Sri Guru Granth Sahib and Modern Science.
Hardev Singh Virk.
Religion and science from the very beginning have been engaged in finding the Truth. The Bani written in religious books describes the experiences of this quest. The religious researchers, making use of the method of self-retrospection attained the knowledge of the form of Truth and expressed it in words, that is Gurbani. Of course, it is not possible to describe the True Form :
Alakh apaar agam agochar na tisu kal na karma
Jati ajati ajoni sambhau na tis bhao na bharma.1.
Sachai Sachiar vitahu qurban.
Na tis roop varna nahi rekhiya sachai sabad nisan.
Sortath M.1, SGGS, p. 597 .
(Undescribable, inaccessible, far away from sight Timeless and without action He sustains all No caste or lineage, not born of the womb, Self created,without fear or doubt is He . I sacrifice myself for such a concept of Truth. He is formless, classless, has no features. The True word alone is verily His symbol. )
Still through the True word can He be identitified. Sri Guru Granth sahib is such an epitome of Word about which Vismadnad had held a seminar and in the February 1992 issue thereof complete information has been given in this regard.
Before examining the unique Bani of Sri Guru Granth Sahib in the light of the modern science, it seems necessary to have a bird-eye view of the history of science. Broadly speaking, Science can be placed in four phases- (a) The age of Aristotle (b) The age of Newton, (c) Theage of Shrodinger-Heizenberg (d) The age of Abdus Salam. If the names of the scientists are not linked thereto, we can call them (a) Age of logic, (9) Age of determinism (c) Age of indterminism and (d) Age of unification.
According to the scientific tradition, investigation is begun taking the visible world as true. During the time of Aristotle, the main stress was on testing knowledge gained through senses on the touch stone of logic. The basis of his logic was that everything had its own place in the universe. The smoke rises above because its own place is in the sky and an apple falls on the ground as its own place is the earth. The heavy things fall on the earth more speedily than the light ones. It is a matter of surprise that for two thousand years, this logic based knowledge had swayed the entire intellectual world. In the sixteenth century, Galileo challenged Aristotle by his own experiments and disproved his theory. Newton made Galileo’s experiments as the basis of his research and with the help of his own sharp intellect, he devised the universal principles and paved the way for the modern scientific knowledge. After codifying the mechanical knowledge of physics, some models began to be prepared based thereon. For the first time, Newton termed the time and space as neutral elements and began to talk of the universal expanse.Though he adopted the principle of relative velocity, accepting the existence of God, he considered Him the creator of the Universe and guiding force behind the planets. Based on the principles enunciated by Newton, the French philosophers moved ahead with the concept of Determinism). It began to be accepted that if the information about the beginning of the universe could be obtained, with the help of mathematical equation, the knowledge about the entire spectrum of the universe could be determined for all time to come.
The follower of Determinism, Laplas, went to present his book on Mechanics to Napoleon who asked him ‘Why is there no mention of the Creator ?’ and he replied, ‘I do not feel the need thereof.’
Determinism held its sway for over two hundred and fifty years. In December 1899, in the meeting of the Royal Society of London, the leading scientists after an exchange of ideas, came to the conclusion that the principles of physics had become so very potent that everything happening in the universe can be explained in an easy way. Only two aspects needed tobe explained. Firstly, the result of the Michalson-Morley experiment and second, the spectrum of Black- Body. All other problems had been solved and there seems no need for further research. After a few days, the German scientist Max-Plank published his research paper which caused a turmoil and evolved the theory of quantums to explain the Black Body Radiation. Thus a revolution came on the threshold of the twentieth century in the study of physics. In 1905 Einsten published his Research Paper and did the rest.
Einstein’s theory of relativity gave a big jerk to Newton’s classical physics. Time and space were re-defined and ‘Drishtman hai sagal mithaina’ (Whatever is visible is all false – i.e. not lalsting). Before this the philosophers had presented their views about the form of Truth. Berkley who was a strong opponent of materialism, held the view that ‘The existence of everything seen in the world is a mental exercise. So long as the mind does not accept them, either their existence is impossible or they abide in the mind of some immortal soul.’ The English thinker John Lock puts the material aspects in to parts – primary and secondary. The form and feature of matter, weight, speed and other material traits are the primary aspect and colour, sound, light and taste, which are obtained through senses, are the secondary aspect. In fact, Lock has proposed Newton’s mechanics model for the behaviour of the human society.
