Tuesday, May 31, 2016


This is based on  my viewpoints which I shared with   Mr. Geoffrey Feldman (an expert in artificial Intelligence) in 2009 when he asked me two very interesting questions as to whether a Robot can possess a “Being” (Soul) and whether humans can create a receptacle (Body) which would hold the Soul?
Based on Vedic Scriptures the jivas (individual Souls)  are eternal. These have been   created by the Supreme (Brahman) at the time of Srushti (cosmic creation). These will exist till pralaya (cosmic dissolution). Finally everything merges into the Supreme. Until such time, the individual souls will change the physical bodies like our changing the dress from time to time. The type of body is determined based on the results of actions done by each Soul (karma phalam). One who is Self -realized or the one who attains liberation (moksha) gets out of this vicious cycle of births and deaths. Through the grace of the Supreme, one gets liberated.
 On the basis of the above understanding, it is difficult to assume that one can create Souls ( Beings) based on laboratory or scientific  studies. Creating jivas ( Souls) is primarily the job of God. However, there are some episodes in puranas that certain great Rishis have created even worlds through the power of tapas (penance) and yoga. If one has such extraordinary mystic powers, he may hope to do something in this regard. Else, it would be a futile effort. But none can match the power of the Supreme.
 The following are the qualities of Atman (Soul) according to Vedic Scriptures:
(1) It is the Witness (Sakshi) of the three states of consciousness consisting of waking, dream and deep sleep.
(2) It is beyond the five sheaths constituting annamaya, pranamaya, manomaya, vijnanamaya,  Anandamaya.
(3) It exists always whether in the past, present or future.
(4) It is the consciousness principle. 
(5) It is ever in the state of bliss.
(6) It is different from the gross body.
(7) It is different from the subtle body.
(8) It is different from the causal body.
(9) Weapons cannot cut it. 
(10) Air cannot dry it.
(11) Water cannot moisten it.
(12) Fire cannot burn it
(13) It is unbreakable.
(14) It is insoluble.
(15) It is ever lasting
(16) It is present everywhere
(17) It is immovable
(18) It is imperishable
(19) It is the non-doer
(20) It is unborn.
(21) It is unchanging and beyond all modifications.
(22) It is beyond time.
(23) It is invisible.
(24) It is immutable.
(25) It is inconceivable.
(26) It accepts new body giving up old useless body just like a person puts on new garment discarding the old one.
(27) It is primeval.  
 If one can create  an object which satisfies the above qualities, he can be said to have created the Atman (Soul).
Vedic Philosophy
Based on the three-fold principles known as tattva traya, the Universe is composed of  three types of beings:
  (a) cit - Consciousness -- Sentient Being --This is the Subject principle. Human Beings , Animals, Plants, Birds which have a life principle . With a body they are born and they undergo six-fold modifications and perish.They suffer pains and enjoy pleasures. They are conditioned beings and have a lot of dependencies. The Atman (Soul) is imperishable. This is known as BMIS concept.(Body-Mind-Intellect-Self)
  (b) acit - Insentient Being - This is the Object principle.Materials which do not have consciousness  like stone, gold, sand, iron and so on. These are perishable. There is no life principle involved.
  (c) Isvara - God - This is the creator and sustainer of the entire Universe.He is ancient and eternal. He is fully independent. He is both the material and efficient cause of creation.
Bhagavad GIta
Bhagavad GIta Chapter XV is known as purushottama yoga adhyaya. Lord Krishna beautifully summarizes the above concept: 
The world is made up of:
  (a) kshara -perishable  objects ( Insentient). This includes the three types of bodies comprising Sthula SarIra                  (gross body), Sukshma SarIra ( subtle body) and Karana SarIra ( Causal body).
  (b) akshara  - jIvAtmA -- Imperishable  ( Sentient)
  (c) uttama purusha - paramAtmA -- Isvara ---Supreme God  who is the Lord sustaining the worlds.
