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Engaging Jainism with scientific Research

Updated: Dec 1, 2019


Every era has its specific problems for which scientific discoveries and technology can provide solutions. For example, presently we have severe environmental problems like pollution, Green House effect, rapid and unsustainable development, shortage of water, consumerism, socioeconomic disparity, terrorism etc. Jainism, if its principles of five mahavrats and life style are followed, offers effective solutions to all these problems. But instead of practicing Jain way of life, people prefer that these be solved by scientific techniques, realising little that while providing solutions to these problems, science will create many other undesirable side effects and new, more complicated problems will arise. But this is the way this cycle has been going on for several hundred years. It is to the credit of scientific research, that many chronic problems of health, involving diseases and short life span, human misery in terms of physical work, etc. have been successfully tackled by science. In this paper we explore the possibility whether Jain wisdom can engage with science or can indeed lead scientific research and both together can be used in the 21st century for expanding our horizons and for physical and mental benefit of humanity.

The science today stands at a cross road where many renowned scientists believe that science, i.e. study of the objective world, has severe limitations. What happens when the object of study is the subject itself. Is the knowledge of an object or subject complete without its context? Objective science can only explain the material world and cannot explain personal experience, Qualia, consciousness, omniscience, rebirth etc. Jainism, on the other hand, can explain all these phenomena with its philosophy based on the existence of soul (Atma) and a conscious field pervading the whole universe. The fact that many scientific concepts, principles laws and phenomena discovered by scientific techniques, theory and logic were already mentioned in Agams, documented one to two millennia ago, give credence to the fact that Jain philosophy is strongly rooted in science and vice versa. Several such examples will be enumerated.

Some of the recent topics of scientific research, related to consciousness and the characteristics of the universe will be discussed and the power of combining science and Jain philosophy in further understanding the living and non-living processes will be discussed. Integrating the available information, an attempt will be made to present a coherent model.

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