Science cannot exist in vaccum; it has to work within the fold of ethics and society. Therefore, Science in Bharatiya tradition always had a proactive engagement with the people
I remember the turning point as I saw in the year 1996 while celebrating the 700th anniversary of Dnyaneswar’s Samadhi. We had completed the development of PARAM 8000, our supercomputer. We had a team which was working day and night for the next model, PARAM 10000, which means a trillion mathematical operations per second. There is a famous Moore"s Law in computing which says that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits had doubled every year since their invention. So this trend continues, everything that is being invented becomes zero in no time.
While thinking about the 700 years old commentary on Bhagavad Gita enunciated by Sant Dnyaneshwar, which is still profoundly beautiful and relevant, I realised that we are in the delusion that we are doing something great. If you go back to the Bhagavad Gita which was written 5000 years back, or the Vedas which were written much earlier, you cannot change anything either the utterance or what was written. Then another thought occurred to me was that what the Vedas are trying to proclaim. Ved Vakyas, Sutras, etc. are the equations of eternity. Aham Brahmasmi or Tatvamasi or Pragyanam Brahma or Ayam Atma Brahma is the expressions of reality. Science also tries to do that. Science finds only the quintessence of the reality of nature. So this was a real awakening moment for me.
Dharma and Vijnana
The Bharatiya knowledge system or Vedic knowledge system (Vedangas, Darshanas, Brahmasutra, Itihasas, Puranas, complemented by Buddhist and Jain Darshanas) constitutes a grand system of profound knowledge system of Bharat. The corollary to this is the idea of Vijnana and Dharma, Science and Spirituality. We are not saying that science alone is the knowledge. Then I understood from the Bhagavad Gita, the 7th adhyaya. No one has given such a definition to knowledge. There are many definitions of science. What Dnyaneshwara says is Vijnana is Prapancha, secular or material knowledge coming from Pancha mahabhutas. Everything we study today whether it is political science, biology or natyashastra all are human endeavours. They are in a way integrated and not compartmentalised, whereas, spirituality is the knowledge of ‘self’. Who is having Brahma Jijnyasa? Me. You want to understand the outside world, but you don’t want to know who am ‘I’? This whole process of knowing my journey into my inner universe is spirituality. These two altogether constitute the full knowledge. The whole idea of the confluence of science emanates from that.
Everything we study today whether it is political science, biology or natyashastra all are human endeavours. They are in a way integrated and not compartmentalised, whereas, spirituality is the knowledge of ‘self’. Who is having Brahma Jijnyasa? Me
Look at our knowledge system, the valid knowledge comes with six Pramanas
Interestingly, if you look at our knowledge system, the valid knowledge comes with six Pramanas (proofs or means of knowledge). The so-called modern Sciences so far dominantly use only two pramanas, that is Pratyaksh (direct perception) and Anuman (inference). Upamāa (comparison and analogy), Arthāpatti (postulation, derivation from circumstances), Anupalabdi (non-perception, negative/cognitive proof) and Śabda (word, the testimony of past or present reliable experts) are not considered as proofs in modern sciences, and therefore, this problem occurs. In our knowledge system, Parampara (tradition) is also considered as a proof, as it comes from wisdom. You can question it like sciences, but all of us believe in Parampara.
Newton gave the new worldview, i.e. the mechanical worldview which was correct at that time. Einstein admits the space-time continuum, the Theory of Relativity, a different world view, and then come Quantum Mechanics. Now consciousness, studies which take us to the Vedic views that the reality is nothing but a triad of myself (the observer), object (the observed) and the observation (state of consciousness). That is why I believe that this confluence is possible.
Global Discourse of Jnana
When Bharat was considered as a great civilisation world over, Princess and sages from all over the world came to Nalanda, right from Japan to Tibet, China, Korea, Mongolia, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia and even Turkey. Many people in the East Asia Summit admitted that their nations were shaped by Nalanda. When the idea of Nalanda was mooted in Bankok, 22 nations supported the idea, which was originally proposed by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. I share that dream. We will be truly a developed country on Indian parameters when students from all over the world will come to India to seek knowledge. Can we recreate that kind of knowledge system, is the real challenge. We will have to learn from ancient wisdom, connect with modern technology as we did in Management Sciences (Bhagavad Gita and Management), nurture great acharyas with same zeal and wisdom who can visualise and design new pedagogy and deliver it effectively.
It will create a new path. All technological developments are meant for happiness. We have understood everything, population, individuals, societies and respective material needs. But we have not understood the meaning of happiness. Wellness, happiness, well being, these questions are arising even in the Western world particularly because of the realisation that the manifestation of reality is much beyond what we see. Now many people are started studying Ayurgenomics which is a combination of Ayurveda and Genetics. This process will certainly show us new light. Unfortunately, it is not happening with enough speed in India. Bharatiya Vijnana is the confluence of sciences, where there is no duality between the material and spiritual.
Today Ayurveda people study modern medicine. Why can Allopathic practitioners not learn Ayurveda? What we need is the exposure. The Ayurveda people must have exposure of modern anatomy, physiology and there should be teachers who have studied both. India can create this new knowledge system India can create. I am not limiting to the national boundaries but providing a new perspective for looking at things. There are profound disciplines. On cancer cure, billions and billions of dollars are spent overseas. If we can provide Ayurveda and cow therapy as fresh alternative, why not go for it? People will come to us. This process of reverse brain-drain is going to happen in the future. Our educationist and students need to beli eve this, for that they should get the exposure to this confluence of knowledge.
(As told to Prafulla Ketkar, Editor, Organiser)
(The writer is a Bharatiya computer scientist and Chancellor of Nalanda University)