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Troubles of the Bhaktivedānta Institute

History of the Bhaktivedānta Institute

The Bhaktivedānta Institute (BI) was created by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda to function as the intellectual arm of ISKCON. It had three primary goals—(a) refute the materialism of modern science, (b) refute the blind faith assumptions of other religions, and (c) establish that the Vedic system is scientific. When Prabhupāda met scientists, he would challenge their materialism. When he met people from other religions, he would challenge their blind faith assumptions. To both groups, he would offer the Vedic system as an alternative scientific system, rather than blind faith or materialism.

Each of the above three goals underwent a drastic transformation after Prabhupāda’s departure.

  • The goal of refuting the materialism of modern science took a backseat and was replaced by the desire to build bridges with modern science, get a seat within the modern academic system, and not criticize the materialistic dogmas of modern science to preserve the academic seat.
  • The goal of challenging the blind faith axioms of religions took a backseat and was replaced by a desire to build bridges with other religions, reformulate the Vedic system in terms of alien concepts like monotheism, and not speak ill of other religions to preserve those bridges.
  • The goal of presenting the Vedic system as an alternative scientific system took a backseat and was replaced by the desire to reformulate the Vedic system in terms of modern scientific ideas such as mathematical theories, hoping to gain more acceptance within modern society.

In this article, after a first part where I present an overview and establish basic definitions, I will discuss how this drastic transformation occurred in the next three parts. In the last section, an alternative is offered. For those who might be unacquainted with BI, I would recommend reading The Inception of the Bhaktivedānta Institute.

The Modern Definition of Materialism

A few words need to be said about materialism, to define this term clearly. Matter in science is anything that is quantifiable using a measurement. For example, money is quantifiable, so it is matter, even though it is not matter in physics. Similarly, population is quantifiable, so it is matter, although it is not matter in physics. The term matter has no meaning other than a quantifiable measurement. Each subject can define a different type of matter if it is measurable. Energy is matter in physics, money is matter in economics, and population is matter in sociology. Matter is any variable in a mathematical equation.

The modern definition of matter is quite different from the classical definition of matter. We can call the classical definition substantive matter and the modern definition physical matter. Beginning with the Greeks and up until the time of Descartes, matter was spoken of in terms of substances. Following Newton, and the philosophers that followed, matter was redefined as measurable, quantifiable, numerical properties. John Locke also defined matter as primary properties, precisely equal to quantifiable properties. The classical distinctions between substance and form are no longer relevant to the definition of matter. Therefore, the rejection of materialism also pertains to the modern definitions of physical matter.

However, there is a sense in which the form-substance dualism of Greek times has been replaced by empirical measurement vs. mathematical theory dualism of modern thinking. Mathematical theory is the essence of modern rationality and measurement data is the essence of modern empiricism. The theory and data combine to produce science. Matter as data validates the theory as mathematics. A mathematical theory is the new idea of form while empirical data is the new idea of substance.

The Modern Definition of Blind Faith

By blind faith, I mean any unjustified axiom. Scientific blind faiths include the idea that the world can be fully described in terms of numbers, that the laws of nature are uniform for all times and places, that instrument measurement reveals an objective truth about reality, that conscious will does not intervene in the working of mathematical equations, etc. These have never been justified so they are blind faiths.

Religious blind faiths include the idea that God created the world from nothing, that the soul did not exist before this life, that the soul does not reincarnate to new bodies, that animals don’t have a soul, that God gave man permission to dominate and exploit nature, that God enters into a contract with man, that the soul inherits the sins of its ancestors, that God forgives sins upon confession, that one person can be punished for another person’s sins, that salvation occurs when the world comes to an end, that the world did not exist a few thousand years ago and will not exist after a few thousand years, etc.

The belief that an external world exists has no justification in Western thinking, so it is also a blind faith for Western thinking. However, because a justification for the external world exists in the Vedic system, therefore, it is not blind faith for the Vedic system. Since external reality has never been justified, even the existence of God and other souls is blind faith in Abrahamic religions, but since their existence is justified in the Vedic system, hence, they are not blind faiths for the Vedic system.

Thus, we distinguish between true and false blind faiths. An external world, the soul, and God are true blind faiths in Abrahamic faiths but they are just true (not blind faiths) in the Vedic system. All other claims noted above are false blind faiths—unless someone can provide their justification. We can accept true blind faiths, but not false blind faiths. My criticisms in this article are restricted to false blind faiths.

As we can see, blind faiths are not unique to religion. They exist even in science. The depersonalization of nature was a blind faith in Abrahamic faiths before it became a blind faith in science, from which the dogma of materialism—i.e., quantification of material reality—emerged. Hence, it is often not prudent to make distinctions between the blind faiths of religion and the unjustified axioms of modern science. Prabhupāda conditionally accepted true blind faiths (like the concepts of soul and God in Abrahamic faiths) and rejected the false blind faiths that are found both in sciences and religions. He wanted BI to challenge the false blind faiths and conclusively establish whatever might be true blind faith.

The modern definition of blind faith is identical to that of axiomatization. Axioms are never proven empirically or rationally. Nobody can perceive axioms or derive them from something we can perceive. They are just human assumptions that are sometimes useful and sometimes useless. Anyone who draws a hard and fast distinction between blind faith and science doesn’t know that blind faith always exists in every science in the form of axioms that can never be proven rationally or empirically.

Thus, any hard and fast distinction between science and religion is also conceptually problematic. There are serious overlaps between the two. Hence, I will use these terms colloquially as they are generally interpreted, although, upon a deeper analysis, we can see their similarities. As far as the goals of BI are concerned, Prabhupāda’s opposition to blind faith applies equally well to all unprovable axioms.

A Modern Critique of Materialism

Since materialism is defined as anything that can be quantified through a measurement, therefore, the critique of materialism is that there is no complete set of quantifiable variables for any subject. For instance, there is no complete set of quantifiable variables for physics, economics, or sociology. Completeness is defined as the ability to predict and explain everything in observation.

There are two methods to critique materialism—one specific to each subject and the other generic to all subjects. The specific critique goes into each subject, such as physics, economics, or sociology, and shows how the current best-known theories in that subject are indeterministic and probabilistic, and any attempt to improve the predictive and explanatory capacity results in a self-contradiction. The generic critique goes into the definition of materialism as a quantifiable variable and shows that there is no theory of numbers that can completely generate all types of quantifiable propositions, or propositions about numbers.

I can cite one example of each of these two types of critiques. A specific critique of materialism in physics is the inability to produce a non-deterministic and non-probabilistic explanation of quantum phenomena. Any theory that employs quantifiable variables will result in self-contradiction while trying to produce a less deterministic or less probabilistic prediction and explanation of quantum phenomena. The best-known general critique of materialism is Gödel’s Incompleteness under which every theory of numbers is incomplete because it cannot predict and explain all mathematical sentences. Any attempt to make the theory more complete will result in self-contradiction. Both specific and generic critiques of materialism pertain to the inability to use numbers to explain all the observable phenomena.

A Modern Definition of Justified Belief

Since blind faith is defined as any unjustified axiom, hence, a critique of blind faith involves establishing all the true blind faiths based on a justification and never using any unjustified axiom in any science. Here, I will cite three specific examples of justification pertaining to an external world, the soul, and God.

Each individual person can accept that he exists. Even if I am imagining, my existence is not falsified by the imagination. The external world is whatever I have not created, that I do not control, and that which I am not enjoying. For instance, when I suffer, I am not creating that suffering for myself because I don’t want to suffer. The suffering is caused by something moving or changing against my will, therefore, the cause of its motion or change is something distinct from me. I have not created the cause of my suffering, but since the world causes my suffering, therefore, the world is separate from me.

We come to a justified distinction between me and a world separate from me based on the problem of suffering against my will. Based on this distinction, I can say that my suffering is caused by someone else—who must willingly create, control, and enjoy this act. I could also say that suffering is random, which would mean that I cannot get out of suffering. The rational conclusion—arising from the desire to escape suffering—is that there is someone else who causes suffering and if the causes of that action could be understood then it would be possible to change those actions, thus putting an end to suffering.

From the distinction between me and the world, we come to the justified conclusion of the distinction between me and other persons. However, most persons I can see are themselves struggling to overcome suffering. They too are victims of causes out of their control, not their creation, and not pleasing to them. Therefore, among the other people causing my suffering, there must be a Supreme Person who is controlling, causing, and enjoying my suffering. This is also a rational conclusion arising from my desire to overcome suffering. If I reject this conclusion, then suffering is random, causeless, and inexplicable, and without knowing the causes, I cannot put an end to suffering. Thus, from the distinction between me and the world, and me and other persons, I come to a distinction between me and a Supreme Person.

Rationality now demands that my suffering caused by a Supreme Person is not irrational, unjustified, and sadistic. If I conclude that the Supreme Person is sadistically, irrationally, or unjustifiably making me suffer, then I will have no incentives to do anything and I will continue suffering. My desire to get out of suffering requires me to assume that the Supreme Person is not irrational, sadistic, or unjust, that there are good reasons why I am suffering, and that by removing those reasons, I can get out of suffering.

Thus, by a justified belief, I mean everything that I can understand based on my understanding of myself, the attempt to self-realize this understanding of myself to the fullest extent, and come to conclusions necessitated by this self-pursuit. My rationality is driven primarily by my desire for happiness.

A Simple Definition of Rationality

Everyone has a choice by which they can create arbitrary axioms. But we don’t like it when arbitrary axioms are applied to us. For instance, I can postulate that the world is irrational, unjust, and sadistic. But this axiomatization will only be used to act irrationally, unjustly, and sadistically against others. The person who axiomatized those beliefs will have a big problem if someone else does the same to them. Each person can only accept a world that acts rationally, justly, and pleasingly toward them.

Therefore, my arbitrary choices of axioms must be corrected by applying those axioms to me. If I wish to universalize an axiom, then I have to accept that I am part of the universe, and my axioms, therefore, apply to me. If I cannot accept my axioms being applied to me then I have to change them to what I can accept being applied to me. Thus, all truth is personal. I can call anything true if I can accept its application to myself. Now I have to talk about many worlds in which different persons live with the truth that they have chosen as their axioms. If they can accept their chosen axioms being applied to them, then it is their personal truth. If they cannot accept their chosen axioms applied to them, then it is their personal choices of axioms that have been falsified by putting them in a world that works according to their axioms.

Thus, rationality doesn’t equate to objectivity. It is rooted in a person’s choice to create their truth. Similarly, rationality cannot be universalized. Everyone can choose their truth and live through its consequences. If they find the application of their axioms on themselves problematic, then they have to change their axioms.

All rationality thus reduces to a simple principle—choice and responsibility. You can choose whatever you want and then see it applied back to you. Based on this principle, we can talk about countless worlds working on different axiomatic choices, enduring the consequences of their choices on themselves, and deciding to accept or reject their axioms to get transferred to a new world. The quest for truth—or what we call epistemology—is inseparable from the question of choice and responsibility because without this principle everyone is going to choose their axioms and call that rationality. Under a universal conception of truth, they will also force their axioms on others.

The above closed-loop system of logic is not the Western open-loop system of logic widely presumed to be rationality. In open-loop logic, I can assume whatever I want, and my assumptions may not be corrected. In closed-loop logic, my axioms will be applied back to me, and because I might not like them, I will find myself correcting my axioms. Open-loop rationality does not correct axioms but closed-loop rationality does. Without closed-loop rationality, there is no epistemology.

Since Western thinking has never used closed-loop rationality, therefore, there has never been any epistemology in the West. Every philosopher postulates new axioms and uses logic to derive conclusions, but such conclusions never contradict the axioms. That philosopher has to be put into a world governed by his axioms where he can get a taste of his own medicine to check if he is still loving it.

Alternative Definitions of Rationality

If we study the history of Western civilization—beginning with pre-Socratic Greek philosophy—we will find a series of attempts to break away from the closed-loop rationality of choice and consequence. Below I will list just some of these attempts that have had a lasting impact on Western civilization:

  • Heraclitus: The world is change, not a being, nothing persists, so no responsibility.
  • Parmenides: The world is a being not change, hence no choices or responsibility.
  • Socrates: Nothing can be precisely defined; hence, nothing can truly be known.
  • Plato: There is a world of pure forms, but our impurity ensures we cannot know it.
  • Aristotle: Only the claims of geometry and arithmetic are knowable pure truths.
  • Romans: The emperor is God’s delegate in this world. Whatever he says is the truth.
  • Christianity: God’s Son and His Spirit have uniquely privileged us to know the truth.
  • Descartes: Truths pertain to mind and body and are separated from each other.
  • Science: Truth must be quantifiable. Everything not quantifiable cannot be true.

We can apply all these alternative ideas of rationality to the proposer of that rationality and we will find that he cannot accept his propositions being consistently applied to him. This results in double, triple, quadruple, and multiple standards. One thing is said in one case and another thing is said in another case because no proposer is ready to accept all his claims being consistently applied to himself.

Over time, we get many standards and we can freely choose whichever standard we like in whichever case we like, and the conclusion will always be radical individualism and the absence of truth. This is the situation today, called postmodernism. Modernity was defined as quantifiable truth. Postmodernity is defined as no truth because quantification is so inadequate that it cannot be elevated to the truth.

Getting Married to Western Thinking

When Prabhupāda gave the goals of (a) refuting the materialism of modern science, (b) refuting the blind faith assumptions of other religions, and (c) establishing that the Vedic system is scientific, there was an implicit understanding that there is already a sound epistemology and rationality in the Vedic system and no such rationality or epistemology has ever existed in the Western civilization. The Western idea of science as quantification and religion as exclusive privileges have no connection to the truth.

