Integral Yoga - Articles - Science, Spirituality and Devotion

Science, Spirituality and Devotion

Science, Spirituality and Devotion

AUG 1998

It is indeed a privilege to be in the midst of such a distinguished gathering in the Second Parliament of Science, Religion and Philosophy and the World Philosophers Meet '98. The topic chosen for the Conference is of great significance because if the world were to correctly understand and interpret Science and its role together with overpowering influence of Religion on humanity and follow the Ethics of human behaviour there would be perfect peace and happiness in the world.

During the present century human society has witnessed tremendous scientific progress and growth of unprecedented material affluence in many parts of the world on the one hand and a serious erosion of moral and spiritual values on the other. Mankind today is facing a multidimensional civilisational crisis which has engulfed almost all aspects of our lives, material and spiritual. All nations, whether rich or poor, are in fact nations with a troubled soul and are in search of a new paradigm. The question is how can science and spirituality reconcile and contribute to make this planet peaceful. Indian philosophy answered this question centuries ago and it would be my endeavour to place before you how modern science is converging to the same.

The scientific thought dominating the western mind for the past three centuries evolved as a result of the works of Galileo Galilei, Francis Bacon, Rene Descartes and Isaac Newton. The foundations of scientific rationalism were laid when Galileo for the first time combined experiments with mathematics. Bacon propounded a clear theory of inductive procedure and Descartes declared, "all science is certain and evident knowledge." Descartes also constructed an entirely new system in which events were mathematically described. His statement 'Cogito ergo Sum' (I exist because I think) resulted in a fragmented human personality with "mind" separated from the "body" and functioning as a controlling authority of the body. Descartes with his analytical skill portrayed Universe and all the objects which constituted it as automata. This world-view received further support from the works of Issac Newton who developed his machines on the basis of the Cartesian view of the universe and made it the foundation of classical physics.

Newton showed the western world that the Universe was rationally comprehensible. In fact Newton's statement, "I make no hypothesis” (Hypothesis non fingo) became the foundation for the rapid development of experimental sciences particularly in physics and ultimately resulted in some of the most wonderful scientific and technological discoveries. The industrial revolution could only be propelled because of his discovery of laws of motions which demonstrated that Celestial bodies also obey the laws valid on our planet. Human mind could, thus, comprehend what till then was believed to be purely the domain of the divine. If Descartes developed the discipline of mathematical analysis and proved that Nature could be pictured as a Great Machine, it was Isaac Newton who discovered the laws on which the machine operated.

Science, Spirituality and Devotion

Science, Spirituality and Devotion

The Newtonian world view was mechanistic, wholly deterministic and governed by the principle of causality. In Newtonian physics the position of a moving object at any future time could be predicted provided one had the requisite information about its present position and the laws governing its motion. Similarly its past position at an earlier time could be retrodicted. Thus, according to this concept the Giant Machine was operating like a pre-recorded tape where nothing could change and every event was predetermined right from the moment the Machine came into existence. All this required the existence of an extra-terrestrial agency to set the machine in motion in accordance with some divine laws.

Some of the philosophical consequences of Cartesian-Newtonian approach can be summed up as under:

a) The Universe is a Giant Machine and is governed by certain universal laws which can be discovered through experiments and rational understanding. By applying these laws on can extend the horizon of knowledge and can obtain further information about the nature or universe.

b) There is an external world which exists apart from us which can be observed and measured in an objective manner without producing any change in it. This external world is impersonal and the observer can strive for "Absolute Objectivity."

This concept of absolute objectivity is based on the assumption that there exists an "external world" independent of the observer, that 'I' as an observer exist "in here" and "out there" exists the external world to be "observed". The philosophy of scientific rationalism also maintained that every event in this external world was predetermined so there was nothing to be chosen by the observer. And if there is nothing to choose what use would one have for this knowledge? The answer was that with persistent refinement of the experimental techniques and mathematical methods the scientist would one day observe the ultimate reality of the Universe, the nature would be forced to reveal all its secrets. Scientists pursued this path vigorously till nineteenth century when various physical phenomena were successfully interpreted in terms of atoms, molecules and their motion. The Cartesian belief in the absolute certainty of scientific knowledge created a paradigm in which science and technology were given dominant role. Science was more and more secularized.

