What is Dharma
Dharma has its root word “Dhr” means to uphold, to support, and to sustain; what is established. Dharma encompasses the natural, innate behavior of things, duty, law, ethics, virtue, etc. Every entity in the cosmos from electron to human beings has its particular dharma. Dharma is much more than religion. Nearest meaning of Dharma in English language may be “Righteousness”.
Religion is termed to the faith of large group of people who share a common symbol, a common religious text, a common GOD and a common founder. The word "Religion" may have been originally derived from the Latin word "religo" which means "good faith," "ritual," Or it may have come from the Latin "religare" which means "to tie fast.
The original term of Hinduism is Snatana dharma. Snatana means “eternal” or beginning less; Dharma means absolute set of duties or religiously ordained practices incumbent upon all Hindus, regardless of class, caste, or sect. No one can be credited to be founder to Snatana Dharma. Snatana Dharma is called Apaurusheya means which is not made by men. Over thousands of years, Snatana Dharma has been enriched by the contribution by a long line of divine incarnations, saints, sages and spiritual personalities. It offers most comprehensive and holistic view of reality than any given religion. Hence, it is often termed as more than a religion, a way of life.
Dharma, the source of Happiness:
As per Mahabharata, (Shantiparva, Adhyaya 109, Shloka 10) -
प्रभवार्थाय भूतानां धर्मप्रवचनं कृतम् । यः स्यात्प्रभवसंयुक्तः स धर्म इति निश्चयः ।।
Means: The sole aim with which Dharma is advocated is to bring about the evolution of individuals. A doctrine preaches, ‘that which is able to bring about evolution is Dharma.
Dharma gives pleasure both in this world and after death. Shankaracharya said once, “अर्थ अनर्थ भावय नित्यम”. When people think Dharma is more important than Artha, then life improves. Good impressions in memory, patience or forbearance, virtuous behavior, divine love and renunciation are the sources of pleasure.
Codes of Dharma:
Hindu scriptures have defined Dharma in various ways. Hence, it is difficult to define Dharma in absolute terms. However, Dharma can be classified in two categories:
Shrimad Bhagwat Mahapurana has explained Dharma in several ways as under:
Science of Happiness
Happiness is not just feel good experience but it is cognitive experience. It is state of the mind. The source of happiness differs person to person. The person derives happiness by satisfying bodily or sensory urge or by helping others. A few other people may have sadist attitude and may derive happiness by hurting others.
In fact, happiness is embedded in the person, which reflects after seeing the favourite objects. In case, body and mind is well trained and awareness goes deep to touch the original source of happiness, no object would be required for happiness. The engineering of mind requires training so that consciousness transmits happiness without the need of objects.
When antakarana is purified and made satvika, psychic energy lifts to higher levels. This brings stability in mind and consequently happiness remains even in adverse circumstances.
(An article named as “Happiness to absolute bliss” was published on 31.08.2018 on my website-www.dnaofhinduism.com wherein principles of Medical Science, Positive Psychology and Patanjali Yoga Sutra have been discussed.)
The present article on Happiness is discussing on its determinants, levels of happiness and mind management techniques as under:-
Determinants of Happiness:
State of Mind & Happiness:
Constitution of mind may be Rajasic, Tamasic and Sattvic based past and current impressions which create traits, tendencies and cravings. This makes base level happiness of mind (Hedonic Treadmill theory discussed later).
Levels of Happiness:
As per the Hedonic treadmill, also known as hedonic adaptation theory of positive psychology, the spike in happiness or sadness due to positive or negative events in life, quickly return to base level of happiness set points. Each person has its own happiness set points. Hence, external events or objects alter our happiness level temporarily, and we quickly adjust back to a fixed emotional set point.
According to Law of Hinduism, the primary source of happiness is Atman. Parmatama is called Sat-chit-ananda (Truth-Being-Bliss) and Atman is part of Parmatama. Whatever happiness is derived, it is from Atman. Actually, Atman is electrifying the sense organs through the mind and emotions. If mind is pure and satvika; happiness from Atman descends without the requirements of activity or objects of happiness. This is the precise reason, bliss descends in Samadhi. As the purity (in thought, speech & actions), truthfulness, satvika mind enhances, the orientation of mind turns into happy state.
