It is widely speculated that in coming decades living beings may be developed with advancement in modern science and technology. The vital question about the very existence of being living is probed here from the angles of Science, Philosophy and Hinduism.
Living Beings are different from non-living things and dead bodies in certain key differentiating characteristics. Android Robots are the latest technological innovation but still remains non-living despite show emotions and movements like human beings. Self-Consciousness (चेतना, आत्मा, soul) is the key differentiating character. Modern science demands proofs for existence of soul or atman. However, the explanation to the question is given logically in Hinduism. Atman is subject and rest of the body including brain, mind, ego, memory, perception etc.is object. The evidence of Atman being subject is discussed in next para.
During the four states of life i.e. waking state, dreaming state, deep sleep state and “Turiya state” (absence of first three states), who is witnessing, it is Atman. The non-living things or dead bodies are entirely physical bodies or materials. It is clearly visible that these lack self-awareness or self-consciousness. No computer engineer can claim, how sophisticated robot or supercomputer is, it has inner awareness. There is no witness inside in Robot. Hindu scriptures such as Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita etc. have explained the size, nature, and location etc. of Atman or soul. It is explained that it is atomic in size, eternal, pure, permanent, perceptive, neutral, inactive, imperishable, immortal, confined (enveloped by body) and independent.
Regarding location, some scriptures mention its location in heart and some in brain. It is argued, if Atman is in brain, how brain dead people are surviving or if Atman is in heart, how during heart attack, people survive. More logically, the other scriptures have mentioned that it is “all pervasive”. It can be understood in a way that all living cells have consciousness whatever form these take. Hence our body formed of living cells has soul in itself. Gaudapada, the Hindu philosopher & scholar of the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy, explained about the soul in his Advaita (non-duality) philosophy i.e. it is all pervading, unchanging and without Dukkha (sorrow). Universe which is unreal is creation of Brahman-Atman. He further says, we imagine things in our mind, we create things in our mind, we destroy things in our mind; yet all these things are not different from it, the Atman (gender neutral). All such constructions create dualities in our imagination, are Maya. The true reality is only Atman. His philosophy inspired others such as Adi Shankara who called him a Paramaguru (highest teacher).
The Being or the Existence i.e. Atman is discussed sequentially as under:
Living Beings and Robots – Self-Awareness
The key characteristics such as self-replication, self-organization and self-awareness (consciousness) differentiate living beings from non-living beings. Modern Science and Technology has revolutionized in developing ultra-intelligent, emotional and responsive robots to blur the differentiation. Sony announced the release autonomous robot which can ‘form an emotional bond with members of the household. Robots may be made smarter than human Beings in future, still the key differentiating characteristics remain. When living being dies, it will no longer come back to life, as opposed to robots that can easily be repaired.
Living Being and Dead Body
The key difference between living and dead is absence of Atman, according to Hinduism. Similarly, philosophers around the world such as Plato, Aristotle, Ptolemy, Socrates, Hippocrates, Pythagoras, Origen and many others concluded that existence of life force separates the physiological parts — DNA, neurons, the brain, organs, cells and so on. The physical body—including all the DNA and neurons—remains intact in a lifeless, dead body.
The Material Body
The body of living beings is made of the elements such as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, etc. Almost 99% of the mass of the human body is made up of six elements: oxygen (65%), carbon (18.5%), hydrogen (9.5%), nitrogen (3.2%), calcium (1.5%), and phosphorus (1%). Only about 0.85% is composed of another five elements: potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium.
These atoms combine together to form complex molecules of various types: proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and nucleic acids which in turn form the building blocks for cells of muscles, brain, bones, skin, blood, etc. Everyone’s body is made of the same basic stuff. All living things, large or small, plant or animal, are made up of cells. Most living things are made up of one cell and they are called unicellular organisms. Many other living things are made up of a large number of cells that form a larger plant or animal. These living things are known as multicellular organisms.
According to Rishi Kapil, who founded Samkhya Darshan (around the 6th - 7th century BC), postulated that Prakriti (nature) is the root cause of formation of body, mind, ego etc. (except soul & almighty) which has three attributes i.e. sattvic, rajas & tamas. Tendency of love & affection, endurance, contentment, wisdom and detachment are sattva attributes, tendency of luxuries are attributes of rajas and wickedness, ignorance, attachment and weakness are attributes of tamas. Pleasures and pains are not the attributes of soul (Jivatma) but perceived in it.
Soul or Atman (also called Jivatma)
According to Vedanta Darshan or Brahma Sutra of Shankaracharya (around 5th century BC), Atman is agent of Brahman (Supreme Consciousness, commonly known as God or Parmatama). The size, location and characteristics of Jivatma are explained as under:
Shree Krishna has explained the attributes in Chapter 2 of Shrimad Bhagavad Gita as under:
Modern science is so advanced and researching extensively, it is not able to explain the reasons for not being able to produce living beings, despite entire physical materials are available. Modern synthetic biology till now could only produce single cell microbe on experimental basis from the root materials from another living being. Scientists didn't claim that they created life itself from scratch. Had they put the DNA into an already-dead cell, nothing would have happened. Further, science is not in a position to explain, why children of one parents are so different in nature, behavior and tendencies, despite generally similar environment and grooming.
