Consciousness which gives meaning to our life had been a tough problem to deal in modern science. Most notably subjectivity that it brings in becomes a no go in the reductionist framework. Interestingly, consciousness studies is the summit of all of scientific disciplines, i.e., physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, philosophy, mathematics, etc.
The hard problem and the binding problem of consciousness might indicate a non-material origin of consciousness expressed through some subtle matter. Vedic framework suggests it to be mind-like matter which can be objectively studied in science.
Our vedic scientific tradition offers plethora of technological applications, viz., advanced techniques of mining, metallurgy, etc. As per modern standards, these may appear works of primitive people. However, there is a great treasure house yet to be disclosed in its own right.
Sanskrit is considered the root of all languages. Vedic theology and in fact all the teasures of Vedic scriptures are encoded in this language. Unlike western philosophy and theology, Vedic theology is far more complete and addresses all different subtle aspects of human curiosity. Since Vedic theological framework is the basis of the all of Vedic treasures of knowledge in its holistic approach to truth, it offers a great scope for research.
"As for the search for truth, I know from my own painful searching, with its many blind alleys, how hard it is to take a reliable step, be it ever so small, towards the understanding of that which is truly significant."
Institute for Science and Spirituality (ISS) is a scientific study wing of ISKCON Delhi. ISS is working with the main objective of rekindling interest in spirituality within the scientific community whereby the latter evolves a spiritual, anti-material perspective; while at the same time helping spirituality develop a scientific and dogma free outlook which is already built into its structure. We started our journey in 2011. Since then, we have been conducting several seminars, workshops, dialogues and conferences to harmonise two great pillars of our existence.
“Learned circles have positively concluded that the infallible purpose of the advancement of knowledge, namely austerities, study of the Vedas, sacrifice, chanting of hymns and charity, culminates in the transcendental descriptions of the Lord, who is defined in choice poetry.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda was not only a pioneer in bringing truely Vedic culture to all over the globe, he was seriously concerned about the pitfalls in overstating the validity of scientific claims over intricate issues pertaining to life and cosmos. He strongly objected to the strictly materialistic basis of life.
In 1968, speaking before a gathering of students at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Śrīla Prabhupāda points out an important lag in technological research. “Although you have so many departments of knowledge,” he says, “there is no department aiming to find the difference between a living body and a dead body.”
In 1974, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder Acharya of the ISKCON guided Dr T. D. Singh (H.H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodar Swami) to start an academic wing of ISKCON for presenting science & philosophy of Krishna Consciousness to the world’s intellectuals. Dr T. D. Singh was able to lay the foundation of Bhaktivedanta Institute (BI) to explore the foundational questions related to life's origin, the nature of reality, problems related to the body, mind, and society at large, as well as many other philosophical and ethical concerns & to provide comprehensive solutions to these issues through a consciousness-based paradigm.
Back in Oct’1977, BI under the direct guidance of Srila Prabhupada organised 1st international conference on “Life comes from Life” at ISKCON Vrindavan which drew government and academic scientists from around the world. The conference explored short comings of modern understanding that life arises out of electro-chemical reactions and gave alternative Vedantic model of life. Dr. T.D. Singh (University of California), Dr. Richard Thompson (Cornell University), Dr. Michael Marchetti, Robert S. Cohen & D.J. Webb (Oxford University) of BI were the main speakers. They presented conclusive talks that Life-not matter-is the basis of the world we perceive & Vedic philosophy is not a matter simply of ‘faith’ or ‘belief’ but is scientific in the strict sense of the term.
Dr. Richard L. Thompson (1947–2008), also known by his Vaishnava name Sadaputa Dasa, was a mathematician, scientist, philosopher, researcher of ancient cosmology, author, and devoted practitioner of bhakti-yoga. In his professional career, Thompson pursued research in quantum theory and mathematical biology, as well as NASA-funded research in satellite remote sensing. He produced over two-dozen peer reviewed scientific papers and co-authored a college textbook on computer modeling of biological systems. Thompson also worked as a post-doctoral fellow at Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge University, and as a research fellow and staff scientist at the La Jolla Institute, Division of Applied Nonlinear Problems, near San Diego.
Thompson was a founding member of the scientific branch of ISKCON, the Bhaktivedanta Institute, where he published over fourteen technical papers on the study of the relationship between science and Vedanta. He also contributed over forty essays for a broad audience in Back to Godhead (BTG), “the magazine of the Hare Krishna movement.” Thompson extensively investigated ancient Indian astronomy, cosmology, and spirituality, and developed multimedia expositions on these topics. He wrote eight books on subjects ranging from consciousness to archeology and ancient astronomy.
The Institute is working with the following specific objectives: