21 Jul

Can Biology Be Based on the Nature of the Soul?

In Vedic philosophy, the soul has three properties—sat or consciousness, chit or meanings, and ananda or pleasure. The sat of the soul is “I am”, the chit of the soul is “I have”, and the ananda of the soul is “I want”. These three aspects of the soul are also reflected in matter and pervade throughout the body—the parts of the body are due to chit or “I have”, the functions of each of the parts is due to sat or “I am”, and the pleasure associated with the functions of the parts is due to ananda or “I want”. Thus, even the world around us is a reflection of the properties of the soul (as parts, functions, and pleasures), but they are so deeply enmeshed that we tend to think that the part is itself the function, and the function is itself the pleasure. This post discusses the differences between these three aspects of the soul, and its implications for biology.
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21 Jul

How Guna and Karma Create the Body

Vedic texts describe how the body of a soul is created due to guna and karma. This seems unintuitive if we think that the body is created by eating food. But how do we eat food? Food consumption is, in Vedic philosophy, influenced by two factors, called guna (plural) and karma. This post discusses how guna are the nature by which we enjoy consuming certain types of things, and karma is the nurture due to which we have access to certain types of things. Just because we enjoy certain things (guna) doesn’t mean that we will get them, because the environment we are situated in (karma) might not enable access to them. Similarly, just because the environment enables certain things doesn’t mean we will take them, because we might not enjoy them. Our eating is controlled by nature and nurture where the environment provides certain things, and we enjoy certain things. Their combination causes the food consumption, which builds the body.
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16 May

The Meaning of Yajña

In practically all Vedic texts a concept called yajña is employed, which is loosely translated as a “sacrifice” and the performance of the yajña is said to be the means to advance spiritually. For most people, yajña is understood as a fire lit in a pot into which food grains are offered with a mantra. While this is by no means an aberration, it is not the only sense in which the term yajña is used. For example, the Bhagavad-Gita (BG) describes how the processes of Aśtanga-Yoga and Jnana-Yoga are also yajña. Then we have terms such as Sankīrtana-yajña which seem to have nothing in common with a fire sacrifice, Aśtanga-Yoga, or Jnana-Yoga. In what way are all these practices connected? What is the meaning of yajña that unifies these diverse practices into a single holistic understanding of yajña?
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