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Cloning: A Modern Miracle or an Ancient Method?
The soul and cells in our body: How are they related ?
Scientists try to understand what life is and to that end they just want to study the cell because they consider that a cell is the smallest unit of life. So they think that once they understand a cell, they will know what life is.So it would be interesting to know the relation between the souls in the cells and the soul within the heart. Srila Prabhupada explains that the souls in the cells in the body and the soul that resides in the heart are different living entities.
According to the Vedas, there is a soul, situated in the region of the heart that permeates consciousness all over the body. When that soul leaves the body, the body is termed dead. The particular soul who has been given this body, is living in the heart exactly as the owner of a house lives in a house. The house is made of so many bricks and similarly the body is made of innumerable cells. It is well known that when the man dies, the cells that compose his body also die; they cannot reproduce anymore. Thus it can be easily understood that the ability of the cells to reproduce in a body and to keep the body fit for performing various activities is only due to the presence of the soul in the heart.There may be innumerable souls in all the cells of our body. Compared with the cells, I (the soul) am a little bigger god, but the souls in the cells are smaller. Just like the subjects are serving the king, the cells are serving the soul, actual proprietor of the body. They have no choice.
Sometimes scientists take out a few cells of a tissue from one part of the body and culture them to grow and multiply. This is a simple explanation of what is called 'tissue culture'. But such cultured tissue cannot function in the capacity of a living organism. Srila Prabhupada explains in the following conversation that tissue culture is not production of life :
Svarupa Damodara: ....That means take a cell from a living tissue, and you culture it and you supply the sufficient nutrients. Then theoretically they will grow forever. They will
divide. They will...
Prabhupada: So they will grow to a human being?
Svarupa Damodara: Not a human being, but the cells just divide.
Prabhupada: Then an ant, an ant?
Svarupa Damodara: No.
Prabhupada: Then what is this? (laughter)
Svarupa Damodara: (laughing) But the cell is still alive.
Prabhupada: But you said that as soon as the man dies, they also die.
Thus it can be seen that the cells in the body function just like parts in a machine helping the whole machine work. Even the cultured tissue can only assist a living body. It cannot function as an independent living being.
How is Cloning different from normal birth?
While cells are multiplied in tissue culture to use the tissue for patching purposes, cloning technique uses a cell from an adult to impregnate the egg. Just like in artificial insemination a soul is injected into the womb of the mother by external means rather than natural union, the cloning process uses the cell of a living man to fuse with an egg with its genetic material removed. The egg then reprograms the adult cell's genes so that they are ready to direct the development of an embryo, then a fetus, then a newborn that is genetically identical to the adult whose cell was used to start the process.
Now is there any miracle in cloning that can lead one to think that it is creation of life by artificial means ? No. As Nobel Laureate Alebrt Szent Gyorgi rightly said, "in my search for secret of life, I ended up with atoms and electrons which have no life at all. Somewhere along the line, life has run out through my fingers" life cannot be created from inert chemicals on a laboratory. The cell from the body of a living person contains millions of souls and when one such cell is fused into the egg and then put in the embryo, a particular soul from that cell accepts the material body, taking advantage of the favorable circumstances. Under normal insemination that is attracted by the conglomerate consciousness of the mother and father of the issue, and the subsequent nurturing and growth, and bonding enable the "human psyche" to develop properly, enabling some of the finer sentiments of human culture - security, love, appreciation, gratitude
etc to develop; without which insensitive,impersonal,artificially conceived, laboratory harvested and grown, and then trained certainly leaves something of a vacuum, a vast lacking in what it takes to be a real and cultured member of the human race.
How is Cloning done?
According to experts, producing a single viable clone will require scores of volunteers to donate eggs and carry embryos—most of which will have major abnormalities and never come to term. The clones that do survive could suffer more subtle problems that might show up well after birth. Here is how it might be done :
1) Doctors harvest upto 15 eggs each from up to 40 donors who have been injected with fertility drugs. About 400 eggs are produced.
2.Cells are taken from the man, the cloning candidate.
3.The nucleus of each egg is sucked out with a fine needle. 1 hen the DNA-free eggs and the donor cells are placed next to one another and zapped with electricity, which causes them to fuse. Some of the rebuilt eggs divide to form embryos.
Because embryos often fail to implant, each surrogate mother gets several at once. Even so, up to 50 surrogates could be needed (not necessarily all at once) to ensure nine or ten pregnancies. Of these, most will terminate early by miscarriage or by abortion when abnormalities are found. The single viable baby may be normal. Or maybe not. (source : TIME, February 26,2001)
Dangers, Concerns and Ethics in Cloning
God has created a procedure in nature for everything to happen. Some greedy fruit-sellers prematurely ripen the bananas by exposing them in smoke chambers. The bananas look yellow from outside, but the fruit remains still unripe inside. In the same way, under normal circumstances an animal egg and sperm take several years to mature. With cloning the egg is expected to replicate an adult's genetic material in minutes or hours, apparently leading to errors in the DNA code. Scientists are having second thoughts about cloning. Since 1997 when the first mammal, Dolly the sheep, was produced by scientists in Scotland, cloning techniques have been perfected by researchers. However even with the utmost diligence only 2 or 3 percent of attempts to clone are successful. Those that do survive often suffer from developmental delays, heart defects, lung problems or severe weight gain. Dolly herself had to be separated from other sheep in order to control her diet as she kept gaining weight. When man ventures into unnatural methods of reproduction, he should also be prepared to face and address the consequences.
