“The aim of the analytical study of the material world is to find the soul of existence. The soul of the material world is Vishnu, or the Supersoul. Devotional service to the Lord entails service to the Supersoul. One process is to find the root of the tree, and next to water the root. The real student of sankhya philosophy finds the root of the material world, Vishnu, and then, in perfect knowledge, engages himself in the service of the Lord.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 5.4 Purport)
Friend1: How did you do in science class growing up?
Friend2: Which one?
Friend1: You mean which grade in school?
Friend2: Well, you know that it sort of divides when you enter high school; at least in America. There isn’t just one class designated anymore. You have chemistry, physics, biology and so forth.
Friend1: Yes, that is what I meant. How did you do in those classes?
Friend2: Physics was the toughest for me. Biology the most boring. Chemistry wasn’t too bad.
Friend1: Yeah, I always found them boring, as well. I was more of a math person.
Friend2: Simple and straightforward. Not too complicated, as long as you can understand the principles.
Friend1: Have you ever thought about why those different studies exist?
Friend2: The sciences?
Friend2: Hmm. I don’t know. To make life better? To improve the experience. Progress, as they like to say.
Friend1: I was thinking the same thing, though I never put much thought into it previously.
Friend2: What changed now? Why are you bringing this up today?
Friend1: I read a line in a book by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Friend2: Which book?
Friend1: Bhagavad-gita As It Is.
Friend1: It was in a purport to a verse where Krishna says that sankhya and karma-yoga are not different.
Friend2: Oh, yes. The results anyway.
Friend1: Prabhupada says that the aim of analytical study of the material world is to find the soul of existence.
Friend2: And that made you think of modern science?
Friend1: Yes. Immediately. It was one of those mind-blowing revelations. I mean it totally makes sense. Why didn’t I think of it before?
Friend2: What is so amazing about the realization?
Friend1: That basically everyone is wasting their time. If the soul of the existence, who is Vishnu, is the target of studying the material world, then imagine by how much everyone else is missing the mark.
Friend2: You mean in their investigatory work?
Friend1: Yes. They spend years and years working so hard. They go into debt by attending prestigious universities. They get these honorary titles, which they are so proud of. Yet so many of them don’t even know the soul of existence. It’s like they’ve wasted their time.
Friend2: Have you taken it one step further? Do you know what their objective is through the study?
Friend1: I guess it’s just living better, like we discussed before.
Friend2: And what does that mean?
Friend1: Sense gratification. I know what you are getting at. The animals don’t have these sciences at their disposal. They don’t go to school. They receive sense pleasure, all the same. The human being should pursue something more important.
Friend2: Exactly. That’s why if you find Vishnu, you have done something meaningful. And from there you can take the next step of service. Sankhya therefore should lead to karma-yoga, which is working in devotion. Hence the equivalency. Otherwise the analytical study hasn’t really changed anything. You may live a little longer, but you have the same anxieties. You have the same inevitable end. You still have missed the key spark behind an existence.
Science missing the mark,
Of real force in the dark.
Since of Vishnu steering clear,
Rather of God’s existence to fear.
Better to study and learn,
More sense gratification to earn.
But so much time in that wasted,
And never bliss of devotion tasted.