Werner Heisenberg, a scientist with a spiritual bent of mind, was elated and inspired after coming to Shantiniketan. While living in Germany he had heard and read a great deal about india. He had heard many stories and praises of Ved mantras, Vedic rishis and their Ashrams. Great poet of Germany, Goethe was his most favourite poet. Werner Heisenberg had read german translation of Abhigyan Shankuntalam of Kalidas by Goethe many a times. He knew many verses of this poem by heart. Rishi Knava and the poetic description of the natural beauty of his Ashram had always impressed him. That day in Shantiniktan he was experiencing,in real life, all that he read about – the greenery of Shantiniketan, the plants standing like youth adorned in green and the creepers embracing these plants, the multicolored scenic beauty spread all around and the air scattering enchanting fragrance. All this seemed as if Mother Nature has spread one end of her anchal (fabric) in extreme fondness for the human life.
The very first sight of Shantiniiketan had impressed Heisenberg very much. After wandering through and seeing all over he felt as if the entire ashram is personification of one of the beautiful poems of the great poet, Rabindranath Tagore, in which Vedc period, Vedic rishis and abodes of the rishis have come alive all in one. The thoughts and emotions of this poet got transformed into objects and not words and that the poet, who enfolded the endless waves of love and affection for the humanity in his heart, was the combined personification of the great poets Goethe, Kalidas and rishi Kanva. For the young Heisenberg to see him, to converse with him, to sit in his company was like the dream world coming true. For the last nine years during which he had been doing atomic researchh along with his fellow scientists; he had been writing letters to Rabindranath Tagore.
In 1920 Heisenberg along with Neils Bohr of Denmark, Louis de Broglie of France, Erwin Schrodinger and Wolfgang Pauli and Paul Dirac of England had started research on the nature of atom. The myth that the smallest particle of the matter was atom or nucleus had already been shattered. By now science had gone beyond electron, proton or neutron. Even after the discovery of baryons, mesons, tachyons and around 20 companions of these smaller particles, it was still unclear whether there was any still smaller constituents of the matter; if yes, what was that? All these scientists, ignoring the narrow boundaries of their nations and the political and diplomatic limits, were in constant touch with each other in finding the truth.
During the course of their research all these scientists at sometime or the other felt that perhaps fundamentally there was nothing like matter; as, while studying the vibrations, they had found out that the reality of the atoms was the waves of energy. After understanding this reality they abandoned the particle theory and initiated the study of wave mechanics. At this juncture Heisenberg was reminded of India and the philosophy of Indian rishis. Though he had been engaged in this research for about 9 years and during all this period he had been in correspondance with Rabindranath Tagore, in the year 1929 he decided to visit India and that day he was in Shantiniketan in the season of mild winter. After reaching Shantiniketan he gave a detailed report of his investigation, along with his associates to Babu Rabindranath Tagore and then in a dissappointed tone mentioned – “ While discovering the smallest particle of matter, now it seems that the notion of the matter is a myth; then what is the reality?” In answer to this Rabindranath melodiously uttered a shloka (verse) from ‘Vivek Chudamani’ a composition of the great Acharya of Advaita, Adiguru Shankaracharya –
Yadidam sakalam vishwam nanarupam prateetmagyanat.
Tatsarvam brahmaiva pratyastasheshabhavanadosham.
“Out of the ignorance the entire universe seems to be of varied forms and names, but in reality this is Brahma, devoid of the defects of all emotions.”
With this the poet had taught him the essence, the fundamental secret of the philosophy of Vedanta – “ The matter and all its forms are myth; to that extent the energy, which is the subtle form of matter and its variations, is also false. The reality is that all the differences whether of matter or of the various forms of the nature, all of those are illusions. What is truth is undifferentiated and that is Brahma – that is certain and everything else is uncertain”.
This concept of Vedanta, experience of Acharya Shankar, was well assimilated by Heisenberg. For many days, he was engaged in discussion on the Advaita truth of Vedanta with Rabindanath Tagore. During the course of these conversations Rabindranath informed him about Swami Vivekananda, who had revived the Vedic wisdom in this era. He himself accompanied Heisenberg to Dakshineshwar and shown him the room where Vivekananda used to sit, listening to the teachings of his Gurudev Ramakrishna Paramhansa. Then he took him to the Belur Math, the headquarters of Ramakrishna Missions, which was established as the Yugateerth of Advaita Vedanta. There, while illucidating one saying of Vivekananda, he mentioned – “ All the differences whether these are social, biological or natural are myth. Only truth is one, which is undifferentiated and that is Brahma”.
“What is Brahma”?, Enquired the young Heisenberg with great curiosity. In reply to this, Rabindra Babbu, standing at the banks of Ganga near Belur Math pointed to the magnificent water of Ganga, ignoring all the imaginary differences of the varied shapes and temeratures of water particles and said –
Nirastmayakritasarvabhedam nityam sukham nishkalamaprameyam.
Aroopvyaktamanakhymavyayam jyotih swayam kinchididam chakasti.
“He is free from all imaginary differences; He is eternal bliss, devoid of art and is not a subject of proofs, etc. He is some unexpressed, unnamed, and indestructible light which is glowing on its own.”
After listening to the experiential verse of Acharya Shankar in the melodious voice of the poet Rabindranath, Heisenberg found a new direction for his research. After returning from India, impressed by the Advaita philosophy; he postulated the Principle of Uncertainty. After many years, on 11th April 1972 in the city of Munich in Germany, when the famous physicist Fritjof Capra visited him, Heisenberg narrated many of his experiences and said – the scientifc spirituality, pioneered by India is the need of the present Era.
This inspiration has provided the basis for the historical creation of the masterpiece “The Tao of Physics”, by Fritjof Capra. In this connection Capra met Heisenberg again in the year 1974 and showed him the manuscript of his book. Heisenberg was delighted to see that and said – “After all, the scientific study and exposition of spirituality has begun !” After that in November 1975 Fritjof Capra sent him the first copy of the published book “The Tao of Physics”. Heisenberg read that book for sure but could not write his comments as he died before he could do it. A few days before his death he mentioned to on eof his friends: “The scientists of the world should study the spiritualists of India, especially Swami Vivekananda. He is such a spiritual sage of India, whose thoughts can become the basis of modern scientific research.”
– Dr. Pranav Pandya