The challenge thrown by the output of uranium on one side and the Upanishadic concept which tells us that a man is an intellectual being is not enough; both these should converge. - Dr. S. Radhakrishnan
Human quest for knowledge is called science. The word science is derived from the Latin root 'scio' which means 'I know'. The word Veda, derived from the Sanskrit root 'vid' meaning 'to know', may be partially said to correspond in literal sense to the word science. However, science is limited to the outer physical world of objects. Thus, any step forward through it cannot be human progress but only material well-being. This cannot lead to a man's total fulfillment. In other words, there is no totality of human experience in science, as it takes into account only a part of human experience; whereas Vedas extend to supra intellectual and other subtle planes of human consciousness. They deal with knowledge of both the outer physical and the inner psycho-spiritual worlds. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, who was not only a Vedic scholar, but also an illumined soul, once said, “All scientific truths of modern age can be found in the Vedas.” Vedas, thus, have a larger connotation as they stand for both worldly knowledge and spiritual wisdom.
The tragedy of modern science is that its center of gravity is outside of man and thus it treats him as an object. It is only confined to the study of the physical and sensory levels of experience. Science today has converged into a unified knowledge of the 'outside of nature' which only adds to knowledge of the physical world, whereas spirituality goes beyond and studies the diverse subtle facts of the 'inside of nature'. It converts knowledge into wisdom by realising the Infinite and Immutable who is the One beyond the ephemeral world of duality. Human welfare is possible not by mere knowledge but wisdom. Thus, human fulfillment lies in a synthesis of the two streams.
Moreover, spirituality is a science of values. Values form the pivotal point on which depends the progress and survival of mankind. Values are not mechanical and hence cannot come from the physical phenomenon studied by science. Einstein, after years of scientific research, also concluded that, “Science can denature plutonium but science cannot denature evil in the heart of man”. It is when the physical science overlooks this limitation implicit in the adjective 'physical', the bane of humanity begins. Vedic seers were watchful of this folly. They held firmly the view that science sans spirituality will have deleterious effects on mankind. Therefore, the Vedas– the treatise of their times– contained in them the confluence of two energy streams– physical as well as spiritual science. The growth and fulfillment of human life lies in blending the two in an ideal mix.
Where science increases knowledge, the end product of spirituality is wisdom. Therefore, human progress and welfare can be ensured only through the synthesis of the modern science and the science of spirituality. In the Shrimad Bhagavatam, Lord Krishna tells Uddhava that knowledge matures into wisdom through the integration of the two sciences. Universal well-being and human fulfillment depends on the judicious mix of the two energy streams. Sir Bertrand Russell also said, “Unless man increases in wisdom as much as in knowledge, increase of knowledge will be increase of sorrow.” Thus, in order to understand the total reality, the two must work together.
Of late, there is a growing tendency to draw parallels between modern physics and Vedantic philosophy. The striking parallelism is due to some of the conclusions that physics has arrived at. But, it is wrong to place modern physics on the same pedestal because Vedic seers were scientists par excellence. They were spiritualists to the core. They were the knowers of mysticism that surpasses even the concept of logic, time, space and matter. The inner world of the ultimate reality was their lab for experiments. Vedic Rishi Kanaad is reported to have discovered anu, atom, long ago, but did not reveal his findings for the fear of them being put to misuse. Einstein in the later part of his life repented for many of his discoveries. Vedic seers, owing to the power of discrimination blessed by spiritual science, knew what to reveal for universal application or restrict to worthy hands. But, modern scientists need to learn to put the nectar of their inventions into those bowls, which are clean and have receptivity. For, a true scientist is like a mother who does not give a knife to her children. And this power of discrimination and wisdom can only be gained through spiritual science.
But in the present times, scientists are not receptive to spirituality. The foremost reason behind this abhorrence is that spirituality today is not taught as a science of experience. And they strongly believe that experience is the only source of knowledge. True! Theory does not evince the right belief. Belief and faith are spontaneous when one is made to experience what is sought to be taught or preached. But such a practical experience in the realms of spirituality can only be endowed by a genuine mystic. He alone can enlighten the intellect of the scientist by the Divine Light of the soul which alone opens the door of inward search and tuning. With such transcendental experience, intellectual knowledge turns into wisdom. Then only the upcoming inventions and discoveries of science no longer lead to the heap of explosives and beacons of war. And, then only science would be able to comprehend some of the deep concepts of life, its existence and its meaning as compiled in the scriptures by our spiritual scientists. Otherwise, in the absence of that level of experience, it will, as it has always been, continue to condemn and deny the scriptural revelations as unrealistic, hypothetical constructions of some fantasy world.
The purpose of the above discussion is not to advocate an anti-science approach. The purpose is to lay stress on the fact that progress in any field, be it science or technology, sans divinity will only add to human problems. There is a strong need to spiritualise our modern science so that it works not only on the grounds of pure reason and logic but also on the eternal principles of wisdom. For, in wisdom lie peace, well-being and the fulfillment of life. In the words of Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, "The world today needs scientists who are seers as well."