Friday, October 09, 2009

Vitarka and scientific reasoning

Many scientists, thinkers and modern educators keep saying again and again that inculcation of the scientific reasoning in young minds is the sole purpose of education and they claim that it is the foundation of a peaceful and progressive society. Scientific reasoning simply means logical thinking. The saints and rishis of ancient India knew better and went one step better.

The sanskrit word for logical/scientific reasoning is 'tarka'. The saints and rishis of ancient India did not advocate the mere inculcation of tarka. Instead, they advocated the inculcation of 'vitarka'. 'Vitarka' is logical reasoning without the presence of ego. So, when one is trying to find out about the external world, like gravity, vitarka reduces to tarka. But, when one is studying the internal world, when one is observing ones own mind, vitarka is the only tool that works. Tarka fails dramatically in those situations. When there is only tarka, we might have lots of tools and toys (which will be used mostly to hit each other) without actual peace in the society. In addition, only inculcating vitarka could be the foundation of a just, peaceful and progressive society. Hence, one of the primary purposes of eduction is to inculcate the spirit of vitarka in the young minds.

Patanajali talks about the importance of Vitarka in one his sutras (Chapter 1, Sutra 17). In this sutra he indicates that Vitarka is the first step towards Samprajnatha samadhi.

PS: Thx to a talk by Paramahamsa Nithyananda for this!

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