Science, Spirituality and Devotion

Science, Spirituality and Devotion

The mechanistic view and the reductionist approach dominated the western mind during nineteenth century when this model was extended to chemistry, biology, psychology and even to social sciences. Newtonian model became more complex in order to resolve the problems in various disciplines. Eighteenth century saw the rapid spread of the mechanistic world view and reductionist approach and many thinkers started developing subjects like "social physics". In the late seventeenth century the well known philosopher John Locke had published his work which was deeply impressed by the Newtonian model. This had tremendous influence on the eighteenth century thinkers. Locke developed an atomistic view of the society by reducing the patterns of social behaviour to individual behaviour. Obviously psychology and political philosophy were all to be influenced by this unconventional approach. Locke's ideas provided a new value system and had a deep impact on the development of modern political and economic thought. Entire western world was under the spell of Newtonian model till certain developments of far reaching significance took place during the nineteenth century.

The theory of evolution developed as a result of certain researches in geology, biology and the work of Pierre Laplace and Immanuel Kant. In physics itself the discovery of the electromagnetic phenomenon was not compatible with Newton's mechanistic model. The biologist started questioning the validity of the Cartesian concept that the universe came into being as fully and perfectly constructed machine, they instead proposed an evolutionary paradigm in which the present day complex universe has evolved from simpler structures. Such a paradigm was also purely materialistic and also accepted the view that the evolution of the external world can be uniquely and objectively observed by an independent observer. The spiritual elements were missing even in this approach. Despite these developments science continued to quantify and measure, improve its experimental techniques and the Newtonian mechanics continued to be the basis of all physics till Einstein arrived at the scene.

Since the beginning of the 20th century science has made advancements revising may concepts. Heisenberg's principle of uncertainty has given a deeper insight in understanding the behaviour of sub-atomic particles. The strict cause and effect relationship breaks down in their domain. The determinacy of the Newtonian model in the Universe is replaced by indeterminacy in the sub-atomic world. After the successful experiments of JC Bose the distinction between the living and non-living has disappeared. Bose started investigating the responses of non-living like metals and the animals. He discovered the fatigue of metals and then moved on from physics to physiology. In 1901, May 10, JC Bose demonstrated all his experiments in England. Scientists saw with wonder the similar curves of muscles and metals, when they were responding to the effect of fatigue, stimulation, depression and poisonous drugs. He made the following remark after completion of his demonstration:

Science, Spirituality and Devotion

Science, Spirituality and Devotion

"I have shown you this evening autographic records of the history of stress and strain in the living and the non-living. How similar are the writings! So similar indeed that you cannot tell one apart from the other. Among such phenomena, how can we draw a line of demarcation, and say, here the physical ends, and there physiological begins? Such absolute barriers do not exist…..It was when I came upon the mute witness of these self made records, and perceived on them one phase of pervading unity that bears within it all things — the mote that quivers in ripples of light, the teeming life upon our earth and the radiant sun that shine above us — it was then that I understood for the first time a little of that message proclaimed by my ancestors on the banks of the Ganges thirty centuries ago. "They who see but one, in all the changing manifoldness of this Universe, unto them belongs Eternal Truth — unto none else, unto none else."  

Examples can be multiplied to prove Bose's thesis, the Viennese biologist Raoul France, Clean Backster of America, the Japanese scientists Dr. Hashimoto and many others confirmed what J C Bose had demonstrated. The mechanistic world view cannot explain this interconnectedness of organic and inorganic.

