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Buddha was the greatest scientist

Lack of scientific and rational thinking has led to all the ills that we suffer from. Buddha?s teachings remain infinitely relevant for the benefit of mankind.

india Updated: May 12, 2006 19:22 IST

Tomorrow isBuddha Purnima and though the Guinness Book of World Records does not mention it, the hat-trick that Lord Buddha performed is yet to be rivaled.

It was on this day, in 563 BC, that the Buddha was born as Siddharth in the royal family of Kapilavastu. It was on this day that he attained enlightenment. Again, it was on this day that he left this world. When I say that this amazes me like nothing else, I may be accused of being biased be- cause I was born in an orthodox Buddhist family. And hence, for me, regarding the Buddha as the most heroic historic character came naturally.

Of course, there were many others who influenced me deeply, and they were not Buddhists. Mahatma Gandhi and Tagore are some of the Indians whom I regard as the greatest exponents of the Buddha’s dharma. What compels my admiration has been the Buddha’s stress on a scientific way of life. His dharma was to make religion a dynamic force and mechanism to steer life through, in a way that created compassion, forgiveness and creativity. His call to reason out your acts and not to believe his teachings until they were tested for their efficacy for your and others’ well being, is perhaps his greatest contribution to mankind.

He advocated scientific thinking and freedom of rational thought. If we fail to do that, or don’t want to apply it, we are no better than less-endowed animals. Lack of scientific and rational thinking has led to all the ills that we suffer from.

Today, when our planet beautiful is torn apart because of religious dogmatism and extremism, the relevance of the Buddha’s teachings cannot be overestimated. They can bring peace among the warring nations and groups within nations. But while science can only sugarcoat your outer self, Buddhism promotes you from within. Science evolves and changes when your data changes. The Buddha’s teachings remain infinitely relevant for the benefit of mankind. Let’s salute the Indian prince-turned recluse who showed the world the means to peace.

First Published: May 12, 2006 19:22 IST