SPIRITUALISM-VISISTADVAITA-MODIFIED NON-DUALISM: THE THEORY OF RAMANUJACHARYA:
Ramanujacharya is recognized as the foremost Indian thinker who adhered to the Vedantic system of Indian thought like Adi Shankara who was the first to propose the “Unqualified Non-Dualism, or Advaita” to explain the relationship between God, matter, and man. He is the antithesis of Shankara. He opposed the monistic system of Vedanta of Shankara for it offers no room for a personal God. Both Shankara and Ramanuja have derived a system of thought that is based on the interpretation of the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras, and the Bhagavad Gita. Ramanuja provided an intellectual and a philosophical basis for the practice of devotional worship of God in the Indian tradition called “BHAKTI.” He taught that the worship of a personal God and the union of the Individual Soul with the personal God is an essential part of the doctrines of the Upanishads or Vedanta. Both Shankara, and Ramanuja may have shared a common belief in the Indian tradition that describes the transmigration of the Individual Soul through the experience called “SAMSARA”, which is a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth that is associated with the human body in which the Soul is embodied. Both of them aspire to attain ‘Final Release’ of the embodied Individual Soul from transmigration when it reaches its goal, or the destination. Shankara claimed that the impersonal “BRAHMAN” as the Ultimate Reality, and further stressed that there is no separation or dualism between the Individual Soul and the impersonal Brahman or the Divine Soul. As a theory, Shankara’s Unqualified Nonduality does not demand any ritualistic worship of God. Ramanuja identified the destination, or goal to be attained by the Individual Soul as that of a personal God, a God that he knows by the name of Lord Vishnu. While Shankara had proposed that the material world, and the universe is unreal as it is a mere product of sense experience, a perception caused by “ILLUSION”, or “MAYA.” In Shankara’s view, the understanding of the material world, and the universe leads to ignorance, and not any real knowledge as man has no capacity to overcome the power of illusion. Ramanuja emphasized that the phenomenal world is “real” and that it provides real knowledge. He held the opinion that discursive thought is necessary in man’s search for the ultimate truths. He held that the exigencies of daily life are compatible with the life of the Spirit. Ramanuja allowed the urge for devotional worship(BHAKTI) into his doctrine of Salvation. He combined religious practices of ritualistic worship service with the pursuits of philosophy. He came to these conclusions by accepting the reality of three distinct orders; 1. Matter, 2. Soul, and 3. God. He concedes that there is nonduality(ADVAITA), or an ultimate identity of the three orders. But, this nonduality is asserted by God who is modified(“VISISTA”) by the orders of Matter and Soul that He created. God has modified His own status and nature by causing the birth of Matter and Individual Soul. The analogy used is; just as the human body modifies the Soul, has no separate existence from it, and yet is different from it; similarly, the orders of Matter and Soul constitute God’s body, modifying it, and yet have no separate existence from it. The goal of the Individual Soul is to serve God just as the human body serves the Soul. All the phenomenal world is a manifestation of the glory of God or Lord Vishnu and is described as “VIBHUTI”, or the Infinite Glories of the Supreme Lord. Using contemplation of God, and devotional worship service, man seeks the “RELEASE” of the Individual Soul by God’s grace that remains active in man’s quest. While God’s grace is very powerful, man may have to unconditionally surrender or submit himself to the power of God’s grace.
I would be happy to further examine the issue of the three distinct orders of Matter, Soul, and God and arrive at an understanding of their relationship.
Rudra N. Rebbapragada/ R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,
Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A.
Organization: The Spirits of Special Frontier Force.
- Spiritualism – the New Advaita Theory of Non-dualism (bhavanajagat.com)
- Spiritualism – a Brahman Spirit in Prison (bhavanajagat.com)
SPIRITUALISM – THE NEW ADVAITA THEORY OF NON-DUALISM:
I am sharing my view in response to a view shared by Srila Prabhupada, the founder of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness in his book, Science of Self-Realization. Firstly, I must state that Srila Prabhupada has not taken into consideration “The Totality of Things.” To describe “The Totality of Things”, the ‘Three Fundamental Distinctions’, or the Three Fundamental Dualisms must be recognized. The Three Fundamental Distinctions are, 1. the distinction between the natural and the supernatural, 2. the distinction between the material and the spiritual, and 3. the distinction between the living and the non-living(animate/inanimate). Substance, material, or matter is a fundamental requirement to establish man’s existence in the physical world. But, this existence becomes a reality if, and only if there is separation of living, and non-living matter or material. A living thing exists by separating itself from its external environment. This separation is supported by implantation of “KNOWLEDGE” in the substance of the matter that gets transformed into living matter. The evidence of the “KNOWLEDGE” that is implanted is detected in two fundamental characteristics of living things; 1. the ‘Consciousness’ or ‘Awareness’ of the fact/state/condition of its own energy-dependent existence by which the living thing knows that it needs energy-yielding molecules found in the matter present in its external environment, and 2. ‘Intelligence’ that involves the cognitive ability to acquire information, process information, store information, and use information to recognize the presence of other ‘Things’ present in the external environment and use them to gain energy and to make structures and perform functions to maintain its own living condition. Consciousness, and Intelligence are the two basic ‘spiritual’ functions of all living things. These are not physical, or chemical functions that are entirely determined by the Laws of Physical Sciences. These are not functions that are dependent upon man’s physical, or mental work. If soul or spirit is defined as the vital, animating principle common to all living things, its presence can be known if the matter is conscious and is intelligent. The separation of man into material body, thinking substance or matter called mind, and an immaterial part or principle called spirit or soul is not correct. The biological existence of man demands Unity. There is no Mind-Body dichotomy as the complete human organism is derived from a single fertilized Egg Cell. The human person will not come into existence if there is no functional, and structural unity between mind, body, and the various tissues, organs, and organ systems. The entity named spirit or soul does not belong to the transcendental, or metaphysical realm or domain. Spirit and Soul belong to the corporeal substance or matter. Man is not an embodied soul and in reality man is a living soul. The purpose of Self-Discovery is not that of God-Discovery. The concern is not about the existence of God, or the verification of God’s existence. Man has to discover his own true or real nature. For this, man has to understand as to what it is to be a substance and as to what it is to be in a condition, or state called existence.
Spiritualism, the new ‘ADVAITA’ Theory of Non-Dualism seeks the Unity of man in body, mind, spirit, and soul. Such unity establishes the dependent condition called existence while man desires freedom in his thoughts, actions, and behavior.
Rudra N Rebbapragada/R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,
Ann Arbor, MI 48104-4162, USA.
Organization: The Spirits of Special Frontier Force.
R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,
Personal Numbers:MS-8466/MR-03277K. Rank:Lieutenant/Captain/Major.
Branch:Army Medical Corps/Short Service Regular Commission(1969-1972); Direct Permanent Commission(1973-1984).
Unit:Establishment No.22(1971-1974)/South Column,Operation Eagle(1971-1972).
Organization: Special Frontier Force.
The following is an article based upon the view shared by Srila Prabhupada in his book, The Science of Self-Realization.
Discovering the Self:
Who are you? Are you your body? Or your mind? Or are you something higher? Do you know who you are, or do you merely think you know? And does it really matter? Our materialistic society, with its unenlightened leadership, has made it virtually taboo to inquire into our real, higher self. Instead we use our valuable time maintaining, decorating, and pampering the body for its own sake. Might there be an alternative?
This very important Krishna consciousness movement is meant to save human society from spiritual death. At present human society is being misled by leaders who are blind, for they do not know the aim and objective of human life, which is self-realization and the reestablishment of our lost relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is the missing point. The Krishna consciousness movement is trying to enlighten human society in this important matter.
