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Critique on Gayatri Mantra – a Scientific View by Dr. Tanmaya

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Following is the article (given in italicized text) as received by me through email from a discussion group on Hinduism and related thoughts. My comments/thoughts are given at the end of the article, followed by a set of replies (placed one after the other in the comments section) from two readers who have read my thoughts (and presumably, the original article itself). I leave the readers to derive their own conclusions. Arunn.

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Gayatri Mantra-A scientific view. by Dr Tanmaya

Gayatri mantra has been bestowed the greatest importance in Vedic dharma. This mantra has also been termed as Savitri and Ved-Mata, the mother of the Vedas. The literal meaning of the mantra is: O God! You are Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Almighty. You are all Light. You are all Knowledge and Bliss. You are Destroyer of fear, You are Creator of this Universe, You are the Greatest of all. We bow and meditate upon Your light. You guide our intellect in the right direction. The mantra, however, has a great scientific import too, which somehow got lost in the literary tradition.

The modern astrophysics and astronomy tell us that our Galaxy called Milky Way or Akash-Ganga contains approximately 100,000 million of stars. Each star is like our sun having its own planet system. We know that the moon moves round the earth and the earth moves round the sun along with the moon. All planets round the sun. Each of the above bodies revolves round at its own axis as well. Our sun along with its family takes one round of the galactic centre in 22.5 crore years. Our All galaxies including ours are moving away at a terrific velocity of 20,000 miles per second. And now the alternative scientific meaning of the mantra step by step: (A) Om bhur bhuvah swah: Bhur-the earth, bhuvah-the planets (solar family), swah-the Galaxy. We observe that when an ordinary fan with a speed of 900 RPM (rotations per minute) moves, it makes noise. Then, one can imagine, what great noise would be created when the galaxies move with a speed of 20,000 miles per second. This is what this portion of the mantra explains-that the sound produced due to the fast-moving earth, planets and galaxies is Om.

The sound was heard during meditation by Rishi Vishvamitra, who mentioned it to other colleagues. All of them, then unanimously decided to call this sound Om-the name of God, because this sound is available in all the three periods of time, hence it is sat (permanent). Therefore, it was the first ever revolutionary idea to identify formless God with a specific title (form) called upadhi. Until that time, everybody recognized God as formless and nobody was prepared to accept this new idea. In the Gita also, it is said, “Omiti ekaksharam brahma”, meaning that the name of the Supreme is Om, which contains only one syllable (8/12). This sound Om heard during samadhi was called by all the seers nada-brahma (a very great noise), but not a noise that is normally beyond a specific amplitude and limits of decibels suited to human hearing. Hence the rishis called this sound Udgith-musical sound of the above, i.e., heaven.

They also noticed that the infinite mass of galaxies moving with a velocity of 20,000 miles/second was generating a kinetic energy = 1/2 MV2 and this was balancing the total energy consumption of the cosmos. Hence they named it Pranavah, which means the body (vapu) or store house of energy (prana). (B) Tat savitur varenyam: Tat – that (God), savitur-the sun (star), varenyam-worthy of bowing or respect. Once the form of a person along with the name is known to us, we may locate the specific person. Hence the two titles (upadhi) provide the solid ground to identify the formless God, Vishvamitra suggested.

He told us that we could know (realize) the unknowable formless God through the known factors, viz., sound Om and light of suns (stars). A mathematician can solve an equation x2+y2=4; if x=2; then y can be known and so on. An engineer can measure the width of a river even by standing at the river bank just by drawing a triangle. So was the scientific method suggested by Vishvamitra in the mantra in the next portion as under:- (C) Bhargo devasya dheemahi: Bhargo-the light, devasya-of the deity, dheemahi-we should meditate. The rishi instructs us to meditate upon the available form (light of suns) to discover the formless Creator (God). Also he wants us to do japa of the word Om (this is understood in the Mantra). This is how the sage wants us to proceed, but there is a great problem to realise it, as the human mind is so shaky and restless that without the grace of the Supreme (Brahma) it cannot be controlled. Hence Vishvamitra suggests the way to pray Him as under: (D) Dhiyo yo nah prachodayat: Dhiyo-intellect, yo-who, nah -we all, prachodayat-guide to right direction. O God! Deploy our intellect on the right path.

Full scientific interpretation of the Mantra: The earth (bhur), the planets (bhuvah), and the galaxies (swah) are moving at a very great velocity,the sound produced is Om, (the name of formless God.) That God (tat), who manifests Himself in the form of light of suns (savitur) is worthy of bowing/respect (varenyam).We all, therefore, should meditate (dheemahi) upon the light (bhargo) of that deity (devasya) and also do chanting of Om. May He (yo) guide in right direction (prachodayat) our (nah) intellect (dhiyo). So we notice that the important points hinted in the mantra are:- (1) The total kinetic energy generated by the movement of galaxies acts as umbrella and balances the total energy consumption of the cosmos. Hence it was named as the Pranavah (body of energy). This is equal to 1/2 mv2 (Mass of galaxies x velocity2). (2) Realizing the great importance of the syllable Om, the other later date religions adopted this word with a slight change in accent, viz., amen and ameen. (3) The God could be realized through the saguna (gross) upasana (method), i.e., (a) by chanting the name of the supreme as Om and (b) by meditating upon the light emitted by stars (sun).

