Gaia - Science meet myths in Gaia
by Sushant Mohan Bhaskar
On January 26, 2001, the Earth trembled and shattered Gujarat, in India. All that the hapless people could do was raise their hands and pray. No expert had foreseen this terrible earthquake.
In the Indian tradition, the Earth is worshipped as the compassionate Mother Goddess. This belief may have had a scientific basis, now lost to us. Compelling new scientific evidence points out that the Earth is a living being. An increasingly popular scientific hypothesis—Gaia—says that the Earth manifests characteristics common to all living systems—in fact, processes that occur within the human body take place within the Earth as well.
In the West, when the early Greek philosophers declared that they could no longer interpret their ancient writings and symbols, their myths became dead knowledge. They searched outwards, researching the phenomena within the ambit of the senses, which only was accepted as real. Mythology was rejected as illogical. Luckily, in India, we have a living mythological tradition.
The story of Kunti from the Mahabharata illustrates the rich meaning behind our myths. Kunti, mother of the Pandavas, may be considered as a personification of the Earth.
As a young girl, Kunti was granted a boon by an ascetic that she could invoke any deity by chanting a mantra. When still unmarried, Kunti was fascinated by the rising sun. She was gifted with celestial sight and in the aura of the sun, saw a handsome man adorned with divine armor and earrings. Instantly, Kunti gained puberty. She chanted the mantra and the Sun God appeared. Frightened, she begged him to go away. Despite her protests, the Sun God touched her navel and by the power of anima, entered her body. She gave birth to a son called Karna. The child also wore golden armor (kavacha) and earrings (kundala).
Kunti personified the Earth and her son, Karna, vegetation. In Sanskrit, 'kum-ti' means the Earth. Kunti's other name is 'Pritha', meaning prithvi or the Earth. Life originated on this planet through the rays of the Sun, that is, vegetation, was born. Karna, literally, means grain with chaff. Thus, he represents seed, the essence of the plant kingdom. But a seed cannot sprout without water. So, to hide her illegitimate child, Kunti placed him in a basket in the waters of the river Aswa. Karna later became known as Angraj, meaning ruler of the body, because it is food that sustains the body. The significance of Karna's golden protective armor and earrings can be comprehended from the Sanskrit words, kavacha and kundala. The entire plant kingdom has a protective skin or peel, hide or shell, husk or crust. 'Kavacha' in Sanskrit means protective covering and also rind or bark. Fruits on trees look just like earrings or kundalas. This proves that our myths have a scientific basis.
Nobody believed that the Earth could be a living entity until Dr James Lovelock detailed the physical, chemical and biological evidence to prove that the Earth 'lives'. Lovelock called his concept the Gaia Hypothesis in honor of the Greek Earth mother goddess. Those who rejected the idea of living mythology must rethink. The ancient goddess lived in ceaseless time, which science is only beginning to understand now.
Scientist Peter Russell sees in Gaia's new avatar, the awakening of the Earth. He says Gaia will take on a new life form once she achieves her own equivalent of self-reflective consciousness, with humanity as her brain. She will then become a conscious, thinking, perceiving being, and begin to establish contact with other planetary beings in space, something, which might be happening even now.
Ancient wisdom was considered merely a myth. But now, modern physics and eastern metaphysics are fast converging. This alliance of East and West heralds a New Age of Consciousness.
The transition from the Age of Information to the Age of Consciousness will require society to revisit ancient beliefs and traditions. They must be integrated in our conscious thoughts to enable the required shift in consciousness.
This movement is now being led by science, which is breathing into its understanding of the brain and consciousness, the knowledge and techniques of mystics. Finally, we are coming full circle—from the scriptures through science back to our myths.
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