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Prof. Dr. Binayak  S.  Choudhury

Hindu philosophy, according to the traditional classification, is divided into six main streams which are collectively called ṣaḍ-darśana. These are Sāṁkhya, Yoga, Nyāya, Vaiśeṣika, Mímāṁsā and Vedānta. But this classification is not exhaustive. For instances, Pāśupata and Tantra are not included in the above group although they have important philosophical contributions and are inalienable parts of the Hindu system without which a complete description of Hindu philosophy is never possible. There are also other schools of thoughts in Hinduism. Again there are subdivisions of the above schools which, in their own rights, are capable of being treated as separate systems .The vastness of Hindu wisdom is awe inspiring.

The discussion which follows in independent of any special reference to any of the above schools of philosophy. Rather we stress certain  aspects of philosophy which are accepted in the individual domains of each of the  schools of phylosophy.

For our purpose we note some common features of these schools in the following:

  1. a) Each of the schools of Hindu philosophy is not comfortable with the state of affairs prevailing in the world we live in. It is generally held that the proportion of sorrow in the world far surpasses the proportion of pleasures in the world. Further the worldly pleasures are uncertain and transitory in nature.
  2. b) The visible world cannot be made into an ideal place of abode by any means whatsoever. There is an awareness of the limitations of the material means of pleasure.
  3. c) All of them identify that desire (Kāma) is at the root of all distresses. There is a stress on the harnessing of desires and withdrawal of interest in worldly pleasures (Bairāgya).
  4. d) Each school indicates the ultimate state of freedom (Mukti) as the final aim of its philosophy although the schools differ sharply on the concept of Mukti. Every branch of Hindu philosophy holds that the state of ultimate freedom can nonetheless be attained and that too in the mundane life of the individual for which the schools have their own ways and means. Such suggested paths are different but are rarely contradictory although, as noted above, the concept of the Ultimate and Absolute freedom in these philosophical systems are very different. This optimism of attaining the final goal pervades everywhere in Hindu philosophy
  5. e) All the schools are knowledge oriented in their own individual ways. Each of the philosophical disciplines are concerned with both worldly as well as transcendental knowledge. The knowledge of the state which is beyond the materialistic world is always considered to be higher and capable of fulfilling the highest needs of life, but the knowledge of the visible world is not ignored.
  6. f) All of them accept the authority of the Vedas. Of these systems Mímāṁsā and Vedānta accept Vedic authorities directly and develop their systems by elaborating the contents of the Vedas in two seemingly different ways, the former stressing the ritualistic aspects and the latter elaborating the speculative aspects of Vedas. The other schools like Nyāya, Vaiśesika, Sāṅkhya and Yoga base their theories on independent reasoning and experience, but accept the authorities of the Vedas and make efforts to establish that their theories and the authority of the Vedas are harmonious. Other schools which are not directly covered by the classification of ṣaḍ-darśana also owe their allegiances to Vedas. As an instance, the Tantra is considered to have originated from the Devί-Sūkta of Ṛg-veda and carries its legacy. It is that the Hindu philosophical disciplines are characterized by their allegiances to Vedas.
  7. g) All the schools use arguments for which they have their own epistemologies. The schools stressing on devotion (Bhakti) are also not exceptions to it. All subdivisions of Vedānta, although claiming their primary basis of philosophy in the authorities  of the Vedas, use independent elaborate arguments for establishing their propositions and conclusions. The philosophy of Nyāya advances most elaborate methods of logic which are sometimes used by other schools as well. Argument (Tarka  as it is generally called ) is a central feature of Hindu systems. They are also used by the philosophical systems in defense of their cases and also in the criticisms of other systems  both inside and outside the fold of Hinduism. For this reason the Hindu philosophy taken as a whole is the best critic of itself.
  8. h) For all the schools the individual is the central theme. The journey for the individual is from the known to the unknown and towards the higher forms of knowledge which leads to a state which is transcendental and beyond the experiences of the everyday world.

The Vedic literature consist of four Vedas, Brāhmans, Ᾱranyakas  and Upaniṣads .There are overlappings  in them .The  Bṛhadāranyak, which is considered as an important Upaniṣad  is an Ᾱranyak text. Again Chhāndogyopaniṣad is a part of Satapath Brāhmam .The Vedic literature is an organically connected whole .The Upaniṣads are called Vedāntas meaning thereby  the concluding parts of the Vedas .The Vedas including the Upaniṣads are sometimes called Śruti .Vedic authorities are distributed over the whole of Śruti  literature .We refer for our purpose the whole of Vedic literature as Vedas  unless we explicitly refer to some particular text .Veic authority is also sometimes referred to as ’Sābda ‘ as in the Nyāya system .

It is a tendency of the Hindu philosophy in general to switch over to the knowledge (Vidyā) which can address the domain of transcendence. There is  a classification of knowledge which is explicitly provided in Mundaka Upaniṣad. In a representation in the form of dialogue (a style of .presenting which is widely prevalent in the Vedic literature) where Saunak approaches the Ṛṣi Aṅgirā with the question of ultimate knowledge, the Ṛṣi Aṅgirā states that there are two knowledge systems, Parāvidyā and Aparāvidyā. It is also stated that Parāvidyā is the knowledge (Vidyā) through which the transcendental immutable ultimate reality is comprehended.

All the rest is Aparā Vidyā   in which are contained all the intellectual endeavors of the human directed towards material ends and also the the four Vedas. An enumeration for Aparā Vidyā  is given therein.   Apparently it may appear as a strange contradiction that the Vedas, which is regarded as the final authority by the Hindu systems of philosophy, should be included in the domain of Aparā Vidyā  . This apparent contradiction is removed by several commentators (Bhāṣyakār) that it is the observance of the rituals for the purpose of fulfilling some desires either here or in the heavens (ihāmutra) which has been mentioned here. Parāvidyā comprises of the aspects of the Vedic teachings which are related to desireless work (Niṣkāma karma), the comprehension of the Absolute and is directed to the emancipation (Mokṣha) which is the highest goal of life according to the Hindu philosophy irrespective of its various approaches. We find the support of these explanation elsewhere, an instance being the Srimadbhagabadgítā in which in one place it has been advised to rise above the Vedas which are invested with the Triguṇas and in another place the Absolute has been described as what all the Vedas preach. The proper explanation for that can only be obtained through an interpretation like the above  as it has been in the several commentaries (bhāṣya) on Gíta. This classification is treated with utmost importance in the philosophical schools of Vedānta. This is what is expected because the Vedānta schools (there are ten main trends of philosophy coming under the umbrella of Vedānta and if finer differences are to be taken into account there are many more) derive their systems of philosophy , both epistemological and metaphysical aspects, directly from the vedic literatures and Mundakopaniṣad being recognized as one of the important vedic texts, the given classification of knowledge is accepted directly.

