This conversation between His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and biochemist Thoudam Singh, PhD, took place in Bhubaneswar, India, on February 3, 1977.
Dr. Singh: Srila Prabhupada, many people would probably agree with what you say about getting knowledge. The ascending path – pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps, if you will – has to be always uncertain and incomplete. But when you can get your knowledge from a genuine authority who already possesses higher knowledge and experience – that path, the descending path, is much better. The preferable path for acquiring knowledge is the descending one.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Avaroha pantha, the descending path, is naturally superior. Why? Because aham adir hi devanam – this path of knowledge starts from Lord Krishna Himself, the origin of all knowledge. And it descends from the Lord through His bona fide representatives, godly personalities such as Brahma, Narada, and Vyasa. They’re all devas, godly personalities. And Krishna says, aham adir hi devanam: “I am the very origin of all these godly personalities.” Therefore, this Vedic knowledge is coming directly from Krishna through the system of parampara, or disciplic succession.
And the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna’s book, is the same thing. Through this book – the Lord’s literary incarnation – His knowledge is coming down to us still. To facilitate our knowledge-acquiring process, the Lord Himself is speaking directly to us. His own words are recorded for us in the Bhagavad-gita. There Krishna speaks directly to the human being Arjuna, and through him directly to us. Therefore the Bhagavad-gita is the right source of knowledge.
Dr. Singh: Yesterday a doctor of agricultural science visited me. He has his PhD from the University of Missouri, and we talked together for a long time. In fact, we were talking about doing some experiments together. One experiment would be to prove that the chemical reactions within the living body are different from the normal chemical reactions that we know.
In fact some famous experiments have already touched on this very point. A French scientist named Kervran says his findings are beyond our present knowledge of chemistry. In other words, the chemical reactions within the living body are so vastly different from ordinary reactions; they prove that life is nonchemical, nonphysical.
Srila Prabhupada: That is correct. It is stated in the Bhagavad-gita: life is nonchemical, nonphysical.
Dr. Singh: Yes, and we want to prove it on a purely experimental basis. It’s a very simple experiment. We germinate some seeds, like barley or rice, and we calculate the amount of, let’s say, calcium. Now, as a place to germinate the seed on, we use a piece of ashless, pure-cellulose filter paper, completely devoid of calcium. First, we calculate the amount of calcium present before the seed germinates. Then we germinate the seed with deionized water, again completely devoid of calcium. Once the seed germinates, we analyze the calcium content.
What Kervran found is this: The amount of calcium is much increased. So we do not know where that calcium is coming from. And this phenomenon is beyond our present knowledge of chemistry.
Srila Prabhupada: The soul has entered and has germinated the seed – and this has produced the increased calcium.
Dr. Singh: Yes. This increased calcium has to be coming from somewhere. There has to be a cause.
Srila Prabhupada: That cause is the soul.
Dr. Singh: There’s another nice experiment that uses Spanish Moss, a plant common in Florida, where it grows on many kinds of trees. We found that this Spanish Moss also grows on copper wire – and when it does, amazingly it produces iron. So there are many intriguing experiments. The U.S. Department of Agriculture can perform these and help shed light on the spiritual dimension.
Srila Prabhupada: In essence, these experiments prove that life produces matter. Spirit produces matter.
Dr. Singh: Yes.
Srila Prabhupada: Not that matter produces life – no. This is established: matter does not produce life. It is quite the opposite. Life – spirit – produces matter. Only when there is spirit can these increased quantities of calcium or iron come forth.
Dr. Singh: There’s another nice experiment that was done by a German scientist named Hauschka. He was studying the interaction of moonlight and plants. So he measured the amount of a particular element in, say, a flower. I don’t exactly remember. And he measured the amount of that element present in the plant according to the waxing and the waning of the moon. As it turns out the element increases in the light of the full moon.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, in the Bhagavad-gita Krishna confirms that He supplies the succulence, the “juice of life,” to vegetables – through the light of the moon.
Dr. Singh: Surely. And Hauschka’s experiment demonstrates this whole phenomenon very graphically. You understand – a curve showing this element rising and falling with the waxing and waning of the moon.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, by the Lord’s natural arrangement the moonlight is full of living entities who interact most beneficially with the vegetation. And similarly, the brahma-jyotir, or universal effulgence, is full of living entities.
Dr. Singh: So these phenomena are beyond science.
Srila Prabhupada: Not beyond. You do not know that science.
Dr. Singh: By “beyond science,” I meant beyond our present science, our present scientific knowledge.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Your present science is imperfect. But this additional dimension we are discussing is within the realm of science. This is spiritual science.