Mind Management Techniques:
With the advancement of technological comforts, we are gradually becoming slaves of the modern gadgets. Our wish to be happy is easily replaced by a wish for possessions, sense gratification, status, wealth and other substitutes. We develop undue desires, false pride, false ego and false hopes which lead to sufferings. IQ (Intelligence quotient) centric modern society is diminishing the EQ (Emotional quotient) and SQ (Spiritual quotient) leading to isolation, despair and depression. Relationships tend to be temporary and superficial.
Sufferings manifest in the form of unpleasant feelings (hopelessness, grief, loneliness, anguish, disgust etc.), physical pain, physiological pain (hunger, thirst, sleeplessness, itching etc.) mental suffering (irritation, anger, jealousy, envy, craving, guilt, fear, anxiety, humiliation, etc.) seasonal or chronic diseases, stress, physical & mental infirmity, etc.
The root causes of sufferings, means to remove it and evil and good tendencies have been thoroughly researched by ancient rishis which are discussed hereunder.
Root causes of Sufferings:
Rishi Patanjali researched the root causes of sufferings extensively and founded Yoga Darshan and postulated practical steps to remove the sufferings.
When the person feels deficiencies in comforts, he or she develops evil tendencies viz. Kama (Desires including sexual desire), Krodha (Anger), Lobha (Greed), Moh (Attachment), Mada (Over Pride), Matsara (malice, Jealousy), Swartha (Selfishness), Ahankara (Ego), Amanavta (Cruelty) and Anyaaya (Injustice).
Various incarnations of Narayana were to destroy the above knots viz. Shri Rama to destroy Kama (Ravana), Shri Narsingh Swamy to destroy krodha (Hiranyakasipu), Shri Krishna to destroy malice (Shishupal), Shri Varaha to destroy lobha (Hiranyaksha), etc.
Primary attachment is for Artha (wealth) and Kama (sexual desire). It is easy to leave Krodha, lobha etc. but very difficult to leave kama. Kama has instigated even wise persons. Two examples are as under:
Means to remove Sufferings:
Body of the human Being is Kurushetra where fight between Pravritti (प्रवृत्ति, tendency to do prescribe actions) and Nirvritti (निवृत्ति, cessation of prohibited actions) continues. Shri Krishna in Shrimad Bhagavad Gita elaborated means to remove sufferings and paths to achieve liberation (path of wisdom, path of Raja Yoga, Path of Bhakti and Path of Karma Yoga).
Spiritual Significance of Samundra Manthan
Samundra Mandhan (churning of ocean) was done between Devas and Asuras (the story has already been published under the category of "stories - the wisdom"). The story conveys great spiritual guidelines.
As per Hinduism, Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha are the four Purusharthas or purposes of human life. Purushartha is a composite Sanskrit word of Purusha and Artha. Purusha means person and artha means purpose. Dharma means righteousness, virtues, moral values; Artha, means prosperity, wealth, economic values; Kama in its narrow sense denotes to sexual desire, but in its broader sense it stands for all sensual pleasures and Moksha means self-realization. The doctrine of Purusharthas has its roots in Vedas and Upanishads.
The order of four Purusharthas viz. 1) Dharma, 2) Artha, 3) Kama and 4) Moksha; has special significance. It emphasizes that in every aspect of life Dharma is most important and the ultimate goal of human life is Moksha.
Dharma comes first. Artha and Kama are universal to all living beings. It is Dharma which differentiates human beings from rest of the living beings. Dharma is the rightful way of living. It prescribes the duties, rightful conduct & behavior of the person in various relationships, for society and for the universe. Dharma is responsible for order, regularity, harmony, control, predictability and accountability. If Dharma is ignored, Artha and Kama profit and pleasure respectively lead to social chaos. If Artha and Kama are consumed within parameters of Dharma, he shall not feel miseries.
Artha comes next. Material wealth is essential for the physical safety, overall happiness and well-being of an individual. It includes career, skills, health, wealth, prosperity and means of fulfilling life. Artha is not only for security & material pleasure but also to uphold Dharma and help the members of his family and society achieve their goals. In Hindu scriptures, Artha has three types viz. Lakshmi, Mahalakshmi and Alakshmi.
