Hindu cosmology and Modern science
In the Hindu scientific approach, understanding of external reality depends on also understanding the godhead. In all Hindu traditions the Universe is
said to precede not only humanity but also the gods. Fundamental to Hindu concepts of time and space is the notion that the external world is a
product of the creative play of maya (illusion).
Accordingly the world as we know it is not solid and real but The universe is in constant flux with many levels of reality; the task of the saint is
find release (moksha) from the bonds of time and space.
Unlike the West, which lives in a historical world, India is rooted in a timeless universe of eternal return: everything which happens has already
done so many times before, though in different guises. Hinduism arose from the discoveries of people who felt that they had gained an insight into the
nature of reality through deep meditation and ascetic practices. Science uses a heuristic method that requires objective proof of mathematical
theories. Yet both have proposed similar scenarios for the creation of the universe.
Carl sagan on Hindu cosmology
The Carl Sagan,
the distinguished Cornell University astronomer and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, who succumbed to his
battle against cancer on December 15, in fact lived for millions of years in the relative time scale of experience.
The main reason that we oriented this episode of COSMOS towards INDIA
is because of that wonderful aspect of Hindu cosmology which first of all
gives a time-scale for the Earth and the universe -- a time-scale which is consonant with that of modern scientific cosmology. We know that the Earth
is about 4.6 billion years old, and the cosmos, or at least its present incarnation, is something like 10 or 20 billion years old. The Hindu tradition
has a day and night of Brahma in this range, somewhere in the region of 8.4 billion years.
As far as I know. It is the only ancient religious tradition on the Earth which talks about the right time-scale. We want to get across the concept of
the right time-scale, and to show that it is not unnatural. In the West, people have the sense that what is natural is for the universe to be a few
thousand years old, and that billions is indwelling, and no one can understand it. The Hindu concept is very clear. Here is a great world culture
which has always talked about billions of years.
Finally, the many billion year time-scale of Hindu cosmology is not the entire history of the universe, but just the day and night of Brahma, and
there is the idea of an infinite cycle of births and deaths and an infinite number of universes, each with its own gods.
"ON TIME AND PLACE: A PHILOSOPHY OF TIME"
by the Rev. Roger Bertschausen
Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
January 22, 1995
We in the West have long had trouble with time. Early Judaism, Christianity and Islam had no inkling of the long age of the universe. Cosmologies from
these religions were based on the notion that the universe started at a finite point in the recent past. St. Augustine set the beginning of the
universe at 5000 bce. For centuries, this figure was embraced by most Westerners. (And some continue to believe it.) Additionally, the early
Christians also believed that the end of time as we know it was close at hand.
This view of time contrasts sharply with other religious perspectives on the age of the universe. In the Hindu tradition, for example, one day in the
life of Brahma lasts 4,300,000,000 years. And Brahma lives for the equivalent of 311,040,000,000,000 human years. The historian of religions Huston
Smith reports one way of conceiving of the Hindu time-frame.
a professor, graduate school dean and research fellow of Harvard University.
"To the philosophers of India, however, Relativity is no new discovery, just as the concept of light years is no matter for astonishment to people
used to thinking of time in millions of kalpas, ( A kalpa is about 4,320,000 years). The fact that the wise men of India have not been concerned with
technological applications of this knowledge arises from the circumstance that technology is but one of innumerable ways of applying it."
,author and coauthor of several books about science and technology, including "The God partical"
"Indian cosmologists, the first to estimate the age of the earth at more than 4 billion years. They came closest to modern ideas of atomism, quantum
physics, and other current theories. India developed very early, enduring atomist theories of matter. Possibly Greek atomistic thought was influenced
by India, via the Persian civilization."
According to Guy Sorman,
visiting scholar at Hoover Institution at Stanford and the leader of new liberalism in France:
" Temporal notions in Europe were overturned by an India rooted in eternity. The Bible had been the yardstick for measuring time, but the infinitely
vast time cycles of India suggested that the world was much older than anything the Bible spoke of. It seem as if the Indian mind was better prepared
for the chronological mutations of Darwinian evolution and astrophysics."
born in China to Methodist missionaries, a philosopher, most eloquent writer, world-famous religion scholar .
He has said in Hinduism
“The invisible excludes nothing, the invisible that excludes nothing is the infinite – the soul of India is the infinite.”
“Philosophers tell us that the Indians were the first ones to conceive of a true infinite from which nothing is excluded. The West shied away from
this notion. The West likes form, boundaries that distinguish and demarcate. The trouble is that boundaries also imprison – they restrict and
“India saw this clearly and turned her face to that which has no boundary or whatever.”
“India anchored her soul in the infinite seeing the things of the world as masks of the infinite assumes – there can be no end to these masks, of
course. If they express a true infinity.” And It is here that India’s mind boggling variety links up to her infinite soul.”
“India includes so much because her soul being infinite excludes nothing.” It goes without saying that the universe that India saw emerging from the
infinite was stupendous.”
"While the West was still thinking, perhaps, of 6,000 years old universe – India was already envisioning ages and eons and galaxies as numerous as
the sands of the Ganges. The Universe so vast that modern astronomy slips into its folds without a ripple.”
"Whereas in Western religions a creator god precedes man and the universe, the Hindu gods are preceded by creation; the origin of the world is
envisaged not so much as an act of creation but as one of organization, the making of order out of chaos. The universe is often said to be born from
the sacred syllable Om, or from an inert void in which " there was neither being nor non-being ... death nor non-death", a single principle from
which emerged the diversity of life. From this void desire was born, and from desire came humans, gods and creation."
writes that "cosmic expansion may be simply a temporary condition which will be followed at some future epoch of
cosmic time by a period of contraction. The universe in this picture is a pulsating balloon in which cycles of expansion and contraction succeed each
other through eternity."
Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking
, writes: "At the big bang itself, the universe is thought to have had zero size, and so to
have been infinitely hot . . . The whole history of science has been the gradual realization that events do not happen in an arbitrary manner, but
they reflect a certain underlying order, which may or may not be divinely inspired."
The Vedas also state that creation is ongoing: what has been in the past is being repeated in the new cycle. Stephen Hawking writes, "Thus, when we
see the universe, we are seeing it as it was in the past." It's perhaps enough for the modern mind to know how great is the similarity.
[edit on 17-11-2004 by rahul_sharma]
[edit on 17-11-2004 by rahul_sharma]