In 1965, while I was a student of Human Anatomy at Kurnool Medical College, I had the opportunity to know about Dr. J. C. B. Grant (1886-1973), the author of Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy. The 5th Edition of his Atlas was published in 1962 and was available in India in our Medical College Library.
Born in Loanhead (south of Edinburgh) in 1886, Grant studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh Medical School and graduated with an M.B., Ch.B. degree in 1908. While at Edinburgh, he worked under the renowned anatomist Daniel John Cunningham. Grant became a decorated serviceman of the Royal Army Medical Corps during the First World War before moving to Canada. He established himself as an ‘anatomist extraordinary’ at the University of Toronto, publishing three textbooks that form the basis of Grant’s Anatomy. The textbooks are still used in anatomy classes today, and made unforgettable memories for those who found themselves in his classes nearly a century ago. One of Grant’s many accomplishments was establishing a division of histology within the department.
As a medical student, I used Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy, the seminal work of Scottish-born Dr. John Charles Boileau Grant, who would become the chair of Anatomy at the University of Toronto in 1930 and retired in 1965.
Students continue to use Grant’s textbooks today, and for the more artistic anatomist there’s even a Grant’s Anatomy Coloring Book, published in 2018.
At the University of Toronto, Dr.McMurrich, Chair of Anatomy was succeeded as chairman in 1930 by Dr. John Charles Boileau Grant. Dr. Grant wrote three text books, of which “An Atlas of Anatomy” (published in 1943) rapidly gained international prominence and is still, one of the most widely used anatomical atlases in the world. It is now known as “Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy” and is in its tenth edition. The atlas was based on a series of elegant dissections done either by Grant or by others under his supervision. Many of these dissections are currently housed in Grant’s Museum at the University of Toronto.
The Rudi-Grant Connection is about knowing the man, the building blocks and the structural units and organization of the human body. To defend the human existence, the Rudi-Grant Connection lays the emphasis on knowing the person who is at risk apart from knowing the agent posing the risk.
THE IDENTITY OF MULTICELLULAR HUMAN ORGANISM:
Daniel John Cunningham was born on 15 April 1850 in Scotland. After his initial schooling at his home town, Crieff, he took up the study of medicine at the University of Edinburgh and passed with honours. He is best known for the excellent series of dissection manuals, namely Cunningham’s Dissection Manuals. Cunningham’s Manual of Practical Anatomy has provided me the learning tools to know and understand Man’s External and Internal Reality and its Identity as described by Cells, Tissues, Organs,and Organ Systems.
I learned about the human body while dissecting the body in a systematic manner. The Manual of Practical Anatomy which guides us through this entire process was published in England. The author Dr. Daniel John Cunningham prepared the Manual while dissecting cadavers of British or Irish citizens. He had never encountered cadavers of Indian citizens. At Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India, where I was a student, the Department of Anatomy obtains dead bodies from Government General Hospital Kurnool and most of the deceased are the poor, illiterate, and uneducated people of that region. None of the deceased had the chance to know this man called Cunningham and Cunningham had no knowledge about the existence of these people who arrive on our dissection tables. But, as the dissection of the human body proceeds, inch, by inch, we recognize the anatomical parts as described by Cunningham. The manual also lists some anatomical variations and we very often exchange information between various dissection tables and recognize the variations mentioned. The dissections also involve slicing the organs and studying them, both macroscopically, and microscopically. We did not miss any part of the human body. So what is the Identity of this Human person or Human subject? How does the living Human organism maintain its Identity and Individuality? Apart from the Cultural Traditions of India, several Schools of Religious Thought claim that the Human Individual and its Identity is represented by Human Soul. Where does this soul exist in the human body? What is the location if the soul is present in the living person? Does man have a soul? How does the human organism acquires Knowledge about its own structures and the functions they perform?
