…“The poet is intimate with truth, while the scientist approaches awkwardly. Come someday to my laboratory and see the unequivocal testimony of the crescograph.”
Gratefully I accepted the invitation, and took my departure. I heard later that the botanist had left Presidency College, and was planning a research centre in Calcutta.
“When the Bose Institute was opened, I attended the dedicatory services. Enthusiastic hundreds strolled over the premises. I was charmed with the artistry and spiritual symbolism of the new home of science. Its front gate is a centuried relic from a distant shrine. Behind a lotus pool, a sculptured female figure with a torch conveys the Indian respect for woman as the immortal light-bearer. A small temple in a garden is consecrated to the Noumenon beyond phenomena. Thought of the Divine Incorporeity is suggested by the absence of any altar-image. Bose’s speech on this great occasion might have issued from the lips of one of the inspired ancient rishis .”
“I dedicate today this Institute as not merely a laboratory but a temple.” His reverent solemnity stole like an unseen cloak over the crowded auditorium. “In the pursuit of my investigations I was unconsciously led into the border region of physics and physiology. To my amazement, I found boundary lines vanishing, and points of contact emerging, between the realms of the living and the non-living. Inorganic matter was perceived as anything but inert; it was athrill under the action of multitudinous forces.”
“A universal reaction seemed to bring metal, plant, and animal under a common law. They all exhibited essentially the same phenomena of fatigue and depression, with possibilities of recovery and of exaltation, as well as the permanent unresponsiveness associated with death. Filled with awe at this stupendous generalisation, it was with great hope that I announced my results before the Royal Society—results demonstrated by experiments. But the physiologists present advised me to confine myself to investigations in physics, in which my success had been assured, rather than to encroach on their preserves. I had unwittingly strayed into the domain of an unfamiliar caste system and had offended its etiquette.”
“An unconscious theological bias was also present, which confounds ignorance with faith. It is often forgotten that He who has surrounded us with this ever-evolving mystery of creation has also implanted in us the desire to question and understand. Through many years of miscomprehension from others, I came to know that the life of a devotee of science is inevitably filled with unending struggle. It is for him to cast his life as an ardent offering—regarding gain and loss, success and failure, as one.”
“In time the leading scientific societies of the world accepted my theories and results, and recognised the importance of the Indian contribution to science. Can anything small or circumscribed ever satisfy the mind of India? By a continuous living tradition and a vital power of rejuvenescence, this land has readjusted itself through unnumbered transformations. Indians have always arisen who, discarding the immediate and absorbing prize of the hour, have sought for the realization of the highest ideals in life—not through passive renunciation but through active struggle. The weakling who has refused the conflict, acquiring nothing, has had nothing to renounce. He alone who has striven and won can enrich the world by bestowing the fruits of his victorious experience.”
“The work already carried out in the Bose laboratory on the response of matter, and the unexpected revelations in plant life, have opened out very extended regions of enquiry in physics, in physiology, in medicine, in agriculture, and even in psychology. Problems hitherto regarded as insoluble have now “been brought within the sphere of experimental investigation.
“But high success is not to be obtained without rigid exactitude. Hence the long battery of supersensitive instruments and apparatus of my design, which stand before you today in their cases in the entrance hall. They tell you of the protracted efforts to get behind the deceptive seeming into the reality that remains unseen, of the continuous toil and persistence and resourcefulness called forth to overcome human limitations. All creative scientists know that the true laboratory is the mind, where behind illusions they uncover the laws of truth.”
“The lectures given here will not be mere repetitions of secondhand knowledge. They will announce new discoveries, demonstrated for the first time in these halls. Through regular publication of the work of the Institute, these Indian contributions will reach the whole world. They will become public property. No patents will ever be taken. The spirit of our national culture demands that we should forever be free from the desecration of utilising knowledge only for personal gain.
“It is my further wish that the facilities of this Institute be available, so far as possible, to workers from all countries. In this I am attempting to carry on the traditions of my country. As far back as twenty-five centuries, India welcomed to its ancient universities, at Nalanda and Taxila, scholars from all parts of the world.”
“Although science is neither of the East nor of the West but rather international in its universality, yet India is specially fitted to make great contributions. The burning Indian imagination, which can extort new order out of a mass of apparently contradictory facts, is held in check by the habit of concentration. This restraint confers the power to hold the mind to the pursuit of truth with an infinite patience.”
JAGADIS CHANDRA BOSE India’s great physicist, botanist, and inventor of crescograph
Tears stood in my eyes at the scientist’s concluding words. Is “patience” not indeed a synonym of India, confounding Time and the historians alike? I visited the research centre again, soon after the day of opening. The great botanist, mindful of his promise, took me to his quiet laboratory.”…
Excerpt From: Yogananda, Paramahansa. “Autobiography of a Yogi”