Transcendental Commentary Transcendental
Commentary On the Issues of the
Day Artificial Rains

"Artificial rains soothe Maharashtra." Headlines like these have been a frequent sight in recent newspapers in India. Accompanying the headlines are mind-grabbing images of a political leader and a scientist flying in an airplane, shooting a chemical spray into the clouds, and bringing down the rains. For people tormented by prolonged water scarcity, artificial rainfall seems to be a graphic demonstration of the power of technology to counter human suffering caused by the vagaries of nature.

If we look more closely, though, we'll see a picture quite different from the hype. To begin with, the name "artificial rains" is misleading; all that is done is that scientists stimulate rainfall from naturally formed clouds. Contrary to the hype, cloud seeding, as it's called, can therefore offer no relief to drought affected areas, where there are generally no clouds anyway. Also, ordinary cumulus clouds the kind of clouds most often found in the sky are too small to produce any worthwhile rains by seeding. Further, because of unpredictable wind motions, no one can control where cloud seeding will cause rains. American meteorologist Chuck Doswell explains that the rain at the ground from a seeder's typical target cloud a fairly large cloud ten km tall and ten km in diameter would be on the order of 1of an inch. Not much of a result just about enough to wet the sidewalk.

Hence it needs to be seriously examined whether the Rs 5.6 crore (US$1.24 million) that the Maharashtra government has spent on Project Varsha leads to commensurate returns. Moreover, no exhaustive studies have been done about the likely side-effects of cloud seeding, which, American scientists like Johnny Micou say, include flooding, tornadoes, rain suppression, and silver iodide toxicity.

Cloud seeding has dubious benefits and may be harmful. Using it in public areas is like testing an unproven drug on humans and making them pay for both for the drug and its side-effects. Unconscionable, isn't it?

Our Dependence On Nature

While the desire to reduce the sufferings of the drought-afflicted is not wrong, the method of forcible extortion of the rains from the clouds is questionable. Science has long believed that if we understand nature, we can control it. But we're discovering that we'd be better off cooperating with nature. Our tinkering with nature disturbs its balance and often leads to calamity.

The sheer magnitude of the natural forces is awesome, as is our dependence on them. In the science magazine Nature (May 15, 1997), researchers from the University of Maryland presented the world with a "bill to nature" for $16 trillion to $54 trillion dollars per year for the natural resources and raw materials we take from nature: food, water, air, lumber, rocks, metals, jewels, oil, and so forth. Our cosmic bill to the sun is no less. American scientist Dr. Edwin Kessler has calculated that if we had to pay five cents per kilowatt-hour (a relatively cheap price) for the energy provided by the sun every day over the state of Oklahoma, the cost would be around $60 billion per day.

Consciousness Controls Nature

Science would have us believe that cosmic change governs the forces of nature. The Vedic texts consider this understanding nanve and uninformed. Vedic science posits the existence in the cosmos not only of physical elements and forces, but also of conscious elements, especially a supreme conscious intelligence behind everything.

The idea of a conscious intelligence orchestrating nature is becoming much more scientifically acceptable. Many scientists doubt that nature can be explained only in mechanistic terms. The more scientists study nature, the more they are stunned by its astounding order, awesome energy, incredible intricacy, and masterly harmony.

"Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science," wrote Albert Einstein, "becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe a spirit vastly superior to that of man."

Deva Gardening

Mounting empiric evidence is confirming this conclusion. "Consciousness controls nature" is the working principle of New Age gardeners who seek communion with their plants and crops as a means for higher yields. A vivid example is the Findhorn farm community in Scotland, which grows amazing flowers and vegetation on barren, sandy soil. Dorothy Maclean, a member of the original family that started farming in Findhorn in the 1960s, explains their gardening secret: she communicates telepathically with the nature spirits and "devas" in charge of the garden, and all the gardening is done exactly according to their instruc tions. Many people are likely to be skeptical about such a claim, but the miraculous abundance is well documented and is there for everyone to see and it defies traditional scientific notions. The idea is catching on: These days any trendy urban bookshop can supply at least a few deva gardening manuals.