According to Vedic civilization, the perfection of life is to realize one’s relationship with Krishna, or God. In the Bhagavad-Gita, which is accepted by all authorities in transcendental science as the basis of all Vedic knowledge, we understand that not only human beings but all living entities are parts and parcels of God. The parts are meant for serving the whole, just as the legs, hands, fingers, and ears are meant for serving the total body. We living entities, being parts and parcels of God, are duty-bound to serve Him.
Actually our position is that we are always rendering service to someone, either to our family, country, or society. If we have no one to serve, sometimes we keep a pet cat or dog and render service to it. All these factors prove that we are constitutionally meant to render service, yet in spite of serving to the best of our ability, we are not satisfied. Nor is the person to whom we are rendering that service satisfied. On the material platform, everyone is frustrated. The reason for this is that the service being rendered is not properly directed. For example, if we want to render service to a tree, we must water the root. If we pour water on the leaves, branches, and twigs, there is little benefit. If the Supreme Personality of Godhead is served, all other parts and parcels will be automatically satisfied. Consequently all welfare activities as well as service to society, family, and nation are realized by serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
It is the duty of every human being to understand his constitutional position with God and to act accordingly. If this is possible, then our lives become successful. Sometimes, however, we feel challenging and say, “There is no God,” or “I am God,” or even, “I don’t care for God.” But in actuality this challenging spirit will not save us. God is there, and we can see Him at every moment. If we refuse to see God in our life, then He will be present before us as cruel death. If we do not choose to see Him in one feature, we will see Him in another. There are different features of the Supreme Personality of Godhead because He is the original root of the entire cosmic manifestation. In one sense, it is not possible for us to escape Him.
This Krishna consciousness movement is not blind religious fanaticism, nor is it a revolt by some recent upstart; rather, it is an authorized, scientific approach to the matter of our eternal necessity in relation with the Absolute Personality of Godhead, the Supreme Enjoyer. Krishna consciousness simply deals with our eternal relationship with Him and the process of discharging our relative duties to Him. Thus, Krishna consciousness enables us to achieve the highest perfection of life attainable in the present human form of existence.
Ref: Science of Self Realization authored by Srila Prabhupada (Founder – Acharya, ISKCON)
SPIRITUALISM AND IDENTITY – THE CONFLICT AT KURNOOL MEDICAL COLLEGE :
In Anthropology, Culture is described as the way of life of a human society transmitted from one generation to the next. Culture basically involves acquisition of Identity using identification tools such as the use of social affiliation resulting from association with the place of birth, locality of primary residence, birth caste, mother tongue, religion, food, social occupation, and others. Even among people who may belong to the same race or ethnic stock, social groups or social associations are created depending upon the nature of identification tool that is used. Very often, the Identity of a person is described in a manner to exclude that specific person from harmonious social interactions with members present in that social community. Identity is used as a weapon to separate people into social groups and this separation or lack of unity is the cause for social conflicts, social unrest, and violence in the community. For example, my birthplace identity is that of MYLAPORE, MADRAS CITY, or Chennai; but, at the same time I have also acquired the birth identity that describes me as a Telugu-Speaking person. I may claim Madras or Chennai as my birthplace, but I am not entitled to an identity called “Tamilian” as that identity is associated with a specific language called Tamil. Among Telugu-Speaking people, there are various other identities depending upon a person’s place or locality of primary residence. A Telugu-Speaking person may have any of the three identities; 1. Coastal Andhra, 2. Rayalaseema, and 3. Telangana. The tool that we use to describe our physical or external Identity in the material World is the source of Conflict, Unrest, and Violence.
I had joined Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool City, Kurnool District of the State of Andhra Pradesh during November 1965. I had arrived at Kurnool from Osmania University, Hyderabad where I was a student enrolled for a Master’s Degree(initially in Botany and later changed to Chemistry). I had obtained a Bachelor of Science degree after obtaining four years of college education at Government Giriraj Arts College( also known as Giriraj Government Degree College), Nizamabad, Nizamabad District, Andhra Pradesh. However, this educational experience had no role in the selection of my Regional Identity. I was allowed to use my educational qualification that I had acquired in the Telangana Region of Andhra Pradesh, and I was permitted to enroll in a Medical School located in Rayalaseema Region of Andhra Pradesh based upon the determination that I am a native of the City of Rajahmundry, East Godavari District, the Coastal Andhra Region of Andhra Pradesh. The State and the people of Andhra Pradesh have the freedom to determine and to describe my physical Identity as they like, but the question still remains; “What is my True or Real Identity???”
THE EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL REALITY OF MAN – THE IDENTITY OF MAN :
If man is viewed as a multicellular organism comprising of trillions of independent, and individual living cells, we need to know as to who or what is the Subject who lives because of the functions of these trillions of cells. The External Reality of Man involves the understanding of his physical Identity in the External World, and it describes the person in terms of his Name, Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Language, Religion, Nationality, Education, Social Occupation, Social Status or Ranking, Caste, Anthropometric measurements, and Biometric Information. This External Reality and Identity has a degree of correspondence in the External World and is often confirmed by others. But, this Identity that is derived from the morphological appearance and other factors is subject to change either under the influence of Time or Place. Hence, we will be forced to examine the Internal Reality of Man and verify his Internal Identity which is related to the Individuality of the Subject. For Man to exist as an Individual in this External World, Man needs the support of his unchanging Individuality, and the nature of this Individuality is known to the cells, tissues, and organ systems that constitute the human organism. I would ask all of my readers and specially the medical students to recognize the fact that a Man’s cells, tissues, and organ systems that live and function to support the biological existence of Man do not recognize the Identity of that Man in terms of his birthplace, birth Caste, mother tongue, religion, or a geographical region. Human existence has a fundamental secular basis and hence we are able to use our medical knowledge to render medical service to all Men without the distinction based upon Race, Ethnicity, Religion, Language, or Region. It should be easy to seek a National Identity and National Individuality and participate in global affairs as equals with a sense of Pride, Dignity, and Honour. At Kurnool Medical College, the study of Human Anatomy and Human Physiology have helped me to learn about the structural and functional integration of body, and mind and I describe this integration as a Spiritual function.
“PEACE IS ATTAINABLE” – THE QUEST FOR SPIRITUALISM :
The ideas about Spiritualism and Spirituality are motivated by a desire to find Peace, Harmony, and Tranquility in the living human experience. During 1965-66 I was studying Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, Medical Biochemistry, and Physics( in preparation for First M.B.B.S. Part- III Examination to be held in March/April 1967 ). Lions Club International of Nalgonda City, Nalgonda District, Andhra Pradesh had invited me to submit an essay on the subject of “PEACE IS ATTAINABLE” to participate in an international essay-writing competition to promote the understanding of the concept of ‘peace’ among young students. This essay was also published in the College Magazine(1966) published by the KMC Students Association. In my opinion that I had shared at that time, I had expressed the hope that Peace is attainable if man is willing to transform himself to discover “inner peace and tranquility” and reflects it in his formulation of social interactions and social relationships. Peace is not a condition, and it is not a state describing the absence of warfare among national entities. Peace has to experienced by each individual as a personal, living experience. This Peace, Harmony, and Tranquility cannot be imposed upon others. It is accomplished through transformation within the individual and has to be attained at individual level. At the same time, the student community at Kurnool Medical College was agitated about the allocation of central resources for regional economic development of the country. The burning issue was that of locating a Steel Mill or Factory in the coastal city of Visakhapatnam of Andhra Pradesh. The students went on a strike, stopped attending classes and participated in events aimed at disrupting train transportation services. This agitation demonstrated a conflict between National interests and Regional interests. I had some concerns about the direction of this agitation. I had the feeling that Nation has to move forward on the basis of defining National Priorities. Regional Priorities and Regional aspirations for growth and development must be revealed by a National Plan as both kinds of Priorities have to be consistent and seek the same objective called National Prosperity. During 1966, Srimati. Indira Gandhi became the third Prime Minister of India and I felt encouraged that she would promote Peace, Harmony, and Tranquility in the lives of Indian people. In my view, she had represented a National Identity that transcends the Identity derived from Region, Religion, or Language, the types of Identity that divide people from each other and cause social unrest.
