Scientific Demonstration of Five Elements

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    Ashish Dalela

    Someone sent me the following question a few days ago. I asked them to post it into forums, but for reasons unknown to me, he hasn’t done that. So, anyway, I’ll post the question and answer it.

    I am reading your Book “Sankhya and Science”.

    On the page number 105 you write Air is Modulation of Ether, that means when we add information into ether it becomes air, and further when we add information into the air it becomes fire, and so on…

    My question is can we have any scientific demonstration of this concept, where we add information into air and it turns out to be fire or do you mean here that the substance ‘water’ mentioned in Sankhya philosophy is different from a generally used substance called water, therefore, it is just not possible to conduct this kind of experiment?

    Ashish Dalela

    The science of the five elements is being demonstrated every day, everywhere, but we have to learn to see it, understand it. I will try to give a couple of examples here.

    Let’s take the example of cooking, which begins with heating, which is a property of touch. When we heat something, information is added to raw grains. This addition initially manifests in changes to sight, such as form, color, and size. Certain things will start shriveling and certain things will start expanding. They will rapidly change their color. For example, if you boil rice, then it will start expanding, and its color will become whiter. You will also see the surface become less smooth compared to unboiled rice. Certain food items also start breaking apart, and some things start coagulating. All these are manifestations of sight (color, shape, size).

    The next manifestation is taste. If you chew uncooked rice, it has literally no taste. But if you have heated rice, then you will get more taste. As you continue the heating, you get an aroma. That aroma grows from weak to strong, and there is a tipping point when the full aroma of the rice is manifest. That is the time to stop the heat because if we heat any further, then rice will lose its aroma, and then taste, and then form, color, size, etc. We generally call those things “burnt”. So, anyone with expertise in cooking knows the aromas, and when the aroma manifests fully, then they stop heating. This is the progression from touch to sight to taste to smell.

    The information we are adding via heat also has many varieties. For example, there is slow and fast heating. There is also dry heat, wet heat, smoky heat, etc. These are sub-properties of heat, and heat gets these sub-properties by association with other elements. This is a bidirectional effect in which mixing two elements gives each element sub-properties under the influence of the other elements.

    So, in one sense, sight, taste, and smell manifest as byproducts of heat. In another sense, the source of that heat is itself mixed with the properties of other elements. And that mixing of heat with other properties changes the manifestation of sight, taste, smell, etc. in the heated things. For example, if you subject rice to dry heat, then it will puff up, will produce a slightly different taste, and have a different smell than if you boil the rice. This is called vyakta and avyakta. Both boiled and roasted states are avyakta or unmanifest in rice, and they are manifest or vyakta from rice.

    This is a very important difference between Sāñkhya and modern science. Modern science will say that heat was “absorbed” by rice. But in Sāñkhya, heat is merely a trigger for the manifestation of other changes. To illustrate the difference, take the example of anger in a person. You come into contact with an angry person, you start manifesting anger. In this case, you cannot say that anger was absorbed and that caused the changes in you. Similarly, just because you have become angry doesn’t mean the person who triggered anger in you has become calm. If anger was being emitted and absorbed, then the angry person should become calm. But that is not always true. Sometimes angry people vent and agitate everyone and after that they become calm. But since the angry person can trigger anger, and still remain angry, there is no absorption and emission. An even starker illustration of this process is education. When a teacher educates a student, the teacher doesn’t become ignorant. Rather, the teacher triggers knowledge in the student by giving his association. In the Bhagavad-Gita, Lord Krishna uses the word sanga to say that by association, lust is triggered, then anger is triggered, then confusion is triggered, and so on.

    So, the uniqueness is that heat is not being “absorbed”, because if we use that model, then many additional problems will arise: (a) we cannot explain how knowledge is not lost upon educating someone, and (b) we cannot say that anger is being absorbed and emitted like heat. So, the model that works for heat in physics will stop working for numerous other types of phenomena. But the Sāñkhya model has to work for everything in the same way. There cannot be a unique mechanism for heat, different from the triggering of anger, different from the triggering of the knowledge.

