TWO FACES OF THE COIN- TWO ASPECTS OF EXISTENCE


Nelumbo nucifera, Nelumbonaceae, Indian Lotus,...
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BEADS OF WATER DROPS ON THE LOTUS LEAF

THE LOTUS EFFECT :

Botanist Wilhelm Barthlott of the University of Bonn in Germany discovered in 1982 that the lotus leaf has a naturally self-cleaning, water-repellant surface. The secret lies in waxy microstructures and nanostructures that, by their contact angle with water, cause water to bead and roll away just like mercury. Barthlott patented his discovery, calling it the Lotus Effect.

While Barthlott takes credit for his discovery of the waxy surface of the lotus leaf, Indians have known the lotus, an aquatic plant, for a very long time. Lord Vishnu, the Protector always carries a lotus flower in his hand, He is generally depicted in images in a lying pose with a lotus springing out of His belly button, His eyes are always compared to the petals of the lotus flower and His consort Goddess Lakshmi prefers to be seated on top of a lotus flower. Indians use the lotus flower for their worship and in Indian Art and Literature, lotus finds a prominent place and the Lotus has been given the official status of the National Flower. Indians are also equally impressed about the waxy nature of the surface of the lotus leaf and they know that the surface causes the water to bead and the drops roll away with great ease. This phenomenon is very often used to describe the transient nature of human existence.

TWO FACES OF THE COIN – TWO ASPECTS OF EXISTENCE :

The coins that we use are minted with two different faces and we need to flip the coin to see the face on the opposite side. So also, human existence has its two sides, an eternal entity and at the same time a transient being. I would refer to the following two verses to illustrate this view-point.

THE BHAGAVAD GITA, CHAPTER II, VERSE 13 :

“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth, and then to old age, similarly, the soul also passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change”.

Since every living entity is an individual soul, each is changing his body at every moment, manifesting sometimes as a child, sometimes as a youth, and sometimes as an old man, the spirit soul however remains the same and does not undergo any change. The individual soul eventually changes the body itself, the soul transmigrates from one body to another body and hence death is viewed as the soul changing bodies from old to new one. According to one’s work in the present life, the living entity experiences enjoyment or suffering with the changing of bodies. This view helps the individual not to lament about death.

SHANKARA’S ‘ BHAJA GOVINDAM ‘ VERSES :

The ‘ADVAITA’ school of Indian philosophy was founded by the great teacher Shankara who is popularly referred to as ‘SHANKARACHARYA’. He had composed verses known by the name ‘ BHAJA GOVINDAM ‘( PRAISE THE LORD VISHNU) in which he described the transient, ephemeral, and fleeting nature of human life and existence. He compared human life to that of the bead of water drop on the surface of the Lotus leaf. He reminded us to understand that the body’s existence is very temporary and he had observed that the entire humanity is suffering due to sickness caused by ignorance which makes people to crave with a sense of attachment and desire to keep their impermanent existence.

The individual entity is an embodied soul. The soul is eternal but the physical body is temporary and just like the water drop on the surface of the Lotus leaf, the drop could roll away any moment, and the soul would change bodies sooner than we wish or desire. There is no point in cultivating a sense of attachment to the body as the soul is not willing to cling to the physical body. Man is a created being, exists as an individual with individuality, and has substance that is immortal, imperishable, or eternal. However, Man, the physical being with a shape and form is transient as he is born with a plan for the dissolution of its form.

Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,

DANAVAIPETA MUNICIPAL HIGH SCHOOL, RAJAHMUNDRY, EAST GODAVARI DISTRICT

S.S.L.C.  CLASS  OF  MARCH,  1961. 

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