THE NATIONAL STUDENT SEMINAR ON NATIONAL INTEGRATION :
While I was at Kurnool Medical College, during June 1967, just before joining the classes in preparation for Second M.B.B.S. Part – I examination in Pharmacology( to be held in April, 1968), I had the opportunity to represent the State of Andhra Pradesh as a student delegate at the four-week long National Student Seminar on National Integration. This event was sponsored by Vishwa Yuvak Kendra, International Youth Centre based in Chanakyapuri, New Delhi. The selection of student delegates was based upon essays submitted by the students to state their views on the subject of promoting National Unity and National Integration. The essay I had submitted was also published in the College Magazine(1967). I had recognized the problems associated with the social, linguistic, and other cultural traditions of the various regions of India. These traditions have been separating people from each other and are causing divisions among Indian Society. For example, the social tradition called Caste can bring a group of people together and at the same time divide the entire Social community into various Caste designated social compartments. In the elections conducted for choosing officials for the student governing body at Kurnool Medical College, during 1967, all the students that belonged to the “REDDY” Caste community were eliminated in the contest for the posts both at the College and the Men’s Hostel. To address this problem of Caste-driven Social Identity, I had recommended that students must formulate marital social relationships ignoring factors like religion, language, region, and birth caste. However, it must be noted that I have not intended to impose this remedy or solution upon others. I was only stating that each individual can choose for himself his own Identity and express it in his actions and behavior. During 1967, students of Kurnool Medical College were also alarmed about the Official Language Policy and feared that the Central Government may impose the use of Hindi language across the entire country and thus limit the job-opportunities that are available to students who are not native Hindi speakers. Students went on a strike to oppose this Language Policy and classes were suspended for a few weeks. In that context, it became clear that the need for National Unity and National Integration demands an ability to overcome the Language barrier. At the same time, the Telugu-speaking student community of Kurnool Medical College were divided into three camps based upon the place of their primary residence.
NATIONAL IDENTITY vs REGIONAL IDENTITY – THE CONTEST AT KURNOOL MEDICAL COLLEGE :
During 1968 while preparing for Second M.B.B.S. Part – II examination( to be held during April, 1969 ) in Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Pathology and Bacteriology, I had participated in the election for the selection of General Secretary of the Student Governing Body/Association of Kurnool Medical College. I had asked the students not to give attention to my Regional Identity, the Identity called “Coastal Andhra” which was the Identity given to me at the time of my admission into Kurnool Medical College. I was defeated in the election by a narrow margin of seven votes and this loss was because of the financial inability of some of the students who had not paid the membership dues and were disqualified from voting in this election. However, it was a defeat and I had failed in my simple mission to bring the student community together on the issue of Regional Unity. I have recognized that as an Individual, I can choose to describe my Identity in terms that I know and understand. My failure in the College election did not wipe out my ability to transform myself.
SPIRITUAL NATIONALISM vs CULTURAL NATIONALISM – THE CONFLICT AT KURNOOL MEDICAL COLLEGE :
During 1969 while I was preparing for Final M.B.B.S. Part – I examination(November/December 1969) in Ophthalmology and E.N.T. Diseases, and Social and Preventive Medicine, I had the opportunity to obtain the grant of Short Service Regular Commission to serve in the Indian Army Medical Corps and was given the rank of Second Lieutenant during September 1969. In the interview that was officiated by Dr. D. Bhasker Reddy, M.D., the Principal and Professor of Pathology of Kurnool Medical College, two students got selected but the second student had opted not to join the military service. I had finished the Final M.B.B.S. Part – II examination in General Medicine, Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynaecology during April 1970. During June 1970, prior to my departure to Lucknow to report for training at AMC CENTRE and Officers Training School, I had visited the residence of Dr. Sripada Pinakapani, M.D. at his own initiative and an invitation that was sent to me through my paternal uncle, Dr. R. Anjaneyulu, M.D., the Emeritus Professor of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, B.J. Medical College and Sassoon Hospitals, Pune who had come to Kurnool Medical College and Government General Hospital as an external examiner in a post-graduate degree examination. We went together to give our respects to Dr. Pinakapani who had obtained his M.B.B.S., and M.D. degrees from Andhra Medical College, Visakhapatnam and my uncle had also obtained his medical degrees from the same institution. Dr. Pinakapani in the past had worked in Madras Medical College while my maternal grandfather( Dr. Kasturi. Narayana Murthy, M.D. ) worked as the Professor of Medicine. However, I was not invited to his residence because of my family connections. Dr. Pinakapani had specifically invited me to his residence to express his sense of dissatisfaction, resentment, and anger for I was planning to formulate a marital social relationship with another medical student at Kurnool Medical College and the mistake that I made in this choice was about her birth caste and religion. He was offended and I could easily understand his sentiment and the reason for the pain that I had caused. However, I could not understand his reason for withholding his blessings for success in my Army Service with which I have desired to serve and defend my country. His contribution to classical Indian Music is great. In my view, such Indian Cultural Traditions have totally failed to generate Unity among Indian people. India needs people who would serve the Nation putting their lives at risk. When I met Dr. Pinakapani at his residence, I wanted that he must acknowledge the fact that I was selected for the grant of Short Service Regular Commission in Indian Army and was allowed to state my Rank as that of a Second Lieutenant. His concern about my Caste Identity should not prevent him from attaching a sense of value and purpose to the needs of India, a Nation-State. His Music could be very entertaining but it would be of no use to defend the country from its enemies. My story would reveal that the path towards Peace, Harmony, and Tranquility is neither easy, nor simple. The path is riddled with conflicts. The conflict that I had experienced at the residence of Dr. Pinakapani, M.D., in Kurnool has followed me during my Indian Army Service. The Social Conflict, the conflict that I define as a conflict between Spiritual Nationalism and Cultural Nationalism had eventually driven me out of Indian Army and India during January 1984, the same year when Dr. Pinakapani had received the National Award of Padma Bhushan. For I have chosen to define my Indian Identity and Indian Individuality, I was not able to find Peace, Harmony, and Tranquility while living among Indian people on Indian soil. I define Spiritualism as an internally beneficial partnership between the cells, the tissues and the organ systems of the human organism and the Whole Organism that represents it as Human Individual. Nationalism involves a state of mind in which the individual feels that everyone owes his supreme secular loyalty to the Nation-State. The Spirit of Nationalism demands a shift in the focus of allegiance. The individual has to change his loyalty and break his sense of attachment to his local, or regional social and cultural traditions that could be based upon language, religion, caste, and place of primary residence. Indian Nationalism when derived from India’s cultural and social traditions has utterly failed to defend India from foreign conquests, and foreign occupation. I would invite Dr. Sripada Pinakapani, M.D., and all others at Kurnool Medical College and Kurnool Government General Hospital to give their prescription to defend National Unity and to promote National Integration to resolve the Social Conflicts that we are facing in the State of Andhra Pradesh and in the rest of the country.
Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,
Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India,
M.B.B.S. Class of April, 1970.
Biographical Information :
1. Place of Birth : MYLAPORE, Madras City, Chennai, Chenna Patnam, Madras State, Tamil Nadu, India. Born Hindu( Brahmin, Niyogi, Smartha ), Telugu-Speaking.
2. Date and Place of Marriage : January 29, 1973. Congregational Town Church, Cuddapah City, Kadapa District, Andhra Pradesh, India.
- Spiritualism – the Truth About Soul or Spirit (bhavanajagat.com)
SPIRITUALISM – THE TRUTH ABOUT HUMAN SOUL OR SPIRIT :
Truth is the quality of being in accordance with experience, and verified facts. Truth or Reality can be established by using a reasoning process called verification and validation. To verify or refute a theoretical claim, we need to clarify statements by demonstrating relation between the theoretical claim and the observational evidence. Such a reasoning process could be applied in two manners; 1. The Coherence Theory of Truth, and 2. The Correspondence Theory of Truth. According to the Coherence Theory of Truth, the standard of Truth is the logical consistency of a proposition with a large system of propositions. According to the Correspondence Theory of Truth, Truth is viewed as a relation between an idea or proposition and its object. To verify Truth or Reality, the Subject and Object of an idea or proposition must have a relationship. Truth when applied to statements or ideas is related to the validity of what we mean and hence it requires correspondence between thought and external reality. It is true that man has the biological ability and capacity called ‘imagination’, but man may not have the ability and capacity to translate the act and power of imagination into actuality, an external experience that could be observed by others. In my imagination, I can seek the existence of an all blissful entity called ‘SHIVA’ while in actuality, I exist in the physical world as a fragile, mortal being. Religion, Philosophy, and Science may represent three distinct fields of learning about Truth and Reality. Scientific knowledge not only provides the knowledge that something is true, but it also provides the reason why it is true. Religion, and Philosophy could use different methods to study Truth and Reality, but the ideas they share require verification, corroboration, and validation. In the study of man, the know-er and the known are one. Man is the observer and the observed fact is that of man’s nature. If man has to know the truth about his self, man has to understand the truth and reliability of his own cognitive powers. If the Subject called man is identified as an Object called Soul, or Spirit, the Truth or Reality of Soul, or Spirit involves a structural/functional relationship between the Subject and its Object.
ADI SHANKARA’S NIRVANA SHATAKAM OR ATMA SHATAKAM :
Adi Shankara ( c. 788 – c. 820 A.D. ), the founder of the Non-Dualist or ‘ADVAITA’ School of Indian Philosophy called ‘VEDANTA’ has shared his ideas about human Soul, or Spirit or ‘ATMA’ or ‘ATMAN’ in Indian Sanskrit language. In six short poems popularly known as ‘Nirvana Shatakam’, or ‘Atma Shatakam’, he has presented his mental concepts about human Soul, or Spirit which he called “AHAM”(Subject ‘A’) . Adi Shankara is primarily concerned about establishing the perfect Identity between this Subject ‘A’ and its Object called “CHIDANANDA SHIVAM(Object ‘C’). However, Adi Shankara makes no attempt in his propositions to establish the basis for this Identity between the Subject ‘A’ and its Object ‘C’. Adi Shankara is proposing that the Subject ‘A’ or ‘AHAM’ has no structural, functional, mental, moral, social, and spiritual relationship with its human body or ‘B’. In his view, the human soul or spirit is not involved, and is not concerned with the existence of human body in which the soul or spirit is thought to be residing. In an effort to establish the school of thought called “ADVAITA” or Non-Dualism, he systematically separates the human body from its human soul. Adi Shankara has further extended this proposition to claim that the Subject ‘A’ is the same as the Object ‘C’ and the reason he has given is that of a lack of relationship between Subject ‘A’ and the human body ‘B’. Since, ‘A’ is not the same as ‘B’, ‘A’ is not equal to ‘B’. And, therefore, Adi Shankara claims that ‘A’ is the same as ‘C’ or ‘A’ is equal to ‘C’. He has not stated that there is or there could be a structural, functional, mental, moral, social, and spiritual relationship between ‘A’ and ‘C’. If such relationship exists between ‘A’ and ‘C’, Adi Shankara has not presented any observational evidence in support of his claim that states ‘A’ = ‘C’. Let us briefly review the six verses. Kindly note that the verses are composed in Indian Sanskrit language and there are several minor variations in the words that are attributed to Adi Shankara. The word ‘NIRVANA’ means ‘MUKTI’ or Release( the release of the conditioned human soul ), death, Sunset, and conclusion of an event( such as the end of Life ). I must clarify that ‘death’ may not be viewed as a static, or final event. Death is a dynamic event like Life which is characterized by changes like growth and development and various stages like infancy, youth, man, and old age. Just like Sunset which is followed by Sunrise, the event called death is followed by regeneration, renewal, and rebirth. Living organisms arrive with a plan for their own dissolution and such organic decay and decomposition is influenced by the cyclical flow of Time.
MAN IS A PHYSICAL, MORTAL BEING, A CREATED BEING WITH A LIVING SOUL:
Adi Shankara excludes the four mental functions known as Ma-nah( the seat of thoughts and imagination, the chief sense organ called Mind), Buddhi(the seat of intellect and knowledge), Chitta(the seat of emotions such as compassion, affection, and devotion), and Ahankara(the seat of ego, self-pride, the sense of pride that is associated with the recognition of ‘SELF’ or ‘I’ as existing or living) as the basis of his true Identity or Essence(What you are). These four aspects of mental activities are described in Indian tradition as “ANTAH KARANAM” or ‘MANO CHATUSHTAYAM”. The human nature which is known as “CHITTA” or “HRUDAYA”, “KARUNA”, or “DAYA” and “BHAKTI” is recognized as Compassion, Kindness, and Devotion; the mental qualities that are needed for formulating Spiritual relationships both within the Individual and between Individuals. Adi Shankara gives no reason for this separation of human nature from its human Soul. Similarly, he excludes the five organs of Sense Perception( often described as “JNANA INDRIYAS”, the organs that provide sensory information and sensory experience ) such as ears, tongue, nose, eyes, and skin and the Five Primordial Elements described in Indian tradition as ‘Pancha Maha Bhutas’ such as Sky, Earth, Fire, Wind, and Water. He thinks that they are not truly related to his True Identity and Essence. He is specifically excluding all known material substances, material structures and forces that operate in the natural world in the description of his True Identity. In my view, I consider that man comes into existence as a newly created object, one of its own kind, original, and distinctive who could always be identified as a specific individual. I claim that man is a created being and man has no choice other than that of existing as an Individual with Individuality. The physical form, the morphological appearance of man always makes him unique and it has to be explained and accounted for. I suggest that human Soul is the internal reality; and Soul is the basis for human Individuality and the Soul is the unchanging principle that allows man to exist with changing external forms with specific physical attributes.
