The author of this work, Rishi Kumar Mishra, was
'discovered' by his Guru, the outstanding scholar Pandit
Motilal Shastri. Unlike the normal practice of a student
seeking out a learned teacher, in this case the teacher 1~)Cated
the student, shook him internally, elevated him above the
world in which he was immersed, gave him insights into
the 'lost' meaning of the messages hidden in the age-old
texts, and taught him how to decipher the profound
implications of the ~da Mantras, the eternal verses.
This was indeed remarkable because, having gained
some acquaintance with ancient Indian scriptures from
his father (who was a Sanskrit scholar and religious
practitioner), the author had completely discarded that
world as 'obscurantist' and was gripped by 'modern' ideas
and philosophies, including atheism and Marxism. Here
was a case of the Guru, the teacher, turning everything
upside down. Having sown the seeds of a powerful
cosmic view, he asked the disciple to go back into
the world in which he was immersed, to internalise
what he had learned and then communicate it to the
world. This was the most difficult task. It was a
challenge to continue the process of learning, testing,
verifying and deepening the knowledge without
withdrawing from the demanding responsibilities and
challenges of normal existence. This book is a result of
over thirty 30 years of that rigorous process.
During this long period, the author worked as a journalist
and rose to become the Editor-in-Chief ofIndia's only left-
wing daily, The Patriot, and the weekly news-magazine
'Link'. He also experienced the complexities of life and
society as a trade unionist and social activist. He was elected
as a Member of the Indian Parliament (Upper House) from
1974 to 1980, when he watched closely the functioning of
the world's largest democracy. He worked closely alongside
the late prime ministers (Mrs.) Indira Gandhi and Rajiv
Gandhi. In 1990, he became Chairman and Editor-in-
Chief of the Observer Group of Newspapers, which
includes a prominent financial daily, The Observer of
Business and Politics, published simultaneously from
Mumbai and Delhi.
The author has travelled widely, both as a parliamentarian
and as a journalist. He has visited France, Greece, U.K.,
USA, Germany, Russia, Egypt, Algeria, Tanzania, Zambia,
Angola, Vietnam, Kampuchea, Lebanon, Pakistan, Italy,
Switzerland, Cuba, Portugal, Poland, Thailand, China,
among other countries. During these visits, he has met
with presidents, prime ministers, ministers, academics,
intellectuals and other leading public figures.
Throughout this time, when he was apparently immersed
in politics and journalism, he continued his internal
pilgrimage of self-discovery; a journey completely hidden
from his interlocutors in the world of politics, media and
public affairs. He continued to live in a tantalising
'external' world while internally being occupied with his
Like his Guru, the author belongs to the lineage of Rishi
Bharadwaj, the renowned seer-scientist, who unravelled
several mysteries of the cosmos many thousands of years
ago and is extensively cited in the Vedas.
We have chosen to adopt a simplified system of transliteration for the Sanskrit words and terms found in this book, in order not to distract our readers’ attention from the meaning of the phrase, line or paragraph containing these words and terms. However, some simple rules of grammar and pronunciation should be noted at the outset.
In some instances, according to the rules of Sandhi, letters re altered when written together. A clear example is found in the titles of some Upanishads; for instance, Kenada Upanishad become Kenopanishad.
It is extremely common in this book to find the letter ‘a’ at the end of a word. Examples are legion and include Yoga, Krishna, Parmeshwara and Atma. In actual fact, when these words are spoken there is “almost” an ‘a’ at the end, but one which is half-uttered and not as overt as the English ‘a’. The alternative would have been to write these words as Yog, Krishn, Parmeshwar, Atma and suchlike, which we felt would look unusual to the eyes of someone whose first language is English or another European language and would therefore also be an unwelcome distraction.
Most vowels in Sanskrit have an open pronunciation. Thus, we find that the ‘o’ in the word Yoga is pronounced like the ‘0’ in the English word ‘flow’, not like the short ‘o’ in ‘dog’. Similarly, the long ‘I’ in Ishwara is akin to the ‘I’ in ‘oblique’ rather than the ‘i’ in ‘die’. The short ‘I’ in Bindu is pronounced like the ‘I’ in ‘chin’.
There is no ‘th’ in Sanskj-jt so that when readers see ‘th’ in a Sanshit word in these pages, they should be aware that this is an aspirated ‘t’. For example, in the word Ghanapatha the ‘th’ is pronounced like the ‘th’ in ‘hot-1use’ (Ganapat_ ha), not like the ‘th’ in ‘truth’. In the same way, all other consonants combined with an aspirated ‘h’ — bh, ch, dh, gh, jh, kh and ph — are pronounced with a distinct ‘h’ following the initial consonants For instance, Adhyatma is pronounced Ad-hyatma.
