How can we understand scientific concepts like space and time from the Vedic perspective?
Transcription by – Sesa Vishnu Prabhu
Question : How can we understand scientific concepts like space and time from vedic perspective?
Answer: the vedic perspective or the vedic knowledge can be divided into three parts. Imagine a circle and three sectors in that circle. One aspect that is harmonious with the modern science, second which is contradictory to modern science, and third which is beyond the modern science or beyond science at large. For example if we talk about the spiritual world, beyond the material sky-
paras tasmät tu bhävo ‘nyo
‘vyakto ‘vyaktät sanätanaù
yaù sa sarveñu bhüteñu
naçyatsu na vinaçyati
Krishna says in the Bhagavad gita 8.20 that beyond this material world there is a spiritual world that is just beyond the scope of science. The primary thrust f studying scripture is for gaining the spiritual knowledge. But along with that there is material knowledge also in the scriptures. The scriptures are not focusing primarily on the material knowledge that can be got from other sources also. So when we talk about the scriptural conception of science they are observing from a particular perspective and we are observing from a different perspective. So how the two can be reconciled or integrated that itself is a whole body of research. Srila prabhupada started a bhaktivedanta Institute, the body of scientific research meant for devotee scientists to do specialisation and doing research.
In general I would like to talk about two examples. Say with respect to space, time and the universe the vedic understanding is that the universe is a multi layered reality. Multi- layered means that just like if you have a computer in my computer if I have two users- there is an admin and a user, say there is a child user. The child user has a certain level of access and the admin has a much greater level of access. Say there a re 5ooo files in my computer the child may have access to only 500 and the remaining 4500 he has to access through the admin. Similarly the universe is like a multi layered structure like the multi user system and we humans have a certain level of access. So there is much in the universe that we cant have access to. That does not mean that what we are having access to is wrong or what we are perceiving is wrong. Like if I look at my computer there may be an E:\ drive but I cant see that because that is not accessible to me through my computer at my level of access. There are various ways in which access can be configured. So the E: \ drive is there but I cant see it. so what I am seeing is that wrong? No it is there but that is just within one segment of the computer. So what science has uncovered in a relative context it is true and it is true to be recognised. Bhagavad gita also talks about how using our faculties we can acquire knowledge and that knowledge is not rejected. But that knowledge has to be harmonised with the spiritual knowledge. So the scriptures talk about primarily transcendental knowledge, along with that they talk about the material knowledge . Primary purpose of that material knowledge is to help us focus on spirituality or help us live a life that is harmonious with spirituality. So the specific ways in which the modern scientific knowledge can be reconciled that will vary. Like I gave the example of computer access.
The second example is variation in observation depending upon the scale of observation. Say if I take chalk and if I take coal and I make both of them into powder, now one is white powder and the other is black powder. I mix both of them together. What happens? I will get a greyish sort of powder. Now if I see it with a microscope I don’t find any grey powder. I see black granules and white granules. So what it is really? So what we perceive depends on our scale of observation. Similarly in the vedic science they are describing the matter and the material world in a different scale of observation. And we are seeing it in a different scale of observation. So how the two are to be reconciled, there has to be investigation for that. Some of you can be the pioneers in that research. Specially the world today needs and blend of science and spirituality. Martin luther king said ” We have guided missiles but misguided men” . Our scientific knowledge has outrun our spiritual power. Especially in india the young generation has the greatest opportunity to do this. Because by education and by training we can develop a scientific aptitude and by culture and upbringing still there is a lots of spiritual routes in india. So by both of them coming together we can do a remarkable contribution to the humanity.