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Science and Vedanta


Genetic Eng.

Swami Vivekananda, who won the hearts of many a westerner during the parliament of religions, asked Tesla in 1895, if he could show that what we call matter (mass) was simply potential energy, Tesla, apparently failed to show it and it was Einstein, who in 1905, brought about this relationship through his most famous equation E=mc2, the equivalence of mass and energy.

Swamiji also suggested that the chemists would have finished their job when they could show all the chemical elements could be made from one of them. It had been suggested by Prout in 1815, that they were all made of hydrogen, but in those days no one knew where it could happen. We now know that it happens at very high temperatures in the bellies of stars and in the brilliant stellar explosions which scatter the heavier elements all though the Galaxies and that the elements of which our Earth and our bodies are made of were fashioned from hydrogen by the gravity of massive stars.

We must remember that some of the developments of modern science have made the universe very much easier to understand than it was in his days and we may now think of the primordial hydrogen as Swamiji's Akasa (the first principle of materiality) and of its gravitation energy as his prana. He used to say that by the action of this Prana on the Akasa all this universe is fashioned. In the last century we thought that universe consisted of real particles with mass and real energy moving through real space in real time.

We had a notion that mass, energy, space and time were all independent entities. We know that Einstein's geometry takes out the line between space and time and physics takes out the line between Mass and energy.

Thus, when the line of demarcation between mass, energy, space and time are obliterated, we are left not with a new model of universe but only a question mark, and with the suggestion that what it represents is beyond time and space, what exists beyond our physics must therefore be changeless, infinite and undivided.

There is a beautiful hymn of creation in the Vedas called the Nasidiya Sukta and it says:

Who verily knows and who can declare whence it was born and whence comes this creation.!"

The Gods are later than this world's production. Who knows then whence it first came into being?

He, the first origin of creation, whether he formed it all or did not form it, whose eye controls this world in highest heaven. He verily knows it or perhaps he knows not"

Rigveda - 129.6. 7

Unfortunately, this country rich in philosophy and spiritual heritage has lost much of its spiritual vigour over centuries of subjugation and foreign aggression.

It was Sankara (somewhere in the 4th century) who rejuvenated the philosophy and gave a new vitality by his erudite learning and his bhashyas (commentaries) of the principal Upanishads, the Brahmasutra and the Gita and Swami Vivokananda who espoused its cause on a scientific basis, which has attracted brilliant minds from the west.

Max Muller compares the philosophy of the Upanishads to the light of the morning and to the pure air of the mountains.

Schopenhauer, who was in the habit, before going to bed, of performing his devotions from the pages of the Upanishads, regarded them as the solace of his life and felt sure that they would be the solace his death.

Professor Brian David Josephson, a Nobel Laureate says of Samkhya and Vedanta;

"He has turned to meditation and Indian Philosophy especially the Vedanta and Smakhya philosophy to find" scientific explanations" for the laws of mind and thought processes and their correlation to the quantum field in physics, which deals with creation and destruction of particles at atomic and molecular levels.

'Indian philosophy shows the relationship between mind and matter. Mind as seen in Indian philosophy enables one to describe subjective reality or the process of decision making as a wave function in terms of quantum physics".

Samkhya and Vedanta propound the evolution of universe in it inanimate and animate aspects, more comprehensively than modern science does. Vedananta derives it from primal Divine Energy or Sakti and Samkhya from proto-Nature or Prakriti.

As Sir As Monier William's has pointed out "Indeed the Hindus were spinozists 2000 years before the birth of spinoza, Darwinians centuries before the birth of Darwin and evalutionists many centuries before the doctrine of evaluation has been accepted by Huxleys of our time and before any word like evoluation existed in any language of world."

For a long time physics was based on the discoveries of Newton. The basic concepts of Newtonian model was that the universe was made of small solid, indestructible objects which moved in absolute space and absolute time. All physical events are reduced to the motion of material points in space cause by their mutual attraction in the form of gravity.

In the Newtonian view, God had created, in the beginning material particles, the forces between them and the fundamental laws of motion. In this way the whole universe was set in motion and has continued ever since like a machine, governed by immutable laws.

With invention of Electricity and magnetism by Friday and Maxwell, a new theory, called the filed theory came into a being since the Newtonian model had limitation and could-not be applied. Subsequently a whole services of discoveries gave rise to newer and newer concepts.

In 1905 Albert Einstein initiated two revolutionary trends of thought. One was his special theory of relativity, the other a new way of looking at electromagnetic radiation which was to become characteristic of quantum theory, the theory of atomic phenomenon. The complex quantum theory was worked out twenty years later. However relativity theory was constructed in its complete form by Einstein himself.

According to relativity theory, space is not 3 dimensional and time is not a separate entity. Both are intimately connected and form a 4-dimensional continuum. In relativity theory one does not talk about space without talking about time.

All measurements involving space and time loose their absolute significance. In relativity theory Newtonian concept of space, time, of absolute space and absolute time is bondoned.

The most important contribution of this modification is the realization that mass is nothing but a form of energy. Even an object at rest has energy stored in its mass, the relation between the two is given by the famous equation E=mc2. The constant C, the speed of light is of fundamental importance to theory of relativity. Whenever we describe physical phenomenon involving velocities which approach the speed of light our description has to take relativity theory into account. This applies in particular to electro-magnetic phenomenon of which light in just one example.

In 1915 Einstein proposed his general theory of reality in which the frame work of the special theory is extended in included gravity.

The force of gravity has the effect of "curving space and time.

Two physicists de-Broglie and Erwin Schrodinger showed in 1924-25 that electrons behave like waves. Max Born went deeper and realized that these electron waves had no similarity with any kind of material waves like the ocean waves. He statistically interpreted that they were waves of probability of finding particles at specific point.

Richard Fayman showed the wave particle dichotomy through a set of bubble-slit experiment.

This becomes clear through the following illustration. If there were two doors in a house for going out, the normal probability of a person going through the first door was P1 and of the second door P2 then the total probability of his going out of his house every day would be Pl + P2. This simple addition of probabilities is not valid in the quantum theory Henz Pagels call it non- linear probability.

If cletrons are fired at a thin metal barrier with two holes and the screen is an electron detector, the probability of distribution of electrons detected should have been linear like the probability of a person going out of either doors. But it is not.

Al though electron started as particle from the source, reached the detector as a particle, in between it behaved as a wave. As these particles moved in between as waves, they interfered with each another as waves, thereby nullifying or enhancing the intensity of electron waves. When we look at electrons either at the source or at the target they behave obediently as particles, but when we try to see them during the passage we are unable watch. Do electrons behave like truant children who be have according to their own sweet will?

Who gave the electron this liberty, which is prerogative of only conscious and living beings?

The new concepts of 'probability-waves' conforms the fundamental unpredictability and the weirdness of the atomic world. This is a weirdness which has led to the idea that matter may be conscious.

In the practical field Max Born's concept of probability waves has been applied to particular phenomenon known as Quantum mechanical tunneling.

Physicists are today speculating on this strange, unpredictable and almost conscious behaviour of quantum particles.

Experiment of light also show similar weird happening. Feymen's double slit experiment when done with photons as particles give the same results.

The photons which enter by the first hole when the second hole is closed do not enter by the same first hole when the second hole is open. How could they know that they should not enter the first hole when the second hole is open?

Henry Strapp, one of the leading American physicists of today writes on this mysterious photon behaviour.

"The central mystery of the quantum theory is how does information get round so quick? How does the particle (photon) know there are two slits".

Another physicist of today E. H. Walker openly speculates that the photons may be conscious.

According to him "Consciousness may be associated with all a quantum mechanical processes, the universe is inhabited by an almost unlimited number of rather discrete conscious, usually nonthinking entities that are responsible for the detailed working of the universe."

    The Upanishads say:

    Prajnanam Brahma        Ait iii 1.3

    Conciousness is Brahman

    Prajnane pratistitham

    It is supported by Brahmen during creation, existence and dissolution.

    Prajnanetro lokah

    The universe has consciousness as its impeller.

    Prakne Pratista.

    Consciousness is the support of the whole universe.

Jack sarfatti writes: "I suspect that general relativity and quantum theory are two complimentary aspects of a deeper theory that will involve a kind of cosmic consciousness. The cosmic consciousness or the Mahat of India's samkhya Philosophy is the basis of entire creation".

