How can Vedic concepts be explained in scientific terms?
Duration: 7 min
Transcribed by: Suresh Gupta
Question: How can Vedic concepts be explained in scientific terms?
Answer: Explanation of Vedic concepts in scientific terms can be understood at two levels: (i) ontological (ii) functional. Ontological means the nature of reality that exists around us and functional means what is the effect of such reality.
Let us first understand from an ontological perspective. Science is basically a material branch of knowledge which provides material explanation for material phenomena. In that sense, science cannot talk about Vedic concepts such as god or soul directly because these concepts are at a non-material level. However, science can find evidences that point towards god or soul, e.g. phenomena such as past life memories in children, near-death experiences, out-of-body experiences etc. Through such cases, science presents a very strong argument in favour of Vedic concepts such as reincarnation, soul, immortality of soul etc.
Two researchers, Kenneth Ring and Sharon Cooper, in their book Mindsight, investigates the claim that blind persons, including those blind from birth, can actually “see” during near-death or out-of-body episodes. The authors present their findings in scrupulous detail, investigating case histories of blind persons who have actually reported visual experiences under these conditions.
The book describes a case of a woman in detail who was blind since birth. She was born premature and was put in an incubator where too much oxygen was put which caused damage to her optic nerve thereby no signals of the eyes could go to the brain. Later in her life she had an accident in which she felt unconscious and had an out-of-body experience. She suddenly noticed herself looking at her own body from overhead. She saw some doctors hovering over a woman and saying that the woman looks in a bad condition. She also saw the nurse saying that the woman will not survive. When she was looking from above she became very upset and thought that I will talk to this woman and wake her up. She came down and noticed the wedding ring in the hand of the woman which she recognized to be her own wedding ring. She was very much surprised and wondered if she was that woman. Since she was blind from birth she had never seen her body, so she could not recognize herself. She got confused and wondered if she was dead. When she returned to her own body she again lost her capacity to see. When she came back to consciousness she described to the doctors the whole event. She told them whatever she had seen them talking during the surgery. It was all true. The doctors did not believe and argued if she was hallucinating or guessing or if she was partially conscious during surgery. However, none of such explanation worked.
There are cases like these which offer no explanation at the material level. Such cases strongly point towards that the real seer is not the eyes, nor the optic nerve, nor the brain, but the soul. The soul sees with the help of the bodily parts such as optic nerve etc. If the bodily part is damaged, soul will not be able to see when inside the body. In an out-of-body experience, when the soul comes out of the body and the hindrance due to damaged bodily part is removed, the soul can see.
From an ontological perspective, I just discussed one way Vedic concepts can be explained in scientific terms. Now let us discuss from a functional perspective i.e. difference between effects of Vedic knowledge and scientific knowledge.
Science can make things better, but spirituality can make people better. Science and spirituality are both required to complement each other. Look at America, where obesity is a big problem. We have developed machines that can cook faster and better but we have lost to capacity to control our tongue. We have developed lot of capacity to manipulate the outer world but we are still struggling to conquer the inner world. In mental asylums when people go wild they are put on sedatives so that they can sleep, but after they recover their anger still remains unprocessed. Likewise, there can be so many emotions – e.g. greed, lust, selfishness, envy, depression – which cannot be just medicated away. However, such emotions can be managed through Vedic purification techniques such as bhakti yoga.
In this way, by understanding both the ontological as well as the functional aspects of Vedas and science, we can help ourselves and others to be truly successful and happy in life.