Science today is confronted with certain questions which it earlier considered to be outside its domain. But as a result of some of its own discoveries intellectuals are asking, 'Is matter related to consciousness in any manner?’ If so, then what is the nature of this relationship. It all began sometimes around 1924-25 when Louise de Broglie put forth the hypothesis of matter waves. Erwin Schrodinger — the father of wave mechanical model proposed his new equation which replaced Newton's equation of motion for a free particle in case of electron. Then came W Heisenberg with his Principle of Uncertainty and stated that if you are certain about the position of a moving particle like electron you are uncertain about its momentum and vice versa. The natural corollary of Heisenberg's principle of uncertainty was; a) that you cannot know what exactly a fundamental particle is; b) that in subatomic world the strict law of cause and effect breaks down; and c) that the strict division between an observer and the observed withers away. The efforts to discover the ultimate reality through experiments are, therefore, meaningless. The classical concepts were thus no longer tenable in the subatomic world. The phenomena in this domain are statistically describable, it is impossible to describe the behaviour of one particle with certainty.

Science, Spirituality and Devotion

Science, Spirituality and Devotion

Modern physics is now dealing with this new paradigm of quantum mechanics. The central question is: what is it that quantum mechanics describes. The answer generally accepted is known as Copenhagen Interpretation. This interpretation simply states that the quantum mechanics is about correlations in our experiences. It is about what will be observed under specified conditions. Einstein, however, opposed this till his last. His famous statement, 'that he did not believe in dice playing God, expressed his disagreement with the probabilistic interpretation of quantum mechanics.'

The most startling consequence of the Copenhagen Interpretation was that the physicists under pressure of their own findings were forced to accept that a complete comprehension of reality lies beyond the capabilities of rational thought. It is significant that Einstein never agreed with this. However, the quantum mechanical paradigm unhesitatingly stated that the new physics was not based on "absolute reality" but upon us. The world "out there" was inseparable from the observer “in here”.

Einstein who believed in causality could not accept Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. In order to disprove Einstein, Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen published a paper "Can Quantum Mechanical Description of Physical Reality be Considered Complete?" The authors postulated that if principle of uncertainty was correct that causality does not hold good in the domain of the sub atomic world then it will lead to a strange paradox that two same kind of sub-atomic particles must somehow be simultaneously connected, even if they remain separated at enormous distances. How is it that these two particles communicate with each other instantaneously even at distances which electromagnetic waves take few seconds to travel. Do they possess some sort of consciousness? Until 1936 no such phenomenon was known to exist hence Einstein concluded that Heisenberg was wrong. But the strange phenomenon did exist was proved by successful experiments in 1972 by David Bohm, in London, Clauser and Freedman in USA and a team of Alain Aspect in Paris in 1982. The impossibility of superluminary connections as propounded by the theory of Relativity is no longer valid. Hence "an interconnectedness in events taking place at space like distances is valid".

JS Bell, a physicist at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) gave a mathematical formulation of the EPR effect. The astounding implication of Bell's theorem is that "at a deep and fundamental level, the separate parts of the Universe are connected in an intimate and immediate way". In 1975 Jack Sarfatti stated, “not only superluminal connections exist but they can be used in a controllable way to communicate messages". Henry Strap, in 1975 said, "Bell's theorem is the most profound discovery of science".

The most startling consequence of all these discoveries is that the Cartesian concept of reality as parts joined by local connections does not fit in the Quantum Mechanical Paradigm. Henry Strap again concludes by saying "the theorem of Bell proves, in effect, the profound truth that the world is either fundamentally lawless or fundamentally inseparable". Bell's theorem implies that whatever happens in one part of the universe on a single entity has an effect which can be detected in any other part of the universe on a similar entity. Accordingly Bell's theorem has laid the foundation for the neodeterminism or superdeterminism in science. The initial conditions cannot be changed. The Universe could not be anything but what it is.

Science, Spirituality and Devotion

Science, Spirituality and Devotion

David Bohm suggested that quantum physics demands a new order. 'Instead of starting with parts and showing how they work together, we start with the whole'. This is also in consonance with Bell's theorem. The separate parts of the universe are not separate parts. Says Bohm, "Parts are seen to be in immediate connection, in which their dynamical relationship depends, in an irreducible way, on the state of the whole system (and indeed, on that of broader systems in which they are contained, extending ultimately and in principle to the entire universe). Thus, one is led to a new notion of unbroken wholeness which denied the classical ideas of analyzability of the world into separately and independently existent parts ....."

