The nature of the human soul is to explore the underlying secrets of the visible as well as the invisible worlds, to investigate the unknown and finally to inquire about the nature of the Ultimate Reality of God. Scientific knowledge is born out of such inquiry and religious knowledge or spiritual wisdom is also aimed at finding and realizing the same Ultimate Reality. Vedanta, the topmost scientific and philosophical treatise of the Indian spiritual and cultural heritage has a lot to contribute in this regard and could provide a vital leap in expanding our knowledge about the Ultimate Reality, God. In this unique volume, His Holiness Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami further explores the nature and existence of God and depicts the relevance of Vedantic wisdom in the context of modern scientific and technological developments. He presents the need for a synthesis of scientific knowledge and spiritual wisdom to gain complete knowledge of God. His Holiness, who is both a scientist with a Ph.D. in Physical Organic Chemistry from the University of California, Irvine, USA and a spiritualist in the Bhakti-Vedanta tradition of India, has been one of the pioneers in advancing the science and religion dialogue for over thirty years. His writings, investigation a profound relationship between science and spirituality will provide useful insights in the search for the Ultimate Reality, God.
Vedanta and Science Series consist of a number of articles by the author on Vedantasutra in the light of today’s scientific worldview, following the instructions and guidance of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada wanted the author to present a scientific commentary on Vedantasutra incorporating the Vaisnava viewpoints. Taking the inspiration from the Govinda-Bhasya commentary of Srila Baladeva VIdyabhusana, one of the topmost saintly scholars in the Vaisnava tradition during the eighteenth century and begging the blessings of Srila Prabhupada and all the other acaryas, the author is humbly trying to present a scientific commentary on Vedantasutra.
In the first volume of this series, the author had presented two articles, “Human Life and Evolution of Consciousness” and “A Glimpse of the Origin of the Universe” based on the first two aphorisms of Vedantasutra. This volume is directed towards the next two aphorisms of Vedantasutra, V.S. 1.1.3-4.
The third and fourth aphorisms of Vedantasutra, V.S. 1.1.3-4, state that the argument for the existence of God should be based on scriptural evidence. In other words, the scriptures are the authority and deciding factor for the complete knowledge of God, just as a mother’s words are the authority in discerning the true identity of the father. This Vedantic process of acquiring knowledge is called avaroha-pantha in Sanskrit. This means that real knowledge should be received through the parampara, the descending, or top-down process.
On the other hand, an empirical logic based on experiments, observations and inferences is fundamental to the scientific approach. But it has its own limitations. In Vedanta it is called aroha-pantha or jnana marga, the ascending path, or the bottom-up process. This scientific process can, at the most, indicate the existence of God. It cannot lead to a deeper knowledge of God. This is because our senses have four inherent limitations. Hence, scientific knowledge based on one’s intellect and sense perception is incomplete while spiritual knowledge provides deeper insights into the nature and existence of God.
In this article the author briefly describes the Vedantic epistemology and presents a synthesis of the top-down and bottom-up processes or a synthesis of scriptural and scientific approaches for the evidence of God’s existence. This is the holistic Vedantic paradigm. Finally, he outlines some fundamental attributes of God and His role in the universe from Vedanta and other Vedic scriptures.
The scientific and intellectual contents of the Vedic literatures have attracted the attention of some of the world’s finest scientific minds such as Erwin Schrodinger, Robert Oppenheimer and Albert Einstein. The Vedantasutra, expressed in the form of aphorisms, is the essence of all Vedic knowledge. Its author is Srila Vyasadeva known as the literary incarnation of Lord Sri Krsna. Srila Vyasadeva also wrote the Srimadbhagavata Purana. It is mentioned in the Garuda Purana that the Srimadbhagavata Purana is the natural commentary of Vedantasutra by the author himself. Many revered saints in the past have also commented on these aphorisms for the benefit of their contemporary audiences.
The thinking patterns of present day seekers of the Absolute Truth, as well as their search for the Ultimate Reality have been greatly influenced by scientific thinking. Scientific knowledge, based on empirical data, has grown exponentially over the past three hundred years and modern scholars are eager to understand both material and spiritual knowledge on a scientific basis.
The great saintly personality, His Divine Grace Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder Acarya of both the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and the Bhaktivedanta Institute, foresaw the need for presenting the spiritual knowledge of the Vedanta in the light of modern scientific knowledge for the benefit of scientific minded people. For this purpose, he founded the Bhaktivedanta Institute and ordered his dear disciple Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami to become its Director. He left many instructions to Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami and one such instruction was to present a scientific commentary on the Vedantasutra. Swamiji humbly submitted to his Divine Master that he was completely unqualified to undertake such a Himalayan task. However, Srila Prabhupada insisted, “You should not worry. I will guide you in every sutra. You have to present it scientifically. Lord Sri Krsna will show you how to do it.”
His Holiness Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami (Dr. T.D. Singh) received his Ph.D. (1974) in physical organic chemistry from the University of California, Irvine, U.S.A. He also undertook the scientific study of Vaishnava Vedanta for eight years (1970-1977) under the guidance of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Having been trained in the top schools of both the scientific and the Vedantic traditions, His Holiness (Dr. T.D. Singh) has been engaged in advancing the dialogue between science and spirituality for the last thirty years. We are hopeful that these articles penned by Dr. Singh, a well-known authority in the field of science and spirituality, will be a source of immense inspiration to the readers towards the search for the Ultimate Reality, God.
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