Although several philosophical schools like Nyāya, etc., do not consider the classification of knowledge into Parā and Aparā Vidyā in an explicit way as Vedānta does, in essence this flavor pervades every domain of Hindu philosophy. There is always a distinction drawn between knowledge which can lead to salvation (Mukti), an escape from the cycle of birth and death, and the worldly knowledge in every other form which has not the capability to lead to a state where one sees the end of all sorrows (duḥkha), a final goal which is cherished by all the branches of Hindu philosophy. Explicitly or implicitly , the divisions of knowledge (Vidya) into Parā and Aparā  is recognized everywhere in the realm of Hindu wisdom . We can, for instance, take up the case of Nyāya. This school of philosophy lays great emphasis on the methods of correct thinking and on ways and means of acquiring true knowledge. It elaborately discusses the logical forms, develops both deductive and inductive logic and takes keen interest in the worldly categories. Its epistemology is very elaborate and perhaps excels every other contemporary development in matters of knowledge associated with the worldly objects. In course of these independent arguments they develop their own terminologies and approaches in which the Vedic conceptions pervade. (We must also admit at the same time that the Vaiśeṣika investigation in this respect is of no less importance. In fact the two philosophical schools Nyāya and Vaiśeṣika are allied schools (samānatantra). They together are sometimes said to have formed the basis of physical science in the period in which the two systems developed). In spite of the interest in analyzing the manifest world of objects, like almost all other schools of Hinduism, they maintain that the highest goal of life is the ultimate freedom (Mokṣha) which is an extraordinary experience. We can look into the theory of perception of Nyāya where we find that there are two types, namely Loukika and Aloukika which are ordinary and extraordinary perceptions respectively. There are several subcategories of these two above mentioned types of perceptions which are again further subdivided. In this elaborate classification the highest and the most perfect perception is an extraordinary perception (Aloukika) which is called Yogaja. This is a direct intuitive comprehension of all objects which are not only existing presently, but also in past and future. It does not require any additional speculation to connect this knowledge with Parā Vidyā. The Nyāya is a system of philosophy which accepts the authorities of the Vedas but at the same time finds independent grounds of arguments for its theories which, the adherents of the school claim, are in complete agreement with Vedas. As in the above case of Nyāya, it is possible to see that knowledge accepted in Hinduism everywhere has a natural division into Parā and Aparā whether this is explicitly mentioned or not.

The following two questions are relevant.

  1. What is the necessity of this classification of knowledge (vidyā)?
  2. What is the connection, if any, between these two types of knowledge? Is it that these two types are irreconcilable or there are pathways connecting them? Is it that one should be pursued to the exclusion of the other or that they form an organic whole making the totality of Hindu knowledge into an integrated system.

In the following we will see that the answers to both the questions are in the affirmative which is to say that the classification into Parā and Aparā Vidyā is necessary and that they form two parts of an integrated system of knowledge.

As already noted that the final goal of the Indian schools of philosophy is the ultimate freedom (Mokṣha) which is an association (in some sense) with the Absolute. All the Hindu schools accept the authority of the Vedas (Allegiance to Vedas is in fact the defining criteria of the Hindu philosophy) where the Absolute is mentioned. It is described therein as far as our language is competent to do so. It is variously interpreted by the different schools in their own ways. Not entering into the debates between various schools on the interpretations of the Vedic texts, we can see directly that it requires a separate system of knowledge for the purpose of comprehending the Absolute. This knowledge is very different from all types of knowledge which are meant to serve some purpose  in the world in which we biologically survive. The following few illustrations will speak of themselves in this regard.

In Kenopaniṣad we see that the Absolute is different from both known and unknown. We cannot have any idea of Brahman (the Absolute) because it is not perceptible through senses, nor is it possible to have a grasp of it by application of mind and intellect. So Brahman is not ‘known’. Should we then describe Brahman as always ‘unknown’ (and also unknowable). The above text unambiguously indicates that this is not the case. In our ordinary knowledge we always have a complementary domain of unknown and unknowable corresponding to what is known. Brahman is not bound by any of these domains. It is outside these two categories.

In the same Upaniṣad it is said that since our senses (eye) is not competent to see it, neither our speech is competent enough to describe it nor our mind is able to comprehend it. In this situation the same stanza  (śloka)  says that neither we know nor in any future time shall we be able to know how to give instructions on it.

In Bṛhadāranyakopaniṣad we find that the Absolute is characterized by the method of ‘not this’(neti neti). It is not any worldly object, it is not something which can be grasped, it is not something which can be diminished. So what the Absolute is? It is not anything of any kind in this world of our  biological existence. So the Absolute is not amenable to the knowledge we gather and use in this world. The Hindu systems of philosophy discuss the theory of knowledge (here we refer to worldly knowledge) in very elaborate ways. There are several means of attaining valid worldly knowledge. As an example, a sect of the Nyāya philosophy  recognizes direct perception, inference and knowledge by analogy (Upamiti) as the sources of valid knowledge (pramā) apart from the authority of the Vedas. The other schools are also keen on the discussion on the sources of valid (worldly) knowledge. The methods of argumentations are also very elaborately discussed. It is especially in the domain of Nyāya that these (tarka) methodologies of arguments are developed to help in the discourses to attain the valid knowledge. Other schools have sometimes used these techniques of Nyāya in their discourses. But, as indicated above, all of them fall short of the Absolute and are rendered of no use in that context. The scope of  Aparā Vidyā is thus limited.

In view of the above it may appear that the attitude of the Vedas is agnostic, professing the ever concealment of the nature of absolute from us. But this is not the case as we carefully look into the texts belonging to the Vedic literature.

