The Vedas Represent a Boundary to Science and Technology

By Suvarṇa Rādhā Devī Dāsī - 2.5 2024

The current academic institutions could be considered as modern gurukulas. Gurukula is a type of education school system in ancient India. The traditional gurukulas imparted spiritual truths through Vedic education whereas modern gurukulas, or schools, teach science and technology to uncover spiritual truths. Although science and the Vedas are innately complementary, positioning science versus the Vedas should be beneficial for understanding how science and technology intersect with each other in intriguing ways. People with different views can find in this article the fascinating relationship between the Vedas and modern science, and understand the supremacy of the universal creator, Lord Krsna. The outstanding inventions and discoveries from those who attend the modern gurukulas have transformed every aspect of our lives and made people believe that the planet Earth is a hi-tech paradise. The media and the Internet have transformed the vast world into a global village, allowing instant communication around the globe.

Whatever modern education we receive, simply strengthens our ability to contribute to human society and the integrity of the modern lifestyle. For example, the Global Future 2045 International Congress held in Moscow this year, aimed to help evolve humanity and extend human life towards the point of immortality. The “2045” team is working towards brain and consciousness modeling with the goal of achieving cybernetic immortality. The idea of human improvement has nothing intrinsically wrong, and the devotees of Lord Krsna would agree that human life is the platform for transcendence (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 3.15.24). The modern era's technological development has led to humans wanting to transcend their mortality and become gods. On the contrary, the devotees of the Lord seek freedom from samsara (cycle of birth and death) by devotion to the Lord.

We read in the Puranas many stories about demons who have attempted to transcend the limits of their material existence, such as birth, death, old age, and disease. Hiraṇyakaśipu (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Canto 7, Chapter 3) and Ravana (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Canto 9, Chapter 10) both sought immortality but ultimately failed because of the mortal nature of the physical body. Krsna says Bhagavad-gītā 8.16 “From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place.” Consciousness cannot be created or destroyed; it is eternal. The Vedic perspective holds that it always exists, transitioning from one life to another. Krsna says in Bhagavad-gītā 2.13 “As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.” This statement indicates that mortality to any living being is inevitable. The soul, and consciousness itself are still a great mystery to most modern scientists. Science cannot fathom the existence of soul, the symptoms of which are consciousness and life force. Lord Krsna states in the Bhagavad-gītā 2.25 that “the soul is invisible, inconceivable and immutable.”

The soul is spiritual and no material device has the ability to see it. No one can establish the existence of the soul by human experimental efforts. The modern scientists can at best infer about the existence of the soul. The only source of understanding the soul and its transmigration is the proof by ‘sruti’(Vedic wisdom) passed to us through spiritual authorities. The Vedic wisdom or spiritual knowledge transcends our material senses and logic. Therefore, we must embrace Vedic wisdom as it is revealed by the supreme authority, Lord Krsna, acknowledged by transcendentalists and Acharyas throughout history. In order to realize spiritual knowledge, one must approach a spiritual master (Bhagavad-gītā 4.34) who has also properly heard the Vedic message from his spiritual master and who is fixed in spiritual life. Such a self-realized soul knows the will of the Lord Krsna can lead us to the goal of Vedic knowledge.

Around the globe educational institutions teach people management skills, among other worldly pursuits, which is to be considered the greatest tragedy in all of creation. People are exploring diverse fields like biology, chemistry, engineering, medicine, psychology, and computer technology, among others. Yet, despite significant advancements in material science and modern technology, these developments have not helped humanity transcend basic instincts such as eating, sleeping, reproducing, and self-preservation, nor have they delivered the global peace and prosperity that is so desperately required. In practical terms, educational institutions rarely include teachings on the nature of the soul, the existence of God, or the meaning of life in their curriculum. The common misconception is that the study of the soul (also known as atma, spirit, or one's self) is exclusively a religious pursuit. However, from a Vedic perspective, understanding the atma is not a religious act, as it is the fundamental essence that gives life to the body. To understand the atma is to understand our true identity; it signifies that we are not merely our bodies, but rather the atma, the spark of consciousness within. In addition to our modern curricula, we should also give attention to Vedic knowledge, which is considered by some to be far more advanced and superior to any modern curriculum, setting boundaries that no human advancement could surpass. We have been led to believe that our science and technology is the most sophisticated in Earth's history. The ancient Vedic texts of India, detail fascinating technologies indicating that the technology that is being used in modern science has always been out there in a covered or uncovered condition since time immemorial. However, some obvious examples of ancient technology that are strikingly better than modern technology are:

