Life and Absolute Truth at the Atomic Level
BY: SUN STAFF
Sri Krsna as Paramatma
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
Jan 05, 2013 CANADA (SUN) A two-part exploration of life at the atomic level.
The following photographic images were captured using a scanning electron microscope (SEM) or similar type of electron enhancer that employs a beam of high-energy electrons to scan surfaces. The electron beam of the SEM apparently interacts with atoms near or at the surface of the sample being viewed, resulting in extremely high-resolution 3D images. Magnification levels range from x25 (about the same as a hand lens) to nearly x250,000. Incredible details of 1 to 5 nm in size can be detected. Coloration is often enhanced to sharpen the contrast of surface areas being photographed.
SEM image technology was pioneered by Max Knoll, who first captured highly magnified images of silicone steel in 1935. Over the next 30 years, many scientists worked to further develop the scientific instruments and processes of high magnification photography. In 1965, the first SEM, known as the "Stereoscan", was delivered to DuPont by the Cambridge Instrument Company.
The photographic display that follows takes us on a fascinating journey through the material sheath, through blood, organs and embryo. While the images are amazing, and certainly remind us of the inconceivable nature of Krsna's material creation, the reality of these captured images is greatly enhanced when described through the science of Krsna Consciousness. Sastra informs us as on every aspect of the minutiae of the material creation, making very clear the Absolute Truth that behind every manifestation is the Supreme Creator, Lord Krsna.
Red blood cells
Red blood cells (RBCs) - The most common type of blood cell in the human body. These biconcave-shaped cells have the tall task of carrying oxygen to our entire body. In women there are some 4 to 5 million RBCs per microliter (cubic millimeter) of blood, and about 5 to 6 million in men. People who live at higher altitudes have even more RBCs because of the low oxygen levels in their environment.
Srila Prabhupada's Lecture on Bhagavad-gita, August 13, 1974, Vrindavan:
"So aham brahmasmi... Dehino 'smin yatha dehe. That Brahman, particle of Brahman, is there within the body. It is very small. You just study. It is stated that atma and Paramatma, they are living together. And where is the atma, Paramatma? The Paramatma is stated also, isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese arjuna tisthati. So everything... Paramatma is within my heart and I am sitting with Paramatma; therefore I am also within the heart. So medical science, they also know. They take care of the heart. When the heart stops, then everything stops. That means when the atma goes out of the heart, it has no meaning. So in the small scale the whole construction of this body is dependent on that atma. So this is the example, that the atma is so small, one ten-thousandth part of the top of the hair. Because that small particle is there within this body, therefore it is so beautiful, it is nicely working, the brain is working. Everything is there. Scientists, they are finding out, trying to find out what is the living force. Sometimes they are catching the blood; sometimes they are catching the cells, or this, or that... But failure. Because they could not capture the atma. But atma is so small. It is not possible. Even you cannot see where it is. But it is perceived that there is something within this body, living force generally they call it. Therefore the body's working. So... And the... It is spread all over the body. Yena sarvam idam tatam. Avinasi tu tad viddhi yena sarvam idam tatam. That thing which is sarvam idam tatam, spread all over the body as light, illumination...
So I am atma, you are atma. So your illumination, consciousness, is spread all over the body. Therefore so long I am in this body, I feel pains and pleasure because the consciousness is spread. In the same way... As Krsna says, He's the Supreme Soul. I am individual, very, very minute, small particle, and Krsna is the supreme whole. So as I am controlling over this body, so where is the difficulty? Krsna is controlling over the whole universe. Where is the difficulty? There is no difficulty. But we'll not understand. That is the difficulty."
A Hair Cell in the Ear
A Hair Cell in the Ear - Close-up of human hair cell stereocilia inside the ear. These detect mechanical movement in response to sound vibrations.
Srila Prabhupada's Lecture on Bhagavad-gita, March 30, 1971, Bombay:
"My body, your body, let us study what is this body. This body is produced or generated from the small spiritual spark. That is also mentioned in the sastra, what is the dimension of that small spiritual spark.
satadha kalpitasya ca
jiva-bhagah sa vijneyah
sa canantyaya kalpate
Kesagra-sata-bhagasya. The upper portion, the tip of the hair, just like a point, you divide it into hundred parts and take another one part and divide another hundred parts. That means one ten-thousandth part of the tip of the hair is the dimension of the spirit soul. That spirit soul, on the basis of that spirit soul, this body develops. Any medical scientist knows. And we know from the Vedic literatures that this small particle, atomic particle of spiritual spark, takes shelter in the semina of the father, and the father injects the semina in the womb of the mother. Then, if the situation is favorable, then it takes a form of body just like a pea in the first night. That pealike body develops. Then different holes are manifested. They are developed into eyes, ears, mouth, and so many holes, nine holes in the body. So anyone can understand that that small particle of atomic portion of a spiritual spark develops this body, big body. Not only human body, all sorts of bodies. Similarly, this whole universe is also a development of the spiritual body of Krsna, Paramatma.