If we look back into the pages of Kenopaniṣad  again, from where we have already quoted some stanzas, we find that it is definitely possible to know the Absolute. Also there is an added gain in it. It is the association with the Absolute that gives the individual the ultimate freedom which is described as “Amṛta“ or immortality. It is necessary and beneficial for an individual who has exercised his intelligence to realize the transitory characters of the worldly pleasures, the heaviness of the mental and physical pains in the world, and has recognized the world as a place of sufferings, to strive for the Absolute state which is the state of Ultimate freedom. According to Hinduism which accepts the authorities of the Vedas, it is an opportunity to seek an end to all suffering by attaining the Absolute through orientation of life in the direction of the attainment of the Absolute. Further from Śvetāśvataropaniṣad we find that it is the only way, that is, by attaining (and knowing) the Absolute we can surpass the inevitable death to attain the state of immortality. Knowledge, in so far as it is associated with the worldly human activities like learning, thinking, etc. is the product of Intellectual activity. It is limited necessarily by the concept of objectivity. Precisely, in the above mentioned context it means that we must have something to be known, that is, the knowledge is the knowledge of something.  On the other hand, Parā Vidyā is pursued with a view to addressing situations where knowledge is not bounded . The knowledge by which the Absolute is comprehended is intimate and, by all means, beyond the scope of any worldly knowledge. It is a domain of transcendence. It is also strongly asserted in the passages of the vedic literatures that the Absolute is attainable. What then can we say about Pará Vidya. It is difficult to describe it by detailing because the comprehension of the absolute (Bramhajñan) is not like the comprehension of  any material or mental object familiar with the human existence as we have noted in the above paragraph. Any analogy in this respect is bound to be farfetched. The ordinary logic is also said to be not applicable in that domain of Absolute as is said “  Naiṣā tarkena matirapaneyā “. Śruti specifies the different modalities of this system of knowledge. Here also we find different paths leading to Brahman. Śvetāśvataropaniṣad  gives the injunction that Pará Vidya is to be pursued in close association and under instructions of someone who has attained the Absolute. It will not be much profitable for us to elaborate on this highest system of knowledge here.  The only thing we mention is it has to be pursued and practised under the guidance of those who have obtained the enlightenment of the Absolute (Bhahmajñānί) and we have the final assurance that the Absolute is attainable. Since the knowledge of Brahman is characteristically different from that of any object or material having any worldly analogy, the classification of Vidyā into two subclasses of Parā and Aparā for the above two purposes respectively  becomes a philosophical and practical necessity.

In view of the above it may appear that the scope of Parā Vidyā being Brahman the Absolute which being beyond every conceivable matter in the world of our biological existence must be uncorrelated to the system of worldly knowledge which is the domain of Aparā vidyā. Here essentially Aparā Vídyā will fail to play any role with its natural limitations. An immediate response to this situation is that for the purpose of a person who seeks the truth, all Aparā vídyā should be discarded being unnecessary. It may be argued that the philosophies which have transcendental goals as in the case of Hindu philosophy, the material world should be secondary and there is no need of an exploration of the material world. All sciences developed in modern times which is by and large established through intellectual exercises in modern times should also be of no value in such endeavors. This is not accepted by the Hindu philosophers for reasons both academic and practical. After all we live in this world and will have to start our philosophic journey from this world. We have to survive and subsist as human beings to accomplish the philosophical goals. The manifest world cannot be ignored and that which cannot be ignored must be considered and explained. Its correlation with the (philosophical) positions which we want to reach must be properly understood. Otherwise we are unable to shape and orient our life, thoughts and practices suitable of a journey towards to transcendental. The other consideration is more academic. The philosophical system should be integrated. The different considerations of philosophy should find their places in the integrated system and, in this way, they must be connected. A single world view must be applicable to each considerations. An instance is the writings of Ᾱchāryya Śaṅkar where he does not accept the simultaneous existence of jñāna and karma. (wisdom and activity so to say). The former is directly associated with the Absolute (Brahman) while the latter is to be discovered in the world of our existence. But he does not ignore the explanation of the worldly phenomena in favor of the Absolute, rather he has a strong explanation to offer in terms of ‘Māyā’ which explains the objective world in the theory of Advaita Vedānta. If we turn to Chhandogya Upaniṣad we see that Nārada is instructed by Sanatkumār in which we find the blending of both practical and academic elements to ascertain the continuity of the wisdom in the domains of Parā and Aparā Vidyā  to bring out  an integrated process.

 For realizing the connections we should again look into the stanzas (ślokas) of the Upaniṣads. Kenopanísad connects the Absolute with the material knowledge by describing it as the seat of activities of the senses and of mind.   Also the life and biological existence in this world is described to be dependent and directed by the Absolute. Iśopanísad in its opening Śloka describes that whatever is there subject to changes in this changing world is inhabitated by the Absolute.  Thus the relation of the Absolute (Brahman) with the world  manifest to the human race is intimate. It is a subtle point of philosophy how to reconcile the Absolute which is beyond the range of the world and its intimate relationship with the manifest world. The Hindu philosophers take up this task very seriously. There are differences in the accounts and understandings of this point of relationship amongst the different schools. But all of them admit that the worldly knowledge (Aparā Vidyā) has to be commensurate with the knowledge leading to the Absolute, that is, Parā Vidyā so that the relation between Brahman and world (Jagat) can be well explained in that light. Even in the schools where the appearance of the manifest world is denied a reality (Māyā), the continuity of these two categories of Vidyās is recognized when the three categories of prātibhāsik, byabahārik and pāramārthik knowledges are recognized in the ascending order of their validity. In the Upaniṣads  Brahman is taken as the underlying substratum of this world. Again there is lack of unanimity even within different schools of Vedānta itself for which the Upaniṣadic  texts are final authorities. Thus the knowledge directed to the comprehension  of the Absolute must have some relationship with the knowledge of the world which is objectively manifest. In other words it is natural to discover a connection between Parā and Aparā Vidyā. It is true, as has been variously said, that once the knowledge of the Absolute is accessed, there is no need of any further knowledge of any kind. In fact with this quest in view Sounak approaches Aṅgirā as described in Mundakopaniṣad .  Sounak asks Aṅgirā “ By knowing what everything becomes known?”. Admittedly in Hindu philosophy the knowledge of Absolute is the highest form of knowledge one can strive for. But the converse is not true, that is, in the domain of Aparā Vidyā there is no knowledge which can claim superiority in the sense described above. This is because anything  which is not absolute is dependent on other objects, is mutable, has its own dynamics in conjunction with other objects connected to it. Hence any knowledge or information of them is also bound to be conditional. So there is always a scope to have a better and superior knowledge for every bit of worldly knowledge. As an illustration, we can take the case of that branch of medical science which deals with Cancer (technically this branch is called Oncology). Although this branch of biology is not competent enough today to deal with the problems of the disease with a satisfactory level of success, it is pressing hard in research to have a better knowledge of what cancer is and how to deal with patients affected by it. Thus the knowledge becomes richer day by day. Optimistically, we can hope that it can provide much better treatment in future. But there cannot be any end to this process of development. There will always be scope of development of techniques which may provide better treatment although at some point of time the treatment capability is commendably high. This is true not only for other branches of medical sciences but also for all other activities of human race where conscious efforts (and hence knowledge) are involved. For example, in Aesthetics we cannot point out any object which is the most elegant of its kind.  Let us take the example of the work of the legendary painter Leonardo-da-Vinci. Much is spoken of his masterly piece of creation ‘Mona Lisa‘ which is superbly appreciated across the world. But there is no claim that it is the culmination of the art of painting. This cannot be, there is a always scope of improvement. If such a situation is ever to be spoken of, which is over and above everything even in a restricted area of human experience, we have to idealize and in that process we have to conceptually  transcend  the objective world. There we find the idea of the perfect which can only be discovered outside the range of our worldly experiences. Never have we seen any living being which is not subject to death. We can think of longer and longer living (and with the help of medical science we can actually hope to live a long life), but it is not possible by any worldly means to alleviate the end of life. Thus immortality (amṛta) remains unattained in the objective world but is a valid concept in the domain of the ideas where our experiences converge to the domain of transcendence. There again our concept of ‘amṛta‘  is not an unending worldly life because it is in a domain which is beyond the world of materials. The above considerations show that the branches of worldly knowledge (branches of Aparā Vidyā) in course of their developments merges in the limit (to use the terminology of science) into a domain which is beyond material existence. Every trend of thought can attain its culmination ultimately in the domain of transcendence which it can approach but can never attain. The branches of Aparā Vidyā justify and endorse the pursuit of Parā Vidyā through its tendencies towards transcendence and by its limits within the worldly categories. In modern science we also see such a tendency where the ideas (theories)of science  fail  to be explanatory if restricted to the domain of material categories only .We will see in more details how the need of transcendence is felt in modern science  under the compulsion of the development in science itself .

