Why the Darwinian Theory cannot be adapted into the Vedanta?
In Vedanta, the theory of creation is only a temporary acceptance; it does not have an absolute status. This is because, while Science accepts the observed universe and then embarks upon explaining the phenomena, Vedanta, instead of accepting the universe, questions its very existence. With this fundamental difference between the approaches of Science and Vedanta, all theories advanced in the field of science have either no or only a seeming acceptance in Vedanta.
The Upanishads and Shankaracharya have made it amply clear that Creation is not an ontological reality in Vedanta. For example, in the Mandukya Upanishad, after describing the three states of waking, etc., the Upanishad in the 7th mantra ‘nAntaH prajnam…’ negates the three states (consisting of the micro and macrocosm) in one sweep by the word ‘prapanchopashamam’. This word means that the Absolute Reality, the Turiya, Brahman, is free of the world. It is Advaitam, the realization of which ensures freedom from bondage.
Gaudapadacharya makes it clear that the various scriptural passages on creation are only a means to enlighten the aspirant about the Truth, Brahman, and have no more purpose than this. (Karika 3.15) His ajAtivAda says it all.
Acharya Shankara too has clarified that the passages describing the creation of the universe are of only a vyavaharik nature, aimed at impressing upon the aspirant the Infinitude of Brahman.
The purpose of Vedanta is not to explain the observed universe, although it does sometimes give a rather detailed explanation of the process, the products, etc. Vedanta is concerned primarily with the observer, the conscious entity, the jiva. It is this jiva that is the subject matter of Vedanta. This entity is the human being. On the other hand, science has for its purpose the study of the observed universe and consciousness is only a part of that study.
In Vedanta, the Conscious Jiva is a beginningless eternal entity. For the Darwinian Theory the human species comes at the end of evolution, preceded by a number of lower forms of life. Vedanta differs in this fundamental stage itself. For Vedanta there is no starting point at all for the human being. All forms of sub-human lives (which science accepts) and super-human lives (in which science does not believe) are a consequence of human behavior in some life. Vedanta holds that man’s adhering to the do’s and don’ts of the Vedic teaching decides what kind of life is in store for the jiva. The Gita 3. 10 teaches that the Creator gave out the Vedic teaching along/simultaneous with the creation of the living beings. The onus of knowing the Vedic teaching and following it rests upon the intelligent human beings.
Thus what science holds as a very unevolved life species is only a once-upon-a-time ‘evolved’ (as per science) human being. With this fundamental difference between the Darwinian approach and Vedantic approach, there is hardly any place for adapting or accommodating the former into the latter system. Evolution as a concept has no doubt a place in Vedanta: it is the evolving of the caring human being from his latent animal tendencies, aasurI guNas, to the level of a human being and further evolving from this state to the predominantly saattvic tendencies, daivI guNas. This concern with demoniac and divine qualities is all about Vedanta sadhana.
- Creation is real in science while it is only a temporary acceptance in Vedanta.
- The jiva, human species, is an eternal, uncreated entity. There is no time when the jiva, Consciousness, was not there and will not be there. Darwinian Theory has that the human species is the last arrival in the scheme of evolution of species.
- In view of this specific fundamental difference between Vedanta and the Darwinian Theory, there cannot be a synthesis of the two.
- Vedanta is in no way worse off without the Darwinian-type theory. Its evolution concept is only the improvement of the human mind to make it fit for the realization of its Atman/Brahman nature.
- The very purpose of Vedanta is the human species; it is its very subject matter. But living beings, life, in general is the subject matter of Darwinian Theory.
- There is a passage in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (4.iii.37), and commented upon by Shankaracharya, to the effect that the jiva creates his ‘next’ world by his karmic material. The next world stands created and is ‘ready’ to receive the new-born being into its fold.
- His karmas decide what kind of world he will be in, in the subsequent birth. The entire world of matter and other beings is a creation of this one jiva. Every jiva thus creates its own world but what we have is one single world that is a jigsaw model of all the worlds of all the jivas. This total creation is called Ishwara’s Srishti. The Mega Blueprint takes into account the micro karmic inputs of all the jivas.
- This kind of a model is not accepted by science. Matter is not a creation of consciousness for science. In Vedanta matter is a concoction, a creation, a projection of consciousness. This is what adhyAsa is all about. Ref. the 13th chapter of the Gita.
Om Tat Sat