● the Stonehenge monoliths in the United Kingdom, the centuries-old temples in India, and the pyramids of Egypt

● Vyāsadeva, a great devotee and vibhuti incarnation of the Supreme Lord. knows how to grow babies in vases, took the flesh pieces expelled from the womb of Gandhari and divided them into one hundred and one pieces. He put them in different vases and in due course of time they produced the hundred sons and one daughter of king Dhritarashtra (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.13.3-4 Purport). Vyāsadeva evidently had the ability to change material objects instantly and with great accuracy. In-vitro fertilization (IVF) successfully led to the birth of a baby in 1978 using a test tube, but modern technology does not permit the use of aborted fetal tissue to create new life. While the Kauravas, born from parts of a single embryo, did not suffer from chronic diseases, studies indicate that babies conceived through IVF may have a higher susceptibility to genetic abnormalities linked to such conditions.

● One of the latest achievements in science is cloning and scientists are very close to success in cloning a human heart, but millions of years ago Sages successfully cloned Bāhuka (Bhāgavatam 4.14.44) from King Vena's thighs (Bhāgavatam 4.14.43). Śrī Īśopaniṣad, Mantra 1 states that “Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord.” Krsna says in Bhagavad-gītā 10.8 “I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me.

The wise who know this perfectly engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.” This means that whatever is necessary for life has already been provided by the Lord. In Vedic culture, the material elements were manipulated and controlled (not exploited) under the supervision of knowledgeable brahmanas. It is astonishing that scientists on the planet can do nothing more than exploring what already exists in nature. For instance, Krsna says in the author of Bhagavad-gītā 10.35 that “rtunam kusumakarah - "Of seasons I am flower-bearing spring."

Let's explore some aspects of His bloom-filled spring. The varied colors and scents we cherish in flowers are expressions of His material energy. Plants biosynthesize these elements under natural conditions, presenting a challenge for chemists to replicate them in the laboratory. Every plant species merits recognition akin to a Nobel Prize for biosynthesizing unique chemicals in nature. Modern molecular modeling experts are unable to envision the architecture of isolated and characterized plant components. For instance, the structure of the anticancer drug Taxol, which originates from the Pacific yew tree, could not have been foreseen by any scientist. Climate change, driven by carbon dioxide emissions, is increasingly trapping sunlight's heat in Earth's atmosphere, leading to global warming and threatening life on the planet. Despite billions of dollars spent on research and mitigation, scientists struggle to preserve many of Earth's ecosystems. However, ecological models suggest that plants, which are often referred to as creations of the divine, may absorb more atmospheric carbon dioxide from human activities, aiding in making the planet safer for its inhabitants. The Vedas are believed to hold all the knowledge necessary for life in the universe. Initially, their reach was limited globally due to the earliest scriptures being in Sanskrit.

Śrīla Prabhupāda translated these texts into English, making them accessible in over ninety languages. In the last decade of his life, he arrived in America and traveled the world fourteen times, spreading Vedic wisdom. Prabhupāda recognized Vedic epistemology and ontology as scientific fields. Rather than rejecting the scientific method, he proposed beginning with the study of these texts, followed by research grounded in their insights. The Shastra aims to enlighten us about what fundamentally exists beyond our material perception. Many people support science and also identify with religious or spiritual beliefs. However, spiritualists may feel unsure about engaging in dialogue with those who have differing worldviews. Communicating spirituality to individuals with varying beliefs can be challenging. Certainly, the secrets of the universe cannot be unfolded by the tiny brains of material scientists. All our modern scientific achievements are within the boundaries of Bhagavat in the Vedas.

