Category Archives: indian sciences

Relink science to spirit

Author: Francois Gautier

Publication: The Indian Express
Date: January 1, 2001

Will science and spirituality ever meet? This was the topic of a recent seminar at the prestigious Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. Indian scientists, one after the other, expounded, on how reason, rigour, logic and the spirit of inquiry are the most important parameters of scientific discovery. None of them, except for Abdul Kalam, made references to ancient Indian science. All of them spoke of science from a western point of view.

Truly western science, because of its immense material resources, has come to dominate the world. Billions of dollars is required these days for research which India can not afford. Since it is unable to remunerate honorably its scientists and engineers many of them have migrated to the West.

Western science is like a blind man, because it dissociated itself from the spirit in the 17th century. Reasons are several: First, because the powerful Christian church interfered in government matters. Thus it was very rigid and backward in scientific topics, believing until very late that the earth was flat or that the world started in 4003 BC. And whoever disagreed with these views was burnt at the stake!

Many thinkers of the 17th century, particularly French philosophers such as Descartes or Pascal, had unilaterally decreed that the only valid scientific and philosophical tools of inquiry were reason and logic. A third factor came in the 20th century with the advent of Marxism and Communism, which decreed that spirituality poisoned people minds and hence had to be eradicated.

Was this divorce of science from the spirit beneficial to the West? Well, western scientists have been able to devise the most sophisticated weapons to kill man; but man is still not capable of killing his own ego. The West, in spite of its huge prosperity based on its tremendous technological and scientific achievements, is becoming a sick society, where children go on rampage killings; where every other person in the US is under psychiatric treatment for depression or insomnia. Where out of five marriages, three end up in divorce.

Nobody in the conference, except Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who was a guest of honour, also bothered to ask this question: has Indian science kept in touch with the spirit? Well, major discoveries in Indian science, such as the position of the stars, the calculation of solar eclipses, or the concept of the zero, were made at the time when there were no instruments. How were they made? Because of a profound and everlasting quest for the spirit in India. It is in this manner that Buddha, was able to say, long before western science, that everything in our Universe is constituted of atoms, constantly changing, dying and being reborn at each moment. And this is the first theorem that any scientist should apply: Know Thyself, Know Thy mind. Because If you know your own mind, then you can fathom all other minds; if you know one particle of the world you know all the particles of the world. This is the truth that India has been practicing for millenniums.

Finally, nobody in the symposium cared to mention that western science owesa lot to India. Pythagoras, pioneer of modern geometry, was inspired byIndian mathematics; Egyptians built their pyramids by means of Indianarithmetic; 18th century French astronomers were using Hindu calculationsof the positions of the stars and the solar eclipses.

But unfortunately, Indian science today is very westernized, because the scientific knowledge taught in the universities lacks a connection with the spiritual, and never mentions India’s ancient tradition of scientific inquiry.

The British colonials imparted through education a certain western bent of mind. Additionally, many of India’s top scientists today have a strong connection with the West. The ultimate achievement for them is to have a chair in a foreign university, where some of them brand India as a backward, fundamentalist country. Isn’ it so Mr Amartya Sen? But the real issue is: how can Indian science re-link itself again with the spiritual? There is no question that the Spirit is very much present in India: everywhere you go, you find ashrams, yogis, sadhus, ordinary people practicing meditation or pranayama.

The natural tendency here is to understand the levels of consciousness beyond the surface materiality. Other than Indian Nobel laureates there have been geniuses like Ramanujan, who, with no sophisticated means, were able to devise stupendous mathematical theorems. But Indian science has to look within and delve in its scientific past. The secrets of the Vedas, for instance, both spiritual and scientific, have never been fully deciphered; Sanskrit too has never been analyzed in a modern manner. Indian science mustshow the West how to reestablish the spiritual link and at last unite matter and spirit.