Einstein’s went a step further in this chain of logical thinking. He stated that like the form and odour, time and space also are the subject of our experience. Space has no material power of its own, except for the existing matter. Except for the placement of the happenings in a serial order, time has no independent existence. These views have proved that to determine the truth of the visible world, the human senses are very much limited in their sphere, the Newtonic theory is wrong and the global expanse subjects itself to the four directions of time and space.
In the initial decades of the twentieth century, the research began about the atom and its structure. New theories were advanced to explain the classical theory of Newton. Thus Niels Bohr in the first instance and later on Schrodinger used the Quantum Mechanism to unravel the deep mystery of Microism. Just as a few years earlier, the theory of relativity had struck a blow to materialism, the Indeterminism of Quantum mechanics (?) tore into shreds the theory of Determinism.
` The origin of the existence of matter are the micro particles. For their study, instead of Determinismssssss the principles of Quantum Mechanism apply. It has become difficult now to understand whether they are the particles in form or only waves. This theory of particle waves has thrown a challenge to the materialist. The theory of sargun-nirgun (of form and formeless) : Nirgun aap sargun bhi ohi (He himself is Formless and of Form) (Sukhmani, M.5) matter in the physical world, energy and particle-wave, all the dualism has come to an end. Thus this dualism is baseless that the micro particle – Electron, protone, and neutron, etc. are the micro waves of energy or matter. The correct choice of experiment can be applied to explain the two. How wonderful is it that only one form is seen in one experiment, otherwise the physical world would become hazy.
Another theory has been advanced on the threshold of the twenty-first century which is called the Theory of Unification. My friend Abdul Salam has been awarded the Nobel Prize for this research. He, along with two American scientists Weinberg and Glassho has done the unificationof the Electronic Meganitism. This theory got proved through experiments and the three scientists got the joint Award. But things did not stop there. Abdus Salam in collaboration with an Indian scientist Yogeshpati, moved further the theory of unification and prepared the theoretical structure of neuclear energy to link it with the ealier one. So far the experiments have not proved this. In fact, these experiments have been done by building accelarators costing millions of dollars. The leading scientists of the world are busy in the race to unify this energy with the earlier three. Many theories have been advanced to accomplish this and these efforts have been called ‘Great Unification’. It is strange that material particles have been proposed to be given the name of a string which can be of very short length but nothing else. The String Theory demands the existence of ten or twenty six directions.
The theory of Unification has solved another riddle.The creation of the Universe, its expansion and end have been explained in the religious books. According to the theory of Great Unification, when the universe came into being all the energies were equal in quantum. The expansion took place so very rapidly that in the first second, the Universe expanded from zero to millions of square kilometers. Great energy came into being in the first instance, and after a few seconds the other energies materialized in their own respective forms. How did this expansion begin? About this the science of Physics is silent because theoretical equations do not apply to the phase before the advent of time and space. This moment could be called a Singularity. Immediately after the beginning of the universal expansion, the directions of time and space come into being and the principles of physical science can apply. The Big Bang begins the global excpansion. In the beginning the micro particles take form and in a few minutes the macro elements are born. The expansion took place very rapidly and the gases and matter began to get cold from millions degree of of heat. It has reached today 2.7 degree Calvin. The intitial hazy state of the universe is continuously giving birth to gaslaxies, solar spheres, stars and Black Holes.
