Is Hindu Spirituality a Super Science?

HOW THE BODY WORKS

In a nutshell, the heart pumps the blood to the brain and keeps it alive along with the body. The brain then sends various signals across the body through the nerves, which keeps the body functioning. The blood is nourished by food digested and absorbed from the gut (intestines) and the oxygen absorbed from the air in the lungs.

The brain functions primarily by generating minute amounts of electrical activity which can be recorded. Many of us are aware of the electrical activity of the heart, which is what is recorded as an ECG (expanded as electrocardiogram). ECG is quite well-known amongst the people. (1)Similarly, the brain’s electrical activity can be recorded in an electroencephalogram (EEG) (2, 3).

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These electrical activities of the body are classified as the electrophysiological aspects. The physiology of the body is the way in which these aspects come together with the chemical nature of the body making it function. In a normal human, it all works in synchronicity which can also be measured by studying the cells (the building blocks of the body) in the various tissues (cellular). The body of an organism is made of various organs and the type of material that makes an organ is called a tissue. For example, the heart is an organ and so is the brain. The heart is made up of cardiac tissue, which is a collection of different types of cells, mostly heart muscle cells and specialised electrical conducting cells. The brain is made up of various types of nervous system cells such as the neurons (nerve cells) and their supporting cells. The individual cells can be visualised using a microscope. The dense collection of them (cells) is our visible body actually.

The chemical aspects of the body’s activities are called the biochemical parameters. For example, the level of glucose in the blood is one such parameter. The sub-microscopic changes within the cell are studied in molecular biology.

HOW THE CELL WORKS

The cell works using the instructions encoded in the genes contained within the cell. The entire set of genes and the codes of DNA in which the genes are embedded in, physically, inside the cell is called the genome. Various genes get “expressed” (like spoken) differentially depending on the then needs of the cell. For example, for a cell that is growing a growth-related set of genes get expressed, for a cell that is actively converting the sugar (glucose) into energy (e.g., bodybuilding) a completely different set of genes get expressed and so on. One of the aspects studied in the genomic research is the variable and differential expression of genes in cells. Like we measure the glucose present in the blood (biochemistry), we can also study the chemical aspects inside of the cell (biochemical). If we study the energy-related biochemical aspects it is called cellular metabolism.

The cell itself is made of many organelles. They are like rooms in a house if you want to compare a cell to a house. An organelle called the nucleus contains the DNA that makes up the genes, for example. Mitochondria is another such organelle within the cell that converts the glucose, absorbed by the cells from the blood surrounding them (pumped by the heart), into energy. The glucose is what we get by eating food. The food gets digested (broken down into small absorbable molecules) in our gut (intestines). One such unit of broken food is glucose. This is what the cells use. Within the cells, glucose is converted into energy by the mitochondria (metabolic activity).

HINDUISM AND MEDICAL SCIENCE

Now, you might be wondering why all this basic biology matters to Hinduism. Can science come to the rescue of the Hindu spiritual seekers? Yes. How? Let us see.

If Hinduism is real it has to show some medical benefits that are directly measurable. Say, you do meditation by reciting Oma number of times and focusing on the sound. An EEG is done on you and the waves (EEG traces) show your brain is in a state of relaxation. Then such relaxation is shown to reduce biochemical markers of stress. This will lead to scientists to conclude that Hindu meditation is good for health as it reduces stress which is known to cause various well-known diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, increased blood pressure, (brain) stroke, etc.

In fact, this is not novel in medicine now. Many such studies and more have been done on meditation, yoga and so on. The positive beneficial effects have led to a large-scale global adoption of all these techniques, especially in the West. You might now ask if this is all so generic to Hinduism and well established will it still prove anything about any Hindu Swamiji. Are they not just a professional, perhaps akin to a gym trainer or a fitness expert or a doctor?

