for ISKCON News on March 26, 2011
The Mumbai branch of the Bhaktivedanta Institute, a scientific and educational institution formed by ISKCON founder Srila Prabhupada in the early 1970s, is set to offer two thought-provoking seminars this Saturday and Sunday, March 26th and 27th.
The first seminar, organized under the name ISIST (Institute for Semantic Information Sciences and Technology), will be held at the Nehru Science Center in Mumbai on the topic of “Quantum Reality—New Perspectives.”
Speakers include Professor Gary Bowman of Northern Arizona University, Professor Unnikrishnan of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai, and Bhaktivedanta Institute Director Rasaraja Dasa (Professor Ravi Gomatam).
The seminar will attempt to answer the question “What is the nature of the physical reality underlying quantum theory?” which quantum mechanics is still unable to give a clear answer on, despite being developed over eighty years ago. Speakers will give presentations using the Srimad-Bhagavatam, an ancient spiritual and scientific text.
The Bhaktivedanta Institute has put up posters for the program at more than 100 colleges in and around Mumbai, as well as advertising it to the scientists in major scientific establishments such as Bhabha Atomic Research Center and Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.
“Online pre-registrations have been pouring in—the total capacity of the auditorium is 250, and we have already crossed the 100 mark within our first three days of promotion,” says Rasaraja Dasa. “Twenty-two Ph.Ds from Bhabha Atomic Research Center have already pre-registered, as well as another five Ph.Ds from other scientific institutions. The rest are students of engineering and pure sciences in and around Mumbai. So all indications are that the program is going to be successful.”
The Bhaktivedanta Institute will follow the program up the next day under its own name with another seminar entitled “Physics and God.”
Rasaraja Dasa explains the theme of the talks, which will be given in the 650-seat ISKCON Juhu auditorium by himself and Professor Gary Bowman:
“Physics, the most fundamental of sciences, has been in existence for only four centuries, but it is a hallmark achievement, accounting for the behavior of the world of matter using mathematical formulae that has led to prodigious technological success,” he says. “High speed trains, airplanes, computers, cell phones, music systems and modern wonders of medical electronics, are all the handiwork of physics. It might seem that there is no room for God in physics, which poses a big challenge to the theist. What exactly is the nature of the connection between phsyics and reality? How does a theist reconcile the worldview of physics with God’s role in the natural world?
“That’s what we’ll be discussing. Pofessor Bowman, a non-denominational believer inclined to the Catholic tradition, will give the Western perspective on the topic, while I will present the Eastern, or Bhagavata perspective.”
Meanwhile Braja Hari Dasa, temple president of ISKCON Juhu, is making a strong effort to let the temple’s congregation—which runs into the tens of thousands—know about the program. The auditorium is expected to fill up.
“Both of this weekend’s topics—Physics and God, and Quantum Reality—can be repeated anywhere in the world, and that’s what we’re hoping to do,” says Rasaraja. “I know that by Srila Prabhupada's mercy, there are very distinguished scientists in most countries of the world who could be brought in to participate in such a program locally. And of course, such programs can attract a great number of people who would not otherwise come to the temple—which is exactly the task that Srila Prabhupada assigned to the Bhaktivedanta Institute in writing.”
Temple presidents or others interested in facilitating a Bhaktivedanta Institute Seminar may write to Rasaraja Dasa at Rasaraja.BI-Bombay-Berkeley@pamho.net.