    That model is vyakta and avyakta, which means heat is not absorbed, but in the association of heat (i.e., by the presence of heat without transfer), some properties are manifest from within a thing. The unmanifest is a potential. That association follows the same principles as the manifestation of devotion in us by the association with a pure devotee of the Lord, or the triggering of materialistic tendencies by the association with worldly people. Furthermore, that association doesn’t require physical proximity, which is a deeper point that is not too important here. The implication is that heat is not moving from one point in space to another. Nothing is actually moving. It’s all fixed. It just comes out and goes back in. Due to association with certain things, some phenomena are manifest and unmanifest.

    So, when rice manifests a bigger shape, taste, or aroma, these are unmanifest properties that are coming out of rice, under the association of heat. Likewise, if we associate with pure devotees, then love of God will be manifest out of us just like aroma is manifest out of rice on heating. That love is inside us already.

    Another example: When the Sun rises in the morning, that is also an association with the Sun. By that association, our body becomes warm. And by the same process, there is an association with other planets like the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, etc. They manifest different properties in us by associating with us in different ways. Those different properties are just like smoky heat, dry heat, wet heat, etc. While we can perceive the heating of the body due to the Sun, we cannot see a transfer of heat from other planets. The transfer of energy model fails for such things. But if we understand sanga or association, then those properties are in us, and they are simply being manifest from within us. For example, when Mars is strongly associated at a certain time, then a person naturally becomes very aggressive. Mars manifests aggression in us by association. So, we can associate with certain things willingly, and some associations are forced upon, which manifest different properties in us.

    We can also understand these things using music. Certain types of music evoke feelings of lust in us. Many people get into the “mood” for sex by listening to music. When that desire is manifest, then it develops into the desire for touching. This leads to dancing, holding hands, hugging, or cuddling, which makes their body warm. People in colder climates feel this warmth much more than in warmer climates. When heat manifests, then there is a desire for form, which is a property of sight. This is when clothes start to come off. Then, by looking at form, there is a desire for taste. This leads to the use of the tongue. Finally, an aroma called pheromones is produced through the sweat glands, which further stimulates the sexual act.

    Also, some bodies are warmer than others while other bodies are colder. The warmer bodies don’t need music to progress into the sexual act. Conversely, some bodies are colder. It is harder for them to get excited into subsequent states. Such people may be called “frigid” or “cold”. Likewise, if someone wants to get over their desire, a cold shower will arrest the successive and progressive manifestations. We cannot explain how sound produces desire in us, because a music player is not transferring desire to us. So if we apply the transfer of heat model, then it will be inexplicable. Likewise, we cannot explain how a cold shower stops and reverses the desire.

    In many animals, there are times when the internal heat automatically increases, which is why the animal is said to be “in heat”. The heat progresses to cause sweating, which generates something called pheromones. These are the aromas that attract the opposite sex. Then some species of animals attract each other by producing sounds. Some species attract each other by touching, tasting, and smelling. All these things are various kinds of “association”. It is not a transfer of energy. It is simply an association that manifests another property.

    A good counterexample is that the energy of the sun will never die because the energy of the sun is never being transferred. We are simply associating with the sun. Therefore, modern science will say that there is a nuclear reaction going on in the sun, and the sun will die out after some time. And Vedic philosophy will say: The sun has been burning for trillions of years, and it will keep burning for trillions of years. The sun is not transferring heat. Rather, the sun has the property of heat, and we just associate with it. By that association, heat is manifest within us. Just like knowledge is not lost when a teacher teaches, similarly, heat is not lost by the sun.

    When we take out this idea of energy moving from one place to another, then, ordinary notions like the speed of light become meaningless. This speed of light manifests in length contraction and time dilation in relativity theory, but that is also an effect of stronger and weaker associations. A simple intuitive example: If you are talking to one person, you are strongly associating with them, and as a result, you are weakly associating with others. That weakening of the association will make the other person feel that the distance between you and them has increased. Then, since you are farther away from them, therefore, for them, you have become smaller. This is called length contraction. Likewise, if they ask you a question, then you will respond after a delay because you are focusing on the interaction with someone else. That longer delay in response makes the other person feel that time is passing slower. That is called time dilation. These are very small effects because we are not able to concentrate or associate with something stronger. If we can concentrate more, then length contraction and time dilation effects will increase. At that point, we will realize that light doesn’t have a constant speed. Rather, if we concentrate more, then the information is “received” and “absorbed” faster, which are euphemisms for manifesting the internal state quicker. And if we concentrate less, then the information is “received” and “absorbed” slower, which are euphemisms for manifesting the internal state slower. Thereby, by higher concentration, light will appear to have greater speed, and by lower concentration, light will appear to have a smaller speed. These are side-effects of concentration of consciousness, which is another way of saying that we associate or dissociate with certain things.

    Association has two properties: (a) strength and (b) power. These are called contrast and brightness in vision. When we see things in high contrast, then brightness is lowered; then we can see details. We cannot see high contrast along with high brightness. We have to lower the brightness to see the contrast. If we see things in low-contrast, then brightness is increased; that is when we see the big picture.

    An illustration of this fact is that right now, we see the sun from a distance because there is high brightness and low contrast. That low contrast means that we cannot see inside the sun, the living entities there, or the sun-god there. And scientists think that if we went near the sun, then the sun will burn us. But that is not a fact. The living entity who enters the sun sees things in high contrast but low brightness. So, the sun doesn’t burn them because the brightness is lowered as the contrast is increased. They can see living entities in the sun without being burned. Therefore, the transfer of energy model leads to the idea that proximity to the sun will burn us, and the association model leads to the idea that we can associate closely without being burnt. In fact, we are feeling the heat because we are far from the sun.

    We can also ask: When we serve food to God, how does He eat? After all, the food remains intact even after the offering. So how can we say that God has eaten? And the answer is that God eats by association. He associates with the food, and that association triggers a taste in Him. Just like the Sun doesn’t die by heating the universe, similarly, the food isn’t finished when God eats it. Thereby, God is eating food in the same way that our bodies are becoming warm due to the Sun.

    However, we are eating due to hunger. Hunger is created in our body because a demigod called Agni associates with our bodies. To quench this hunger, we eat food. When the food is put into the stomach, then the Agni dissociates slightly with the body, which is called satisfying the Agni. There are five forms of Agni, which is a more detailed subject, but the basic principle is that Agni associates to create hunger and dissociates to create satisfaction. That dissociation of Agni is called the feeling of being full. If Agni doesn’t dissociate, then people will go on eating. All voracious eaters, therefore, have a strong Agni, or Agni doesn’t dissociate quickly. And all light eaters have a weak Agni, or that Agni dissociates quickly. Since there are five types of Agni, there is a situation in which a person feels very hungry but cannot digest anything. In Ayurveda, this is called the vitiation or derangement of Agni.

    Since hunger is created by Agni coming into the body and satisfied by Agni leaving the body, therefore, it is said that Agni is the mouth of the Lord. This means that when we are eating, then the Lord is also eating. However, that eating is different from eating when we offer food to Krishna. In the former case, the food is destroyed, but in the latter case, the food is intact. All Vedic yajna is based on the principle that Agni is the mouth of God, so the food offered into Agni is food offered to God. But it is feeding in the same sense that we are feeding ourselves. It is not the only way to feed. We can also feed God by offering Him, where He associates to taste the food, without destroying the food. So, there are two kinds of eating. Eating by association doesn’t involve Agni, and eating due to the presence of Agni destroys the food.

    Now, one might say: In cooking, we see that the source of heat is finished after some time. So, if we say that the sun is never finished, then why is the source of heat finished during cooking? And the answer is that the demigod Agni appears to light up something. The sun is burning due to the sun-god, and similarly, when a fire is lighted, then Agni appears. In a Vedic yajna, a mantra was chanted to invite Agni, and by that mantra, a fire was produced. We don’t need a matchbox to light the fire because it is lit by Agni’s presence. And when he leaves, then the fire extinguishes. So, there is a process of element manifestation that occurs not due to our association with something, but due to some demigod associating with that thing.

    And when one demigod associates, then other demigods dissociate. For example, when Agni associates with something, then Chandra dissociates. Similarly, when Agni associates, then Surya also associates. That association creates fire, and then if we “burn” wood, the dissociation of demigods like Chandra leaves behind charcoal.

