NANO-CONCEPT In Indian Tradition
Written by Dr Satish K Kapoor   

Although theoretical perspective to Nanotechnology was provided by the Nobel Laureate ,Richard Feynman in 1959, the term itself was coined by Nario Taniguchi about a decade and a half later ,and made popular by K. Eric Drexler in the 1980s. It gradually acquired pre-eminence among scientific concepts and is now being considered revolutionary in every way, as it can impact not only man's living but life itself. The word 'Nano' having Greek origin, came into vogue during the Age of Renaissance in Europe, with the limited meaning of a thing or person much smaller than the usual one of its kind. Yet the concept of Nano-Science goes back to ancient times, and is as old as the Vedas and the Upanishads.

Metaphysics of Nano Metaphysically speaking, one is required to move from gross to subtle states of Being and from subtle to the core of subtlety to gain the Supreme Knowledge (vidya). This corresponds to what Nano-science wants to achieve, though without acosmic implications, and remaining within the spatio-temporal world of name and form. The journey of a scientist is not ‘from error to truth but from lower truth to higher truth’ (to use Swami Vivekananda’s inimitable words) and from there on to the highest of the higher form till one can transcend all distinctions and forms and become truth oneself. While the man of religion explores truth within him, the scientist discovers the same in the world of phenomena. Both the sage and the scientist are on an eternal march to perfection. Both look for nano-keys to unfold the mysteries of objects, – the former using observation and intuition as tools, invoking the elemental forces under an open sky or at a secluded place, the latter under controlled conditions.