So it is not very difficult to understand. The Buddhist theory is that living symptoms are produced by combination of matter. But from Bhagavad-gita and other Vedic literature we understand that matter is produced from spirit soul. Matter, not from the matter the living symptoms are produced. According to Lord Buddha's philosophy, that this body is combination of matter... So when we dismantle the matter, nirvana, then there is no more feelings of pains and pleasures. That is called sunyavadi. But we are neither sunyavadi or nirvisesa-vadi. We are savisesa-vadis. Savisesa-vadi means that the spirit soul has got its form, and this body has got form. Just like dress takes its form because the man has got a form. This body is considered as dress. Vasamsi jirnani yatha vihaya. We are changing our dresses as much as we change our old dress to new ones. Old order changes, yielding place to new. So this body, because we, in our spiritual body we have got form, hands and legs, therefore we develop a material body which has got hands, legs, etc. That we can understand very easily. Just like your coat and shirt cannot have hands and legs without you having your hands and legs; similarly, this material body which is considered as dress means it has developed on the personal body of the spiritual form. This is called savisesa-vada."
Blood Clot - The same red blood cells as those pictured above, but these have been caught up in the sticky web of a blood clot. The cell in the middle is a white blood cell.
A Second Chance: The Story of a Near-Death Experience - Introduction
"As the sinful Ajamila lay on his deathbed, he was terrified to see three fierce humanlike creatures coming to drag him out of his dying body and take him away to the abode of Yamaraja, the lord of death, for punishment.
Surprisingly, Ajamila escaped this terrible fate. How? You'll find out in the pages of A Second Chance: The Story of a Near-Death Experience.
You'll also learn many vital truths about the fundamental nature of the self and reality, so you can better prepare yourself for your own inevitable encounters with death and dying.
Even today, people momentarily on the verge of death report encounters like Ajamila's, lending credibility to the idea that there is life after death.
In 1982, George Gallup, Jr., published a book called Adventures in Immortality, which contained results of a survey on American beliefs about the afterlife, including near-death and out-of-body experiences.
Sixty-seven percent of the people surveyed said they believe in life after death, and fifteen percent said they themselves had had some kind of near-death experience.
The people who reported a near-death experience were then asked to describe it. Nine percent reported an out-of-body sensation, and eight percent felt that "a special being or beings were present during the near-death experience."
The Gallup survey is intriguing, but it leaves unanswered this basic question: Is there any scientific evidence for near-death experiences, particularly of the out-of-body type?
Apparently there is--from studies of people on the verge of death who, while supposedly unconscious, accurately report events relating to their physical body from a perspective outside it. Heart attack patients, accident victims, and soldiers wounded in battle have all reported such experiences.
Dr. Michael Sabom, a cardiologist at the Emory University Medical School, undertook a scientific study of such reports. He interviewed thirty-two cardiac-arrest patients who reported out-of-body experiences. During a cardiac arrest the heart stops pumping blood to the brain, and so a patient should be totally unconscious. Yet twenty-six of the thirty-two patients reporting out-of-body experiences during cardiac arrest were able to give fairly accurate visual accounts of their resuscitation. And the remaining six gave extremely accurate accounts of the specific resuscitation techniques, matching confidential hospital records of their operations.
The results of Sabom's study, detailed in his book Recollections of Death: A Medical Investigation (1982), convinced him of the reality of out-of-body experiences. He concluded that the mind was an entity distinct from the brain and that the near-death crisis caused the mind and brain to split apart for a brief time. Sabom wrote, "Could the mind which splits apart from the physical brain be, in essence, the soul, which continues to exist after the final bodily death, according to some religious doctrines? As I see it, this is the ultimate question that has been raised by reports of the NDE [near-death experience]."
The true dimensions of that ultimate question are thoroughly explored in A Second Chance, by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founding spiritual master (acarya) of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
Tongue with Taste Bud
Tongue with Taste Bud - The human tongue has approximately 10,000 taste buds that are involved with detecting salty, sour, bitter, sweet and savoury taste perceptions.
Srimad Bhagavatam 2.10.19 Purport - Bhagavatam is the Answer to All Questions:
vivaksor mukhato bhumno
vahnir vag vyahrtam tayoh
jale caitasya suciram
"When the Supreme desired to speak, speeches were vibrated from the mouth. Then the controlling deity Fire was generated from the mouth. But when He was lying in the water, all these functions remained suspended.