 (Please refer Chapter XV-16, 17)Whether  a Robot can  possess a Being (Soul)?
In the light of the above understanding, a Robot is  acit. It is  Kshara which is perishable. It does not have the consciousness and life principle. There is no Being( Soul0 involved in a Robot  though we may say it has Artificial Intelligence.
The body (SarIra) represents the container of the Soul (Atman) chosen by the latter based on its actions. There are three types of bodies representing gross( Sthula), subtle (Sukshma) and causal (Karana) bodies. The Self is different from these three  but requires these three for worldly action. The Sastras (Scriptures) have defined in greater detail the nature of  Sthula, Sukshma and Karana
SarIras. The Self ( Atman) is defined as sacchidananda svarupa representing Existence-Consciousness –Bliss which is beyond these three types of Bodies. 
 The combination of the Self and the three types of Bodies as above is required for the Soul  (Jiva) to be effective in this world.
Definition of  Sthula SarIra ( Gross Body):
·         Made up of five great elements ( panca mahabhuta) which have undergone the process of grossification ( pancIkarana)
·         Born as a result of good actions of the past ( human body)
·         Instrument  for experiencing Pleasure and Pain
·         Undergoes the six-fold modifications –
o    potential existence
o    birth
o    growing
o    maturing
o    decaying
o    dieing.
 Definition of  Suskhma SarIra (Subtle Body):  
·         Composed  of five great elements ( panca mahabhuta) which have not undergone the process of grossification ( pancIkarana)
·         Born as a result of good actions of the past ( human body)
·         Container for experiencing Pleasure and Pain
·         Constituting 17 items  –
o    5  organs of perception (jnanedriyas – ears, skin, eyes, tongue and nose)
o    5 organs of action (karmendriyas – speech, hands, legs, anus and genitals)
o    5 Pranas ( prana, apana, vyana, udana and samana)
o    mind (manah)
o    intellect (buddhi)
Definition of  Karana SarIra ( Causal Body):
·         Inexplicable
·         Beginningless
·         In the form of ignorance
·         Sole cause for the gross and subtle bodies
·         Ignorant of its own true nature
·         Without thoughts (nirvikalpa)
As discussed, the Soul has to enjoy pleasure and / or undergo sufferings. The Soul requires a Gross Body (Sthula Sarira) for this primary purpose. 

Whether a receptacle can be created to hold the Soul (Being)?
Sukha dukhadi bhoga Ayatanam SarIram –  The Body is the container for experiencing pleasure and pain.  Hence the container should be capable of achieving this when the Self (Atman) comes into contact with this.
 Keeping the above in view, it is impossible for human beings with limited knowledge and powers to come out with a container which can hold the Soul.
The mind is part of the  Sukshma SarIra along with the Intellect. According to the Vedic scriptures, Intellect (vijnanam) is subtler than the mind (manah) . Atman is the most subtlest.
One more dimension to Atman when it is embodied is that it has its own limited free will despite the prarabdha karma. Those karmas which have to be exhausted only by experiencing are known as  prarabdha karma.
Based on our deliberations, the following position emerges from a Vedic perspective as far as Robots are concerned:
·         It appears that the Sthula Sarira of the Robot  is built and visible. But it is not an instrument to experience pleasure or pain.
·         The Sukshma Sarira is yet to be fully  evolved in the Robot  as the mind and intellect are missing. It has some built-in  intelligence but not deeper intellect in terms of self-contemplation and reflection.
·         The karana SarIra is absent in the Robot .
·         It is not a conscious being and there is no  Atman 
·         It is not a container to exhaust prarabdha karma.
·         Robot does not have any free will to operate on its own in a given situation (Example: It cannot decide to stay back in Mars on its own volition if it is programmed to return to earth after completing some operations)
Thus there is a long way to go for the science of Robotics  to create  a conscious entity. 
जय जय श्रीराधे