But in complete disregard of Prabhupāda’s explicit instructions and implicit understandings, BI not just whole-heartedly accepted Western thinking as something that is modern, rational, and mostly true, but also made association with Western thinking a matter of great pride for the Vedic system. It fell into the classic Western trap of materialistic thinking—the famous, wealthy, and powerful are truthful. A little common sense would have revealed that most famous, wealthy, and powerful people are anything but truthful.

During the Enlightenment, scientists called God a mathematical thinker. Those who were thinking of mathematics were elevated to priests because they were discovering the mind of God. Since everyone could think mathematically, therefore, by mathematics education, everyone became a priest. A synthesis of science and religion was achieved within Christianity by calling God a mathematical thinker.

BI bought this Christian narrative lock, stock, and barrel. It works under the assumption of mind-body separation: The body is working mathematically while the mind has sense perceptions, thinks of beauty and justice, has emotions and feelings, but also thinks mathematics. Hence, a mathematical science is not the whole truth, but it is the truth as far as the body is concerned. In relation to the body, the mind thinks mathematics. But in relation to other minds, it thinks other things. Thus, everything rests on the mind-body dualism, which has to be assumed without any justification.

However, if we try to solve the mind-body problem, then we will have to throw away all of the Western thinking. The body, in the Vedic system, comprises qualities, not quantities. The body cannot be completely described using mathematics, as we noted above through specific and generic refutations of materialism. The body is rather a subset of the mind—properties like hardness, heaviness, heat, color, shape, etc.—can both be thought and sensed. What is a subset of the mind must be like the mind. The mind can also think mathematics like we can think of a three-legged winged horse wearing goggles.

The problems of BI arise from taking Western thinking as the bedrock of science and religion and trying to add bells and whistles to it, within the basic structure of Western thinking, without recognizing the multiple dualisms involved in this thinking, each of which constitutes a double standard. The correct similarity is not between Western and Vedic thinking but between the Vedic system and the pagan religions that preceded the Western civilization. The Western civilization emerged from the rejection of pagan systems, which drove the West farther and farther from the Vedic system leading to an antagonism between the two. Western thinking decries the Vedic system as another pagan religion while BI worships Western thinking as the role model of science, religion, and philosophy. The contrast couldn’t be starker.

The flexibility afforded by liberalism to adapt, modify, change, and mix different ideas into a worldview then contributes to the illusion that an East-West synthesis can be achieved by BI. The fact is that unless Western thinking is completely dropped, nothing useful will ever be achieved by BI. But BI has operated under the delusion that it will achieve the impossible. This article tells the story of this delusion.

The second part talks about modernity, its institutions, the way it conceives truth, and how all these things are different in the Vedic system, making it not just incompatible with but also incomprehensible to the modern mind. The third part discusses how the pursuit of prestige led BI to align with modernity, rather than separate itself from modernity to stand as an independent representation of the Vedic system. The fourth part talks about the several futile endeavors that have driven BI further and further from the Vedic system and into the arms of modernity. This critique would be incomplete without offering an alternative. In the fifth part, I will do just that.

Understanding the Modern World

The Grand Illusion of Liberalism

People living in democracies have been made to believe that they are living in a free society. That they are free to choose their religion, culture, ideology, government, and lifestyle, and because this is such a good idea, therefore, they must spread the Western culture, ideology, religion, and values to the rest of the world. This myth goes back to the Enlightenment and is called liberalism. What followed the dawn of liberalism was colonialism and slavery rather than freedom of choice. That is because liberalism wasn’t about giving people the choice of religion, culture, ideology, government, or lifestyle. It was about creating economic prosperity via industrialization, urbanization, and consumerism.

The day liberalism means the choice of religion, culture, ideology, government, and lifestyle, it will be replaced by an authoritarian government that takes away all choices from people. Until then, there is an illusion of free choice within the broader goal of industrialization, urbanization, and consumerism. At the end of WWII, a neoliberal agenda was created to universalize the Western ideas of science, society, and religion to the whole world through coercive methods. Neoliberalism is the antithesis of what people think liberalism is, although merely a forceful universalization of what liberalism has always been.

Almost everyone in the West today realizes that they are not free people. They can vote in an election, but they cannot change the political outcomes. They can talk about peace but they cannot end wars. They can discuss ways to pursue the truth, but they cannot end the media propaganda. They can discuss economic frugality but they cannot stop money printing that feeds economic excesses. They can debate the bad effects of modern education but they cannot change the school curriculum. They can criticize corporate greed but they must continue their immoral activities to remain employed. They have to be careful about what they say publicly or they will be canceled. There is nothing free about neoliberalism.

The mechanism of change in a liberal society is politics. Raise money, get your candidates elected to office, and control them through money and power to do what you want to be done. Nobody is going to listen to you unless you have the wealth and power to control those occupying the offices of power. Anyone who tries to bring social change without such wealth and power will remain frustrated.

Powerful Institutions are Survivalists

Modern sciences and religions are powerful institutions that aim to defend and enhance their power and prestige through any and all means possible. They meet their critics for a discussion, listen to their criticism, appreciate their coming and sharing their views, and say that there is merit in their argument, but it should be presented with stronger evidence, to get many more people on board with the proposal.

If someone falls into the trap of evidence collection, then the institution says that each cited evidence supporting a revisionist claim could also be interpreted in a different way that does not necessitate a drastic revision. The institution then asks the critic to get more evidence, which is then given the same or similar treatment. At all times, it appears that the revisionist goal is within reach although it is like dangling a carrot before a donkey to keep it moving. Time keeps passing but nothing is achieved.

This method of dealing with the critics of an institution serves several important purposes. First, you cannot accuse the institution of not having heard you patiently; it is important to keep the appearance of openness. Second, if someone accuses the institution of bias, the institution can say that the critic hasn’t yet presented convincing evidence, so the ball is in the critic’s court. Third, if there is a strong point in the critic’s argument, the institution will disaggregate it from the broader worldview and integrate one or two cherry-picked claims into its worldview to immunize itself against similar attacks in the future. Fourth, if the above techniques don’t work, then the critic would be publicly and personally discredited.

Institutions are self-defending organisms. If that institution is truthful then it lives long. If it is corrupt, then it dies quickly due to its inner contradictions. Truthful institutions inculcate a spirit of unity and sacrifice among their members, which is reflected as much internally as externally. Corrupt institutions inculcate a spirit of competition and greed among their members, which is reflected as much internally as externally. Hence, whatever was previously externalized is internalized over time, and vice versa.

Modern scientific and religious institutions are corrupt and power-hungry. We cannot fight them without a proportional level of power and corrupt tactics, which is not possible for honest people. Hence, corrupt institutions should be left alone to self-destruct as a result of their internal greed and corruption.

Power and Not Truth Drives Academics

Academics is a profession, plain and simple. For the academic, it puts food on the table, helps him buy houses and cars, finances his vacations and luxuries, and puts his children through college. To think that an academic would jeopardize all that comfort for the truth is stupid. The academic will always sacrifice the truth for comfort. Nobody can promulgate an ideology on an empty stomach. Those who control the comforts always control the ideology. Truth cannot be pursued while we are slaves of the untruthful.

Since each academic needs to survive, therefore, each academic does what will help him survive and thrive materially. They accept some reform when it is convenient to their image, but not if it tarnishes it. This generally means that cosmetic changes are accepted but drastic changes are not. Those outside the academic system believe that people inside that system are pursuing the truth. But the reality is that academics are basically pursuing their survival. At all times, they have to protect their prestige.

Academics is not a liberal enterprise. It is funded, controlled, and directed by people with money and power. It was earlier controlled by the Church. It is today controlled by the military-industrial complex. Every wealthy party anoints and nourishes people favorable to its agendas into the academic system by sponsoring scholarships, research grants, departments, chairperson positions, and awards. Money is used to get convenient ideas anointed as truths. The published “research” is then used by its financiers for political, economic, social, organizational, industrial, military, and such purposes. Those with wealth and power do everything in their wealth and power to further that wealth and power.

Historical and Ahistorical Societies

Abrahamic societies are historical. There is a specific time at which a specific prophet arrived to give a specific set of instructions, which then marked the beginning of civilization for them. Everything before that was uncivilized. They don’t like to accept older civilizations and certainly cannot accept that the older civilization was better. Any society that currently resembles their pre-civilization society has to be reviled to establish the superiority of the Abrahamic civilization. This has been the trend throughout history as Abrahamic societies have decimated all other societies and cultures that they could.

The Vedic system is the lone exception to this rule for Abrahamic cultures, and that makes it a long-term competitive threat in the civilizational race. In the linear story of Abrahamic faiths, initially, there were pagans, then came monotheists, and then came scientists. Science is the crown jewel of Western society that has no competitor in the world today. Thus, to say that the Vedic system is an alternative scientific system is the worst possible insult to Western civilization. The West can at best accept the Vedic system as another pagan religion, far below the monotheism that followed. The need to justify a linear progression of Western society over time requires that the Vedic system be called regressive.

The Vedic tradition is ahistorical. Vedic texts cite events from different ages in a non-linear sequence. They seek the exceptional truth and disregard the rest. The Vedic tradition sees time cyclically, which means that there are periods of progress and regress. Abrahamic societies, however, see history as a step toward progress and never toward regress. What was left behind in the past has to stay in the past and never be the present or the future. We can never transform modern science and religion from within because their institutions have already assumed a historical narrative about progress.

When Shankaracharya debated Mīmāṃsā or Buddhism, nobody said that because Buddhism had come after the rejection of the Vedic tradition, therefore, it was a greater truth. Nobody said that because rituals were the left-over truth after the destruction of the esoteric philosophy tradition, hence, they were the greater truth. When Vaiṣṇava Acharyas critiqued Advaita, nobody said that Vaishnavism was in the past and it should be left there. This is because the Vedic society is ahistorical. It accepts that there are times of progress and regress. Time is not a measure of progress or regress because it goes cyclically. We establish the truth in a timeless manner rather than call it a truth based on the movement of time.

Modern societies don’t believe in timeless truths. If you write a paper, you have to cite previous papers whether or not they are true. You must operate within the current academic consensus whether or not it is true. Your paper must respond to issues of interest to the current readers of the journal even if they are issues created by false assumptions. You should not question those assumptions if others are not interested in listening to such questioning. A question must only be discussed in a journal dedicated to that question. Interdisciplinary topics require separate journals. The interface between science and religion can only be discussed in a journal dedicated to discussing science and religion. Nobody wants a timeless truth. Nobody wants an overarching worldview. Nobody wants to resolve the contradictions between subjects. Nobody wants to question the dogmas upon which modernity sits. Everyone has their head buried in the sand.

The Vedic system is not like that. The same book discusses all topics ranging from matter to God, and everything in between. It is not interested in historical evolution. It cherry-picks the truth and leaves the rest alone. Nobody cites what ignorant men have said. There are too many of those to worry about.

Historical and ahistorical systems of knowledge can never be mixed because the ahistorical system (a) goes across numerous disciplines, (b) talks about timeless truths rather than temporal responses, (c) is not constrained by the currently fashionable dogma, and (d) measures success by its ability to integrate everything into one worldview. A historical system aims to achieve incremental progress over the current issue at hand. It accepts a drastic paradigm change only after the current system has collapsed. The defining trait of an ahistorical society is continuity. A historical society is defined by revolutions.

Basic Properties of Universal Truths

Western thinking is universalism. Everything is just one type of thing. Everything that looks unique must be just one type of thing under the hood. Its uniqueness must be an illusion while the truth must be uniformity. For instance, everything in the universe must be a particle. All particles must have the same properties—such as position and momentum. Those who accept the universal truth are good people. Everyone else is evil. A universalist fights with other universalists and tries to destroy them.

Since universalism is itself a false ideology, therefore it always fails. However, when one universal fails, the universalist moves over to another universal. Western philosophy, modern science, Abrahamic faiths, and Western liberalism are examples of universalism. Since no universalism works in all situations, therefore, people use contradictory universals in different domains. For example, natural sciences use the universal of determinism while social sciences use the universal of choice. The contradiction between opposing universals is never resolved. At most, it is demarcated through a dualism.

The general property of a dualism is that you need the other side and you are opposed to the other side. We can call this simultaneous love and hate for the opposite. Hot cannot exist without cold. But hot is opposed to cold. Therefore, hot and cold go to war with each other, and as one of them is destroyed, both are destroyed. Then a universalist moves to another universal which is also inadequate, so it requires its opposite, the opposites love and hate each other, go to war, destroy each other, and society moves to a new universal, then a new duality, then a new battle, and it goes on like this endlessly.

Universal Truth vs. Supreme Truth

The Vedic system is not universalism. There are infinite unique things with one thing in common—that they exist for a common purpose. This is also an ideology. But it is not universalism. It accommodates infinite variety as long as a common purpose is served. Diversity is not removed. The purpose is united. A common purpose unites opposite ideas just like a pen and a sword can be used for a common purpose. In some cases, the pen is mightier than the sword. In other cases, the sword is mightier than the pen.