Michael Talbot writes in his book "Mysticism and physics" "Mind and matter are different vibration or ripples in the same pond, the fields which govern consciousness (mind) and those which govern matter are part of a continuum, a spectrum of fields within fields."

Physics has stepped almost into the world of Vedanta

In countless ways every department of science today is extending the bounds of man's knowledge of cosmic unity. The Upanishads discovered this unity through the study of mind and through meditation. Modern science started with the exploration of the mysteries of external nature, but at the farthest end of this exploration it finds itself, face to face with the mystery of man and mind.

It is here that we can discern the steady convergence of the two, ancient Vedanta and modern science.

The whole process of spiritual and ethical discipline leads to awareness of the spiritual reality behind man and nature. Through the senses we become aware of differences, but through spiritual knowledge we become aware of the unity behind these experiences. Just as science discovers the laws which link the different aspect of sense experience, philosophy unravel the law of perfect unity of being behind nature without and within.

    This unity is termed "Brahman" which is defined by the Upanishads thus

    Yato va imani bhutani jayante

    Yena jatani jivanti

    Yat prayantyabhisam-visanti

    Tat vijijnasasva tat brahmeti                 Tai iii . I

    That from which all these entities and beings are born.

    That in which, being born, they live.

    That unto which, in the end, they enter.

    Know that, that is Brahman.

    'Brahmaivedam Viswamidam Varistham'.

    All this manifested universe is verily Brahman the supreme.

"Before the advent of the quantum theory, physicists thought of particles and fields as distinct entities. For example, the electron and proton making up the hydrogen atom were understood as particles bound together by the electric field of mutual attraction. Particles were considered to be immutable and eternal". Writes pagers. As Nobel Physicist Steven Weinberg has put it", Material particles like electrons and protons were conceived to be eternal. On the other hand photons were supposed to be merely a manifestation of an underlying reality, the quantified electromagnetic field; and could be freely created and destroyed."

But the unification of field and matter came soon. Weinberg continues.

"The essential steps were taken - by Jordan Eugene Wigner in their paper of 1928, and by Heisenberg and Pauli in their long paper of 192930 on this subject. Material particles emerged as only packets of energy, as the quanta of various fields. Thus the inhabitants of the universe were conceived to be a set of fields; an electron field, a proton field and electromagnetic field and particles were reduced to mere epiphenomena. In its essentials, this point of view has survived to the present day, and forms the central dogma of the quantum field theory; the essential reality is a set of fields subject to the rules of special relativity and quantum mechanics, all else is derived as a consequence of the quantum dynamics of those fields".

Nearly three quarters of a century earlier, Vivekanands has anticipated this very idea when he said in London in 1895, it is possible to demonstrate that what we call matter does not exist at all. It is only a certain state of force. Solidity, hardness or any other state of matter can be proved to be the result of motion."

'Matter is like 'Quantum foam', say today's celebrated American physicist John F. Wheeler. What is quantum foam? Matter floate like 'foam' as quanta of energy on the surface of an underlying ocean of the cosmic energy from which all the five kinds of energies have been born.

'Wheeler's proposed picture of space' writes Tablot, as "composed of microscopic bubbles foaming, can be conceptualized as a carpet of foam', Physicist jack sarfatti writes,' matter is nothing but gravitationally trapped light. The turbulent sea of space of wheeler's quantum geometrodynamics is simply the trapping and untrapping of photons and netrions in a continual process. On this primordial level it is impossible to differentiate among light, matter, and empty space.

Matter therefore, floats like foam on the surface of an infinite ocean of energy which obviously is an expression of an underlying consciousness. The same idea is expressed in the medieval Indian treatise Drg-drs'ya Viveka:

"Creation is the appearance of name and form on the infinite Brahman which is of the nature of Absolute Existence-consciousness-Bliss like foams on the surface of an ocean."

So behind all matter is only a quantised field of energy which could be freely created and destroyed'. It is siva'a continuous dance going on as Fritjof Capra has so beautifully described in his best selling book "The Tao of Physics".

Raja Ramanna one of our prominent scientists who was the chairman of our Atomic Energy Commission says in a paper read at the mind and nature congress.

We have seen in the last century has new discoveries in science have altered our thinking it is now time to examine whether the altered path is turning us back into the past even if it be only to have a new look at the older deductions in the hope that it could lead to new methods of investigations.