Hinduism advocates austerity, simplicity and detachment. Wealth is not an impediment to self-realization, but attachment to wealth is. To earn Artha, five means are mentioned viz. blessings of parents, grace of Guru, hard-work (उद्धम), which has commenced (प्रारब्ध) and grace of almighty.
Kama comes next to Artha. Kama often implies the short form of the word kamana (desire, appetition or appetite). According to the Bhagavad Gita, desire leads delusion and bondage to the cycle of births and deaths. The way out of suffering is to become detached from the sense objects through such practices as yoga and meditation and perform desire less actions as sacrificial offerings to God with a sense of duty, accepting God as the doer and without hankering after the fruit of one's actions.
As per Hinduism, Kama resides in eleven locations viz. five organs of senses, five organs of actions and manas (मन). The Mahabharata claims Kama to be any agreeable and desirable experience i.e. "pleasure" generated by the interaction of one or more of the five senses with anything congenial to that sense and while the mind is concurrently in harmony with the other goals of human life dharma, Artha and moksha.
Desires and longings of several lives have accumulated in manas (मन). These cannot be destroyed completely. Desires and longings move like abandoned horse. However, if used intelligently, sense organs will be healthy till death.
Without patience and virtues, one cannot enjoy wealth. Kama does not troubles, who thinks and meditates Shri Krishna (almighty) continuously. When one is secluded (alone) and wins over Kama, he is victorious. If one follows the prescribed boundaries of dharma, wisdom appears.
Sexual desire is the ultimate of all desires and unless it is overcome one is not free from the taints of Maya. Sin, first enters through eyes. Once eyes corrupt then manas (मन) corrupts and later life and name spoils. Hence, never allow kama to enter into eyes. Person commits more sin through manas and eyes. The root cause of sexual desire is resolve. Sexual desire increases anger. It appears in seclusion. So, one should do japa and bhajan in seclusion.
By serving almighty, gradually differentiation of manhood and womanhood goes and gopika attitude sprouts.
Moksha comes last. Moksha means liberation, realization of the self and is the ultimate destination of this human birth. It refers to freedom from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth.
Mahaprabhu says, one who triumphs over prakriti (nature), he gets moksha. Nature means temperament.
Shukdev ji says, for moksha, enjoyments have to be left. Enjoyer cannot progress on the path of wisdom or divine love. Renunciation gives more pleasure than that of enjoyment. Enjoyment is momentary. But renunciation gives infinite happiness. Enjoyment is not peace giving. Renunciation is peace giving. Entire animal world including human beings enjoy similar sensual pleasure. Birth as human being is successful only when not second birth takes place. It is hell for fetus during pregnancy.
Living beings are formed of three attributes viz. sattva, rajas and tamas. To become attribute less, one has to get separated from all the three attributes. Rajas attribute generates kama (sexual desire) and krodha (anger). By Rajas attribute eliminate tamas attribute. By sattva attribute eliminate rajas attribute. Sattva attribute is also binding. So in last, it is necessary renunciation of sattva attribute. When one gets connected with Jivatma and becomes attribute less, he attains Brahman.
Brain is most complex part of human body and its processes are still more complex. Modern scientists and psychologists are experimenting on it for so many centuries but are not able to conclude its functioning. Ancient Hindu Rishis elaborated its functioning and intricacies which are discussed in this article.
Brain commands, controls and coordinates the activities of the body. It is the “Decision making Centre”. According to modern science, Hardware of Brain include 86 billion of neurons (i.e. electrically excitable cells) and non-neuronal cells (i.e. glial cells which maintain homeostasis, form myelin, and provide structural & metabolic support to neurons). Anatomically, the brain is composed of the cerebrum, cerebellum, brainstem and Diencephalon. Various parts of brain govern intelligence, creativity, emotion, regulation of body functions, sensory & motor functions decision making. Symbolically, cognition, thought, intelligence, etc. represent software of brain.
Modern Science has stuck up mostly on hardware of the brain and its functions. In contrast, ancient scientists of Hinduism deeply probed on the process of Antahkarna (the internal instrument).
As per Kapil’s Samkhya Darshan, Intellect & Intelligence (Buddhi or Mahat, the place of decision-making), Ego (the self-consciousness or Ahamkara or pride or asmita) and Mind (Manas, the place of thought) form the group called the Antahkarana. The first evolution of prakriti or material is buddhi (intellect & intelligence or Mahat). Mahat in turn produces ahamkara, the ego i.e.”I” or “mine”. From ego, manas is produced.