Universalists assume that everyone is a universalist. If Western universalists study the Vedic system, for instance, they assume that it is yet another universalism. They are tired of the previous universal and might desire a new universal. But the Vedic system doesn’t try to reduce the whole world to one type of thing. There are both pens and swords. The world cannot be reduced to one of those. However, we can use both of those for a common purpose. That common purpose becomes the unity between them. This is not liberalism. We cannot do whatever we want. Everything must serve a common purpose. Thus, all individual purposes and all universal ideas are rejected. Ideas are unique but the purpose is singular.

The resulting truth is called supreme truth rather than universal truth. The supreme truth doesn’t make everything else false, unlike the universal truth. Rather, the non-supreme truths serve the supreme truth, fulfilling the common purpose for which they exist. The supreme truth is the cause of numerous other truths and lies. If the effect is used to serve the cause, then it is truth. Otherwise, it is a lie.

I must not teach peace to a person under attack. I must not teach violence against a peaceful person. Neither violence nor peace are universal truths. They are contextually true if they serve the supreme truth. A society conditioned to thinking about universal truth does not understand supreme truth because supreme truth accommodates infinite uniqueness as long as it is used for a common purpose.

Universalists Don’t Comprehend Others

Abrahamic faiths have much trouble grasping what they call “polytheism” in the Vedic system. They don’t know that there is a Supreme Personality of Godhead who is served by many lower Personalities of Godhead. All personalities of God are not the same. Many forms of God are serving the Supreme Person. We don’t call them not-God, and we don’t merge them into one God. This is not polytheism because there is indeed a Supreme Person. But to a universalist, it always looks like a polytheistic universe.

Modern science doesn’t understand that the Vedic system never reduces any two things to one type of thing. No two apples are the same. No two places are the same. No two times are the same. No two people are the same. We can never accept a universal law of nature that reduces everything to just a particle. We can never reduce all the properties of a particle to a fixed number of properties. There are infinite unique properties and infinite unique combinations of different properties. Their uniqueness also manifests in different expressions of their properties in different times, places, and situations.

A society conditioned by universalism can never understand the Varṇāśrama class system based on the qualities and activities of different people because it has been fed the false dogma of individualism, uniformity, equality, and so on. They don’t understand that Brahmanas serve the supreme truth, and Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, and Sudras are engaged in that service based on their unique qualities and activities. People conditioned by universalism do not understand how different moral strictures apply to different classes and individuals. The morality of humans, animals, demigods, demons, and various forms of God are different because morality is adapted to that which is best suited to serve the supreme truth.

Universalists do not understand the Vedic system of science, religion, or society because everything uses the same principle of infinite uniqueness and one purpose. They think that infinite uniqueness means polytheism, caste system, immorality, and irrationality. They cannot believe that because all forms of universalism have failed, resulting in countless dualisms of Western thinking, therefore, the attempts at new universalisms must themselves be abandoned. They keep trying and failing at universalism.

The Nature of Nirviśeṣa and Śūnyavāda

Universalism is called nirviśeṣa or not-unique because everything is reduced to just one type of thing under universalism. As a person goes from one type of universalism to another—because the previous universalism failed—he gets frustrated and gives up all universals and becomes a nihilist. This is called śūnyavāda. We can call it individualism because there is no universal truth, each person is free to choose their truth, but since truth is itself universalism, hence, the rejection of all universal truths is nihilism.

Western ideology oscillates between universalism and individualism. It tries to force a universal, when it fails, it moves to another universal, and after many such failures, it becomes individualistic. Those who accept nirviśeṣa (universalism) or śūnyavāda (individualism) find the Vedic system incomprehensible.

The Western mind thinks in terms of universalism and individualism and tries to mix it with everything else. If it talks about science, it thinks of the Western model of universalism. It also imagines that its individualism gives everyone the freedom to modify the Vedic system according to an individual’s will. For instance, one could reformulate the Vedic system to make it fit the Western model of universalism. After it fails with many such attempts, it gets frustrated and says: The Vedic system is not scientific and we must revert either to blind faith or nihilism. That faith is blind because there is no scientific knowledge of anything. The Western mind does not understand anything other than universalism and individualism. Either the truth is one or there is no truth. Infinite truths with one purpose are not possible.

Under the influence of universalism and individualism, people abhor the criticism of these two traits. If we criticize the universalist claims of some religions, someone will always say: We should respect all religions. If we criticize the universalism of modern science, someone will always say: We should be respectful toward scientists. The brain tired of the duality of universalism and individualism goes soft. A person loses the willpower and mental acuity to analyze anything critically because he can only see two things—universalism and individualism—that are like the devil and the deep blue sea. Attacking some universalism must be the mark of the attacker’s individualism. Attacking some individualism must be the mark of the attacker’s universalism. Nothing can be neither or both of these logical contraries.

The individualist assumes that those talking about the supreme truth are talking about a universal truth. The universalist assumes that those talking about the supreme truth are talking about individual truth. Everything is slotted either into universalism or individualism. The inability to analyze anything outside this binary mode of thinking means that which is non-binary will be called one side of the binary.

How Bhaktivedānta Institute Went Astray

The Problem of Humility and Criticism

Prabhupāda once cited the example of how Prakaśānanda Saraswati was defeated by Sri Chaitanya’s humility. This example played an extraordinary role in BI’s history as humility became the cornerstone of the interaction with people from the scientific and religious communities and criticism went missing. The fact that humility is generally emphasized among Vaishnavas contributed to its preeminence.

Therefore, we have to look at the above example closely to understand the problem. Sri Chaitanya was renowned as a scholarly debater who had defeated every challenger who dared Him to a debate. Given this reputation, Prakaśānanda Saraswati expected to see an arrogant man and was surprised to find Him so humble. But humility without the capacity to defeat challengers would not have the same effect. Humility becomes a virtue if strength is also known. Otherwise, it becomes a sign of weakness.

The presence of opposites is the essence of transcendent non-duality. But depending on the time, place, situation, and person, one of the opposites is displayed. Kṛṣṇa shows arrogance to the arrogant and humility to the humble. If one of these is always present while the other is always absent, then the situation is material duality. Prabhupāda’s instructions pertained both to humility and strength. But humility was emphasized while strength was deemphasized. The resulting perception was one of weakness.

If Kṛṣṇa stole butter but could not lift Govardhan, then He would be called an ordinary thief, and nobody would read His pastimes. If Kṛṣṇa spoke the Bhagavad-Gita but did not display His Universal Form, then it would not enjoy the present status in the Vedic pantheon. We appreciate Kṛṣṇa’s humility after we know that He is God. His humility then takes on an added meaning. Without the understanding that Kṛṣṇa is God, His displays of humility would be called a weakness. Strength makes humility a great virtue.

Prakaśānanda Saraswati was transformed by Sri Chaitanya’s humility because His strength was already known. The same type of change did not occur in people from the scientific and religious communities even after they saw the humility of BI members. That is because they did not see strength. While the guests were polite to the hosts, there was little respect for them as evidenced by the absence of change. The example of Lord Rāma praying to the ocean to give way is also pertinent. The ocean behaves arrogantly and does not give away until Lord Rāma lifts his bow. The ocean falls before the Lord after He realizes His true strength. Humility without strength means nothing.

Misdirected Pursuit of Societal Prestige

More than once, Prabhupāda said that BI will enhance the prestige of ISKCON. What he meant was that if you present the truth scientifically, then the truth will become more prestigious. It does not mean that if you seek prestige, then its successful acquisition will automatically make your claims truthful. We understand that at present modern science has prestige and the Vedic system does not. Other religions have prestige in many parts of the world, where the Vedic system is either unknown or systematically denigrated through false colonialist propaganda. We can all agree on the importance of prestige.

But how do we establish prestige? BI tried to establish its prestige by citing people who had said good things about India and the Vedic texts. Mark Twain once wrote: “In religion, India is the only millionaire. The one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for all the shows of all the rest of the globe combined.” There are many renowned people with similar quotes. Collecting and citing these quotes was one of the key pillars of BI.

Yet another strategy for establishing its prestige was associating itself with those who had prestige. BI would meet renowned scientists and check if they were favorable to religion and God. An interaction or interview with them would be recorded and published to exemplify two points—(a) they were open to the idea of God and the soul, and (b) they accepted that scientific materialism was incomplete.

TV and print journalists often seek “exclusive” interviews with renowned interviewees. Getting such an interview bolsters the image of the journalist and the channel that he or she represents. Those with an agenda selectively interview people whose views match their own. They present their views through the voice of others, appearing unbiased while using others to say what they wanted to say. Apparently, their own commentary isn’t respected. Hence, they use others to provide the same commentary. BI used this approach to repurpose the prestige of renowned scientists and bolster its own prestige.

There were two problems with this approach. One, what the scientists said in these interviews was unrelated to the work that got them their prestige. They were akin to a chess grandmaster commenting on a country’s political affairs. He is heard because of his prestige acquired through chess but his views make no dent to the politics. Two, if their views could actually make a difference to the world, then BI would not need to exist as the views of respectable people would transform the world. Such discussions have little transformational value. They are just like TV and print media journalism.

Yet another strategy was organizing conferences on science and religion, the role of consciousness in science, or on the origins of life. Renowned people were invited to these conferences, and it generated much publicity for BI. But even as the bodies met during these conferences, the minds did not. No tangible scientific proposals came out of these conferences. They were useful for networking with the academic community, but almost nothing of long-term significance was produced. The BI scientists who presented in these conferences themselves did not have any tangible alternative proposals. You could read the conference proceedings from cover to cover and you would be none the wiser.

Adverse Effects of Academic Association

Someone might argue: Even if polite conversations that evaded controversies and criticism were not transformational, at least they were generating awareness of the need for transformation. The people who went away from such discussions would then think about these topics more than if they had never come to such a discussion. The gathering of like-minded people reinforces their convictions.

This line of argument assumes that these issues are new when they are not. René Descartes was talking about mind-body interaction before the beginning of science. David Hume talked about the separation of is and ought in scientific discourse, saying that science dealt with what is not with what we ought to do with it. The separation of natural law and moral law is well-known. The role of mental creativity in creating scientific theories is well-known but nobody can explain how theories are created. Everyone knows the reasons why computer processing will not mimic many simple human decision-making tasks. The irreducibility of semantics to syntax in all formal mathematical systems is well-known. The problems of quantum mechanics, and the suggested role of consciousness in solving these problems, is extremely well-known. All early scientists talked about science being the study of God’s mind, or how He thought of the world before creating it. There is a fine-tuning design argument on God tuning the constants of mathematical laws. There are arguments against abiogenesis citing the complexity of life forms.

Whether or not these issues are known to the general public, they are certainly well-known to scientists. They have read dozens of papers, seen dozens of presentations, and heard dozens of arguments on such topics. They know that there are arguments against these arguments, to which there might not be good counterarguments. They know that opinion is divided on these matters and the majority view tilts against them. Finally, they know that they are not going to risk their careers and reputations by siding with the unpopular view. They will hedge their bets in public even if they tilt to one side in private.

All the risks in this endeavor have to be taken by those not encumbered by existential compulsions. But if we transfer the risks of this endeavor to those who are not going to take the risk, then nothing will happen. If BI shies away from criticizing the false axioms of modern sciences and religions because of courtesy, hoping that those in academic careers will take that risk, then we cannot expect any change. If we want to tie our success to bonhomie with those who are never going to critique fundamental problems openly, then we cannot expect any change. If we are risk averse—because criticisms of what is prestigious will invite isolation from that prestigious group—then we cannot expect any change.

As BI stopped debunking the falsehoods of modern sciences and religions out of courtesy and became embroiled in collecting prestige by association with the prestigious, it became a part of the problem rather than a part of the solution. It started doing what professional academics were doing rather than what professional academics could not or would not do because they were afraid of being ostracized.

Disregard for Prabhupāda’s Instructions

Prabhupāda instructed all his followers to decouple themselves from modern society intellectually, socially, economically, politically, and spiritually. He wanted people to read and rely on Vedic texts rather than the modern education system. He expected them to grow their own food, live within their own farm communities, and associate with other spiritually inclined people. He wanted the gurukuls to remain independent systems of education rather than aligned to the modern education governance bodies.

Similarly, he wanted BI to publish its own books, develop its own higher education programs, provide its own alternative scientific explanations, follow its own standards of academic rigor and intellectual respectability, maintain its own periodicals and journals, organize its own conferences, and generate its own publicity.

BI’s prestige wasn’t expected to rely on association with materialistic prestige. It was supposed to rely on the Vedic system. The endorsement from the world wasn’t expected to be the basis of the prestige of the Vedic system. It was to be established regardless of the criticism by the materialists. Conferences weren’t meant for networking with prestigious people. They were meant to invite people to listen to the Vedic view. Even if we showed courtesy to people, we weren’t expected to extend that courtesy to their false claims. The truth was not expected to be compromised to please the listeners. The truth was supposed to be its own defense, whether or not people liked it.

All these instructions of disconnecting ourselves from the rest of the world, becoming self-reliant, and ultimately reliant on the Vedic texts, were disregarded after Prabhupāda’s departure. BI sought to please the people that it was supposed to correct and used that association to bolster its public image.

The truth is prestigious, but the prestigious is not necessarily the truth. The truth is beautiful, but the beautiful is not necessarily the truth. The truth is famous, but the famous is not necessarily the truth. The truth is powerful but the powerful is not necessarily the truth. The truth is kindness but kindness is not necessarily the truth. When we pursue the truth, it might seem disreputable, obscure, ugly, weak, and harsh. But if we persist, it becomes prestigious, famous, beautiful, powerful, and kindness. The desire for prestige, fame, beauty, power, or kindness that compromises the truth results in short-lived success. Over the longer run, because the truth has been compromised, everything goes away.