Beyond its academic importance, the conjunction between Parā and Aparā Vidyā has great practical value because Parā Vidyā has its effect of the cessation of all worldly sorrows in association with the Absolute and comprehending the thread of continuity between these two Vidyās help to orient the life of the individual ethically and otherwise to reach the domain of Parā Vidyā. The individual human beings being variously placed in the world of our living, have to take into account the processes of the material world for subsistence of life .The worldly knowledge can never be ignored. . Both Parā and Aparā Vidyā are human endeavors. The practice of Parā Vídyā requires the support of practical life. So there is the need of Aparā Vídyā to support such endeavors. And in the journey towards to final goal of Ultimate freedom, the cherished goal of Hindu philosophy, it is necessary to find these connections between these two domains of knowledge under the practical necessity  for becoming able  to orient the journey of life properly  toward the lofty goal of Mukti. But this is not the only aspect of utilization for Aparā Vidyā.  In Yogasūtra, Patañjali writes that “doubt” is a cause for retardation of yogic practices. There arises a need  to look through the process prevailing in the world in order to have a justification for the pursuit of the Absolute. For this reason analysis (bichār) has been recommended by every school of Hindu philosophy. The need of analysis requires a systematic exposure of the worldly disciplines of knowledge. Thus there arises a vital need for studying the branches of Aparā Vidyā and realizing their limitations as well as their tendencies towards the transcendental domain of Parā Vidyā and, in that way, justifying the endeavor for the ultimate freedom.

There appears to be a force of attraction from the Absolute to which all our worldly thoughts, ideas and theories are directed. This accounts for the tendencies in the disciplines  of Aparā Vidyā  towards transcendence beyond the material world where they can never reach and which can only be explored through the cultivation of Parā Vidyā. This is not   surprisingly if we remember the intimate relation between the Absolute (Brahman) and the material world (Jagat) as given in the Vedic literature which we have already mentioned to some extent. To a Hindu philosopher it is a journey  through the materialistic world to the Absolute .The great assurance comes from the Gítā “Even if you are the utmost sinner, you can cross the world of distress  by proper knowledge ”.The journey is called “Sādhanā ”which the Hindu philosophy suggests to undertake to every individual . The path of the journey is Parā Vidyā while Aparā Vidyā stands in support for that journey.

Modern science pervades almost all corners of the human civilization. There are   several aspects of  our world of living which were not explored earlier in the objective ways in which it is done here in science. An honest pursuit of science is a search for truth in the domain of its applicability. Our endeavor here is to see how the implications of modern  scientific theories are related to the  Hindu systems of philosophy.  We promised to do it for two main reasons. Firstly, with the spectacular development of science along with the vast applications of technology in recent times, no philosophic system claiming to be complete can ignore the theories of science.  Secondly, Hindu philosophers have ever remained keen on the phenomena of nature. Although the ultimate goal of knowledge is Mokṣha, a comprehensive world view always remained in the vision of the Hindu thinkers. Each of the six schools of philosophy (ṣaḍ-darśana ) and their subdivisions have their own physical theories. Apart from a purely academic interest, to the Hindu philosophers such considerations also help in the path of final goal of Mokṣha, which is a subject of Parā Vidyā, by providing supportive logic and understanding as a whole, without  which the ultimate goal cannot be properly approached. The example of Sāṁkhya is a good illustration of it. Without the elaboration of Chaturbiṁsati tattva, it is not intelligible what is the nature of Puruṣatattva which has to be attained finally. In view of what has been said above, it is necessary and also commensurate with the traditions of Hindu philosophy to address the issues arising in the arena of modern science.  Thus it is imperative that correlations between science and the Hindu wisdom be explored. Modern science being a vast area of study, it is not possible to consider the implications of all branches of science in a single context. In fact it is also not possible to touch upon all the prominent branches of science here. We consider two main revolutionary theories of physics, namely, the relativity theory and the quantum mechanics. We also consider biological systems from the standpoint of a physical theory. Another difficulty of a general discussion is the technicality of scientific theories, especially in the physical sciences where  conclusions are many times in terms of mathematical expressions which are to be technically understood. We try to be most general in our expositions and avoid the technical details which are particulars of the discipline of science under consideration.