If arrived, will depart, the King, the Slave, and the Fakir
Saint Kabir lived in Benaras (Kasi, Varanasi), India during 15th century. His contributions to the BHAKTI and the SUFI movements in India are well known. Some of his poetry was incorporated into the ‘Guru Granth Sahib'(Adi Granth), the sacred book of Sikhs. In this holy book, Kabir’s hymns appear at the head of ‘BHAGAT BANI’. Kabir pointed to the inward life of the mind as the source of contact with the Divine. Kabir grew up as a Muslim and his family was poor and he belonged to a community whose traditional occupation was that of weavers.
The Legend about Kabir’s Departure
Kabir’s life, his birth and death, is shrouded in mystery and legend. One popular legend about Kabir’s death claims that after his death, his Muslim and Hindu disciples were fighting about the type of funeral rites as the Muslims believe in burial and the Hindus believe in cremation of dead bodies. When they had finally opened Kabir’s coffin and pushed the cloth that was used to cover the dead body, they were astonished to find that the body was missing. In lieu of the body, they found flower petals and an empty book. His disciples entered Kabir’s sayings in that book.
Mati Kahe Kumhaar Se Tu Kya Raunde Moye Ek Din Aisa Aayega Mein Raundungi Toye Aaye Hai So Jayenge Raja Rank Fakir Ek Sinhaasan Chadhi Chale Ek Bandhe Janjir Durbal Ko Na Sataaiye Jaaki Moti Haaye Bina Jeev Ki khaal Se loha Bhasm Ho Jaye Chalti Chaki Dekh Ke Diya Kabira Roye Do Paatan Ke Bich Mein Baki Bacha Na Koi Dukh Me Sumiran Sab Kare Sukh Mein Kare Na Koye Jo Sukh Mein Sumiran Kare To Dukh Kahe Hoye Patta Tuta Daal Se Le Gayi Pawan Udaye Ab Ke Bichhade Kab Milenge Door Padenge Jaye Kabira Aap Thagaiye Aur Na Thagiye Koi Aap Thage Sukh Upaje Aur Thage Dukh Hoye
Humans, who had arrived on this planet earth, are certain to depart as well. The King would depart after having climbed the throne. The Slave would depart after having lived in shackles. The Fakir or Monk who had no worldly possessions or attachments also would depart when his time for departure arrives. Kabir may have departed and as per the legend, his dead body had mysteriously disappeared but we still have his ideas and thoughts to inspire us.
HOW AND WHEN MAN ARRIVES?
It is very interesting to note that Indian thinkers like Saint Kabir Das are certain about man’s departure. It would be much more interesting to reflect upon as to how man arrives here in the first place. If we understand as to when and how man arrives on planet Earth, we could be more certain about man’s status in nature.
Each human being arrives as a new object, one of its own kind, original, unique, and distinctive. The genome of each man who has arrived here has not existed before, and would not exist again after the departure of that man. If arrived, man has no choice other than that of existing as an Individual with Individuality. If there is no escape from death; there is also no escape from the fact of existing as an Individual while living. Man has to define the term life, and death and explain the basis for his existence as an Individual with Individuality while he cannot rule or govern even a single individual living cell in his body which comprises of over 100 trillion cells. This Individuality also shapes the dying process of the Individual while the man faces challenges to his mortal existence coming from numerous directions. The King may die of his battlefield injuries. The Slave may die of the effects of heat or cold. The Fakir may die of respiratory illness like pneumonia.
The Rudolf-Rudi Doctrine of Molecular Individualism
The man exists in the physical world for his existence is essentially supported by unity or ‘Eikyata’ with ‘PRABHU’, or LORD God Creator. It is of great importance to note that man’s existence involves use of a creative mechanism that deploys unique molecules that establish man’s physical identity on a molecular basis. Man’s existence is ‘Conditioned’ for he has no choice other than that of existing as Individual with Individuality. Modern Science has provided tools to visually examine large molecules and experimentally verify individualistic variations in their behavior. For this reason, we have to know each man as a Specific Individual with Individuality.
Knowing man’s identity and individuality demands understanding of molecules that defend human existence. For example, each antibody molecule bears two identical binding sites consisting of six b-loops.
