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The Riddle of the Infinite or Ananta

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Item Code: NAS792
Author: Jayant Burde
Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd
Language: ENGLISH
Edition: 2019
ISBN: 9788120841680
Pages: 210
Cover: HARDCOVER
Other Details 9.50 X 6.50 inch
Weight 400 gm
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Book Description

About the Book

This book explores the bizarre but fascinating world of infinity in different disciplines of knowledge; mathematics, science, philosophy and religion. It projects the views of eastern as well as western scholars.

This world is not only mysterious but also treacherous and conceals many conudrums such as multitude of infinities, the mystic's experience of the infinite, conception of God as absolute infinity. The author also discusses many paradoxes relating to space and time.

It is interesting to discover that some eastern philosophies try to reconcile two opposite concepts of hinya (zero) and ananta (the infinite).

The author also ventures to address a difficult question: Does infinity really exist as a physical reality?

About the Author

This book explores the bizarre but fascinating world of infinity in different disciplines of knowledge; mathematics, science, philosophy and religion. It projects the views of eastern as well as western scholars.

This world is not only mysterious but also treacherous and conceals many conudrums such as multitude of infinities, the mystic's experience of the infinite, conception of God as absolute infinity. The author also discusses many paradoxes relating to space and time. It is interesting to discover that some eastern philosophies try to reconcile two opposite concepts of hinya (zero) and ananta (the infinite). The author also ventures to address a difficult question: Does infinity really exist as a physical reality?

Preface

This book discusses the concept of infinity or ananta in different disciplines of knowledge; mathematics, science, philosophy and religion. It projects the views of eastern as well as western scholars.

This treatise may be viewed as a work that complements my earlier book S"unya and Nothingness in Science, Philosophy and Religion (2009), but is self-sufficient and is designed for independent reading. While the earlier book explored the world of nothingness, the present volume ventures into the region at the other extreme of the spectrum zero-infinity.

The world of the infinite is as bizarre as that of nothingness but is more treacherous and conceals many more conundrums. You will find the journey through this terrain quite fascinating.

What's more, you will encounter strange reconciliation between zero and infinity in eastern thought. Some eastern schools see ,ittnya in ananta and ananta in sunya.

Introduction

The conception of infinity or ananta seems to be universal. It has existed in almost all civilizations and societies; ancient or modern, eastern or western, preliterate or most advanced. Ostensibly, the concept of finitude antedates that of the infinite, but we do not know at what stage the infinite appears as societies progress.

The concept is not confined to a few branches of learning; it pervades the whole spectrum of knowledge; philosophy, religion, mathematics, natural and social sciences, literature and arts, especially painting.

In western philosophy infinity is often identified with God. Many philosophers have tried to prove the existence of God.

In eastern cultures it is either equated with a personal god or the ultimate reality called Brahman. In Vedic literature including Upanisads we often encounter the following verse called .antimantra. (ifinti for peace)

Om piirnam adah piirnam idam purnift piirnam udacyate

Hirpasya piknam Maya parnam eva avaiisyate

"Om, the infinite fullness is that Brahman. The same infinite fullness is this Brahman. The same infinite fullness springs from this finite universe. When this same infiniteness is taken away from infinite fullness, still what remains is infinite fullness".

There is no doubt that the poet has some insight into what we mean by infinity. However, the verse is equally applicable to sunya (zero, void). The identification of ananta with sunya signifies a mystical component which cannot be divorced from the infinite.

In Sanskrit the following words are used as word-numbers (bhiitasaiikhya) for zero.

sunya, chidra, balam, dravinam, akasa, antariksa, kha, gagana, jaladharapatha, diva, piirria, bindu, etc.

But these words also indicate infinity. According to some scholars the resemblance between the symbols for zero (0) and infinity (00) is more than a coincidence. It shows a strong bond between the two extremes.

This reflects the tendency of eastern scholars to indicate anything indescribable by using oxymorons, contradictions and opposites. For example, in Chinese Taoism T' ai-chi u is the diagram of Supreme Ultimate but embodies two opposite principles, male and female.

In Mathematics and physical sciences infinity (00) means something that is greater than any known number or measure. It is more a concept than a number.

In modern arithmetic we come across a hierarchy of infinities called transfinite numbers. We shall see later that the definition of infinity has an undercurrent of mysticism which is not manifest to the casual observer.

Exploration of the territory of the infinite is fascinating. Its terrain at many places appears treacherous and we often encounter mind-boggling riddles. But, as you will find, the journey to the infinite is truly rewarding.

**Contents and Sample Pages**









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