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Why humans should understand that origin and end of life is an unresolved query

By NS Venkataraman*  

Ever since the world happened and humans came into existence ( do anyone know when was it?), men and women have been enquiring as to from where human, animal, bird and other creatures have come into the world and where they would go after their life process.
While extraordinary developments have happened over last several centuries in science, technology, medicine and other areas, no one has been able to explain the origin and end of life with clarity. Scientists may say that humans and animals happen due to chemical reaction in the womb of the mother and humans, animals and other creatures disappear due to the decay of the cells in the body. This explanation is just a materialistic way of explaining away. This explanation is in vacuum, as it does not explain the fundamental factors.

Multiple religions and common advocacy

Historically, several sustained efforts have been put forth by humans all over the world to understand this origin and end process of life. As a result, several religions have sprung up that were founded by deep thinkers, who have tried to find an answer to this vexed question In their thought process, they evolved their own theories and postulations propagated them.. Thus came the reference to the so called hell, heaven, rebirths, resurrection, fate , miracles etc. as the possible happening either before the origin or after the end of life.
At the same time, there have also been those, who are described as atheists, who refuse to accept any of the versions advanced by religions. But, these non believers do not have anything better to explain and they end up only in disbelief of the views advocated by different saints and religious scholars and remain confused.
In short, all the religions provide an explanation for life and death process in a way that appear to be mostly similar to materialistic thinking. The religions stress that there is a creator ( termed as God whatever He may be and where ever He may be ), who has brought into existence humans, animals and other creatures. This explanation appeals to most section of the people, as they can readily appreciate the “logic” that the world could not have been created without a creator, just like a pot cannot be made without a potter.
All religions stress on need to worship God ( the creator) and lay out guidelines for living. One common theme in all religions is the advocacy of truth, love, compassion for everything around including animals, other creatures and even plantations. The religions say that this would lead to mental peace and pave way for realizing God.

Essence of Hindu philosophy

A dispassionate analysis of various religious doctrines which have several things in common would lead one to the conclusion that the Hindu philosophy comes nearest to offer an explanation for the origin and end process. That may not still be fully explained but may leave most people with a level of half clarity and half understanding.
The Hindu philosophy covers several aspects of human life , devising a way of living for people that will enable them to live in peace in life time and perhaps, move nearer to realization of God.
Yoga is a practice evolved by Hindu saints from historical times. Yoga is a preparatory exercise for meditation, that can ultimately lead to the state of such mental bliss, known as “Ananda”, which is the stage that Hindu religion ask everyone to strive to achieve.
Hindu philosophy is widely recognized and accepted as the oldest thought process evolved by humans which have been subsequently and continuously refined and perhaps, even modified by several great philosophers and saints like Adi Sankara, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Bhagwan Ramana Maharishi and others.
Adi Sankara fine tuned the Hindu philosophy and evolved Advaita concept, stating the two terms Jeevatma ( individual soul) and Paramatma (ultimate state ) and which are explained as really not different and are one and the same in essence. Adi Sankara says that the ultimate objective of human life should be to achieve a state where Jeevatma would unify itself with Paramatma , both of which are in the inner self of humans. Adi Sankara composed Upadesa Panchakam containing five verses that point out the ways and means of great path to truth, which is the state of realization of Paramatma. The last verse points out to quietening one’s mind towards Supreme Lord ( Paramatma) , Ekante Sukham Asyatam, which means Happiness is in solitude.
Aham Brahmasmi is the core philosophy in advaita vedanta, indicating absolute oneness of atman with brahman. (Paramatma).
Now, in recent years in living memory, Bhagawan Ramana Maharshi, one of the greatest saints that the world has seen, spoke eloquently on the subject and asked everyone to introspect “Who am I “? Bhagawan Ramana Maharshi also espoused the Advaita philosophy and asked people to meditate to realize “Who am I?” that would ultimately lead to bliss in the mindset , which is said to be the ultimate stage of realization of God in one self.
According to Hindu religion, as one goes deeper within, the true self is discovered and get connected to the cosmic consciousness. Certainly, this state call for shedding ego, greed and violent thoughts in individual, which will create a sense of peace and harmony in the mindset and enable everyone to live in absolute peace, which is otherwise called “Ananda” This is perhaps, the end point of Hindu religion’s goal.

Genuine Query

The point stressed by the great saints in every religion is that everyone should readily agree with the concept of what is termed as God without questioning or doubting and then try to realize God within oneself by meditation and deep and sustained thought process.
While such “strategies to realize God” are advocated by Hindu philosophy, one is really not sure whether any human has really achieved this state.
While there are great saints who have lived and may be still living, who could have succeeded to some extent in achieving such mental state by sustained meditation, it is doubtful as to how many persons could have really achieved such state in full even as they live in the world with all the manifestations in their living process in their own way. If at all anyone has achieved this, perhaps, it may be one in billion. What about others?
While the Hindu philosophy explains the origin and end of life in the most possible way, it still cannot explain fully as to how humans and animals and other creatures have happened and how they disappear after the life process. To explain this, some vague statements such as rebirth, resurrection etc. have been put forth which one can genuinely disbelieve.

If the religions say that complete explanation for origin and end of life is beyond human comprehension then, it may lead one to think that it is never clearly explained or unexplainable.
Kabir (1456 to 1525) one of the greatest philosophers and bold thinkers that India has produced said in his characteristic style “scholars, poet, philosophers and philanthropists with a variety of talents and gifts, can’t breakthrough the state of delusion. They read hymns, legends, epics and the laws but still miss the vital inner experience”.

Where do we go from here?

The advocacy of love and compassion pronounced by the religious doctrine that can be achieved by introspection, are the best way to follow and survive in the world until the human body perishes.
Hindu religion as well as a few other religions including Christianity advocate idol worship ( image worship ) which is appropriate for normal human beings to begin the process of introspection with the focus point of viewing the Idol as God. When the Idol is viewed as God and prayers chanted, then it inspires and take the individual to the higher level of introspection. Beginning with the process of idol worship the individual is enabled to reach a state where ego is shelved and mental peace is achieved and as state of Ananda gradually happen.

Unresolved Query

Aldouse Huxley, a famous thinker said “Using our limited intelligence, we think that we have the answers and clues to everything and every issue”.
There seem to be a general consensus that there is a limit beyond which the subject of origin and end of life cannot be discussed or debated. Can we call it as the limits of human intelligence?
Finally, let every human understand that origin and end of life is a unresolved query and it is a futile exercise to find an explanation with human intelligence being what it is.
*Trustee, Nandini Voice For The Deprived, Chennai



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