Though scientific discoveries like the Higg’s Boson aka ‘God particle’ are an honest attempt to know the origin of universe, there have been other attempts and approaches to know the truth. If “India is like a historic father of the Higg’s Boson project” according to Paolo Giubellino the spokesperson of CERN, the search for the absolute truth had a wiser ancestor in ancient India. It is already known to scholars that the inquiry into truth has been the pet subject for ‘Truth’-seekers in India for thousands of years. But ‘Truth’ according to them wasn’t about any particle of God but was beyond the sphere of cause-and-effect world. What does this mean?
Creation of the universe is still a mystery. Let’s hope that the newly discovered Higg’s Boson wrongly dubbed as the ‘God particle’ leads us in the right direction to know the full truth. However to say that only science has the monopoly on truth is quite myopic and disrespectful to other approaches. Science could have monopoly on facts but not on the ‘Truth’ despite much advancement.
The other approach…
On the other hand, the ancient Indians inquired into the ‘Ultimate Reality’ or ‘Truth’ using a totally different approach and didn’t spend $5 billion on a collider inside a 27 km tunnel like they did to discover Higg’s Boson. We know who Mr.Higgs is by now but not many know about the Indian scientist Satyendranath Bose whose last name is behind the name ‘Boson’. The truth-seeking communities of ancient India have a solid heritage of inquiry into the truth and have some fascinating discoveries to share. These esoteric truth-seeking communities continue to exist till today in India with an enlightened Guru as the Chief Scientist and the disciples as the researchers.
The mystical research disciples of India operate on a paradigm that is not easily understood to modern science, but yet very methodical in their analysis. Their main emphasis was on personal experience “within” rather than experiments “without”. Really speaking, the approaches, equipments and methods of mysticism are quite different to that of science and cannot be compared by any standard. Bar the quest perhaps, everything else is different. The approach of the mystic is rather metaphysical in nature than empirical because the observer is part of the experiment. In science the observer is excluded.
So where can we find the history of truth-seeking in India? The questions, method and discoveries of the ultimate truth are mainly found in the end part of the ancient Vedic literature i.e. in the Upanishads collectively called as ‘Vedanta’. In the archives of Vedanta, the quest for truth simply begins with a question much like in modern science. For instance in the very beginning of the Mundaka Upanishad of the Atharva Veda, the truth-seeker Shaunaka asks his teacher Angiras to teach him ‘THAT knowing which everything becomes known’. There is a huge body of knowledge available in the Vedic literature just on this topic.
But even before the quest begins….
Even before the search begins, the Indian masters logically assert that we as individuals are just “part” of the universe. So obviously they ask “how can the part know the whole”. Even the definitions of the truth that is discovered are quite startling and enlightening. The quest for truth in fact begins with knowing the basic definition of truth. Vedanta defines Reality or Truth in the most rational way.
Vedanta’s definition is quite enlightening when the Rishi defines Truth as “That which exists in all periods of time, in the past, in the present, and future, without any change”. So the conclusion is that which is changeless alone can be eternal.
The mystics of the Upanishads called the true source of all creation as ‘Brahman’ which literally means ‘ever expanding’. (Brahman is not to be confused with Lord Brahma the creator or the ‘Brahmin’ Varna). The assertions of truth suggest that there cannot be any God sitting in some heaven creating a universe. In the Upanishads the sages declare that Brahman – the truth is infinite being, infinite Consciousness, and infinite Bliss. Finally the seers proclaim that only by becoming the whole can one know the whole as we find in the Mundaka Upanishad that “Brahmavid brahmaiva bhavati” which means “The knower of the Brahman becomes the Brahman”. So the knower of truth becomes truth. Hence the Guru is worshipped as God the Truth in the dharmic traditions. If anything, the Truth-Seekers in ancient India seemed to have gained an intimate personal experience of the ‘God principle’ rather than a ‘God particle’.
Science was not completely forsaken in India…
About the Indian legacy of truth seeking found in the dharmic religions, Osho a great Indian mystic writes
“India’s whole genius is invested in religion, just as the whole Western genius is invested in science.”
However ancient India was not short of any scientific discoveries, many of which modern science has borrowed but this is not well known. Books like the ‘Computing Science in Ancient India’ by T.R.N. Rao and S. Kak has documented the contribution of Indian science to the world. Look for ‘List of Indian inventions and discoveries’ in the Wikipedia and you will find many more inventions.
Somehow the culture of the truth-seeking Rishis accorded a very low priority to documenting the discoveries of their quest. Nor were they interested in getting them validated in scientific circles. However new ages books like the ‘The Tao of Physics’ by Fritjof Capra and ‘The Dancing Wu Li Masters’ by Gary Zukav are providing evidence on the parallels of Eastern mysticism and modern physics especially that of Quantum physics. These popular scientists maintain that the mystics have experienced the truth which seems to match with what physics is discovering. There are many other researchers like Deepak Chopra, Eliot Deutcsh, Dr. Amit Goswami etc who hold same or similar views.
Indians of the past may not have been interested in the God particle but were certainly invested to know the truth or the God principle beyond the sphere of cause-and-effect. What if today’s scientists discover that the DNA of all livings beings has the same God principle which is the secret to the mystery of creation? I guess one would have to say “Aham BrahmAsmi” meaning ‘I am Brahman (GOD)’ as said in the Brihad – Aranyaka Upanishad from the Yajur Veda.
Ram Lingam blogs his insights on India and Indian culture at www.indiasutra.co.nz