    This association and dissociation process is studied in Vedic astrology, where it is said that aspects of various planets increase or decrease their strengths. Their position in space increases or decreases their strength. And the passing of time increases or decreases their strength. That increase or decrease in strength is due to stronger or weaker associations. Since that association changes, therefore, the world evolves. And since there are certain rules of association and dissociation–e.g., when Agni associates then Chandra dissociates–therefore there are some “laws” of nature like if you burn wood then you will get charcoal. These are not impersonal laws. They are laws of liking and disliking between different personalities. When one personality arrives, then another personality leaves because they don’t co-exist.

    This mutual exclusion between the demigods was transformed in Greek times as gods fighting with each other. They are actually not fighting with each other. They have an amicable understanding that if one demigod associates, then the other demigod dissociates. But it depends on the people. If the people are fighting with each other, then they think gods must be fighting with each other. They impute their tendencies on demigods. Once these fighting gods became popular, then there were so many pagan religions, with each tribe subscribing to a different god. Then to unite all these tribes, the Romans abolished all demigods. Slowly, they dissociated God from the world and made the Roman emperor as the presence of God in this world with no other authority above him. Then when the Roman empire collapsed, people introduced democracy. Slowly, modern science arose and it impersonalized everything into the movement of objects. Basically, one false idea leads to another and then another until it becomes completely false. If we want to reverse that falsity then we have to go back in time and understand Vedic philosophy and that is the idea that all effects are due to the movement of consciousness.

    Even the burning of wood, cooking of rice, and leaving behind charcoal, etc. is the movement of consciousness. It is sometimes our consciousness, sometimes the consciousness of demigods, and sometimes the consciousness of God. That movement creates association and dissociation, and that then leads to various observed phenomena. The simple process of burning some wood, cooking rice by that burning, resulting in charcoal, is thereby immensely complicated. However, if we understand that process, then the same process applies to everything else, including how desire is created in our body, how the body gets warmer due to touching by another person, how knowledge is transferred, how the soul moves from one planet to another, and how the soul moves from one body to another.

    If we can know one thing perfectly, then we know everything perfectly. The process of change caused by association and dissociation is also the process of spiritual life. We have to associate with Krishna and dissociate from this world. If Krishna arrives, then everything else is automatically dissociated. But Krishna doesn’t arrive until we initiate the dissociation and a different kind of association. So, religion and science use the same process, and that process is association and dissociation.

    We don’t need to perform “experiments” to confirm these things. We rather need other things: (a) jnana-chaksu or the eyes of knowledge, by which we can interpret the world around us in a new way, (b) concentration of consciousness by which can understand deeper kinds of realities, and (c) when we learn to see the world in a new way, and we are convinced by personal experience, then we can teach.

    If we try to convince others by experiments, then we will become ensnared in performing miracles and acquiring mystical powers. Every step will create additional demands for more miracles and mystical powers. And that becomes an endless cycle. So, we don’t try to do those things. If someone is interested, we can explain it to them. For example, I’m explaining all these unsolved problems in quantum mechanics, relativity, irreversibility of time, the problem of order and disorder in thermodynamics using a new lens. Scientists have already created experiments, but they cannot understand these things. So we can explain it without creating new experiments. There are of course new experiments. But why go after new experiments, when there are so many unexplained experiments? Explain them first.

    Pravin Singhania

    I think science people have a problem with these concepts because of their philosophical dogmas. Engineering people have less trouble because although they have learnt to use scientific categories, they work in the real world, usually for a customer, and are adept at understanding intention, role, quality too. Moreover, IT engineers are a step ahead, since they deal with informational and algorithmic thinking, and rarely bother about problems of hard science.