Nobel Laureate, Dr. Steven Chu (United States Secretary of Energy), former Professor of Physics and Applied Physics, Stanford University has described that molecules can exhibit a surprising degree of individuality. In experiments that examine the physical behavior of single molecules, Stanford researchers have discovered that identical polymers; long, flexible, spaghetti-like molecules that are found in everything from plastics to living cells; UNFOLD in a variety of ways even when exposed to the same experimental conditions. Dr. Chu had stated : “We discovered it because we have developed the ability to visualize and manipulate single molecules.” He had further observed that, “Only by looking at individual animals you can get a true sense of diversity of species.” Dr. Chu researched Biological Physics and Polymer Physics. Dr. Chu’s research in Polymer Physics made use of individual molecules of DNA to study Polymer Dynamics.
We define our identity in the natural world and defend our existence by deploying unique protein molecules. Our genetic code determines the protein molecules that we use. The genetic code is made up of DNA strands that express Molecular Individualism. It arises from exceedingly small differences in the initial configuration of the polymer.
NOBEL PRIZE FOR MEDICINE GOES TO CANCER THERAPY
American James Allison and Japan’s Tasuku Honjo have won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Medicine for a pioneering approach to cancer treatment.
The Nobel committee said the pair’s research — which harnesses the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells — amounted to a “landmark in our fight against cancer.” The approach, known as immune checkpoint theory, had “revolutionized cancer treatment and has fundamentally changed the way we view how cancer can be managed,” the committee said.
Clipped from: https://www.bbc.com/news/health-45704322
Image copyright SPL
Two scientists who discovered how to fight cancer using the body’s immune system have won the 2018 Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine.
The work, by Professor James P Allison from the US and Professor Tasuku Honjo from Japan, has led to treatments for advanced, deadly skin cancer.
Immune checkpoint therapy has revolutionized cancer treatment, said the prize-giving Swedish Academy.
Experts say it has proved to be “strikingly effective”.
Prof Allison, of the University of Texas, and Prof Honjo, of Kyoto University, will share the Nobel prize sum of nine million Swedish kronor – about $1.01 million or 870,000 euros.
Accepting the prize, Tasuku Honjo told reporters: “I want to continue my research … so that this immune therapy will save more cancer patients than ever.”
Prof Allison said: “It’s a great, emotional privilege to meet cancer patients who’ve been successfully treated with immune checkpoint blockade. They are living proof of the power of basic science, of following our urge to learn and to understand how things work.”
Treating the untreatable
Our immune system protects us from disease, but it has built-in safeguards to stop it from attacking our own tissue.
Image copyright. Kyoto University. Image caption. Professor Tasuku Honjo and his team at Kyoto University
Some cancers can take advantage of those “brakes” and dodge the attack too.
Allison and Honjo, now both in their 70s, discovered a way to unleash our immune cells to attack tumors by turning off proteins that put the brakes on.
And that led to the development of new drugs which now offer hope to patients with advanced and previously untreatable cancer.
Immune checkpoint therapy is being used by the NHS to treat people with the most serious form of skin cancer, melanoma.
It doesn’t work for everyone, but for some patients it appears to have worked incredibly well, getting rid of the tumor entirely, even after it had started to spread around the body.
Such remarkable results had never been seen before for patients like these.
Image copyright. Getty Images. Image caption. Professor James P Allison
Doctors have also been using the treatment to help some people with advanced lung cancer.
Prof Charles Swanton, from Cancer Research UK, congratulated the prize winners, saying: “Thanks to this groundbreaking work, our own immune system’s innate power against cancer has been realized and harnessed into treatments that continue to save the lives of patients. For cancers such as advanced melanoma, lung, and kidney, these immune-boosting drugs have transformed the outlook for many patients who had run out of options.
“The booming field of immunotherapy that these discoveries have precipitated is still relatively in its infancy, so it’s exciting to consider how this research will progress in the future and what new opportunities will arise.”