The peculiarity of the gradual development of the different senses is simultaneously supported by their controlling deities. It is to be understood, therefore, that the activities of the sense organs are controlled by the will of the Supreme. The senses are, so to speak, offering a license for the conditioned souls, who are to use them properly under the control of the controlling deity deputed by the Supreme Lord. One who violates such controlling regulations has to be punished by degradation to a lower status of life. Consider, for example, the tongue and its controlling deity, Varuna. The tongue is meant for eating, and men, animals and birds each have their different tastes because of different licenses. The taste of human beings and that of the swine are not on the same level. The controlling deity, however, awards or certifies a particular type of body when the particular living entity develops a taste in terms of different modes of nature. If the human being develops taste without discrimination, as does the swine, then the controlling deity is certainly certified for the next term to award him the body of a swine. The swine accepts any kind of foodstuff, including stools, and a human being who has developed such indiscriminate taste must be prepared for a degraded life in the next life. Such a life is also God's grace because the conditioned soul desired a body like that for perfectly tasting a particular type of foodstuff. If a man gets the body of a swine it must be considered the grace of the Lord because the Lord awards the facility. After death the next body is offered by superior control, not blindly. A human being, therefore, must be on his guard as to what sort of body he is going to have in the next life. An irresponsible life of indiscrimination is risky, and that is the declaration of all scriptures."
Alveoli in the Lung
Alveoli in the Lung - The inner surface of a lung. The hollow cavities are alveoli, where gas exchange occurs with the blood.
Bhagavad-gita 2.17 Purport:
eso 'nur atma cetasa veditavyo
yasmin pranah pancadha samvivesa
pranais cittam sarvam otam prajanam
yasmin visuddhe vibhavaty esa atma
"The soul is atomic in size and can be perceived by perfect intelligence. This atomic soul is floating in the five kinds of air [prana, apana, vyana, samana and udana], is situated within the heart, and spreads its influence all over the body of the embodied living entities. When the soul is purified from the contamination of the five kinds of material air, its spiritual influence is exhibited."
The hatha-yoga system is meant for controlling the five kinds of air encircling the pure soul by different kinds of sitting postures--not for any material profit, but for liberation of the minute soul from the entanglement of the material atmosphere.
So the constitution of the atomic soul is admitted in all Vedic literatures, and it is also actually felt in the practical experience of any sane man. Only the insane man can think of this atomic soul as all-pervading visnu-tattva.
The influence of the atomic soul can be spread all over a particular body. According to the Mundaka Upanisad, this atomic soul is situated in the heart of every living entity, and because the measurement of the atomic soul is beyond the power of appreciation of the material scientists, some of them assert foolishly that there is no soul. The individual atomic soul is definitely there in the heart along with the Supersoul, and thus all the energies of bodily movement are emanating from this part of the body. The corpuscles which carry the oxygen from the lungs gather energy from the soul. When the soul passes away from this position, activity of the blood, generating fusion, ceases. Medical science accepts the importance of the red corpuscles, but it cannot ascertain that the source of the energy is the soul. Medical science, however, does admit that the heart is the seat of all energies of the body.
Such atomic particles of the spirit whole are compared to the sunshine molecules. In the sunshine there are innumerable radiant molecules. Similarly, the fragmental parts of the Supreme Lord are atomic sparks of the rays of the Supreme Lord, called by the name prabha, or superior energy. Neither Vedic knowledge nor modern science denies the existence of the spirit soul in the body, and the science of the soul is explicitly described in the Bhagavad-gita by the Personality of Godhead Himself."
Lung Cancer Cells
Lung Cancer Cells - Diseased lung cancer cells, in stark contrast to the healthy lung cells pictured above.
Caitanya-caritamrta Adi lila 5.20:
"A diseased person who has become diseased because of a certain bad habit must be ready to follow the advice of the physician, and as a natural sequence he must attempt to give up the cause of the disease. The patient cannot indulge in the bad habit and at the same time expect to be cured by the physician. Modern material civilization, however, is maintaining a diseased atmosphere. The living being is a spiritual spark, as spiritual as the Lord Himself. The only difference is that the Lord is great and the living being is small. Qualitatively they are one, but quantitatively they are different. Therefore, since the living being is spiritual in constitution, he can be happy only in the spiritual sky, where there are unlimited spiritual spheres called Vaikunthas. A spiritual being conditioned by a material body must therefore try to get rid of his disease instead of developing the cause of the disease.
