Friday, September 20, 2019
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Why Science & Philosophy Had No Conflict In Ancient India

We talked about knowledge systems: Sruti that which is heard. Vedas, Samhitas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas,   Upanishads. For example, mantras, hymns, prayers, commentaries and hymns and rituals, rituals, philosophy., these are all the contents of these ancient texts and thus Smriti that which is remembered – Vedangas, all grammar meter, Astronomy, Rituals, Itihasas,  these  epics, Puranas Kavya sutras, Sastras of various schools of philosophy, the Nibandas, lots of things were present in India, such that anybody could find intellectual expression within the frameworks that existed in the country with absolutely no conflict with the philosophy.

We live in a strange world today, where science is in conflict with a dominant religious system of the world. The Abrahamic systems cannot accommodate science because of the history centrism. So, over here Darwin came about saying theory of evolution and instantly the fundamentalists went on a warpath saying that, No! how is it possible, we didn’t descend from that. God created man in His image which means we look like God and perfectly. We cannot have descended from Apes. So it caused great ruckus and outrage of them and even till today in United States there are states, for example, Louisiana, where they used to stamp on the science textbooks that theory of evolution is only a theory. I am not joking. Even during Genthals time, even during the so-called enlightened Genthals time, they are stamping on that in the history high school, history textbooks to tell the children beware what you’re learning is not true.

So such things are there. But in India we never had a conflict of science and technology and is a sorry sign and philosophy and there is a reason for that. If you look at this one, one-line descriptions of the Indian schools, we talked about this last year too. Nyaya said, all knowledge is not intrinsically valid, most knowledge is not valid unless proven. Truth exists whether we humans know it or not. Aksapada  Gautama was a Rishi who had said that. Vaiseshika – perception, inference – Rishi Kannada. Samkya – systematic enumeration, rational examination – Kapila. Purva Mimamsa talked on reflection, consideration, profound thought investigation examination discussion – Rishi Jaimini talked about that. Uttara Mimamsa or Vedanta up to ten schools and Adi Shankara, one of the exponents of Advaita and you can see that the indic thoughts admitted a lot of mechanisms for knowledge. These are profound statements over here, very profound statements that admit the process of knowledge gathering.

If you look at this slide, the means of knowledge of Pramana in the Indian context. You could look at perception, inference, comparison, analogy, postulation, derivation from circumstances negative proof or sabda pramana relying on word of experts and you will see that every Sampradaya in india only differed on under what authority are you admitting knowledge, that was the basis. For example, a Carvaka, the traditional atheist, in Indian context the only admitted perception. If I can see it, it’s true otherwise it’s not, I reject the way there’s no such things, and the Buddhists, they said only perception and inference, nothing else is valid as a mechanism for knowledge. This is what Buddha did right. He went through a process of players and tribulations and realized some truths, that’s what he said. Vaisesika similarly starts admitting several other things over here. Dvaita, the Jainism and Dvaita takes from every school that you can see over here.

So what is the bottom line. Today we live in a world where if you are doing your Phd thesis, for example, maybe Electrical Engineering, you are going to say that I refer to this, I Triple Journal on the authority of this man who published in this journal. I am going to write my Phd thesis. I wrote this and reference number one, number two and a literature survey. This is what you do. You are relying on Sabda Pramana of some professor over there or maybe you are going to say this Nobel Prize winner said this on the basis of that. I am going to do my work I am referencing this man on his authority, I am writing my work.

So this is the way we claim knowledge systems today on the authority of somebody else who did something else in ancient India. You can see it as a much more broader context and understanding the sources of knowledge, what is a valid means for knowledge and so on. Today you have boycotted narrator in the Marxist textbook that I pulled the Buddhist, the James and others, out of the Indic dharmic context. However the only difference of Sampradaya is what is it that you are admitting as knowledge that is only difference. Everybody in the dharmic tradition believed in Dharma. They believed in karma, they believed in reincarnation, this bedrock was there for all of them. The only things that differed was what is knowledge and how am I going to admit it. That was the only difference and this picture over here summarizes a lot of Indic philosophies and knowledge.

So, it’s good to know what is the goal of life. If you ask a Hindu what is the goal of life, the Hindus goal of life is to dispel Avidya from our minds, about the true nature of who I am and this dispelling of avidya might happen in one lifetime or across multiple lifetimes depending on my Karma. This is our understanding so the Indic formula has been to dispel of avidya and to gain vidya and these are all the mechanisms for gaining knowledge, to gain knowledge of your true self, to understand there’s no separation between creator and created, to understand we have part of the cosmos, to understand that’s only ego and our attachment to the world of objects that prevents me from understanding the same narayanas in both of us.

These kind of ideas of Vedanta are all encoded when the Hindu is urged one-line statement – who is a Hindu? what is your goal? Life to dispel avidya about my true existence, that Sachidananda, there’s a state that I need to go into. That is the idea of a Hindu.

In the Abrahamic tradition, the goal of life is to follow a divine dictated law. So God gave the Ten Commandments to one of the prophets and the goal in life is to follow those Ten Commandments or Christ set certain things, that his followers, the Apostles the Gospels, they wrote down what he said and if you believe that he died on the cross for your sins and he is only way to the father, is through the son, then you are saved, either you go to heaven or eternal damnation depending on the falling of the law.

Similarly the Muslims also, if you believe that Muhammad the Prophet, he heard from angel Gabriel, who dictated the Word of God to him and if you follow the Quran injunctions, then maybe the mercy of Allah, you will be saved or you will have eternal damnation. So the goal in life for Abrahamic people is follow divine dictated law. None of this is relevant because knowledge or any such thing is irrelevant. Your only goal is admission to heaven or eternal damnation. Those are the only two things and the only formula is you follow a divine dictated law.

Whereas in the Hindu ideas, it was, you dispel avidya about your existence and that will happen based on your karmaphala, based in this lifetime, or across multiple lifetimes depending on the kind of life you live and at every life time you are enjoying the bond depending on which sampradaya are born into, to admit certain knowledge based on these things. okay. So this is all I wanted to say about knowledge systems about how every knowledge in India, whether it was mathematics, astronomy, philosophy whether it was grammar, prosody, music, medicine., you name it, everything coexisted with the philosophy of the land, everything was embedded in the philosophy of the land. Everything gives citation to Brahma, this knowledge came from Brahma, Brahma thought it Aswini, Aswini started It to maybe Punerva Kshatriya or to Bharadwaj, Bharadwaj  give to somebody and so on. So every knowledge in the Indic context goes back and says Brahma gave us knowledge.

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