Vedic Insights

The Vedic texts not only assert that a supreme conscious being, God, controls all the natural phenomena, but they also stress the need for harmonizing with Him. As citizens of the universe, we're expected to obey the cosmic government headed by God and pay cosmic taxes for the universal utilities of light, heat, air, and water. The traditional Vedic method of remitting cosmic taxes is through elaborate fire sacrifices (yajnas) accompanied by the precise chanting of specific mantras.

On superficial examination, yajnas may seem a colossal waste of resources: ghee, silk, and grains are put into fire. But Vedic followers offer oblations into the sacred fire to appease the cosmic controller and receive profusely all the gifts of nature in return. The proof of the authenticity of the yajnas is the resulting prosperity. The prosperity of ancient India is described both in the Vedic literature and by many scholars and historians. India's prosperity, derived from acting in harmony with the cosmos, continued till even a few centuries ago. Experts in Vedic science explain that the neglect and rejection of the Vedic principles by modern Indians has caused the present downfall of India.

Spiritual Solution

Vedic science thus reveals the real cause of the present water-crisis: non-cooperation with the cosmic govern ment. Trying to extort water from the clouds is hi-tech robbery. Like a common thief, we might get something out of it, but we'll suffer in the end. We've seen this in other areas. For example, we increased crop yields with fertilizers but ended up with barren soil; we fed animals artificial food to fatten them,and ended up with mad cow disease. Trying to avoid paying our universal bills just doesn't work.

For modern times, the Vedic texts recommend a method of cosmic bill paying more practical than fire yajnas. In the present age of Kali, the recommended Vedic sacrifice is the sonic glorification of the Supreme Lord, as confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita(10.25), where Lord Krsna says, yajnanam japa-yajno 'smi: "Of sacrifices, I am the chanting of the holy names." Sonic control of matter should not be difficult for us to relate to; most of us have probably heard of fans that turn on and off by the clapping of hands. From the Vedic perspective, this sort of sonic technology is crude and rudimentary. The sonic technology, or, more accurately, the mantra technology, that the Vedic texts talk about is of a level of sophistication that modern science is yet to fathom. Mantras are powerful sounds attuned with various phenomena in nature and with the predominating deities controlling them. Hence the chanting of the Vedic mantras can harmonize modern society with the cosmic state and thus bring about sustainable prosperity. The mantra most pleasing to the Supreme Lord, and thus able to satisfy all obligations, is the mahamantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

Is It Blind Faith?

The idea of chanting mantras for rain may be difficult to digest. But it becomes much less difficult once we see the wisdom of the idea that God controls nature. And if we look at nature closely, that idea is hard to avoid.

For example, let's look at nature's water-supply system. Millions of gallons of water move through the airways in clouds. The design of these water tanks is so astounding that an airplane can pass right through them and they won't leak. Further, variations in pressure and temperature turn water vapor into cloud droplets, which come together to form rains drops. But raindrops tend to grow only to a certain size. If raindrops grew to huge sizes, rain would destroy life rather than sustain it. But raindrops usually come down in the right size, and gently, seldom hurting even a blade of grass.

It takes blind faith to believe that this wondrous and benevolent arrangement is happening by itself, by chance. No wonder then that the renowned physicist Kelvin said, "If you think deeply enough you will be forced by science to believe in God." Once we have scaled the intellectual hurdle in understanding that God controls nature, we can more easily comprehend the effect of mantras on natural phenomena. Just as we need to know medical science before we can understand how medicine put into the mouth can heal a pain in the foot, so we need to know higher-dimensional science before we can understand how mantra technology can activate rainfall.

We should cooperate with nature through the gentle science of mantra, instead of bludgeoning her into submission through science. John Milton has therefore wisely said in his Paradise Lost, "Accuse not Nature, she hath done her part; do thou but thine."