Science and Gurbani
Dr Tarlochan Singh Mahajan
Scientists define their pursuit of the knowledge as the search for truth. In Guru Granth Sahib, God has been identified with the ultimate truth. It should not therefore come as a surprise that one finds in the Holy Guru Granth Sahib’s hymns, which provide answers to certain fundamental questions about nature and the universe. What is surprising however, is the uncanny precision with which many of these writings coincide with present day concepts of natural philosophy. Furthermore surprising is the fact that in the Guru Granth Sahib there are answers of future science, which is all the more amazing. Science is concerned with the human mind and Gurbani is related to Akal Purkh (God). Gurbani( the words of Almighty) appeared when its originators (Gurus and Bhagats) were in state ‘Kabeer too toon kartaa too hoo-aa mujh meh rahaa na hooN’’.1 Gurbani (the axis of universal truth) is everlasting and unchangeable whereas Science which originates from human brain is changeable.
According to ‘Aad ant bay-ant khojeh2’ the human nature is to know, to understand, to explore something new, it is the basic character the human carries since childhood. From the Stone Age till now he has struggled to know nature and natural phenomena. When a person looks at the sea of the stars and the moons his heart flutters to enjoy that beautiful event more closely.
Some questions perpetually hammer human mind, like, what is universe? When it originated? What are its limits? Does it have some dimensions or is it dimensionless? Is it static or is it dynamic? To know the answers of the above questions we have to go hundred thousand million years back. Guru Nanak explained, ‘Arbad narbad dhundhookaaraa. Dharan na gagnaa hukam apaaraa. Naa din rain na chand na sooraj sunn samaadh lagaa-idaa3’ that many millions billions (uncountable) years back, for endless eons, there was foggy darkness. There was no earth or sky; there was only the infinite Command of His Hukam. There was no day or night, no moon or sun; God sat in primal, profound Samaadhi. There was no source of creation or power of speech, no air or water. There was no creation or destruction, no coming or going. There were no continents, nether regions, seven seas, rivers or flowing water.
Big Bang theory: This theory was advanced by George Lemaître of Belgium in 1930 and was fully supported by George Gamow of Russia in 1940. According to this theory, at the beginning of the universe, the whole matter of the universe was once concentrated in an extremely dense and hot (~10 12K) fireball. Then about 20 billion years ago a vast explosion (big bang) occurred. The matter was broken into pieces, which were thrown out with high speed in all directions forming stars and galaxies; which are still moving away from one another. According to Hubble’s law, the velocity of recession of a galaxy becomes equal to the velocity of light at a distance equal of 20 billion light years. It means, the light rays from stars and galaxies, which are situated at a distance of 20 billion light years or more, can never reach us. Thus this distance becomes the boundary of observable universe. On account of continuous recession, more and more galaxies will go beyond this boundary and will be lost. As a result of this, the number of galaxies per unit volume will go on decreasing and ultimately a time may come when we may have empty universe.
According to Stephen W. Hawking,4 “It is not possible for us to explain the state of the universe before Big Bang, we know only what has happened since the Big Bang, we could not determine what happened before”.
What was present before the creation of the universe and in what form? The answer is Nature. Nature was present at that time but it was free from pain or pleasure, celibacy or charity etc. It was in deep slumber. Universal matter was not of endless size but it was concentrated in infinitely small space and was infinitely dense. No one can answer how long that state existed but Gurbani answers5:
jug CqIh gubwru kir vriqAw suMnwhir ]
EQY vyd purwn n swsqw Awpy hir nrhir ]
bYTw qwVI lwie Awip sB dU hI bwhir ]
AwpxI imiq Awip jwxdw Awpy hI gauhru ]
For thirty-six ages, He created the darkness, abiding in the void. There were no Vedas, Puraanas or Shaastras there; only the Lord Himself existed. He Himself sat in absolute trance, withdrawn from everything. Only He Himself knows His state; He Himself is the unfathomable ocean.
