SCIENCE AND RELIGION. .
When an intelligent person tries to comprehend clearly man’s recent historical past of two or three centuries, he becomes aware of two well marked trends in his feelings and attitudes. One such trend is the expansion of the political and cultural frontiers and influence of the West, beginning round about the 15th century of the Christian era. The other, an intellectual and emotional estrangement from religion as an organising principle of individual attitudes and human societies and a consequent idealisation of Science and technology, which gains prominence from about the 17th century. A combination of these two has hugely gone to make up, what we know today, as the modern world and the modem man. It was in the 15th century that the West began its movement of physical expansion, beginning with the discovery and domination of the so far little known surface of the globe, the ‘new world’, and a part of the well known and recognised, ‘old world’, by the restless seafaring and adventurous peoples of West. The expansion and impingement of one society into another is not a new thing in history but what is unique about the expansion of the modern West is that it has been literally world-wide, a thing which has never happened in the past. Previously, societies and civilizations have expanded but for want of sufficiently adequate means of communications, their expansion has been contained and limited. The expansion of the West which we are considering is unique in its ubiquity as being world-wide, and the means by which it has been possible for it to be so have resulted in, what may be called; the contraction and near annihilation of· the ‘distance’ that separates and confirms separate identity. It is this annihilation of distance that has made the modem world almost unique in history in terms of its impact on the social and spiritual planes of modern man. It is for the first time in the history of the world that this mutual impact and impingement of human societies and civilizations has become so assaultive and intimate, and so pervasive and contemporaneous. The other trend characteristic of our recent past is almost a revolution, seen to be a marked retreat, revulsion, both sentimental and intellectual, from religion, of the modem man. This phenomenon becomes obtrusively marked in the West, for the first time, after the Middle Ages, in the 17th century, and this has had deep repercussions on the mind of the East from the 18th century onwards. The reasons for this retreat from religion in the West are different from those that pertain to the mind of the East. But this marked change in the feelings and attitudes of modern man, in the West and East both, is unmistakable.
The reasons for this revolution or revulsion in the Western mind since the 17th century are twofold, moral and intellectual. The moral reasons are traceable to the historical development of Christian institutions in the West. Certain events took place during the last two hundred years and more which are sensitive and independent minds reject the institutional Christian religion, which to them was the Religion, as such. The main reason for this was the conflict between Papacy and the secular authority of Emperor Fredrick, the Second, which surfaced in the 13th century, the course of which conflict gradually projected the Papacy, the supreme repository and upholder of the Christian religion, as a self-centred and worldly institution, unmindful of and unconcerned with its professed and proclaimed spiritual principles, motivated by naked desire for worldly power, and basically moved by the sentiment of revenge against those who opposed its desire for political power, in as much as the Popes engaged in a persistent and malign persecution of the heirs of their opponent, Fredrick, the Second. Again, when in 1305 A.D. a French archbishop was elected as Pope he chose to set up hill seat at Avignon in France rather than at Rome in Italy and, thus, for over seventy years, there was a line of Avignon Popes who were unwilling to move to Rome which meant sacrifice of French luxury for Roman austerity, with the result that in 1378 A.D. a new Pope at Rome was set up and thus, for a period, there were two Popes leading to endless confusion in the common man’s mind, loss of prestige of the established religion, and general decline in the faith of the people that encouraged rise of heretical doctrines. Besides, the French Popes were instrumental in the extermination of the order of the Knight Templars at the inspiration of the French King who wanted their property, and further, the second French Pope, Pope John XXII, built up a grasping and predacious financial organization to increase the papal revenues since many would not recognise the Avignon Popes. These financial imposts were seen as disgustingly mercenary and commercial in character, such as the spolia, a right of seizure of the movable property of deceased bishops originally belonging to his relatives, the tithe, a ten per cent tax made universal on all incomes except those of certain ecclesiastical dignitaries and functionaries, revenues from vacant benefices, visitation fees, proceeds from the sales of indulgences, fees for legal settlements or for special dispensations. The convergence of bankers, merchants, usurers and prostitutes who flocked to
during this period to share in the loot, further added to the impetus towards a
sharp decline of faith of honest people in religion. The split in the
Church, called, the Great Western Schism, which resulted on account of this
double Papacy, one at Rome and one at Avignon, gave a very severe shock to the
cause of religion, and the matters were not improved when in 1409, the Council
of Pisa agreed that an Oecumenical Council rather than the Pope was the supreme
authority in Church, and then it proceeded to depose both the Popes and elected
a new one. But as neither of the old Popes would recognise his deposition, the
result was, three Popes instead of one as originally desired. This certainly
could not have diminished the shock the people’s minds had received by the
earlier events. Contemporaneous with these unedifying spectacles there had
arisen an intellectual movement, which was called Renaissance, the essence of
which was an attitude of mind which regarded the principle of the Greek way of
life and thought as an authority on human values, independent of Christianity.
