When I used to teach introductory courses on “World Wisdom Traditions,” we would discuss selections from Hindu scriptures including the Vedas, Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. Sometimes I would bring in more modern teachers such as Ramakrishna, Vivekananda and a bit of Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi.
Students were impressed by the breadth and depth of Hindu theology. Hundreds of millions of deities, enough for families and villages to have their own god.
I’ve always appreciated the description of Hinduism my old Philosophy professor once told us: Hinduism is like a great sponge that can absorb almost any perspective. The ability to absorb various, even contradictory, images and viewpoints, is especially remarkable given the monolithic orthodoxies of several other major religions.
With this background in mind, I was not that surprised to read about this controversy at the Indian Science Congress:
Should Science be more of a sponge? In my opinion, Science has to absorb a great deal of knowledge to be Science, but are nonsensical, irrational beliefs “knowledge”? As respectful of beliefs as an open-minded person needs to be, there is no place in a conference like this to throw open the doors to people who claim that their Religion IS their Science.
That these speakers were addressing young minds at the conference, I find more concerning.
Of course, this situation is made worse by the fact that for many in India right now their Religion is their Politics too, and they want to establish Hindu practice and beliefs as public policy for all.
“Like strangers in an unfamiliar country walking over a hidden treasure, day by day we enter the world of Brahman [Creative Force of the Universe] while in deep sleep but never find it, carried away by what is false.” (Chandogya Upanishad, 3:2)
Is this a hint of Science cloaked in religious language?