By Bal Ram Singh, PhD
The English term God was originally a Sanskrit word taken from the Vedas and mentioned several times in the Bhagavad-Gita: “Hutam” or the smoke arising from an offering placed into a sacred fire ceremony. Hutam became “Gutam” in German, “Goot” in Dutch, and “God” in English, Jeffrey Armstrong of Vedic Academy of Science and Arts (VASA).
This is more like a circumstantial word referring to God, and which has no linguistic attributes describing the term God, and the scientific approach advanced languages like Sanskrit take to define an entity. The epilogue was entitled “On determination and free will.” Schrödinger wrote, “As a reward for the serious trouble I have taken to expound the purely scientific aspects of our problem …, I beg leave to add my own, necessarily subjective, view of the philosophical implications.”
The word Brahm is derived from the root word, brih (बृह्) to mean expand. Brahm (ब्रह्म) tbe two words Brih+ma (बृह् + म)are combined to means when the expansion is stopped or limited as ‘ma’ means to stop. Brahm, thus means something that is all expansive until we decide to limit it by pronouncing it.
Thus, Brahm is a never ending all encompassing entity, that is reflective of ourselves. If we are limitless, so is the Brahm, and vice versa.
In the previous column, an experiment was described based on brain imaging how a human being views the opinion of God to be the same as oneself on a set of moral issues, and each human being considers it to be unique to himself or herself. For example, Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
Modern science considers life, including human life differently from biology, physics, and chemistry perspectives. The issue of life especially as described by a famous Nobel Laureate, Erwin Schrödinger, in his book, What is Life. According to a Perspective article published in Genetics wrote that, contrary to the opinion held by some physicists, quantum indeterminacy plays no biologically relevant role in the space-time events in the body of a living being, except perhaps by enhancing the purely accidental nature in mutation, meiosis, and so on.
The two major premises considered by Schrödinger are (a) the body functions as a pure mechanism according to the laws of nature; and (b) we also know that we are directing its motions, knowing fully the consequences of our actions and taking responsibility for them. From these premises, Schrödinger concluded that I (in the widest sense) am the person, if any, who controls the “motion of the atoms” according to the laws of nature.
In What Is Life?, Schrödinger goes on to say: “In Christian terminology to say: ‘Hence I am God Almighty’ sounds both blasphemous and lunatic. But please disregard these connotations for the moment and consider whether the above inference is not the closest a biologist can get to proving God and immortality at one stroke.” He stated that a similar belief was recorded more than 2500 years ago in the early great Upanishads in ancient India, where the concept that Atman equals Brahman equals omnipresent, all-comprehending eternal self was taken for granted.
To the Hindus (the ancient scholars of Vedanta), it represents the quintessence of deepest insight into the happenings of the world, as Schrödinger put it. From these beginnings, Schrödinger then extrapolated the concept of “I have become God” to all saints and mystics throughout centuries.
According to the Genetics article, to Schrödinger, the idea of plurality of consciousness (so clearly opposed in the Upanishads), which is widely accepted by the Western philosophers, is not meaningful. He wrote, “It leads almost immediately to the invention of souls, as many as there are bodies, and to the question whether they are mortal…. Much sillier questions have been asked: Do animals also have souls? It has even been questioned whether women, or only men, have souls.” He preferred to consider the so-called plurality as being a series of different aspects of one consciousness.
Thus, even the seemingly same idea of God’s image and Being one (Brahm) leads to different experiences and expositions, one needs to be cautious about.
Balram Singh is a Professor and the President of the Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, Massachusetts, researching Ayurveda, Yoga, Vedic education, and Vedic social and political traditions. He is also an adjunct faculty at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi.