04 August 2010

Vedanta and Modern Physics

Two weeks ago I had an email conversation with Sharan Prakash, a high school student who is interested in Advaita Vedanta philosophy. Sharan points out that the book 'Vedanta and Modern Physics' by Dr. U. Chandrasekharyya (Lokashina Trust, Bangalore, 2006), which discusses the Vedanta philosophy of the Indian philosopher Adi Shankaracharya (born around 788), refers to the Nyaya-Vaisesika theories of atomic elements advanced by the Samkhya prakriti philosophies, in which a deeper reality is identified where mind and matter are not considered to be separate.

In contrast to dualistic religious views of the world, where matter is one domain and mind another, Advaita Vedanta philosophy by definition implies the continuity of mind and matter, i.e. a non-dualistic interpretation of reality.

Sharan says that according to Vedanta, the world in which separate atoms exist is part of the illusion of Maya, and that a deeper underlying reality exists behind this. In other words, Indian philosophers of the middle ages refer to atoms when they talk about the mind and not as the basic units of reality (which is reflected in the mind).

Not being a specialist in Indian philosophy I accept Sharan's comments as an invitation to deepen my discussion of Indian philosophy and science in lecture 14. I hope that someone more knowledgable than myself (and possibly more knowledgable than Sharan Prakash, who says that as a mere high school student, he may not be a valid authority) can add to this discussion.