    Abhinav Y

    Sir, Here you have written the following

    An illustration of this fact is that right now, we see the sun from a distance because there is high brightness and low contrast. That low contrast means that we cannot see inside the sun, the living entities there, or the sun-god there. And scientists think that if we went near the sun, then the sun will burn us. But that is not a fact. The living entity who enters the sun sees things in high contrast but low brightness. So, the sun doesn’t burn them because the brightness is lowered as the contrast is increased. They can see living entities in the sun without being burned. Therefore, the transfer of energy model leads to the idea that proximity to the sun will burn us, and the association model leads to the idea that we can associate closely without being burnt. In fact, we are feeling the heat because we are far from the sun.

    But practically when we go close to the fire, we feel more heat, not less, but you have said brightness decreases as we go close to Sun. How can that be understood?

    Ashish Dalela

    Proximity is of four kinds: (a) conceptual proximity in which two entities are conceptually more similar to each other like two chairs are more similar compared to a chair and a table, (b) emotional proximity in which two persons have the same types of desires and feelings like devotees vs. non-devotees, (c) relational proximity due to which family members are closer than strangers, and (d) physical proximity in which distance is reduced due to a strong interaction even though it can be conceptually, emotionally, or relationally distant, by conscious focus on that specific thing.

    The broader consequence of these four types of distances is that when we focus on something for a longer duration of time, our cognitive, emotional, and relational nature starts changing. Chanting the names of God is a good example. While chanting a mantra, we focus our consciouness on the sound of the mantra, and by that focusing, we hear the sound better, like it was being uttered by someone very close, or right into our ears. As we continue focusing, our emotional, cognitive, and relational nature changes. Emotionally, we develop attraction to chanting. Cognitively, we begin to understand the nature of reality. And relationally we become detached from this world.

    Going closer to fire is also like that. As we go closer, initially we will feel more heat, which is just like the sound being heard more clearly by focusing. However, if we stay near the fire for a longer time, then after some time, we will stop feeling the heat as much, as our body has become warmer. Now, we can go even closer to the fire, because we are not feeling the heat as much as we were previously. The same thing happens with cold. On a winter morning, when you take a shower with cold water, initially the body feels a shock. But after a few moments, the water doesn’t feel as cold, because our body has changed its nature to cold. So, proximity to things changes the quality of that thing.

    When a yogi enters the sun, he is not just interacting strongly with the sun, but has also transformed himself into the nature of the sun through a longer period of interaction. That is like the subsequent pouring of cold water which feels less cold, or the reduced sensation of heat after a while. You can try this practically by staring at fire. Initially your eyes will be blinded by the light, and you cannot see the minute details inside the fire. But if you keep staring, after a while, you can see minute flames within fire. That vision of minute flames is the vision of fire with greater contrast, caused by a stronger interaction with the fire, even as you feel less heat and brightness coming from the fire. Thereby, the interaction is getting stronger, brightness is declining, and contrast is increasing.

    The problem of heat by proximity that you are talking about is a short-term effect because your bodily nature is different from the nature of fire. Over time, that difference naturally reduces.

    This general principle applies to all interactions, including the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra. Krishna is inside the sound of His name, but we cannot see Him in the sound initially. We are rather repelled by chanting, which results in the wandering mind and senses. A wandering mind is just like an eye that looks elsewhere because it cannot look at the sun constantly. However, if we keep chanting, then our mind will be purified, and it will become closer to the nature of Krishna. Then we will develop a strong attraction for the chanting, which means that the mind stops wandering, and we can hear the sound of the mantra continously. That is like looking at the sun continuously.

    Thereafter, initially we will get a low contrast and high brightness vision, which is called Brahman. Then, over time, we will get a low brightness and high contrast vision, which is Krishna. Brahman is called light without any subdivisions because it is high brightness and low contrast. And Krishna is called a dark beautiful person because He is the high contrast and low brightness vision. So the chanting remains, but initially we are repelled from chanting, then we can focus on chanting, then we are attracted to chanting, then we get low contrast vision, then a high contrast vision.

    When you say that we feel too much heat, you are talking about the first stage of being repelled by chanting. And when I’m saying that the brightness is reduced, I’m talking about the final high contrast stage. These are different progressive stages of the same process of interaction. Practice is required to understand these things in detail. But this is the high-level theoretical overview.

    Abhinav Y

    Thank you sir , that makes sense

    But that also implies that we gradually need to go close to the fire, as long as our bodies do not acquire fire like quality, otherwise we would get burnt.

