Advaita and Science
- Padmaja Suresh

April 23, 2013

Adi Shankaracharya is the Father of Particle Physics, says Prof. V Suryanarayana Rao, Chairman of Foundation of Vedic Sciences. Shankara's diagram in SOUNDARYA LAHIRI of the PADMA (lotus) has been discovered as the source of God Particle by scientists with the recent accelerator experiment when the thousand-petalled lotus manifested while they brought proton in collision with another proton of the same particle. The Sri Chakra with its pinnacle, Mahameru, the tip of the iceberg, is the representation of the entire process of creation, sustenance to destruction with the triangles being the forces of Shiva (pure consciousness/spirit) and Shakti (energized consciousness/matter). There is ONE PARABRAHMAN (eternal, indescribable, attributeless, Nirguna) which is reflected as the world of MAYA (moving, filled with attributes, Saguna).  A cosmic creative vibration (called sphota or explosion) arises between Shiva and Shakti called Nada. This Nada then gets consolidated into Shabda Brahman (differentiated sound energy), the universal cosmic resonance, symbolized by Om. From this arises cosmic intelligence that is responsible for the creation.

According to some followers of Advaita, the non-dual monistic philosophy propounded by Adi Shankara, Advaita may very well be a place where the scientific world intersects with the spiritual world. They point to the relationships between mass, frequency, wave and energy that 20th century physics has established and the Advaitic ‘Unity of the Universe’ as the common ground. They feel that these relationships, formalized as equations by Planck and Einstein, suggest that the whole mesh of the Universe blend into a One that exhibits itself as many. This follows Advaita's view that everything is but the manifestation of a “One.” The scientific investigations show that a living body has an internal energy pattern of millions of sparkling lights and experiments suggest that the energy is neither electric nor electromagnetic. Some scientists thought that the energy was an emanation from nerve endings, but they were baffled to see that plants also possessed this energy pattern without any nervous system at all!

The meanings of terms such as space and time take different dimensions when physics comes out with new discoveries and theories such as what Albert Einstein proposed where one is taken to the sphere of spacelessness and timelessness. The modern scientist is aware that he is standing on some strange shores. Einstein remarked that the most beautiful and the most profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the most mystical.  It is the source of all true art and science. Einstein rewrote the Newtonian concepts and revolutionized science. In a nutshell, it is observed that while moving, particles of elements disappear in our vision because mass times the square of the speed of light is being converted into energy. This was the turning point towards a trend to resolve several differences between the two so-called loggerheads, science and spirituality. The length of a train while static and while in motion, the speed of a moving object as observed by us when we are standing still and while moving ourselves, the time shown by wrist watches on people in a running train and clocks along the stations, the curves in space that cause magnetic attraction and gravitational fields and the importance of light that steadily travels in space at an unimaginable speed are observations that would baffle unless one accepts the spiritual stream flowing underneath. From the higher point of the changeless Absolute, everything is in constant change, hence relative.

Max Planck, the eminent physicist, who revolutionized modern physics with his quantum theory observes that as a physicist, i.e., as a man who has devoted his life to the most matter of fact branch of science, namely the investigation of matter, he is surely free of any suspicion or fanaticism.  After his research into the atom, he says, there is no such as matter per se!  All matter originated from and consists of a force which sets the atomic particles in oscillation and concentrates them into minute solar systems of the atom. Since he did not believe in an intelligence or an internal force in the universe, he assumes a conscious intelligent spirit behind the force and calls this force, the basic principle of all matter. The Rishis called this energy body as Pranamaya-kosha. By prana they did not mean ordinary energy or breath. Prana is the vital energy associated with the Universal consciousness or it is the ‘force’ of a ‘conscious intelligent spirit.’ Therefore, they maintained that by the proper control and channelizing of the prana, man could expand his consciousness and evolve to higher states of being. How well the nuclear physicist Werner Heisenberg amplifies this and suggests that we should revere those things beyond science which really matter and about which it is difficult to speak.

Notable scientists like Erwin Schrodinger and Robert Oppenheimer were also Vedantists. Fritjof Capra's book, The Tao of Physics, is one among several that pursue this viewpoint as it investigates the relationship between modern, particularly quantum physics and the core philosophies of various Eastern religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism. The author is enthralled by the beauty and mystery of NATARAJA and says there is a close connection between the dance of vibrations in the Quantum theory and the dance of Nataraja.
The intensive study on electric energy, electromagnetism, radioactivity, particles, wave theories, quantum physics and so on, have over the years led to an undeniable connection between the deepest truths and principles propounded in the sacred Vedas and Upanishads and scientific theories.

Bharatanatyam dancer/teacher Dr. Padmaja Suresh has been trained by prominent gurus in dance and music. She holds degrees in Commerce, Law, Diploma in choreography, a Masters in Philosophy and a doctorate on ‘Science of Tantra and Art of Natya - a Co-Relative Study.’ Her institution Aatmalaya imparts training in classical dance and music with a wing Kalachaitanya for propagating arts for lesser privileged children.

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