Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Yechuri’s appeal that faith must be a tool to promote scientific enquiry is deceptive

Organiser Home From Patanjali to Vivekananda and Yogi Aurobindo evolution theory has been explained as the progressive manifestation of the spirit or consciousness. The advanced physical dimension of evolution is in fact one aspect of evolution. October 28, 2007 Page: 36/39 Home > 2007 Issues > October 28, 2007
Hindus built bridges of culture to connect continents By P. Parameswaran
According to all the Hindu philosophers, evolutionary progress of life was a well-understood proposition. We find it in Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga. But, according to the Hindu approach, evolution cannot be explained in terms of ‘historical materialism’. It is essentially ‘evolution of consciousness’, physical organism inevitably responding to the demands of the evolving spirit. Swami Vivekananda, while commenting on Patanjali’s yoga sutra, explains in very lucid terms the entire concept of evolution as understood by the Hindus and contrasts it with the modern western theories.
“Today the evolution theory of the ancient yogis will be better understood in the light of modern research. And yet the theory of the yogis is a better explanation. The two causes of evolution advanced by the moderns, viz sexual selection and survival of the fittest, are inadequate… But the great ancient evolutionist, Patanjali, declares that the true secret of evolution is the manifestation of the perfection which is already in every being; that this perfection has been barred and the infinite tide behind is struggling to express itself. These struggles and competitions are but the results of our ignorance, because we do not know the proper way to unlock the gate and let the water in. This infinite tide behind must express itself; it is the cause of all manifestation.” (Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, page 292)
Thus from Patanjali to Vivekananda and Yogi Aurobindo evolution theory has been explained as the progressive manifestation of the spirit or consciousness. The advanced physical dimension of evolution is in fact one aspect of evolution. It is the outcome of a demand from the spirits within and not the cause of it.
However, this is not to deny the importance of the physical or the material dimension. Nor did Hindu sages and philosophers spurn it. They only said that there are more important dimensions also. In fact, according to the Vedic Vision every phenomenon has three graded dimensions, which together constitute the totality of the Reality. They are, the physical (adhi bhoutic), psychological (adhi deivic) and spiritual (adhyatmic). The material is the grossest and the other two subtler and the subtlest. The spiritual is the essential reality, which subsequently manifests in the two grosser forms. If Sitaram Yechury takes the Marxian view that evolution has to be explained in terms of historical materialism, we have no quarrel with him. But, we expect him to understand and appreciate the other two dimensions as well. The three are inclusive and not exclusive, deserving mutual respect. The problem arises when the materialist wants to denigrate and destroy the other points of view, albeit cunningly.
To give an illustration, thousands of people come to Kanyakumari eager to watch the sunrise. We all know that sunrise is a physical phenomenon occurring everyday governed by cosmic laws. But, what attracts people from all over, literate and illiterate alike is not merely the physical aspect. Much more important to them is the aesthetic and the spiritual aspect of such phenomena. The moment the disc of the sun emerges in the horizon, people start chanting Gayatri Mantra. Some meditate with closed eyes, as if in dismay of a cosmic event of deep mystical significance. The whole atmosphere fills with the fervour of devotion. The vision of the rising sun, in all its splendour, enthralls everyone and fills their hearts with indescribable joy. They treasure it as a living experience all their life. “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.” Can the materialist deny the aesthetic and spiritual experiences are unreal and irrational? The fact of the matter is that truth is integral though many sided.
So, Comrade Sitaram, if he is honest in his generous and gratuitous advice (to which I would refer later on) that “a hundred flowers should be allowed to blossom”, he should show it by accepting the psychological and spiritual dimensions also as true as the physical and the material, and should not advocate anything which is prejudicial to them. Practice is better than percept. But what is their actual track record towards divergent approaches to truth? The way Sitaram Yechuri concludes his article is not really conclusive. Look at the statement:
“The das avatars can, thus, be seen as a remarkable recording of the evolution of human life and its civilisational advance till the Aryan mastered the horse and majestically moved across lands.
“Thus, without entering into any disputes on matters of faith, this remarkable materialist interpretation of the das avatars, surely, merits attention. Faith in its quintessential form must facilitate the pursuit of truth and acquiring the ability to recognise the truth. Chinese civilisational wisdom, as equally old and ancient as ours in India, tells us to let a hundred flowers bloom, a thousand thoughts contend, so that finally we can seek truth from the facts. While truth is a fact, all facts are not whole truths. This is the difference between philosophy and theology.”
If “this remarkable materialistic interpretation of the das avatars, surely, merits attention”, then can it not be said with equal force that the spiritual interpretation of the das avatars also merits attention? After all, the philosophy of Communism with its foundation of historical materialism which claimed to be invincible because it is scientific has totally collapsed while the whole world is turning towards the spiritual philosophy for its very survival. Yechuri’s generous advice to follow the Chinese civilisational wisdom that a hundred flowers should be allowed to bloom should be applied to the party and the ideology that he stands by, if he is really sincere and honest. And, what is their track record? Isn’t the promise of the “hundred flowers” the closest to Henry Ford’s offer that any customer can have a T52 car painted “any colour that he wants so long as it is black”?
Yechuri’s appeal that faith must be a tool to promote scientific enquiry is deceptive. As we have seen, science has been continuously shifting grounds from one position to another and finds itself in deep waters where matters of faith are concerned. Why not ask science to be a tool to seek the heart of faith? Faith is not merely a set of assumptions or empty beliefs. It is the very soul of a person or a people. It is not like a loose garment, casually thrown over one’s shoulders, only to be rejected at will, without a second thought. It is part and parcel of one’s own personality. People live or die by their faith. Faith cannot be the exclusive possession of each person as some rationalists argue. Neither religious faith nor ideological faith. Communism was not treated as a personal affair, either in Russia or in China. It was collective. When the faith failed, Soviet Union collapsed. China is struggling the hard way to retain faith and also adapt to changes. They call it famously “Socialism with Chinese characteristics”. So are, Sri Ram and Ram Sethu. That is nationalism with Indian characteristics. If you undermine it, the nation will perish, as Soviet Union did when people lost faith in Communism. Bhagavad Gita says, “A person is what his faith (shraddha) is. Do not destroy it”. Because faith once destroyed cannot be restored. The damage once done is done forever. Economics and individual gains and losses are temporary and could be restored.
With great faith in themselves our forefathers built bridges of culture to connect continents. If you cannot build new ones, at least, do not destroy the existing ones. (The writer is Director of Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari and Bharatiya Vichar Kendram, Tiruvananthapuram.) Previous Page (35/39) - Next Page (37/39)

No comments:

Post a Comment