    • This reply was modified 7 months, 1 week ago by Abhinav Y.
    Ashish Dalela

    Gradually or quickly is a choice you have. There is a famous saying: “Everyone wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die to get there”. That is what you are talking about: “I will get burned”. Yes, in that case, you can choose to go slowly.

    Even in bhakti-yoga, if you want to progress fast, Krishna will burn everything else. You will lose everything, so that you can only rely on Krishna, and not on money, society, friends, family, or whatever else you consider your “support system”. Then, completely helpless, you will surrender. But if you don’t want fast progress, then you can go slowly, and Krishna will not burn your support system. It can take many lifetimes, unless you come to the point of exclusively relying on Him.

    The reality is that everyone wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die to get there. So, they also take shelter of many other things, because they don’t want to get burned in material life. Thereby, they also don’t realize how Krishna protects His devotees. They try to protect themselves in hundreds of other ways, and by that attempt to protect themselves, Krishna doesn’t try to protect them.

    When Maharaja Prahlad was made to sit with Holika, he did not protest. He did not try to run away. He simply sat in Holika’s lap, with folded arms: “Whatever the Lord wants”. That means, he is not afraid of getting burned. At that point, Krishna protects, because Prahalad was surrendered. You can imagine how Prahalad has no support system, because his own father is trying to murder him. And he is just a 5-year old boy. He has nowhere to go, and he is completely helpless.

    Krishna’s protection is that the cause exists, but the effect doesn’t. God is the connection between cause and effect. That means, everything happens by His approval. The connection between cause and effect is not a mathematical law. That is the illusion created by modern science. God is the connection between cause and effect. So, when He approves, the effect is produced by the cause. But when He disapproves, then even if the cause exists, the effect doesn’t. Maharaja Prahalad’s story is about fire. And it is a story about how the cause-effect connection is broken.

    So, whatever you call getting burned is the test. Slow or fast is the choice you have.

    Ankita Pandey

    Hare Krishna prabhuji

    I am reading Sri- mad Bhagvatam , canto 3 , Fundamental principles of material nature.

    The two examples that you have given,  it has just helped a lot to get clear understanding  of  sound – ether- touch – air- form- fire- taste – water- smell- earth.

    Prabhuji , like this please give one  understanding ( simple example)  where it goes from  earth- smell- water – taste- fire – form- air- touch – ether-sound.

    Hare Krishna

    Ashish Dalela

    A simple example is that if you smell spicy food, your mouth immediately starts watering as if the food is already in the mouth. For sour smells, you get a sour taste in the mouth. Sometimes you get a sharp tingling on the tongue. All these sensations on the tongue are due to taste, but that taste is contained in the smell.

    From that taste, a picture of the food is triggered that includes shape, color, and texture. It is not pure imagination. But it is conditioned by our prior experience of such food. That latent picture is activated. Similarly, from the smell, you can assess the direction in which the food is present and we say that the smell is coming from this direction. From the smell, you can also tell how far the food is from you. For instance, whether that smell originates from your home or a neighbor’s home. You can even judge if that smell corresponds to a lot of food or a little bit of it.

    Then as you are deriving what the spicy food looks like, how far it is from you, and in which direction, whether there is a lot of it or just a small bit of it, your body starts to become warm. If you were feeling cold before, then just by smelling spicy food, you will start feeling warm. If you eat spicy food, then you will start sweating. That is because there is a touch property in the spicy taste. Almost everyone hence calls spicy food “hot”, although spicy is a type of taste while hot is a type of touch.

    Then when your body is warmed up, your ears start hearing how that food will produce a crunchy, crispy, or squishy sound if you chew on it. That sound we hear is based on the touch sensation which means whether the food is hard or soft, rough or smooth, warm or cold. It creates a crispy, crunchy, or squishy sound.

    So, just by smell, all the sensations are activated one by one. I’m not much of a foodie, but those who are foodies have an enhanced sense of smell. What I’m saying is based on my limited sense of smell perception, but it could be useful.

    Ankita Pandey

    Very useful example and very easy to understand.

    Thank you so much



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