 Only the material world is present in front of us and all our actions are in the domain of the materialistic world. It is not unnatural that a materialistic view is generated by a prima facie consideration of the world around us. The atheistic view of materialism has been considered and refuted by many of the schools of Hindu philosophy. It is a general practice of the Indian schools that the philosophical positions of other prevailing schools are first described (pūrbapakṣa) before arguments are advanced to refute these positions in favour of establishing their conclusions(uttarpakṣa). In that way we find elaborate arguments against  Chārbāk professing atheistic view of materialism.  Materialistic philosophy has been considered by the Hindu thinkers with due importance. In fact Sarva-darśhana-saṁgraha of Mādhabāchāryya also separately treats the Chārbāk view of materialism to a large extent. Going back to Kathopaniṣad we see the consideration of materialistic view in the question asked by Nachiketā when he asks for alleviation of the doubt prevailing in the people that whether there is existence after death.  In the perspective of modern scientific  explanations of the daily life experiences are successfully obtained in  mechanical terms. The applications offered by science through its companion the technology have introduced in the modern living several dimensions which were not there even a century back. The understanding of natural phenomena through approaches offered by science are widely accepted. Especially the modern life, with too many inputs of technical applications, have increased materialistic outlook in the people by making to them available more means of pleasure and entertainment. It is this involvement with the modern means of technology for having more pleasure in life that there has been less interest in the speculative thinking. Deep understanding of life as a necessity for a more  fruitful pattern of living is not always felt in the modern society. The philosophy of materialism either explicitly or implicitly have become stronger. For this purpose also it is worthwhile  to analyse  the conclusions of science  vis-a-vis materialism. Scientific studies, if put into the classification of Parā and Aparā Vidyā falls in the domain of Aparā Vidyā. We will see below that the conclusions of modern science are in harmony with the system of Parā and Aparā Vidyā  and even more than  any other branch of the latter, its conclusions go beyond matter. Further we will see that in the light of scientific theories the Chārbāk (that is materialism) is more vigorously refuted.

In the theory of physical science, till the end of the nineteenth century, there had been a mechanistic view of the natural processes where solutions were made on the basis of Newton’s laws, especially on the relation Force = mass × acceleration. All branches of physics (and also of physical chemistry) developed during this time tried to obtain their theories based on this law. An example is the Gas dynamics in which the laws were supposed to be derived from the processes involving a very large number of collisions in which individual collisions, although  not separately tractable, were supposed to obey the Newton’s laws. The mechanistic view of the world was advanced which, by virtue of its immediate success in providing material explanations, was acceptable to many people.  Subsequently the Maxwell’s equations added new features to the theories of Physics (and influenced chemistry). The “momentum” which is associated with mass in Newton’s theory had a new interpretation where the electromagnetic field can have momentum in spite of the fact that it has no mass. Light was identified as electromagnetic waves which can travel in empty space. The prevailing community of physics took great pains to accept something as wave which can propagate through vacuum. There were desperate efforts to retain the materialist position that in analogy with the continuum mechanics (the mechanics where matter is assumed to be distributed continuously) every wave for its propagation requires a material medium. This had led to the postulation of ‘ether’, a substance which pervades the empty space but is directly non-detectable. The hypothesis was found untenable in several experiments and was finally rejected to make room for the special theory of relativity advanced by Albert Einstein which was in the year 1905. Through this theory, for the first time in the history of science, the absolute status of both time and space was shattered. In this theory time is relative which may vary from person A to person B (technically called observers) depending on their relative dynamical positions. The length, area and volume in space also appeared relative, that is, a variable from one person A to another person B (observers) when they have relative states of motion. Starting from the introduction of the special theory of relativity there is a radical revision in the concepts of space and time in the domain of physical science during last hundred years. Earlier science had implicitly accepted (and modified to serve its ends) the idea about the nature of space and time as given by the famous philosopher Immanuel Kant which is that these two are necessary conditions of existence for material bodies. They are not objects by themselves but are some categories in which the matter exists. Since the days of Newton lots of dynamics of material bodies have been studied. All these studies have been performed in space and time taking these two as granted. The mathematical deductions predicted these motions by following certain given equations which are in essence Newton’s equations of motion. There is also another approach in mechanics which is due to Lagrange and further developed by Hamilton. The motion of objects in space can also be treated by the approaches of Lagrange and Hamilton as well. In the study of mechanics the Lagrangian as well as Hamiltonian equations of motion are parallels of Newton’s equations. They serve the same purpose of describing the motion. Later these approaches were found suitable for  extension in quantum mechanics which is the modern theory of the atomic and subatomic world. The essential element in these studies  is to determine where the material object is at some given time and how it is moving at that time (position and velocity). The answer depends on the conditions imposed on the moving object. These equations of motion are based on different principles which are accepted in physics. The Lagrangian and Hamiltonian approaches were initially of academic value whereas the practical (Engineering) applications utilized mainly Newton’s laws. But later, in the twentieth century the last two approaches gained much importance since only they could be carried into the arena of the then newly developed quantum mechanics for treating the mechanical phenomena arising in the atomic and subatomic levels. What is important for the present context is that the space and time were taken for granted. They were never made into objects of investigation in science. With the advent of the theory of relativity, the space and time appeared to be connected (today we call them together as “spacetime”). Both of them lost their immutable character. The mutability of both space and time was recognized by science through the phenomena like time dilation and space contraction. They were made objective in the modern theory of relativity. But this objectivity is very different from that of the material objects. We have no perception of time through our senses or through our experimental apparatuses in the same way as we have for the material objects ( matter and radiation are objects of physics). But we can make the time flow slowly to any desired extent for anything (an observer) by imparting appropriately high velocity to it. Through the acceptance of the elements of objectivity of space and time there is now a change in the world view in the arena of twentieth century physics. It has a profound influence on the understanding of the world from the scientific angle. When the idea  of rigid immutable structure of space and time is broken, when these categories undergo changes (the change is more profound in the general theory of relativity), then there is no intrinsic philosophical reason why they cannot also be created out of some timeless state. These words may appear as a farfetched abstraction. But this is not so which can be realized by looking into the theories of cosmology which are based on the  relativity principles. In fact  this theory is the basis of modern scientific cosmology. One of the most important problems of cosmology is the problem of genesis of the Universe. Here we see (in accordance with some theories based on FRW metric) that after the point of creation time and space become relevant. Physics cannot deal with the point of creation, its proceedings begin from the next stage when the time and space is given to us. In the mathematical limit ( which is fundamental in the language in which  physics speaks) it is a timeless state. The evolution of the Universe in science is not similar to any ordinary physical evolution which has always a beginning in time. If at all a beginning in the process of evolution of the Universe is to be sought through science then, as observed above, it is from timelessness to the domain of time, from spacelessness to the domain of space. The tenability of a timeless state is not a mere extrapolation of ideas but in physical and mathematical cosmology it is a compulsion. That means that the notions of states which are beyond space and time are not untenable from the point of view of science. Admittedly, the scope of science being confined within the  objective world, such states cannot be discussed within the scope of science.  In essence, as we have noted earlier, science falls in the category of Aparā Vídyā and has its own limitations. What is important here is the acceptance from the scientific angle the indication of timeless notions which are  also not bounded by consideration of space.