Absence of Philosophical Investment

Vedic philosophy is not easy. A simple proposition like the soul is a part of God is very difficult to explain because if the soul and God stand face-to-face, then how can we say that what is in front of God is a part of God? Can I stand in front of a deity and say that I am a part of the deity when it seems clear that I am separate from the deity as I am standing in front of the deity? Hence, I say this with great responsibility: Hardly anyone knows how to explain the most elementary propositions of Vedic philosophy.

Abrahamic faiths don’t face such elementary difficulties because God is separate from the soul and the world. God is outside the world not inside it. God is outside the soul, not inside it. Problems arise much later, such as when we have to say that the son of God is God and yet not God. Or that the son of God is fully human and fully God, so something in between the two, and therefore neither of the two. These kinds of problems don’t arise in Vedic philosophy. But very simple things are very problematic, such as explaining how the same thing is both inside and outside, seemingly distinct and yet inseparable.

All these problems can be summarized in one word—Bhedābheda. It was not understood by anyone and hence Sri Chaitanya prefixed Bhedābheda with the term Achintya or inconceivable. That was before the advent of modern science and the pursuit of a rational and empirical explanation of everything. At present, we cannot use “inconceivable difference and inseparability” in a scientific discussion. A rational person would prefer the worst conceivable idea over the best inconceivable idea in today’s time.

There is no point in moving ahead with any kind of scientific explanation if we cannot solve the basic problems posed by Bhedābheda philosophy. I spent a lot of time thinking about this word. I arrived at the conclusion that this word is inconceivable if our model of reality is objects. It is conceivable only if our model of reality is mind and thought. A thought is a part of the mind. But if thought manifests from the mind, then the mind becomes the knower and the thought is the known. At that juncture, we can say that the thought is standing in front of the mind, although it was earlier a part of the mind. Since the mind doesn’t become ignorant after a thought is created, hence, the thought continues to be a part of the mind even as the thought presently seems separated from the mind. In short, if we have to do anything in terms of science, we have to start modeling everything in reality as mind and thought. A thought can also be elaborated into more detailed thoughts like a book is an elaboration of a title.

Since this type of investment in the basics of Vedic philosophy has never been done in BI history, as a result, BI members cannot conceivably explain even elementary ideas—such as how the soul is a part of God—to anyone. We can forget about more complicated things like God is both inside and outside the universe, that God is both inside and outside the soul, that the soul is both inside and outside the universe, and so on. When these simple propositions cannot be explained then everything else is also naturally inexplicable, because it will always be riddled with the same types of paradoxes.

The Neglect of Fundamental Problems

From the Vedic perspective, everything in modern science is false because nature is governed by demigods rather than by mathematical laws. Nature is ordered because demigods are disciplined, quite like trains run on time if the train drivers and stationmasters are disciplined. We cannot reduce a human mind to a mathematical equation so we cannot reduce a demigod’s mind to a mathematical equation.

Anyone who doesn’t see this basic difference between the Vedic description of the world and modern science is not going to be successful neither in understanding the Vedic conception of reality nor in presenting it. But, in BI’s current approach, there is no room for talking about demigods in a scientific setting because the definition of science is itself rooted in an impersonal view of reality. It requires a degree of philosophical confidence in personalism to present the truth, which has never existed in BI history.

Everything in Abrahamic faiths is false from a Vedic perspective due to the rejection of reincarnation based on qualities and activities. We cannot go to a better place without better qualities and activities. Anyone who claims to do so by blind faith is converting the world from meritocracy to sycophancy. The discrepancies between rich and poor, healthy and sick, successes and failures are due to past actions. There can be no scientific conception of reality without the principle of choice and responsibility. Anyone who doesn’t see this basic difference between the Vedic description of the world and Abrahamic faiths will not succeed neither in understanding nor in presenting the Vedic conception of reality.

The detail of which mathematical laws are better or worse is irrelevant to the Vedic system because all such laws are false. The detail of which type of God you worship is irrelevant to the Vedic system if you cannot change your thinking from faith to merit. The fact that we share words like “God” or “natural order” doesn’t constitute similarity. Some people serve God and others use God. People can perform duties voluntarily but objects are pulled by forces because they will not do anything voluntarily.

There is nothing in common between the Vedic system and modern science or Abrahamic faiths. They are diametrically opposed in every fundamental sense and any perceived similarity is superficial. The chalk and cheese are both white. But that similarity doesn’t constitute any resemblance. Trying to understand cheese in terms of chalk is silly. The intelligent would question the claims of modern science and Abrahamic faiths. For instance, we can ask: If mathematical equations govern nature, then where is the universal computer computing all these equations? Likewise, we can ask: If the idea of a free society is to reward people based on their talent and hard work, then why should heaven not be a free society?

A quest goes from why to what to how. Why should I study Veda? What is Veda? How does Veda solve a problem? The basic questions respond to why we need Veda by debunking the alternatives. We leave the debunked alternative behind after the basic question itself. We never go back to it, so the question of mixing one thing with another doesn’t arise. The rest of the time is spent studying what and how.

But BI never asked basic questions and never established why we need an alternative. It did not debunk bad ideas and did not leave them behind. It always kept the old cake and tried to add cherries on top. Modern science and Abrahamic faiths are the cake. The Vedic system is the cherry. It is just additional bells and whistles to the same basic product. Why should such a person call himself the representative of the Vedic system? Why not just add those cherries where those cakes are already being baked? Why feign a commitment to the Vedic system when you aren’t committed to it?

Disconnected Science, Philosophy, Religion

There is a huge myth at present that modern science is different from monotheistic religions. The fact is that modern science came out of the Abrahamic depersonalization of nature. In pagan religions, nature was governed by demigods. Similarly, people accepted reincarnation based on a person’s deeds. To undercut these pagan religions, Abrahamic faiths depersonalized nature and removed reincarnation. Even today we can find many aspects of the Vedic tradition in Gnostic texts, Nag Hammadi texts, and Dead Sea Scrolls, such as demigods, reincarnation, masculine and feminine deities, and so forth.

The same problem exists in Western philosophy, which emerged from the Greek attempts to move away from their pagan religions that worshipped God and demigods to formulate “secular” ideologies. Greeks reduced the world to four elements, namely, Earth, Water, Fire, and Air, removing not just the mind but also Ether, because it could not be seen. Later, tributary philosophies formulated principles like Occam’s Razor to minimize reality to a few entities. The problem is that the truth is simple but the simple is not the truth. Greeks framed impersonal claims like a world governed by ideas rather than persons. Even these ideas were in another world of Platonic forms, rather than the present world of material things.

John Adams, the second president of the US, famously defined a constitutional republic (talking about the US government) as a “rule by laws rather than by people”. This is why Americans often say that the US is not a democracy but a constitutional republic, although factually, an idea written in a constitution is just a paper tiger without people enforcing it. A democracy is a rule by people but a constitutional republic is a rule by law. Western thinking has gone to great lengths to impersonalize reality and create a rule by law rather than a rule by persons. This is the continuation of the mindset that began with the demolition of pagan religions and replacing the rule by persons with the rule by laws.

The atheism of modern science, the false dogmas of Abrahamic faiths, and the ideologies of Western philosophy are joined at the hip. They emerged from a rejection of demigods and reincarnation, the removal of all that cannot be perceived by our senses, depersonalization of nature into substances, moving ideas from this world to another world, modeling the world in terms of simple axioms, and reducing reality to geometry. We cannot separate modern science, Western philosophies, and Abrahamic faiths. They are three responses to the shared goal of replacing pagan religions with speculative concoctions. We cannot criticize one without the other. They are either accepted collectively or they are rejected collectively.

Buddhism and Advaita are far greater truths because there is a deep sleep state of the soul and a self-aware state of the soul devoid of a body. Buddhism and Advaita do not reject reincarnation. They accept that demigods control the world. They accept the existence of dozens of things we cannot see. Ideas are not in another world of ideas. They are in this world, and in our minds, although we cannot see them. The foundation of reality is the mind or consciousness rather than material objects. Western thinking is far worse than Buddhism and Advaita, which are already bad as they reject an eternal world of qualities. When something is worse than what we already call bad, then how can we avoid its rejection?

If we understand how Western science, religion, and philosophy are joined at the hip, then rejecting all of them means rejecting the whole of Western civilization. This has been a huge problem for BI because what is prestigious is false, and the thing that is truthful is seeking validation from falsehoods. BI failed because it could not resolve the clash of civilizations. The clash cannot be resolved. The more we move toward Western ideas, the more we will move away from the Vedic system. If we move toward the Vedic system, then we will have to reject the Western system of ideologies since antiquity. There is no middle ground. We cannot synthesize a thesis and its antithesis. This is the inconvenient truth.

Attachment to Western Civilization

Prabhupāda was successful because he spoke inconvenient truths. He was not worried about people hating the inconvenient truths. He wasn’t going to build bridges to convenient lies. If he was endorsed for telling the inconvenient truths, he used it to strengthen his position in the eyes of those who valued such endorsement. But when he was criticized for telling the inconvenient truths, then his response was simple: This is the truth, make it convenient. Our convenience can be changed, not the truth.

Even if he compromised sometimes, it was with convenience rather than the truth. For example, truth-tellers can wear a suit and tie if that is more convenient, but they must speak the truth. A doctor can sometimes sugarcoat the medicine. But it cannot just be a sugar coating without the medicine. Nor should the sugar coating on the medicine dilute or compromise the effectiveness of the medicine.

Prabhupāda’s contemporaries failed because they were trying to be secular, mixing psychobabble in yoga to gain wider acceptance, and adapting the Vedic system to what would be acceptable to a Western audience, although, at that time, they seemed to garner far greater attention compared to Prabhupāda. Mahesh Yogi, Osho Rajneesh, Jiddu Krishnamurthy, Satya Sai, and many others have at their peaks had far greater popularity and renown than Prabhupāda. Hardly anyone talks about them anymore.

The differences between the Vedic system and other religions, philosophies, and sciences are not difficult to see. They are just inconvenient truths to tell. This inconvenience arises as a result of time. During the period called Satya-Yuga, telling the truth is convenient because most people are interested in it. As time passes, the truth becomes more and more inconvenient. We are presently living in Kali-Yuga where telling the truth becomes most inconvenient. But enduring this inconvenience is the austerity of Kali-Yuga. One had to perform thousands of years of austerity in Satya-Yuga. Some of it is required even in this age. However, the austerity is not for other people. It is the method for our purification.

In the Katha Upaniśad, there is a discussion between Nachiketa and Yama about śreya (the righteous) and preya (the pleasing). Yama explains how the upward, progressive, and uplifting paths are based on śreya, and downward, regressive, and downgrading paths are based on preya. When we see something going down, we must know that preya has replaced śreya. Everyone has a choice at every moment in life—do the right thing or do the pleasing thing. When the right thing is also the pleasing thing, then the choice is easy. But when the right thing and the pleasing thing are different, then our will is tested. Of course, we ought to know what the right thing is before we even worry about a righteous choice. That is not very hard. The hard thing is always doing the right thing over the pleasing thing. It needs great courage.

Courage does not come before action. It comes after action. A small courageous action increases courage because we realize: I did not die by doing this dangerous thing, so what is the harm in trying something more dangerous? If we repeat this cycle of doing courageous things, then courage grows. The willpower gets stronger. One realizes: I will not die even if I did even more dangerous things. Ultimately, the capacity to do the right thing is identical to the realization that I will not die. Those afraid of risky things are attached to convenience. Those prepared to do the right thing, even if it seems risky, are detached from convenience. Thus, śreya pertains to detachment and preya pertains to attachment.

BI has consistently failed to tell the inconvenient truth. Present-day BI members attack those who ask them to abandon Western thinking. They claim that the West has made much progress over the years, which cannot be ignored. They consider social classes and gender roles regressive because universalism is their basic mantra. They want to remodel the Vedic system of infinite uniqueness with one purpose into the Western system of one uniqueness and infinite purposes. Their supposed individualism gives them the right to do so. They have vested their prestige in Western civilization. The Vedic civilization is expected to be a cherry on the top of the cake, rather than a completely different food recipe.

This dilemma has been faced in every area where people have tried to accommodate the Vedic system while doing minimal damage to modernity. Their attachment to modernity makes it impossible to follow the Vedic system. They could abandon the Vedic system and go with modernity. They could spend more time with modernity and realize its problems. They could return with gusto after they are convinced. But I don’t see anyone doing that. People want to walk on divergent paths. They remain stagnated at the beginning where the paths diverge because you cannot walk on divergent paths. Due to this stagnation at the beginning, I have little hope for BI. It cannot move unless it gives up its attachment to Western ideas. Since the prospect that it will abandon Western thinking is unlikely, hence hopes are low.

A Condensed List of Futile Endeavors

The Synthesis of Science and Religion

This synthesis was supposed to occur in the Cartesian metaphysics of mind-body dualism. Descartes aimed to show that physics is not contrary to religion because they pertain to different domains. But that was before Newton created a model of the body governed by deterministic equations, which precluded any role of free will—because free will destroys the universality of mathematical equations—and the Cartesian mind-body interaction problem became a curiosity of philosophers irrelevant to scientists.

The reigning model of science-religion synthesis after Newtonian mechanics was the Protestant doctrine of Sola Fide, which means salvation by faith alone, needing no changes to actions, and hence requiring no mental intervention in the body’s working. The mind could hold the faith while the body did its own thing. The crimes of the body could not be the crimes of the soul since the body is governed by natural laws while the soul is governed by moral law. By the separation of science and religion, a synthesis of science and religion was achieved under which mind and body are parallel non-interfering realities.

Discussion on science-religion synthesis makes no dent in either science or religion because nobody is going to solve the mind-body problem unless the body (and hence the material world) is redefined as the cosmic dream of a cosmic mind—the Kāraṇodakaśāyī Puruṣa—and the body becomes a thought in the Puruṣa. As long as the body is a material substance rather than a thought, the mind-body dualism and the Protestant parallelism of mind and body hold sway. Of course, calling the world a cosmic dream doesn’t mean Solipsism or Idealism because the body is not my dream. As far as I’m concerned, the body seems real. However, what I consider real isn’t reality because reality is that which remains unchanged and the body is constantly changing. Whatever is changing, cannot be reality. It can only be a dream.

A real science-religion synthesis requires rejecting both science and religion because (a) matter is like thought and not a substance, (b) the soul goes from one thought to another by accepting and rejecting thoughts, (c) the law of nature pertains to the succession of thoughts, and (d) belief without action is a meaningless construct since every moment the soul is acting by accepting and rejecting thoughts.

A science-religion synthesis requires us to say that both science and religion are false. Otherwise, science and religion were already synthesized in Protestant theology. We can either accept that unity and end the conversation or we can begin by debunking both science and religion. The former is no truth and the latter is an inconvenient truth. If we want the truth, then we have to accept the inconvenience. But that never happened. Science-religion conferences enlightened nobody about the truth. Everybody came to the discussion and left as enlightened as they were before. The entire exercise remained utterly futile.

Scientific Study of Vedic Cosmology

Since time immemorial, there is a distinction between phenomena and reality. In the Socratic allegory of dancing cavemen, the shadows cast on the cave wall were phenomena and the dancing cavemen or a shadow-graphist moving his fingers in front of a fire was the reality. The goal of life was to know the reality behind the phenomena, which was subsequently called the noumena behind the phenomena.

In Vedic texts, there are many such noumena behind the bodily phenomena. As Lord Kṛṣṇa states in the Bhagavad-Gita: The senses are beyond the sense objects, the mind is beyond the senses, the intellect [which judges the truth, right, and good] is beyond the mind, and the soul is beyond the intellect.

Thus, if we see the body, we should not call it reality. It is a phenomenon. The body would not exist if there were no senses. Hence, the senses are the noumenon behind the body. Likewise, the senses would not exist without a mind. Hence, the mind is the noumenon behind the sense phenomena. Similarly, the mind would not exist without an intellect that judges the truth, right, and good. Hence, the intellect is the noumenon behind the mental phenomena. Finally, the judgment of truth, right, and good would not exist without a soul. Thus, the soul is the noumenon behind the intellectual phenomena. Ultimately, the soul would not exist without God. Hence, God is the noumenon behind the spiritual phenomena.

Whatever we see in this world, which includes the planets moving in the sky, is a phenomenon. It is not reality. To know the reality, we have to start digging into the foundation of the body and go backward from the body into the senses, from the senses back into the mind, from the mind back into the intellect, from the intellect backward into the soul, and from the soul backward into God.

Modern science inverted this process. Instead of delving into our perceptual, conceptual, judgmental, and spiritual foundation, it started digging into objects by using microscopes and telescopes. What do we find by digging into the external world? Even more phenomena, never the noumena. Science tries to explain these phenomena by speculating about the noumenon. Postulate axioms and iterate through trial and error. Those axioms must axiomatically never talk about senses, mind, intellect, the soul, or God—the actual noumena—because they are the antithesis of scientific objectivity. They must postulate objects and physical properties, governed by forces and mathematical laws, making it a hilarious circus of morbid futility.

Anybody who studies Sāñkhya can see that the world is being projected inside-out rather than outside-in. Initially, there is primordial matter from which the capacity to judge right, good, and truth is manifest, from which the mind comprising thoughts is manifest, from which the senses are manifest, from which the sensed properties are manifest, from which the sensed objects are manifest. For example, if I see red color, then redness is an object in a space called color, color is an object inside a space called the sense of seeing, the sense of seeing is an object in the mind, a mind is an object inside an intellect, all the experiences are inside the soul, and the soul is inside God. Space means a class of things. Red is a part of the class of things called color, so color is the space, and red is an object within that space. All these classes and their objects are constructed from a combination of three basic qualities or guna.

This inside-out projection of reality constructs an inverted tree of diversification. The branches of this tree interact with each other, and through this interaction between the branches of the inverted tree, we perceive the other branches of the tree. However, the interaction between the branches is not direct. It is mediated by the higher-level branches in the inverted tree. For instance, if I see a red apple, the light has not gone directly from the apple to my eyes—as in modern science. Rather, the redness went up from the apple’s body into its senses, then its mind, and so on, passing through the demigod of vision, and then descended down the hierarchy through my mind and senses, to create a sense perception.

Due to this hierarchical path, when I see an apple, I can know that it is not my hallucination because the object concept of the apple in the mind comes before the sense perception of redness. Even though the red apple is within my senses and mind, the source that triggered the sensation came from the apple, after it had passed through the demigod that controls vision. If the demigod disallowed that vision, then I would not see anything. Thereby, everyone cannot see everything. Only those who are permitted by the demigods to see certain things will see them. The same thing can appear and disappear for different persons.

Those who can control this process can make themselves invisible or selectively visible to some people because information about their body is passing through their senses, mind, intellect, and conscious control. Such invisible controllers of the world include the demigods and God. They are like the postmasters in post offices that deliver mail from one person to another. They can send the letters transparently, or modify the letters, or change the sender’s address, or issue unsolicited letters.

The soul can choose its system of truth, right, and good, and call that its intellect. But the soul is not free. Its system of truth, right, and good is judged by demigods and God. This judgment selectively makes the soul a receiver of information about some body which is then forced to interact with other bodies. That is just like a person being forced to look into a kaleidoscope and imagine that he is that kaleidoscope. The kaleidoscope vision appears to come outside-in but it is actually going inside-out.

I cannot blame my poverty and hunger on others. They are caused by my actions, whose results are springing inside out. Those actions create a mind and body and then cause it to interact with other minds and bodies. External causation is an illusion. The real cause is not external but with each individual person.

Modern science is a theory of outside-in causation and it uses Euclidean space. Vedic cosmology is the theory of inside-out causation and it uses a hierarchical inverted-tree space. There are no demigods in Euclidean space controlling my vision. If someone slaps me, the cause is the slapper, not me. But in Vedic cosmology, if someone slaps me, then I am the actual cause of being slapped, and the external actor is incidental. If this actor did not slap me, then there would be another. Either way, I will be slapped. When the right time arrives, a demigod will activate a result of prior action and someone will come to slap me. I don’t have to blame the person who slaps me if I know that I am the real cause of being slapped.

Those who reject karma accept a model of external causation in which the cause of the slap is external. But those who accept karma accept a model of internal causation in which I am the cause of the slap. Those who reject dharma-karma talk about laws of motion and force. Those who accept dharma-karma talk about how a previously unmanifest reality manifests to bring a slapper into proximity.

Prabhupāda wanted BI to describe the cosmos as an inverted tree. He wrote a letter to BI members in this regard, calling it his “final decision”. It is a natural conclusion to be drawn by anyone who studies Sāñkhya, that precedes every description of cosmology in every Purāṇa. It has nothing to do with astronomy because astronomy is a phenomenon and cosmology is noumena. What we observe has an explanation completely unlike what we observe. The explanation is also scientific, but not separate from the moral worldview in which people’s deeds have consequences for their future lifetimes. We cannot compare this explanation with that in modern science where there are no demigods and no karma and reincarnation. The explanation must explain the observations (and it does), but it cannot be compared to the modern scientific explanation that cannot explain why people are born rich or poor, healthy or sick. Modern science separated natural law from moral law. The Vedic system has not done that.

But BI has never presented anything based on the inverted tree. Prabhupāda’s “final decision” on how to understand Vedic cosmology is the most disregarded feature of the understanding of Vedic cosmology coming from BI. People are busy with sine and cosine, maps and charts, trying to align Vedic cosmology to modern cosmology, but never once talking about perception, how space is a class of things, why we cannot see demigods residing in heavenly planets, or how demigods control our perception. The obsession with Euclidean geometry has transformed Vedic cosmology into the ultimate futility.

Relational Properties in Quantum Theory

Relations have a very important place in Vedic philosophy. They are part of a triad called Sambandha-Abhidheya-Prayojana, one of many such triads. Common examples of relational properties are father-son, husband-wife, employer-employee, ruler-subject, and so on. In each case, a person gets additional traits or attributes, which are called Viśiṣṭa in Viśiṣṭādvaita. We can call them roles. They normatively restrict our behaviors by defining what we should and should not do, and are the basis of moral conduct, also called right and wrong actions. These right and wrong actions then shape our future destiny.

A person can do wrong things in a role willingly or mistakenly, or do right things willingly or mistakenly. Sometimes a person may not do something expected of him because he or she is incapable. Sometimes situations constrain us from doing the duties expected based on our roles. In all cases, the consequences of actions depend on the triad called Sambandha-Abhidheya-Prayojana. The first defines our role, duty, and circumstances. The second defines our abilities and what we did or did not do. The third defines the purpose, intention, or will underlying what we did or did not do. The moral result, called niyati, karma, or consequence of our previous actions, depends on the combination of three things collectively.

There is another sense in which we can speak about relations between a knower and a known. Each of our senses—such as that of seeing, tasting, touching, smelling, and hearing—perceive one class of properties. Generally speaking (and there are exceptions to this that I will skip for now), the eyes do not hear and the ears do not see. Hence, we can say that there is a relation between our ears and sound, our eyes and color, and so on. The same limitation exists with measuring instruments. A speedometer does not measure temperature and a thermometer does not measure speed. Generally speaking (and there are exceptions to this that I will skip for now), speed and temperature are related to speedometers and thermometers. During any observation, our awareness moves from one sense to another, one property to another. If we had a plate of food in front of us, our awareness continuously moves from taste, to touch, to smell, to color, to shape. Similarly, it moves between our senses or knowledge and action. Each action, such as eating the food using a spoon, reveals properties that may have been previously hidden.

The quantum measurement problem pertains to this movement of awareness from one sensation to another, revealing and hiding different properties. If we change one property through our actions, such as moving the food on the plate, many perceivable properties can be changed simultaneously, which is called quantum entanglement. As a result, we can say that all properties are not known at once. They are known one by one. Also, all properties are not knowable simultaneously. They are knowable only after an action has been performed. All these knowable properties are unmanifest and manifest due to the presence of an observer, so their causality always depends on a relation to an observer. The property is not universally known or knowable. It is known and knowable only through a specific relation.

Therefore, we need the Sambandha-Abhidheya-Prayojana triad. The Abhidheya is our cognition and conation. The Sambandha depends on the consequences of previous actions (everyone doesn’t get to eat all kinds of food). The Prayojana (to select one or another kind of sensation or action) depends on our will. The will in turn depends on what we like or dislike and our long- and short-term goals.

In general, we must describe this process using six aspects, namely, a person, and their intention, emotion, cognition, conation, and relation. Each of these has inner complexities, such as the fact that what we enjoy or suffer often depends on previously developed habits. What we intend to do or not do often depends on previously acquired values and understanding of reality. Often, what we do or not do depends on circumstances—either forced by our previous actions or as a result of our choices.

We cannot separate these six aspects or talk about just one of them in any scientific description of our experience. The quantum measurement problem—or the problem of observing reality—is an immensely complicated issue grossly obfuscated by the use of quantum probabilities which are neither totally independent of all observers (as some observers may prefer taste over smell), nor constant over time (since an observer may prefer taste over smell at some time and not others), nor consistent for all places (as some observer may change their preferences for taste and smell at different locations). This is also called the Bhedābheda principle, which means neither identical nor separable. I cannot independently change the smell and taste of the food. A change to smell will most likely change the taste as well.

Therefore, to reduce all this complexity to just one “relational property” is a gross oversimplification. Likewise, to call these “relational properties” something in between primary and secondary properties (terms coined by John Locke) is also false because primary properties simply don’t exist. When a pointer moves on an instrument, the situation is no different than me moving my hand after a pinprick.

When we reduce the measurement problem to relational properties, we are ignoring the fact that the relations depend on my abilities, proclivities, and opportunities. I cannot be a father if I am impotent. I may not become a father because I don’t want to bear its responsibilities. I may be a biological father but not do the duties of a father because I am allured toward other things—then, even as a relation exists, the effects of that relation would not be perceived. I may be a dutiful father but still not able to perform my duties due to circumstances beyond my control. I may be a good father to one child and a bad father to another child. I may do things that are contrary to the duties of a father just momentarily because I am mentally disturbed due to another bad relation. The possibilities are literally endless.

If we reduce all possibilities to probabilities, we do the injustice of oversimplification. Likewise, if we reduce the problem of probabilities to just one construct—a relational property—we do the same injustice of oversimplification. Nothing is ever going to come out of such oversimplification. Quantum mechanics represents the irreversible failure of modeling reality as objects. The Vedic ontology is instead persons. Persons have relations with other persons, but a person is not reducible to a relation. Rather, the entire apparatus of cognition, conation, intention, emotion, and a willing person must be used.