The special feature of Great Unification would be that all the elements of physical science would be assimilated therein. Biology, Metallurgy, in fact the explanation of every thing happening in the world would be available therein. According to Stephen Hawking, we will be able to know about our own existence and that of the universe. In other words, the physical scientists would be able to gauge the nature of God’s Will.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib’s Bani and the scientific truth We can easily find the constituents of scientific outlook in Sri Guru Granth Sahiob. In Guru Nanakbani, the methodology of rejection and acceptance has been used on very sound, scientific, and logical basis. Japuji Sahib, Assa di Var, Sidhaghoshta and Maru Solhai depict the nature of Guruji’s scientific approach in unraveling the mysteries of nature. This mystique and the facts based thereon were beyond the imagination of the scientists till the eighteenth century. In Japuji Guru Nanak demolishes the theory of beginning of the universe propounded in the Indian mythology through his scientific argument. According to the ancienty Indian mythological tradition, the earth rests on the horns of a bull, the bull stands on the hood of a thousahnd-hooded serpent which standson the head of a tortoise. What Guruji says in this regard is quite logical and scientific –
‘Je ko boojhai hovai sachiaar.
Ddharti ooper keta bhaar.
Dharti hore parai hore, hore.
Tis te bhaar talai kawan zore.’ (SGGS. P.3)
(One who can know how much is the burden on the earth can know the truth. But there are many more earths, and which power bears that burden ? )
In the western religions, earth is accepted as stationary and the Sun revolving around the earth. Talmi and Aristotle also supported this. That is why in the modern science it has taken over two thousand years to disprove the ancient traditions and to draw new lines. But what we find in Nanakbani, prove to be true in the scientific context.
Bhai vich sooraj, bhai vich chand
Koh karodi, chalet na ant. (SGGS, p.464)
(The sun remains in indisipline and so does the moon traversing millions of miles to no end)
The knowledge that the moon shines with the light taken from the Sun was first imparted by Galileo in the seventeenth century. He made use of his telescope and found that there were also hills on the moon. For this blasphemy, the Roman Church tried him and sentenced him to imprisonment for life. We find a wonderful reference to this in Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
Chand sooraj doe Deepak kiai,
sasi ghar soor samaya.SGGS p.1033.
Both the Sun and the Moon were made the lamps
And the Sun came to the moon (to give it light).
Sasi ghar soor Deepak gainarai. SGGS, p.1041
(The sun shines in the moon’s house as a lamp)
With the help of radio-telescopes, the astronomers, investigating into the light of the newly discovered stars, found out that the Universal expanse had begun millions of years ago. How did it take place, the modern science has not been able to come to a final decision in this regard. But according to the generally accepted view, the universe came into being with explosion in an extremely heavy element. All the basic particles also came into being in a moment and from this hazy form of gas, the sun, stars and the earths began to be born. This process is still on in may galaxies. Stars, having spent their lives in some corners of the globe, get destroyed, and again getting transferred into matter of the Great element which are called the Black holes. It is also belived that the universe revolves in a circle. Millions of years after the expanse of the Universe, a return process of contraction begins and all the expanse mingles with the Great Element.
We find wonderful facts given in detail in Sri Guru Granth Sahib about the universal expanse, its origin, its being throughout ages which stand the test of the modern scientific belief but also can prove be the trail-blazer for the modern science.. In Maru Solhai, Guru Nanak talking of the Adi Sach (The Original Truth), says that before the expansion of the universe, there were no earth, skies, sun, stars and nothing like day and night. The Great Element was in the zero state:
Arbad narbad dhundookara.
Daharan na gagan, hukam apara.
Na din rain, na chand na sooraj,
sunn Samadhi lagayeda.1 (p.1035)
Jhilmil jhilkai chand na tara.
Sooraj kiran na bijuli gainara.
Akath katha chinh nahi koyee,
Poor rahya man bhaiyeda.8 (p.1033)
(There was no shining or twinkling of moon or stars, nor did the sun beams show light.. It is a tale which beggars description as there is no trace thereof. He pervaded everywhere as He willed.)
When the expansion began, countless earths, suns, skies and seas came into being:
Ja tis bhana ta jagat upaiya.
Bajh kala adaan rahaiya.
Khand brahamand patal arambhai,
guptahu pargati aiya)p.1036
(He created the world in His Will. The sky stood without support.The creation of several regions of the globe and seas began. What was secret till then, became known all over.)
Kayi kot khani aur khand.
Kayi kot Akas brahmand.
Kayi kot desh bhu mandal.
Kayi kot sasiyar soor nakhatra., p.275
(Millions are classes of beings and the regions. Millions are the skies and the globes. Millions are the countries or continents. Millions are the moons and suns and planets.)