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It was all in our stars

Author: Francois Gautier
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: October 23, 2000

Today, because of the vulgarisation of astrology, people tend to think that it Ls not a science and that the planets are so far away that they cannot have a definite influence on human life. But it is not so, contends Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Bangalore-based Art of Living, an International Foundation which cuts across all barriers of nationality and religion and brings enlightenment to millions of people all over the world.

He points out, for instance, the strong influence which the moon has on the huge oceans, whose tides rise and fall according to the lunar cycles. “In the same way,” he continues, “the moon has a sway on the human body, which is made-up of 60 per cent of fluids.” The moon has also a power on the mind: This is why on full moon days mental hospitals receive the maximum number of patients. People, in the past, knew this but it has been dismissed today as just another superstition.

What about the sun? It definitely also has an impact on people’s minds. Look at those who live in the Arctic Circle, where in winter the sun is so scarce that people tend to get depressed. The maximum number of suicides, in this region, takes place during the months of February and March.

The theory of relativity has proved that everything affects everything: A small atom exploding somewhere, has an impact for thousands of miles around and the effects of radiation continue for yeah. So the smaller the particle, the snore powerful the effect “In the same manner,” interjects the seer from Bangalore, “planetary positions affect us very closely, because of the cosmic rays coming out of certain planets and the particular position of the earth at a given moment, just as a small does of a homeopathic drug can have a repercussion on a body weighting 80 kg. or a drop of poison kill a huge animal.” Jupiter, for instance, affects the intellect, Saturn the hear, and so on. Each part of the human anatomy is connected to the cosmos: the nose is linked to Jupiter eyes to Saturn, Mars to the lower body…. The science, known as Samudrika Shastra, is almost lost today.

“The ancient sages,” declares Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, “knew these facts. This is why they devised the mala (necklace) with 108 beads, which stand for the 12 constellations and the nine planets and the 108 different permutations which affect one’s life.” Everything is interconnected in this universe, like a radio transistor, which can catch certain stations or relay messages, or a computer chip, which is the pathway for the movement of electrical and magnetic energy. And it is the same electric and magnetic energy which is linked to different planetary positions.

But how can the malefic influence that the planets sometimes have on us, be countered? Replies Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: “If the mind-body complex is affected by the planets, the Self, or Atman, remains untouched. And if you practice meditation, by going to the crore of your existence, you can escape the damaging influence of planets.” He continues, “When you are on a spiritual path, all the good luck that you gather through yogic practices will counterbalance your bad karma.”

What is the difference between Chinese/Western astrology and Indian astrology? According to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, “Indian astrology is more moon-oriented, because in a tropical country the impact of the sun doesn’t vary greatly throughout the year. However, in the West and China, the role of the sun is much more important.” This is why, he says, a horoscope devised in India becomes invalid once you cross an ocean. Indian astrology stresses that for every effect there is a cause and that blaming the cause can trigger more stress and bring in negative emotions like anger and greed. He believes that one way to make them disappear, is to realise that these negative emotions may arise because of certain planetary positions. And, as you cannot get angry with planets, you stop blaming the person or situation.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar explains that Hindu astrology has a very ancient lineage. Ten thousand years ago the Rig-Veda saw the earth as round. Until recently, the West had believed that all the planets gravitate around the earth but the ancient rishis, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar reminds us, knew that the sun was at the centre and that all the planets revolved around it.

The West is thus committing an injustice by not giving Indian astronomy and astrology due credit. “Indian astronomers had calculated that life started 1 billion, 955 million, 818 thousand and 501 years ago and that 28 cycles of yugas have already happened,” smiles Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. The present kaliyug, which is said to have begun the day Krishna left his body, has a length of 25,000 years and we are in the 5101st years. Hence we need to consider the science which gave the concept of zero to the world and which, without telescopes, had calculated long before Copernicus, the occurrence of solar eclipses and the number of moons around Jupiter- facts that were discovered only 256 years ago in the West!