for the mail, it was really interesting. But still I found it very confusing, it seems to me that Srila Prabhupada was contradicting himself (first saying that it's not possible that some species might be extinct here and exist on other planets and then saying that it's possible) and he didn't really answer those questions, but pushed them away and started putting down Western scientists. So my desire to know about it is not yet satisfied.

A: This is a bit difficult issue as there is really not much said in the sastras about the dinos. Sastras, our main reference, are not meant as scientific encyclopedias. Their main point is the spiritual knowledge.

I wouldn't say Srila Prabhupada really contradicted himself - he never said any species becomes extinct. He stressed that the exploration of the Earth is far from being complete so no one can say that some species 'extinct' in one place can't survive in another place (or a planet for that matter). Speaking of planet, from the Puranic point of view the planet (loka) is different from the Western science planet. It is more like a "dimension". See the Planetarium section. It is known that some of the higher beings can travel among these dimensions and this seems to us like appearing and disappearing. Actually there are also accounts of ordinary people mysteriously lost in plain sight or transferred on great distances. They must have stumbled in some sort of portal among the dimensions and found the "shortcut". While Western science does not accept this, Vedic science does.

The nature of these conversation was pretty informal and depended a lot on the context (which disciples were present etc.). SP sometimes sounded harsh to reprimand his disciples to disentangle them from their conditioning. This is the guru's task. The outsiders may consider it improper or dogmatic but they are in a different position as they didn't accept the discipleship. With them SP dealt in a different way.

He many times stressed he is not a scientist and so he didn't feel like getting into these matters too much ('pushing them away' if you wish). He repeatedly stated that although he knows nothing about the western science, he can challenge it on the most important point: the origin of life (from life, not from matter). If the 'life from matter' theory is disproved, the whole structure built on it will crumble. SP didn't like the arrogance of the modern scientists which is completely against the Vedic approach where knowledge leads to humility and wanted to expose them as ignorant according to the Vedic standard ('putting them down'). On the other hand he appreciated those few of modern scientists who actually took this humble stance (like Einstein).

Ultimately he was not attacking science to becomes famous, to feel superior or for fun. He was worried about the people who believe the science unconditionally and are stuck in the materialistic way of life which aggravates their suffering. Thus he wanted them to be freed from their blind faith in science which leads them on the road to hell (as Chris Rhea sings).

Ancient dinosaur depictions
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