MY THOUGHTS ON THE MOLECULAR BASIS FOR THE DEFENSE OF HUMAN EXISTENCE
The Molecular Basis for the Defense of Human Existence. Man’s Unity with LORD God Creator can be learned from the study of Immunology. Each Antibody molecule bears two identical binding sites consisting of six b-Loops.
My ‘Theory of Man’ describes the Man as a Created Being. Man’s physical existence in the natural world in good health or ill-health always demands Man’s Unity (Sanskrit. ASMI) with LORD God Creator (Sanskrit. Brahman) for Man is constituted as a Spiritual Being. Man, the Rational Being is inclined to investigate the basis for the reality of his own existence. The reasoning for my statements is derived from the study of Immunology.
THE DEFENSE OF HUMAN EXISTENCE
THE MOLECULAR BASIS FOR THE DEFENSE OF HUMAN EXISTENCE. NATURE OF HUMAN IDENTITY AND INDIVIDUALITY IS REVEALED BY HUMAN DEFENSE MECHANISMS.
An individual exists in the natural world by his biological abilities to defend his continued existence as an independent entity. This essay explores the physiological aspects of human existence and the defensive mechanisms that sustain this existence and the molecules which define and shape our INDIVIDUALISM. I had earlier described the Cultural aspects of INDIVIDUALISM while describing the Indian Identity. The term immunity describes the natural defensive mechanisms that give an individual the ability to recognize foreign proteins and foreign substances and neutralize or degrade them with or without injury to the individual’s own tissues. Immunology is the branch of science concerned with the body’s response to foreign agents and substances.
THE FUNCTIONS OF THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
THE MOLECULAR BASIS FOR THE DEFENSE OF HUMAN EXISTENCE. ORGANS, CELLS, AND PROTEIN MOLECULES OF IMMUNE SYSTEM REPRESENT A CREATIVE MECHANISM TO OPPOSE, NEUTRALIZE, AND DESTROY FOREIGN INVADERS.
The immune system responds to invasion by the foreign organisms and their toxic products. This immune response is also described as active immunity. In the natural world, an infant is defended by molecules transferred passively across the placenta from the mother’s circulation during the fetal stage of development. The infant after birth may also receive passively protein molecules from mother when breastfed. This passive immunity defends the baby for several months and the baby further survives by developing its own immune system. Another major function of the immune system is the removal of damaged or dying cells. The immune system is also able to recognize and eliminate abnormal or mutant cells that frequently arise within the body. Using a system that is described as immune surveillance, the body recognizes and disposes of such abnormal cells which could result in the incidence of certain types of cancer. The immune system plays a vital role in protecting the body from bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites and helps to prevent certain types of cancer.
The immune system is very important and it is also very sensitive. The system’s very ability to recognize foreign substances may often result in undesirable reactions. Millions of people suffer on account of hypersensitivity or allergic reactions to fairly harmless substances present in the environment. Many individuals suffer on account of their sensitivity to proteins found in the foods such as milk, eggs, fish, wheat(gluten), and nuts that we consume. Sometimes, the immune system is misdirected and initiates an immune response against the body’s own cells or tissues producing a condition known as an autoimmune disease. While an immune system could cause some problems, we take full advantage of the system to defend ourselves from serious infectious diseases such as smallpox,polio,rabies, diphtheria, whooping-cough, measles, rubella, mumps, tetanus, typhoid, cholera, tuberculosis, hepatitis B, influenza and others by using vaccines and inoculations. Millions of lives are protected by routine use of vaccines and inoculations which help the body to become resistant to these infectious agents. We also use foreign proteins to protect the lives of people in times of a severe life-threatening crisis. We use blood, plasma, and sera( containing immunoglobulins secreted by animals) with utmost care to tide over an emergency. I used foreign immunoglobulins to treat snakebite victims and tetanus cases. The foreign proteins elicit a minor immune response and the situation is carefully monitored.
