By Prof. R.S. Nigam
Concept of Truth in Science and Religion by K.D. Gangrade, L.S. Kothari and A.R. Verma, 228 pp, Rs 400.00
The basic material for this work is, by and large, drawn from the writings of Prof. D.S. Kothari, the doyen of Indian scientists and other world-renowned scientists like Albert Einstein, President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Neils Bohr and S. Chandrasekhar and other social thinkers and leaders of the human race. The uniqueness of this book lies in the fact that it presents information in the languages of modern science and the ancient Upanishads with equal profundity and grace. It has extremely well presented the views of Prof. D.S. Kothari and other eminent scientists and scholars on a subject which provides a way out to the modern strife-stricken human race to counter the new forms of terrorism and destructive activities occurring on a wide scale and which no one could think of even 20 years ago.
The authors talk of the gap that has cropped up between the physical and cultural aspects of man, presumably due to the power hunger of various groups and social segments. In the analytical exposition of this work, it may take centuries before any noticeable changes occur in man'snature and individual and group behaviour. On the other hand, the physical environment depends upon scientific and technological developments and thus changes very rapidly.
The entire exercise has been presented in 18 chapters under three parts followed by a bibliography and an index. Part I introduces the basic theme, followed by an exposition of science and truth and an analytical view of truth and religion. Part II gives a biographical sketch of Prof. D.S. Kothari followed by assessment of various known facets of science and humanism. Part III deals with an exposition of scientific thought, science and Vedanta and related issues. The sequencing of chapters is logical and progressive and provides for lucid reading and thought absorption.
The search for truth regarding nature is an area of physical science involving human thinking and professionalism. The main difference between science and art (which includes social science as well) is that scientific effort is cumulative and cooperative, whereas each artistic creation is complete in itself. This phenomenon has been critically examined, analysed and evaluated by the authors. They rightly assert that, like religion, pursuit of science is one of the most selfless human activities. Science and religion, both represent man'ssearch for truth under three segments: a) mathematical, b) scientific, and c) moral. The proof of a mathematical theorem consists in deducing it purely by reason, starting from some given axioms. In the case of scientific truth, the test entails demonstrating that it explains (and as such, predicts) results of experiments and observations. Scientific truth is based primarily on experience, while mathematics is based on traditional logic (called ?pure logic? by the authors).
The concept of good or bad implies value judgement and values are related to the purpose and aim of a specific goal. What then is best for moral truth? The authors have rightly taken refuge in Mahatma Gandhi who held that the test of a moral principle lay in the willingness of the person who subscribed to it to suffer for it without harming the opponents and showing any ill will towards them. A moral principle is ?true? if it is in unison with man'sspirit, if it is close to his ?soul?.
The authors rightly maintain that science represents the external world and religion, the internal world. Very often the two worlds are taken as separate identities and disconnected with each other. Hence, emphasis is on the absence of any contradictions between science and religion and on the presence of unity and synthesis between these two streams of thoughts.
To bring about order and progress of humanity, we need both advancement of science as well as practice of ethics and the Gandhian interpretation of truth. This can be accomplished by giving wide coverage to the Gandhian approach to the education system at all levels (primary to the university level) so that all citizens are made aware of its contents and quality in achieving human unity and happiness. Gandhi said that ?the present mode of education is radically wrong from bottom to top?. And, this holds good even after more than half a century of Independence. All stakeholders need to take bold steps to replace the existing system of education that is a legacy of British rule and that is designed to promote colonial exploitation of the Third World. The book is highly relevant as it is a step towards social and scientific advancement of our society and meets current and future needs of upliftment and happiness of mankind as expressed by Gandhi in his concept of Ramarajya.
(The reviewer can be contacted at 62, Vaishali, Pitampura, Delhi-110 088.)