Katho Upanishad has compared the human body and Chariot i.e. Chariot as human body, master of chariot as soul (jivatma), charioteer as buddhi, reins as mind & horses as senses.
According to Patanjali muni, Chitta is the the seat of soul's entanglement with Prakriti or nature. Chitta is identified as intellect, ego, mind and five sense organs. Karmic account accumulated in present & past lives, is root cause of pleasures and miseries which are evident in current birth or future. It reminds us, the Snake and Ladder game. If the counter lands at the bottom of a ladder, you can move up to the top of the ladder. If the counter lands on the head of a snake, you must slide down to the bottom of the snake. The lesson of this Indian ancient game is that it represents a life journey complicated by virtues (ladders) and vices (snakes). One who keeps trying and does not enter into negative cycle may be successful in the end. The person is provided ample opportunity to erase the each impression which create impulses in form of desires. These impulses can be amended at thought-level, decision-making level and ego-level. It is discussed in detail latter.
Bhagwan Krishna laid importance of resolve (Sankalp) in Bhagwat Gita.
The various aspects of brain are discussed hereunder:
Anatomy of Brain:
As per modern science, brain has mainly four parts as under:
Generation of thoughts is one of the major processes of mind. Experts estimate that the mind thinks between 60,000 – 80,000 thoughts a day. These thoughts are either positive or negative. As per modern science, the thoughts are mostly negative and triggered by external stimuli.
There is an old saying, “Watch your thoughts; for they become words. Watch your words; for they become actions. Watch your actions; for they become habits. Watch your habits; for they become character. Watch your character for it will become your destiny. ”
Negative thoughts prevent from focusing on the subject, drain the energy of the body and prevent from enjoying pleasant moments. Recurrent negative thoughts take the person into negative cycle which has far-reaching consequences. It creates depression and anxiety.
As per Hinduism, thought materializes and becomes an action. Good thoughts lead to virtuous actions. The negative thoughts can be controlled by the following means:
As per Samkhya Darshan of Kapil muni, child is born with certain tendencies caused by actions done in past life which may not be necessarily inherited. Generally, physical configurations are inherited. These tendencies are of three types (sattva being goodness, compassion, illumination, and positivity; rajas being activity, chaos, passion, and impulsivity, potentially good or bad; and tamas being the quality of darkness, ignorance, destruction, lethargy, negativity) which create constant impulses in mind to trigger actions which may be negative or positive.
Intellect & intelligence
In modern psychology and neuroscience, a distinction is made between intellect and intelligence. Intellect is the ability to identify and analyse, memorize, and categorize, the physical characteristics and implications of whatever thing or event is perceived by the senses. Intelligence determines the course of action to be taken.
In Samkhya philosophy, Mind is receptive and discriminating faculty which receives and individualise the impressions made by the outward objects on the senses. These are submitted to ego and by which an attribute of personality is given, thereafter it passes through intellect. Intellect present is it in distinct form. The Jivatma (soul), as an audience, beholds these presentations, as objects are seen in the mirror. In presence of Jivatma, the three dimensional energies or gunas (Sattva, Rajas and Tamas) of nature or Prakriti (including intellect, mind and ego) come alive. Awareness about oneself permits a person to know what they need to work on. Hence, self-awareness provides an opportunity to ameliorate the decisions taken in rush of temper or due to impulse created by negative thoughts.
As per Encyclopaedia Britannica, Ego is that portion of the human personality which is experienced as the “self” or “I”. According to Freud's personality theory, 1923, the psyche is structured into three parts, the id, ego and superego, all developing at different stages in our lives. The id is the primitive and instinctual part of the mind that contains sexual and aggressive drives and hidden memories, the super-ego operates as a moral conscience, and the ego is the realistic part that mediates between the desires of the id and the super-ego.