The Vedic Rishis were aware that the world of matter was not the only world but a manifestation of what lay at its substratum . They did not experiment in laboratories loaded with expensive infrastructure, used by modern scientists. Yet with supernatural faculties which they cultivated by intense sadhana or spiritual practice, they made such observations or accomplished such feats, as confound the modern scientists today. The use of the power of mind is the use of Nano-principle, in which ancient sages and seers are said to have been perfect. Mind is regarded as subtle matter and will power as the quality of the mind. The finer the mind, the greater its level of potency. This is how one may explain the phenomenon of a blessing or a curse coming out to be true. Prana the cosmic life- force which runs through the entire creation is interlinked with mind. The transmission of thought-waves from subtle to astral to physical states has remained a part of the age-old tradition of healing by touch . The Atharvaveda (IV.13.6) says, ‘ Felicitous is this my hand, yet more felicitous is this. This hand contains all healing balms, and this makes whole with gentle touch.’ During Vedic Sandhya, the daily Aryan prayer, Anga Sparsa (‘limb-touching’) mantras are chanted while placing the fingers of hand on different organs of the body like lips, nostrils, eyes, ears arms, and thighs for imparting the psychic essence of holy syllables to those parts . Another age-old use of Nano-principle is the charging of plain water with vibrations of some sacred syllables for the purpose of benediction. Sipping water (achamanam) or sprinkling it has also a nano-aspect as proved by scientific experiments in Psychokinesis which show that ‘the emanative power of controlled thought can produce molecular changes in water’.
Agnihotra and Nano-principle
The fire (agni) is recognized as a purifier (Rigveda X.118.1) and a killer of germs (raksasa) in the Rigveda (X.118.8) . ‘May you,O Fire Divine,with your growing effulgence ,burn the disease-spreading mother-germs, shining in your outspread altars.’ The ancient Vedic rite of Agnihotra in which twigs or wood of trees like palasa (butea frondosa), mango (Mangifera indica) or pipal (Ficus religiosa), dry cow-dung cakes (Pathi), clarified butter(ghee), medicinal herbs (aushadhiya padartha) , unbroken (akshata) and uncooked rice grains, barley, sesamum seeds (tila), cloves, cardamom, camphor (karpura) or odoriferous substances, are offered to the fire- god along with the recitation of holy syllables (mantra) , may be called the first tangible use of Nano-principle to cleanse the environment by eliminating pathogenic bacteria or germs. Agnihotra fills the atmosphere with nutrients and medicinal properties, thereby reducing the level of pollution. In ancient times, specific fire rites were performed to bring about rain or fulfill some worldly craving. Today, the Agnihotra method of farming is being increasingly used to produce quality crops without the use of pesticides and insecticides. Sound and Nano-principle
The whole universe is of the nature of consciousness which is prana itself. As breathing spirit, prana is identified with Brahma,the creator (jagat- karnama) and is of reflective nature, in the form of vibration (spanda) which, in its essence, is sound.
The Vedic rishis used the principle of sound (dhvani) by perfecting the methodology of chanting of mantras, to make an impact on the elemental forces, and through them on discerning and non-discerning matter which they regarded as one, unlike modern scientists who consider non-material phenomenon as secondary. The Nano-effect of mantras causing vibrations in molecular matter and on brain-activity of humans, is yet to be fully explored but the impact of sound on different planes of consciousness, was well known to seers who were convinced that by changing the tone of mantras, and using different syllables one could impact the environment . Esoteric cults in India regard Dhvani as the real substance of which shabda or the audible word , is a manifestation. Dhvani is power and has a subtle body, which lasts unlike physical matter, the terra firma of scientists. Mantras are Nano-vibrations which can act on matter or non-matter, in the way one likes , if repeated consciously with concentration , and with inner verve. The principle of sound has been successfully used in dairy farming and in agriculture to optimize production.
Ayurveda and Nano-principle
Ayurveda,the Indian science of longevity, deriving its root from the Atharvaveda, is the precursor of the use of Nano-principles in the field of medicine. Mardananm guna vardhanam, is the principle governing the preparation of drugs. It means, the more you triturate (mardana) a substance ,the more properties it acquires. A green chilly, for example, may cause burning in the stomach but if consumed after being triturated for hours, it rejuvenates the body without any side effects. In case of the resin guggula (Commifora mukul), it is traditionally triturated eight hours a day on an iron plate for one and a half years , before it becomes a panacea for diseases born of vitiation of air (Vata Roga) in the human body .
Scientists have recently discovered Nano-particles in mineral and metallic Ayurvedic drugs which have been in use in India since ancient times, although their knowledge was kept secret by great sages (maharishis) and teachers (acharyas), who bequeathed their findings to the chosen disciples only. Gold, copper, iron, lead, tin, and other metals (ayas) find a mention in the Vedic literature. The Charaka Samhita (3rd-2nd century BCE) not only alludes to the ‘reduction in particle-size of metals’ but also to the dynamics of chemical action brought about by water, heat, filteration, churning, emulsification,etc. The Siddha, Nagarjuna (7th century CE), was the most prominent Acharya of Rasashastra who enriched the field of herbo-mineral and herbo-metallic drugs by refining puna-paka (prolonged heating) and kupi-pakwa (heating in bottle) methods of preparation which significantly reduce the size of particles, and make them float on water. He discovered the alchemical and rejuvenating properties of mercury (parada), sulphur (gandhaka) and gold in combination , suggesting the methods of purification and trituration ( in juices of herbs) followed by prolonged heating. Five centuries later, Vagabhatta in Rasaratnasamuccaya, sambhu in Rasarnava and Somadeva in Rasendracu?amani, developed the same principles which , in modern terminology, correspond to Nano–science. The medicinal use of colloidal gold (swarna bhasma) or mercury-preparations like Rasa Karpura (mercuric chloride),Rasa Sindura (red-coloured mercuric sulphide) or Makaradhwaja (mercuric sulphide,sometime prepared conjointly with gold) remains popular to this day . Tambeswar, a sort of copper compound (to be distinguished from Tamra Bhasma), is considered a wonder drug, as its dose, measured on the tip of a needle, may give life to a dying person.
Ornaments, Utencils and Nano-effect
The wearing of ornaments of gold, silver, copper and other metals or of gems on different parts of the human body, both by men and women since the Indus-Saraswati civilization, also holds key to the Nano -effect of metals and stones which needs to be scientifically explored. Likewise, the use of metallic-utensils for specific purposes in traditional remedies , speaks volumes for the nano-wisdom of our ancestors. As per ancient belief-system transmitted from generation to generation, water, should be kept in a copper container but the same should not be used for keeping curd as it calcinates. Copper and Brass utencils are not to be used for cooking without giving them a coat of tin. Grams when cooked in an iron–pot become jet-black and give better taste. Water boiled in a silver–utencil is said to give relief in fever and allergic conditions. The Yajnopavita made up of twisted wires of gold, silver and copper, tones up the nervous system when worn on the human body. Armlets or bangles of copper are believed to be helpful in curing hypertension. Rings made up of different metals and worn in different fingers of hands and feet, have different effects in traditional system of medicine. And so on. Yoga Siddhis and Nano-Aspect The science of Yoga basically aimed at uniting the human soul with the universal soul, has a Nano-aspect to it, as can be seen in the Yoga Sutras of sage Patanjali (c. 200 BCE), who codified this ancient system. The judicious use of prana or life-energy , to connect the human body, mind and consciousness with its cosmic counterparts, results in the A??a Siddhis or eight extraordinary powers mentioned in the text (III.45). These include, the ability to become as small as an atom (anima),to become infinitely large (mahima) ,to grow heavier (garima) , to become as light as air (laghima) ,to be able to attain the impossible (prapti), to have irresistible will (prakamya), to gain ascendancy over oneself and the world and to have the power of fascination. Many more supernatural powers like the ability to control passion to gain knowledge without a guide or to bring rain at will are found in the work. Even if one puts all these feats in the domain of impossibility, it shows at least the flight of human fancy and the quest of the human soul to govern the forces of nature in a Nano-way, transcending gravity and other laws. Nano-aspect in Indian Mythology
Instances of Mayavi persons who could create such illusion (maya) as to make themselves big or small in size at will,as per the exigencies of circumstances, are galore in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. In the epic Ramayana of sage Valmiki, Hanuman (Maruta), metaphorically said to be the son of wind-god (Pavana), reduces himself to the size of a mosquito to enter the mouth of Lankini, a female guard of the kingdom of Lanka, and assumes his former shape again. When civilization was still in the process of making, and science had not fully asserted itself in matters of faith, yogis are believed to have acquired occult powers, as for example, in the case of Natha yogis like Matsyendranatha, Gorakhanatha, Jalandharnatha and others. The feat of Virashaiva saint, Allama Prabhu, in metamorphosing his gross body into Astral Body so that even a sharp weapon could safely move through the bonded bundle of matter, atoms and molecules, shall remain beyond comprehension till scientists explore the realm of esoteric disciplines. Loosely considered, legendary adepts in yoga were nano-scientists, despite being ignorant of physics, chemistry, arithmetic or quantum mechanics. By experimenting on ‘Prana-shakti’ or ‘life-energy’, Nano-Scientists may, one day , become able to evolve such techniques as can check anger, greed, infatuation false ego or other human vices so as to make the world a better place to live in.
(Formerly British Council Scholar), Secretary, Dayanand Institutions, Raviwar Peth, Solapur, Maharashtra. Email : This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it