There is will even in an instrument. It is minimal but not absent. Even a stone is a living thing, although we don’t see it as a living thing just like a sleeping person looks like an inert and unconscious object. When a person performs bad deeds, they are sent into lower species of life by the judgment of God and demigods, as we have discussed previously. These include animals, trees, and eventually stones. I can use a stone as a table or a chair, and call that a relational property of the stone because it looks like the stone has no choice. But what comes out of this study will then be applied to me, and I will also become a stone, which means someone can use me as a table or chair because I will just be another stone.

We have to give up the object-property model of science. There are no objects. There are only persons. Persons also have properties, including relational properties. But persons also have cognition, conation, emotion, intention, and will. Mountains are personalities in the Vedic texts. Any scientific theory that tries to model a person as an object—even with additional properties—is contrary to the Vedic system. God is a person. He produces persons. God does not produce objects. Object modeling of reality is the evil of modernity bequeathed on the world by Christianity in its desire to destroy pagan religions that personalized nature. After that, fire is not a person. It is a photon. The wind is not a person. It is molecules. Earth is not a mother. It is particles. The Vedic system has nothing to do with this impersonal falsehood. If we coopt it, or try to extend it with additional types of properties, then it becomes a futile activity.

Archeological Responses to Evolution

We have noted above how a body depends on the senses, the senses depend on the mind, the mind depends on the intellect (that judges the truth, right, and good), and the intellect depends on the soul, which then depends on God. Prabhupāda called this “life comes from life”. Kṛṣṇa is the original life. From Him, manifest infinite other living forms. If we call a body a life form, then it cannot exist without the original life form Kṛṣṇa. It was expected to counter the false propaganda that “life comes from matter”.

What is matter? In modern science, matter is reduced to some measurable properties like mass and charge. These properties come down to some pointers moving on some scale. That pointer movement involves a distance. Sometimes, a distance means mass. At other times, the distance means momentum. What we call distance depends on an atomic distance. We cannot construct a bigger distance without an atomic distance. All distance constructions based on infinitesimals are false because it takes infinite time to produce a distance from infinitesimals. The universe would not exist if it took infinite time to produce any distance. Likewise, when perceivable matter is atomic, then why should space be infinitesimally divisible? This conflict between matter and space is the unsolved quantum gravity problem.

Hence, all distances rely on atomic distance, which in turn depends on our sensory capacity. If I could see something smaller, then my “atomic” distance would also be smaller. We can define the smallest perceivable distance as the capacity of the most developed senses. That atomism is not observer-independent. It is also observer-dependent, just not dependent on our sensory capacity. Since the body is properties like distance, which in turn depend on the senses, therefore, the body depends on the senses. If the word “distance” is undefinable without a sense, then the body cannot exist without a sense.

Likewise, when the sensory capacity to see bigger and smaller things changes, then our mental capacity must also be able to model that vision using a concept. For example, humans can see something bigger and model it as families, cities, nations, planets, galaxies, and so on. It requires us to establish unity in diversity. The diversity is perceived by the senses and the unity is perceived by the mind. The mind sees the object concepts and the senses perceive their properties. There can be no properties without objects. The object must, in fact, exist prior to its properties. Therefore, just as the body depends on the prior existence of the senses, similarly, the senses depend on the prior existence of the mind.

In this way, we can traverse the hierarchy required for a single body. The beauty of this traversal is that we can talk about superior and inferior life forms based on their higher and lower sensory, mental, intellectual, and spiritual capacities. Then we can stack rank these life forms until Kṛṣṇa and show how all other life forms are manifest by limiting the perceptual, mental, intellectual, and spiritual capacities in Kṛṣṇa. We can talk about how the sensory, mental, intellectual, and spiritual capacities are expanded and contracted by our actions. The same soul can be born with greater or lesser experiential capacities. A new body would be created not because of chemical combinations but because of a soul with previously acquired expanded or contracted experiential capacities. That would be called life comes from life.

Life cannot come from matter because matter is defined as some properties, which cannot be defined without a sense, which cannot be defined without a mind, which cannot be defined without an intellect, which cannot be defined without a soul, which cannot be defined without God. A grasp of the hierarchy of percepts, concepts, judgments, and choices in our experience leads us to life comes from life.

But BI did not pursue this straightforward path. It went after analyzing archeological evidence. Archeology relies on carbon dating, which assumes that carbon 14 decays uniformly in all times, places, and ensembles. Uniformity was enshrined within science due to Christian universalism—there are no unique things; rather, everything is simply just one type of thing. The Vedic description is the opposite—no two things are the same type of thing. Everything is unique because everything is a person and every person is unique. The common thing among unique things is a shared purpose among persons. When there is no uniformity, then carbon 14 cannot decay uniformly in all times, places, and ensembles. Any dating done based on the assumptions of uniformity is false. It could be much younger or older.

Then again, even if we can prove that humans existed much before evolution required them, it still doesn’t prove that life comes from life. Evolutionists will simply rewind the evolutionary clock back in time and postulate another evolutionary pathway to humans. They will also postulate that evolution can go slower or faster based on environmental conditions, and hence there can be short bursts of rapid change followed by long durations of little or no change. Archaeology cannot disprove evolution.

Modern science operates by curve fitting and giving intelligent-sounding names to variables in the equation that fit the curve. Factually, there is no such thing as mass, charge, energy, momentum, angular momentum, spin, etc. All these are results of curve fitting and then giving intelligent-sounding names to variables in the equation that generates the curve. Variables can be added and dropped. The equation can be changed. Science will always find an equation that produces a curve that fits the data. There is no end to this process—if someone has money in their pocket to pay for such equations.

The belief that scientific theories are falsified by empirical evidence is mostly false. Evidence generally adds or removes variables from an equation. Evidence rarely changes an equation. Evidence never alters the dogmas of a subject. Money is spent to preserve dogmas and do the least damage to equations. One who knows these things will naturally know that archaeology will not refute the theory of evolution.

Biology is funded at present through pharma research. All drugs are tested on animals before they are tested on humans. This requires us to say that humans evolved from animals. Without it, drugs have to be tested directly on humans, and humans don’t want to be guinea pigs. Without evolution, animal testing will lose its validity, and without animal testing, the pharma industry will come to an end. The pharma industry funds biology and it will never allow anyone to say that humans did not evolve from animals. The evolution narrative will be adapted to the new evidence to change nothing on the ground and preserve the interests of the pharma industry. If we fail to recognize how biology is funded by pharma research, then our work becomes a futile exercise.

Discussions on the Unity of All Religions

Several years ago, I wrote a book entitled Cosmic Theogony describing the pre-Abrahamic religions as emanating out of a big Vedic pantheon of demigods and forms of God. There is evidence for this all over the world as remnants of deities, rituals, and temples are discovered. However, I also noted that the Abrahamic faiths took these “pagan religions” as foundations and converted them into a monotheistic religion after abrogating all feminine deities, reducing all masculine deities to just one God, removing basic concepts like reincarnation and karma, depersonalizing nature into an inert substance given by God to humanity for exploitation, and applying concepts applicable to a lower deity (such as a contract or covenant) to a monotheistic deity. The lies are literally uncountable. The truth is almost none.

The unity between religions depends on the extent of truth in them. If someone worships ghosts but accepts that there are higher types of worship, then there can be unity. If someone thinks that the truth can be known by philosophy, but also allows for its discovery by concentrating our consciousness, then there can be unity. If someone accepts that we have to lead a moral life, but others have a choice of the types of moral values they wish to adopt, then there can be unity. If someone accepts that laws of social conduct, marriage, inheritance, government, and so on, are flexible options that permit others to pursue their laws, and we will follow each other’s laws when we interact with them, then there can be unity. But there can be no unity with a universalist and exclusivist religion that aims to destroy everyone else.

Universalism is the enemy of unity since it claims that everything is just one type of thing and all unique things must lose their uniqueness to become just one type of thing. Universalism is also the enemy of truth because everything is factually unique. Pursuing unity with any universalist ideology is a futile activity. On the contrary, the abrogation of universalism is the only genuine path toward unity.

The more universalism can be rejected, the closer we will be to the truth, and the greater will be our unity. Since all Abrahamic faiths are universalist, there cannot be world peace as long as they are in power. Even a cursory examination of the last 2000 years of history shows that Abrahamic faiths have waged endless, needless, and lawless wars on peaceful societies. Deaths in wars have not changed their hearts.

Abrahamic faiths dialogue with other religions to identify the exploitable weaknesses of other religions and which of their own weaknesses are susceptible to potential exploitation by other religions. This process is called “legal discovery”. It involves asking questions, exchanging documents, and recording testimonies, which will be later used to formulate the legal case against the opponent. Inter-faith dialogues are places for “legal discovery” to tailor the case against the opposing party. If we understand this, then we know that everything we say can and will be used against us. This is not a friendly exchange, let alone one aimed at developing an appreciation for others. It is a way to make people say things that will be used to incriminate them.

Abrahamic faiths already have a strategy of attack against the Vedic system. They know that they will attack polytheism, the caste system, and sexuality. They are just looking for answers that the Vedic system will provide so that they can prepare the counter response just in case potential converts give such responses. They have educational programs to teach their preachers how to respond to people from other religions while trying to convert them. They are not looking to appreciate others. They are preparing to attack the potential weaknesses and avoid potential areas of strength.

And yet, naïve people willingly walk into these traps hoping to impress and change others. They are so gullible that they misread the inquiries as genuine attempts to understand or appreciate them. This is the result of ignorance and naivete about what Abrahamic religions do with that information. Dialoguing with people without knowing their histories or intentions is a harmful waste of time. Ignorance of their histories, agendas, and methodologies is not an excuse when the side effects of ignorance are harmful.

The Postulate of Higher Dimensions

The reason we can never align Vedic models of reality to modern science is the doctrine of prakṛti which comprises three qualities called sattva, rajas, and tamas, which constitute three logical opposites. Since everyone finds it hard to visualize ternary opposites, therefore, below is one way to describe them in terms of 9 pairs of binary opposites, employed in Ayurveda, and used in reading a person’s guna.

Sattva Light Cold Dry Dull Static Clear Rough Thin Fluid
Rajas Light Hot Wet Sharp Mobile Dirty Smooth Thin Fluid
Tamas Heavy Cold Wet Dull Static Dirty Smooth Thick Solid
  • Sattva and Rajas are alike in three ways and unlike in six ways
  • Rajas and Tamas are alike in three ways and unlike in six ways
  • Sattva and Tamas are alike in three ways and unlike in six ways

As long as we use powers of three pairs (i.e., 3, 9, 27, 81, etc.) we can describe the three gunas as binary opposites. However, the guna are not these opposites. These are just convenient ways to describe them. The same guna can be described in terms of a greater or lesser number of opposites. Since more opposites can be used to describe the guna, therefore, many universes can be created from the same three guna. In each such universe, the guna could be experienced as a greater or lesser number of opposites. A larger universe has more opposites and a smaller universe has fewer opposites. The guna themselves are not reducible to these opposites but we can describe them more accurately using more opposites.

Under binary logic, if one opposite is true, then the other opposite is false. The true opposite must exist and the false opposite must not. However, in the ternary logical system, both opposites exist although not in the same thing. We cannot call the guna binary opposites because they are alike in some ways and unlike in other ways. Even the binary opposites are qualities rather than quantities such as 1 and 0. In the above description of guna, for instance, we have used 9 types of 1s and 0s. Since we can expand this to powers of three pairs of opposites, therefore, there are literally infinite types of 1s and 0s. Binary logic is thus infinitely inadequate to deal with this problem, although, in a given case, we can selectively use binary contrasts to distinguish between qualities. That distinction cannot be called universal truth.

Each type of binary opposite can be loosely called a “dimension”—the opposite sides of the dimension representing the opposite ends of a duality. Since the guna can be represented in terms of greater or lesser dualities, hence, the same thing can be described in terms of greater or lesser dimensions. Three is the minimum number of dimensions, but as we delve into greater variety, we need an increasing number of dimensions to fully understand the complexity. The extra dimensions are not necessarily hidden or invisible. But we need more developed sensory, mental, and intellectual abilities to perceive them.

The term “higher dimension” has been often used by BI. Why can’t we see demigods? It’s because they are in a higher dimension. Why can’t we see the mind? It’s because it is in a higher dimension. Higher dimensions have been used in physics too, as fourth, fifth, or sixth dimensions. Each dimension is a different quality. But that is not true for guna. There are only three qualities. But they can be known to greater or lesser precision. Greater precision requires more opposites. Lesser precision requires fewer opposites. A “subtle” reality needs greater opposites. A “gross” reality needs lesser opposites.

When we say that the mind is a subtle reality, and the body is a gross reality, we are talking about the fact that the body is a simpler understanding of the mind and the mind is a more complex understanding of the body. Thereby, it takes a long time to infer the nature of the mind from the body. But it takes a short time to infer the nature of the body from the mind. The simple thing (i.e., the body) is produced from the complex thing (i.e., the mind). The infinitely complicated prakṛti is primordial. The less complicated mind and body produced from prakṛti are subsequent. We don’t create complexity from simplicity. We create simplicity from complexity by progressively hiding the complexity to simplify it. If we start calling complexity a higher dimension of reality then it means a new quality rather than more complexity. The use of the term “higher dimensions” is therefore highly misleading and ultimately a futile endeavor.

