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शुक्रवार, 16 सितंबर 2016

In Store for the Twenty-First Century

 If we look at the world today, what is the view that we form ? What does the vista into the future present to our vision ? Is the picture a dismal one, or rosy with promises ? Does it depend solely on optimism or pessimism in our attitude or life ? What sort of attitude to life does the present world provide or may the future offer ?
It is the making of man himself that has made the struggle for existence harder. He has invented more than is good for him. He possesses more than he can really enjoy. More of material things have entered his mind, displacing and throwing out at least an equal volume of peace. The world he has created has taught him to believe that ‘God hath since died’; sometimes he pays a lip-service to the absentee God, but has installed in His place the dual deities of Lust and Lucre. 
He has plundered and ravaged Nature to her depths and she has retaliated by impoverishing his within. Bereaved of inner power, he hypnotizes himself to believe that he is a creature of history and environment. Instead of remaking a world to live in, he is dashed, deformed and dwarfed by the world. In his attempt to make of Matter and Energy (their equivalence accepted) a good servant, he is making of himself a bad-slave of matter.
 The Preparation
 The world is preparing itself to enter into the twenty-first century, determined to brave all tribulations of the transition period. Bewildering electronic gadgets and space life are tantalizing man, who is on the brink of losing the balance of his mind. Some American psychologists are fighting for safeguarding unhindered sex in space travels. A sign of culture and modern maturity indeed ! 
Already an eminent scientist has protested against ban on pesticides, which are killing pests and men together, on the ground that such a ban would reverse the upswing in agricultural production, so needed to face the looming famine that may visit wide areas of the world in the coming decades. Dwindling reserves of coal and oil have bolstered efforts to tap nuclear resources. Even in India we are going to have a score of nuclear power plants in a few years. Not that scientists do not know that a serious accident in such a plant could result in releasing radio-activity more than 1000 Hiroshima type atom bombs
Even if we are spared of such an eventuality, getting rid of the nuclear wastes is a problem that has so far baffled all scientific minds ; for the wastes can find their way in streams and soil, and emit radiation harmful to any life for hundreds of years. China offered to provide space for dumping of the wastes from American nuclear plants, and would charge five times the cost of nuclear fuel for dumping an equal quantity of waste !

 Even in an aftermath of the Bhopal tragedy, which officially killed 1754 people, 7411 are suffering from eye ailments, 3372 from gastric troubles, and 2500 people are suffering from serious lung troubles. Still-born babies have been born of mothers affected by MIC. What may be the effect of the imperceptible slow activity of radiation on people in future from nuclear wastes ! Already air, soil, and water of rivers are so polluted as a result of industrial wastes flowing into them that at least a few deaths have been recorded. Even fish in rivers have been contaminated with mercury, cadmium, and other very harmful metals.

 After the man-made massacre of 4 million people by the Nazis, perhaps the greatest toll of human life, with the aid of scientific knowledge, was taken in the atomic holocaust of Japan -- 2,00,000 people dying directly and an uncountable number suffering for generations. 
The fateful discovery was made at the University of Birmingham, England, in 1940. One of the two collaborating scientists still living is Rudolf Peierls (born in Berlin in 1907), who was knighted by the British throne. Those scientists went to the United States to help build the bomb and witnessed on 16 July 1945 the horrors that it could bring, weeks before the Hiroshima and Nagasaki episode. Both of them were themselves refugees from anti-semitism and were afraid that Germany would go for the same first and so went ahead with their design.

 Things to Come 
With a little master over space we are now preparing for “Star Wars”,professedly for self-defence, and not only U.S.A., the U.S.S.R. is also reported to have gone on secretly. Recently it has come to light that thirty countries are in possession of dangerous chemical weapons in spite of the 60 years old Geneva protocol. There are biological weapons also. The application of laser beams, which is proving so useful in surgery, for war purposes also poses a great threat of immesurable potency. 
Place hijacking, booby traps,shooting down with sophisticated weapons repeated by terrorists raise the question : how far can they go ? particularly after the Jumbo jet plunged into the Atlantic with 329 people including children. Recently a very disturbing information is getting currency : terrorists may go nuclear ! Practice of Apartheid and riots in South Africa and the sporadic racial violence in the U.K. are also symptoms of the malaise.