Explaining his hypothesis of apparently random subatomic phenomena, David Bohm says, "Particles may appear in different places yet be connected in the implicate order. Particles may be discontiguous in space but they are contiguous in the implicate order." Matter according to Bohm is a form of the implicate order as the vortex is the form of the water — it is not reducible to smaller particles. Like "matter” and everything else, particles are forms of the implicate order. The question which arises now is "what is the 'implicate order' the implicate order of?  

As Gary Zukov says, "The implicate order” is the implicate order of that — which — is. However, 'that which is' is the implicate order. This world view is entirely different from what we are using in classical physics." In the words of David Bohm "Description is totally incompatible with what we want to say." Says Gary Zukov "Because of the deep rooted Greek notions in the western mind, it is unable to comprehend this new paradigm.” The Greeks believed that only being is. Therefore, Non-Being is not. Actually in the new paradigm Non Being also is. Both Being and Non Being are 'that which is.' Everything even "emptiness" is that which is. In Bohm's physics, there is nothing which is not "that which is." Bohm's theories have striking parallelism in Eastern thought, in the Upanishadic statements.

The Chandogya Upanishad gives a dialogue between Svetaketu and his father. When Svetaketu returned home after learning Vedas for twelve years, his father asked him "Svetaketu have you asked for the knowledge by which we hear the unhearable, by which we perceive the unperceivable, by which we know the unknowable." What is that knowledge asked Svetaketu? His father Uddalaka said, "That knowledge is knowing that by which we know all." And further explaining the father pronounced, "In the beginning there was Existence, One only without a second. Some say that in the beginning there was non-existence only, and that out of that the Universe was born.”

“But the question is how could existence be born of non-existence?”

“In my opinion in the beginning there was Existence alone One only. He the one thought to Himself: Let me be many, let me grow-forth. Thus out of Himself he projected the Universe, and having projected out of Himself, the Universe, he entered into every being. All that is has its self in Him alone. Of all things He is the subtle essence. He is the truth. He is the self. And that, Svetaketu, THAT ART THOU.”

In the Brahadaranyak Upanishad the sage informs king Janaka about the true nature of Brahman, "Brahman can be apprehended only as knowledge itself — knowledge; which is one with reality, inseparable from it. For He is beyond all proof, beyond all instruments of thought. The eternal Brahman is pure, unborn, subtler than the subtlest, greater than the greatest. By the purified mind alone Brahman is perceived. He who knows Brahman to be the life of life, the eye of the eye, the ear of the ear, the mind of the mind, — he indeed comprehends fully the cause of causes. In Brahman there is no diversity. He who sees diversity goes from death to death."

Science, Spirituality and Devotion

Science, Spirituality and Devotion

The quintessence of the Upanishadic thought is given by the following:
Sarvamidam Khalubrahmam, Ahambrahmasmi, Tatvamasi

सर्वमिदं खलुब्रह्मम, अहम्ब्रह्मस्मि, तत्वमसी

All this is Brahman, I am Brahman, so art thou, and

Yatpinde Tadbrahmande

यतपिंडे तड़ब्रह्मण्डे

That which is in microcosm is also in the macrocosm

Anoraniyan, Mahatomahiyan

अनोरानियान, महतोमहियां

Brahman is all pervading, it is subtler than the subtlest and larger than the largest.

The implicate order of David Bohm has striking parallelism in the ancient Hindu philosophy where the Cosmic consciousness connects every 'being' with the rest of the Universe.

The Svetasvatara Upanishad says:

Thou art the fire,

Thou art the sun,

Thou art the air,

Thou art the moon,

Thou art the starry firmament,

Thou art Brahman Supreme:
Thou art the water ─ Thou

The creator of all!

Thou art woman, thou art man,

Thou art the youth, thou art the maiden,

Thou art the old man tottering with his staff;
Thou facest everywhere.
Thou art the dark butterfly,

Thou art the green parrot with red eyes,

Thou art the thunder cloud, the seasons, the seas.
Without beginning art thou,

Beyond time, beyond space,

Thou art he from whom sprang

The three worlds.

Filled with Brahman are the things we see;

Filled with Brahman floweth all that is;

From Brahman all — yet is He still the same.

