The Austrian physicist Erwin Schrodinger - of Schrodinger’s Cat fame - ‘devised the wave equation every quantum system must obey’ and represented ‘quantum stuff as a waveform’ [N. Herbert].
Profoundly influenced by Vedic thought, Schrodinger kept copies of the Sanskrit texts by his bed - the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads.
Would modern science have ever embraced quantum physics without Schrodinger’s understanding of Vedic thought?
Subhash Kak, both a scientist and an Indologist, has written a most interesting article on Schrodinger’s involvement in Vedanta suggesting how modern thought has been influenced by Vedic traditions. Professor Kak tells us that:
…before he [Schrodinger] created quantum mechanics he expressed his intention to give form to central ideas of Vedanta, which, therefore, has had a role in the birth of quantum mechanics.
In 1925, before his revolutionary theory was complete, Erwin Schrodinger wrote:
“This life of yours, which you are living, is not merely a piece of this entire existence, but in a certain sense the ‘whole’; only this whole is not so constituted that it can be surveyed in one single glance.
“This, as we know, is what the Brahmins express in that sacred, mystic formula which is yet really so simple and so clear: tat tvam asi, this is you. Or, again, in such words as I am in the east and the west, I am above and below, I am this entire world.”
In 1944 Schrodinger wrote the influential book, What is Life? which everyone agrees used Vedic ideas. A clear continuity exists between Schrodinger's understanding of Vedanta and his research, according to his biographer, Walter Moore:
The unity and continuity of Vedanta are reflected in the unity and continuity of wave mechanics. In 1925, the worldview of physics was a model of a great machine composed of separable interacting material particles. During the next few years, Schrodinger and Heisenberg and their followers created a universe based on superimposed inseparable waves of probability amplitudes. This new view would be entirely consistent with the Vedantic concept of All in One.
To read Subhash Kak’s entire most enlightening article:
In another online article on Erwin Schrodinger, Dr. C. P. Girija Vallabhan, a professor at International School of Photonics at Cochin University of Science and Technology, the influence of Vedanta on Schrodinger’s quantum theories is described:
Schrodinger read widely and thought deeply about the techniques of ancient Hindu scriptures and reworked them into his own words and eventually came to believe in them. This was evident from many of his writings.
Erwin Schrodinger when he devised his wave equation leading to discovery of wave mechanics. He found the reality of physics in wave motions and he also based this reality on an underlying unity of mind. Schrodinger was well versed in the techniques of Bhagavat Gita…
According to Dr. C. P. Girija Vallabhan, in autumn of 1925 Schrodinger wrote:
"Vedanta teaches that consciousness is singular, all happenings are played out in one universal consciousness and there is no multiplicity of selves.”
HE [Schrodinger] fully acknowledges Sankara's view that Brahman is associated with a certain power called Maya to which is -due the appearance of the entire world. … Schrodinger did not believe that it will be possible to demonstrate the unity of consciousness by logical arguments. One must make imaginative leap guided by communion with nature and the persuasion of analogies.
Full online article
Erwin Schrodinger on Quantum Theory:
What we observe as material bodies and forces are nothing but shapes and variations in the structure of space. Particles are just schaumkommen (appearances).
The world is given to me only once, not one existing and one perceived. Subject and object are only one. The barrier between them cannot be said to have broken down as a result of recent experience in the physical sciences, for this barrier does not exist.
Photographs of the quite handsome Schrodinger and more quotations:
Schrödinger's cat for a 6th grader
Computing Science in Ancient India
T.R.N. Rao & Subhash Kak
Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd.; 2000, New Delhi
Quantum Reality: Beyond the New Physics
Anchor Books/Random House; 1985, New York
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