Vedic Sage: the scientist of yesteryear

Vedic Sage: the scientist of yesteryear

In the previous posts we dwelt on the idea that science and spiritualism were inseparable and complimentary and saw that in pre – history they were indistinguishable. Wonderment and curiosity about nature and the desire to harness it reflected a mystical urge combined with a pragmatic, scientific inclination being expressed together.

With the advent of civilization these urges took concrete form and shape in established religion. The magical practices evolved into religious rituals. Religion became the vehicle for fundamental enquiry into the world and our relationship with it. Sages, seers and the ecclesiastical order engaged in examination and surmise of  natural,  supernatural and astronomical phenomena. Likewise religion became the foundation for development of ethical concepts and codes of civilized behaviour. Spiritual inspiration engendered glorious movements in the fine arts, music, architecture, astronomy, mathematics, alchemy, medicine and scientific enquiry in support of  scriptural pronouncements. Religious institutions like Church, Temple or monastic orders became the repositories of knowledge of the unknown in every avenue of human advancement. Religion developed theories of creation, of the natural order and the cosmos. It also examined the cosmology of the spirit.

Every new advance was related to religion and brought to serve it. Religious thought was both mystical and pragmatic, metaphysical and physical, magical yet progressive, spiritual and scientific in inspiration. The best minds were at the service of religion. Sages and Yogis dwelling in the forests, the deserts and the mountains, meditated on the ultimate, much as scientists do today in their labs. They became the repositories of wisdom attracting disciples and students who gravitated towards them to learn the arts and crafts, jurisprudence, astrology. mathematics, medicine and Yoga  and share their findings on the mysteries of the manifest and unmanifest worlds.

Technology then was the ritual of prayer and propitiation and science was another term for religion. Chapter seven of the Gita for instance is titled ‘The Yoga of Knowledge and Science’ (Gyan – Vigyan Yoga) and explains the nature of the material world and its relationship to the spiritual world. In that dawn of history therefore the priest, hermit, sage, dervish and Brahmin was considered by common folk as a scientist is viewed today. They were the Newtons, Einsteins and Planks of  yesteryear and the ‘Church’ a laboratory where knowledge, discoveries and inventions were churned out by the finest minds of the epoch. Science and Spiritualism were synonymous.

statue of Patanjali - ancient author of Yoga treatises
statue of Patanjali – ancient author of Yoga treatises