According to Stephen W.Hawking,6 “Hubble’s observations suggested that there was a time called the Big-Bang when the universe was infinitely small and infinitely dense . Under such conditions all the laws of science and therefore all ability to predict the future would breakdown”. According to many experts space didn’t exist prior to the Big Bang. In the late ’60s and early ’70s, when man first walked upon the moon, three British astrophysicists, Stephan Hawking, George Ellis, and Roger Penrose turned their attention to the Theory of Relativity and its implications regarding our notions of time. In 1968 and 1970, they published papers in which they extended Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity to include measurements of time and space7-8 . According to their calculations, time and space had a finite beginning that corresponded to the origin of matter and energy9 .The singularity didn’t appear in space; rather, space began inside of the singularity. Prior to the singularity, nothing existed, not space, time, matter, or energy - nothing. So where and in what did the singularity appear if not in space? We don’t know.
Gurbani recites that with one word kavaa-o (Big-Bang), the universe came into the existence and the millions of galaxies started flowing10:
kIqw pswau eyko kvwau ] iqs qy hoey lK drIAwau ]
You created the vast expanse of the Universe with One Word! Hundreds of thousands of rivers of creation began to flow.
Except for the creator no one knows the time of creation. He created the universe, and watched over it, the Hukam of His Command prevails every where. He formed the planets, the solar systems and the nether regions, and brought what was hidden to manifest. He possesses all qualities. He transcends all the qualities. He is the Formless Lord. He Himself is in the Primal Samaadhi (State of being absorbed). Through His Creation, O Nanak, He meditates on Himself.
Einstein’s equation E = mc2, implies that energy and mass are inter-convertible. The universe is filled with natural forms of energy. In fact, astronomers say that the universe was actually created by a burst of energy which pre-dated all matter. The “big bang” theory is still being debated, but we need no theories to witness energies at work around us. Wind rushes through the trees, water cascades down a mountain, lightning strikes through the sky, solar radiation heats our earth.
Gurbani explained 500 year ago Einstein’s concept that moon and the sun (Matter) are the forms of energy11:
cMdu sUrju duie joiq srUpu ] joqI AMqir bRhmu AnUpu ]
kru ry igAwnI bRhm bIcwru ] joqI AMqir DirAw pswru ]
The moon and the sun are both the embodiment of light. Within their light, is God, the incomparable. O spiritual teacher, contemplate God. In this light is contained the expanse of the created universe.
Guru Gobind Singh beautifully explained in Chaupai: (a)The Birth and the death of the universe, (b)Limits of the universe, (c) From where the matter came, and (d) Form of the creation as follows:
(a) The birth and the death of the universe (Chaupai )
jb audkrK krw krqwrw ]pRjw Drq qb dyh Apwrw ]
jb AwkrK krq ho kbhUM ] qum mY imlq dyh Dr sBhUM ]13]
When the Creator projects Himself. His creation is created in countless forms. When He draws His creation within Himself. All living beings are absorbed in Him.
These words of Chaupai exactly correspond with the Pulsating Theory of the universe.
Pulsating Theory: According to this theory, the universe is supposed to be expanding and contracting alternately, i.e. pulsating. At present, the universe is expanding. According to pulsating theory, it is possible that at a certain time, the expansion of the universe may be stopped by the gravitational pull and may contract again. After it has been contracted to a certain size, explosion again occurs and the universe will start expanding. The alternate expansion and contraction of the universe give rise to the concept of pulsating universe.
(b) Limits of the universe
qumrw lKw n jwie pswrw ] ikh ibiD sjw pRQm sMswrw ]
God’s limits and extent cannot be known. How the world was fashioned for the first time (cannot be known).
