Saturday, January 22, 2011

Uddalaka Aruni – The First Materialist And Nature Scientist

        The general understanding seems to be that Thales of Miletus (sixth century BC- Greece) ‘took the first prodigious step to global science’. On the basis of a part of the Chandogya Upanishad, Dr. Debi Prasad Chattopadhyaya shows that Uddalaka Aruni of the clan of Gautama has ‘the honor of first opening the gates of natural science’. He was a learned Brahmin of Kuru- Panchala, the heart land of Aryavarta culture. He considered questions raised by direct observations more important than the pitryana and devayana- paths along which the departed soul moved. Asked about atman, his answer was peculiar and remarkable:
The king said to Uddalaka Aruni: “Gautama, whom do you revere as the atman?”
“The earth, indeed, sir, Oh king,” said he.
The words Brahma or moksha does not occur in his teachings. Sat (being) was the ultimate reality- a new terminology coined by him.
‘In the beginning this world was just Being, one only, without a second’

In Chandogya Upanishad, an entire chapter ( is devoted to his teachings. For a detailed discussion of the importance of Uddalaka as also his method of observation and experimental proof (as early as the 8th or 7th century B.C.!) that differentiates Uddalaka from speculative thinkers like Yajnavalkya:

‘The Beginnings’, (Series: Global Philosophy for Every man)
Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya,
Navakarnataka Publications Pvt. Ltd.,
Bangalore, Karnataka.

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