By being careless and reckless, and by polluting our food, water, air, and soil with dangerous chemicals, we damage our very sensitive immune system and this is contributing to a higher incidence of immune-related health problems in the population.
TYPES OF IMMUNE RESPONSE
The Molecular Basis for the Defense of Human Existence. The Fundamental Basis of Human Existence is not that of Man’s Intelligence, Mental Memory and Mental Functions.
The immune system defends human existence with a variety of cells and by the protein molecules known as immunoglobulins or antibodies produced by the immune function capable cells. The ability to recognize foreignness, specificity of the response, and the memory of the prior immune response are the key characteristics of immune defense. The immune system must be able to recognize the foreign agents and foreign materials in order to locate and destroy them. Specificity means that immunity to one foreign substance or organism does not provide resistance to another type of organism. Memory is the ability of the individual to develop an accelerated, enhanced, and long-lasting immunity after the initial attack by an infectious disease. The memory function described in Immunology should not be confused with the mental faculty called Memory. The body defends itself through two types of mechanisms which work together to protect our existence. 1. Humoral Immunity:- this involves the production of protein molecules described as immunoglobulins or antibodies.2. Cell-mediated Immunity:- It does not involve secretion of antibodies but requires direct physical contact with the foreign substance or agent. It also involves the use of other protein molecules which assist in the defense mechanisms.
THE MOLECULAR BASIS FOR DEFENSE OF HUMAN EXISTENCE. HUMORAL IMMUNITY INVOLVES DEPLOYMENT OF UNIQUE PROTEIN MOLECULES TO COUNTERACT WITH FOREIGN PROTEIN MOLECULES.
The cells known as Lymphocytes or B cells are produced in the bone marrow and circulate in our blood and are distributed to the various lymphoid tissues in the body, such as the lymph nodes, spleen, tonsils, and Peyer’s Patches (Lymphoid Follicles) that line the small intestine. When stimulated by an infectious organism, production of lymphocytes increases and the lymphocytes are carried to the site of infection. Depending upon the site of infection, the lymph nodes of that region often swell up and are found packed with lymphocytes. The B cells produce chemical substances known as antibodies. These are protein molecules which are specifically generated against specific organisms. The foreign substance is described as antigen. The antibodies that are generated recognize their antigens with high affinity and extreme selectivity. The interaction of an antigen with its specific antibody involves only small areas on the antigen’s surface; these areas are known as antigenic determinants. Protein molecules are very potent antigens as they have several antigenic determinants. Many carbohydrates are also antigenic because they have antigenic determinants. The antibodies circulate in the blood. The simplest, most prevalent means by which the immune system defends the body against bacteria and viruses is by a combination of a specific antibody with the antigenic determinants on the surface of the invading organism. This interaction between antibodies and antigens produces an aggregate of cells called as an agglutination. The body has wandering scavenger cells known as Macrophages. The clumps of agglutinated cells are engulfed and digested by the macrophages. Antibodies also bind to toxic molecules given off by invading microorganisms and this reaction produces large, insoluble aggregates known as precipitates. These precipitates are also removed by macrophages. The virus after entering the body survives by its ability to invade or enter cells. Antibodies prevent the ability of the virus to infect cells by covering up and blocking the attachment sites of the virus.
THE MOLECULAR BASIS FOR THE DEFENSE OF HUMAN EXISTENCE. INTERACTION OF CELLS AND UNIQUE PROTEIN MOLECULES OF IMMUNE SYSTEM DEFINES MAN’S IDENTITY ON MOLECULAR BASIS.
