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India's Contribution to the World
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Science of Values
The problem of value erosion in the present day society cannot be denied. It has become not only a national but also an international issue of immense importance. Many scientists are finding it increasingly difficult to explain the paradox of scientific progress and deteriorating morality. The claim that pure science based on pure reason need not concern itself with its application in the destructive tendencies (by the military-political institutions and like) requires rethinking. To add faith to reason is not yet accepted as a rational corrective measure. Vedanta tries to answer these issues from time immemorial.
Vedanta philosophy accepts pure Consciousness as the only Reality. This Reality as all pervading Consciousness is also called as Brahman, Atman, and even God. It is of the nature of absolute Truth, Knowledge, and Bliss. It is obvious that reason, being a part of this Reality, cannot fully comprehend pure conscious state, the whole. It follows that Ultimate Reality is beyond the grasp of human efforts that are restricted to perceptions through the five sense organs and their extensions in the form of scientific discoveries and their applications. (For example microscope and telescope as extension of eye/sense of vision.) The only way we can understand the Ultimate, to some extent, is when It manifests itself in and through the matter.
According to Vedanta, progress in evolution is evolution of matter (name and form) with increasing manifestation of Consciousness in it. Pure consciousness has no modifications, but the forms do change. Thus matter evolves as atoms, molecules, plants, animals, and human beings and so on. Consciousness, however, within each one of these forms remains the same. It varies not in quality, but in degree of expression alone.
Only in the human phase of evolution, Reality can be comprehended as an Idea or a Concept. Now, instead of nature, man himself has become the "Trusty" of further evolutionary progress. He can effect changes in the organic model much faster than Nature could do, as a result of highly developed nervous system. The need for organic evolution is replaced by psycho-spiritual evolution. This calls for conscious effort to develop qualities like altruism and selflessness. Thus the role of value-system emerges as necessary precondition for further human progress.
As mind become finer and finer, expression of Consciousness also increases by degrees. There is a spiritual dimension to human fulfillment. With efforts, then, human consciousness can be transcended to experience ultimate Reality. Hence it is possible that occasional human being is born with the capacity to reflect the true nature of Consciousness. Sri Krishna, Jesus Christ, Buddha, and in recent past Sri Ramakrishna are but a few examples to cite. They come to preach the truth that 'To attempt to transcend petty human consciousness and to realize Divine Consciousness is the goal of human birth.'
In this attempt to express Divinity, values are born. One may not become as great as above mentioned divine souls, but even a little manifestation of divinity is sufficient to make the person fearless and unselfish. The person becomes calm and collected; and love, compassion, and selfless service become his/her second nature. He begins to feel the same divinity in him and all others around him. He can't harm, hate, or be jealous of anybody. Depending upon the refinement of senses and mind these wonderful qualities begin to manifest in his heart by degree. The barrier of "selfish genes" is at last broken and the person becomes free. True nature of pure Consciousness gradually reflects through him, which is all love, bliss, and truth. True religion is said to begin with the attempt to manifest this value-system in our daily life.
Swami Ranganathananda, presently the President of Ramakrishna Order, emphasizes these points in his wonderful book - 'Practical Vedanta and the Science of Values' * :
"...If we depend upon the genes, i. e. the body, we will only be selfish, self-centered and no dharma or value-system can come out of us, nor can we understand dharma or science of values from that position. But, once, we detach ourselves a little from this genetic system, we expand our sense of self-hood, we achieve atma vikasa (spiritual growth) as vedanta puts it, and we enter into the science of values, into our journey on the long spiritual road of happy, fruitful and peaceful inter-human relationship. ... The sooner humanity understands this truth, the sooner will it be able to direct evolution in the right direction."
(*Advaita Ashrama Calcutta publication.)
c s shah