Science in Religion: Bringing it together with Dr. Prasad

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By Shilpa Darivemula

Reverend Viki Brooks recounted her confusion to the audience. She wanted to write a proper introduction for the speaker on Sanatana Dharma of Vedic Hinduism, Dr. M.G. Prasad, but all she could see online about him were articles on acoustics and sound.

During her introduction, Brooks exclaimed, “That is when I realized that Dr. M.G. Prasad wears two hats.

I found a website filled with his talks on Hinduism, and made the connection that they were the same man!”

A scientist and a Vedic follower from New York City,  Prasad’s presentation on Sanatana Dharma, the endemic word meaning “The Eternal Law,” or also “Hindusium,” on Thursday, April 12 in Reamer Campus Center, was a carefully constructed and clear way of looking at such a vast religion.

Prasad took parts of Hinduism and explained them with neat details that clarified the many misconceptions about the faith.

Hinduism is a very old religion—so old, in fact, that it has become ingrained in the culture and mindset of the people. It’s vastness allows for each subculture, and each person to define it differently.

Basically everyone has a different take on what the scriptures and the religion consist of.

However, Prasad’s lecture seemed to resonate at the core concepts of Vedic Hinduism with Sanatana Dharma.

The Vedas are the four core books of Hinduism; they form the foundation of the faith and in them, Prasad showed the audience how those ancient scriptures set the stage for every part of Hinduism we see today.

Some of his concepts were complicated and possibly confusing to those in the audience unfamiliar with Hinduism.

In fact, some concepts were difficult for the Hindus in the room to grapple with, but I admired Prasad’s ability to attempt to explain them.

I found his explanation on why Hindus use the conch in prayers extremely exciting.

Upon finishing prayers, the priest usually blows a shell, or conch, to produce a muted, yet melodic monotone that commands everyone’s attention without causing harm to the ears.

Prasad showed us why the conch produces such an attention-grabbing sound by posting diagrams of acoustics experiments he ran on the sound.

He explained that the conch’s smooth sound is evidenced by the acoustics results and produces tones that coincide with the harmonious tones our ears are attuned to.

“This sound is something that man-made instruments cannot reproduce,” said  Prasad with pride.

He also explained the sounds of the vocal tones of priests when they read the prayers, saying how each note is required for a correct and sanctified reading.

Prasad’s lecture augmented my belief that Hinduism is based on the congruity of music, sound and cosmic vibrations—that every sound from the voices or the instruments is meant to harmonize with the world.

I found his evidence on the acoustics of certain rites and the conch to be fascinating, proving that science can be used to produce evidence based results for theories made by religions.

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