There is another distinct type of Lymphocytes known as T lymphocytes or T cells. T cells originate in the THYMUS and become localized in lymphoid organs. The immunity associated with T cells does not involve secretion of antibodies but through their direct contact with their targets or by the effects of secreted molecules known as lymphokines which help other cells to make the direct contact. There are four kinds of T cells. 1. The cytotoxic T cells
or Natural Killer cells or NK cells defend the body by destroying infected, foreign or cancerous cells. The other three kinds of T cells regulate immune responses by secreting messenger proteins known as lymphokines. 2. Helper T cells enable the other T cells and most B cells to perform their functions. The Helper T cells are destroyed by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) patients resulting in a depressed immune response that allows infection by a variety of microorganisms and the growth of some types of cancerous tumors. AIDS patients are very vulnerable to fatal infections. 3. Suppressor T cells dampen the immune response of the B and T cells. 4. The fourth kind of T cell is involved in certain kinds of hypersensitivity reactions. In a normal healthy individual, there is a balanced ratio of these four kinds of T cells to provide an efficient immune system for defense against all foreign substances. Macrophages and White blood cells known as neutrophils have the ability to engulf and digest particulate matter by the process of phagocytosis. They eliminate many foreign organisms and particulate materials that enter the body. The ability of NK cells to kill or destroy some cancerous or tumor cells is enhanced by two lymphokines known as gamma interferon and interleukin-1. Another lymphokine known as interleukin-2 activates the Lymphokine Activated Killer Cells or LAK cells which also have the ability to kill a variety of human tumor cells. Activated T cells also secrete a lymphokine known as Transfer Factor which is able to cause normal lymphocytes to release lymphokines or otherwise become activated and thus to destroy other cells. Transfer Factor stimulates the lymphocytes to develop normal immunity.
The Cytotoxic T cells destroy other cells by interacting with antigens present on the surfaces of the cell. They are involved in the attacks on tissues and organs grafted or introduced into the body, viral antigens found on infected cells and on chemicals that have entered the body and found attached to cells. T cells are involved in skin reactions resulting from contact with molecules found in poisonous plants like Poison Ivy, Poison Sumac, and Poison Oak.
ORGAN TRANSPLANTATION AND CELL-MEDIATED IMMUNITY
THE MOLECULAR BASIS FOR THE DEFENSE OF HUMAN EXISTENCE. ORGAN TRANSPLANTATION AND IMMUNOLOGY. MOLECULES OF HISTOCOMPATIBILITY LEUKOCYTE ANTIGEN (HLA) SYSTEM
T cells are involved in the rejection of transplanted tissues and organs. The chances of successful organ transplantation are improved by carefully matching the tissue or Histocompatibility Leukocyte Antigens known as the HLA system of the donor with those of the recipient. The protein molecules of the HLA Complex establish the identity of our body, its tissues, and various organs. They work to preserve the identity of the individual and to exclude the introduction or grafting of foreign material into the body. Even after careful matching, and selection of suitable donors, transplanted tissues or organs are usually maintained by using drugs that cause immunosuppression by which the normal immune response of the recipient against the donated organ is prevented.
A normal, healthy immune system is vital to defend our biological existence. Immunodeficiency diseases, depressed or compromised immune system conditions such as associated with corticosteroid therapy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or exposure to certain types of toxic chemicals, and autoimmune diseases impose a heavy burden and threaten our existence. Medical interventions and treatment may help us but the quality of life is invariably compromised. A functioning immune system is important to defend our existence.
The Molecular Basis for the Defense of Human Existence. Man exists as Individual with Individuality as his existence involves defensive mechanisms operated by independent, individual cells, and protein molecules which exhibit Cellular Autonomy. The cell is the lowest common denominator of all life. While the cell is functionally independent or autonomous or self-governing, it displays the abilities characterized by Mutal Assistance, Cooperation, Tolerance, and Functional Subservience to provide some benefit to the Individual who lives in the physical world.