The famous Hymn of Creation in the Rig Veda (as translated by Griffith) contains the following stanzas:

Who verily knows and who can here declare it,

Whence it was born and whence comes this creation?

The gods are later than the world's production,

Who knows then whence it first came into being?

He, the first origin of this 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.

The Mundaka Upanishad beautifully sums up the concept of Brahman:

Brahman verily is this immortal being.

In front is Brahman, behind is Brahman.

To the right and to the left.

It spreads forth above and below.

Verily, Brahman is this effulgent universe.

Science, Spirituality and Devotion

Science, Spirituality and Devotion

The scientists today are facing multidimensional questions. Science aimed at discovering the ultimate reality through experiments and mathematical analysis, but the reality or Truth continues to defy all such attempts. The spiritual leaders of the world are also seeking the ultimate Truth. When the scientists desired to remain objective, the observer — observed dualism appeared on the scene and rendered any absolute observation impossible. This is particularly true for the subatomic world.
This unpredictability and uncertain behaviour of quantum particles has led to an interesting interpretation of quantum mechanics. Hugh Everett and John Wheeler in their Many World Theory have suggested that all the possibilities which the wave function of Schrodinger's equation represents are real, and they all happen. The interpretation that only one of the possibilities contained in the wave function of an observed system actualises and the rest vanish is untenable. This theory of Everett and Wheeler says that all of them actualise, but in different worlds.
The Everett-Wheeler-Graham theory admits that the Schrodinger wave equation generates an endlessly proliferating number of different branches of Reality.

So we notice that the language which many modern physicists are using is converging to the language of spiritual leaders. It is in this context that the teachings of ancient Indian philosopher are extremely significant. Enunciating the Vedantic world view Swami Vivekananda says, "This external world is the world of suggestions. All that we see, we project out of our own minds….. The wicked man sees this world as a perfect hell, the good as a perfect heaven and the perfect man sees nothing but God" Vedantic philosophy believes that it is our own consciousness which creates the world outside. Vivekananda elaborates, "All senses before us are projections of our intellect (activated by the presence of our consciousness). The only seer is the self (the pure consciousness) inside us. This self cannot be seen because it is itself the Seer."

 Max Planck also believed that matter was derived from consciousness. "Consciousness" said Planck, "I regard as fundamental. I regard matter to be derived from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness; everything we talk about, everything we regard as existing postulates consciousness." Schrodinger writing in his book Mind and Matter tried to provide an outlook of nondualism. Wolfgang Pauli wrote, "From an inner centre the psyche seems to move outward in the sense of an extroversion, into the physical field."

Said Swami Vivekananda, "The internal universe, the real is infinitely greater than the external, which is only a shadowy projection of the true one. This world is neither true nor untrue, it is the shadow of the truth." He goes on elaborating the Advaita or non-dualism in his own way when he says, "Matter is only externalised thought."

"We have seen that it is the subjective world that rules the objective. Change the subject, and the object is bound to change, purify yourself and the world is bound to be purified."

"That we have inside, we see outside, the boy has no thief inside and sees no thief outside. So is with all knowledge."

Science, Spirituality and Devotion

Science, Spirituality and Devotion

How strikingly similar is the language of modern scientists and the Vedantin Swami Vivekananda, who interprets spiritualism in the light of the Upanishadic teachings. Just as Bell's theorem has proved that the Universe is a stupendous hologram where each part is interconnected with the rest of the Universe so also is the view of the Upanishad ─ Yatpinde Tatbrahmande

यत्पिंडे तत्वब्रह्मण्डे

So far I have spoken about the scientific quest with reference to Indian Philosophy. The ultimate knowledge and aim of human existence, according to the Indian philosophy is to attain the Supreme Truth or the "Brahman." This, however, is not simple. Kathopanishad described it as walking on the razors edge.

Kshurasyadhara Nishita Duratyaya
Durgam Pathastat Kavayo Vadanti

क्षुरास्यधारा निशिता दुरत्याय:
दुर्गम पथस्तत कावयो वदन्ति I

Even otherwise the knowledge acquired through word though important, yet remains fruitless because the realisation to truth must come through experience. Indian philosophy distinguished knowledge and experience. In fact knowledge i.e. 'Gyanam' has been distinguished with 'Vigyanam' which is often used as a synonym of "Science".

