Book: Surya Siddanta: The emergence of thought

We understand each and every aspect of the reality around us by forming thoughts about it based on external stimulus or internal feedback loops. Yet, do we do not know what thought really is or what it is made of. The general definition of thought, i.e., (from oxford dictionary) “an idea or opinion produced by thinking, or occurring suddenly in the mind” leads us to believe that humans or intelligent beings are the only ones that can have a thought. Even in humans, not all thoughts are intelligent thoughts. The variety in thoughts that we posses is huge and varies from the simplest form of sensing an external stimulus such as presence or non-presence of visible light  to the most complex form of conclusion from of a complex series of thoughts that helps solve a perceived problem. The spectrum in which thoughts play a roles is pretty varied and cannot be just summed up in a single type definition.

According to neurosciences (Scientific American journal), thought is many neurons firing together. According to Science Daily, thought is “Thought or thinking is a mental process which allows beings to model the world, and so to deal with it effectively according to their goals, plans, ends and desires.” While these are definitions and experiments have been conducted to view neurons firing, do we really know whether it is neurons firing that has caused a thought or a thought that has caused the neurons to fire? Given that our body is a reactive external to some internal awareness and working, it is most probably firing due to a thought rather than the firing causing a thought. This implies that we still have no clue what a thought is.

It is questionable whether “a thought is purely related to intelligence” or is even more basic than that. Do we know whether a single cell beings such an amoeba have thoughts? Or do we know whether viruses or bacteria have thoughts? If thought is purely only related to beings with brain cells, then how do we account for those without brain cells being able to choose? After all if quantum physics is to be believed, all possibilities exist unless an observer is present. We cannot exclude living beings from this rule, since we claim that all matter is formed by the same quantum particles. Thus, even an amoeba, virus or bacteria or any being without brain cells need to have all possibilities of their existence available to them. They need to have acted as an observer to have chosen to be an amoeba or virus or bacteria. Without thought, how do we account for such a choice? 

According to psychology, thought is considered to be “responses to stimuli that are intrinsic or extrinsic.” It is considered to be the mediator between the inner activity and external stimuli. Yet, thoughts are not purely responsive in nature or activity oriented in nature. We have a number of thoughts that we do not act upon, and a number of original thoughts that are not reactive in nature. While these definitions of thought account for cognitive processes and problem solving and in general intelligence, these definitions do not define the large spectrum of thoughts that are possible not just in humans but in all living and non-living beings.

The first step that is done in Surya Siddanta, once change, spirit and forms of spirit are defined is to establish what a thought is. The propounded theory is that everything is due to the existence of thought rather than thought existing due to everything else which is modern science’s view.

The measurement system

As we saw from the previous chapter, there are two forms associated with the spirit. A region of dense form from where the diffusion of the “nature of concentration” starts and a region of subtle form into which the “nature of concentration” diffused to an indistinct nature. Each of these regions are characterised by the change in nature of concentration. To study these regions to understand how they change to form this reality around us, we need to first identify recognisable slices of changes and define based on those slices. The Surya Siddanta organises and references these changes due to diffusion as described in the below verses. This then becomes the measurement system against which everything else later on is described.

Base units of measurement

The document starts with defining measuring concepts based on prana: 

prANAdiH kathito mUrtastruTayAdyomUrtasMjnakaH
ShaDibhaH prANairvinADI syAt tatShaShTayA nADikA smRtA ||11||
Translates to
Related through prana is form herein which is named as first form, perhaps a sixth part of prana is vinADI, sixty of that is nADi that can be recollected.

From the previous verses, change causing movement or diffusion or simply referred to as prana causes two forms, the dense form and subtle form. Hence prana is the first form that ties this reality to the underlying incomprehensible and is the basis of further concepts. 

It is claimed that the smallest distinguishable diffusion is equivalent to a sixth of prana. This is given a name: vinADi. It is claimed that sixty of this vinADi can be recollected or stored. This is given the name: nADi.

In modern science we have the measurements such as second, minute and so on. As I have elucidated before, we have defined a measurement system with relation to some arbitrary change, specifically a specified number of cycles of radiation of the caesium 133 atom. This type of relative definition for measurement is adopted because we do not know how reality is formed or how our perceptions, relates to the underlying working of reality. Hence, we have adopted a comparative measurement technique which obscures the working of both the measure against which anything is measured. The assumption in such a definition is that every observable works in the same manner and hence the abstract should not affect the measurement. 

If we accept this document’s claim of reality formed due to diffusion of “nature of concentrations”, then, our definition becomes brittle and assumed that every form diffuses by multiples of some standard minimum, which need not be true. This obviously introduces the relativeness and references that is seen in all our concepts.

The Surya Siddanta ties the measurement system to changes in diffusion which is the actual cause of existence. Hence, the measurement system is malleable and tied to its own form and can follow multiples of its own smallest definition. The advantage of this kind of measurement system is that it automatically takes into consideration that different “nature of concentrations” can have different flows. Since each nature of concentration inherently defines the quantity of change that forms the smallest vinADi, the quantity measured (say 60 vinADi) need not be constant across various concentrations. But, we can still talk about vinADi or nADi and create an abstract concept followed by all the nature of concentrations. Thus, multiple can still be studied as one without the brittleness that is created in the modern system.

Such a definition also removes the relative concepts that was introduced by the modern science way of defining measurements. This system starts with change of the nature of concentration as the starting point for the measurements, hence all circular definitions are removed and relation of measurements are directional in nature and tied down to the underlying working of reality.