Foolish persons engrossed in their material assets are unnecessarily proud of being leaders of the people, but they ignore the spiritual value of man. Such illusioned leaders make plans covering any number of years, but they can hardly make humanity happy in a state conditioned by the threefold miseries inflicted by material nature. One cannot control the laws of nature by any amount of struggling. One must at last be subject to death, nature's ultimate law. Death, birth, old age and illness are symptoms of the diseased condition of the living being. The highest aim of human life should therefore be to get free from these miseries and go back home, back to Godhead."
Srimad Bhagavatam 2.7.21:
dhanvantaris ca bhagavan svayam eva kirtir
namna nrnam puru-rujam ruja asu hanti
yajne ca bhagam amrtayur-avavarundha
ayusya-vedam anusasty avatirya loke
"The Lord in His incarnation of Dhanvantari very quickly cures the diseases of the ever-diseased living entities simply by his fame personified, and only because of him do the demigods achieve long lives. Thus the Personality of Godhead becomes ever glorified. He also exacted a share from the sacrifices, and it is he only who inaugurated the medical science or the knowledge of medicine in the universe.
As stated in the beginning of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, everything emanates from the ultimate source of the Personality of Godhead; it is therefore understood in this verse that medical science or knowledge in medicine was also inaugurated by the Personality of Godhead in His incarnation Dhanvantari, and thus the knowledge is recorded in the Vedas. The Vedas are the source of all knowledge, and thus knowledge in medical science is also there for the perfect cure of the diseases of the living entity. The embodied living entity is diseased by the very construction of his body. The body is the symbol of diseases. The disease may differ from one variety to another, but disease must be there just as there is birth and death for everyone. So, by the grace of the Personality of Godhead, not only are diseases of the body and mind cured, but also the soul is relieved of the constant repetition of birth and death. The name of the Lord is also called bhavausadhi, or the source of curing the disease of material existence.
Sperm on the Surface of an Egg
Sperm on the Surface of an Egg - A number of human sperm trying to fertilise an egg.
Srimad Bhagavatam 3:30.34 to 3:31.1
punar atravrajec chucih
"Having gone through all the miserable, hellish conditions and having passed in a regular order through the lowest forms of animal life prior to human birth, and having thus been purged of his sins, one is reborn again as a human being on this earth.
Just as a prisoner, who has undergone troublesome prison life, is set free again, the person who has always engaged in impious and mischievous activities is put into hellish conditions, and when he has undergone different hellish lives, namely those of lower animals like cats, dogs and hogs, by the gradual process of evolution he again comes back as a human being. In Bhagavad-gita it is stated that even though a person engaged in the practice of the yoga system may not finish perfectly and may fall down for some reason or other, his next life as a human being is guaranteed. It is stated that such a person, who has fallen from the path of yoga practice, is given a chance in his next life to take birth in a very rich family or in a very pious family. It is interpreted that "rich family" refers to a big mercantile family because generally people who engage in trades and mercantile business are very rich. One who engaged in the process of self-realization, or connecting with the Supreme Absolute Truth, but fell short is allowed to take birth in such a rich family, or he is allowed to take birth in the family of pious brahmanas; either way, he is guaranteed to appear in human society in his next life. It can be concluded that if someone is not willing to enter into hellish life, as in Tamisra or Andha-tamisra, then he must take to the process of Krsna consciousness, which is the first-class yoga system, because even if one is unable to attain complete Krsna consciousness in this life, he is guaranteed at least to take his next birth in a human family. He cannot be sent into a hellish condition. Krsna consciousness is the purest life, and it protects all human beings from gliding down to hell to take birth in a family of dogs or hogs.
striyah pravista udaram
The Personality of Godhead said: Under the supervision of the Supreme Lord and according to the result of his work, the living entity, the soul, is made to enter into the womb of a woman through the particle of male semen to assume a particular type of body.
As stated in the last chapter, after suffering different kinds of hellish conditions, a man comes again to the human form of body. The same topic is continued in this chapter. In order to give a particular type of human form to a person who has already suffered hellish life, the soul is transferred to the semen of a man who is just suitable to become his father. During sexual intercourse, the soul is transferred through the semen of the father into the mother's womb in order to produce a particular type of body. This process is applicable to all embodied living entities, but it is especially mentioned for the man who was transferred to the Andha-tamisra hell. After suffering there, when he who has had many types of hellish bodies, like those of dogs and hogs, is to come again to the human form, he is given the chance to take his birth in the same type of body from which he degraded himself to hell.
