“As the director of different kinds of clouds, Indra called for the samvartaka. This cloud is invited when there is a need to devastate the whole cosmic manifestation. The samvartaka was ordered by Indra to go over Vrindavana and inundate the whole area with an extensive flood. Demonically, Indra thought himself to be the all-powerful supreme personality.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 25)
“What is the actual role of science within the Vedic culture? I am speaking in terms of advancement in the discipline that is based on observation and experiment. The accompanying therapeutic treatments. Injections administered to prevent disease. Surgery to keep vital organs functioning properly.
“As you might be aware, for centuries there has been a struggle between the two: religion and science. At least outside of the Vedic culture, they were seen as incompatible forces. Religion places all the trust in the Almighty. Science gives man the ability to configure life in such a way as to alleviate discomforts.
“One of the more egregious examples of the silliness in the dispute is the aftermath of the invention of the lightning rod. Invented by one of the great minds in the area known as America, in Europe some did not take too kindly to the idea. They thought that it was trying to subvert the will of God. If the heavens ordained that a certain building get struck with lightning, who is man to intervene in the process?
“I know that rationally thinking adults don’t go to such extremes, but what about some appreciation, at least? Being thankful for the advancements in science and medicine. Is there room for that?”
There certainly can be appreciation in the discoveries. They show the amazing intelligence of the human species. Lifting a massive object and suspending it in outer space for several hours is no small feat. To power an entire city in an otherwise dark night is valuable in so many ways.
Where there is controversy is in the direction of appreciation. The discoveries are one thing, but someone had to first place the objects of nature upon which the discoveries are based. We are grateful to Newton for discovering gravity, but what about the origin? Who is responsible for the law of nature that was around long before anyone thought of studying it?
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada puts it a better way. The scientist may be proud of what they have determined about nature. They receive awards. They have the credibility and stature to lecture others. They may use their discoveries to facilitate some kind of enhanced enjoyment within the human experience.
But do they actually control nature? Shouldn’t that be the real source of pride? Wouldn’t that be amazing, then? Wouldn’t that really impress the doubters on the other side, who do indeed appreciate the higher authorities within this world? Wouldn’t you then be justified in commanding ultimate authority?
An example worth studying is Indra, the king of heaven. As described in Vedic texts, he is truly in charge of the elements. He can control the elements to the extent that if he wants to inundate an area with rain, he can do so at a moment’s notice. Instead of merely theorizing on changes already taking place and then laying the blame on man and their way of living, Indra can actually change the climate.
While Indra would be considered superior to the scientist, even with control over nature you are not the top person within the universe. We have the example of the first Govardhana Puja. Feeling slighted by the residents of Vrindavana, Indra was ready to retaliate. He chose the strongest cloud in his arsenal, the samvartaka.
Wash away the residents and their sacred cows. Teach them a lesson, to never put trust in a small child, no matter how adorable He may appear. Understand that the demigods have significant power, that they can wield it whenever they feel necessary.
Sadly, Indra was defeated. Though he controls the rain, though he directed more water and wind than anyone can think of towards Govardhana, that little child found a way to rescue everyone. Shri Krishna, the darling of Vrindavana, the son of Nanda and Yashoda, lifted up the massive hill and used it as an umbrella. That feat confirmed the non-difference; Govardhana is as good as Krishna. It is considered sacred to this day, with the occasion of the puja observed annually.
Any person can rise to the heights of a demigod, as the positions are neither limited nor fixed for eternity. It is something like winning heaven, but through pious activities rather than forced entry, in trying to scale the strong border walls. Becoming a demigod and then having authority similar to Indra’s.
Yet that is not a worthwhile endeavor, as even then a person can meet defeat. The better option is to appreciate the source of the material and spiritual worlds. Become a devotee of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and then understand both religion and science and how they can properly work together to advance the condition of the individual soul.
Working together to advance,
The human experience to enhance.
Religion and science merging so,
For highest destination to go.
Not where prone to defeat,
Like Indra against Govardhana to meet.
But rather with the unconquerable one,
Through whom liberation is won.