If Hellenism was valid independently of Christianity, it was necessarily in
rivalry with the authority of the Christian Church. This intellectual movement
of regarding as something fundamentally valid, outside Christianity and the
Christian Church, was further reinforced by certain scientific discoveries and
speculations of the 18th and 19th centuries which were in
open conflict with certain dogmas of Christianity, particularly those
pertaining to the Genesis. It was found that the beginnings of the
evolution of the world as the Science revealed through independent and unbiased
observations, was in basic conflict with the account in the revelations of the
It was for these reasons, in the main, that the Western mind felt a moral revulsion and intellectual distrust towards the religion which they had been, throughout the centuries; taught to believe as the Religion of their ancestors, and for these reasons they also felt that the dogmas of religion were intellectually unacceptable. They further felt that the religious dominance of the West had led to nothing but social strife and unquenchable hatred. They saw further that this strife was motivated by naked, sordid worldly objectives which had little to do with the high spiritual professions of Christianity. They argued and concluded that Religion as such is of this nature, a sham and a cloak for worldly motives, devoid of any genuine spiritual content, capable of nothing but producing blood-shed and mutual hatred amongst men. They, in addition, had perceived that the account of the origin of the universe and man as given in the basic authority of the religion of their ancestors was demonstrably erroneous, being in conflict with the direct evidence of unbiased observation and speculations. The great pyramid of cosmology which had been built up by such great minds as
Thomas Aquinas out of the elements of Jewish lore, Greek philosophy and
Christian myth, no longer could command the,
assent of independent and intelligent minds.
Both these revulsions, moral and intellectual, which took birth in the mind of the Western man reinforced each other and it is difficult to say whether the one or the other played the conclusive, role in finally alienating the sensitive and intelligent minds of the West from Christianity, the only form of religion which the West knew as valid.
Since religion no longer held the central interest of the sensitive and intelligent minds of the West, their vast reservoirs of energy were diverted towards another channel, that of non-controversial Natural Sciences. In the 18th century France, for instance, Diderot, in his Encyclopedia, encouraged men to follow Natural Science in preference to theology, for, the one leads to certitude and the other to mere controversy. As the data collected in respect of the Physical Sciences accumulated and the speculative thought based upon this data assumed more and more definite collections, the result was a progressive demolition of the dogmas of medieval Western Christianity which had constituted the spiritual heritage of the West for the last 1500 years and more, and as a consequence the Western life was secularised.
It is this movement towards secularisation which has given birth to the dominant political systems of the modem world which swear by socialistic and regimented forms of society.
The ancestral spiritual tradition of the Western man of the past 1500 years or so had held before his mind the vision of a life of a far superior quality and abundance than the one-he was leading on earth. This was ‘the
of the religion, located in the life hereafter. It was the ‘ ’ that would compensate for all the ills and
deprivations of the earthy life that had enthralled the soul of the Western man
all these long centuries. Now that Christianity, which was equated with the
Religion by the Western man, stood discredited as a way of life and as a
system of understanding and insights, it appeared
to him that although the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ was itself an illusion, a kind of paradise on earth was nevertheless a
practicable possibility. The advancement in
Applied Sciences had opened up a vista of tremendous technological progress
which could make production of material goods possible in such abundance that
no man may suffer for want of them. Thus, an economic reorganisation of society
so as to eliminate the possibility of exploitation of man by man appeared as the obvious next step to achieve
progressive satisfaction of material necessities of man. It was, as it now appears, somewhat uncritically presumed
that full satisfaction of material necessities of man, was the only
precondition for the full unfoldment of .the
intellectual and finer potentialities of man. Socialistic abundance and
communistic consumerism will raise most, if not all men to the moral and
intellectual height, such as that of Plato and Socrates. Since this appeared to be. a
practicable and the loftiest objective, the Western man inferred, mistakenly as
it would seem now; that this is the only desirable objective for man to pursue
on this earth and that the means necessary for, the
realisation of this objective, therefore, stand in need
of no further justification. Kingdom
That both these inferences are erroneous can now be seen. That it is these inferences and this line of thought which lies at the back of the political movements and systems which have engulfed the whole world of today, during the last fifty years or so, is also apparent.
