Origins of Vedic Science, Part 4
BY: DR. SUBASH C. KAK
Subatomic Particle Tracks
Jan 20, BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA (SUN) The last in a four-part series on the Vedic origins of science.
We are in the midst of a paradigm shift in our understanding of Vedic science and cosmology. We now know that measurement astronomy is to be dated to at least the third millennium B.C.E. which is more than a thousand years earlier than was believed only a decade ago; and mathematics and geometry date to at least the beginning of the second millennium B.C.E. Indian mythology is being interpreted in terms of its underlying astronomy or / and cognitive science.
We find that many Indian dates are much earlier than the corresponding dates elsewhere. What does it all mean for our understanding of the Indian civilization and its interactions with Mesopotamia, Egypt, China and Greece? Was Indian knowledge carried to the other nations or do we have a case here for independent discovery in different places?
Contemporary science has begun to examine Vedic theories on the nature of the "self" to see how they might be of value in the search for a science of consciousness (e.g. Kak 1996b). Man has mastered the outer world and Vedic science formed the basis for that enterprise; it is now possible that the exploration of the inner world, which is the heart of modern science, will also be along paths long heralded by Vedic rishis.
We have seen how the logical apparatus that was brought to bear on the outer world was applied to the analysis of the mind. But the question remains -- how does inanimate matter come to have awareness? This metaphysical question was answered by postulating entities for smell, taste, form, touch, and sound. In the sankhya system, a total of twenty-four such categories are assumed.
These categories are understood to emerge at the end of a long chain of evolution and they may be considered to be material. The breath of life into the instruments of sight, touch, hearing and so on is provided by the twenty-fifth category, which is purusha, the soul.
Molecular Photos - Incense, Butterfly & Lotus
(left to right)
The recursive Vedic world-view provides for the fact that the universe itself go through cycles of creation and destruction. This view became a part of the astronomical framework and ultimately very long cycles of billions of years were assumed. The sankhya evolution takes the life forms to evolve into an increasingly complex system until the end of the cycle.
The categories of sankhya operate at the level of the individual as well. Life mirrors the entire creation cycle and cognition mirrors a life-history. Surprisingly similar are the modern slogans: ontogeny is phylogeny, and microgeny (the cognitive process) is a speeded-up ontogeny (Brown 1994).
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