Major Presentation at World Parliament of Religions, Chicago 1993
Dr. Pranav Pandya,
Director : Brahamvarchas Research Instt., Shantikunj, Haridwar
In the words of the most renowned philosopher and controversial person of last century, I will like to quote Lao Tse who said that true words always seem paradoxical but no other form of teaching can take its place. Why I started this topic, I shall like to clarify. Whatever journey we are going to make in next 45 minutes is indeed the one which carries paradoxical propagation, but on the other hand it stands true as a certainty that religion and science are closely interrelated to the extent that they are indeed two sides of the same coin.
Gautam Buddha said Be ye lamp unto yourselves, be your own reliance, hold the truth to the truth within yourselves as to the only lamp. If we believe in His words, we might perhaps understand this truth which may bring deep awareness amongst ourselves to understand the concept of intercommunion of religion with science.
Never before the man came so close to the fulfillment of his most cherished hopes as today. Enthralling scientific adventures and inventions along with technical achievements have enabled us to visualize the day when the table is set for all who want to eat , a day when human race is forming a unified community and no longer wants to live as separate identities. The whole globe is under one umbrella and is called a village now. I believe that centuries and centuries were needed for this unfolding of man's intellectual capacity, for his ability to organize society and for celebrating his energies purposefully. Man has created a new universal order with his own laws and destiny. He has proven his worth as true heir of God, the most intelligent creator God has created; but when one looks at him, what can he say ? Is he anyway closer to other faiths , do justice, speak truth and realize that he is not in real sense an image of God, when definition of God , when definition of God as Summum Bonum of Good qualities and Ideals is put forth.
The question is embarrassing as answer is very clear and very painful. The more man has come nearer to scientific discoveries rendering him material pleasures, the mote he has created wonderful things through his infinite endeavor, he has failed to make himself for being whom. This tremendous effort would seem worthwhile. The life today is not of contentment, happiness and inner peace but of spiritual chaos and bewilderment dangerously close to the state of madness in which the contact with inner reality has been lost and thought is split from effect. In such a pretext we're discussing here today relevancy of religion with science and need of intercommunion of scientific disciplines with religious principles. How this proposition can be substantiated, I shall try to explain in next few minutes.
What is religion and what is science? Religion is supposed to be faculty pertaining to consciousness and leads man to inner peace and blissful pleasure. It also denotes sense of righteousness, devoutness and explain to man his moral ethics. Science is supposed to be a faculty pertaining to material world explaining infinite capacity of matter, its utility to humankind to deliver material happiness to all.
The word religion means-to unveil your real self, Latin Re- Back and Ligase- to bind, to unite, that which binds one back to origin is religion. There has been a constant struggle going on between science and religion since time immemorial. As per Hindu mythology -In each era Koormavtar to last Mahabharata end, there has been powerful struggle amongst Dev and Asur (Divine power and evil powers). Divine power denotes all orthodox thoughts about religion, and the evil power means materialistic leading to just, greed and hatred and, blind faith, traditions and orthodoxies. Science too has divine qualities, virtues and gifts for mankind but also evil associated with it. I am talking of endowments of material science. Spirituality or religion has divine qualities but also evil associated with it. Here I am talking of traditional religion. Science is incomplete religion and Religion is incomplete science. When we talk of tributes and contribution of science to materialistic world, we start wondering what we would have been if it would have not been accomplished.
Satellite TV, telecommunication equipments, inter planetary researches, fast moving vehicles, jets and concords, computers , laser and maser, ever coming fast information, remote sensing equipments are all every day to day material has access to each other through modem, E- mail and video phones. Whatever is happening in and corner of planet is accessible to everyone and influencing each other.
CNN is an example. Particle physics is right now at the door steps of new and new inventions. Similarly in field of medicine-Nuclear medicine (NMR), CAT and PET scanning, ultrasound, all non invasive techniques an catheterization has enabled us to know each and every depth of person. GIFT and SHIFT methods are now available to everybody to conceive and deliver child of one's own choice. Medical electronics has done wonders in the filed of Medicine.
This all could be attributes, commendable endowments of science to all of us but science become dangerously aggressive when it is misused. There is saying in Indian culture that “Nectar may even behave as poison when it is misused “How come? With materialism and enhancement of scientific virtues star-war, Gulf-war, nuclear radiation killing masses through radiation hazards, Chernobyl and many more increasing pollution to the extent the we have to use oxygen mask, polluted beaches, dying dolphins, depletion of ozone and green house effect, global warming, very frequent weather changes, more and more use of technology and homicides are just few glimpses.
Psychosomatic disorders are on increase and stress has become main killer out of all today. To the extent the Dr. Edger Murphy writes a book “150 ways to commit suicide” named -“The final exit” 15 million copies been sold in 3 days time. Loneliness has increased, fatherless children, single mother are more and more in number. Drugs like cocaine, brown sugar, heroin, LSD, ice crack, etc are more and more in circulation and books, magazines are more in number. AIDS and sexually transmitted disorders are on increase despite mass publicity and intensive researches going on.