No. Why? Because the outcomes (results) of some of the scientific studies on these Swamijis and their spiritual techniques are mind-boggling. Things which have been considered physically impossible, let alone medically, has been shown as possible by some of them. Additionally, in some aspects, what was known as possible with the above techniques, the scale of the impact is unimaginably high, say many orders in magnitude. And what connects it to Hinduism alone? Because the results are as described in the Hindu scriptures for a given set of spiritual techniques that are being implemented from the same scriptures. If that were the case, does it not only prove Hinduism but goes to prove those Swamijis credibility too? Is it not especially so if the results appear otherwise physically impossible and even if the scriptures themselves claim that it is “only” possible to have such magnitudes of effects (outcomes) at the hands of an “enlightened” guru (master)? (4)

SO WHAT ARE THOSE MIND-BOGGLING OUTCOMES IN SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH

In-vitro (test-tube) studies: Professor Sudha Warrier at the School of Regenerative Medicine, Manipal University, showed that an Ayurvedic preparation called the Dhanvantara Khashāya increased the youthfulness (reduced senescence, that is ageing) in human cells grown in the laboratory (in-vitro) by three-fold (5). The magnitude of the effect is indeed mind-boggling and the below described clinical studies (in-vivo) on human subjects show a similar magnitude of effect that is numerically reassuring.

Electrophysiological: The EEG of the person touched by a Swamiji, syncs with the EEG of the Swamiji while “spiritual healing” was offered (6). Similarly, EEG changes and heart rate changes (measured with simultaneous ECG recordings) were observed in “patients” who were offered “spiritual healing” by the healers initiated by the Swamiji (both in the same location and in remote healing, that is while the healers and patients were geographically separated) (7). This is generally considered impossible in medicine. For EEG to change, particularly for the electrical waves and activity to sync between two people, is not considered possible in the conventional medical neurological wisdom.

Is it an isolated phenomenon of some electrophysiological effects? Not at all. The following results are published in peer-reviewed international scientific journals.

Cellular: The people who undergo a 21-day intense spiritual-yogic programme designed on the basis of Hindu scriptures (called Agamas, together with Vedas termed as Vedagamas) show an increase in morphologically healthy stem cells in the peripheral blood, indicating an increase in the youthful rejuvenating capacity of the body of the participants. The end-benefit, as deduced from this cellular marker outcome, can potentially include improved immunity and faster healing from injuries amongst others (8).

Molecular biology: Everybody wants to grow younger, not older. So how if the 21-day intense spiritual-yogic programme did something about that? It indeed appears to do that too. The genes reside in the chromosome, which is made of DNA. In fact, genes are nothing but codes of a 4-letter alphabetical system each represented by a unique type of DNA molecule. The ends of the chromosomes are called telomeres. As one ages (becomes old) the length of the telomeres shorten. If the shortening can be prevented or reversed in a healthy fashion it is scientifically believed that there will be an arrest of and reversal of ageing related processes and associated cellular damages. This can lead to an improvement of health, prolongation of life and decrease in diseases while simultaneously making one younger or arresting their ageing (anti-ageing) (8).

Metabolic: Similarly, everybody wants an Olympic athletic body and fitness. However, nobody wants to spend time in the gym slogging like an ant. The people who undergo a 21-day intense spiritual-yogic programme and those who undergo a “spiritual healing” like touch (daily Deekshaor “energy” Darshan), both groups, show increasing levels of mitochondrial activity. The increase was multifold in both the groups. This is the kind of increased metabolic activity and efficiency that one expects to see in an athlete who has trained for the Olympics, say all his or her life. This study, done as a pilot, is now under “preparation of manuscript” stage for publication in peer-reviewed international scientific journals (9). The obvious health benefits would be a reduction in the severity of or even a possible cure for diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disorders.

Gene expression changes.We saw above that the cells in the different stages of their life, say growth vs maturation, express a variable and different set of genes that often are identifiable as a signature of the specific stage they are in. Sometimes even different physiological states produce differential expression of genes. For example, after a meal, the intestinal cells will express genes that lead to the production of enzymes (these are biological “chemicals” made of amino acids, a class of proteins) that help in the breakage and digestion of the food.

The researchers working closely with the Ashram found that those who undergo a 21-day intense spiritual-yogic programme had seen their cells alter the expression of genes to a vastly healthier profile conducive to better and more robust immunity (preventing or reducing diseases like psoriasis, arthritis, etc.), anti-ageing, anti-cancer and so on (10).

Of particular interest are the changes that relate to the modulation of immunity. Immunity helps our body protect against foreign invaders, such as bacteria, viruses and other parasites, and even cancer which originates from the corrupted cells of our own body. But in some people, this system can go out of tune and start attacking their own bodies. These pathologies are called autoimmune diseases. It is one of the pathologies that has been observed by the researchers in the case series they have looked at relating to “spiritual healing” that shows one of the best and most promising response. This clinical observation seems to correlate well with the gene expression alteration profile (11).