 It has also struck man’s mind that without polluting the earth futher, we could have an almost perinnial supply of electric power, converting sunlight into electricity in plants set up in space some 22,000 miles above the earth. Even factories could be set up in space for various items of manufacture, and living houses going underground, we can make wider use of the ground available upon earth for cultivation. Robots can be made to do all dull, monotonous, and repetitive jobs for man. Man with abundance of supplies and leisure will be free to enjoy life as much as he desires !
 This is the millennial idea about the twenty-first century science and conjectures are placing before the minds of men. Some even hope, one day robots will see, hear, think, and offer judgement ! What will man do then ? Ludicrous ! 
The Robot 
The robot will bring with it ‘the threat of technological unemployment and with that, the loss of economic security and the disappearance of self-respect’, it is feared. To avoid the situation, in his Modern Maturity Isaac Asimov suggests that genetic engineering will have to raise homo sapiens (men) into homo superiors, so that they may have something to do, when robots will be doing all that men can do. 
This is nothing short of wishful thinking and a sort of ‘scientific superstition’, born out of ignorance about what man really is. The Nietzschean superman -- ‘the blonde beast’-- falls in this category. Man is not a finished product. The world is the workshop-floor for man to have the ‘finish’. When that is done, we get the finished product -- the man, what is really is, with manifestation of his possibilites. Ignorance about it, taking the half-baked cake to be the real cake, gives us the distaste for man, that we find and seek for a homo superior. 
Robots are nothing but electronic computers, and computers, are only capable of adding -- that, of course, at an enormous speed. Even computers cannot decipher different hand-written scripts or sounds of different voices. With our loss of self-confidence and lack of thinking ability, we fancy that robots will be able to think. With development on all fronts we are gradually losing our common selse. The thing is simple : Man cannot manufacture anything that is more wonderful than man himself ! Can the robot be made to have affection and love ? Can such gadgets be endowed with a heart that feels and sympathises ? Can a robot ever be made to appreciate beauty or art ? Never.
 On the other hand robots may one day perform all destructive acts of wars -- minimizing loss of human life on the side of the wager of the war and multiplying the same in a more horrifying way on the other side. Isaac Asimov admits : ‘To be sure, human beings have turned almost every technological advance to the service of the destructive impulse.’
 The Choice from Wisdom
 No doubt with scientific advances the world is becoming smaller and will continue to be smaller still in years to come. But will that lead to real unity ? No. Let us see how Asimov looks at this possibility : ‘The next 25 year will see the nations of the world more nearly united than would now appear possible ; not out of idealism, but out of a combined effort at ensuring the world’s energy supply.’ And he goes on to say : ‘We make our own future and we can be as foolish or as wise as we choose.’ 
This choosing cannot be left to robots, in spite of great improvements in their designs, with improvement of human brains, with the aid of computers, if it could be done. And man cannot either do the right choice unless he develops himself properly. This proper development can come only from what is known as spirituality
This cannot be had just from the so-called religions -- whether Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, or anything else. One glaring proof of this opinion is provided by the fact that almost all important scientific discoveries and there consequent application for the good of man, and then diverting such knowledge to harm man lethally have taken place in a wide part of the world dominated by one such religion, viz. Christianity. Not to speak of earlier death-dealing actions of men upon men, even recently the universal apathy and calloousness shown, when 10 million people died in Africa of starvation, serve as a sharp pointer to our capacity to choose. All this is because we depend too much on science and make use of all our knowledge, for the benefit of a particular group of people, often without regard to welfare of humanity, as we do not recognize the need for spirituality. 
The right choice out of wisdom, to which Asimov or Russell refer, cannot come from mere scientific advancement, howsoever it might be pursued. It comes only from spirituality. We have not yet paid any heed to Bertrand Russell’s warning in Impact of Science on Society : ‘We are in the middle of a race between human skill as to means and human folly as to ends. Unless men increase in wisdom as much as in knowledge, increase in knowledge will be increase of sorrow.’ 
There is a Russian proverb : ‘If you can’t find wisdom at home, you won’t be able to buy it abroad.’ How much scientists are poor in wisdom in spite of their knowledge is amply demonstrated by the observation of an eminent scientist, who was involved in the atomic bomb drama of the forties. John Manley, (now 77), who was Oppenheimer’s right hand man, said the other day : ‘We recognized this was an awful instrument we were creating. We were swept away by the passions of the time. We scientists are no different from the rest. We are just as conditiond by the fetishes of patriotism. We are just as susceptible to irrationalities.’ 