MAN IS DEFINED BY HIS STRUCTURE, FUNCTIONS, AND BEHAVIOR :
In this verse Adi Shankara gives a very detailed description of various tissues of human body and describes all the vital functions and states that the Subject ‘A’ or “AHAM” has no structural or functional relationship with human anatomy and physiology. The term “PRAANA” refers to the vital life-energy and is generally used to describe the chief characteristic to make the fundamental distinction between living and non-living; the important sign of life is the act of breathing or respiration.The term “PANCH VAAYU” refers to, 1. Vyaana – the air that is spread in the entire extent of the human body; 2. Samaana – the air that is in the navel region; it could be the air that is swallowed during acts of eating and drinking and may refer to the intestinal gas; 3. Udaana – the air that is in the throat/neck region; this narrow airway is vital for the respiratory function; 4. Apaana – the air that travels downwards and outwards; it could mean the air expelled from the body as flatus or exhaled air from the lungs; and 5. Praana – the inspired air; air that is in the heart, the chief organ of Cardiovascular System that circulates Oxygen throughout human body. The term “SAPTA DHATU” refers to the seven material essences such as the skin, muscle/tendons/nerves, blood, bones, bone marrow, brain( neural tissue ), and “RASA” which describes fluids like semen and lymph. The term “PANCH KOSHA” refers to the traditional view about the structure of Soul. It is believed that the Soul has five coverings or envelopes and each layer establishes human existence and these are called as the five stages of Self-Realization; 1. Anna maya( related to Nutrition ), 2. Praana maya( related to vital functions like Respiration ), 3. Jnana maya( relates to implantation of Innate Knowledge and Consciousness ), 4. Vijnana maya( relates to the ability to make a distinction between human body or Self and Soul as the Knowing-Self ), and 5. Ananda maya( relates to the experience of Bliss, the experience of Peace, Harmony, Tranquility, and Equilibrium as a Living Experience ) ; these are the five aspects of Self-Realization and refer to complete fulfillment or development of man. I have discussed these five aspects in my blog post:
Adi Shankara also refers to the five organs of action that are described in Indian tradition as “KARMA INDRIYAS” which are the five instruments of Speech(VAAK), Hand-Grip and Manipulation(PAANI), Locomotion( PAADA), Procreation(UPASTHA) and Excretion(PAAYU). Adi Shankara has not bothered to state as to how these different organs and organ systems could function together to support the existence of the human person who lives because of those varied living functions. Life is nothing but to function and in my view, the human Soul is the central element that generates the structural and functional coordination that is required for human existence.
MAN IS A MENTAL BEING, AN EMOTIONAL BEING, AND A MORAL BEING:
Adi Shankara correctly claims that the human Soul may not contribute to human feelings, and thoughts associated with hatred, sexual passion, greed, arrogance, and envy or jealousy. At the same time, he rejects the traditional Indian view about man’s purpose in Life; the purpose of Right Action or “DHARMA”, the purpose called earning money or material wealth to support Life or “ARTHA”, the purpose of Procreation or “KAMA”, and the purpose called God-Realization, Liberation, or “MOKSHA”. In other words, Adi Shankara is suggesting that human life and human existence may have no underlying purpose. He is also not giving any coping mechanism to deal with the problems associated with human emotional experiences like passionate desires. Indian tradition consistently recommends that man can exercise self-control as the human Soul is superior to human mind, human intellect, and human sense organs. If human body has no structural or functional affiliation with its human Soul, it will not be likely that man can exercise self-restraint and self-control. In my view, man, the Mental Being can establish himself as a Moral Being using the discerning ability to make the distinction between right and wrong, and distinguish good from evil by knowing the existence of the Knowing-Self or the Soul.
MAN IS A SPIRITUAL BEING :
Adi Shankara is describing that he has no sense of attachment to the consequences of his actions either good(“PUNYA”) or bad(“PAAPA”). He is recommending that man need not perform temple worship, and there is no need to observe religious rituals, sacrifice, and perform acts of pilgrimage. He is rejecting the desire to seek pleasure and comfort(“SAUKHYAM”) and he may not be able to totally avoid the pain, misery, and the experience of suffering(“DUKHAM”). He specifically undermined the role of food and its five functions in support of human existence. The problem is that of the nature of human existence. In my view, man at any given age, in any given condition, under all given circumstances including good health or ill-health depends upon the Power/Energy/Force called MERCY/GRACE/COMPASSION. Man is not in control of his own existence. Man needs a guiding, and controlling force called the Divine Providence. In my opinion, the human Soul operates as the Connection between man and the Divine Providence that supports, sustains, and preserves human existence irrespective of man’s experience of pain or pleasure. Man has no choice other than that of seeking Mercy, Grace, and Compassion that is called “KRUPA” in Sanskrit language.
MAN IS A SOCIAL BEING :
Adi Shankara very boldly asserts that he is without a trace of doubt(“SHANKAA”) and further adds that the Soul that he calls “AHAM” has no Father, or Mother. Indian tradition calls Father(“PITAA”) as the originating principle, and Mother(“MAATAA) as the sustaining principle. In my view, the human Soul comes into existence(“JANMA”) because of the Supreme Will or the Supreme Soul which is the Prime Cause, the Cause of all types of things and all kinds of Existence. The human Soul is conditioned and is not totally independent and hence, the human soul still needs a Divine Mother Principle to maintain its Spiritual Condition and Spiritual Existence.
MAN IS A CONDITIONED SOUL :
In this final or sixth verse, Adi Shankara tries to eliminate the classical dualism that is called the dualism of Universal-Particular. He claims that his human Soul or “AHAM” is universal entity that is limitless, formless(“NIRAAKAARA”) and is without any attributes or attachments(“BANDHAH”). In his view, the human Soul is essentially free; it is everything, everywhere, every time and is always in a state of equilibrium. He has stated this view without a trace of doubt(“NIRVI KALPA”). I would like to suggest some caution and ask my readers to recognize the importance of separation between the human soul and the Ultimate Reality. I can understand that there is no disunity between man and his Creator. I would ask my readers to know the philosophical system of thought called ‘NOMINALISM’ that does not grant universality to mental concepts outside the mind. Universality could be applied only to words or “nomina”, mental habits, or concepts. Nominalism only maintains the objective existence of the concrete, individual thing. It denies all objectivity whether actual or potential to universals. The human soul is attached to the human being and the human being has his existence on planet Earth and hence is not an universal entity. Since the human condition demands existence only on planet Earth and not the rest of the universe, the human Soul cannot escape from its conditioned status while it exists as a human Soul. The Universal Soul as proposed by Adi Shankara is just a mental concept and it can only exist in the mind of the man and it may have no correspondence with the facts of external world and the Universe.
WHAT IS TRUTH, WHAT IS ILLUSION???
Adi Shankara is fully convinced in his belief that ‘A’ and the human body ‘B’ are not connected or related. It must be noted that, ‘A’ or “AHAM” refers to a singular person called ‘I’ and that singular person ‘I’ is in a state called ‘Being’, one who lives, or exists. If ‘A’ is stated to be existing, I would like to ask the following questions:
1. Who is Existing?
2. What is Existing?
3. When it is Existing?
4. Where it is Existing?
5. Why it is Existing?
If the Subject ‘A’, or “AHAM”( I AM ), has no size, no shape, and no form, how could we establish the fact that ‘A’ is existing? Adi Shankara has not categorically stated the place or site where ‘A’ could be existing. If ‘A’ is existing, we may like to know the purpose of this existence. If there is a purpose for the existence of ‘A’, the question would be, What is that purpose? How is the nature of ‘A’ or the nature of ‘C’ is related to its purpose? The Truth and Reality about human Soul, or Spirit can be verified, can be corroborated, and can be validated by knowing the structural, functional, mental, moral, social, and spiritual relationship, partnership, connection, association, or bonding between ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’. Indian tradition suggests that human body has three aspects; “Tri-ani-pada”, or three-in-one; and the three aspects of human body are, 1. Causal, 2. Spiritual, and 3. Material. There is a material connection between ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’, if the human body has a ‘causal, and a ‘spiritual’ dimension. It would be very interesting to note that Adi Shankara has specifically avoided to describe the connection or relationship between the human Soul and human Consciousness. In Sanskrit language, Consciousness is called “CHETANA” and this term is not used in any of the six verses. Indian tradition believes that consciousness is the evidence for the presence of the human Soul and there is a structural and functional relationship between Soul and the Living Entity that is Conscious. We need to explain the concepts of Subject-Object, Appearance-Reality, Perceptual-Categorical, Immanent-Transcendent, Regulative-Constitutive, Conditioned-Unconditioned Dualism in respect of man’s existence and man’s status in Nature. In the context of human existence, the human Soul, or Spirit belongs to the Immanent Realm.