Philosophy in India gave great if not more importance to things which were beyond measurement as possessing the ultimate truth. However Sankara had an objective approach to these matters is clear from the following.

This universe does not exist apart from the sense of perception and the perception of its separateness is false like the quality of blueness of the sky. Has a super imposed substitute any meaning apart from its sub_stratum? It is the sub_stratum that appears like that due to illusion (Maya)

It is consciousness that perceives the universe to the extent it can be observed. If there was no consciousness in man he would not be able to observe its existence or communicate with others to ask what is its structure or purpose. Search for reality is that which makes one see in things that were not visible at first sight. Our consciousness appears in various states and what we observe in the normal working state may not be reality. Yoge and meditation could improve one's perception.

This Vedantic interpretation of the Universe implies that there must be an un-changing supreme Brahman. It is described as having a symmetry of symmetries-remote and pure. lt is only from the departures from this symmetry do the laws of the observable universe begin to exhibit themselves. The departure are said to arise from Maya the one that screens us from the supreme reality. Creation is thus considered as a fall from an otherwise perfection which either "Was" or "will be" but never is."

Sankara has been criticized over the centuries not for his logic as much as for the fact his perception of Brahman is one that is remote unresponsive and sterile. If we compare the super symmetric 'Brahman' of Sankara with the unification proposals of modern physics both show similarities. Given the necessary flexibility in interpreting ancient exposition to compare with modem technical language the parallel is striking. Both refer to a supreme Origin of symmetry which take no responsibility for what it can create".

"The comparison between Sankara and modem physics is made not because it is the intention to show that everything of modern science has been understood in the past by intuition but just to indicate that there are other methods of thinking to arrive at generalities in much the same way the works of the great Indian mathematician srinivasa Ramanujam demonstrate in the field of mathematics. He could arrive at theorems in the forefront of mathematics for which often he could give no proofs at all. Even to this day proofs are being supplied by others for which they had to use developments in mathematics which just did not exist in Ramanujam's time. That this is possible in a field like mathematics suggests greater possibilities in the realm of philosophy".

The advances of particle physics has tended to present a concept that our minds may all be some how intertwined and there is a controlling universal mind.

    Paul Davies in his book "God and New Physics" writes

It is possible to imagine a super-mind existing since creation encompassing all the fundamental fields of nature and taking upon itself the task of converting an incoherent big bang into the complex and orderly cosmos we all now observe; all accomplished within the frame work of the laws of physics. This would not be a God who created everything by super-natural means but a directing, controlling, universal mind pervading the cosmos and operating the laws of nature to achieve some specific purpose. We could describe this state of affairs by saying that nature in a product of its own technology and the universe is a mind, a self-observing as well as selforganising system. Our own minds could then be viewed as localized islands; of consciousness is a sea of mind, an idea that is reminiscent of the oriental conception of mysticism, where god is then regarded as the unifying consciousness of all things into which human mind will be absorbed loosing its individual identify, when it achieves an appropriate level of spiritual advancement.

It is possible to go further than this. Recall that, according to some physicists at least, the mind has special status in regard to the Quantum factor. If the mind can control the quantum dice then universal mind could in principle, control everything that happens by directing the behaviour of every electron, every proton, every photon and so on. Such an organising power would escape our attention when we observe microscopic matter because the antics of any particle would still appear to be completely random.

It is only in the collective behaviour of vast number of atoms that organisation would be apparent and we should proclaim the system to be mysteriously self organising

The Vedanta speaks of an Absolute, an Infinite and Vedanta proclaims the divinity in- each one of us. This infinite is the source of all knowledge and Srinivas Ramanujm must have some how received his inspiration from this source. Otherwise how can he, who had only secondary education expound such mathematical theories and make the proclamation he did, that baffles the most advanced mathematicians of today. How can it be that he could out of his mind evolve theorems of such profound value that even now decades later, mathematicians are beginning to provide proof to his theorems, using the most sophisticated techniques now available.

The Vedanta dictum, the Vedanta mahavakyas bear testimony to the potentials open if we realize this relationship with the Absolute.