Guru Nanak explains the vastness of the universe as follows12:
pwqwlw pwqwl lK Awgwsw Awgws ]
EVk EVk Bwil Qky vyd khin iek vwq ]
shs ATwrh khin kqybw AsulU ieku Dwqu ]
lyKw hoie q ilKIAY lyKY hoie ivxwsu ]
nwnk vfw AwKIAY Awpy jwxY Awpu ]
There are nether worlds beneath nether worlds, and hundreds of thousands of heavenly worlds above. The Vedas say that you can search and search for them all, until you grow weary. The scriptures say that there are 18,000 worlds, but in reality, there is only One Universe. If you try to write an account of this, you will surely be finished before you finish writing it. O Nanak, call Him Great! He Himself knows Himself.
(c) From where the matter came? The answer is available in Chaupai
eykY rUp AnUp srUpw ]
God has only one Form, without any parallel.
(d) The forms of creation
AMfj jyrj syqj kInI ] auqBuj Kwin bhur ric dInI ]
God has created life from eggs, wombs and perspiration. God has created innumerable type of vegitation.
Guru Nanak does not claim any knowledge of time of creation of the universe and is critical of such claims made by others in SGGS13:
kvxu su vylw vKqu kvxu kvx iQiq kvxu vwru ]
kvix is ruqI mwhu kvxu ijqu hoAw Awkwru ]
vyl n pweIAw pMfqI ij hovY lyKu purwxu ]
vKqu n pwieE kwdIAw ij ilKin lyKu kurwxu ]
iQiq vwru nw jogI jwxY ruiq mwhu nw koeI ]
jw krqw isrTI kau swjy Awpy jwxY soeI ]
What was that season, and what was that month, when the Universe was created? The Pandits, the religious scholars, cannot find that time, even if it is written in the Puraanas. That time is not known to the Qazis, who study the Koran. The day and the date are not known to the Yogis, nor is the month or the season. The Creator who created this creation-only He Himself knows.
Guru Nanak also explained in Jap14 that the Universe is limitless:
AMqu n jwpY kIqw Awkwru ] AMqu n jwpY pwrwvwru ]
AMq kwrix kyqy ibllwih ] qw ky AMq n pwey jwih ]
eyhu AMqu n jwxY koie ] bhuqw khIAY bhuqw hoie ]
The limits of the created universe cannot be perceived. Its limits here and beyond cannot be perceived. Many struggle to know His limits, but His limits cannot be found. No one can know these limits. The more you say about them, the more there still remains to be said.
Guru Arjan Dev appreciates the mystical wonder of the universe. He writes in Sukhmani15 that Universe is filled with uncountable galaxies, stars moons and suns:
keI koit dys BU mMfl ] keI koit ssIAr sUr nK´qR ]
Many millions are the countries and realms of the world. Many millions are the moons, suns and stars.
Aink purIAw Aink qh KMf ] Aink rUp rMg bRhmMf ]
Many suns, moons and stars. Many solar systems, many galaxies. Many forms, colors and celestial realms16.
According to the astronomy: Stars are not scattered randomly through the space, they are gathered together into vast groups known as galaxies. The Sun belongs to a galaxy called the Milky Way. Astronomers estimate that there are about 100 thousand million stars in the Milky Way alone. Outside that, there are millions upon millions of other galaxies also! It has been said that counting the stars in the Universe is like trying to count the number of sand grains on a beach on Earth. For the Universe, the galaxies are our small representative volumes, and there are something like 1011 to 1012 stars in our galaxy, and there are perhaps something like 1011 or 1012 galaxies. With this simple calculation you get something like 1022 to 1024 stars in the Universe. This is only a rough number, as obviously not all galaxies are the same, just like on a beach the depth of sand will not be the same at all places.
Life originates from Water (Science)
Nobody knows how life originated upon earth and, although many theories have been advanced, we are as yet reasonably certain of one thing only, that life had its origin in the water. Water is essential in the chemistry of all the biological systems. It provides the medium in which the transport of molecules can occur in reactions. Many living species have now colonised the dry land whilst a large number of animals and plants continue to live an aquatic existence. Yet for all of them the processes of life are intimately dependent on the presence of water, the principal constituent of cellular protoplasm. Because water is necessary for all the living beings, scientists look for an evidence of the liquid water wherever they search for the life, whether it is somewhere on the Earth, or even somewhere else in our solar system or beyond.