The unique protein molecules that we deploy to establish our identity, and to defend our existence exhibit individualism at a molecular level. Molecules can exhibit a surprising degree of individuality. In experiments that examine the physical behavior of single molecules, researchers at Stanford University have discovered that when identical polymers, long, flexible, spaghetti-like molecules that are found in everything from plastics to living cells( the strands of DNA and other protein molecules)- they UNFOLD in a variety of ways even when exposed to the same conditions. Nobel Laureate Dr Steven Chu, former Professor of Physics, and Applied Physics at Stanford( former United States Secretary of Energy) has stated that: We discovered it because we have developed the ability to visualize and manipulate single molecules. ONLY BY LOOKING AT INDIVIDUAL ANIMALS CAN YOU GET A TRUE SENSE OF THE DIVERSITY OF SPECIES. He had researched biological Physics and Polymer Physics at single molecular level. He made use of individual molecules of DNA to study Polymer Dynamics.
The Theory of Evolution fails to account for our Molecular Individualism. Our body is unique and does not display any affinity for foreign substances and proteins and is actually involved in degrading or destroying such invasion by foreign agents and their products. The body has no evolutionary preferences and the vigorous response of the immune system has no bearing upon any presumed evolutionary connections between species. We need to look at each human individual to truly understand the nature of our Human Diversity. When we look at the genetic code, the DNA molecules that operate this code, we can understand the nature of our Molecular Individualism. A man comes into existence as an Individual and he exists an individual according to the Law of Individuality.
2018 Nobel Prize for Medicine will help us to develop a ‘Theory of Man’ by the study of unique protein molecules that play an important role in the defense of human survival. The Physical Being called Man needs the support of Spirit, Soul, or a Divine Agency to bring Unity between the cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems providing the structural and functional basis for Man’s existence.
Defining Indian Identity. The Doctrine of Individualism
ManO bhudhyahamkaara Chittaani na aHam,
Na Karnam, na Jihvaa, na cha Ghraana Netram,
Na cha Vyoma Bhumir na Tejo na VaayuH,
Chidaananda RuupaH ShivO aHam, ShivO aHam.
WHAT IS INDIVIDUALISM?
The word individual is derived from Latin, ‘Individualis’-that which is not divided-an individual. Individualism can be defined as follows:1. a belief that stresses the primary importance and worth of each person and in the virtues of self-reliance and personal independence, 2. the principle or practice of maintaining individuality or independence of the individual, 3. the principle or habit of or belief in independent thought or action, 4. the conception that all values, rights and duties originate in individuals, 5. a doctrine that the interests of the individual are or ought to be ethically paramount, and 6. the pursuit of individual rather than common or collective interests. The doctrine of Individualism may support a view that the interests of the individual should take precedence over the interests of the State or Social Group.
Indian Culture views human existence in absolute individualistic terms and the legacy of Indian Culture could be described as ‘INDIVIDUALISM’.
THE FOUNDATION FOR INDIVIDUALISM:
The Bhagavad Gita, Chapter II, Sankhya Yoga, verse 39, claims that the analytical knowledge derived from Samkhya philosophy gives the description of the nature of individual and individuality.
Chapter II, of the Bhagavad Gita explains this philosophy in several verses.Verse 11 claims that those who are wise lament neither for the living nor the dead.
In verse 12, Lord Krishna states that there was never a time when He did not exist, nor Arjuna, nor all others in the battle field, and in the future there will never be a time when any of them cease to exist. Lord Krishna (The Supreme Individual Person) and also all other individuals are eternal persons.They existed as individuals in the past and they will continue to exist as individuals in the future.Their individuality existed in the past and their individuality will continue in the future without interruption. Lord Krishna clearly states that the individuality of all others will continue eternally. Hence, Indians do not accept the bodily conception of the living entities. Living entity is an individual soul and even though the body changes every moment, the soul does not undergo any change.
Verse 13, claims that the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth, and then to old age; similarly, the soul also passes into another body at death. By nature the human body is ever changing, and the soul is eternal.
Verse 24 states that this individual soul is unbreakable and insoluble. He is everlasting, unchangeable, immovable, and eternally the same.
Finally, verse 27 establishes the foundation for ‘Individualism’ by stressing that ” For one who has taken his birth,death is certain; and for one who is dead, birth is certain.”
