God of Science
Can devotees believe in modern science?
I bought Hindu Encounter With Modernity, a book about Bhaktivinoda Thakur, and am pleased to find the answer is yes. Here are some excerpts from the prologue to Hindu Encounter with modernity, a book about Bhaktivinoda Thakur's struggles with these same issues;
"What Bhaktivinoda has accomplished in the Sri-krishna-samhita is to separate the mundane from the Transcendent to a degree that we have never seen a Vaishnava do before. Bhaktivinoda shows us that the mundane is susceptible to acute scrutiny and that the Transcendent can only be approached by faith. This of course is not new and raises no reason for attention. What is new, however, is where he draws that line between the mundane and sacred. Sacred Vedic tradition, and I venture to say that tradition which has been presented for the komala-sraddhas, would have us believe that the entire tradition itself is transcendent and therefore exempt from approach by logic. To scrutinize sacred tradition is to engage in blasphemy. What blasphemy, to think that the Srimad Bhagavatam may be a book of only 1000 years, in temporal time! Bhaktivinoda tell us, however, that time is mundane and his scrutiny in no way affects the conclusions about the eternalness of Bhakti. By presenting the Sri-krishna-samhita he has greatly extended the limits of reason in regards to understanding Vedic knowledge."
More from Hindu Encounter With Modernity; "Bhaktivinoda's life straddled contemporary British society and ancestral Hindu culture. One was a modern, analytical world which demanded rational thought. The other was a traditional world of Hindu faith and piety, which seemingly allowed little room for critical analysis. Could he play a meaningful role in modern society and at the same time maintain integrity as a Hindu? This book systematically examines his reinterpretation and application of Hinduism in the context of rational thought. Bhaktivinoda's spiritual insights which divide religion into two constituent parts, the phenomenal and the transcendent allowed him to combine critical rational analysis with the best of Hindu mysticism, Krishna lila. This created a unique synthesis of tradition and modernity. Instead of relinquishing modernity, he utilized it in his writings; instead of rejecting the Hindu tradition in the presence of rational thought, he strengthened it."
More from Hindu Encounter With Modernity; "Was it possible for the religious insider to study his own tradition in a critical way and still maintain religious faith in the tradition?...... I eventually found the solution to my predicament in the writings of Bhaktivinoda himself. I chanced to find a copy of Bhaktivinoda's first major work, the Krsna-samhita (1879)..... I was amazed to learn that Bhaktivinoda was attempting to analyze Indian history and to show the development of Vaishnavism according to what he called the adhunika-vada, or the modern approach...... Bhaktivinoda was showing that it was indeed possible to take a critical look at one's own tradition, and at the same time maintain a deep and abiding faith within that tradition."...... What follows is a detailed analysis of Indian historiography in which he establishes an interesting dating scheme. Here are a few examples: 1. The Aryans first entered India from the North West and subjugated the indigenous tribes around 4463 B.C. 2. The Battle of Kuruksetra took place in 1912 B.C. (3976 years ago), 3. The present Mahabharata is not the original Mahabharata written by Vedavyasa, but one put together by a later Vyasa, 4. The Ramayana achieved its present form sometime after the compilation of the Mahabharata in about 500 B.C. 5. The Puranas were written successively between 400 A.D. and 1000 A.D. The Markendeya Purana is the oldest and the Srimad Bhagavatam is the youngest. 6. The Srimad Bhagavatam is a southern text, likely written during the 10th century by some unknown respected person who had rightfully assumed the title of Vyasa. Bhaktivinoda arrives at these conclusions through a system of textual analysis. It remarkable that he does not simply rely on an existing modern dating scheme, of which there were many during his time, but takes the effort to prepare his own analysis and reach his own conclusions. Where he doubts his own analysis, he invites future Saragrahis to arrive at a better conclusion. This indicates that he took the matter seriously. In this way Bhaktivinoda uses a rational methodology to show the rationale for accepting the path of devotion........ My first reading of the text left me in utter shock. For years I have struggled to assimilate what I had learned from Vaishnava tradition and what I was learning in academia....... What blasphemy, to think that the Srimad Bhagavatam may be a book of only 1000 years, in temporal time! Bhaktivinoda tell us, however, that time is mundane and his scrutiny in no way affects the conclusions about the eternalness of Bhakti. By presenting the Sri-krishna-samhita he has greatly extended the limits of reason in regards to understanding Vedic knowledge."
Visit the Hindu Encounter With Modernity Web Page to read more and buy the book. It is written by Shukavak Das. It is 352 pages, 6 x 9 hardcover with four color dustjacket with the wonderful picture of Bhaktivinoda Thakur on the cover and 10 black and white photos inside.
This VNN Review is just a couple paragraphs. This Review of "Hindu Encounter with Modernity" From Chakra is the best Review I have read.