Maya in quantum physics: Ashwin Sanghi

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Was the atom bomb first dropped in India? Did Ganesha bear cosmetic surgery? Were Indians the primary to work out time journey centuries in the past? Outrageous or radical, relying on which finish of the spectrum one is, theories concerning the attainable assembly factors of science and mythology took centrestage on the session on ‘Science of Mythology’ on the Times Litfest.

Ashwin Sanghi, the bestselling mythological thriller writer, believes there may be greater than perception at work behind each mythology. “In quantum physics, there is a concept of entangled particles – these particles behave in the same manner even when they are apart. If this is not maya, what is? Scientists are still trying to find out what our universe is made of. These are the same questions our scriptures had raised much earlier,” he mentioned.

Anand Neelakantan, author of counter-narratives from mythology, dismissed this as nothing however pattern-seeking. “There is no magic or miracles. The universe is based on logic. Centuries ago, India was a rich country but its wealth was gradually drained during the colonial rule. People found it difficult to accept that they have fallen far behind and, hence, circulated the myths as realities.”

Sanghi conceded that there could also be a little bit of pattern-seeking. “But ancient seers had better intuitive abilities. They were highly knowledgeable people and had mastered the art of meditation. A human mind is a very complex thing and can solve a lot of mysteries … A lot of things happening now, including the quest for time travel, had already been predicted by learned seers.” The development of science and expertise of the time, based on Sanghi, was far past present-day comprehension. “The pushpak viman that Ravan used to abduct Sita also shows that India had, by that time, discovered the concept of the aircraft.”

Neelakantan countered this by saying that even inside mythological narratives, logic is in brief provide. “Some people may think that plastic surgery was first done in India on the elephant god Ganesha. But why doesn’t anyone question the logic behind it? Is it possible to place a giant elephant’s head on the torso of a five-year-old?” There can also be a perception that the atom bomb was first dropped in Kurukshetra throughout the Mahabharata battle. “I wonder why anyone would believe this. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata describe things in detail. There are references to the sky parting. But that still doesn’t justify the belief.”

The enduring attraction, he mentioned, was in the narrative itself. “The stories are all intriguing but, in the end, are also false. It is up to us to choose what we want to believe in.”