Incessant Attempts to Simplify Religion

Kṛṣṇa is the most complex subject and everything else is less complex. The less complex is produced from the more complex. The less complex is a part of the more complex. The more complex produces the less complex by hiding the complexity to create simplicity. The more and less complex things are persons. The less complex person tries to simplify the more complex person and fails to understand him or her. Since everyone is less complex relative to Kṛṣṇa, therefore, nobody can fully understand Kṛṣṇa. But everyone can become a more complex person to understand the most complex person better.

This is called simple living and high thinking. Simple living means taking our minds out of the world. High thinking means focusing the mind on Kṛṣṇa. The latter cannot be done without the former. But most people want high living and simple thinking. Religion should be simple. Material life can be complex. They will neither take their mind out of the material world nor will they focus their mind on Kṛṣṇa.

The simplicity of the Vedic system is deceptive. Since everything produced from prakṛti can be described in terms of three qualities, hence, everything is simple—we need three qualities to describe everything. But since the three guna can be enunciated in terms of infinite binary opposites, therefore, everything is infinitely complex. The simple description of Kṛṣṇa says that He is the complete form of sat-chit-ānanda. Every other person is a partial form of sat-chit-ānanda. That is precisely like saying that every material thing is a partial form of sattva-rajas-tamas while prakṛti is the complete form of sattva-rajas-tamas.

Therefore, we can say that God is sat-chit-ānanda. But if you ask what each of these words means, then we have to use many triads. I use many such triads in my writing, such as (a) relation, cognition, and emotion, (b) right, truth, and good, (c) ethos, logos, and pathos, (d) justice, truth, and beauty, (e) practice, theory, and result, etc. This is not an exhaustive list. It cannot be exhaustive. But as we use more triads, we understand sat-chit-ānanda better, just like we understand sattva-rajas-tamas better by using more binary opposites. To deal with more complex issues, we have to use a greater number or a different set of triads. To deal with simple issues, we have to use fewer triads. Answers to all questions are not simple. However, the foundation of everything is seemingly very simple.

The Vedic system is the inversion of the Axiomatic System used in Western reasoning in which axioms are simple things and the derivations from those axioms are complex things. In the Vedic system, the axiom—i.e., Kṛṣṇa—is the most complex thing and everything derived from Him is less complex.

We can describe this process with an example of the concept of a vehicle and infinite types of vehicles. Each vehicle partially enunciates the concept. Each vehicle is a part of the complete concept of a vehicle. The concept of a vehicle produces varied vehicles. Varied vehicles don’t produce the concept of a vehicle. The concept of a vehicle must precede individual vehicles for any kind of vehicle to exist. However, by studying varied individual vehicles, we can understand the concept of a vehicle more completely. We don’t know the meaning of the concept of a vehicle if we have seen only one or two vehicles. Seeing more types of vehicles will not tell us something other than the concept of a vehicle. It will simply tell us more and more about the concept of a vehicle. Our idea will get richer and more nuanced with the passing of time.

Reading one Upaniśad can give us the truth. Reading a hundred Upaniśad will give us a more complete version of the same truth. A bachelor’s degree can give us the truth. A master’s degree can give us a more complete version of the same truth. We don’t study many objects through many subjects. We just study one object through every subject. But progressively we get a more complete picture of the same object through many subjects.

We can study the nature of sat-chit-ānanda through every subject. With more subjects, we get a better understanding of sat-chit-ānanda. We won’t get contradictions between subjects. Each subject helps us better understand every other subject. Therefore, every subject is useful to understand sat-chit-ānanda. But other subjects will help us improve our understanding of sat-chit-ānanda and the previously studied subject. This is how every subject serves to advance all other subjects.

The Futility of Fragmented Subjects

If subjects like mathematics, physics, biology, economics, sociology, cosmology, psychology, and so on are not giving us an understanding of sat-chit-ānanda, then they are false. If knowing psychology doesn’t improve our grasp of mathematics or physics, then it is false. Everything in modern academics is false because the study of no subject improves our understanding of any other subject. Knowing theology doesn’t tell us more about mathematics or physics. Therefore, theology is also false. Unless we present every subject like a different kind of vehicle that better enunciates the concept of vehicle, every subject is false. Every education program that doesn’t nuance our understanding of the same truth is false.

Prabhupāda enunciated this view of every subject leading to the knowledge of the Lord in his purport to SB 1.5.22. He writes: Human intellect is developed for advancement of learning in art, science, philosophy, physics, chemistry, psychology, economics, politics, etc. By culture of such knowledge the human society can attain perfection of life. This perfection of life culminates in the realization of the Supreme Being, Viṣṇu. Later, in the same purport, he writes: When advancement of knowledge is applied in the service of the Lord, the whole process becomes absolute. The Personality of Godhead and His transcendental name, fame, glory, etc., are all nondifferent from Him. Therefore, all the sages and devotees of the Lord have recommended that the subject matter of art, science, philosophy, physics, chemistry, psychology and all other branches of knowledge should be wholly and solely applied in the service of the Lord.

There are two points here. One, by knowing every subject, we can know the Lord. Two, every subject can be used to serve the Lord by using that subject to glorify an aspect of His person because these aspects are non-different from Him. The less complex thing is non-different from the more complex thing. The less complex thing is a part and the more complex thing is the whole. The parts have emanated from the whole as His energies and aspects, and they reveal different aspects of the Lord’s persona. If we are not learning about the Lord better through a subject, then the study of that subject is a futile activity.

For example, economics is personified as Lakshmi, as one part of Kṛṣṇa. The economy goes up when Lakshmi looks at some place and it goes down when Lakshmi looks away from that place. The up and down of the economy are the result of the roving eye of Lakshmi. The economic up and down is the phenomenon. But Lakshmi’s roving eye is the noumenon. Sometimes She rewards people with wealth to check if they will come to Vishnu because of wealth. Sometimes She rewards people with poverty to check if they will come to Him because of poverty. To know how the economy goes up and down, we have to know Lakshmi, personally. In this way, behind every phenomenon, there is a person creating, controlling, and enjoying that activity, and he or she is the noumenon. Nobody will ever make a useful equation for economics because they are trying to reduce Lakshmi to an equation.

Since every deity is a part of Kṛṣṇa, therefore, all subjects must be unified. Only by unifying the subject with all other subjects do we even understand that subject correctly and completely. Unity is the path toward truth. Different Vedic texts are not saying different things. They are telling us about the different aspects of the same thing. Different systems of Vedic philosophy are not saying different things. They are helping us understand the same thing even better. Since the Western ideology has programmatically separated all subjects, and there is no plan to ever unify them in the future, hence, all subjects studied under this ideology of reduction, fragmentation, and division are mere illusions. Anyone who follows this ideology of separation will also produce nothing more than an illusion.

BI has never criticized Western academics for its fragmented, reductive, and separated approach to knowledge nor has it ever presented a conception of knowledge in which every subject is unified into a single coherent understanding. Everyone habitually separates theology from physics, mathematics, or biology. They think that they know Kṛṣṇa well, but economics or cosmology is another matter. They apply the Western separation of subjects to the Vedic system. They claim that there are many divergent schools of philosophy rather than one system of knowledge that teaches us the same thing with greater and greater detail. Some even say that studying many subjects confuses the mind and dilutes our devotion to God. Their desire for finality in religion undercuts their understanding of religion.

An Alternative Trajectory for the Truth

The World is Meaningful and Purposeful

Since time immemorial, people of different civilizations have believed that things in their life happen for a reason, and that reason is good. They saw meanings and purposes in the world and believed that God was communicating with them through the world. Even in the Bible, floods and plagues are a sign that God intervenes in the world to give us a message. To be completely consistent, we have to say that God controls the world and the world represents the messages that God is communicating to everyone.

I don’t know what people were thinking when they said that nature is governed by mathematical laws because it immediately falsified the plague and flood narratives (and hundreds of other such stories) in the Bible. If mathematical laws control nature, then God can never intervene in nature. Thereby, He cannot even communicate with us through nature. He cannot respond to our prayers, He cannot show us signs and symbols, to tell us what He thinks. The new model of mathematical reality required the world to be devoid of meaning and purpose. Initially, this meant that meanings and purposes were in the mind. But later on, with the reduction of the mind to the body, there aren’t meanings and purposes anywhere, although without meanings and purposes, there would be no reason to give rewards and punishments, and the entire system of social laws would collapse.

I have never figured out how a society lives with fundamental contradictions in its worldview because nobody can reconcile the dogmas of natural and social sciences—e.g., humans have no freedom and humans have freedom. If humans have freedom, then the laws of natural sciences are false. But if humans have no freedom, then the laws of social sciences are false. But those who deny freedom will not accept the end of rewards and punishments. Similarly, those who accept rewards and punishments will not reject the mathematical laws of science. Contradictions are the norm rather than the exception. These contradictions lead to numerous double standards. They are the norm rather than the exception.

The answer to these problems is that every single mathematical law is an illusion. All social laws—that postulate absolute freedom—are also false. God controls what will happen in the world, but not who will do it. The who is determined by desiring and deserving—some people deserve but they don’t desire, and some people desire but they don’t deserve. All laws are about different choices and their respective responsibilities. We choose based on meaning and purpose. We are also held responsible based on meaning and purpose.

The Problem of Truth and Popularity

The idea that the world is meaningful and purposeful is unacceptable to modern sciences and religions because even if they love choices, they don’t like responsibility. The pious welcome responsibility. The sinners abhor responsibility. The pious are delighted to hear that God judges them. The sinful hate the idea of judgment itself. No rational argument will change the sinner’s position on responsibility. He has done so many sins that he is scared of responsibility. He hopes to go to heaven by a miracle or never be reborn after death. Everything else is carefully crafted to fit the responsibility avoidance scheme.

Therefore, the philosophy of choice and responsibility will never be popular in a sinful society. The philosophy that says that God is watching us all the time, as He is present in everything, including our heart and He knows every evil thought we are thinking, will never be popular in a sinful society. The philosophy that says that our moral values and social laws are irrelevant to natural moral judgment, will never be popular in a sinful society. The society that talks about privacy and the laws of privacy will never be able to accept the fact that every action is observed and recorded by demigods and the recorded history of the present life is used at the end of the present life to determine a person’s next life.

Lord Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-Gita: Four kinds of sinful people (Duṣkṛti) do not surrender to Me. Four kinds of pious people (Sukriti) surrender to Me. Rational arguments and empirical evidence are not the paths to the truth for the sinful. They are paths to the truth only for the pious. In one fell swoop, Lord Kṛṣṇa debunks the entirety of Western epistemology. The discovery of truth begins with piety, moral conduct, character development, and virtuousness. It does not begin with the invention of microscopes and telescopes.

Therefore, the absence of popularity in a sinful society is not a marker that the claims are not truthful. The truth is always unpopular among the sinful. The desire to make the truth popular in a sinful society is also a complete waste of time. One has to become a pious person before one can accept the truth. Everyone else will talk about reinterpreting the evidence to escape the responsibility of choice.

Therefore, the strategy for BI is very simple—seek out the pious people in the world. Stay away from impious people. Educate the pious about the sinfulness of the impious. Tell them about their crimes and histories of violence, hedonism, and selfishness. Educate them about the contradictions of universal truth and the consistency of supreme truth. Teach them how an alternative worldview of piety is rooted in the lawfulness of choice and responsibility. They will surrender to Kṛṣṇa because the virtuous are not scared of being judged. Only the sinful are scared. The virtuous are delighted to hear about judgment. The sinful are not. The virtuous will accept God delightfully. The sinful will never accept God.

Thereby, the truth is not for everyone. There is a specific demography to which the truth can be given. It is the demography of pious people. This demography is rare at present, but not absent. It can be found in all countries, races, and societies. Any nationalistic, racial, or societal discrimination is ignorance. But the absence of discrimination is also not universal accessibility of the truth. The truth is only for the pious. The sinful will suffer and blame others for their suffering. They will not come to God unless they are pious people. When pious people suffer, they quickly turn to God. The sinful drown their sorrow in sex, intoxication, violence, and entertainment, which means that suffering makes them more sinful.

Reincarnation—The Fundamental Truth

People often ask me: What is Vedic science? How is it different from modern science? The answer is very simple: Vedic science is about the motion of the soul while modern science is about the motion of objects. Objects move according to natural laws, which have to be separate from moral laws. The soul moves according to a natural law of choice and responsibility, which is not separate from moral law. The unification of natural law and moral law into a single law is called the principle of dharma.

The sun is not moving in the sky due to some natural law. The sun is obeying the principles of dharma. The sun stops his chariot to teach Sūrya Siddhānta to Maya Dānava. This is literally the first sentence in Sūrya Siddhānta. Therefore, the supposed natural law is violated at the outset of Sūrya Siddhānta. But no moral law is violated because stopping one kind of duty to fulfill a higher duty is always welcome. Some people may have a longer day while others may have a longer night. Sūrya will cover up that discrepancy over time by working harder to fulfill the previously neglected duty. This is the meaning of dharma.

The moon stands in the sky to watch Kṛṣṇa dance with the Gopis. The Śarada Pūrnima night was hence longer. The moon was not obeying a natural law. The moon was following the principles of dharma. Watching Kṛṣṇa dance is a higher duty than the duty of maintaining the periodicity of day and night. The moon did eventually cover up this discrepancy by working harder. This is the meaning of dharma.

The bodies are moving because the soul is moving. Otherwise, the bodies are potentials. Everyone gets a set of potentials at birth. They are converted into actuality over the course of life. Some potential may never be used—e.g., the capacity to drink alcohol may never be used. Other potentials may be used repeatedly—e.g., the capacity to chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra may be used repeatedly. Some potential may be abused—e.g., the capacity to use weapons may be abused to hurt other people. The results of this use, disuse, and abuse are according to a person’s dharma, defined as their contextual role.