Gyanam Shastrokt Padarthanam Gyanam
Vigyanam Tu Shastroktgyananam Tathaiva Swanubhavkaranam

ज्ञानम शास्त्रोक्त पदार्थनाम ज्ञानम्
विज्ञानंं तू शास्त्रोक्तज्ञानं तथाैव स्वानुभावकर्णम

The supreme bliss which is described as Brahmanand is profound. There is a wonderful dialogue between Shri Ram, the divine incarnate and great master Vashistha. The Yog Vashistha is a profound treatise on spirituality, in which the supreme becomes a learner and the learner becomes the Master. Thus, Vashistha says to Ram :−

 "The delight derived from sensual experience is fleeting. An object gives you pleasure only when it is desired. So the pleasure belongs to the desire. Hence give up desire or craving. When you do not engage yourself in sense-experiences and also when you experience whatever comes to you unsought, you are in a state of equanimity and purity, free from latent tendencies or memories. In such a state, you will not be tainted even by a thousand distractions. When knower, known and knowledge merge in the one self, the pure experience does not once again generate a division within. The bliss that is experienced in a state of no-mind, that bliss which is uncaused, is not found even in the highest heaven. In fact, that bliss is inexpressible and indescribable and should not even be called happiness!"

Science, Spirituality and Devotion

Science, Spirituality and Devotion

Any discussion on Indian philosophy will not be complete without the devotional aspect of it. The knowledge and devotion or to use the Sanskrit expression 'Gyan' and 'Bhakti' converge at the same point supplementing each other to follow two different paths to reach the same goal. As I said earlier the path of knowledge being difficult is restricted to a few. But the path of devotion, Bhakti is available to one and all who wish to experience the divine love. Shankaracharya had established the Adwait Vedanta or principle of non-duality and the following Masters enriched this knowledge through their own treatises. But Shankaracharya was also a great devotee and his Saundarya-Lahari and other hymns are sung by millions every day. Thus, pure knowledge has always followed the path of devotion to bring the unmanifest to the level of manifest. In devotion the abstract becomes concrete. Thus incarnation of Sri Ram and Sri Krishna assume form and become a part of the devotee.

The Bhakti or devotion is supposed to have two sons Gyan, knowledge and Vairagya renunciation. The knowledge without renunciation has no meaning. When knowledge is coupled with renunciation, the devotion takes form.

In this context I would refer to two great works of devotion in Indian philosophy. These are the Narad Bhakti Sutra and Bhagwat Mahapuran. I will not go into the details but only touch upon the fundamentals. Narad says, "The devotion is indeed in the nature of Supreme love in the divine and the Supreme love of God is in the nature of immortality."

Param premroopa, Amrit swaroopa cha

परम प्रेमरूपा, अमृत स्वरूप च

Having attained devotion the being becomes perfect or becomes a siddha and what is the state one achieves after that? Having received the devotion of God, 'one become devoid of desires, he does not grieve, he is not jealous, he does not rejoice and he is not enthusiastic for self interest. In this state, the devotees become intoxicate in divine love, is in complete peace with himself, becomes silent and becomes united in self. Such is the nature of devotion.'

Narad Bhakti Sutra, however, says that the nature of devotion is beyond description. It is like the taste of sugar enjoyed by the dumb. The devotion takes one to the state to Supreme bliss and highest spiritual experience which is called 'Bhooma'. This term has been used in several Upanishads as the highest plane of fulfilment. This has been defined in Chhandogya Upanishad. In this state you see nothing else, where you hear nothing else, nothing else you know and feel. That state is called Bhooma The all pervading the infinite, the eternal, the immutable Brahman. There where you see other things, where you feel and understand other things, that is finite and limited. That which is infinite Bhooma is immortal.

Science, Spirituality and Devotion

Science, Spirituality and Devotion

Yatra Nanyatpashyati nanyatchrinoti
Nanyadvijanati sa Bhooma; Atha Yatranyatpashyati Anyatchhrinoti
Anyatvijanati Tadalpam Yo Vai Bhooma
Tadamritamath ydalp Tanmartyam.

