One of the most remarkable features of Hinduism is that unlike other faiths, it is not confined to any geographical area; such as Jerusalem or Middle East, or time like first to seventh century AD, where Christianity and Islam developed. Santana Dharma has had its imprints left over the entire Universe. The gods, goddesses and sages are timeless. There are several inter-planetary movements not only of gods and goddesses, but also of sages and mortal beings. They appear and disappear. With such faith, Hinduism has unified abstract scientific knowledge and humanized illustrations in the form of spiritual literature that Europeans tend to call mythology.
The Scientific Mythology
Although mythology is a subject of faith and beliefs, but abstract knowledge compiled in books is open to scrutiny at all times. Hindu scriptures and text books are open to inclusion in the University curriculum for critical evaluation, so that various hypotheses could be verified by employing modern tools. The concepts in Hinduism are so strong that criticism is not considered taboo or blasphemous.
Hinduism is a perfect blend of Science and faith where both are complementary to each other. Whatever cannot be comprehended is said to be a myth. The branch of knowledge that serves as tool to understand the intelligible qualifies to be referred as Mythology. Therefore, complex scientific concepts had been explained by Hindu sages utilizing the tool of mythology that is scientific in every respect.
Evaluation by Reasoning
Faith is always a consequence of several reasoning pointing to same findings with consistency. Blind faith also required some solid ground for support. Hindus have several faiths and beliefs established in their kitty on account of reasoning. There is absolutely no danger to Hindu faiths that can survive any amount of cross checks. Faith is the real foundation of Hinduism.
Our scriptures are open to reasoned evaluation. Hinduism is not vulnerable to atheist thoughts that many other faiths are. Many faiths have separated religion from science, under secularism, that is nothing but an escape to avoid scientific evaluation. Science and Religion are complementary to each-other for Hindus. Pursuit of Gyana (knowledge) is Science.
The Evolution Theory
The beginning of Indian scientific thought can be traced to the Rig Veda. According to Vedas ‘Creation’ indicated the state when there was no Creator. It is line between indefinable ‘nothingness’ and something defined by attributes and function. It was like the moment before the ‘Big Bang Theory’. These concepts about Truth provide cue to the scientific mind and are not mere religion.
Manusmariti (chapter one) refers to Evolution of Earth and life on our planet. Several Puranas have also given detailed description of the origin of our Universe.
आसीदितं तमोभूतमप्रज्ञातमलक्षणम् । अप्रतक्यमविज्ञेयं प्रसुप्तमिव सर्वतः ।।
ततः स्वयंभूभर्गवानव्यक्तो व्यञ्जयन्निदम्। महाभूतादि वृत्तौजाः प्रादुरासीत्तमोनुदः।।
– (मनु स्मृति 1 – 5-6)
It stated that the universe was covered in darkness and there was nothing to perceive or imagine for establishing the shape according to reasons. The five basic elements of matter subsequently known as Earth, Wind, Fire, Water and Ether emerged automatically out of the state of nothingness.
As per Sage Manu, the first germ of life was developed by water and heat from Sun. Water ascended towards the sky in vapors; from the Sky it descended in rain, from the rains were born the plants, and from the plants, animals and subsequently humans were born.
The ancient thinkers correctly understood the theory of animal life and particularly of man. The Brihat Vishnu Purana states that the aquatic life preceded monkey life, and monkey life is the precursor of the human life. Centuries later, Charles Darwin plagiarized the same thought and got it registered in his name. The ten incarnations of Vishnu explain the same theory in an interesting way since evolution, like everything else, was the manifestation of the supreme spirit (Atman). Chandogya Upanishad also testified the same thought.
Hindu sages had thoroughly studied the behavioral pattern of living beings and the motivating force urging them to actions. Animals and bird do not have schools to train their off springs in the art of making nests, finding food and satisfying other body demands, yet they have learned the same automatically under the guidance from the Creator. These findings are now being televised on National Geographic channels but sage Manu had enunciated the same fact centuries ago as under:
यं तु कर्मणि यस्मिन्स न्ययुड्क्त प्रथमं प्रभुः।
स तदेव स्वयं भेजे सृज्यमानः पुनः पुनः ।। (मनु स्मृति 1- 28)
For whatever activity Lord Brahma created the first specie, their off-springs automatically performed the same functions again and again.
Wood-peckers birds have been pecking holes in tree trunks for centuries to search food for themselves, when plenty of substitutes are available nearby. Their generations have continued to perform same duty in every birth without any training.
Puranic narratives depicted feelings and sensations existing in plants and animals similar to humans, and much later Sir Jagdish Chandra Bose was awarded Nobel Prize for re-stating the same truth in modern scientific language to the West.
Contributions in Applied Science
Old Indian Scriptures contain description of fourteen bhavans, seven continents and four oceans that we see printed on the geographical globes of today. The Indian astronomers identified orbit of Earth around Sun and marked the route by providing twelve zodiac signs. They identified all the planets of our solar system, measured their distance and orbit, predicted their effect on human mind, and thereafter included them in a Mantra to be recited to witness all the rituals of life. They had identified the gems and their properties to balance the effect of heavenly bodies on our mind, actions and events. That was the application of scientific knowledge in everyday life. The data gathered by Indian astronomers is as near to the limits established through the scientific discoveries being made today.
Philosophy of Actions and Re-actions
On the philosophical plain the Karma Sidhanta explained in Srimad Bhagvad Gita is the fore-runner of Action – Reaction Theory or better known as Theory of Relativity.
It is an accepted scientific truth that ‘Action and Reaction are equal and opposite.’ Doer does an action and its fruit is given by Almighty God and goes to the doer itself. In simple words, ‘Man acts and God reacts. Whatever you sow shall you reap is an eternal law. Effect wise actions have been classified in four types:
- Nishkam Karma: The actions that are performed without any motive for reward provide deepest satisfaction instantly.
- Punya Karma: When action and the intentions behind the action are noble, such as saving the life of some one.
- Paap Karma: Evil actions performed with evil intentions to harm some body.
- Mishrit Karma: Mixed actions are good actions with bad intentions or vice versa, such as using pesticides to obtain good crop.
Another classification of action is on different scale –
- Kriyaman Karma: Present actions leading to chain reaction.
- Sanchit Karma: Past deed, those have yet to show result.
- Prarabdha: Actions performed in the past, but show their effect in present after maturing. Such actions are called fate or destiny.
The belief goes that it is purely destiny that someone has up start in life by birth in riches, while another is born with deformities. All activity in life is result of past actions and reactions. Some actions can be analyzed while others cannot be. Not only we are affected by individual actions, but also suffer or enjoy due to the actions of our parents, relatives and contacts. Can scientific reasoning be different from this thought process of Hinduism? Here lies the blend between faith and scientific explanations.
Chand K Sharma
(Next: Splashes – 32/72 – Cosmic Time in Hindu Scriptures)