The riddle was explained in 6th - 7th century BC by Mehrishi Kapil in Samkhya Darshan, one of the six philosophies in Hinduism. He differentiated between living and non-living components of life. Physical body is manufactured by materials available in the nature; whereas spark of life in form of jivatma enters in the physical body to provide it life. (An article on Samkhya Darshan published on 21.09.2018 on this website under the category of Philosophy)
Hinduism has thoroughly probed the influences on the personalities of a person. Three forces work on the personalities of a person viz. external environment gathered through ten organs (five senses – sight, hearing, touch, smell & taste and five organs of action- feet, hands, rectum, genitals & mouth), physical body formed from DNA and impressions of previous lives carried through jivatma which create internal impulses and thoughts.
The various aspects of ingredients for life according to Samkhya Darshan and Modern Science are discussed hereunder.
Samkhya Darshan - Prakriti and Soul
Modern Science – DNA
Modern Science over centuries could discover that all living beings like plants, animals, insects, birds, microorganisms, etc. differ from non-living things as they have minimum two activities viz. metabolic activities and reproduction, for which they require nutrition. Further, they respond to external stimuli. It is further discovered that from parents to offspring, the specific instructions contained in DNA are passed that make each type of living creature unique. The journey of modern science from building blocks of living bodies to synthesis of DNA is as under:
Happiness or pleasure or bliss is ultimate aim of everybody’s life. Some find happiness in luxuries, electronic gadgets, some in art and music, some in adventures etc. etc. But happiness from any activity last very fast. Failure in achieving another pleasure or miseries causes pain. In fact, pleasure and pain appear cyclical. There is always a search for eternal bliss.
Western psychologists have based the happiness index on various needs and activities. Maslow theory of human needs viz. physiological, safety, social, self-esteem and self-actualisation, stress on these motivational factors for happiness. Seligman’s acronym PERMA summarizes five factors correlated with happiness i.e. pleasure derived from material things, engagement in activity of interest, relationships, meaningful & purposeful activities and accomplishments & goal achievements. Whole of the western psychology revolves around meeting the needs of self. (Both theories are discussed later here.)
Modern Medical Science has found correlation between happiness and release of a few hormones such as Dopamine, GABA, Serotonin and Endorphins. The levels of secretion of these hormones are dependent on the lifestyles adopted and various factors such as positive thoughts, regular exercise, yoga, meditation, gratitude, achievements, challenge of achievable goals etc. (more details are discussed later here.)
Duration of Happiness
Wisdom of Bliss in Hinduism
Ancient rishis (scientists) thousands of years ago deeply probed and experiment the happiness more from angle of permanency & longevity and to find eternal bliss. They observed that everything (person, place, age, moment, ego, love, sorrow etc.) goes, is transient; only our consciousness & supreme consciousness (Jivatma & Parmatma) are permanent. They identified causes of pains and devised a comprehensive path for eternal bliss as under:
Medical Science on Happiness
Our thoughts and actions/activities are governed by desires, aversions, attachment to rewards, egotism or “I am” etc. Mind (मन) seeks favourable things to happen. In unfavourable circumstances, malice creeps in. The desires, aversions, attachment, karma etc. goes along with jeevatma (soul) in subtle body in form of samskara or impressions which manifest in future body, at the time of re-birth.
According to Hinduism, Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha are purpose or Purushartha of life. One’s journey of life is fulfilled by earning material prosperity (Artha) and enjoying it (kama) while meticulously performing religious & moral duties (Dharma) and ultimately liberating oneself through self-realisation (Moksha). Moksha is dropping and detachment of dharma, artha and kama. Awareness of causes of miseries and path of self-realisation leads to moksha. Moksha is also called Mukti or Kaivalya. However, some schools believe Moksha & Mukti are different. By following one of the four paths viz. Karma yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga & Jnana Yoga, one can attain Moksha.
The concepts of Mukti, Moksha, Dharma, Artha, Kama and four paths of Moksha are explained hereunder:
What is Mukti
By dissociation from desires, miseries, attachment etc and by extinguishing karma (past & present), Atma becomes free from bondages and become free and mukt. The state of such freedom is Mukti.
What is Moksha
Moksha is derived from the root Sanskrit: मुच्, muc, which means free, let go, release, liberate. One of the fundamentals of Hinduism is re-birth of Atma (soul). Liberation or Release of self, freedom from saṃsāra, the cycle of death and rebirth through self-realisation is Moksha.
Moksha is not merely absence of suffering and release from bondage to saṃsāra (worldly affairs), but attaining the state of oneness with Brahman, the One Supreme Self.
