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Mechanistic and Nonmechanistic Science Now Back in Print

By: for ISKCON News on Nov. 9, 2017
Health & Science

 

Bhaktivedanta Institute founding member Sadaputa Das’ first book, Mechanistic and Nonmechanistic Science (1981), is finally back in print. The work’s cogent critique of materialistic reductionism received attention from numerous recognized scientists, including Nobel Prize winners Eugene Wigner and Brian Josephson. In addition, Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science (vol. 19, no. 2), one of the premier academic forums on the topic, published a favorable lengthy book review. Sadaputa intended this project to be a cumulative work fulfilling a number of Srila Prabhupada’s early instructions to his Ph.D. disciples establishing the Bhaktivedanta Institute.

Sadaputa recalled that prior to Mechanistic ’s publication, Srila Prabhudada challenged the founding members to produce a work with the proposed title, The Origin of Life and Matter. Sadaputa recalled it being “the first project assigned by Srila Prabhupada in January of 1975 to the newly formed Bhaktivedanta Institute,” and that the book was intended to “strongly challenge modern scientific theories, and that it was personally approved by Srila Prabhuapda.” The “tentative titles” for each chapter were assigned to the various founding members, some to be written individually, others as collective efforts. Among the participants listed: Svarupa Damodara dasa (Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami), Madhava dasa (Bhakti Madhava Puri Swami), Jnana dasa (Bhaktivedanta Nemi swami), and Richard Prabhu (Sadaputa’s “devotional” name prior to initiation in 1976). Sadaputa remembered that “the plan was to ask Srila Prabhupada himself to write the [concluding] chapter, ‘The Original Life is Krishna.’”

Although this specific project was not fully realized at that time, the early Bhaktivedanta Institute team did produce three of the chapters as three stand-alone monographs intended for distribution at the first “Life Comes From Life” conference, held in Vrindavana, India, October 1977. The Monograph series titles included, What is Matter and What is Life?, co-authored by Thoudan D. Singh, Ph.D. (Svarupa Damodara dasa brahmancari), and Richard L. Thompson, Ph.D. (Sadaputa dasa Adhikari). The second and third Monographs, Demonstration by Information Theory that Life Cannot Arise from Matter,  and Consciousness and the Laws of Nature were both authored by Sadaputa dasa.

In addition, in 1980, the BBT produced the small book of Bhaktivedanta Institute essays, Consciousness: The Missing Link, written by Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami and Sadaputa dasa. Its first chapter featured a discussion between Srila Prabhupada and the University of California physicist, Gregory Benford, who also happened to be an award winning science fiction novelist (who indirectly described his experience with Srila Prabhupada in one of his early published works). In 1981 Sadaputa incorporated much of this previous work into Mechanistic and Nonmechanistic Science, based in good part on the Bhaktivedanta Institute Monograph series project, as well as the BBT’s Consciousness the Missing Link (whose essays had also been published in Back to Godhead magazine). Sadaputa considered Mechanistic, “an effort to do something along the lines of the book that Srila Prabhupada asked us to write in 1975.”

Yamaraja dasa remembers, “I was delegated to help him design the book. The cover was Sadaputa’s idea. I thought what I’d done was pretty simplistic, but Sadaputa loved it of course. He said, ‘This is great!’ I brought it over to show it to Ravindra, and he really liked it. Everybody was happy with it, and this was the first book he'd done.” It was originally published by Bala Books (also the original publisher of Yamuna devi’s award winning, Lord Krishna’s Cuisine: The Art of Vegetarian Cooking). Yogesvara dasa, the publisher, recalls, “I believe that the reason BBT declined was they were simply immersed in doing Prabhupada’s books and there was no bandwidth,” and “while working with Sadaputa I couldn’t help thinking: Here’s someone with whom Prabhupada would be pleased if all of his disciples turned out like this – intelligent, thoughtful, good teacher, good speaker, forward thinking, has a grasp on the long term excitement of what he was doing.” The BBT soon thereafter took responsibility for subsequent printings of Mechanistic.

The 'Mechanistic's' cover

Since the RLTA’s last report in ISKCON News, Sadaputa’s pioneering work on Fifth Canto cosmology, Vedic Cosmography and Astronomy – originally published by the BBT and subsequently part of the Bhaktivedanta Archives VedaBase program – was produced as a new hard copy reprint just prior to Mechanistic. With these two projects complete, they are happy to announce that all of Sadaputa’s original publications are now readily available on Amazon, as well as on the official Bhaktivedanta Book Trust website, www.Krishna.com .

The RLTA’s next project, once again initiated by Back to Godhead magazine’s long-standing graphic designer, Yamaraja Das, along with his assistant, Sthita-dhi-muni dasa, will feature early publications produced by the Bhaktivedanta Institute during the 1970s while the founding team worked together as a unified effort. Many of these projects included Srila Prabhupada personal involvement. This book will also serve as something of a commemorative edition of the Bhaktivedanta Institute 1977 Vrindavana conference “Life Comes From Life,” as it will include numerous copies of original documents pertaining to the event, as well as complete facsimile reprints of the three original Monographs produced for distribution at that time. They would also like to incorporate personal memories from those who participated in the production of Bhaktivedanta Institute materials prior to the conference while the Institute was based in Boston, or who subsequently then attended the conference in Vrindavana, as well as those who worked with the BI during the years immediately following, while it was based in Atlanta and Philadelphia.

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Formoreinformation please see the Sadaputa Digital Channel onYouTube, and as well as the forthcoming Richard L.Thompson Archives website (the initial launch will be announced on ISKCON News early next year). If you have questions or would like to offer service, contact Prishni Dasi at prishni108@gmail.comBooks can be purchased at www.Krishna.com as well as Amazon – please see Amazon’s Richard L.Thompson author’spage at: https://www.amazon.com/Richard-L.-Thompson/e/B000APL4BY

 

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