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When Abrahamic Religions are threatened by Science – Hinduism Embraces New Discoveries

When Abrahamic Religions are threatened by Science – Hinduism Embraces New Discoveries – understanding and excerpts from editorial of Prabuddha Bharata published in November 2011.

In almost all civilizations people looked at the world outside, wondered, pondered, and produced their conception of God and gods and goddesses. This approach gave them beautiful ideas of religion with an accompanying mythology and rituals. But the conception of soul was woefully absent, or if present, it was very crude. The mysterious mind was invariably taken as spirit or soul.

In India, from the earliest times, the social structure and Vedic way of life, with its culture, language, and so on, was conceived as a reflection of Virat, the Cosmic Person.

The uniqueness of this civilization was the approach it took to discover this truth: it commenced the search for Reality from within. Thus, the most sublime and infinite ideas of the Atman were developed, which resulted in superb infinite conceptions of Brahman. This particular feature was rarely understood, and even now the Upanishadic declaration ‘sarvam hy-etat brahma, ayam-atma brahma’; all this is surely Brahman, this Atman is Brahman’ is considered blasphemy by some. But for many, to see and live this view involves a whole paradigm shift, a new way of thinking.

This new way of thinking, which was almost impossible in the past and resulted in unnecessary pugnacity, is made possible in modern times thanks to the sciences attempting to understand the world and the cosmos from the inside. The laws governing the world are now being applied to understand the cosmos, and this method has proved to be extremely refined. The same is true with psychology and other branches of knowledge.

Where some religious systems have felt threatened by new discoveries, Vedanta has embraced them seriously.

The recent foray of science into the field of consciousness has been welcomed by Vedanta, as this is the bedrock of Indian civilization, which through these discoveries has been vindicated to the world and will now become stronger. Science may destroy erroneous conceptions of the world, heavens, and God, but it cannot destroy consciousness — rather, it helps unravel its dimensions. Vedanta and science have taken a similar path; one earlier and the other later, only their terminology differs.

Inner forms of religion are difficult and need much discipline. The same is true with rigorous scientific disciplines. Nowadays many discerning minds are opening to this inner path, which is attested by the growing popularity of eastern religions and philosophies.

There was a time when people believed that the earth was the centre of the universe. It needed a massive paradigm shift to understand that earth was a tiny planet in an insignificant solar system with the sun at its centre. Nothing changed in the universe, but there was a quantum leap in our perception and knowledge in comprehending the universe of mind-boggling dimensions, with billions of stars in each galaxy, and galaxies also numbering in billions. All this was possible through the human mind.

The continuing scientific study of the cosmos is, as it were, enlivening the cosmos through human consciousness, and the vast universe is becoming self-aware; apart from changing history and making humans feel more and more as members of one civilization. This leap in our perception and knowledge has released human potential and raised humanity to a higher level. 

This is the new religion of the age, or to put it correctly, the new religious form of the ancient doctrines of Vedanta that were tirelessly preached by Swami Vivekananda while he travelled around the world. Swamiji says: ‘What vain gods shall we go after and yet cannot worship the god that we see all round us, the Virat?’




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