Guru Nanak also expains that primitive life originated from water17:
swcy qy pvnw BieAw pvnY qy jlu hoie ]
jl qy iqRBvxu swijAw Git Git joiq smoie ]
From the True Lord came the air, and from the air came water. From water, He created the three worlds (inside sea, on earth, in the sky); in each and every heart He has infused His Light.
Global Warming: Our future is a warmer world, more people will get sick or die from heat stress. There may be more heat-related illnesses in future, and increased breathing problems as higher temperatures increase air pollution in cities, reducing air quality. Diseases now found in the tropics, transmitted by mosquitoes and other animal hosts, will widen their range as these animal hosts will move into regions formerly too cold for them. Today 45 percent of the world’s people live where they might get bitten by a mosquito carrying the parasite that causes malaria; that percentage may increase to 70 percent if temperatures rise. Other tropical diseases may spread similarly, including dengue fever, yellow fever and other unknown type of fevers. There is also a possibility of rising incidences of allergies and respiratory diseases as warmer air grows more charged with pollutants and pollens. Water resources will also be affected. Some reservoirs may dry up if temperature increases, especially if rainfall also decreases. Rising sea levels may pollute fresh groundwater supplies with salt water. Pollutants cannot be totally stopped; only the rate can be reduced. We need to reduce the total consumption of fossil fuels, capture & process some of the carbon dioxide produced, increase the amount of oxygen conversion by plants, trees are important tools in the fight to stave off the global warming, because they absorb and store the key greenhouse gas emitted by our cars and power plants, the carbon dioxide (CO2), before it has a chance to reach the upper atmosphere where it can help to trap the heat around the Earth’s surface. While all living plant matter absorbs CO2 as a part of the photosynthesis, trees process significantly more than smaller plants due to their large size.
In Sukhmani18, Guru Arjan Dev gives solution for protecting ourselves from terrible heat:
jh mhw BieAwn qpiq bhu Gwm ]
qh hir ky nwm kI qum aUpir Cwm ]
Where there is awesome and terrible heat and blazing sunshine, there, the Name of the Lord will give you shade.
The conclusion of this article is that what science is proving now was already predicted in the Gurbani about 500 years ago.
1. SGGS, Bhagat Kabir, p.1375.
2. SGGS, M.5, p.456.
3. SGGS, M.1, p.1035.
4. Stephen W. Hawking With An Introduction By Carl Sagan: A Brief History of Time From The Big Bang To Black Holes. BANTAM BOOKS (1988) p. 50.
5. SGGS, M.3, p.555.
6. Stephen W. Hawking With An Introduction By Carl Sagan: A Brief History of Time From The Big Bang To Black Holes. BANTAM BOOKS (1988) p. 9.
7. Stephen W. Hawking, George F.R. Ellis, “The Cosmic Black-Body Radiation and the Existence of Singularities in our Universe,” Astrophysical Journal, 152, (1968) pp. 25-36.
8. Stephen W. Hawking and Roger Penrose, “The Singularities of Gravitational Collapse and Cosmology,” Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series A, 314 (1970) pp. 529-548.
9. Mark Eastman and Chuck Missler, “The Creator: Beyond Time and Space,” Calvary Chapel Publishing (1996) p. 11.
10. SGGS, M.1, p.3.
11. SGGS, Kabir, p.972
12. SGGS, M.1, p.5
13. SGGS, M.1, p.4
14. SGGS, M.1, p.5
15. SGGS, M.5, p.275
16. SGGS, M.5, p.1236
17. SGGS, M.1, p.19
18. SGGS, M.5, p.264