!!Swami Vivekananda and Scientific Transformation of the Nation!
“The great secret of true success, of true happiness, is this: the man or woman who asks for no return, the perfectly unselfish person, is the most successful.”― Swami Vivekananda
What is the relationship between science and spirituality? Most skeptics and materialistic scientists not only consider spiritual knowledge and religious scriptures to be non-science, but see them as essentially a factor of falsehood, superstition and unscientific thinking. We can look to the biologist and popular science author Richard Dawkins as a typical proponent of such an "anti" view. Dawkins in his book The God Delusion (2006) treats religion as an illusion based on a "rooted myth". Scientists like Dawkins have no selfish motive in this fierce skepticism and harsh criticism of religion. If they give up religion, then Evolutionism will be dominated by Creationism, those who claim that the Earth is flat will continue to argue, and the structure and origin of the universe will continue to be sought in the Bible, the Quran, and the Vedas.
“हर काम को तीन अवस्थाओं से गुज़रना होता है – उपहास, विरोध और स्वीकृति”
Then the question remains, how to study thinkers like Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) who have many views on science, but communicate from the framework of spirituality? American biologist Stephen J. Gould has suggested a middle way in these excesses of science and spirituality in discourse. In his book Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life (1999), Gould talks of 'non-overlapping magisteria' (NOMA). It can be called 'non-interconnected glory' in Hindi. It means that science and religion are two such personalities which are never mutual but both give different sphere of influence and right of investigation while remaining independent. Science gives authority to fact, religion to value. So the sayings of sannyasin thinkers like Swami Vivekananda need not pass the test of fact or "hard evidence". It is appropriate to consider them as values, and in these values there is also a fragrance of scientific transformation.
“In a conflict between the heart and the brain, follow your heart. ”― Swami Vivekananda
In the thoughts of Vivekananda, both religion and science emerge from philosophy. The utility of science lies in harnessing the forces of nature for the betterment of life on earth and in getting acquainted with the reality of the universe by way of knowledge. He believed that science is the messenger of religion. Where religion follows the path of leapfrog in search of truth, while science reaches the truth gradually through the formality of investigation technology. In this sequence, intuition can be discussed. Vivekananda believed that intuition was a valid form of knowledge. In colonial India, many Indian scientists made serious efforts to study the past. In fact, historians have shown how the colonial encounter inspired a project of 'revival' among the Indian intelligentsia. This rejuvenation was for an exploration of the idea that Indian traditions were not devoid of rationality, objectivity and other features of modern science. Many Indian scientists were trained in colonial modernity, many searched for an alternative to this modernity, and many tried to replace it. The Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (1876), founded by Mahendralal Sarkar, was one such effort. In this sequence, the philosopher Brajendranath Seal in Bengal wrote a book called The Positive Sciences of the Ancient Hindu (1915). Seal urged that "the sages of antiquity had ideas favorable to the atomic theory of matter, but that it was a 'pleasant intuition' that could result from deep meditation and intelligent observation." It is clear that Seal was saying that we cannot understand the idea of sages like Kanada in the same way as John Dalton's theory. But still the role of intuition is central in both. Modern science is not only dependent on experiments, proofs and theorems but also on intuition. In this direction the book Induction and Intuition in Scientific Thought (1969) by Nobel Prize-winning biologist Peter Medwar (1915–1987) can be read.
Contemporary Interventions of Vivekananda:-
Do you know that Vivekananda was the inspiration behind the establishment of India's most prestigious science institution - Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore (IISc)? In the summer of 1893, two Indians, who were very different in their occupations, were traveling together on a ship from Yokohama in Japan to Vancouver, Canada. One was a 30-year-old monk and the other an industrialist. Both of them discussed the transformation of Indian society. Five years later, on November 23, 1898, Jamsetji Tata wrote a letter to Swami Vivekananda reminding him that his discussion of that voyage would now be fruitful as Tata had decided to establish a science research institution for Indian students. Tata had dedicated an amount of 2 lakh sterling pounds for this work during that period. This is where the foundation for the creation of IISC lays.
“मुझे गर्व है कि मैं एक ऐसे धर्म से हूं, जिसने दुनिया को सहनशीलता और सार्वभौमिक स्वीकृति का पाठ पढ़ाया है। हम सिर्फ सार्वभौमिक सहनशीलता में ही विश्वास नहीं रखते, बल्कि हम विश्व के सभी धर्मों को सत्य के रूप में स्वीकार करते हैं”। ― Swami Vivekananda
Similarly, Vivekananda's disciple Sister Nivedita and Vivekananda himself supported the leading Indian scientist Jagdish Chandra Bose several times. He not only acted as his main motivator, but also organized financial support for all his work over the years. In Paris in 1899, Bose made a deep impression on the international scientific community with the results of his experiments. Then both Vivekananda and Nivedita were present in Paris with Bose. The association between Vivekananda and Nikolas Tesla is also a wonderful event. In 1895 Vivekananda wrote in a letter to a friend, "Mr. Tesla thinks he can demonstrate mathematically that force and matter can be translated into potential energy. I should visit him next week to see this new mathematical demonstration." In that case the Vedantic science would be laid on a certain foundation. I see clearly his complete association with modern science, and he will be able to explain each other." (Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Vol 5, p. 77) Here Vivekananda refers to 'force' and 'force' for prana and ether. 'Matter' is used. Tesla's interest in Sanskrit and Vedanta and Vivekananda's interest in modern science and belief in a culture of proof are examples of the "middle way" in the excesses of science and spirituality.
Prafulla Chandra Ray (1861–1944) has given social causes for the decline of scientific consciousness in India. He blamed the caste system for this, arguing that the caste system in India separated intelligence from manual labour, and consequently theory from practice. That is, due to the caste system, the thinking brain could not match with the working hand. Almost the same thing is found here also with Vivekananda. So it has to be noted that in India scientists like Jagadish Chandra Bose named their instruments in Sanskrit, called their institution a 'temple', and also quoted from the Upanishads. But this does not make that stream of science 'Pongapanthi'. Bose warned in his autobiography that religious fundamentalism and illogical belief in the past would hinder India's progress.
Today we live in a political era where talk of Pushpak Vimana to television, internet, and stem cell therapy in ancient India continues to appear in public debate. Scientific consciousness will only term this thinking as false. Religion will tell science as its opponent. A thinker like Swami Vivekananda has room to find a solution in both the excesses. Vivekananda never told Jagdish Chandra Bose, Nicholas Tesla, or Jamsetji Tata what the need for modern science was because all these discoveries were made in ancient India. We get this inspiration from Vivekananda that how a country with a culture of spirituality and the greatest can communicate with modern science.