    Vedavakyas proclaim: Tat twam asi-that thou art. Aham Brahmasmi-I am Brahman

The great physicist and Nobel laureate Edwin Schrodinger writes in his "what is life, mind and matter"

    (i) "Given that my body functions as a pure mechanism according to the laws of nature

    (ii) I know by direct experience that I am directing the motion of my body.

    (iii) I am the one who directs the atoms of the world in their motions"

Schrodinger remarks it is daring to give to this conclusion the simple wording that it requires. In Christian terminology to say. "Hence I am God Almighty sounds both blasphemous and lunatic"

He defends this conclusion, pointing out that it is just an example of the equation fundamental to the Upanishads:

Atman = Brahman, ('Atman which is related to the German word atmen, breathe) is the sanskrit word for the individual soul, an individual atman in the sense of I am

Brahman is a word meaning something like our Absolute the enternal all pervading is-ness of the world."

This oneness, this Brahman, source of everything source of every being, non being is the subject matter of Upanishads.

Our contention at the beginning of this essay was to suggest the infinite potential available to man and what Vedanta has to offer to humanity and there is no greater dictum than the Vadantic dictum.

Tat Twam Asi

This little, formula Tat twam asi :- That thou art, of the chandogya Upanishad conveys this truth that man is not this tiny organic system and there is a profound dimension within each of us a divine dimension beyond the physical, neurological, and psychic.

This is the truth that can open to the infinite potential and this is the spiritual training of the mind.

No amount of psychological training can take one beyond the realis of one's sensuous experiences and it is only the spiritual that can transcend the sensual to higher dimensions un-heard of. The quantum theory as a unit of science focuses on some bizarre happenings at the microwsmic level of atoms and molecules that focus are attentions as never before between the observer and the external world.

If forms a pillar of the new physics and provides the most convincing scientific evidence yet, that consciousness plays an essential role in the nature of reality.

    Prajanam Brahma,

    Consciousness is Brahman,

    Prajnane Prathistithem,


    On consciousness (the whole universe) is

    Proclaims the Upanishads

There is a growing awareness that the quantum theory contains some astonishing insights into the nature of mind and the reality of the universe.

Of course the quantum theory is primarily a practical branch of physics and as such is brilliantly successful. It has given us the laser, the electron microscope, the transistor, the super conductor and of course the nuclear power. At a stroke it explained chemical bonding, the structure of the atom, conduction of electricity, mechanical and thermal properties of solids, structure of collapsed stars and a host of other important phenomena.

It is applied in many routine practical ways in Engineering. It is in its every day application a down-to earth subject with a vast body of supporting evidence not only from commercial gadgetry but also from careful and delicate scientific experiments.

Prof. George Wald, Nobel laureate in his paper on "life and mind in the universe" says,

"Though consciousness is the essential condition for all the sciences, sciences cannot deal with it.

Consciousness lies outside the parameters of space and time that would make it accessible to science. The ultimate basis of al! existence is consciousness. It pervades everything both internal and external. Science must evolve sufficiently in order to know what consciousness is and how to articulate it".

    The Upanishads proclaim

    Prajanam Brahma

    Consciousness in Brahman

    Sa ya eso ahima, aitat atmyam idam sarvam;

    Tat satyam, sa atma, tat tvam asi svetaketo

    Chandogya vi 8.7

Everything in the universes has this subtle reality for itself, that is truth, that is man and that the art. Svetaketo.

Upanishads also say: Tadantarasya sarvasya tadu sarvasyasya bahyatat

    It is inside all this.

    It is verily outside all this:

The study of consciousness received keen attention from the sages of India in the past. They seem to have undertaken their studies and investigations in this regard in scientific spirit with the object to arriving at the truth about man and nature. Significantly after centuries of neglect the study of consciousness has been taken up in all earnestness in the West in recent years, not only by psychologists and psychiatrists, but also by physicists and biologists. Since the early seventies a spate of conference proceedings and plethora of monographs have been emerging from the citadels of modern physics and biology in the West on themes like states of consciousness, nature of human awareness, exploration in East-West Psychology, Quantum physics and Eastern mysticism, biological basis of religious experience, psychology of relatedness etc. Thus ancient sciences of Yoga and Vedanta have already started rubbing shoulders in the International arena.

The importantance of the study of consciousness has apparently been forced upon the modern world through the increasing recognition that the present crisis in human society can be resolved only through a change in consciousness and not through further technological changes in the outer physical world. This mood of the West is effectively summed up by John White, editor of the 'The Highest State of Consciousness' in his introduction to this book.