THE SUPREMACY OF INDIVIDUAL:
The primary importance of the individual is established by the Vedic statement “AHAM BRAHMASMI” which describes the True Identity of the Individual as that of Ultimate Reality known as Brahman. The following verse supports the idea that the Individual is a Whole entity as the Whole is derived from the Whole, perfect, Supreme Being:
Om, purna mada, purna midam, purnaat purna mudachyate
Purnasya purna maadaya, purna meva vasishtyate.
“That” (is an indefinite term to designate the Invisible Absolute) is Whole (Perfect Substance with Perfect Nature and Quality); “This” (the visible, the phenomenal embodied Soul) is Whole, from the (invisible) Whole comes forth the (visible) Whole. Though the visible Whole is derived or deducted from that invisible Whole, yet the Whole remains unaltered and both retain their Perfect Condition called Whole. The human entity is virtually trapped in a repeated cycle of birth, death and rebirth.The ultimate purpose of human existence is to achieve ‘MOKSHA’ (LIBERATION) or MUKTI (RELEASE) from this Cycle that is referred to as ‘SAMSARA’.
THE PRACTICE OF INDIVIDUALISM:
Individualism is built upon the value attached to knowing oneself. We are encouraged to look inwards and to reflect upon the nature of ‘SELF’. Self-Knowledge is considered to be more valuable than gaining knowledge of the material world.The following prayer which is known as ‘GAYATRI MANTRA’ is one such example of motivating Individuals to look inwards. Similarly, Socrates suggests, “Know thyself, and you will know the universe and the gods.”
Om Bhur Bhuva Suvah, Om tatsa vitur vareynyam
Bhargo Devasya dhee mahi dheeyo yo nah prachodayaat.
The Individual while firmly establishing his Individuality also takes complete responsibility for his actions.The Individual bears the burden for his own actions.
THE JOURNEY TO ULTIMATE INDIVIDUALISM:
The Individual strives for self-reliance, learns to minimize the importance of all external relationships and concentrates upon developing an intimate relationship with his personal God.The following prayer is one such example of an Individual’s journey on the path of devotion (BHAKTI).
Tva meva maata cha pitaa tva meva, Tva meva bandhu cha sakha tva meva,
Tva meva vidya, dravinam tva meva, Tva meva sarvam mama Deva Deva.
Devotion to God practically takes over, replaces and consumes the need for any other kind of external relationship such as man’s relationship to his mother, father, relatives, friends, and educational and material status.
THE GOAL OF ABSOLUTE INDIVIDUALISM:
For the individual to win the battle of ‘SAMSARA’, to gain freedom from the cycle of birth and death, to declare victory over death and to finally reach the shore and complete the long and tiresome swim across the uncharted ocean, he is required to disentangle himself from the cobweb of relationships and set himself free. The following prayer known as ‘MAHA MRITYUN JAYA MANTRAM’ illustrates the point:
Om,Triyambakam,Yajamahe sugandhim pushti vardhanam,
Urvaaru kamiva bhandha naat mrutyor muksheeya amrutaat.
Such liberated Individual who had freed himself from all external relationships would be able to proclaim his True Identity and the following verse written by Shri Shankaracharya is an example of an Individual who had reached the Goal Of Absolute Individualism:
Na Mrityur, na Shankaa, na me Jaati bheydaH,
Pitaa naiva, me naiva Maataa, na Janma,
Na Bandhur,na Mitram, Gurur naiva SishyaH,
Chidaananda RupaH ShivO aHam, ShivO aHam.
Thus Indian Identity is none other than the identity of “SHIVA” whose Individualistic Identity is described as Sat+Chit+Ananda.
In the Epic Poem of Ramayana, the concept of Individualism is vividly portrayed. Rama alone was required to live in the forest. He could have just refused to do so. No force upon earth could have moved Him but He made His own choice. Lakshmana made His own choice and accompanied His brother for a life in the forest. Rama made no decision about Seeta. He did not want her to accompany Him into the forest. Seeta made Her own decision. All of them express their own personal independence in unique manners.