Dharma, Artha and Kama
Dharma is living in righteous way which includes the religious duties, moral rights and duties of each individual, as well as behaviours that enable social order, right conduct, and those that are virtuous. On death, all people, money, materials, body remain here. Only dharm goes along atma. When we understand Dharma, man reflects patience, forgiveness, mental strength, - peace, purity.
Artha incorporates wealth, career, activity to make a living, financial security and economic prosperity. Arhta with Dharma is use of wealth for the well-being of others
Kama signifies desire, wish, passion, emotions, pleasure of the senses, love, with or without sexual connotations.
Concept of God
Soul has seven virtues i.e Love, peace, Happiness, Knowledge, Power, Purity and Bliss. Perfection is there already in the soul. But this perfection has been covered up by nature; layer after layer of nature is covering this purity of the soul.
Due to ignorance, the soul is identified with the physical body and its constituents – mind, ego and Intellect which are products of Prakriti. Pancha Klesha viz. avidiya, raag, dwesh, asmita and abhinivesh cause sufferings and future births.
Every thought (मनसा, Mansa), every word (वचना,vachna) and every action (कर्मणा, Karmna), good or bad, just goes down and becomes fine, and is there stored up as Samskâras, the impressions and create Karmic account.
External stimuli due to situation create various thoughts in mind, in turn intellect decides the future course of action based on available data & memories in Chit and decision is vetted by ego. Repeat similar situations develop particular behavioural pattern. Hence, we become slave of situations. In case, we take decisions based on qualities of soul viz. Love, peace, Happiness, Knowledge, Power, Purity and Bliss and believe the situations are creation of past karma, negative decision and behaviour shall be avoided as a result karmic account or samskara will not be formed.
Hence, at thought level, an active restraint on wicked thoughts and use of intellect may reduce creation of further karmic account. Break on influx of wasteful information, thinking other’s actions and criticising other’s action should be put off. Instead if possible help them, otherwise forget (not place in memory).
Maharishi Patanjali has defined Yoga as "the detention of the thoughts of the mind". He explained eight dimensional path called Ashtanga for full wellness and physical, mental and spiritual purification which ultimately lead to liberation of soul.
The virtuous qualities of Soul (Love, peace, Happiness, Wisdom, Power, Purity and Bliss) need to be imbibed at thought level and practised in words & actions.
To liberate the soul from Samskara, aspirant need to work at mind level i.e. thought level, at intellect level i.e. decision making level and at action level to purify self, discipline life & for selfless karma.
Following Five “S” is the path to liberate the soul:
Soul has essence of seven virtues i.e Love, peace, Happiness, Knowledge, Power, Purity and Bliss. Spiritual body or soul is Chitta Kosh & Sat Kosh.
Taittiriya Upanishad has described that soul has five sheaths or layers which is called as Panchkosh viz. Annamay kosh, Pranmay kosh, Manomay Kosh, Vigyanmay Kosh & Anandmay Kosh.
Due to ignorance, the soul identifies itself with the physical body and its constituents – mind, ego and Intellect which are products of Prakriti.
Piling up of karmas creates karmic account, decides next birth, age and pleasures and pains in life. Some miseries bring problems & disturbances immediately and other remains in mind & continue to irritate for long and create miserable experiences due to pancha Klesha viz. avidiya, raag, dwesh, asmita and abhinivesh. Person suffers by natural calamities, diseases and other living beings.
The various aspects of bondage of soul are discussed here-under.
Modern Science has proved that entire universe, non-living and living beings are ultimately composed of sub-atomic particles.
According to Sankhya philosophy of Hinduism, the universe is caused by interaction of Purusha and Prakriti. Prakirit cause evolution of 23 elements which include five gross elements, five sense organs, five action organs, five subtle elements, mind, ego & Intellect. Total elements are 25 which also include Purusha and Prakriti.
1. Prakriti is first principal tattva (element), which caused evolution of material world i.e. matter, energy or force.
2. Prakriti is dynamic and trigunas i.e. composed of three gunas (characteristics, behavioural attributes) viz. sattva, Rajas & Tamas.
3. Prakṛiti remains unmanifested as long as the three gunas sattva, Rajas & Tamas are in equilibrium.
4. This equilibrium of the gunas is disturbed when prakṛti comes into proximity with consciousness or Purusha.
5. Purusha (Soul, Atman, first element) is eternal pure consciousness. The Purusha is only thing which is immaterial. Love, existence and knowledge (Sat Chit Anand) are not the qualities of the Purusha, but its essence.
6. Prakriti (प्रकृति) second element caused evolution of intellect which led further evolution of 22 other elements (tattvas) as under:
Akasha is physical element having quality of sound. It is not empty space.
Intellect helps in judgement and to discriminate between subject and object i.e. self and non-self.
Egoism is the identification of the self with the instrument of senses (chitta i.e. memory, mind i.e. place of thoughts, Buddhi i.e. decision making and Indriyas). There emanates two sets of objects from ahamkara. The first set comprises of the manas (mind), the five sense-organs and the five motor organs. The second set consists of the five elements which may exist in two forms, subtle and gross.
Gunas of Prakriti
What are the Principles: