Scientist-turned monk, MADHU PANDIT DASA, is Iskcon-Bangalore president, but is better known as the Akshaya Patra monk who reaches food to millions of school children everyday.
He speaks about science, consciousness and the power of mantra chanting to RANJENI A SINGH
We can use mind and intelligence as scientific instruments to understand God-consciousness. This knowledge of inner science leads to peace, happiness and satisfaction. When the soul gets kicked from sukha to dukha and back, spiritual technology comes handy. Scriptures like the Bhagwad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam are technologies that help us fight battles and become victorious in the war called life. And whatever training of scientific thinking I acquired in my younger years, I use it in understanding the philosophy of Krishna consciousness,” says Madhu Pandit Dasa, the president of Iskcon-Bangalore. As a scientist who became a monk in response to inner calling, he leverages modern technology and science of the inner Self to generate resources for a higher cause: of providing nutritious food to millions of children.
He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2016, and Gandhi Peace Prize in 2019 for his Akshaya Patra initiative.
“Projects like Akshaya Patra give us an opportunity to practically realise the active presence of divine grace of the Supreme Being in every aspect of our work,” says Swamiji, who is also the chairman of Akshaya Patra Foundation. Akshaya Patra kitchens are technology-driven, they are fully automated, and maintain high standards of hygiene. “When you execute a project with sevabhava, everything has to be perfect,” he says.
Akshaya Patra is a fine example of science and technology meeting spirituality. The matter ends there, as science limits itself by believing only what the gross senses can observe. “You cannot observe mind, intelligence and ego, which can only be perceived, but science doesn’t accept perception. Scientific methodologies like hypothesis, experiments, confirmation, expansion, next hypothesis and so on are great, but on the spiritual path, we also do the same thing. Whatever the scriptures say, or what Krishna says in the Gita, we take it as a hypothesis on the same platform. But in science, hypothesis is first doubted.When I apply the Gita, I take the hypothesis without doubting it,but I also follow the process of establishing its truthness to myself. Just like an experiment, I meditate upon the Almighty, experience the difference between the soul and body, and achieve Self-realisation. So you see the methodology is same but attitude is different,” says the monk.
Swamiji believes that technology can be used in the best interest of humanity or for the worst.“Look at Akshaya Patra.It has reached millions because we have leveraged technology. Technology can be used to speed up the spread of sankirtana, the message of chanting holy names.”So if everyone is chanting mantras, why have we not been able to eliminate negativity from our lives? “The mantras are powerful enough, but there is not enough of the vibration going out. According to our shastras, material peace, happiness and prosperity are the result of punya, good karma, and chanting is the highest punya-earner. The Hare Krishna Maha Mantra is the most valued spiritual currency that can get you peace and happiness. Those who chant get the spiritual power to control the inner environment and learn how to be peaceful and happy.It may seem a long way off, but look at what Prabhupada achieved in the US. He brought about changes spiritually, culturally, philosophically in disillusioned minds. So miracles do happen,” says Swamiji, adding, “I am not expecting everyone to chant the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra, however, even if one or two per cent of the population chant the mantra, the other 98% will get benefitted.”
The Iskcon-Bangalore president says that Vedic knowledge is being proved to be right by scientists. Quoting from the Srimad Bhagavatam, he said that Ved Vyasahad talked about embryology; he explained in detail the time taken for a foetus to develop limbs and heartbeats. “What Vyasa said 5,000 years ago, modern science managed to prove only recently.The relative truths are matching, but science stops at that and we continue. Vedas are about both the outside world as well as the inside world. Science doesn’t recognise intuitive knowledge.The moment a scientist crosses the barrier, he is called a philosopher,” says Swamiji. He adds, “Inner satisfaction, inner happiness does not mean renouncing the world. It means that now with the inner strength, you handle the world for the good of the world. So you give this knowledge to everyone; show the path to people.That is my external duty to the world and to myself.”
So isn’t internal practice enough for shift in consciousness? Do we need grand temples to reach God? Swamiji says,“Air is everywhere,so why do we need a fan? God is everywhere, but to feel his glory in concentrated form, you have to go to a temple.People today are more inclined towards consumerism and extravagance and they are for getting the higher purpose of life and are finding it difficult to feel His presence everywhere,so temples attract people.” Iskcon is building the world’s tallest temple, the Chandrodaya Mandir, in Vrindavan, UP and another 41-storey temple on Kanakpura Road in Bengaluru.“Spirituality is nothing but giving a higher taste in life.To give them the experience, we build these shrines. Modern contexts need modern structures like these. Temples like these are like fans to help devotees feel the divine breeze.” Besides visiting shrines and chanting names, eating saatvik food also helps cleanse the chitta. “Food has the power to cleanse body and mind of negative vibrations. Prasadam is pure sanctified food. Before we eat we express gratitude to God.That bhava of gratitude purifies the food spiritually and it has a special potency. Eating food cooked by an angry person will disturb you. In the food it is not only the gross nutrients that modern science talks about, there is the chitta of the cook, chitta of the money using which the food is bought, there is the chitta of the distributor, and the chitta of the purpose for which it is given. When we eat any food, we eat not only the gross food but all these unseen subtle items of consciousness.Therefore, good food brings good and peaceful consciousness.”
Source: SPEAKINGTREE.IN Dated: May 17, 2019