The body is a potential ability. The role is also a potential. Our desire to use, disuse, or abuse is also a potential. However, the combination of potential, role, and desire produces an action that is judged for its truthfulness, righteousness, and goodness, which then determines the future potentials. The truthful, righteous, and good actions expand and upgrade the potentials while false, immoral, and bad actions contract and downgrade the potentials. This is the merger of moral law and natural law called dharma.

It is not forces that are pushing objects. It is choices and responsibilities, that are moving a person from potential to potential. There is no need for a synthesis of science and religion if we describe dharma as it is. The so-called synthesis of science and religion pursued earlier is merely a figment of our imagination because obtaining that synthesis requires us to understand that both science and religion are false because the separation of natural law and moral law is false. Just getting a synthesis requires us to reject both.

Every scientific principle falls within the purview of this overarching model of change. The differences simply arise as the result of the fact that many personalities are involved in deciding the potential and the choice according to time, place, and situation. If the basic principle of reincarnation as the soul moving from one potential to another is understood, then all other principles are details about many persons controlling, relinquishing, activating, deactivating, reducing, and increasing potentials.

Quantity vs. Quality Science Difference

The quality worldview becomes essential to the above law of dharma because the potentials don’t just increase or decrease (the quantity view of reality) but are also upgraded or downgraded (the quality view of reality). There is a bodily capacity to run long distances. It can be increased to run longer and decreased to run shorter distances. But there is a mental capacity to think of complex ideas, which is a better potential than the potential to run longer distances. Hence, there is a consideration of more and less according to the quantity view but also a consideration of better and worse according to the quality view. Modern science can only talk about more and less. It cannot talk about better and worse.

The quality view completely replaces the quantity view in the Vedic system because more of better is even better, more of worse is even worse, less of better is worse, and less of worse is better. Hence, we don’t have to talk about more and less at all. We can completely replace it with better and worse.

  • More of good = even better than good
  • Less of good = slightly worse than good
  • Less of bad = slightly better than bad
  • More of bad = even worse than bad
  • More of truth = even better than truth
  • Less of truth = slightly worse than truth
  • Less of false = slightly better than false
  • More of false = even worse than false
  • More piety = even better than piety
  • Less piety = slightly worse than piety
  • Less sinful = slightly better than sinful
  • More sinful = even worse than sinful

Thus, we don’t need the words “more” and “less” and properties like mass, charge, momentum, and energy. We just need the words truth, piety, and good, along with words such as “better” and “worse”. This is the most essential vocabulary for talking about the law of dharma. It can be expanded further by expanding the words truth, piety, and good into many kinds of percepts, actions, and feelings.

The worldview of quantities is incomplete because it cannot talk about truth, piety, and good, nor can it speak of better and worse. The worldview of qualities is complete because it can talk about truth, piety, and good, along with better or worse types of truths, pieties, and good. Hence, quality science is better than quantity science. Mathematical laws are incomplete. The law of dharma is complete.

Absolute Truth vs. Relative Truth

The use of words such as better and worse for truth, piety, and good brings relativity to our discourse because something is better or worse than something else. This relativity is removed by talking about absolute truth, piety, and good called the Absolute Truth, which is complete sat-chit-ānanda. Everything else is a part of the Absolute Truth, which means that it is less than complete sat-chit-ānanda. When the sat-chit-ānanda is considerably reduced, we can occasionally call it false, impious, and bad, although these are relative rather than absolute terms. They are produced by progressively hiding the sat-chit-ānanda. And yet, there is always some truth, piety, and good even in the most constrained situation.

Lord Rāma took lessons on moral duty from Rāvana after he was slain. Yudhiśthira took lessons on moral duty from Bhīśma after he was slain. The incarnation of the Lord named Dattātreya taught moral duty by citing the nature of earth, water, fire, air, and ether. The five gross elements are also doing dharma. They are not dead. They are teachers of society. They may not be great teachers but they are teachers.

Conversely, what does a mathematical equation teach us about morality? Nothing. Ardent supporters of mathematical equations say that science is silent on morality. If we impart students education on mathematical laws, what we have taught them about morality? Nothing. How can there be knowledge in an impious society where everyone is trying to cheat and avoid responsibility for their actions? Mathematical equations take away the ability to see the world as a teacher, learn from it, and correct ourselves. Equations teach us the world is either deterministic or random. Not an ounce of morality.

Therefore, in the Vedic system, there are lessons to be learned from floods, earthquakes, pandemics, wars, droughts, and famines. Nothing is immoral, inert, or dead. They are all alive. They are all teaching us something. What they are teaching us requires us to know which aspect of their behavior resembles the Absolute Truth. We can learn something about the Absolute Truth from everything. Hence, even floods, earthquakes, pandemics, wars, droughts, and famines are not evil. Every crisis is an opportunity. But to convert that crisis into an opportunity, we must know the Absolute Truth. Those who know the Absolute Truth can tell us what the floods, earthquakes, pandemics, wars, droughts, and famines are telling us. The world is a message. If we know how to read it, then everything is good. If we don’t know how to read, then everything is evil. It is not factually evil. The seeming evil is our illiterate conclusion.

This illiteracy arises the moment we call the world inert and model it using mathematical equations. The world ceases to be alive. What it does becomes inexplicable. We lose the capacity to read the messages. We try to connect previous events to subsequent events but because we cannot judge what is true, right, and good, therefore, the causality based on dharma becomes inexplicable to us. Science then formalizes this illiteracy and ignorance of reality into a mathematical principle of random action. It doesn’t make anyone enlightened. It just teaches people to stop searching for an explanation.

Separation of Sentiment and Philosophy

At the dawn of the Bhakti movement in India, there was a competition between impersonal philosophy and devotional sentiment, and the philosophers lost. But that victory was temporary. A few centuries passed, and impersonal philosophy resurged and sentiment died. Prabhupāda knew about this dilemma. Hence, he said: “Religion without philosophy is sentiment, or sometimes fanaticism, while philosophy without religion is mental speculation.” The problem is that devotional philosophy isn’t quite as simple as impersonal philosophy. Impersonal philosophy is simple—the self is real and the world is a myth. It makes scriptures and deities also a myth because they are in the world. This position is substantiated by the principle that truth is eternal. Since the world is temporary, therefore, it has got to be a myth.

Coming out of this truth-myth dichotomy is a nightmare. It requires us to say that the world is like a temporary book. But what is written in the book could be temporary or eternal. Truth and myth pertain not to the book but to what is written in the book—i.e., the meaning. All texts are temporary but some meanings are eternal. All deities are temporary but some meanings in deities are eternal. This nuanced position—necessary to escape impersonalism—now complicates everything because we have to study reality as meaning represented through books rather than just as temporary and fleeting books.

We have to note that Abrahamic faiths solve the truth-myth dichotomy through faith in the scripture. The scripture is temporary but it contains the truth. How do we know? That is an article of faith. There is no attempt to prove that the meaning contained in the book is eternal. In fact, Abrahamic faiths have transformed their books into contract laws, which by definition are not eternal truths. These contracts were made at one point in time and would cease to be relevant at another point in time. Therefore, the question of proving that the content of the book is eternal truth doesn’t arise because the book is itself said to be a temporary contract. But even if someone tried to elevate the book to eternal truth, there would be no method to prove that it is eternal meaning and people would still accept it on faith.

When the Vedic system treats the world as a text, then the interaction between things is an interaction between texts. How does one book shape another book? How does music affect poetry? How does beauty change music and poetry? How does time change beauty, music, and poetry? These are the models of causality, not based on mechanical forces. We can measure these changes with instruments but we cannot explain these changes using quantitative properties. We need qualities to explain these changes. The effects can still be quantified but the causes of those effects are never quantified.

The Unity of Sentiment and Philosophy

Hence, we have to begin with a new basis of science, namely, that everything is a person, the person is free to choose, but that choice is also judged morally. The moral person is empowered with greater and better options. The immoral person is disempowered with fewer and worse options. If our freedom is increasing, then we have been moral. If our freedom is decreasing, then we have been immoral.

This is the bare minimum foundation of material science. It is consistent with a spiritual science where the pursuit of greater personal freedom—based on moral action—is replaced by complete freedom from all restrictions to our freedom. The former is called dharma and the latter is called sanātana-dharma. Dharma always puts restrictions on our freedom. Sanātana-dharma removes all such restrictions.

We don’t use universalism in this science. The results of an experiment for me are not going to be the same as the results of the same experiment for you. No two experiments can reproduce the same result. There are always minor differences, and sometimes major differences. Modern science ignores all major and minor differences as instrument error, experimental error, environmental error, and so on because the goal is not to conform to the observations but to make observations conform to an ideology.

Similarly, on the rational side, we must say that the truth must be consistent and complete. We can postulate any axiom as a provisional truth to be verified as truth. But this axiom is true only if it correctly predicts and explains all observations. I cannot use different axioms for different subjects. I cannot postulate different theories for different phenomena. Life is one game to be played by one set of rules. I cannot keep changing the rules of the game at my whim or fancy. That is not a game. It is cheating.

Now we can apply this criterion of truth to modern science, which is a collection of incompatible axioms used to explain different subsets of observations. Since the axioms are incompatible, hence the system is inconsistent. Since an inconsistent set of axioms explains and predicts observations only partially hence it is incomplete. Nothing in modern science is true because everything is inconsistent and incomplete. We don’t have to wait till eternity to falsify science because falsifying data exists currently.

We can apply the same consistent and complete condition to impersonalism. If the world is a myth, then all the books are also myths, and the claim that the world is a myth is also a myth. The idea that the world is a myth will not explain or predict anything. Moreover, it is also a self-inconsistent claim. Again, we don’t have to wait till eternity to falsify impersonalism because the evidence is available right now.

The same criterion of truth can be applied to Abrahamic faiths. God doesn’t sign contracts with anyone because a contract is signed between two parties that need something from each other but God by definition doesn’t need anything from anyone as He is self-sufficient. A contract with God is a self-contradiction in which a self-sufficient person needs something from self-insufficient persons. I don’t have to mention all the false claims in Abrahamic faiths. Even one false claim falsifies the entire system. We don’t have to wait till eternity to falsify Abrahamic faiths since the evidence is with us right now.

All the effort must now be focused on explaining Vedic philosophy to ensure that it is not falsified in the same way as modern science, Abrahamic faiths, or impersonalism. If we falsify everything but cannot defend the Vedic system, then we end up with nothing. The criteria are stringent—nothing in the Vedic system should be falsified. This is not an infinite project because the number of claims is finite. If we can show the coherence among them, then the claims to be tested can be dramatically reduced.

This is the project of refuting the false claims, lies, and dogmas of Abrahamic faiths, impersonalists, voidists, and modern science along with establishing that the Vedic system is scientific truth rather than blind faith, lies, and dogmas prevalent today. These things have been carried out in the past in India. Numerous Acharyas came to refute the lies and dogmas that prevailed in Indian society at that time. The situation is only globalized now. Merging with your opponent, getting married to them, producing many children through intercourse with the opponent, relativizing the truth, or hoping that there is some truth even in the lies, are not the methods of the truth-seekers. They are the methods of those who are not convinced about anything and want to distribute their bets between everything.

Liberated and Bounded Attitudes

The basic trait of a liberated soul is that he considers himself a resident of Vaikuṇṭha. He looks at the world outside-in. I am not from here. I have no business with the local and regional activities of this strange place. He tries to take people out of that place to where he comes from—Vaikuṇṭha. All that he does is to impress upon people that his place is better than theirs. But the bounded soul considers himself a part of that world. He gets involved in the local activities of this world. He tries to change the system rather than taking people out of the system. By that, he endorses and accepts the system that surrounds him and is trapped by it.

In Abrahamic faiths, there is a concept of paradise on earth established by obedience to a messiah. We will go to heaven when we will. But before that, the world will be converted to heaven on earth. In some religions, the messiah will come again after we have made it a heaven on earth. This is the definition of material bondage. Abrahamic faiths proselytize under this false assumption. They want to transform societies and institutions rather than take people out of those societies and institutions. They get entangled in that society and institution, make compromises, and never get out of the world.

The Vedic system doesn’t teach under this false assumption of worldly transformation. It says: Your life is already hell. We have the prescription for a better life. If you take it, then you will go to Vaikuṇṭha. Thus, we don’t try to change worldly systems. We try to take people out of this system, one by one. The world will never end. There will never be heaven on earth. Everything we do will be overturned sooner than later. No messiah is coming to save you or to put an end to the world. Nobody is going to take a greater interest in your future than the interest you have shown in your future. Everyone should try to get out of the world and take as many people as they can with them. It is a jailbreak, not jail becoming a paradise.

BI was meant to assist in this jailbreak, but it started seeking validation from the jail. Instead of telling the truth that the Western materialistic systems of science, philosophy, and religion will never lead us to the truth, it tied itself to the prestige of Western science, philosophy, and religion. It finds criticism of falsehoods inconvenient. Instead of cutting the rope that ties the boat to the shore, it has strengthened the rope that binds it to the shore. The path to jailbreak has become harder than before. We need to use a sharper knife to cut this stronger bond. This article is written in the spirit of that sharper knife. It can cut that stronger bond. Those who want to cut that bond will find it useful. Others, who dislike the idea of cutting the bond, will strengthen their bond even more.