One can see the paradoxes. In west, there is zero fertility rate because of increasing indulgence in sensual acts and lots of hormones pumped in body. In east, there is increased fertility leading to population explosion. Despite scientific progress we seem to be going towards downhill path. I will quote here Erich Fromm, a renowned scholar and psychologist of this century “Man's pride has been justified. By virtues of his reason he has built a material world, the reality of which surpasses even the dreams and vision of fairy tales and utopias. He harnesses physical energies, which will enable the human race to secure material conditions necessary for dignified and productive existence. Yet modern man feels uneasy and more and more bewildered. He works and strives, but he is dimly aware of a sense of fertility with regards to his activities. While his power over matter grows he feels powerless in his individual life and in society. “While becoming the master of nature, he has become the slave of machine which his own hands built. With all his knowledge about matter, he is ignorant with regard to the most important and fundamental questions of human existence. : What man is, how he ought to live and how the tremendous energies within man can be released and used productively? (quoted from “Man for himself” )
Here I come to second part of my presentation and that is how religion intercommunicating with science can provide all the solutions to today's problems, which we discussed just now. Religion is in essence of love, affection, innocence and adorable faith. It is not dogmas, rituals, philosophies and mythologies. Religion is something, which can put restraint on uncontrollable. Moreover, same religion, which was supposed to teach harmony, becomes a source of hatred, when it becomes unscientific. Swami Vivekanad says in his famous lecture on “Ideal of a universal religion” -“Religion is the highest plane of human thought and life. The innocent love that humanity has ever known, has come from religion and the most diabolical hatred that humanity has known has also come form religion the noblest words of peace that the world has ever heard have come from men on the religious plane and the bitterest denunciation that the world has ever known has been uttered by a religions men. Nothing makes us so cruel as religion and nothing makes us so tender as religion.”
Then how religion can become rational, scientific and more practical so as to be adopted in day to day life in today's material world? Indian culture provides an answer. My Gurudev Pandit Shriram Sharma Acharya says materialistic spirituality should be adopted. Religion and materialism can go hand in hand. “Ten tyakten bhujintha” is a passage from Ishopnishadas. It means -“Enjoy materialism but adopt the massage of sacrifice in day to day life.”
Spirituality in reality is a faculty which could be termed as science as it intends to transform personality of person brings a change in his consciousness and imbibes virtues and qualities so as to become a better man or woman in society. Spirituality in essence is art of living. Spirituality could guide and put constraint upon science and its curses. By intercommunication both disciplines - by making religion scientific and making science spiritually oriented. We in fact bring two giant forces together so that harmony is brought in man, society and cosmos.
Science needs a reign of religion, so that its growth is monitored properly and religion which is lame without science uses crutches of scientific disciplines. Both indeed are supplementary to each other. Resources material, means of science should be utilized by spirituality, faith and feelings and love so that it doesn't invent things making man slave, lonely and victim of war.
What I feel is that crisis of faith which we are witnessing today can be cured by scientific spirituality. All calamities at human level can be overcome by this intercommunion. Fire is very fierce and water denotes faith, emotion, love, dedication to cause. Science is fire and spirituality is water. Water can extinguish fire but if same water is boiled and steamed it can be productive and do wonders. This is how intercommunion works.
Our institute, Brahmvarchas Shodh Sansthan is doing the same. Prayer, mediation, going to holy places of place of worship, breathing exercises, rituals, samskars, how they can be scientific? , has been a burning topic. Our research suggests that physical, mental and spiritual health is amazingly affected by spiritual disciplines. 9 days camp in Shantikunj, Hardwar, India have propagated that a change can be brought in personalities and thinking process of man.
Power of mantras and power of equipments need a parallel study. Our research shows that your hidden potential can be awakened by power of mantras, specific syllables, Gayatri mantra in specific, Homa, Agnihotra , Ayurveda, medicinal plant therapy are all very effective remedied for today's problems and here lies synthesis to two disciplines. A rich library and full-fledged scientific laboratory provides, in our ashram, a concept of scientific spirituality. Diet restriction, yoga, pranayam , Meditation on various Tanmatras and listening to chanting of Mantras of Recitation of Mantras can not only cure a man of ailments ,but make him a better man to live in society.
Divinity in man and heavenly atmosphere on earth is certainty and it should come only through this Intercommunion. We have to understand that spirituality religion is not Ilme Safina (Knowledge of books) but Ilme Sina (Knowledge coming from core of heart) Wherever I have said I will like to end by sentence by Abbe Pire - “What matter is not the difference between believers and unbelievers, but between those who care and those who don't care.”
Om Shanti .