 Let us look back into some pages of the Vedic literature. The Vedas refer to the ‘timeless’ in several of its passages. We can take, for instance, the Nāsadiya Sūkta of Ṛg-veda where in course of an account of the creation of the Universe we see that the entity from which the creation proceeds is referred to as beyond existence and non-existence which is an impossibility in the domain of time with which we are acquainted. All these imply that Brahman (Absolute) from whom the world proceeds is not limited by time. We can think of something which is independent of space such as our mental states. But to speak of something which is beyond time is to indicate that we are speaking of something which is beyond the scope of our ordinary worldly knowledge. This is particularly valid for Brahman. Examples abound in the different philosophical texts like several Upaniṣads and Gíta. In Śvetāsvatara Upaniṣad we find that the Absolute is explicitly mentioned as Kālakāra, that is, the creator of time and hence is beyond time.

From the above paragraphs we can find a similarity in the cosmology in Vedas and the scientific cosmology when dealing with  the problem of creation (the Big Bang of science). There are marked differences also. The approach of science in cosmology is mathematical and observational.(There are complicated instruments for observing the stars, galaxies, etc).The Absolute from which the materialistic world proceeds and subsists is out of the scope of Aparā Vidyā. Modern science falls in the classification of Aparā Vidyā  being concerned with only the material categories of nature. Science cannot transcend its material limits and  is unable to  take into consideration the point of creation through models of the cosmos based on relativistic principles. Science cannot deal with it but can imply the “timeless” state as a necessary part of its endeavor for understanding the creation. The specialty of science is that in this domain particularly it uses the analytic method of mathematics whose deductive consequences in all disciplines of physics  are recognized and adhered to. On the other hand all the philosophies in the realm of Hinduism strive to orient life, thinking and activities towards attaining Moḳsha, the ultimate freedom and, for that purpose, all such intellectual endeavors find in them the tendency and orientation towards the path of comprehending the Absolute which is the path elaborated through  Parā Vidyā. Science is an independent enquiry in as much as it is after true knowledge. When asked the cosmological question of creation, its enquiry leads to a domain of transcendence where science is itself helpless. Thus the link between Aparā and Parā Vidyā which is that the former justifies the latter, never penetrating into the domain of latter, but implying it in some limiting sense, is further strengthened by the modern theory of relativity. It is a feature of modern physics which was not there in this particular respect in the nineteenth century physics. Physics, in its development has become more and more akin to the notions in the Vedas. It is an instance where the tendency of modern science is to approach the conclusions of Hindu philosophy. Modern physical science is that which has moved towards the idea of the Absolute although, like any other branch of Aparā Vidyā, it can never strive to attain that stage.

Again in another endeavor to overcome the crisis faced by the nineteenth century physics, the theory of quantum mechanics was postulated. It is the contemporary physical theory of molecular, atomic and subatomic systems. Although it is hard to convey the implications of this theory non-technically, it can be said that in the process of gathering knowledge of a system we have to do measurements on a system which gives us one of the possible results. Thus we have a view of the (atomic) system which could have been otherwise and it is only incidentally, albeit with some probability, that we are having the present description of the system under our considration.  We know the system as something which is precisely described through the values obtained in the measurement. Moreover, all aspects of a system cannot be known simultaneously through measurements which is prohibited by the famous Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. In fact all possible measurements cannot be done simultaneously. Measurements  can  nevertheless be  made  sequentially, but this will not improve the situation since the subsequent measurements will destroy some of the previous results with which it is not compatible. Specifically the position and velocity (momentum to be precise) cannot be simultaneously measured which has far reaching consequence in mechanics. This theory puts an end to the mechanistic view of a well defined object described by the exact quantitative values of the parameters describing it (technically called dynamical variables). Now the object has an imprecise description with only certain aspects of it being known. Other variables are unknown and cannot be known simultaneously with the presently known variables. This is again a consequence of the Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle.  This knowledge is not only partial but uncertain in the sense that they could have been otherwise if measurements had yielded separate results. It is a jump from the world of possibility to the real world of actuality which we encounter. The physicist encounters it in the results of his experiments, the former being more fundamental for the purpose of the quantum mechanics. This phenomena of jump is technically called “collapse”. Thus the possibilities of revealing reality is more basic than the revealed reality itself. The  nature of the perceived quantum world (which is atomic and nuclear domain) is not a material seat of the properties, but more fundamentally some potentialities which can be  realized and revealed in physical measurements. Physicists get resort to a mathematical description of the system having the potentiality of being variously manifest by incorporating the idea of a “wave function”. More generally the system is described as a member of a mathematical structure called “Hilbert Space”. The necessity of such a mathematical abstraction arises out of the inability of objectively indicating the more fundamental state of the system. In order to be able to track the dynamics of the quantum objects we do have some fundamental equations like Schrodinger equation, Dirac equation, etc. But that does not shed any light on the nature of quantum reality. A mathematical space like a “Hilbert space” cannot be accepted as an abode of reality.  In search of the true nature of the (atomic) object, a small piece of nature, be it an atom, an atomic nucleus or an alpha particle, we are again directed to considerations beyond the object itself.  We can compare it with the explanation of the world as subsisted by the Absolute. This is not to say that by any means the quantum theory can deal with Brahman. In fact it cannot being a part of the objective science. It implies, just like all other branches of Aparā vidyā  that transcending the materialistic world as manifested to us is necessary for the purpose of the true knowledge of the reality. The situation is reminiscent of the philosophy of Advaita Vedānta where every bit of thing is a manifestation through a more general and all pervading principle called ‘Māyā’ or of the Sāṁkhya school of philosophy where the world subsists as a manifestation of Prkṛti. It is not our purpose to  uphold a particular school of philosophy nor it is  our aim to discuss how the individual schools of Hindu philosophy can accommodate the implications of a particular branch of science.  Like all other branches of physics the domain of quantum physics is restricted by many factors. It cannot make a very general statement about everything in this world. Nor the view of the quantum physics can be accepted as the integrated view of physics as a whole. In fact there are trends in physics which are yet not reconciled with each other. An example is the two theories of relativity and quantum mechanics  which have been under our considrations here. In spite of the development of the subject like relativistic quantum mechanics, there are important  technical as well as conceptually divergent issues between them. The fact is that an integrated view of physics is yet to develop. At best it can be said that Quantum mechanics, in analyzing the matter in the small (atomic and subatomic), has to indicate some situation beyond material considerations where the applicability of physics is stopped. Its implications are the same of those found by the branches of Aparā Vidyā in the systems of Hindu wisdom.