Clinical outcomes: Corresponding to the holistic changes seen above, from electrical to cellular to molecular biology to metabolic to genomic, various other groups of researchers working closely with the Ashram have seen and documented corresponding clinical improvements in both healthy and diseased adults and children. These have been self-published by the Ashram (9).

Children and spirituality: The children studying in the Ashram’s residential schools (Gurukuls) have been shown by an American researcher and educationist, Dr Deborah Chance, to have various mental and physical capabilities that are well above the expected ranges for their age. Importantly, their intelligence quotient (IQ) was at the level of a genius or above for most, if not all of them (9).

In fact, many of these children and some of the adult disciples of that Swamiji have achieved some extraordinary feats in some phenomenon that are currently beyond science (11, 12).

Forgetting the realm beyond science, for now, just the measurable and scientifically attestable benefits seem to point to a Hinduism that is possibly beyond ordinary science. No known technique or drug in modern medicine can produce even a part of the effects (ageing to metabolism) observed and reported in peer-reviewed scientific publications by these researchers.

Extraordinary science, suprascientific Hinduism (13)

PUBLICATIONS TABLE

REFERENCES

  1. Wikipedia contributors (2018) Electrocardiography. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Electrocardiography&oldid=847382367[Accessed July 9, 2018].
  2. Wikipedia contributors (2018) Electroencephalography. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Electroencephalography&oldid=847167391[Accessed July 9, 2018].
  3. What is qEEG / Brain Mapping? – qEEGsupport.com Available at: https://qeegsupport.com/what-is-qeeg-or-brain-mapping/[Accessed July 9, 2018].
  4. MOST PEOPLE DEMONSTRATE READING BLINDFOLDED USING POWERS OF THIRD EYE AWAKENING AT A SINGLE VENUE (2017) India Book of Records. Available at: http://indiabookofrecords.in/most-people-reading-blindfolded-together-at-single-venue/[Accessed May 12, 2018].
  5. Warrier SR, et al. (2013) A synthetic formulation, Dhanwantharam kashaya, delays senescence in stem cells. Cell Prolif46(3):283–290.
  6. Nithyananda P Mystic Phenomena Scientific Data – Nithyananda University Press. Nithyananda University Press. Available at: http://books.nithyananda.org/product/mystic-phenomena-scientific-data/[Accessed March 7, 2018].
  7. Acosta-Urquidi J (2004) EEG brainwaves and heart rate variability (HRV) analysis of bioenergetic healers. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine10(4):725.
  8. Rao KS, et al. (2015) Antiaging Effects of an Intensive Mind and Body Therapeutic Program through Enhancement of Telomerase Activity and Adult Stem Cell Counts. J Stem Cells10(2):107–125.
  9. Nithyananda P (2016) Avatar Shastra – the Science of Descent(Nithyananda University) Available at: https://market.android.com/details?id=book-DEXHjwEACAAJ.
  10. Rao KS, et al. (2015) An Intensive Mind and Body Therapeutic Program Leads to Alteration in Gene Expression Critical to Aging Process in Peripheral Blood Stem Cells. Advances in Aging Research04(03):89–95.
  11. Murali KV (2017) Supernatural powers demonstration: world record. SatyaVijayi. Available at: https://satyavijayi.com/supernatural-powers-demonstration-world-record-created-hindu-gurukulam-kids-studying-strict-veda-agama-system/[Accessed March 20, 2018].
  12. Murali KV (2017) Supernatural yogic powers demonstration: world record created by Hindu Gurukulam kids studying…. The Rational Hindu. Available at: https://therationalhindu.com/supernatural-powers-demonstration-world-record-created-by-hindu-gurukulam-kids-studying-under-858f62a2189e[Accessed March 20, 2018].
  13. Konotey-Ahulu FI (2001) The suprascientific in clinical medicine: a challenge for professor know-all. BMJ323(7327):1452–1453.
NOTE – The scientific research in the articles/publications cited in references (6) to (9) were devised at Swami Nithyananda’s Ashram and designed by the Swamiji himself.

The author, a medic and a graduate of the University of Cambridge, is currently a consultant and has over half-a-dozen peer-reviewed scientific publications, ranging from clinical research to population genetics.

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