It is, quite often, contended that science and religion are opposed to each other. The protagonists of science and the so called 'rationalists' maintain that religion is unscientific and superstitious. It is surprising that the man of science who is supposed to have an intimate knowledge of the baffling universe should try to maintain that the whole of the Reality and the Truth is amenable to his methods.
An attempt is made in the following pages to show that science and religion are not necessarily opposed to each other. Religion at its best, is an attempt to investigate a field which is not amenable to the method of science. A man of religion is not necessarily opposed to science. On the other hand, he also adopts the same attitude of a scientist - the attitude of experimentation, observation and inference. The field of enquiry is different, the nature of the problem to be investigated is different. Therefore, it would be futile to expect the same instruments of science to be useful in this field. In the field of religion the seeker of Truth adopts different methods of experimentation, observation and inference.
It should be a common place for any serious student of science that all experience is not intellectual. Similarly, all experience is not amenable to human language. The science of Vedanta developed by those serious seekers of Truth, the ancient rsis of India, is based on these well-known facts. The Vedantin is fully convinced that the whole of the Reality can neither be grasped by mere human intellect nor can it be expressed through the limited language of man. But he does not give vent to a cry of despair. Being a serious student of the Truth he attempts to experience the Truth by extra intellectual and supra intellectual methods. As the whole of the human experience cannot be expressed in the imperfect instrument of human language, the Vedantin attempts to convey such experience by suggestive and symbolic language.
The Upanisads do not contain barren philosophic hair-splitting. They are serious attempts to know the Truth and to experience it. As observed before, the field of investigation being different from the field of scientific enquiry the methods of the Upanisads are different. No student of science can quarrel with the fact that he has to use different instruments in different fields of enquiry. A student of social science cannot confine himself to the laboratory and experiment with instruments he has there. He has to adopt a different approach and a different method from the method of the physical scientist. In the same way the student of science of religion has to adopt different methods and techniques. The ancient Vedas based on intuitive human knowledge, experience and revelation, prescribe both a technique and a hypothesis which the seeker of the Truth is expected to adopt.
The Vedas are mainly divided into three parts - The Mantras, the hymns in praise of Vaidika Gods, the Brahrnakias, which prescribe the technique of the search after the Truth and the Aranyakas (which contain the Upanisads) which illustrate and suggest the Reality.
An outline of the basic presumptions of the Vedanta, the equipment necessary for an experiment of Truth and the basic assumption contained in the Hindu philosophy are outlined in the introduction. The other part contains the text of the Kenopanisad with suitable explanation. The subject matter of the Kenopanisad is an enquiry into the nature of Reality (Brahman). The language adopted by the Kenopanisad necessarily had to be a suggestive language. The Kenopanisad suggests the nature of the Reality and the pre-conditions for experiencing it. The Upanisads do not profess to bring the Reality to the experience of the seeker but the high speculation of the Upanisad suggests the nature of the Truth and set the seeker to pursue it. It depends on the seeker whether he realises the Truth Absolute or not. The Upanisads do not make dogmatic assertions but they initiate the seeker to the Truth which he is expected to realise by following the technique prescribed. If this is not a scientific approach what else could it be?
What is Religion? Religion is a privilege of man and not an instinct of the animals. To the animal, life is one round of eating, sleeping and mating. Man, even when he has food, shelter, clothing and recreation, does not feel satisfied. He yearns for a greater purpose in life. So long as he has not these minimum necessities of life - food, shelter, clothing and recreation -his entire personality strives for them. But once these are satisfied, he sits back as it were to listen to the muffled voice of enquiry from within.
These questionings and innermost cravings of the soul, come only to a full-grown man. I mean, even among the bipeds we can recognise the animals; we have among us tigers, wolves, deer, serpents, scorpions and so on. Such men, who are lowly evolved fail to listen to the doubts and despairs of the soul quest from within. Having no such inner voiceless woe, they need no remedy also.
But to one who has evolved himself into a full-grown man, such cravings of the soul flood his being and push him incessantly towards the limits of his understandings and feelings. In the unrest of the soul he comes to despair at the wonder and majesty of the most intimate fact with him - life. The questions he asks himself are - Where did I come from? Where do I go? Why have I come? Is life an empty and meaningless incident? Has life a purpose? Is there a mission in life?
Only a full-grown man, who has lived his days' experiences intelligently and has throughout kept an alert critical attention upon the incidents of life, he alone can attain an inner maturity in which he comes to feel the `soul's unrest'. Religion is addressed to such an individual. Religion explains, assures and guides him. It lends a purpose to his day-to-day existence, far more divine and nobler than mere eating, drinking, sleeping, laughing and weeping.
Every true religion contains two important limbs - (i) the ritualistic injunctions and (ii) philosophical suggestions. The former alone is accepted generally as religion (rituals, formalities and so on). Religion without philosophy is superstition and philosophy without religion is barren. Both must go hand in hand. Philosophy reinforces the external practices of rituals and formalities and blesses them with a purpose and an aim. Together they bring out the full significance of religion.
Religion, in its full significance, has for its content a vivid discussion upon the goal of life and its nature. It is also a description of an elaborate system of spiritual practices by pursuing which, men of all degrees can start from their present status of evolution, on a pilgrimage to the goal held out.
Vedanta deals more vividly and elaborately with Truth. Its discussions, based upon the intimate and personal experiences of the seers, bring us to the conclusion that the Supreme is in man himself and that man, by removing certain of his misunderstandings about his own identity, can succeed in recognising himself as the eternal, all-pervading Truth. All true religions bring to the despairing man, struggling against his own bondages and limitations in life, the comfort and solace he needs so badly.
Figuratively it is something like this. A man who has temporarily lost his memory stands out upon the terrace of his own house and despairs at the gathering darkness and the descending chill of the wintry night. He suffers agonies. He weeps. He sighs. He feels helpless and besieged by pain and sorrow. But a few yards behind him is the balcony window, kept half-open, through which he could see his own warm home where his bed is kept ready, his dinner is laid and his beloved is waiting with all devotion and love. He has only to turn around to see the welcoming, comforting, inviting sight of his own luxurious home of sweetness and joy. At will he can walk in and claim all the bliss as his own birthright.
Similarly, man stands on the open terrace of life looking outward into the deepening darkness and suffers from cold and loneliness. His own beloved religion, invitingly bids him to come in. It reminds him of the discomforts on the terrace and appeals to him to turn back. 'Renounce the terrace and walk in into the lit-up halls of joy within, where I shall attend to your every comfort,' cries religion. But the mad master of the house hears not the call of religion and thus suffers as a sarhsarin.
The remedy is simple. We have only to turn inwards. As it is, our entire attention is focussed on the external material world and we seek there joy and peace.
**Contents and Sample Pages**