by Triloki Nath
[ The presidential
address delivered on the conclusion of the seminar on "Spirituality and
Scientific Temper" held as part of Navreh celebrations by the Bhagwaan
Gopinath Trust at the Trust's Bohri Ashram, Talab Tilloo, Jammu, on March
the first place, I offer my salutations to Lord Bhagwan Gopinathji, the
liberated saint and rishi of Kashmir, who, at a tender age, responded to
the call of the Atman by freeing himself from the shackles of bondage and
through tapasya elevated himself to be seated perpetually on the throne
He shed his
mortal cloak in 1968. But he exists in checkless, changeless Mahaakasha,
guiding his followers and extricating as much of humanity as possible out
of the darkest pits of ignorance and misery.
It is heartening
to note that Bhagwanji's disciples are carrying on His mission on the earthly
plane in a commendable way. The hallmark of activities inter alia appears
to be to inculcate the spirit of free inquiry. If India is uninterruptedly
great, it is because the rishis and seers of the Vedic yore inspired a
civilization in which the spirit of free inquiry and freedom of thought
and expression were the guiding principles. The rest of the world awoke
to these fundamental human rights only in the twentieth century. It was
because of this that, when Sister Niveditta was asked why she embraced
Hinduism, she replied: "In Hinduism, there is freedom of thought and expression.
Kanada, though a materialist and agnostic, was hailed as a rishi and Patanjali,
who said 'not matter but mind', was also hailed as a rishi."
scriptures lay great stress on cultivating the spirit of independent inquiry.
Nothing is to be taken for granted. In Bhagvad Geeta, we find Lord Krishna,
through discussions, advancing to Arjuna unique and irrefutable arguments
regarding the immortality of the soul and the existence of the Supreme
Being and, notwithstanding all this, the Lord says to him, in conclusion,
as per Para 63 of Chapter 18:
to you the most secret doctrine and knowledge, accord special thought to
it and then act as per your choice."
That is why,
in India, we don't come across persecutions for holding views contrary
to traditional views. However, in Europe we find pioneers of modern scientific
civilization facing ignominy and persecution at the hands of the state
and the church. Galileo was threatened that his eyes would be put out if
he didn't retract his opinion; Kepler was hounded out and Bruno was burned
at the stake in 1660 A.D.
Men of Science
advancement became possible because of the birth of eminent men of science
in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Kepler, Galileo, Newton and
Leibnitz were born with a natural scientific temper. They were excited
with wonder on pondering over the natural phenomena. Newton questioned
why an apple, on getting detached from the tree, should fall on earth and
not go up into the sky. One of the characteristics of scientific temper,
which these eminent men possessed, was to search for laws which governed
natural phenomena in the objective universe. They didn't believe in myth,
tradition or conjecture. This led to the discovery of various laws of nature,
such as Keplar's Laws of Heavenly Bodies and Newton's Laws of Motion.
Thus, it was
the scientific temper of eminent men of science in the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries which laid the foundation of experimental science. During the
succeeding centuries, a vast body of scientific and technological knowledge
developed, leading to the industrial revolution and political upheavals
punctuated by two deadly world wars in which nearly 8 crore of people died.
development of science and technology, the means of production underwent
a phenomenal change. Goods began to be produced in enormous quantities
in lesser time; the means of communication brought the world much closer.
Radio, television, telecommunications, space technologies and computers
made life much comfortable. However, all this advancement is bedevilled
by insoluble political conflicts, religious fundamentalism, inter-state
terrorism, drug trafficking, mutual distrust among nations and interncine
local and ethnic conflicts. Global civilization is at the brink of disaster.
Ecological imbalance, environmental degradation and denudation of forests
is assuming alarming proportions.
fruits of advancement are enjoyed by a fraction of the total population
of mankind and the multitudes are continuing the hard struggle for survival.
Rich nations are not only exploiting 75 per cent of the earth's limited
resources but also polluting the environment and bio-systems to a maximum
limit. It is the fluoro-chloro gases emanating from industrial establishments
and residential quarters of the rich nations which has punctured the protective
ozone layer of the atmosphere. So, scientific temper which, in a proper
sense, took birth in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries has led mankind
to nowhere. America, Russia, France, Britain and China have more than 10,000
atomic warheads which can blow the world to smithereens. Societies are
continuously being rammed by media blasts, consumerism advertisements and
competitive commercial thrusts. Human personality is getting pulverized
into a huddle of herd instincts. Every individual is striving to obtain
the objects of comfort and enjoyment for satiating sense pleasures in a
variety of ways. In this connection, we may quote verses 62 and 63 of Chapter
2 of Bhagvad Geeta.
of sense enjoyments leads man to the attachment to the objects of senses.