Khand pataal asankh mai ganat na hoyee.
Too karta Govind tudh sirji tudhai goyee. P.1283
(The earths and seas are countless, I am unable to count. Thou art the Creator and sustainer; thou createth and destroyeth.)
Patala pataal lakh agasa agas.
Odak odak bhal thakai Ved kahen ik vat. P. 5
(There are hundreds of thousands of seas and skies. No one can have an idea even after trying much and even Vedas say this vaguely)
This has also been made clear that there have been many rounds of the creatrion of the universe and its expansion.
Kayee baar pasrya pasaar.
Sada sada ik Eik Onkar (.p.276)
(The creation and expansion has taken place many a time and Ultimtely only One Creator remains for ever.
Guruji calls this a game of the Creator and does not enter the controvery as to why the universe was created? It is He Who knows this.
Karan kartai vass hai jin kal rakhi dhar., p.148
(The cause thereof is under His control and He sustains this world).
Kartai ki mit na janai kiya. 285
(No one can know the mystery of His Doings)
It is the belief of the modern science that long time after the earth came into existence, there were only gases which were occupying the entire environment. After lapse of a long time, water came into being and lastly, the creatures were born out of water and moved on to the earth to begin the process of development. The chain of this process is mentioned in Gurbani:
Sachai tai pavna bhaya pavnai tai jal hoye
Jal tai tribhuvan sajya, ghat ghat joti samoee. P. 19
(The air was created by the Primordial Truth and water was born of the air. From water were born all the three regions, and His Light shone in everyone.)
Darwin has been widely acclaimed in biology because of his theory of evolutioin. According to him, the light of life passes over millions of years through the earliest creatures to reach the human form of present day. There is a wonderful mention of this long journey of creatures:
Kayee janam bhaye keet patanga.
Kayee janam gaj meen kuranga.
Kayee janam pankhi sarap hoeyo
Kayee janam haiver brikh joeyo.
Kayee janam sakh kar upaiya.
Lakh chaurasi jone upaiya. (SGGS, p.176)
(For many lives was the form of worms and wasps. For many lives was the form of elephant, fish or deer. For many lives was the form of birds and serpents. For many lives was the form of horses and trees. For many lives was the form of vegetation and Passed through eighty-four lakhs types of lives. )
The biologists till now have not been able to count the number of different types of creation. They are busy only in the guessing game but according to Indian tradition, which is found very well in the Gurmat poetry, the total number of ‘yonis’ (the passage for being born) is eighty four hundred thousand. This is called the cycle of Eighty-four. Sri Guru Granth Sahib is the forerunner of biology because, Bhagat Namdev says in his hymn, this number represents the creatures in water and over land equally divided into forty two lakhs each:
Byalis lakh jia jal mehi hotai,
Beethal bhaila kai karau.1 SGGS p. 485
(There are forty two lakh types of creatures in water Where can you find pure water to bathe Beethal? )
The modern science has proved that the principles which apply to the macro world apply to the micro world also. For example, the planets are revolving in space around a centre which is Sun because of the gravitational pull and similar planets revolve in the atom round the electrons. In the same way in biology, it has become necessary to understand the process to first of all to have an idea of its basic cell. Gurmat too belives in this maxim.
Jo brahmand so janahu.
Gurmukh boojhahu sabad pachhanahu SGGS, p.1041
(What is in the universe so is in the part thereof. This can be understood by following Guru’s Word.)
Jo brahamndai soyee pindai,
jo khojai so pavaye. SGGS, p.655
(Whatever is there in the universe, can be found in the body too. The seeker alone can comprehend this.)
It is clear from the above that Sri Guru Granth Sahib is a unique treasure the thought process of which is the forerunner of scientific tradition. Because of some historical and social reasons, this tradition flourished in Europe, but in India it remained overshadowed under the brahminic influence. The universal approach of the modern science is its special feature.. But in Sri Guru Granth Sahib these aspects of knowleldlge are already present. It is need of the hour that our Universities have research conducted on these aspects of Gurbani and make good use thereof for the good of humanity.