The Spiritual Phenomenon
 In the modern world, when the starting ‘go’ to this race was given, when the light of wisdom started diminishing, when darkness was gradually becoming visible, when horrors came to make faces at man, when the peace of his mind began evaporating, faith in man and spirituality was being given up, when well-being of mankind as a whole no longer seemed to be the prime concern of man, when hatred was growing faster than love, selfishness was surpassing sympathy, possession was being preferred to piety, pleasure was made the end of all pursuits, -- in a neglected spot in India was born a child, who in his later life was known as Sri Ramakrishna.
 His life showed what spirituality is and Swami Vivekananda preached that spirituality. Ramakrishna did not work for reformation of Hinduism or to re-establish this or tha5t religion, but vindicated the ground, the essence of all religions. (It will take a long time still to be understood properly). That is why he could find truth in all religions. The modern world needed the wisdom, the philosophy, or the religion (if you like to call it so), that could help it in making the right choice to make use of his knowledge for the well-being of man, obviating ‘human folly’ leading to ‘increase of sorrow’, -- a philosophy or a religion that could stand the test of reason, that could not only sooth the soul but would also satisfy the intellect, take in his sweep all that science could give, except its errors, and could give to science the vision that it lacks. This religion or philosophy was lived by Ramakrishna and preached by Swami Vivekananda. This may be called Vedanta, that can save the modern world from a man-made catastrophe and ensure entering into the twenty-first century without a severe jolt. 
‘The ballet of bloodless categories’ in the wake of the modern scientic revolution has caused a thorough churning of the human mind ; much of poisonous morbidity has come out ; and the same process is paving the way to a spiritual revolution, with the lower layers of nectar coming up gradually from the depths of the self-same human mind for the solace of the parched heart of man.
 The Turn
 If we draw a line long enough, science tells us, it will come round to meet the starting end and make a circle. Those who are furthest from spirituality and immersed deep in materiality would perhaps come back to spirituality before others. It will not be surprizing, if sometime in the twentyh-first century the proclaimed socialist sociolist countries will be the first among nations in the modern world to admit the need of spirituality for the total well-being of man. Some indications in this direction are becoming apparent.
 In China
 While the Chinese Government banned all religious practices during the Cultural Revolution of 1966-76, the 1983 version of the Chinese Constitution deleted the words : ‘The state shall propagate atheism.’ In December 1984 a front-page editorial in the official Chinese Communist Party organ, Peoples’ Daily, remarked : ‘In terms of Marxism and Leninism, we cannot be dogmatic. Times are changing.’ It suggested departing from the old line ; otherwise, it said, they would ‘lose touch with reality and be left behind.’ 
Zhao Fusan, a member of the Chinese Political Consultative Conference, was quoted by the state-run China News Service, ‘Thongguo Xinwenshe’, as saying at the Conference’s full session (which closed on 8 April 1985) : ‘Any nation’s literature, art, architecture, philosophy, morals, customs and way of life receive varying degrees of religious influence. The view that religion is entirely spiritual opium is unscientific and incomplete. Indiscriminate opposition to religious values is totally unnecessaryt and harmful.’ Thousands of copies of lthe Gita are going to China. Sanskrit scriptural literature and Vivekananda are being translated into Chinese. 
Only about a month ago the same Peloples’ Daily in its editorial gave a stern warning to workers and what it said should not be taken lightly, nor should one jump to any conclusion from lthese words. It said : ‘In some places people are saying : “How much will you give me if you want me to do this ?” In other words, give them a lot of money and they’ll do it. Not enough and you won’t get anyhthing done. This is really the height of selfishness to follow the material benefit of the few at the expense of the whole state and the people. Materialism is certainly not socialism. Materialism is intolerable.’ This was perhaps not written with the knowledge that it echoes exactly the voice of Vivekananda, when he explains Vedanta in the context of society. In a different context Beijing Review said, ‘Lust for money inevitably leads people astray.