Readers should note, however that the Situation is otherwise for the combinations of ‘ch’ and ‘sh’ as represented in this work. The letters ‘ch’ in this text may be a substitute for a ‘c’ which would normally carry a diacritic mark over the letter itself (a& in Acarya, Citta which become Acharya, Chitta); or they maref- to the Sanskjjt spelling of ’ch’ as in Chandogya Upanishad In both cases, they are to be pronounced ‘ch’ as in the word ‘church’. The spelling ‘sh’ is a Romanized transliteration of ‘s’ which would normally carry a diacritic mark above it, in instances such as Siva, Sastra, Sunya (which become Shiva, Shastra, Shunya) and many others.
TO WONDER AND TO ENQUIRE ARE FUNDAMENTAL
stimuli for all human beings. The history of modern science, which has existed for only a few tried years, is replete with fascinating and creative )flasks to these irrepressible impulses. Some of its most ruler achievements have occurred within the last or During this brief period of human history, as untwists unraveled one mystery of nature after another and etymology augmented the human tools of observation and investigation, confidence increased that the human race had :n behind of speculation, guesswork and superstition. Excitement spread about what was seen as a sure me certain path which would enable the human intellect to find answers to all the mysteries of nature.
Sir Isaac Newton’s discovery of the three famous laws enormously strengthened mankind’s conviction in us ultimate triumph over nature. For Newton, space and time were absolute — that is, the same throughout the universe, and unchanging or unchangeable. Since his lifetime the march of science has been unstoppable and it has held successive 2cnerations in its intoxicating spell. This period has great achievements to its credit, no doubt. Ideas which were once considered dreams and fantasies have become reality Science and technology have enormously enlarged the human ability to produce goods and services and employ them for gain and pleasure. Concurrently, of course, the human capacity to destroy and annihilate has increased in frightening proportions. Modern science has also intensified mankind’s ruthless drive to establish supremacy over nature.
Impressive performance notwithstanding, a sense of unease persists worldwide. There is a gnawing feel that, despite unmistakable evidence of ‘progress’, something critical is missing. This critical factor is happiness. In the ultimate analysis, all human endeavor has only one goal, which is to secure happiness and peace; yet this goal continues to elude mankind, resulting in a feeling of disquiet which is widely shared across continents and civilizations.
These feelings of anguish and anger are powerfully articulated by Paul Federated in Farewell to Reason (1987):
“I say that Auschwitz is an extreme manifestation of an attitude that still thrives in our midst .... It becomes manifest in the nuclear threat, the constant increase in the number and power of deadly weapons and the readiness of some so-called patriots to start a war compared with which the holocaust will shrink into insignificance. It shows itself in the killing of nature and of ‘primitive’ cultures with never a thought spent on those thus deprived of meaning for their lives, in the colossal conceit of our intellectuals, their belief that they know precisely what humanity needs and their relentless efforts to recreate people in their own sorry image; in the infantile megalomania of some of our physicians who blackmail their patients with fear, mutilate them and then persecute them with large bills; in the lack of feeling of many so-called searchers for truth who systematically torture animals, study their discomfort and receive prizes for their cruelty.”
People often wonder if the conflicts and restlessness in and amongst nations, communities and individuals are not direct proportion to the increase in the ‘benefits’ brought science and technology The more ardently men and
chase happiness in their individual lives and in the world, the further the goal appears to move from This has given rise to widespread frustration deep in starts of individuals, even in the most affluent societies. Growing sense to bewilderment continues to agitate sensitive minds, and the backlash of this disturbing state of afl2irs can be seen everywhere.
At another level, the confident assumption that physics would ultimately enable human beings to discover the origins of the universe, to shape the present and discern the future, has received several shocks since the arrival of Albert Einstein. His Theory of Relativity turned the world of Newtonian physics upside down. Newton had assured us that space and time are both absolutes; space divides objects and time separates events. He asserted that space and time had — and will always have — the same meaning for every observer in the world.
In contrast, Einstein established that space and time manifest differently to different observers. His Theory of Relativity not only proved that time and space are relative, but also threw open the question as to whether absolute knowledge is attainable at all. According to Einstein: “Space and time are free creations of human intelligence, tools of thought.”2 His theory asserts that a stick will have different lengths when measured by different observers. Einstein also discovered that matter (mass) and energy are one and the same and are mutually convertible. He established that although matter is gross and energy is invisible and subtle, the two are interchangeable.
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