My scientist friends often ask me a question, “What is really incredible about Amma and why should a scientist like you be her follower?” The curiosity has grown over the years as more and more distinguished scientists and professionals from various fields from India and abroad have started getting associated with Amma’s mission, many of them forsaking successful professional
lives and joining Amma’s institutions.
The answer to this question is: Amma is that unique phenomenon on the earth today who represents a grand synthesis of science, spirituality and service. Of course, the Vedic seers of yesteryears were also scientists who, through meditative contemplation, enunciated the fundamental nature of reality and the laws of living for mankind. These laws, when applied in practice by men and women of character, evolved into the sanatan dharma or the eternal religion of the humanity.
Amma has been spreading this across the world through her message of love and compassion. Here the word dharma means a set of laws for human behaviour, which behold the society and entire nature surrounding it, contributing to the ascent of humanity and preservation of nature as a whole.
Many individuals engaged in hard science on one side and orthodox religion on the other believe that science and spirituality are two distinct lines, planes or streams of thoughts, which shall never meet. Science and spirituality, they believe, are two sets or domains with no intersection; sets which are mutually exclusive.
Although I was not vexed by these questions, I still wanted Amma to provide me with an answer. In September 2001, I had an opportunity to spend an evening with her, when I ventured to ask Amma whether science and spirituality are two different or distinct realms or domains of knowledge parallel to each other. Amma quickly remarked, “The ultimate truth or knowledge is one which has no second. How can scientific and spiritual knowledge be different? Both are two different facets of the same truth.”
She said, “Spiritual knowledge air-conditions the mind, whereas scientific knowledge air-conditions the body. Both are required by mankind.”
On the question of synthesis of science and religion we are reminded by Albert Einstein that science without religion is blind, and religion without science is but lame.
When I was developing Param-10000 (supercomputer) at the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) I had a dream of having an advanced computing training centre of C-DAC at the Amrita Institute of Technology & Science (Aits) in Coimbatore. Not only was this dream actually realised, but an advanced computing training institute was the first to install Param-10000 in India.
Similarly, Amma has established the Amrita Institute of Management (Aim) to produce managers of tomorrow inspired with public service. It has one of the best digital libraries in
Amma has often said that science alone cannot solve the problems of the world; otherwise there would not have been so much violence, desperation or sorrow in the world. The application of science and technology for the service of humanity requires a strong spiritual foundation. Today’s university education has not been able to bring peace, harmony and joy in society. The original purpose of the universities was to create universalisation of mind of aspiring learners.
The author is chairman, ETH Research Lab, and was formerly head of India’s Param supercomputer project at C-DAC, Pune