This movement of thought and the change in feelings and attitudes of the Western man during the last two centuries and more, resulting in the secularisation or life in all its aspects, has permeated into the Eastern societies also and has gripped the mind of the intellectual minority of the Eastern man till it has become the chief motivation for social transformations in the East.
Only very recently, in the Muslim world, in particular, there has emerged a visible painful reaction against stranglehold of Eastern cultures and societies by this alien secular sickness of human mind that has almost succeeded in banishing religion as the central organising principle of human life and societies.
The reasons that had led to this secular stranglehold on the human mind in the East were not identical with those that had prevailed in the West.
The technological inventions and the powers which they placed in the hands of the Western man were primarily instrumental in giving him economic and political dominance over the Eastern societies, apart from his superior organisational skills during the last two hundred years. The reactions this dominance aroused in the Eastern man were varied and confused. It was felt and assumed, particularly by those whose ancestral religion and culture were non-Judaic, that the superiority of the Western man was a necessary ingredient of his religion and culture, though disillusionment followed with the realisation that adoption of Christianity and the Western culture hardly provided a sure key to the power which was in the hands of the Western man. In the Islamic Judaic societies the prestige and lure of the Western religion and culture remained inconsiderable, but the impact on the non-Semitic religions and cultures was, for a time tremendous, although the keen minds even of non-Semitic societies were quick to comprehend that the homo-occidentalis subjugating the Eastern societies was essentially a non-religious and unmoral species. To Dr. Wolff, who visited
Lahore in 1832, Maharajah Ranjit Singh said, “You say, you
travel about for the sake of religion, why then do you not preach to the
English in Hindustan?” When Dr. Wolff repeated this to Lord
William Bentick in Simla, the Governor General observed, “Alas, this is the
opinion of all the natives all over .” 1 It was thus
realised that the real source of power was not the Western religion which the
West had itself discarded, nor the Western culture, which was unmoral essentially,
but that this power was grounded in the scientific knowledge and superior
technology: It was after a painful process of trial and error that the Eastern
mind came to cherish the distressing belief that the modes in which this power
of technology and organisational skills was expressed and utilised were, in
some mysterious way, inseparable from he mental and physical habits of the
Western man. For instance, it was realised that the superiority of the Western
fighting soldier, through whom the West had established and through whom the
West maintained its dominance, political and economic, over the Eastern
societies, did not lie in his superior personal courage and physical powers of
endurance over the Eastern solider, but in the methods of training, the
superiority arms, and the techniques of his warfare.
It was then discovered, again after a painful process of trial and error
that, the Western methods of military training could be successfully adopted
only by and in a society which has certain well-defined social bases, for
instance, that in a society based on caste, an army trained on European methods
of discipline could not be properly raised. Again, the superior arms of the
Western man were the-results of not only a
sustained scientific tradition of his racial history but were also the product
of a certain attitude of mind, such as views the facts revealed by the physical
observation as the only, or at least the main, aspect of what is ‘real’. The Eastern mind, thus, by a slow and
painful process discovered that he could not shake off the humiliating-domination of the West except by accepting and
adopting his oppressor’s methods of military training and techniques of warfare. He further realised -that
he could not adopt these methods and techniques unless he changed the theoretical
bases of his society, which could not be changed unless he abandoned and
discarded the fundamental postulates of his religious and spiritual traditions.
He, in short, discovered that he could not compete on equal terms with the
Western predator, his political master, unless he could compete with him in
acquisition and practical application of scientific knowledge, and he realised
first with horror, and then with resignation that, this
was impossible unless his whole attitude towards life and his basic views on
the nature of man and universe underwent a fundamental change. India
It was through this process, entirely different from the road followed by the Western man, that the Eastern societies have come to adopt a secularised version of life similar to that, accepted and adopted by the West.