Modern scientists are just complementing/confirming Vedic statements with chemical/biological experiments. None can deny the existence of the supreme scientist, Lord Krsna. He is the proprietor and knower of everything. Krsna says in Bhagavad-gītā 7.10: “O son of Prtha, know that I am the original seed of all existences, the intelligence of the intelligent, and the prowess of all powerful men.” The genuine scientist will end up at the lotus feet of Krsna eventually, even if it takes longer than necessary. Albert Einstein said “There are two ways to live life. One is to see nothing as a miracle and the other is to see everything as a miracle.” This indicates his subtle recognition that there is a perfect brain that governs all of the natural, physical laws. The famous physicist Lord Kelvin asserted “If you think deeply enough, you will be forced by science to believe in God.”

That person who controls the entire universe is Lord Krsna, the greatest scientist and engineer of all time. Julius Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb quoted a line from the Bhagavad-gītā 10.34: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” upon seeing the first test of the atomic bomb explosion. In our current state of consciousness, we are unable to directly perceive Krsna, who resides in our heart as the Supersoul alongside the individual soul. There is a wealth of circumstantial evidence to affirm the existence of both the Supersoul and the soul in the Vedas. However, their presence can be discerned through their symptoms. Krsna is omnipresent. The purifying journey of Krsna consciousness is such that, if we embrace it sincerely, we will eventually become qualified to fully realize our own eternal spiritual natures and to see Krsna face to face, eye to eye. The details of the creation of this material universe and the living entities and others have been given in the scriptures such as Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 5 th Canto, Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa, Viṣṇu Purāṇa and Matsya Purāṇa, and Bhagavad-gītā.

They further describe that the entire material universe is only one fourth of the creative energy of the Lord. The other three fourths of the creative energy of the Lord are manifested in the spiritual sky, called the Viṣṇuloka. The teachings found in those scriptures are understood through a unique kind of science, one that necessitates transforming our hearts from exploiters of nature into loving stewards of the master of nature, Krsna. In the age of Kali, we have to be very practical in our devotional service. Many people support science and also identify with religious or spiritual beliefs. However, spiritualists may feel unsure about engaging in dialogue with those who have differing worldviews. Although there is no one-size-fits-all solution, notable figures such as His Divine Grace Śrīla Prabhupāda have drawn connections between science and spirituality.

According to Prabhupāda, we should practice Krsna consciousness scientifically, meaning we should apply the teachings of the scriptures in our daily lives and observe the results. Spiritual technology means the practical application of spiritual knowledge for tangible benefits. As scriptures are the source of all knowledge, their application is termed to be spiritual technology. Śrīla Prabhupāda 's books are an invaluable gift to humanity. They are akin to nectar, readily available without the arduous task of Samudra Manthan, or Ocean Churning, because Śrīla Prabhupāda himself undertook the painstaking effort to "churn" the Vedic literature, presenting its quintessential nectar for all of humanity. Through the divine power of his writings, the whole world is being flooded with a tidal wave of devotion. He states in his purport to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.5.22 that “All “knowledge” not engaged in the service of the Lord is but nescience. Real utilization of advanced knowledge is to establish the glories of the Lord, and that is the real import. Scientific knowledge engaged in the service of the Lord, and all similar activities, are all factually hari-kīrtana, or glorification of the Lord.” In this way, so many useful things can develop from a Synthesis of Science and Spirituality. The advancement of science and technology should not cease, as it also aids devotees in swiftly disseminating the message of Krsna worldwide.

However, the use of science to exploit nature and to develop destructive war instruments, controlled by unqualified leaders, should be halted. A devotee may be a biologist, chemist, physicist, or astronomer, but for a scientist to transform into a devotee, they must serve advanced devotees and engage in practices such as hearing, chanting, and remembering. In nature, a tree must grow in two directions to thrive and remain robust. Likewise, the education system should integrate the ancient wisdom of Vedic teachings with the progress of contemporary science and technology. Modern education should foster the realization that our current existence is transient, and that the pursuit of economic growth is akin to a donkey chasing a perpetually out-of-reach carrot of happiness, should elevate us beyond the illusory and guide us from mortality to immortality - going back to Godhead