Everything is done by the supervision of the Supreme personality of Godhead. Material nature supplies the body, but it does so under the direction of the Supersoul. It is said in Bhagavad-gita that a living entity is wandering in this material world on a chariot made by material nature. The Supreme Lord, as Supersoul, is always present with the individual soul. He directs material nature to supply a particular type of body to the individual soul according to the result of his work, and the material nature supplies it. Here one word, retah-kanasrayah, is very significant because it indicates that it is not the semen of the man that creates life within the womb of a woman; rather, the living entity, the soul, takes shelter in a particle of semen and is then pushed into the womb of a woman. Then the body develops. There is no possibility of creating a living entity without the presence of the soul simply by sexual intercourse. The materialistic theory that there is no soul and that a child is born simply by material combination of the sperm and ovum is not very feasible. It is unacceptable."
Human Egg with Coronal Cells
Human Egg with Coronal Cells - A human egg sitting on a pin. The egg is coated with the zona pellicuda, a glyco-protein that protects the egg and also helps to trap and bind sperm. Two coronal cells are attached to the zona pellicuda.
Srimad Bhagavatam 3.31.2-3
kalalam tv eka-ratrena
dasahena tu karkandhuh
pesy andam va tatah param
"On the first night, the sperm and ovum mix, and on the fifth night the mixture ferments into a bubble. On the tenth night it develops into a form like a plum, and after that, it gradually turns into a lump of flesh or an egg, as the case may be.
The body of the soul develops in four different ways according to its different sources. One kind of body, that of the trees and plants, sprouts from the earth; the second kind of body grows from perspiration, as with flies, germs and bugs; the third kind of body develops from eggs; and the fourth develops from an embryo. This verse indicates that after emulsification of the ovum and sperm, the body gradually develops either into a lump of flesh or into an egg, as the case may be. In the case of birds it develops into an egg, and in the case of animals and human beings it develops into a lump of flesh.
masena tu siro dvabhyam
In the course of a month, a head is formed, and at the end of two months the hands, feet and other limbs take shape. By the end of three months, the nails, fingers, toes, body hair, bones and skin appear, as do the organ of generation and the other apertures in the body, namely the eyes, nostrils, ears, mouth and anus."
Human Embryo and Sperm
Human Embryo and Sperm - Five days after the fertilisation of an egg, some remaining sperm cells are still sticking around. This fluorescent image was captured using a confocal microscope. The embryo and sperm cell nuclei are stained purple, while sperm tails are green. The blue areas are gap junctions which form connections between the cells.
Srimad Bhagavatam 3.31.4-5
caturbhir dhatavah sapta
sadbhir jarayuna vitah
kuksau bhramyati daksine
"Within four months from the date of conception, the seven essential ingredients of the body, namely chyle, blood, flesh, fat, bone, marrow and semen, come into existence. At the end of five months, hunger and thirst make themselves felt, and at the end of six months, the fetus, enclosed by the amnion, begins to move on the right side of the abdomen.
When the body of the child is completely formed at the end of six months, the child, if he is male, begins to move on the right side, and if female, she tries to move on the left side.
sete vin-mutrayor garte
sa jantur jantu-sambhave
Deriving its nutrition from the food and drink taken by the mother, the fetus grows and remains in that abominable residence of stools and urine, which is the breeding place of all kinds of worms.
In the Markandeya purana it is said that in the intestine of the mother the umbilical cord, which is known as apyayani, joins the mother to the abdomen of the child, and through this passage the child within the womb accepts the mother's assimilated foodstuff. In this way the child is fed by the mother's intestine within the womb and grows from day to day. The statement of the Markandeya purana about the child's situation within the womb is exactly corroborated by modern medical science, and thus the authority of the puranas cannot be disproved, as is sometimes attempted by the Mayavadi philosophers.
Since the child depends completely on the assimilated foodstuff of the mother, during pregnancy there are restrictions on the food taken by the mother. Too much salt, chili, onion and similar food is forbidden for the pregnant mother because the child's body is too delicate and new for him to tolerate such pungent food. Restrictions and precautions to be taken by the pregnant mother, as enunciated in the smrti scriptures of Vedic literature, are very useful. We can understand from the Vedic literature how much care is taken to beget a nice child in society. The garbhadhana ceremony before sexual intercourse was compulsory for persons in the higher grades of society, and it is very scientific. Other processes recommended in the Vedic literature during pregnancy are also very important. To take care of the child is the primary duty of the parents because if such care is taken, society will be filled with good population to maintain the peace and prosperity of the society, country and human race."
Six-day old Human Embryo Implanting
Six-day old Human Embryo Implanting - A human embryo is beginning to implant into the endometrium, the lining of the uterus.
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.
Electron images and descriptions courtesy Creative Commons, Wellcome Images.
Submit an Article
Copyright 2005, 2013, HareKrsna.com. All rights reserved.