By the end of the 19th century and in the first decades of the 20th century, we find that the mankind has undergone a change and a metamorphosis, comparable to which there is nothing to be pointed out in the previous periods of history of mankind. This consists of the fusion of the various societies of the mankind into almost a world and global society, if not in actual feelings, at least in nascent attitudes and aims. Such a world society, a global human society, had never been within the domain of possibilities in the past, though international Muslim society was a grand historical phase of organised and sustained efforts at setting up a monolithic, closed world society such as was unheard of and inconceivable before the Communist phenomenon in .the 20th century. We also find that, at this period, this global society is not only physically continuous, that is capable of inter-communication without impassable barriers, but also has accepted a secularised attitude of mind which, at least tentatively, regards the purpose of human life as somatic, mundane, as primarily centred on this planet, which we call the earth. This is the basic principle of secularisation accepted as the main, if not the only standard, by which human and social activity and progress is primarily judged by the in the modern man.
It is in this context, that the generality of mankind has deviated from a deep interest in the domain that belongs to the religion, the domain of Numenon, as contradistinguished from the domain of the phenomena. The mankind has tacitly accepted, by this point of time, that what is worthy of the attention of serious, pragmatic and sensible minds is that which is revealed to the ten categories of the Sankhya the jnanendryas and karamendryas, the five abstract powers of cognition and the five physical sense-organs, lumped together by the West, as the five physical senses, the information received, gathered through them, collated and formulated as the Physical Sciences, and that the only practical and rationally acceptable ideal which should animate and afflare the human society is one which is grounded in the knowledge and reality thus revealed.
In this context and in this climate of mind, the religion has no significant place.
But during the recent decades of this century there has come to pass another revolution, as yet no more than on adumberation, but nevertheless real, in the minds of intelligent men which is no less fundamental and all-embracing than the one already considered. It is this latter revolution in the minds of men, the men of the global society, the humanity of the whole world as represented by its keen, sensitive and intelligent minds, which has tended to arouse a new and intense interest in the values of religion and its revival, a reversal of the process of retreat from it in the preceding centuries.
The reasons for this revival of interest in religion are, mainly, three: One is that, the movement of scientific activity and interest which started in the 17th century, and the speculative edifice which it built to explain the nature of man and the universe has clearly and definitely come to a dead end, a cul-de-sac. The keen minds of men of Science, throughout the world, and from more directions than one, have converged on to a single realisation than the scientific activity and the speculations based upon its achievements is necessarily incomplete and errant, and thus unsatisfying, and that, therefore, something more, and, perhaps, something altogether and qualitatively different is necessary.
To begin with, the basic postulate of the Physical Sciences is the principle of continuity, though there are, and always have been philosophers who believed that the world is a plurality, that it is composed of things essentially distinct. But the principle of continuity, that is, that all distinctness must, at the base, arise from an all-pervading identity is not only a fruitful hypothesis of Science which has worked so well so far, but it also seems to be the very ground of what we deem as rational, the foundation of the web of human reason, the principle which the Sainkhya calls, satkaryavada, the principle that ex nihilo nihil fit, from nothing, nothing can come out, whatever is always is, and whatever is not never is, that the utterly different and distinct creation is unthinkable,only modification is there.
When Einstein gave us E = MC2, explaining that Energy and Matter are substitutibles, that is, matter is convertible into energy obeying a uniform law, he merely demonstrated the soundness of this basic postulate of Physical Science and when he refused to accept further scientific discoveries of Niels Bohr, Schrodinger and Heisenberg proposing that matter behaved both as particles and as waves, that within the atom this motion was governed by probability, that structure of matter was like a dice game decided by chance, he was not only being fanatical, opposing fact with faith but was simultaneously subordinating science to religion by his credo and firm faith that fundamental indeterminism that relied on a throw of the dice simply cannot be the true structure of the Universe. “I shall never believe that God plays dice with the world”, he said. He did not succeed in constructing. his ‘unified field’ theory that would unite electromagnetism gravity, space and time under one set of equations, but he did succeed in showing that science cannot prove conclusively that what it says is the final truth and that what the priest says is altogether trivial. Science cannot make religion redundant or invalid, nor can it otherwise shoo it away. Whether, therefore, we postulate some rudimentary form of consciousness for the ultimate particles of matter, or postulate an initial dualism between mind and matter, this basic problem of nature of Reality bristles not only with unsolved but unsolvable problems and, in the ultimate analysis, the human nature and the physical nature remain enigmas, incapable of being accounted for, one in the terms of the other, and whether we accept the mathematico-physical aspect of the universe as ultimately real, or the mental aspect, our reason refuses to accept it so, simultaneously with its refusal to accept a plurality of principles as ultimately rational. The recognition of the existence of the sub-conscious and unconscious levels of the human mind by the secular west in the recent years has merely deepened this enigma of the nature of the ultimate Reality. Again, the scientific account of our universe appears clearest and most convincing only when it deals with inanimate matter, and that too it just appears so. Here the account appears as relatively