002 – Academics and Spirituality

National Integration Through Thirukkural And Sanskrit

Academic Knowledge and Spirituality

In modern times, due to the influence of Western thoughts, there is a concerted effort by a section of academicians and intellectuals, that, faith, orthodoxy and spirituality are inherently illogical and cannot stand the test of science. It is made out as though, science and spirituality cannot co-exist. We come across many instances of faith, orthodoxy and spirituality being ridiculed with impunity.

The experiences of two of our greatest thinkers Mathematician Ramanujam and Dr APJ Abdul Kalam belie the above perception. Both of them were rigorous practitioners of their faith and in fact, credited their excellence to spirituality.

Mathematician Ramanujam has been described as a person of a somewhat shy and quiet disposition, a dignified man with pleasant manners.  He lived a rather spartan life at Cambridge. His biographers describe him as a rigorously orthodox Hindu. He credited his acumen to his family goddess, Mahalakshmi of Namakkal. One such event was described by him as follows: “While asleep, I had an unusual experience. There was a red screen formed by flowing blood, as it were. I was observing it. Suddenly a hand began to write on the screen. I became all attention. That hand wrote a number of elliptic integrals. They stuck to my mind. As soon as I woke up, I committed them to writing”.   He often said, “An equation for me has no meaning unless it represents a thought of God” .

Dr APJ Abdul Kalam says

“I have always been a religious person in the sense that I maintain a working partnership with God. I was aware that the best work required more ability than I possessed and therefore I needed help that only God could give me. I made a true estimate of my own ability, then raised it by 50 per cent and put myself in God’s hands. In this partnership, I have always received all the power I needed, and in fact have actually felt it flowing through me. Today, I can affirm that the kingdom of God is within you in the form of this power, to help achieve your goals and realise your dreams”.

“There are many different types and levels of experience that turn this internal power reaction, critical. Sometimes, when we are ready,  the gentlest of contacts with Him fills us with insight and wisdom. This could come from an encounter with another person, from a word, a question, a gesture or even a look. Many a time, it could come even through a book, a conversation, some phrase, even a line from a poem or the mere sight of a picture. Without the slightest warning, something new breaks into your life and a secret decision is taken, a decision that you may be completely unconscious of, to start with”.

Thiruvalluvar in his couplet 2 questions the use of knowledge, if one does not pray God.

கற்றதனால் ஆய பயன்என்கொல் வால்அறிவன்
நல்தாள் தொழாஅர் எனின் 

Katradhanaal Aaya Payanenkol Vaalarivan
Natraal Thozhaaar Enin

பரிமேலழகர் உரை:

கற்றதனால் ஆய பயன் என் – எல்லா நூல்களையும் கற்றவர்க்கு அக்கல்வி அறிவான் ஆய பயன் யாது?; வால் அறிவன் நல் தாள் தொழாஅர் எனின் – மெய்யுணர்வினை உடையானது நல்ல தாள்களைத் தொழாராயின்? (எவன் என்னும் வினாப்பெயர் என் என்று ஆய், ஈண்டு இன்மை குறித்து நின்றது. ‘கொல்’ என்பது அசைநிலை. பிறவிப் பிணிக்கு மருந்து ஆகலின் ‘நற்றாள்’ என்றார். ஆகம அறிவிற்குப் பயன் அவன் தாளைத் தொழுது பிறவியறுத்தல் என்பது இதனான் கூறப்பட்டது.

What is the use of knowledge, if the possessor of the knowledge does not prostrate before God, the ultimate possessor of knowledge.

Sanskrit Translation by Shri S.N. Srirama Desikan

ஈஸ²ஸ்ய ஜ்ஞானரூபஸ்ய வினா பாத³னிவேஷணம் |
ஸந்த்வதீ⁴தானி ஸா²ஸ்த்ரணி ந தைரஸ்தி ப்ரயோஜனம் ||