"Political, social work, this-ism, that ology are all incomplete futile actions unless accompanied by a new and elevated mode of awareness. The ultimate action, then, is no action at all except to change consciousness. In the years ahead, explorations of the self will be integrated and therefore, will be inter-disciplinary. They will bring together physicists, physical researchers, psycho physiologists, religious leaders and workers from other professions.

If the border between self and environment can be made to disappear, this is likely to have profound effects on man's attitude to his environment, both social and physical. If the self is experienced as actually embracing other people, selfconsciousness becomes social consciousness".

Such words of the twentieth century scientists match in spirit, if not in letter, the profound sayings of the Upanishads.

    Yas-tu sarvani bhutani Atmani-evanupasyati,

    Sarva-bhutesu catmanam tato no vijugupsate.

    Yasmin-sarvani bhutani Atmai-vabhudvijanathah

    Tatra ko mohah kah sokah ekatamanupasyathah (Isa up)

He who sees all beings in his own self and his own self in all beings, he does not feel any revulsion to any being.

When all beings have verily become one with his ownself, what delusion and what sorrow can there be to this seer who has realized the fundamental oneness?

This is the ancient science of Yoga and Vedanta. We wish to present research findings and deep thinking on these issues. While the scientists to day the world over are pondering over such questions as creation of matter and mind, origin of life, concept of space-time, while the particle physicist in looking at the smallest of matter trying to unravel the mysteries of Quantum phenomena, while the cosmologists are looking up at the cosmos, trapping radiation's to understand seemingly in-comprehensible matters of space, the ancient sages of our country were also looking at the universe, at the cosmos, at the relationship between the self and Absolute. The technique they used at finding these things, the techniques they used to probe the unknown, developed into an elaborate science.

They used no tool but their own mind and by developing their intellect making it powerful enough to probo the known and unknown, they transgressed the limited boundaries of consciousness. The discovered consciousness as the base of everything, developed technique of expanding consciousness. In that state of expanded consciousness, the super-conscious, they saw the unity of things, the motive fore behind everything known and unknown, the all pervasive entity they called 'Brahman' the Brahman that has no dimension, no limitation, timeless, endless and beginningless. It pervades everything and everything moving and non moving is Brahman. Brahman is the cause of everything.

    Chandogya Upanishad says:

    Brahman is life, Brahman is joy, Brahman is the void

    Joy verily that is the same as void

    The void, verily, that is the same as joy.

This void, the Upanishads speak of, is a void of infinite potential and can be compared to the quantum field of subatomic physics and like the quantum field, it gives birth to an infinite variety of forms, which it sustains and eventually reabsorbs.

This is greatest gift of our ancestors. They transgressed the senses and went beyond them. They were therefore not sense-bound, time bound, space-bound, in their state of samadhi. Slowly degeneration to sense level set in. The consciousness became earth bound. Our quest for the ultimate now proceeds though the Vidyas, upasanas, Sutras left in verse. They were cryptic and could not be understood. Only names of the tools remained and technique was lost. Great sages came up and wrote Vakayas, Sarikas, Bhashyas on these cryptic sayings of the ancients. They passed down their experiences and meaning and contents of cryptic sayings. They declared: Consciousness is Brahman. Prajnanam Brahma

    Prajane Prathishtitam.

    On consciousness it (the whole universe) is established.

They perceived consciousness as being at the base of everything and they said: Tat-twam-asi, That thou art.

Behind all the multiplicity and fluidity of things they beheld a unity and stability of which all phenomena are seemings and appearances. This Reality, they realised as something Absolute transcendent of all, transcendent even of Time and Space. This one they declared:

    nityo - nityanam,

    the one Eternal his the many transient

They also found this transcendent of self of things is also the self of all living beings.

They perceived that this is the One Intelligence working behind mysiad forms of Intelligences (and non-intelligences)

    They declared

    Cetas cetananam,

    One consciousness in many consciousness.

They realized that here is an identity between the true self in the individual man and the self in the universe or the universal Self.

And since the universal Self is same as the Transcendent, the individual self finds its identity with IT the Absolute, the Brahman

So'ham-He am I.


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