satisfactory, because it, more or less, satisfies the kind of interest that we take in these phenomena. For instance, when we are told that matter consists of little electrified particles arranged vis-à-vis one another in certain ways, our curiosity about matter is largely satisfied. Or, when we are told the age, position, size; velocity and chemical constitution of a star, we feel that we have acquired the necessary scientific knowledge about this star. But, is the last craving of our curiosity on the subject finally set at rest thereby? In other words; has the ultimate truth about these matters been revealed to us by this knowledge? When physical science encounters these questions it then admits that the only answer to these questions is in the negative, but it is forced to admit further that the methods of scientific investigation have their inherent limitations such as make science basically incapable of returning final answers on the nature of the universe and man. Not that the, physical science, has not, as yet returned the final answers, but that in the very nature of things, it shall never be able to do so. This is so in respect of the sciences dealing with the inanimate matter, but the state of affairs is even less satisfactory as regards sciences dealing with life. Many of the questions that are quite fundamental appear to be unanswerable by science. What, for instance, makes us regard a living organism as a whole and not merely as an aggregate of its parts? There is this notion of ‘wholeness’ or individuality and the logical trick employed by the Buddhist scholar Nagsena, in his Malindapannha of arguing that since a chariot is nothing but the sum-total of its parts, such as the axel, the wheels, etc; likewise all individualities, animate or inanimate, are mere aggregates, is not an ultimately satisfying answer. Even if every bodily activity of a living creature was explained in terms of physical and chemical changes, an accomplishment which prima facie appears ab initio impossible, our original question will still remain unanswered unless the purposive order of these changes which obviously intrudes into the future, is asserted as either obviously misconceived and absurd or a mere tautology, that is, when we say ‘purpose’ we merely mean to say, non-purposive existence, which is no explanation; it is a piece of affrontry. True psycho-analysis introduces primary concepts which are non-technical and these concepts are far too vague and indefinite to be called scientific. To say that the most amazingly diverse manifestation of human conduct, all come about through libido, whatever that may be, is to say nothing ‘scientific’; it is merely a vulgar paraphrase of the much more dignified and respectable statement that all these come about through the Will of God. Since the explanation seeks to explain everything, it, in fact, explains nothing.
These predicaments of the Physical Sciences are inherent in the nature and scope of the scientific method, which nature and scope was determined by certain historical causes.
The founders of the ‘scientific method’, quite consciously began by deliberately abstracting and selecting from the totality of human experience, only such elements as possessed quantitative aspects. Later attempts, therefore, to make that method unravel and explain the totality of human experience, were bound to prove inadequate. Since mathematical relations subsist between those quantitative aspects of the experienced universe, it was assumed that Mathematics was the key to the ultimate secrets of the universe. Neo-Platonism, containing important Pythagorean elements which was prevalent in
at that time, reinforced this bias. The belief that Mathematics is the one true
key to the secrets of the physical nature has been well justified by the recent
success in causing the atomic fission, though that is no good reason to suppose
that only those elements which acquaint us with the quantitative aspect of the
material phenomena are real, or more real, as the pseudo-scientific outlook
tacitly assumes. Nor, that such elements alone refer to the real objective
world. It is a false and unwarranted assumption of science that our perceptions
of colour, our response to beauty, our sense of mystic communion with God have
no objective counterpart, though this astonishing presumption has been tacitly
made by men of science or the advocates of science, the protagonists of the
materialistic outlook, which in the words of Bertrand Russell means:
“Man is the product of causes which had no provision of the end they were achieving, that his origin, his growth his hopes and fears, his loves and beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collections of atoms, that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave, that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noon-day brightness of the human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins; all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand.” 2
All these terrible and dismal conclusions were endowed with a certitude which was assumed to be the sole prerogative of the scientific method, and wherein, quite without any warrant, the real was identified with the quantitative, till recently when the science began getting self-conscious, and as the Sikh scripture says, 3 “Suavity of speech and humility of conduct is the apogee of knowledge and virtue”, and as T.S. Eliot has said, “The only wisdom we can hope to acquire is the wisdom of humility”, the men of science no longer teach that the scientific method of approach is the only valid method of acquiring true knowledge about reality. With enthusiasm that at first appears strange, eminent scientists now insist that science can give us but a partial knowledge of reality, and that the knowledge outside the domains of science is not illusory or in any way less real. It is ungrudgingly conceded now that exact science deals wholly with structure and not with the nature or attributes of the phenomena. This concession which the science now willingly, and even with a positive show of enthusiasm makes has far reaching implications in respect of the subject of religion, for, it means that the nature of reality is not pre-judged, the science no longer requires us to believe that our response to beauty or the man’s mystic communication with God, have no objective counterparts. It is perfectly possible, so far as the science is concerned, that they are, as they are claimed to be, genuine clues and visions of reality and the science is no longer in a position to contest the claim that these clues constitute better awareness of the reality than that revealed by the scientific method.
