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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Soul Science God Philosophy > Science and Spiritual Quest > Section 3 Physics, Cosmology and Beyond > MATHEMATIZATION OF NATURE THE BHAGAVAT > 5.Glimpses of Bhagavata Description of Matter

5.Glimpses of Bhagavata Description of Matter


The Bhagavata concept of matter, according to Srila Vyasadeva, the author of Bhagavatam, was spoken by Lord Kapila to his mother Devahuti. It was also spoken by Lord Krsna to his students Sri Uddhava and Sri Maitreya. Sri Maitreya had later explained this to Sri Vidura. According to SrTla A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, one of the greatest exponents of Bhagavata Philosophy, the description of matter can be found in the Vaisheshika philosophy of Kannada.Bhagavata, like modern science is axiomatic and talks about fundamental elements. We have to understand clearly what we mean by "fundamental" in modern science. When Dalton proposed the concept of atoms it was thought that atoms of different elements are the building blocks or the fundamental ingredients of nature. Then came the discovery of electrons or the negatively charged particles by J. J. Thompson. Thus, at one point of time, it was felt that electrons and protons are the fundamental constituents of matter. Latter came the discovery of neutron by Chadwick, and discoveries of many other fundamental particles. And in this way the list of fundamental constituents of nature has been evolving.In Bhagavata, matter also consists of fundamental ingredients and these ingredients are present even before the manifestation of the universe. These elements are indestructible and eternal. Understanding the true nature of different fundamental elements of nature as described in Bhagavata is not easy. In the present article only a glimpse of the same is presented.


Sri Uddhava has summarized the following in the 11th Canto of Srimad Bhdgavatam [11].


srl-uddhava uvdca

kati tattvdni visvesa

sankhydtany rsibhih prabho

navaikddasa panca trlny

dttha tvam iha susruma

kecit sad-vimsatim prdhur

apare panca-virrisatirri

saptaike nava sat keck

calvary ekadasapare

kecit saptadasa prahuh

sodasaike trayodasa

etdvattvarri hi sahkhydndm

rsayo yad-vivaksayd

gdyanti prthag dyusmann

idamno vaktum arhasi

(SB 11.22. 1,2 and 3)




"Uddhava inquired: My dear Lord, O master of the universe, how many different elements of creation have been enumerated by the great sages? I have heard You personally describe a total of twenty-eight God, the jiva soul, the mahat-tattva, false ego, the five gross elements, the ten senses, the mind, the five subtle objects of perception and the three modes of nature. But some authorities say that there are twenty-six elements, while others cite twenty-five or else seven, nine, six, four or eleven, and even others say that there are seventeen, sixteen or thirteen. What did each of these sages have in mind when he calculated the creative elements in such different ways? O supreme eternal, kindly explain this to me."God is the Supreme consciousness and Supreme Personality and has been identified as one of the elements of the nature. In the Bhagavata sankhya, all the elements rests on this elements. In other words, a particular element functions only due to presence and will of the Supreme Personality. The second element jiva, is a spark of consciousness (living entities) whose interaction with other elements is limited. One can find the detailed descriptions of the various elements in the Srimad Bhagavatam. These are fundamental ingredients of nature existing even before creation [11].A very important difference between the modern scientific description of nature and the Bhagavata description of nature is that, in the Bhagavata description there is much larger number of fundamental ingredients of nature and many of their qualities like color, taste etc. do not have any objective existence in the frame work of modern science.In the Bhagavata description very different kinds of existence have been taken as irreducible and fundamental. For example mana and buddhi have been described to possess qualities which are not exhibited by the gross physical objects which have color, heat, taste, smell, and position in physical space. In this context the suggestion by Roger Penrose on Plato's Mathematical World is worth pondering. He writes "I am aware that there will still be many readers who find difficulty with assigning any kind of actual existence to mathematical structures. Let me make the request of such readers that they merely broaden their notion of what the term 'existence' can mean to them. The mathematical forms of Plato's world clearly do not have the same kind of existence as do ordinary physical objects such as tables and chairs. They do not have spatial locations nor do they exist in time."[3]


In Vedic tradition, consciousness is fundamental and cannot be obtained from matter. Also there exists a hierarchy of material elements below the irreducible conscious spark. In Bhagavad-gM, Krsna presents the hierarchy of different elements.


indriydni pardny dhur

indriyebhyah param manah

manasas tu para buddhir

yo buddheh paratas tu sah

(Bg. 3.42)


The working senses are superior to dull matter; mind is higher than the senses; intelligence is still higher than the mind; and he [the soul] is even higher than the intelligence."


atmanam rathinam viddhi

sariram ratham eva ca

buddhirri tu sarathirri viddhi

manah pragraham eva ca

indriyani hayan ahur

visayams tesu gocaran dtmendriya-mano-yuktam bhoktety ahur manisinah

(Katha Upanisad 1.3.3-4)


"The individual is the passenger in the car of the material body, and intelligence is the driver. Mind is the driving instrument, and the senses are the horses. The self is thus the enjoyer or sufferer in the association of the mind and senses. So it is understood by great thinkers."Bhagavata gives a detailed description of atom, time and cosmology. It doesn't deny the need of mathematics. In Vedic literatures, one can find innumerable instances of use of mathematical laws describing the nature.