When I was new in “bhakti” path, I used to read Srila Prabhupada’s book–“Life Comes from Life”. I was from science field and specifically I was more in researching various things and trying to understand scientists in depth. So I was very much in synchronization with the way scientists think. I did change my whole direction, by reading the books of Srila Prabhupada, based on a convincing fact that ascending process is faulty and guarantees failure to know the truth and that he was proposing a process that guarantees realizing the truth.
I got quite convinced of the fact that “sastra’s are the way and Krsna is the SUPREME. But I was not very much convinced of some of the arguments that Srila Prabhupada keeps against modern scientists to prove the existence of soul–for instance “because it is given in ‘sastra’s that’s why it is proved” and then he would go on saying that from centuries this process of evidence is followed (quoting from the Vedas) in Vedic India. I used to think “may be because Srila Prabhupada is not a scientist neither does he have much experience in science so he is not properly able to explain to these scientists.
How can we present the Vedas as the proof? It can be said that as there are many other things in the Vedas that are true so it is logical to put faith in the Vedas to understand that soul exists. But how can one say that because it is mentioned in the Vedas “it is proof”? But I had a great regard for Srila Prabhupada and thus did not challenge his way of explanation and felt a little guilty. I then started to honor such statements of Srila Prabhupäda as “arsa vakyas”–the statements from great authorities that might not be clear to us now but are not to be disrespected.
After a few years I could somehow (by mercy) understand that that statement of Srila Prabhupada was not out of his being inefficient in modern science but out of his great grip over modern science and was actually much more scientific than the modern science itself. This is how it is–when modern science says “give us the proof” they mean by some experimental setup according to their limited knowledge. They say that “we do not believe in anything unless it is proved”. But they do have firm belief in the empirical process of observation, hypothesizing and experimentation.
Now if they do accept something certified by their empirical process (on which they do have faith) as proof then why should one not accept existence of soul certified by ‘sastra’s on which we have faith? Why such partiality “My faith is proof and your faith is blind belief”? So this way Srila Prabhupada’s statement is at least as much scientific as modern science’s statements. Now if we see more deeply then we realize that if in both processes the starting is faith then we should just think a bit and see what is worth having faith on–ascending empirical process or ‘sastra’s? Obviously ‘sastra’s and thus Srila Prabhupada’s seemingly layman’s argument is actually much more scientific than any scientist (is or ever will be) in the world.
Another similar statement that looks a little odd is “Krsna Consciousness is a science”. We may think “how are we going to prove this to scientists”. I was thinking that we may say “it is a higher dimensional science” or “it is a science but of spiritual realm and thus you cannot understand it now how it is science” and like that. But I was not very comfortable to put this in front of real science students. I was thinking that science means something which we can prove by scientific experiments.
But then a few years later, while hearing a lecture of Prabhupada (which I would have heard 5-6 times by that time) one statement of Prabhupada clicked (surprisingly that time only) my mind–”This is science. You follow a process there is result. You don’t follow properly then no result”. This actually summarizes what real science is and gives us a firm platform to present Krsna Consciousness as no lesser in fact a better science than modern science. This is explanation: empirical science means that you have observation, hypothesis and experiment. So we have observation–changing of the bodies (‘Bg’ 2. 13), etc., hypothesis that soul changes it (from the ’sastra’s) and experimental method is also mentioned in the ‘sastra’s and that is following the process of ‘bhakti-yoga’ and the results and milestones are also mentioned therein.
So where is it lacking in being scientific? But the arrogant scientists say that the process of experimentation should be according to our knowledge and equipment. Now this is completely illogical even from their standpoint–they do not bring a test-tube and a burner to measure the gravity of earth, do they? No, because these are two completely different categories of science. Similarly a scientific topic dealing with spiritual matters has to have its own setup of experimentation–one can’t bring burners or pendulums to prove it. So again I found Srila Prabhupada’s seemingly exaggerated arguments as much more practical, scientific and valuable than modern science.