It is thus revolution in the thoughts of intelligent minority of the modern mankind that has turned the scales in favour of a deep and significant revival of religious interest, the magnitude of the results of which revolution will manifest fully as the present century closes. Secondly, the secularisation of life has led to political theories and systems which have thrown up organisations of society the basis of which is progressive and all-inclusive regimentation. The state, as the embodiment of the spiritual yearnings of these societies, finds it necessary to acquire and exercise more and more and growing control over almost every activity of the individual’s life till no real personal freedom of any kind is left to the individual. This is not merely the reality of modern political systems and societies but is also the logical outcome of the postulates on which such societies are based. If a state has to be socialistic, it must exercise control over the labour activities of its citizens. If it is to be a welfare state, it must have the power to control and regiment the resources, the whole of them if necessary, physical and mental, of its citizens, and thus the State tends to be truly totalitarian, not merely by the logic of necessity, but by the inner dynamics of its postulates. It is not only that practical considerations make it necessary for the state to control its citizens in almost all aspects of their lives, but also, it is a logical outcome of the theories of the nature of the world and the significance of individual life in it, which these societies accept as fundamental. There is, therefore, no substance in the hope or promise that this all-inclusive and total regimentation of man is only a transitory phase, a necessary but passing evil. On the other hand, this regimentation is inherent in the very theoretical bases of such societies. In a welfare society, the area of freedom of the individual must be progressively restricted till it almost vanishes into a zero, as the quantum of “welfare” granted by the state becomes ampler and ampler. This then is the fundamental inner contradiction of all Socialism. Though the irrational motivation in the theory of Socialism is the abolition of the exploitation of man by man, its dynamism is a regimentation, but the only purpose which direction and regimentation might arguably serve are the purposes of war, and not of peace and progress. Again, its reality in the world nowhere has achieved its aim without converting the entire community into slaves and without creating a privileged class to run the socialist state machine. Further, socialist experimental experience shows that tremendous material progress is compatible with an oppressive system of rule and complete denial of social justice. Industrial and technological advance, and even cultural progress, do not, per se, bring about social justice, though it might be argued that they constitute a starting point for its attainment. Faced with this predicament and confronted by necessary and progressive restrictions in . the area of individual freedom in relation to physical and mental or planes both, keen and sensitive minds have realised that in this context the only field of freedom which is capable of being left intact is the freedom of the inner soul, the domain which is the primary concern of religion.
Thirdly, the fervent reliance on technology which was believed to be a panacea for all human ills, capable of ushering in a new era of limitless abundance and unalloyed happiness for the mankind on earth, but in itself quite neutral and innocuous, incapable of generating strife and hatred as the religion had done in the past, has belied these high hopes. In the year 1979 the main concern of sensitive human minds is not how to encourage continuous advancement in technology, but how to control the devastating consequences to which it can and may lead the mankind. The main problem today is not how to ensure further advancement in .the ·use of the vast atomic power harnessable, but how to control it so as it does not result in the annihilation of mankind. Technology is no longer a harmless and beneficent power from the progress and advancement of which nothing but good can result to man. It is now seen as, one of the deadliest and most evil of forces that has ever been let loose upon earth in the history of mankind. As in the case of the djinn in the Arabian Nights, the best place for it was to lie corked up in the bottle at the bottom of the sea instead of being uncorked out in the open, and it will be an act of deep wisdom to cork it in again before consigning the magic bottle to the place from where it was unwittingly dragged out. The alternative progress of making “peaceful” uses of it, are fraught with dangers unlimited, till human nature itself is first transmuted and reintegrated. This has led the sensitive enquiring minds to cogitate that there must be some other set of values to which the values of science and technology must be subordinated and they have awakened to a growing realization that unless these values are discovered and truly comprehended, there are no means of saving mankind from almost certain annihilation.