This gives rise to insatiate desires which remaining unfulfilled give rise
to anger. Anger confounds, resulting in warping memory and reminiscences.
This leads to loss of discerning wisdom and final fall."
be saved? The answer may be to harken to the call of the spirit. But here
also we are beset with conflict. For instance, Christians believe that
Christ alone can save the world. However, for the last 1995 years, we find
the world, and especially the Christian world, fallen into the darkest
pit of hellish degredation. Islam promises universal peace but converted
people through sword. During the last 1,400 years, Islam destroyed centres
of culture, monuments of civilization and shrines of beauty. During Omar
Farooq's Caliphate, the vast library at Alexandria was set ablaze by Muslim
hordes and the books therein burnt and smouldered for nearly 300 years.
In India, vast librarias at Nalanda and Vikramshilla universities were
mercilessly destroyed by Muslim plunderers. We also find that Muslim countries
themselves, though living in Dar-ul-Islam are torn by violent conflicts
and cenkerous intolerance.
So, what is
there now to save the world!
knowledge fails to provide clues to the why and wherefore of things. Scientific
advancement has led to the fragmentation of knowledge. We know more and
more about less and less. Some 60 years earlier, a scientist would feel
proud that he knew everything about atom. But today the knowledge about
the atom has branched into several directions; nuclear physics, neutron
physics, plasma physics, solid state physics, quantum physics, meson physics
and electronics. A scientist specialising in one discipline cannot afford
to devote his attention to other disciplines. A physicist may not be knowing
Mandel's Laws of Heredity.
How are we
then to know the reality in totality?
One would like
to know if there was existence before birth. One would like to know the
source of human mind. One would like to know if there is life after death.
One would like to know the origin of sin.
the objective universe, the eye is aided by talescope and microscope. The
ear is aided by radio telescope and other gadgets. For understanding flux
relationships, mathematics is the greatest tool. But for understanding
things in the realm of mind, what gadget can we use to view things directly.
the Truth, one has to be prepared for the greatest sacrifices. In this
connection, you must have read a lot about great bakhtas.
sacrificed everything tor knowing the Truth. It is said that even as a
young man, when he was running a shop, a discerning soul on seeing Him
would be reminded of the following sloka ot Bhagvad Geeta:
"Which is Night
for the multitudes in that Yogi is awake. In which multitudes remain awake
that is Night for the Yogi."
And much later
on, atter having His darshan, one would be remincled of the following sloka
of Bhagvad Geeta:
"As water courses
from all lands enter into fully gorged, changeless ocean and do not alter
its vast serenity, so do desires and sense perceptions empty themselves
without producing any effect in the mind of one who has attained the supreme
state and such peace does not tall to the lot of one whose mind is shackled
by insatiate desire."
in blood of Bhagwan Gopinathji, are a persecuted community. Our persecution
started in 1320 A.D. when Renchana seized the throne of Kashmir and his
request for conversion to Hinduism was turned down by Brahmins. He embraced
Islam and killed innumerable Kashmiri Hindus during his reign of three
years. Sultan Sikander resorted to conversion by force and those who resisted
were put to death. He destroyed innumerable temples of exquisite architecture
and enormous mass of books on various Shastras were dumped into Dal Lake.
We suftered ignominious miseries under the Shia rule. Moosa Rana converted
40,000 Hindu families to Shiasm by humiliating methods of suppression and
killings. During 120 years of Mughal rule and 67 years of Atghan rule,
a vast number of Kashmiri Hindus were either killed or converted. During
these regimes, a number of Kashmiri Hindus bade goodbye to the valley for
for breaking the backbone of the Kashmiri Pandit community started in a
sophisticated garb trom 1948. In 1986, 156 temples belonging to Kashmiri
Hindus were destroyed or damaged by Muslim fanatics. Finally, the valley
was "cleansed" of Kashmiri Hindus in 1990 atter gunning down nearly 500
members of the community.
How are we
to protect our ethos, culture, identity and historical moorings. We have
only one solace and that is to pray to Bhagwan Gopinathji to give us wisdom
and invincible power to act.
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.