A Candle in the Dark

A look on science, politics, religion and events

Vedic "Science"

with 5 comments

I found this wonderful article by Meera Nanda, in which she highlights how modern science is being mixed up by the Vedas. The essay, titled Postmodernism, Hindu nationalism and `Vedic science’, was published in the Frontline magazine 1.

This excerpt from the article2, illustrates her argument.

One of the most ludicrous mantras of Hindutva propaganda is that there is “no conflict” between modern science and Hinduism. In reality, everything we know about the workings of nature through the methods of modern science radically disconfirms the presence of any morally significant gunas, or shakti, or any other form of consciousness in nature, as taught by the Vedic cosmology which treats nature as a manifestation of divine consciousness. Far from there being “no conflict” between science and Hinduism, a scientific understanding of nature completely and radically negates the “eternal laws” of Hindu dharma which teach an identity between spirit and matter. That is precisely why the Hindutva apologists are so keen to tame modern science by reducing it to “simply another name for the One Truth” – the “one truth” of Absolute Consciousness contained in Hinduism’s own classical texts.

She further says that 2,

ALL these numerous celebrations of “Vedas as science” follow a similar intellectual strategy of finding analogies and equivalences. All invoke extremely speculative theories from modern cosmology, quantum mechanics, vitalistic theories of biology and parapsychology, and other fringe sciences. They read back these sciences into Sanskrit texts chosen at will, and their meaning decided by the whim of the interpreter, and claim that the entities and processes mentioned in Sanskrit texts are “like”, “the same thing as”, or “another word for” the ideas expressed in modern cosmology, quantum physics or biology. Thus there is a bit of a Brahman here and a bit of quantum mechanics there, the two treated as interchangeable; there are references to “energy”, a scientific term with a definite mathematical formulation in physics, which gets to mean “consciousness”; references to Newton’s laws of action and reaction are made to stand for the laws of karma and reincarnation; completely discredited “evidence” from parapsychology and “secret life of plants” are upheld as proofs of the presence of different degrees of soul in all matter; “evolution” is taught as the self-manifestation of Brahman and so on. The terms are scientific, but the content is religious. There is no regard for consistency either of scientific concepts, or of religious ideas. Both wholes are broken apart, random connections and correspondences are established and with great smugness, the two modes of knowing are declared to be equivalent, and even inter-changeable. The only driving force, the only idea that gives this whole mish-mash any coherence, is the great anxiety to preserve and protect Hinduism from a rational critique and demystification. Vedic science is motivated by cultural chauvinism, pure and simple.

I tend to agree with what she says. Her article is definitely one of the most informed essays I’ve read.

Notes

[1] – Volume 20 – Issue 26, December 20, 2003 – January 02, 2004

[2] – Reproduced under fair use.

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Written by parseval

April 17, 2007 at 11:06 pm

Posted in pseudoscience

5 Responses

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  1. _Must_ you put a post on such an interesting topic _so_ close to the end sems? 🙂

    Although I agree that a lot of ‘Vedic Science’ is imaginative, wishful interpretations, I should say most of the stuff that is written on it is by people with a very strong bias either way. I am yet to come across something which makes an objective review. Anyway, we’ll talk about it sometime after the end-sems.

    Mohan K.V

    April 22, 2007 at 12:26 am

  2. Let’s just say that I’m probably one of those persons who’s strongly, terribly biased. 🙂

    It would be great fun to talk about this.

    parseval

    April 22, 2007 at 11:49 am

  3. Interesting one … pseudo science is the niggest threat to science in India. People just are looking for ‘scientific’ explanations for their superstitions.

    Diganta

    June 11, 2007 at 1:59 pm

  4. Well This is what the Divine consciousness, We are just claiming moon and mars in just 150 years. More yet to come. My friends, you should know before coming to any discussion like this that this a mature subject. Don’t make it fun. to be Indian we should learn about yr basics.

    Amit kaushik

    September 17, 2008 at 3:19 pm

  5. Well This is what the Divine consciousness, We are just claiming moon and mars in just 150 years. More yet to come. My friends, you should know before coming to any discussion like this that this a mature subject. Don’t make it fun. to be Indian we should learn about yr basics.

    I’m afraid your comment doesn’t make any sense to me.

    parseval

    September 18, 2008 at 3:42 pm


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