There is another orientation of thought, now assuming shape in the disquietude filled human mind, which, though indirectly, is bound to lend support to a deep revival of human interest in religion and it is the modem philosophic outlook. Until the end of the 19th century, Philosophy was primarily concerned with attempts to devise a systematic schemata whereby all existence could be explained. Platonic idealism and Marxist materialism are the two polarities of this trend. In the beginning of the present century, there came about a sort of general agreement that these system-builders were wrong basically, for, it was argued, our knowledge can never become complete enough for there to be an all-embracing explanation of man and the universe. There, thus, grew up a school of philosophers who held that all metaphysical speculation rested on a basic error, an error which supposes that there can be true proposition about something which is over or beyond all experience, and that, therefore, the proper and legitimate task of. philosophy is to analyse concepts of thought. The proper task of philosophy is logical analysis, they asserted. These logico-linguistics avoided discussing the problems such as those of ‘freedom’ and ‘absolute values’, without clearly realising that thus, by implication, they were making a metaphysical statement in so far that they seem to assert that these problems are unreal. If all propositions of metaphysics can be shown to be senseless by the method of logical analysis then what about the propositions of this logical analysis itself? No sooner this question was seriously raised its implications were nothing in being perceived. Wittgenstein (1889-1951) agrees that,
“The result of philosophy is not a number of ‘philosophical propositions’ but to make propositions clear,” “My propositions are lucidatory in this way : he who understand finally recognises them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak, throwaway the ladder after he has climbed onto .it). He must surmount these propositions; then he sees the world rightly. Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” 4
This last sentence might well have been taken out of the sayings of a religious mystic. The result of this development of philosophic thought is that it is now conceded that metaphysics is the truest form of philosophical speculation, and that philosophical activity satisfies a genuine and basic hunger of human mind, the fundamental curiosity as to what is the nature of the man and the universe, how are they inter-related, and how this inter-relationship may best be adjusted. This last limb of this implicated concession brings man’s mind straight into the fields of religion and the philosophical trend out of which this concession stems is favourable for and fertile to, the revival of a genuine and deep interest in religion.
These three main reasons and the fourth subsidiary reason that, there has come about an earnest search for a world-view which besides satisfying the highest and the deepest quest and curiosity of man is also capable of operating as a ferment for a peaceful advancement towards ever-growing prosperity and happiness of all the men on this earth, knit into a global society imbued with a variegated plural universal culture, that have fixed the human focus on religion today.
Apart from these four, there is yet another and fifth circumstances of a general and negative character which is more than likely to give a new stimulus to revival of a wide interest in religion. A new generation, grown accustomed to the achievements of science and technology, is more likely to be impressed with what science cannot do than what it can, and thus their minds will inevitably turn towards religion as of supreme interest.
The annihilation of distance and the consequent emergence of a defacto global society has made this earnest yearning of mankind at this moment of its history, not only urgent, for a religion which is available to all castes and colours, all races and nationalities, but also such a hope and yearning seems more capable of actual realisation today than it ever has been the case in the history of the world before.
In this context, an acquaintance with the outlines of the origin and history, doctrines and tenets of the Sikh religion is desirable, for this religion not only professes to be an oecumenical religion, available to all men without discrimination but also claims to be a modern religion capable of meeting with the deepest aspirations, the spiritual and secular needs of the mankind of to-day.
The fact that this religion was founded in the 15th century when the historical development towards annihilation of distance that has made possible the emergence of a human global society possible and imperative, that it was finalised in the 17th century when the modern scientific outlook and activity assumed a definiteness and finitude, both of which factors have led to the rise of problems that have now resulted in the revival of interest in the religion as, perhaps, the only hope of mankind, may not be merely fortuitous or accidental.
1. Travels and Adventures by the Rev, Joseph Wolff, D.D., LL-D.
, 1837; p. 375. London
2. Religion and Science,
3. mitthat nivi nanaka gun changiaian tatt.4. Tractatus Logico-philosophicus