 In Russia 
Tolstoy read Swami Vivekananda’s Rajayoga and Sayings of Paramahamsa Sri Ramakrishna and remarked : ‘There are nowhere such beautiful ideas.’ Voices of Peoples in Russian was there in his library. it contained two writings of Vivekananda. In 1908 Tolstoy himself wanted to translate Swamiji’s ‘God and the Soul’, and had translated The Way to Blessedness by Swami Abhedananda, another brother disciple of Swami Vivekananda. 
Eva Ilyousternik’s researches reveal that Yajov Kuzmich Popov met Swami Vivekananda in India and then, being very much influenced by his ideas, translated into Russian the four Yoga books by Swamiji between 1906 and 1914.
 Recently a Philosophic Encyclopaedic Dictionary has been published in the U.S.S.R. by the Soviet Encyclopaedia Publishers of Moscow. It gives in its Indian Section great stress on the Vedas and Vedanta and the teachings of Ramakrishna and Vivekananda. The Gita and the Upanishads were translated into Russian long ago. The Ramayana was adopted as a stage play by Soviet Indologist Guseva. It has been running successfully for more than 25 years on the stage of Central Children’s Theatre of Moscow. A little girl after witnessing the play wanted her name to be changed to Sita. The director Pschuikov recently said, ‘The Ramayana and the Mahabharata belong to the entire humanity. ... It reflects man’s eternal quest for truth, friendship, justice, and peace. ... It helps to cultivate in the emerging generation nobleness and courage, daring and irreconcilability to evil.
 A lot of interest has developed in Russian academicians to study Indian thoughts and particularly those of Ramakrishna and Vivekananda. Dr R.B. Rybakov, a senior research fellow of the Institute of Oriental Studies, Academy of Sciences, U.S.S.R. recently said in Calcutta that from the tireless efforts of Vivekananda we had a direct line to the noble activities of outstanding revolutionary leaders from B.G.Tilak and Aurobindo Ghosh to Mahatma Gandhi and Jawharlal Nehru and though Vivekananda is often considered as a non-political figure, his love for India, his strong desire to ujplift the masses of the poor and downtrodden, the universality of his message -- all points to the great political significance of his heritage. What we have tried to see in this article gets some support, though not direct, from the following further observation of Dr. Rybakov : ‘Hinduism as a religion might disappear in future. But it would be transformed into a movement.’
 We don’t need to have a new species with genetic engineering, if the new century makes man obsolete, as feared, but must strive to apply a little human engineering to become what we really are -- the human being of the future -- master of nature, internal and external, and live in a really unified world in the twenty-first century.
Swami Vivekananda, in a letter written from America in 1895 to Swami Ramakrishnananda, one of his brother-disciples, said : ‘in this (Ramakrishna) Incarnation atheistic ideas will be destroyed by the sword of Jnana (knowledge), and the whole world will be unified by means of Bhakti (devotion) and Prema (Divine Love).’
 In course of a lecture on ‘The Ablsolute and Manifestation’ delivered in London in 1896 Swami Vivekananda said ‘Materialism prevails in Europe today. ... Advaita twice saved India from materialism. Before the Buddha came, materialism spread to a fearful extent. ... Buddha brought the Vedanta to light, gave it to the people, and saved India. A thousand years after his death a similar state of things again prevailed. Again materialism came to the fore, taking the form of licence with the higher classes and superstition with the lower. Then Shankaracharya arose and once more revivified the Vedanta p;hilosophy. He worked out, rationalized and placed before men the wonderful coherent system of Advaita.
 In Shankaracharya we saw tremendous intellectual power, throwing the scorching light of reason upon everything. We want today that bright sun of intellectuality joined with the heart of Buddha, the wonderful infinite heart of love and mercy. This union will give us the highest philosophy. Now in this latter part of the nineteenth century, such an idea as that religion coming from any other source than one’s own hereditary religion must be false shows that there is still weakness left, and such ideas must be given up. I may make bold to say that the only religion which agrees with, and even goes a little further than modern researches, both on physical and moral lines, is the Advaita, ad that is why it appeals to modern scientists so much. ... A man must have not only faith, but intellectual faith, too. ...Science and religion will meet and shake hands. Poetry and philosophy will become friends. This will be the religion of the future, and if we can work it out, we may be sure that it will be for all times and peoples.

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