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“Na Hi Gyanena Sadrusham”

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Questions on the above article by Arunn Narasimhan [ My intention is mainly to critique the purported “scientific view” ]

I agree with the meaning (translation) of the Gayathri Mantra (i.e. the “Surya” Gayathri that we normally chant). However, I have some questions regarding its “scientific” interpretation. (In the following message, the passages within the QUOTE# … QUOTE# ENDS are taken from the original message I received. My questions concerning those passages, follow them. Please use the question numbers if you are answering/addressing any/all of them.)

QUOTE1 “We observe that when an ordinary fan with a speed of 900 RPM (rotations per minute) moves, it makes noise. Then, one can imagine, what great noise would be created when the galaxies move with a speed of 20,000 miles per second. This is what this portion of the mantra explains-that the sound produced due to the fast-moving earth, planets and galaxies is Om. The sound was heard during meditation by Rishi Vishvamitra, who mentioned it to other colleagues.” QUOTE1 ENDS

1) In the fan example, the noise is generated by FRICTION between two moving parts (say, the internals of the fan itself or between the blades and the air it “churns” to blow as wind). Is this TRUE with the movement of the Earth and the other heavenly bodies cited? How is the “noise” – the sound of OM – generated in this case? Against what the Earth and other heavenly bodies move, to generate the analogous frictional “noise”? If it is not by friction, what source is it from?

2) If this “noise” can be heard/realized only by Meditation, I AGREE (and believe that the Great Sage Vishvamitra would certainly have done this). But the fan example is ridiculous and the purported “scientific explanation” is baloney (I am sure, Sage Vishvamitra would NOT have come out with such an example).

QUOTE2 “This sound Om heard during samadhi was called by all the seers nada-brahma (a very great noise), but not a noise that is normally beyond a specific amplitude and limits of decibels suited to human hearing. Hence the rishis called this sound Udgith-musical sound of the above, i.e., heaven.” QUOTE2 ENDS

3) What has “samadhi” got to do with the “scientific interpretation” of Gayathri Mantra?

4) How exactly is the sound OM generated during samadhi? 5) WHO hears it? Certainly not us, Humans, as learnt from what is written in the later half of the sentence. Even if I agree that it is possible that OM is getting generated during samadhi (of whom?) and its is generated in decibels beyond the audible range of the human ears, does this mean it is the SAME OM heard in the previous event of the Earth movement?

6) If they are the same (in terms of sound/noise quality), how did one come to know of it? By Meditation? Did Sage Vishvamitra say it so? Because while the previous one seem to have been generated by some (lack of) friction (between moving objects), the later (i.e. the sound heard during samadhi) seems to have originated from nowhere. How are we sure, both are the same OM – both being inaudible to the human ears?

7) If they are different, then WHY and HOW (are they different)?

QUOTE3 “They also noticed that the infinite mass of galaxies moving with a velocity of 20,000 miles/second was generating a kinetic energy = 1/2 MV2 and this was balancing the total energy consumption of the cosmos. Hence they named it Pranavah, which means the body (vapu) or store house of energy (prana).” QUOTE3 ENDS

QUOTE4 “The total kinetic energy generated by the movement of galaxies acts as umbrella and balances the total energy consumption of the cosmos. Hence it was named as the Pranavah (body of energy). This is equal to 1/2 mv2 (Mass of galaxies x velocity2). QUOTE4 ENDS

8) The sentence, by its construction, gives an impression that they (the rishis) came up with those numbers and concepts as well. I think, those numbers (20,000 miles/sec) and concepts (of K.E. and its “formula”) are more recent. But I agree this is a minor issue, as nothing is claimed explicitly here anyway.

9) With what reference frame the velocity of 20,000 miles.sec is calculated? Because, only with that reference frame the K. E. calculated (using that velocity) has any meaning.

10) What is meant by ” energy consumption” here? Is the cosmos “consuming” Energy (i.e. destroying and devouring it) or is this another misnomer like “power consumption” for our daily electricity uasge as work?

11) In the same token, HOW and WHERE in the cosmos, is the Energy consumed (assuming by this, it is meant to be “spent” or “used” to do some work or just gets dissipated)?

12) How does the K. E. calculated with respect to a reference frame, “balance” this “total energy consumption” of the cosmos? If possible PROVE it with some equations or refer me to any literature where I can read more on this topic.

13) Is only the K. E. generated, “balances” the “consumption” OR are there any other energy generations? Why is this not mentioned in the Gayathri Mantra?

I await any healthy discussion/criticism on my questions, or related issues.

Arunn
Just another “ma” in the OM

Written by Bhushan Kulkarni

December 28, 2006 at 11:37 am

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