Some scientists say they shudder to think what might happen if human beings are cloned with today's techniques. While arguments over the ethics of human cloning have dominated the debate, these scientists say the real issue is the likelihood that clones would have genetic abnormalities that could be fatal or subtle but devastating. Until that problem is solved, they say, human cloning should be out of the question.
Dr. Jaenisch remarks about human cloning, "It would be reckless and irresponsible," adding, "What do you do with humans who are born with half a kidney or no immune system?" And, he further adds, "What about the possibility of creating children who appear to be normal but whose genes for neurological development work improperly?"
Scientists say they see what appear to be genetic problems almost every time they try to clone. Dr. Yanagimachi has found that cloned mice tend to have developmental abnormalities, taking longer to reach milestones like eye opening and ear twitching. "Cow clones are often born with enlarged hearts or lungs that do not develop properly", says Dr. Mark E. Westhusin, a cloning expert at Texas A & M University in College Station, Tex. The genetic effects most often seem to be fatal at the very start of life, researchers say. "With cattle, for example, 100 attempts to create a clone typically result in a single live calf, says Dr. Westhusin. "Cloned embryos have serious developmental and genetic problems, which usually kill them before birth. Just after birth more die, usually of lung problems", says Dr. Yanagimachi.
Ban On Cloning
The U.K. government announced a Ban on Human Cloning on April 19, 2001. Health Secretary Alan Milburn said that the only way to ensure human cloning never takes place is to ban reproductive human cloning by law.Researchers have found big risk of defect in cloning animals. Four years after researchers in Scotland startled the world by announcing that they had cloned a sheep named Dolly, scientists say evidence is mounting that creating healthy animals through cloning is more difficult than they had expected. The clones that have been produced, they say, often have problems severe enough — developmental delays, heart defects, lung problems and malfunctioning immune systems — to give pause to anyone thinking of cloning a human being. In one example that seems like science fiction come true, some cloned mice that appeared normal suddenly, as young adults, grew grotesquely fat.
It is not that one particular thing goes wrong or one specific aspect of development goes awry, researchers say. Rather, leading cloning experts and developmental biologists have said in recent interviews, the cloning process seems to create random errors in the expression of individual genes. Those errors can produce any number of unpredictable problems, at any time in life.
The Vedic Paradigm
Cloning amounts to scientists playing God in a way that is dangerous and sinful. Nothing happens without the knowledge and sanction of God. By taking a living cell, scientists may clone the physical structure of an organism, but the process cannot duplicate the soul, which means that the cloned person may not possess the characteristics or personality of its original. Even the twins who look alike have so many differences in their qualities, attributes, temperaments etc. If a man who gives cell for cloning looks at the clone and thinks, "This is me. I will never die", then it is utter foolishness that arises from a false sense of identity. Another soul, that has nothing to do with the person cloned, has taken residence in the clone's body and this soul will reap the results of his own good and bad past karma.
The soul is called, 'sarvagatah' which means that souls are present all over the creation. They are wandering everywhere in want of a suitable body and situation where they can express their unfulfilled desires. Cloning gives an opportunity in an artificial way for such souls to acquire a body. Now are the scientists great enough to decide the bodies of souls and their situations ? No. In fact as we have seen in this article, no one knows whether at all even one clone will successfully emerge out of hundreds and thousands of trials. Thus having no control from his side, with only ability to manipulate and monkey the material nature, a scientist looks in ignorance for something exciting to happen in the future. And on the other hand, the soul carrying the burden of karma with him acquires a body and struggles with varieties of deficiencies imposed by the cloning method.
In the scriptures we occasionally find references where a method similar to cloning was done to create new progeny. In Srimad Bhagavatam 4.15.1, we find how the brahmanas churned the body of King Vena and created Bahuka, Pruthu and Arci. Similarly, "the Mahabharata actually describes how Vedavyas created the Kauravas from a single embryo from Gandhari" states Dr BG Matapurkar, a surgeon with Maulana Azad Medical College in New Delhi. Dr Matapurkar holds a US patent on an organ regeneration technique that he developed ten years ago. He further states, "they not only knew about test tube babies and embryo splitting but also had the technology to grow human fetuses outside the body of a woman — something that is not known to modern science." (THE TIMES OF INDIA, 5 May 2002, THE INDIAN EXPRESS, 4 May 2002).
But these great personalities of the times of yore were highly elevated in their understanding of God, the purpose of creation and the welfare of the masses. They were also greatly competent in exercising mystic powers through long periods of penances and austerities. Such instances of cloning could therefore bring about ultimate welfare to everyone unlike the modem times where 'educated' men far from any understanding of God or life indulge in manipulation of material nature without knowing the dangers that await the world. Things can be set right only when man realizes God to be the underlying pivot of all mysteries of this world and agrees to abide by the laws laid forth by Him. Then our researches can be streamlined for positive outcome and not to plunge the people of the world in a constant threat about future disasters. Please refer to 'Srila Prabhupada speaks on Cloning' for more information (ACBSP Morning Walk, July 14, 1975, Philadelphia).