The present monograph is based on Professor Anantharaman's studies and researches for over two decades in the field of classical Yoga. It is the outcome of a sincere attempt by a scientist technologist to understand and interpret ancient Yoga in today's idiom as well as in the light of the recent findings of modern science in the realms of material transformations and human consciousness.
About the Author
T.R. Anantharaman was formerly Professor of Metallurgy, at Banaras Hindu University and also Director, Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology at Patiala. At present he is working as Senior Scientist (INSA) at National Physical Laboratory, New Delhi. His main research accomplishments encompass a broad spectrum of topics in physical metallurgy. However, his most creative efforts have centered round pioneering contributions on rapidly solidified alloys and metallic glasses. He has published a large number of research papers. His publications include Bhagavad Gita (1961) in German, Rapidly Solidified Metals: A Technological Overview (1987), The Rustless Wonder: A Study of the Iron Pillar at Delhi (1996).
A monograph written by a learned scholar and eminent scientist like Professor T.R. Anantharaman needs no Foreword. Requested to write it, I feel both pleased and somewhat embarrassed.
The world that we live in may be understood in very many ways. It has been described as material-causal. It has also been described as spiritual-teleological. At times this world of experience is said to be prakrti in Sanskrit or phusis in Greek. Its properties are studied in different sciences. Matter and energy and action of different forms of energy on matter lend themselves to different forms of vidya or sastra.
The meanings of words like science, philosophy, jnana, vijnana, sastra, vidya and avidya are not very definite or univocal. Over the ages and in different contexts of use these have undergone notable changes. In Rgveda the word sastra stands for an order, command, precept or rule. In the Mahabharata it means an instrument of teaching of rules as obtained in religious or scientific treatises. For example, we hear of dharmasastra, arthasasta etc. Vijnana is another word we come across in this type of discourse. It means the act of distinguishing, discerning, understanding, comprehending, recognizing, as also intelligence, knowledge etc. Also it is used to denote skill, proficiency, art, science, and worldly or profane knowledge. Vijnana is also some times deemed to be "opposite" to jnana, knowledge of the true nature of God.
Besides sastra and vijnana, another word which is widely used in Sanskrit literature is vidya. It is said to be kalajata, due to time. Vidya stands for science, learning, scholarship and philosophy. Though the scholars are not unanimous about the number of available vidyas, the generally accepted view being, viz., the triple Veda, trayi, anviksiki, logic and metaphysics, dandaniti, the science of government or politics, varta, practical arts such as agriculture, commerce, medicine. etc.
Interestingly enough, Manu speaks of a fifty vidya, atmavidya, and knowledge of soul or of spiritual truth. There are other authorities that maintain that vidya has fourteen divisions viz., the four Vedas, the six Vedangas, the puranas, the Mimamsa, Nyaya, and are others who recognize thirty-three or even sixtyfour sciences, kalas or arts. The contemporary distinction between art and science was not there either in India or in Europe. In the medieval Europe, the expression "the seven liberal arts", meaning thereby the group of studies by the trivium (Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric) and quadrivium (Arithmetic, Music, Geometry and Astronomy).
It is instructive to note that Professor T.R. Anantharaman has focused his attention on the Upanisads as well as the Bhagavadgita to explicate the complex thesis of the relation between Science and Spirituality. In fact, two whole chapters viz., the seventh and the ninth Adhyaya, of the Bhagavadgita are devoted to spell out this relation, the relation between the empirical and the transcendental, the natural and the spiritual.
How by practicing Yoga, taking refuge in the Divine, one can know both spirit, the realm of jnana, and Nature, the realm of vijnana, is explained by Krsna to Arjuna in Ch. VII.
Mayy asaktamanah partha
Yogam yunjan madasrayah
Asamsayam samagram mam
Yatha jnasyasi tac chrnu
Jnana is generally taken as wisdom, the immediate spiritual enlightenment, and vijanna as the detailed discursive and rational knowledge of the principles of existence. (Bhagavadgita, VII. 2). For access to the empirical world of diversity or Nature one has to depend on sense. Some interpreters are of the view that the aspect of wisdom is to be found in the principles of Vedanta and that of the detailed knowledge of the self which correctly coordinates and meaningfully synthesizes the acquisition of senses and vijnana as the personal experience, anubhava, of the things learnt from learned persons and treatises. Further, it is asserted that the supreme is both germinal matrix and terminal end of all that is. In other words, the empirical is both rooted and ends up in the transcendental. The supreme reality in its manifest (vyakta) form, manifest to sense-experience and analytic intellect, is the subject of scientific study. Its unmanifest or seminal form is available or realizable only in jnana or wisdom. Under one of its aspects, the Supreme Reality, God or Absolute, Isvara or Brahman, is material; under another aspect, the same reality is spiritual. However, at the bottom these two aspects are identical. Monism, in a way, is anomalous. The relation between the empirical and the transcendental, between Natural and God, may be formulated in religious language and also in secular idioms. Literary or metaphorical expression of this double-aspect Being is also available. In all cases the essential content remains identical, differentiated or undifferentiated identity.
The tension between the scientific view of the world and the religious view of the same is not new. If orderliness and explain ability in terms of laws, causal or probabilistic, are accepted as marks of science, most religious thinkers find no difficulty in accepting this view. In the history of western science from Copernicus, Galileo and Descartes to Newton and Kant, one finds a sustained effort to reconcile a mechanical view of the universe with God, the principle of supreme intelligence.
How can the mechanical worldview be reconciled with human freedom and creativity? Are religious consciousness and moral sentiments theoretically consistent with the causal account of the world? Or, must we take that religion or morality is purely practical? These are some of the questions which have been disturbing and intriguing many religiously disposed scientists. Many of our problems in this area, the relation between science, experience and experiment, on the one hand, and religion, spirituality and morality, on the other, are rooted mostly in the absence of clarity about the exact and intended meanings of the concerned expressions. Instead of allowing one's mind to commute between the English words like "science" (rooted in Lat. Scientia, knowledge, experience, etc. and scindere, to split or separate) and religion (rooted in relegere, to gather together, to ponder over, to give heed to, etc.) on the one hand and the Sanskrit (or the tatsama) words like "dharma", "adhyatmika" (original from the soul), as distinguished from "adhidaivika" (supernatural or elemental) and "adhibhautika" (originated from the four/five elements, bhuta(s), or organic), if one sticks to the former or the latter (set of words) and takes due note of their contextual uses, much of the said questionings and confusion could be avoided.
A good scientist need not be a believer. Nor does belief in God necessarily kill the scientific spirit of curiosity, experimental inquiry and quest for truth. All our beliefs are not provable. The so-called proofs for the existence of God have often been described by some philosophers of religion as mere "pleas" in support of the spontaneous human faith in some supreme power.
It is advisable to recall that many religions, Buddhism and Jainism, for example, do not believe in any personal God. If God cannot be proved, it cannot be disproved either. For example, Einstein is logical enough to point out that what is not scientifically established cannot be scientifically disestablished either. Science as such does not give or deny us creative freedom and spirituality. This freedom is not to be understood necessarily in terms of the recognition of necessity. "I maintain", Einstein has observed, "that the cosmic religious feeling is the strongest and noblest motive for scientific research". Similar views have been expressed by many other scientists and philosophers both in the East and the West.D. P. Chattopadhyaya
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