Rudra N . Rebbapragada, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,
Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A.
Biographical Information :
1. Place of Birth: Mylapore, Madras City, Chenna Patnam, Chennai, Madras State, Tamil Nadu, India. Born Hindu( Brahmin, Niyogi, Smartha), Telugu-Speaking.
2. Date and Place of Marriage: January 29, 1973. Congregational Town Church, Cuddapah, Kadapa District, Andhra Pradesh, India.
Please view this melodious presentation of Adi Shankaracharya’s Nirvana Shatakam or Atma Shatakam at http://www.Youtube.com site:
SPIRITUALISM – NATIONALISM – THE LAND OF INDIA :
ESSENCE AND EXISTENCE IN THE LAND OF INDIA :
Today, on August 15, 2012, people of India also known as ‘BHARAT’ are celebrating the 66th Independence Day in commemoration of 65 Years of Independence. In this context, we have to examine the relationship between Spiritualism and Nationalism. In the ancient Land of India, human beings have lived continuously for thousands of years. But, it was a Land divided into several hundreds of small and large kingdoms until Indian people joined together in a Nationalist Movement to win their Freedom from foreign rule and occupation. Indians won this Freedom on August 15, 1947 when Great Britain ceased its occupation of India.
WHAT IS NATIONALISM ?
Nationalism is the state of mind in which the individual feels that everyone owes his supreme loyalty to the Nation-State. Nationalism is a modern movement and it belongs to the modern world. Before the 18th century, people gave their loyalty to their communities, tribes, feudal lords, princes, or religious groups. The historical sense of attachment to the native soil, to social and cultural traditions, and to established territorial authorities has changed by the end of the 18th century when Nationalism began molding public and private life. Since then, Nationalism has become an important factor of modern history. The American Revolutionary Wars(1775-1783), and the French Revolution(1789) could be regarded as the first manifestations of Nationalism. It led to the formation of modern National States in Europe. The 19th century has been called the Age of Nationalism in Europe. The World War I, and World War II resulted in the spread of Nationalism in Asia and Africa and has manifested itself as a struggle against European Colonialism. Nationalism began to appear in India after World War I. Indian National Congress founded in 1885 began a new political process in the private and public lives of Indian people. It had produced leaders such as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi(1869-1948) who had joined the Nationalist Movement for Indian Independence during 1915. The people of India started replacing the king as the center of the Nation. The State had become the people’s State, a National State, and a Motherland. Nationalism is not a political program or ideology; it is a perspective on such programs or ideology. Nationalism can be described as a sentiment that places the existence and well-being of the Nation highest in the scale of personal loyalties. In political terms, it signifies a person’s willingness to work for the Nation against foreign domination. It reflects a person’s willingness to resist foreign political, economic, and cultural domination. Nationalism implies a group’s consciousness of shared history, language, race, and values. Its significance lies in its role in supplying the ties that make the Nation-State a cohesive, viable entity. The terms such as nation, state, or country describe a political entity in which people are united under a particular political organization and are occupying a defined territory. However, the term ‘Nationalism’ demands more than the existence of boundaries or political institutions. Nationalism includes the feelings or thoughts of patriotism, zealous love of one’s country, advocacy of national unity or independence and it involves the creed that fidelity to one’s State or Nation is more important than fidelity to individual interests. We, the people of India and of Indian origin have to truthfully examine if ‘Nationalism’ has ever existed in the Land of India. We have to truthfully explain as to why the Land of India exists as an easy target for foreign invasion, foreign conquest, foreign occupation, and foreign political, economic, and cultural domination.
THE PROBLEM OF NATIONAL UNITY AND THE ROLE OF CULTURAL NATIONALISM IN INDIA :
There is a fundamental problem with the experience of life in the Land of India. The Nation – State was nonexistent during the greater part of Indian history. People did not give loyalty to the Nation – State but to other, different forms of feudal states. Before 20th century, political allegiance was determined by mostly local and regional factors such as that of a local princely ruler, regional language or regional culture. Indian Cultural Nationalism mainly consists of expression of some national characteristics through nonpolitical activities such as art, literature, music, dance, and other forms of culture such as the performance of Temple Worship and Pilgrimage. A vast multitude of people may come together at a particular place in celebration of an event and return to their native places. India did not exist as a large, unified territorial state with political, and economic centralization. The political, and economic centralization that existed in India was largely a product of foreign rule and foreign occupation of the Land of India. This lack of National Unity and the lack of a National identity and Individuality made India an easy target for foreign, military attacks. Sir Jadunath Sarkar, a former Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University, a historian who had reviewed the records kept by Al- Utbi, the Secretary of Sultan Yaminu -d- Daula Mahmud bin Subuktigin known as Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna. The Secretary in the Persian document called the Tarikh -i- Yamini recorded the details of several episodes of bloody campaigns waged by Sultan Mahmud between 1001 A.D. and 1027 A.D. Persian historian Ferishta(“Tarikh-e- Fereshteh” work by Ferishta about Mahomedan Power in India ) also recorded the military conquests of India by Sultan Mahmud. The Sultan of Ghazna had directed his military attacks on places of spiritual pilgrimage in India. He had attacked the temple towns of Nagarkot, Thanesar(1011), Mathura(1018), Kannauj(1019), Kalinjar(1023), and Somnath(1024-25). He had also attacked the holy places of Varanasi, Ujjain, Maheswar, Jwalamukhi and Dwaraka. These attacks were witnessed by Persian writers such as Al-Biruni(Muhammad bin Ahmad al-Biruni) and Ferdowsi(Abu ol-Qasem Mansur or Firdawsi/Firdusi). All of these historical records and documents reveal the scale of loss of human life. It is estimated that about two million people had died in the Land of India during Sultan Mahmud’s repeated attacks. Asaru -l- Bilad, a Persian geographer had also described some of the foreign conquests of India. K.S. Lal, an Indian historian estimated that about sixty to eighty million people in India may have died between 1000 and 1525 CE due to foreign invasions. It clearly demonstrates that the idea of Cultural Nationalism did not play a significant role in defending Indian people and had failed to preserve human life. Apparently, Cultural Nationalism did not generate the cohesiveness or Unity that is needed to resist and to defeat foreign military campaigns.
CULTURAL NATIONALISM vs SECULAR NATIONALISM – THE CLASH AT KURNOOL MEDICAL COLLEGE, ANDHRA PRADESH :
I submitted an application to Chief Minister Office, Government of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad, India on September 02, 2012. The request made by me is registered by the Secretariat Departments of Government of Andhra Pradesh and the Application Number is shown as : SR 12014477 and it reads as follows:
“I was a student at Kurnool Medical College from November 1965 to June 1970. I had represented the State of Andhra Pradesh as a student delegate at the four-week long National Student Seminar on National Integration sponsored by Vishwa Yuvak Kendra, New Delhi during 1967 to promote the need for developing a National Identity and National Individuality for National Unity and National Integration. I had encouraged students to ignore any identity that is derived from region, religion, language, and caste as India needs Secular Nationalism and not Cultural Nationalism. This was opposed by Dr. Sripada Pinakapani, M.D., who then served as the Professor of Medicine and the Superintendent of Kurnool Government General Hospital. Since he had actively opposed the principle of Secular Nationalism, I would request you to reconsider the decision made by the Government of Andhra Pradesh to name a building on Kurnool Medical College/General Hospital Campus to honour him.”
ESSENCE AND EXISTENCE IN THE LAND OF INDIA :
The ideas about human soul or spirit( Atman or Atma in Sanskrit language) find their profound expression in the oral and written literature of India. Indian thoughts about the nature of man and his existence can be traced to the ancient texts of Vedas( the Rig-Veda, the Sama-Veda, the Yajur-Veda, and the Atharva-Veda) which were compiled from c. 1500 B.C. to c. 500 B.C. The Sanskrit texts known as the Upanishads( c. 900 – 500 B.C. ) have systematized Indian philosophy. There are six classical systems of Indian philosophy that accept the authority of the Veda and the Upanishads; 1. NYAYA( 6th century B.C. ) is a school of logic and epistemology, 2. VAISHESHIKA( 3rd century B.C. ) posits a sixfold classification of Reality( Substance, Quality, Activity, Generality, Particularity, and Inherence ), 3. SAMKHYA( 6th century B.C. ) expounds two basic metaphysical principles; Purusha or Soul and Prakriti or Material Nature, 4. YOGA( 2nd century B.C. ) of Patanjali accepts Samkhya metaphysics, presents an eight-stage discipline of self-control and Meditation, 5. PURVA-MIMAMSA( 2nd century B.C. ) sets forth principles of interpretation of the Vedic texts, and 6. UTTARA-MIMAMSA or VEDANTA which includes different schools of thought based on the Brahma-Sutras of Baradayana( early century A.D. ) which summarize the Upanishadic doctrine and explain the teachings of the Upanishads. The most important schools of Vedanta are 1. the non-dualist(ADVAITA) Vedanta of Shankara( A.D. 788-820 ), 2. the qualified non-dualist Vedanta of Ramanuja( A.D. 1017-1137 ), and 3. the dualist Vedanta of Madhava( A.D. 1197-1276 ). Buddhism and Jainism are two important schools of thought that do not accept the authority of Veda and Upanishads. To a great extent, Indian traditions claim that man is an embodied soul. The mind, and body that represent the physical person is an illusion as the human body is thought to be “ASAT”, or unreal, perishable, full of ignorance, and not happy. The real or true man as represented by soul or spirit is unborn. The real person is viewed as an eternal person who is not subject to change called life and death. Indian tradition considers that the Objective Reality of man or Essence of man is soul or spirit. We must note that it is impossible to describe this mental concept called soul or spirit if it is never associated with its human body. The separation of man into body, mind, and soul is not supported by scientific study of man. Man comes into existence from a single, fertilized Egg-Cell. This man cannot be separated into distinct entities like material or physical body, thinking substance called mind, and an immaterial principle called soul. These three aspects of man have no independent existence of their own. There is no Life and there is no human Existence if body, mind, and soul are separated. Who you are describes your Essence and it is defined by What you do to establish the fact of your Existence. In other words, the Essence(Who you are) is preceded by the reality of Existence(What you do). Thus, Existence is the precondition to recognize Essence. Hence, I describe man as a living soul and not as an embodied soul. In my impression, the traditional Indian views about human soul or spirit have failed to recognize the importance of human Existence as a precondition to define the nature of human Essence. Indian people have to give due recognition to the problems of human existence and must realize that Essence has no value if its meaning is not attached to the condition called Existence. In my opinion, Spiritualism demands the existence of a Living Soul or Spirit to understand its characteristic functions that generate Peace, harmony, and Tranquility as a living human experience. If India seeks its existence as a Nation, Indians have to forget the parochial differences to develop National Individualities and the primary focus of allegiance must be the Republic of India and not that of the local language, religion, or culture.
Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,
Danavaipeta Municipal/Corporation High School, Rajahmundry, East Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh, India,
S.S.L.C. Class of March/April, 1961.
Biographical Information :
1. Place of Birth: Mylapore, Madras City, Chennai, Chenna Patnam, Madras State, Tamil Nadu, India. Born Hindu(Brahmin, Niyogi, Smartha), Telugu-Speaking.
2. Date and Place of Marriage: 29 January, 1973. Town Congregational Church, Cuddapah, Kadapa District, Andhra Pradesh, India.
- Spiritualism and Identity – the Conflict at Kurnool Medical College (bhavanajagat.com)
SPIRITUALISM – THE NEW SYNTHESIS :
Dr. Edward Osborne Wilson is recognized as the world’s leading authority on ants. He is the foremost proponent of Sociobiology, the study of the genetic basis of the social behavior of all animals including humans. In his book, Sociobiology : The New Synthesis(1975) he had presented his theories about the biological basis of social behavior. It involves the application of the Theory of Evolution to the study of animal and human social behavior. It holds that the Theory of Evolution by ‘natural selection’ applies to behavior in the same way that it applies to structure and physiological functions. He holds that behavior patterns are genetically determined and are governed by the process of ‘natural selection’. Accordingly, he explains that social behavior relies upon the principle that genes are able to influence behavior and will be selected if the behaviors they encourage contribute ultimately to the reproductive success of the individual carrying those genes. The ‘Darwinian Fitness’ of an organism or a gene is a measure of the ability of that organism or gene to project copies of itself into future generations. Because, ‘natural selection’ would influence genetically controlled behavior, he believes that individuals will tend to behave in ways that maximize their ‘Darwinian Fitness’. However, he had attributed 10 percent of human behavior as genetically induced, the rest being attributable to environment. It could be indeed true that some behavioral abilities depend upon underlying genetic mechanisms which support the neural and hormonal mechanisms that are required in the performance of actions by organisms. Dr. Wilson has recognized the essentially biological principles on which animal societies are based and could apply those principles to human social behavior. One of Dr. Wilson’s most notable theories is that a characteristic such as ‘altruism’ could be genetically based and may have evolved through the process of ‘natural selection’. Dr. Wilson maintains that altruistic behavior is consistent with ‘natural selection’ in that the sacrifice is made to save closely related individuals who share many of the sacrificed organism’s genes.
ALTRUISM AND SOCIOBIOLOGY :
The term ‘altruism’ ( French – altruisme ) was coined by Auguste Comte, the founder of Positivism and Sociology. It is considered as antithesis to Egoism. Altruism is behavior that benefits others at some cost to the individual displaying altruistic behavior. Social scientists refer to altruism as the behavior of an individual who consciously comes to the aid of another, without expecting anything in return. Such behavior is influenced by empathy, an emotional response that results from being aware of another person’s emotions. In Ethics, altruism is described as a theory of conduct that regards the good of others as the end of moral action. It describes unselfish concern for the welfare of others. However, biologists view altruism as any behavior that reduces the ‘Darwinian Fitness'( reproductive success ) of the altruist while increasing the fitness of another. It is common for animals to share food, help provide for another’s young, defend others against predators, and give alarm calls when a predator appears. Such animal altruism is common and it does not require psychological abilities and functions like sharing of emotions, feelings, and thoughts. Altruism as a behavior is not always a psychological function or ability. It is displayed as pure altruism in the social behavior of worker bees, ants, and wasps.