यात्रा नान्यत्पश्यति नान्याच्रिनोति
नन्यादविजनति सा भूमि; अथा यात्रान्यात्पश्यति
अन्याचृनोति अन्यातविजनति तदलपं यो वै भूमि
तदमृतमठ यदलप तनमर्त्यम।

The Bhagwat Mahapurana is a widely read text. Hundreds and thousands Bhagwat Kathas are organised in all parts of the world year after year in which the glory of Lord Krishna is explained. It is the most important text of the devotional philosophy. Out of 24 incarnations Krishna holds the dearest place in the hearts of men. He is the Yogeshwara, the chief among the Yogins and to the common man he is the child, he is the friend, he runs errands for the Gopis of Vrindavan, he goes to the forest with the cows and plays flute on the banks of river Yamuna. As Yogeshwara he gave divine knowledge to Arjuna in the battle field of Kurukshetra. One could establish any kind of relationship with him. That is why millions of people visit Vrindavan where he spent his childhood. It is seen to be believed that hundreds and thousands of people go around Govardhan Hill on a full moon night every month. It is said that one could see devotion in its form in Braj where Krishna spent his childhood. The Bhagwat in a way is not only the play or Leela as it is called of Krishna but it is also a story of the devotees who are completely devoted to the Lord.

Most of us are propelled towards worldly happiness, because our experience is limited to the things that we have in some way come across. The divine experience does not come easily and, therefore, it is an abstract happiness. Who would be interested in abstract happiness if one is able to experience the worldly one? But this enquiry to understand the nature of the divine opens a vista for another kind of experience and we start thinking, meditating and contemplating on the Lord. This process ultimately leads us to the understanding of the futility of the desires, the anger, the greed and all kinds of thing which bind us to the unreal world. Once this happens, the divine comes to our heart. The understanding of the divine makes one's heart pure. We feel a strange happiness which is unrelated to our daily existence and worldly happiness. As it happens, we are tied to this world with an unreal knot. Once the divine ray enters our heart, we are able to see that knot. As soon as we see it, we are able to understand the unreality of it. And then, as the Bhagwat says, this knot is untied. In other words, all the doubts, with which our whole thinking is conditioned, completely disappear. The cycle of Karmas (past actions) break and we are face to face with this Truth. Thereafter, nothing more remains to be understood. We become one with ourselves. All action ceases and there is nothing save peace and love. You are within the Lord and the Lord is within you.

Science, Spirituality and Devotion

Science, Spirituality and Devotion

Once a devotee asked for a boon from the Lord that he be given the power to live in the heart of everyone. The Lord asked him why he wanted to dislodge him. The devotee said: "Lord, sitting in the heart of the people you are just watching. I will not watch, but ask for each one's pain to be given to me. I would want everyone to be happy." The Lord became very pleased because the devotee had reached another dimension of sharing the pains and sorrows of others, which is the highest spiritual attainment.

There is a galaxy of saints, philosophers and mystiques who have practiced the philosophy of devotion. Even those who seek knowledge also follow the path of devotion. I will conclude by the story of Narsi Mehta who was a great devotee of Krishna. Narsi Mehta was a saint- poet and led a very care-free life. He was absorbed in meditation and singing in praise of the Lord and in satsang, i.e. the company of devoted people. The story goes that once he needed some money. The money-lender taunted him by saying, 'You are a great Krishna devotee. If you write a promissory note in the name of Krishna, I will give you the loan.'  So, Narsi Mehta signed a promissory note of seven hundred and fifty rupees in the name of Krishna the Dwarkadheesh, King of Dwarka. The money lender gave him the money but he was happy that he would be able to humiliate Narsi Mehta because he believed that Krishna was not coming to pay the debt. He went to Dwarka and went to the Dwarkadheesh temple and asked the deity to honour the promissory note. Nothing happened. It was late in the evening, the money-lender went to a Dharmshala, a place for free overnight stay, and slept there. But as he was sleeping, someone came in and woke him up and asked him if he was the man who had a promissory note in the name of Dwarkadheesh. The money lender said 'Yes'. At this, the person paid him seven hundred and fifty rupees and asked for his forgiveness that he was late in coming to him. He had heard him but wanted to meet him privately. The man also said that he should not tell Narsi that He was late in coming because he knew that his master, Narsi Mehta, would be unhappy for causing inconvenience. The money-lender was surprised that there was somebody so rich and who called Narsi Mehta his master. But since he had his money, he went back to the village and told Narsi Mehta that his friend Krishna really came and paid him the money. Narsi Mehta's eyes were full of tears at the kindness of his master. That is how devotees say that if you wish you could even sell Krishna.