According to Samkhya Darshan, Ahmkara comes into being as proximity of two realms – consciousness or jivatma and unconsciousness or prakriti. Ego or Ahmkara provides basis for subject –object relationship. Ahmkara stands for the bifurcation of consciousness or true self and empirical “I” which is the root cause of ignorance and miseries. Sant Kabir has explained the above in his doha as under:
जब मैं था तब हरि नहीं अब हरि है मैं नाहीं ।
प्रेम गली अति सांकरी जामें दो न समाहीं ॥
अर्थ: जब तक मन में अहंकार था तब तक ईश्वर का साक्षात्कार न हुआ. जब अहम समाप्त हुआ तभी प्रभु मिले. जब ईश्वर का साक्षात्कार हुआ – तब अहम स्वत: नष्ट हो गया. ईश्वर की सत्ता का बोध तभी हुआ जब अहंकार गया. प्रेम में द्वैत भाव नहीं हो सकता – प्रेम की संकरी – पतली गली में एक ही समा सकता है – अहम् या परम ! परम की प्राप्ति के लिए अहम् का विसर्जन आवश्यक है.
Sankalp (Resolve, संकल्प) & Success
In Sanskrit language, Sankalp means determination, oath, resolve etc. Bhagwan Shree Krishna has laid importance of determination verse 24 of chapter 6. (संकल्पप्रभवान्कामांस्त्यक्त्वा सर्वानशेषतः। मनसैवेन्द्रियग्रामं विनियम्य समन्ततः॥)
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra prescribes as under:
Swami Vivekananda emphasized as under:
"Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success."
In Hindu philosophy, Arpan, Tarpan and Samarpan have big role for purification of self. Self-less sacrifice for betterment of humanity is Arpan. Remembering and offerings made to demised forefathers and parents particularly during Shradha (around 15 days period prior to Navratri is called Tarpan. Surrender to oneself to god and lead life according principles of dharma is Samarpan.
In Vedic dharma, every householder should perform five offerings or sacrifices viz. to devas (deities), pitras (ancestors), rishis (ancient teachers / scientists), human beings and brute creations. These offerings or sacrifices are the basis of spiritual development. It involves the offering of things that are precious to one-self and good to others, this eliminates the self-centeredness. These five offerings or sacrifices are as follows:
Arpan (dedication, presenting, offering)
Before the advent of cooking gas in the Hindu Kitchen, cooked food first was offered to fire. Thereafter, food was offered to deities and later taken as prasada. When the food was offered to yajna, it was called as Havya. The offerings or fire sacrifices made during Yajna are thanks-giving to deities for the benefits received from them or for welfare of humanity, are discharge of one’s duties. Fire is link between humans and deities.
Tarpan or Shradha:
Shradha means which is done with Shraddha (respect or reverence). Shradha or Tarpan is paying reverence towards the ancestors. It is a ritual of remembering our lineage and offering our respect. After dying, the gross body ceases, only the subtle body remains. There are many verses in Chapter 18 of Atharva Veda relating to appeasing the ancestors and funeral rites. The importance of Tarpan is emphasized in several Purans viz. Garuda Puran, Vayu Puran, Kumra Puran, Skand Puran Devi Bhagavad Puran etc. It finds mention in Mahabharata.
Tarpan is done for the happiness of their ancestors during Pitra-Paksh. It is performed for a fortnight in the 2nd paksha Hindu lunar month of Bhadrapada in southern and western India and in Ashwin month in north India & Nepal. It begins on the Pratipada (first day of the fortnight) ending with the no moon day known as amavasya (also known as Pitru Amavasya, Peddala Amavasya, Mahalaya amavasya or simply Mahalaya).
Shradha is performed at home normally. However, Shraddha performed at Varanasi, Prayaga, Gaya, Kedarnath, Badrinath, Rameswaram and Nasik, have special significance.
In the Shradha, after the invocation, and salutation, the reverence offering is done. Water is mainly used in tarpan. Other items are like barley, black sesame, rice, Ganga water, milk and flowers. With the help of the Kushas, the small Anjali mantra of the barley is satisfied by the mere pouring of the mantra. Subsequently, the offerings are also made to crow, dog, cow, begger and Brahmin.
As a result of performing Tarpan, the ancestors get satisfied and bless us with love, peace, happiness, good health, wealth and success. Also, one who is performing gets rid of the family dosha or Pitru dosha (if any).
