Why Artificial Intelligence violating Brahmacharya is nothing new?

By Bal Ram Singh, PhD

It may have been 1978 when I was a student in JNU, and a friend’s relative had returned from Dubai with a cassette player where we could hear the songs from the tape. We used to gather in his room to hear this amazing technology of reproducing sound track of someone artificially.

Fast forward that to my move to the United States in 1983, where while I had taken some cassettes like Umaraojaan movie songs, but could not afford a cassette player for a couple of months. When I finally was able to play those cassettes it felt like to be in heavens.

Now such things are freely available, and people are hardly fascinated with them. Music companies, in fact, are happy to provide such songs free on YouTube for anyone to watch, and just to  get “‘likes’.

Anything frequently repeated, no matter how creative, becomes unattractive beyond certain time. Stagnation of  even the creative work becomes stale.

These are just some archaic examples of artificial intelligence where electronic technology is used to create sound artificially yet making it impressive to our senses. Film scenes are similarly impressive, as are artificial flavors and perfumes. Artificial is not evil, but it needs to be viewed in the context of the natural.

According to the etymology online, artificial is a construct of late 14c., “meaning not natural or spontaneous,” from Old French artificial, from Latin artificialis “of or belonging to art,” from artificium “a work of art; skill; theory, system,” from artifex (genitive artificis) “craftsman, artist, master of an art” (music, acting, sculpting, etc.), from stem of ars “art” (see art (n.)) + -fex “maker,” from facere “to do, make” (from PIE root *dhe- “to set, put”).

As long as natural factors, values, and knowledge are the driving force, artificial knowledge could be useful and entertaining. Even the intelligence is targeted to learning the truth. The etymology online says intelligence as “the highest faculty of the mind, capacity for comprehending general truths;” c. 1400, “faculty of understanding, comprehension,” from Old French intelligence (12c.) and directly from Latin intelligentia, intellegentia “understanding, knowledge, power of discerning; art, skill, taste,” from intelligentem (nominative intelligens) “discerning, appreciative,” present participle of intelligere “to understand, comprehend, come to know,” from assimilated form of inter “between” (see inter-) + legere “choose, pick out, read,” from PIE root *leg- (1) “to collect, gather,” with derivatives meaning “to speak (to ‘pick out words’).”

In other words, intelligence is an exercise of vivek, the discerning power within. One needs to sift through much of artificially created perceptible items to realize the truth. For that truth, Vedic literature and practice suggest – Ekam Sat Viparah Bahudha Vadanti (Rig Ved, 1.146.46), meaning the truth is one, sages (viprah) call it in various ways.

And, that truth is the Brahm within, as in Aham Brahmasmi (अहं ब्रह्मास्मि – “मैं ब्रह्म हूँ” – बृहदारण्यक उपनिषद १/४/१० – यजुर्वेद), I myself am Brahm.

And, that Brahm is beyond the perception or action of Gyanendriyas (sense organs) and Karmendriyas (the organs of action), meaning beyond words, touch, shape, taste, and smell. That Brahm can only be realized internally, and that realization is achieved by going beyond what is available externally.

Those of us who avoid going through it remain limited. Going through also does not mean to accept it as is but to learn from it, many times from what may it not be, or what may it not be limited to. For example, to go to a college or university, one cannot avoid high school, in fact one must go through high school, and not remain limited to the high school. And, this life is full of high schools!

One has to be creative and observing all along to claim brahmacharya. There are multiple aspects of brahmacharya with social implications. These include brahm, brahmana, and brahmand. Only a brahmachari, that is an expert on the brahmacharya can really understand the Brahm and the brahmand. Similarly, brahmana is someone who has pursued the brahmacharya to attain the realization of the Brahm. Some of these concepts are often misunderstood, and the understanding created artificially remains in the memory of people.

For example, much a quoted Manusmriti verse is often misinterpreted to show superiority of the brahmanas over others, especially the shudras.

जन्मना जायते शूद्रः संस्कारात् द्विज उच्यते।

वेदपाठाद् भवेत् विप्रः ब्रह्म जानाति ब्राह्मणः।।

janmana jayate sudrah samskarat dwij uchchte

veda pathnat bhavet viprah brahma janati iti brahmana.

The meaning of this shloka changes with time and conditions, Sometimes it is taken to mean that shudras are the lowest forms who need to rise into the sophistry and knowledge to become brahmana. The reality is that it is a journey from the outworld to inner world that begins at birth.

 

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 adjunct faculty at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi.

Images courtesy of Linkedin and Provided

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