We can conclude from what has been said that tendency of physics through the development of its two pioneering branches of the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics  during the last hundred years has been a drift away from materialism. During the nineteenth century there had been currents of philosophical thoughts based on scientific reasoning and achievements which tried to explain and mould everything in a materialistic way by trying to establish that every phenomena appearing in nature has a causal explanation through some other phenomena of nature. It is not necessary to take into account anything outside the categories known in physical science. The world was supposed to be a complete system with the correlations between its different parts and different categories well understood through the theories of science. Although this view was not accepted by people at large, the arguments in favor of the consideration of an extra materialistic domain in reality was a matter of philosophical debate which did not obtain support from experiments performed by the scientists. Particularly the rigid concepts of time and space that we have discussed earlier did not allow for anything which is conceptually beyond time and space to be commensurate with the theory and experiments of physical sciences. It was hard to reconcile physical science with the thoughts of the Hindu schools. This does not mean that the Hindu philosophy was rendered irrelevant during this period. What is meant here is that the materialistic thoughts could gather their arguments from the then prevailing position of science against the transcendental tendencies of Hindu philosophy. Life processes began to be mechanically explained leading to a materialistic view of life. The view gained further support with the application of the knowledge of life science in the successful treatment of diseases. This course has changed with the dramatic development which took place in the twentieth century.

It is wrong to suppose that the development of science is responsible for creation of the materialistic standpoint. We have already noted earlier that materialist trend was there  and was not ignored by the Hindu thinkers. Chārvāk was given due importance. The position of the materialist (Chārvāk) has been  considered and refuted by many schools. A particular case is the explanation of life and consciousness on which we concentrate here. The Chārvāk (materialistic) view holds that the manifestation of consciousness in living bodies is an offshoot of the association of matter in a particular manner. In particular, it is held that it is a complex state of association of matter in the form of brain which makes possible the emergence of thought. The thought process as well as the manifest consciousness dissolves as soon as there is a dissociation of matter or there is a stoppage of certain functions in the living body due to some factors leading to a stage which is called death. The reputation of this opinion  is done along two lines (chiefly). One is that the Chārvāk cannot point out any definite arrangement of matter which can be made by human efforts which produces consciousness in it. The second line of argument, which is more forceful as well as more elaborate, is that the explanation of living phenomena, both in its physical as well as psychological aspects, is not possible if some entity beyond matter is not assumed. Sometimes the order in the life process is pointed out which necessarily requires some agent which is non-material in nature for an explanation. Sometimes this argument is connected with the orderliness observed at large in nature. Different schools have their own ways of refutation of the materialist position, but each argument follows this line by and large. It is in the context of modern science that the second line of argument is further strengthened. It will be seen that the materialist position cannot be defended without the violations of some laws of the physical science itself and thus inviting  a vicious circle leading to contradictions.

It is an established physical law that the uncertainty spontaneously increases. In physics this is called the second law of thermodynamics. This is due to this law that a scented liquid in a small open bottle will evaporate and fill the room. But this will never occur that the odor prevailing in the air of a closed room will gather in a small bottle kept at a corner of the room unless very special arrangements are made. It is due to this law that you cannot run a steamer in a river by merely taking some river water, extracting heat out of it which will cool the water to ice, throwing the ice into the river and utilizing the heat so obtained to make the wheels rotate. You can surely do that with the help of some machine which cools the water to ice, but to run that machine you will have to put some energy source there. What is important here is that without an external effort such actions are not possible. This is mathematically formulated through a mathematical function which is technically called ‘entropy’. It is a physical law that entropy ever increases unless we can make it decrease by some efforts put from outside the physical system. The increment of entropy (which is in fact the mathematical formulation of the second law of thermodynamics) is a universal law which is also extended to very small as well as to very large scales of objects, that is, from atomic and subatomic objects to systems of galaxies. Ordinarily it has its origin in statistical mechanics which is a branch of physics based on some statistical (probability distribution) assumptions and is applicable to systems having very large number of entities. In the cosmological dimensions it is held that the entropy of the Universe is increasing with time. Entropy is also used in the information theory (shannon’s entropy) to characterize uncertainty. The law of entropy increment has also pivotal applications in communication channels, electrical networks etc. In the domain of quantum information theory, which is a newly emerged theory seeking to explore the unknown potentiality of the quantum physics in application areas, entropy increment is regarded as a law. In most general terms it entails in it the law of increment of disorder. The above is intended to show that the law has the most diverse applicability from the subatomic domain to the cosmological scales and is not known to have any violation. This law is wider in its scope compared to many other laws of physics as, for instance, the Newton’s laws of mechanics which states that the applied force is equal to the product of the mass and acceleration of the object on which the force acts. The above relation of mass, force and acceleration forms the basis of most of the applications in civil and mechanical engineering (as well as in electrical, electronics and telecommunication engineering along with the Maxwell’s laws of electromagnetism). But the validity of the Newtonian theory is limited by the velocity of the object. For large velocity which is comparable to the speed of light, the theory has to be replaced by the laws of relativity of Einstein. In this sense the second law of thermodynamics (more generally the maximum entropy principle) has greater scope. Particularly it is also valid in the domain of relativistic physics. It will not be erring to call it as one of the principles of physics with widest validity.

Looking back at the living organisms, each of them from the one cell protozoa to the human being are, from the physical angle, material bodies in which an order is maintained which makes life possible.  We, as human beings, live as long as the heart acts in tune with the lungs, the liver acts in tune with the intestine and, as a whole, each part of the body acts in co-operation with every other part of the body. This orderliness is in fact the manifestation of life. When it ceases (and it necessarily ceases one day), there is no life in the body. All these are true even with a single cell. The cell biology explores the ordered and synchronized actions of its different parts as long as the cell lives. It is observed that each action has a material mechanism. The food we take is consumed by a process of metabolism in which the enzymes secreted from different organs take part. It is a chemical process which is possible through some process of co-ordination. This maintenance of order cannot be spontaneous in the material system of the body since a spontaneous process will increase entropy which is the other name of increment in the disorder in the living body and eventually will imply something contrary to the existence of order in it for sustaining life. As has been observed earlier, the same argument will lead to a contradiction in the case of every form of living body from a unicellular organism through the world of plants and animals up to the humans. Thus, in order to avoid any contradiction with the second law of thermodynamics, that is, with the law of increment of entropy more generally, we must assume that the material processes in the living body must be under an influence which is different from the sum of parts of the body.

There is a claim in the materialistic philosophy (the Dialectical Materialism for an instance) that biology is a process and should be looked upon as a dynamical system. But this has no effect on the above argument since no process can ever take place in violation of a  law of  physics. Dynamical systems can only exist in obedience to the laws of nature. The above argument thus reinforces the positions of the Hindu schools of thoughts in upholding the fact that in the biological world consciousness must be treated separately from its seat, that is, the living material bodies. Before the advent of twentieth century, with the then stage of development of life science along with the less known universality of the law of entropy, the argument in favor of the existence of an extra material entity to explain life was not convincing as it is today. The inherent logical contradictions in the domain  of science itself in a materialist explanation of life is now apparent. But it must be mentioned that there is nothing in the above discourse which can limit the scope of consciousness to the biological world only. Rather the scope is widened when we can view it as the cause and source of biological world.

Now when science concludes that biological activities are not self explained, the biologically living body requires for its subsistence something external to it which is beyond the sum of the matters constituting it, with the trend in science for establishing continuity of its theories in different levels, there arises a need of integration of the scientific knowledge with the knowledge of what the science recognizes to be beyond matter. It is told in Kenopaniṣad , “He does not see through eyes, on the contrary, by whose presence the act of seeing is performed by the eye”. More generally it is observed that “ Yat prāņena na prāņiti yena prāņaḥ praņeyate  ” that is, the cause of the life is He, but He does not require life in the sense of biology for Him. Science does not have any special method for a connection with what is beyond its materialistic and objective scope. Rather it acts as a justification for the Hindu schools of philosophy as we have discussed earlier in their journeys from the worldly knowledge of incompleteness to the full comprehension of the Absolute.

The need of integrity in the concepts is recognized strongly in the scientific community. As we have noted earlier that Hindu philosophers also feel the very need. The science and philosophy both should be competent to explain the worldly phenomena. The objective of philosophy is much wider in which a part is to have a consistent and satisfactory world view. It is to be remembered that the consideration of science is limited by objectivity. In its domain there are changes in concepts over periods of time as well as extensions of scientific theories into new domains of enquiry. We limit ourselves to those theories of science which we have mentioned although this is a general feature in the development of science. We have mentioned that quantum mechanics is the mechanical theory of atomic and subatomic objects. It is not that quantum mechanics is a direct offshoot of the mechanics prevailing at that time which is the beginning of the twentieth century (that theory which is known today as classical mechanics). Its principles are radically different and in an apparent contradiction with classical mechanics.  But the physics community felt the need to bridge these two theories of motion. The effort has a technical name, the classical limit of quantum mechanics. The effort had begun in very early days by one of the early proponents of quantum mechanics, Neils Bohr, in his ‘correspondence principle’. The scientists are yet, even a century later, in search of a satisfactory pathway between the two. Scientists have argued in various ways, physically and mathematically, for that purpose leading to a gradually better understanding of the bridge. In the other domain of the theory of relativity, as far as we have discussed it, there is a better way of bridging it with the non-relativistic case. Here we have the explicit reference of velocity and we can, in the limit of small velocity, have the non-relativistic theory, although we must admit that the above statement is a simplification of the whole scenario. With the advanced theories of relativity, the general relativity and its extensions, the link is not so easy it discover.

What is important to us is the tendency in science of establishing the links between the already established theory with the new and more radical theories of science. In the domain of the philosophy of modern science, this tendency can be seen to be at par with those of the Hindu schools of thoughts who want to explain everything through a single integrated view. This view varies from school to school, but for a particular system it is unique. When the philosophy of modern science joins hands with the philosophy in general, we have already seen that it reinforces the Hindu wisdom in its journey from the immanent world to the domain of transcendence by providing synthetic knowledge based on experimental facts and at the same time strives for a more systematic view of the objective world with the help of its methodologies.

The radical revision in the attitude of science which has been created through the advancement of theories of relativity and quantum mechanics has created the scientific recognition of the incompleteness in the knowledge of the worldly realities in contrast to the world view held earlier in scientific circles. In the scientific theories of cosmology which stem from the contemporary developments of science the difficulties of explaining the evolution of the universe in terms of the known categories of matter becomes difficult. A separate object (dark energy and dark matter) is postulated for an explanation which is not manifest, neither measurable directly, but makes its presence felt in the dynamics of the universe. It is in this way (this is not the only issue) the modern science makes it amply clear, it is not possible to have a satisfactory complete description of the world in an objective way. Moreover, the external influence discernible in the biological domain can not be taken to have its scope of action confined to the manifestation of life process only. There is no intrinsic reason to conclude that the question of finding such influences of something nonmaterial in the domain of (apparently) lifeless matter is irrelevant. Such issues are intimately involved in questions of integration of physical and life science. Thus science as a whole in its honest pursuit of knowledge has to recognize something non- material but is connected to the material world. The search for integrity and continuity of knowledge thus necessitates any honest pursuit of science to take into consideration something which is beyond the matter in its most general sense. Thus the same philosophical need to integrate the worldly knowledge (Aparā Vidyā) with the knowledge system for addressing the transcendence (Parā Vidyā)  is felt in the domain of science as well. Now the question arises whether the nature of the need perceived is different from that which the schools of Hindu philosophies perceive. In this context it can be observed that there is similarity between the purposes of the Hindu philosophies and honest pursuit of science. This is that in both the pursuits we discern the common element of efforts for acquiring true knowledge.  In doing that both of these approaches reach the conclusion that transcending the boundaries of material considerations is inevitable. The methods are sometimes similar, sometimes the modes of arguments are different. The scientific enquiry is much more elaborate in the objective way with supports of experiments performed in the controlled atmospheres of laboratories with equipments constructed with the help of the objective scientific knowledge itself. But the conclusions remain the same. There is an additional more practical and profitable consideration in Hindu wisdom which is not there in the objective science. This is the aim of ultimate freedom (Mukti) which is the driving force for philosophizing. As the elaborate system of worldly description of material categories in Nyāya and Vaiṣeśika are parts of Hindu wisdom, the description of the world in Sāṁkhya is a part of Hindu philosophy, the modern science also, with all its objective methodologies and its conclusions reached through such enquiries, qualifies to be included in the fold of Hindu system of knowledge as a branch of Aparā Vidyā which lends support and justification to the pursuit of Parā Vidyā in the attainment of Brahman. Such an  integration, natural as it is, can possibly provide the human civilization with an approach to life which is further illuminated through the light of scientific experiences and reasoning and at the same time save the science from being wrongly interpreted.


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Affiliation of the author:

 Professor, Department of Mathematics

Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Shibpur

Howrah, West Bengal, Pin: 711103




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