SPIRITUALISM – THE NEW SYNTHESIS :
It must be understood that behavior is a fundamental characteristic of life and of all living entities. All species, whether single-celled protozoans or the largest of mammals possess the capacity to respond to stimuli in their environment. This ability called responsiveness is the fundamental attribute of all kinds and types of behavior. Psychologists like B.F. Skinner tend to focus on the learned components of behavior and stress the importance of environment and its influence on behavior. Biologists like Konrad Lorenz tend to focus primarily on the analysis of the innate components of behavior. Sociobiologists tend to recognize the role of genes and the influence of environment and describe that behavioral abilities depend on underlying genetic mechanisms that develop the structures and physiological mechanisms that are important to display a given behavior. It may be noted that both Psychologists and Biologists are describing behavior in the context of social relations and interactions between individual and groups of living organisms. Living things behave in ways to maximize their chances of survival. In the entire animal kingdom, most living organisms display parental or social instincts. All animals display social behavior. There is no animal that is ever completely isolated from some kind of environment that includes members of the same species or other species. Animals form parental societies to care for their offspring. Bacteria come together to live as colonies. Hence, it will be important to recognize social behavior that is displayed by individual living cells. I define Spiritualism as the capacity or the biological ability of an individual living cell to form harmonious relations with others and to participate in or contribute constructively to changes in the social environment. The potency called Spiritualism is reflected in the biological functions of Consciousness and Intelligence. At cellular level, the social aspect of Consciousness is reflected by the biological abilities of the cell such as association, cooperation, communication, recognition of other living cells in its immediate environment, and performing actions which have characteristics of functional subservience to provide benefits like survival and reproductive success to other cells. A very good example of Spiritualism is that of altruism displayed by the mature Red Blood Cells of humans. The mature Red Blood Cells have no nuclei and hence cannot divide or reproduce. Each Red Blood Cell has a very limited life span of its own. They sustain their meagre energy needs by a form of anaerobic respiration as they do not have mitochondria like the trillions of other cells of the human body. The Red Blood Cells are passive in nature and they simply exist to provide Oxygen to other cells and tissues, collect Carbon Dioxide while being swept along by the blood stream. Since the mature Red Blood Cells have no nuclei, their behavior is not operated by genes or genetic mechanisms which could be important in their formation, development, and maturation. The social aspects of the Red Blood Cell behavior is related to the spiritual nature of its living substance. I would ask Biologists to give attention to the nature, functional abilities of the living substance apart from the consideration of genes and genetic mechanisms. It may be very clearly understood that the nucleus, the chromosomes, and the genes have no independent existence of their own and they perform their cellular functions while they derive energy and nutritional support from the living substance or Protoplasm that has the biological abilities of Consciousness, and Intelligence which is reflected in its properties like responsiveness, the power of nutrition, and reproduction. Spiritualism is the Science of New Synthesis; the New Synthesis that formulates the relationships between Substance, Structure, Function, Heredity of a Living Organism and its Environment, Behavior, and Social Community.
Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,
Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India,
M.B.B.S. Class of April, 1970.
- Spiritualism – the Key to Human Nature (bhavanajagat.com)
- Spiritualism and Materialism (bhavanajagat.com)
- Spiritualism – the Medical Doctrine of Dialectical Spiritualism (bhavanajagat.com)
SPIRITUALISM – THE MEDICAL DOCTRINE OF DIALECTICAL SPIRITUALISM :
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel influenced most facets of modern philosophy. At the center of the universe, Hegel posited an enveloping absolute Spirit that guides all reality including human reason. His absolute ‘Idealism’ envisages a world-Soul, that develops from, and is known through, a process of change and progress termed as the Hegelian Dialectic. The doctrine of ‘Idealism’ makes the attempt to account for all objects in nature and experience as representations of the mind, and sometimes it assigns to such representations a higher order of existence. According to Hegel, reality is Absolute Mind, Reason, or Spirit which manifests itself in both natural and human history. His famous dictum, “the real is rational and the rational real”, is an expression of the identity of reality and the rational process. Because reality is rational, it acts in accordance with the laws of reasoning. Hegel suggested that understanding the nature of thought will lead to understanding the nature of reality as a whole. Dialectics is a form of logical argumentation that could be applied to diverse fields including thought, nature, and history. Hegel identified dialectic as the tendency of a notion, or idea to pass over into its own negation as the result of conflict between its inherent contradictory aspects. He developed the concept that Mind or Spirit manifested itself in a set of contradictions and oppositions that it ultimately integrated and united without eliminating either pole or reducing one to the other. According to Hegelian principles, one concept or ‘thesis’ inevitably generates its opposite or ‘antithesis’; their conflict or interaction generates a new concept or ‘synthesis’ which in turn becomes the ‘thesis’ of a new triad. Hegel developed a dialectical scheme that emphasized the progress of history and ideas from ‘thesis’ to ‘antithesis’ and then to a higher and richer ‘synthesis’. His main contribution is that of giving a clear view of reality; Reality can only be understood as a totality, “The Truth is the Whole”, and that the attempt to understand the apparently individual and unconnected phenomena of nature, history, and human life through separate categories of thought is utterly mistaken. I would like to endorse his view and submit that Reality must be known as a Whole.
THE MEDICAL DOCTRINE OF DIALECTICAL SPIRITUALISM :
Hegel in his book, Phenomenology of Mind or Phenomenology of Spirit has traced the progression of consciousness from sense perception to Absolute Knowledge. In my view, Amoeba proteus is conscious and intelligent. I speak about Spirit or Soul in relation to a material substance called Protoplasm. I would hesitate to equate Mind with Spirit as that would mislead people to think of consciousness and intelligence as the exclusive biological functions of an anatomical organ called brain. At the same time, it must be clearly understood that brain and mind perform their specialized functions using the same living matter or substance that is found inside Amoeba proteus. The fact that brain and mind perform very complex functions should not hide the fact of the true or real nature of Protoplasm. There is inherent conflict in the nature of Protoplasm. It is inherently unstable; the living matter is thermodynamically unstable, and without continuous supply of energy from an external source, it will dissolve into its constituent inorganic molecules and non-living physical elements. This nature of energy dependence and the risk of its dissolution is the ‘thesis’ and it is opposed by its potency and potential to remain immutable, or unchanging, the ‘antithesis’. Protoplasm is unstable and is stable at the same time. It has survived and has continuously lived on the surface of planet Earth for billions of years after having come into existence. We have account of several major and minor extinction events and yet Protoplasm has remained and existed without any apparent change in its properties, characteristics, and functions. Protoplasm has demonstrated the potentiality called Imperishability, indestructibility, Immortality and the ability of Eternal or Everlasting Life. The interaction or conflict between unstable(‘thesis’) and stable(‘antithesis’) nature of Protoplasm has generated a new ‘synthesis’ called Immortality or Everlasting Life. I call this higher state of existence as ‘Dialectical Spiritualism’. Man is a physical, Mortal Being and his body substance is Perishable. Through the process of Dialectical Spiritualism, the conflict and interaction between the unstable and stable nature of Protoplasm which is a Spiritual substance, man progresses towards his goal of becoming a Complete or Whole Spiritual Being and his body substance will exist in its higher state of existence of Imperishability. The Medical Doctrine of Dialectical Spiritualism proposes the hypothesis of Man’s Immortality or Everlasting Life as a higher state of existence of a mortal or perishable substance that has developed the potentiality and progressed towards its natural goal of Imperishability and indestructibility.
Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,
Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India,
M.B.B.S. Class of April, 1970.
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