Samarpan or Surrender:
External worship is symbolic. The true and the highest worship is total surrender, offering of oneself, one’s possessions, and one’s actions and even the sense of agency to Him and unwavering faith and devotion (अनन्य भक्ति). Whole hearted self-surrender (body, mind and soul) and love ensures attainment of Brahman.
Bhagawata Purana has classified god-centred actions into nine class’ viz. listening (श्रवणम), hymning/eulogizing (कीर्तनं), meditating/remembering (स्मरणम), service (पादसेवनम), worship (आर्कनम), salutation/greeting (वंदनम), servitude/bondage (दास्यम), comradeship/friendliness (सखयम) and total surrender (आत्मनिवेदनम).
The grace of the Supreme Being comes on those who surrender themselves whole-heartedly to him, and that grace accomplishes what one cannot do by one’s own effort. First attitude is “I am His”; second – “He is mine” and third – “He is I”. Surrender takes these forms according to one’s spiritual maturity.
The importance of offerings and self-surrender is emphasized in Shrimad Bhagavad Gita discussed hereinafter:
Cosmology & Chemistry in Rig Veda
The Vedas are regarded as the store house of ancient knowledge obtained through direct vision of reality by the Vedic seers. Mahrishi Veda Vayas compiled the Vedas around 5000 years ago. Prior to that, Vedas were transmitted through teacher-disciple tradition. Upon investigating, the Vedas reveal the discoveries made by the modern science. It is true that the verses of Vedas are symbolic in nature and require high level of intelligence and interpretation.
Rigveda Samhita is a collection of 1,028 hymns (suktas) in about 10,600 verses, organized into ten books (mandalas). The Rig Vedic hymns are dedicated to various deities, chief of whom is Indra. The others discussed are Vrtra, Agni, Soma, ,Adityas, Mitra, Varuna, Ushas (the dawn), Savitr, Vishnu, Rudra, Pushan, Brihaspati or Brahmanaspati, Prithivi, Surya (Sun), Vayu or Vata (the wind), Apas (the waters), Parjanya (the thunder and rain), Vac (the word), many rivers, Vasus, Sadhyas, Ashvins, Maruts, Rbhus, and the Vishvadevas ("all-gods") as well as the "thirty-three gods" are the groups of deities mentioned.
A number of Vedic researchers have decoded the various deities and certain Rig Vedic hymns to corroborate the discoveries of modern science. The details are discussed below.
Names of deities in terms of science defined as under:
Aditi – Space energy; Indra – Electric force; Agni – Cosmic force which converts energy into matter, Varun – Proton; Soma – gravitational force; Vishnu – rotatory motion; Brihaspati – nuclear force; Rudra – extremely hot nuclear furnace of the galaxy from where they originate; Maruts – high energy photons; Prajapati – the creator.
Prior to Creation of Universe:
Process of creation of Universe:
Formation of Sun, Planets and Moon:
Modern Science: Accordingly, astronomers often group stars by their mass viz. Very low mass stars, with masses below 0.5 M☉, Low mass stars (including the Sun), with a mass between 0.5 M☉ and 1.8–2.5 M☉ and Massive stars generally have a minimum mass of 7–10 M☉
Planetary Movements – Planets revolve around Sun:
Modern Science - Nicolaus Copernicus, a Polish astronomer first put forth the theory in 1543 that the Sun is at rest and that the Earth, spinning on its axis once daily, revolves annually around the Sun.
Luminosity of Sun:
Modern Science - In addition to light, infrared and ultraviolet "light", radio waves, x-rays, and gamma rays; the sun radiates heat and a steady stream of charged particles known as the solar wind containing mostly electrons, protons and alpha particles with kinetic energy between 0.5 and 10 keV.
Phenomenon of splitting light into Vibgyor rays
Modern Science - Isaac Newton in 1666 discovered that light is made up of seven different colours.
Formation of Atom and its constituents:
Modern Science – Various sub-atomic particles have been discovered during the century viz. Electron (J J Thomson, 1897), Photon (Einstein, 1905), Proton (Rutherford, 1919), Neutron (Chadwick, 1932), Antiparticles (Anderson, 1932), Meson & leptons (Anderson, 1936), Lambda Baryons (Unv. Of Melbourne, 1950), Neutrino (Clyde Cowan, Frederick Reines, 1956) and Kaons (1947).
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:
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