A question may be asked what are the attributes of a devotee. The XII chapter of Bhagwat Gita is devoted to Bhakti Yoga. In the last seven verses Krishna himself has given the attributes of those who are dear to Him and who belong to Him. I will read the translation of those six verses by Dr. S. Radhakrishnan:

Science, Spirituality and Devotion

Science, Spirituality and Devotion

"He who has no ill will to any being, who is friendly and compassionate, free from egoism and self-sense, even minded in pain and pleasure and patient.

The Yogi who is ever content, self-controlled, unshakable in determination, with mind and understanding given up to Me he, My devotee, is dear to Me.

 He from whom the world does not shrink and who does not shrink from the world and who is free from joy and anger, fear and agitation, he too is dear to Me.

He who has no expectation, is pure, skilful in action, unconcerned, and untroubled, who has given up all initiative (in action), he, My devotee, is dear to Me.

He who neither rejoices nor hates, neither grieves nor desires, and who has renounced good and evil, he who is thus devoted is dear to Me.

He who (behaves) alike to foe and friend, also to good and evil repute and who is alike in cold and heat, pleasure and pain and who is free from attachment.

He who holds equal blame and praise, who is silent (restrained in speech), content with anything (that comes), who has no fixed abode and is firm in mind, that man who is devoted is dear to Me.

But those who with faith, holding Me as their supreme aim, follow this immortal wisdom, those devotees are exceedingly dear to Me."

Says Karl Pribram, a brain researcher and a neurosurgeon that brain's deep structure is essentially holographic. Each brain cell is a miniature brain itself. So is the Vedantic statement that each soul is the manifestation of Brahman. Karl Pribram continues, "What if the real world is not made of objects at all? What if it is a hologram?" These statements have raised deeper questions like who was looking through this hologram and who was looking at this hologram? Who was running the brain computer? "Was it a Ghost in the machine?" enquired Arthur Koestler. Who interprets the hologram was the million dollar question before the Scientists.

Pribram supporting the holistic view of the Universe said in 1977:
"This is science as it was originally conceived in the pursuit of understanding. The days of the bold hearted technocrat appear to be numbered."

Lord Krishna in the Gita says: "I have interpenetrated through the entire Universe, like pearls strung on one string."

Pribram admitted that this holographic concept of a Holistic Reality was first given to the world by Eastern Philosophy. He said, "Eastern philosophy has come into western thought as in the past......... whether it will stick this time or we will have to go around once more will depend on you. The spirit of the infinite could become part of our culture and not a little far out."

And said Vivekananda a century ago, "This mind is a part of the Universal mind. Each mind is connected with every other mind. And each mind, wherever it is located, is an actual communication with the whole world." It was in 1983 in the Chicago Parliament of Religions, Swami Vivekananda had defined science as "nothing but the finding of the unity", in his famous Madras lecture he had said, "One atom in this Universe cannot move without dragging the whole world with it." Swami ji had also said, "One man contains the whole Universe. One particle of matter has all the energy of the Universe at its back." So, we find that both science and spirituality in their pursuit of Truth are converging to a grand unification of matter and spirit. I do believe that the message of 20th century world to the coming generation is to realise the most blissful state of essential unity pervading all through the Universe and announce ATMAN IS BRAHMAN. SCIENCE IS TRUTH AND TRUTH IS BRAHMAN

Thank you.

Science, Spirituality and Devotion

Back to Content