The Challenge

It’s Beyond Kovoor’s Power of Observation

Sunday Times, August 21, 1977
by Hansadutta das and Mahakanta das

To whom it may concern,

This letter is in reply to an article by Dr. Abraham Kovoor published recently in the Colombo Sunday Times (Sri Lanka). In this article (a reaction to a lecture I had given a week earlier in Colombo’s Rama-Krishna Mission Hall) Dr. Kovoor argued against the existence of the soul, and against life after death. Surely Dr. Kovoor and other men of his stamp stand proudly on their platform of knowledge. But the innocent public, who are not so expert in sophistry and word jugglery, should know that these self-styled guardians of logic, reason, and the advancement of science are sailing on a sinking ship when they unceremoniously meddle in matters which lie beyond the purview of their limited senses—namely “life after death.”

The very first line of Dr. Kovoor’s article is: “I do not hold the view that my life is located in a particular spot in my body.” This statement, as well as a later one—”I do not believe that I have a soul or spirit to survive my death”—betrays the flimsy platform upon which he has chosen to make his stand. Throughout the article, Dr. Kovoor gives his views, beliefs and opinions regarding a subject completely beyond his power of observation, and he tries to pass these imaginative speculations off as infallible, scientific truths.

With all due respect to Dr. Kovoor, I beg to point out that the process of direct sensory perception, on the strength of which he has made so many statements regarding life and death, is completely limited and imperfect.

Consider, for example, the eyes. They function only under certain conditions: if there is no light, I cannot even see my hand in front of my face. We cannot see the nearest object to the eye—the eyelid—nor can we see that which is farthest away—the outer limits of the universe. Indeed, the eyes are imperfect. Similarly, the senses of touch, taste and smell are limited, and the mind, too, is imperfect. Therefore, any conclusions based on imperfect sensory
perception must necessarily be imperfect.

Research, experimentation and speculation conducted on the basis of imperfect sensory perception are meaningless when applied to matters that do not come within their purview. Attempting to apply sensory perception to such matters would be like a child’s trying to find who his father is by asking every man in the world—a preposterous idea, to say the least. To understand the identity of one’s father, one must accept the authority of one’s mother—there is no other way. Since no one is able to see his father at the time of conception, one must accept the version of one’s mother. Any sane man must accept this.

Regarding souls and rebirth, Dr. Kovoor writes, “I have not any valid reason or evidence to believe it.” This statement only goes to show that the process of direct sensory perception is limited and imperfect and that it therefore yields no result when applied to matters beyond its jurisdiction. Rather than foolishly declaring, “I do not believe that I have a soul or spirit to survive my death,” Dr. Kovoor would be much safer and more faithful to his professional ethic if he were simply to admit his inability or incompetence to deal with the subject matter in question. There is the soul, there is rebirth of the soul, and there is a Supreme Soul—God. However, we should point out that because the soul is categorically different from matter, the techniques of material science must fail when applied to understanding the soul’s existence and nature.

This does not mean, however, that the subject is open to the random speculation and opinion-making so fashionable today. Just as we have a material science to deal with material phenomena, so also we have a spiritual scientific process which allows its practitioner to penetrate the walls of gross and subtle matter and directly experience the truths of the soul, its rebirth and its relationship with God, the Supreme Soul.

A true scientist would never prematurely declare, “I do not believe that I have a soul or spirit to survive my death.” Rather, he would enthusiastically embrace a standard technique accepted by respected and recognized men of spiritual science. Such a scientist and sincere seeker of truth would then, in the interests of science, submit himself to that process and make himself the object of experimentation. Only after he had perfectly applied all the practices and techniques to himself, under the guidance of an authorized professor of spiritual science, would he dare make judgmental remarks about the subject in question. Theory, observation and experimentation are the true methods of science, and they apply equally to spiritual science.

Life is not generated from a combination of chemicals, as some scientists would have us believe. Rather, it is life which generates matter. A living man and a living woman combined in sexual intercourse are the cause for generating a living child. A dead man and a dead woman have no power to generate living offspring. A living tree has the power to generate fruit; a dead tree, however, has no such power. The difference between life and death is the soul, which is described in Bhagavad-gita as superior energy (para prakriti ). It is this superior energy which manifests all phenomena within our experience.

If life is a display of chemical combinations only, as some scientists suggest, why can’t science inject a life-giving chemical into a dead body and make a man live forever? If we give a scientist the chemical ingredients of the material body, why can’t he combine the chemicals and bring them to life?

When confronted with these questions, materialistic scientists will answer, “We are trying. We will do it in the future.” But this is not science. This is a bluff.

These scientists proudly declare, “There is no soul. There is no God. Everything has come about by chance.” But when asked to do something substantial to back up their claim, they can offer us only a postdated cheque: “We are trying. We shall do it in the future.” Dr. Kovoor, being a typical materialistic scientist, resorts to this same bluff when he says, “The time will not be far off when man will be using his advanced knowledge in genetics to improve the quality of his own species.”

Here is my challenge to Dr. Kovoor. Let him inject the appropriate chemicals into a dead body to bring it back to life. Or let him inject the appropriate chemicals into himself to check his own death and restore his old and worn-out body to its youthful luster and beauty.

If he finds this task too difficult, perhaps he could just produce a simple form of life, such as a mosquito or a bedbug. Better still, let him recombine the chemicals of the praying mantis he decapitated (as described in his article) and bring it back to life. Or is the science of Dr. Kovoor only a one-way road to the destruction of life?

It may be that science is not yet ready with a one-step process by which to produce life as a finished product. If this is so, let Dr. Kovoor merely make a plastic egg, inject it with yellow and white chemicals, incubate his artificial egg and thereby produce even one chicken that could go on laying eggs and producing more and more chickens.

Even this task may be a little too difficult for Dr. Kovoor. Perhaps then he could simply produce a drop of milk or a grain of rice by chemical combination. Then we could start taking him seriously.

Of course, everyone knows that these are impossible tasks for even the most powerful so-called scientist. Dr. Kovoor, in his next exposition, will undoubtedly give the reader a long-winded barrage of words to cover up his bluff. The sum and substance of it will be: “We will do it in the future. We are trying.” In any language, this is merely a bluff.—Hansadutta das and Mahakanta das

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