Thursday, January 10, 2008

Does Vedantha support cloning?

Does vedantha support cloning?

Well, Vedantha does speak about the conditions of birth

which resemble that of cloning in today's scientific parlance.

But does it support / authenticate / accept cloning?

Let us look at the texts to get an answer for this.

The first 27 sutras of the 3rd chapter of Brahma sutras
which talk about the ascent and descent of the soul,
shed some light on cloning too.

In his bhashya to the 1st sutra, (3-1-1),
Ramanuja speaks about PanchAgni Vidhya
which explains 5 oblations,
in the forms of
shraddha, soma, rain, food and seed.
They are offered in 5 fires
(i.e., objects imagined to be
fires for the sake of upasana) –
namely heavens,
man and
woman. The 5th oblation
comes to be designated as man.

Explanation for this is found in subsequent verses
whereby it is said that the soul
which descends to be born
comes through water (rain),
plant food ,
man and
finally woman.

In the first 4 stages the
descent is quick and the soul is only connected
to the ‘oblations’ / fire and
does not undergo or experience any karma.

The process is irreversible and once the
soul has entered the chain, it is headed to be entered
into the womb.
There is no question of not getting
discarded mid way.

Verse 26 clearly states that till the soul remains
with in the man’s body, it just stays only ‘connected’
to him and is not actually born.
Only when it enters
the womb of the woman,
the soul is born.
There is no mincing of words
about this according to Brahma sutras.

In the case of cloning arising from human endeavour,
thanks to advancement in science,
the 5th oblation
(mating) is missing.
Verses 18 & 19 of the Brahma sutra do speak about this probability.
Verse 19 tells about the cases of Drona, Drupadi and Dhrishtadhyumna
as without 5th oblation.
They have been recorded in Smritis.

There is another type also who are not born through
the 5th oblation.
Of the three types of souls,
the lowest ones, namely,
the evil-doers (the former two are the ones who go to
the abode of gods and the abode of fathers)
‘do not ascend or descend from the world of moon’.

"It follows therefore that the 3rd place or evil-doers
do not depend on the 5th oblation
for the origination of a
body. They are born irrespective of this oblation.”
(verse 18)

Verse 20 tells about other 3 types which are born
without 5th oblation.
They are the ones born of eggs,
from living beings and those that germinate.

But one qualitative difference between these types and
the cloning of today is that they have been part of
the scheme of Creation of the Lord.
Nowhere in scriptures,
are there references to empowering men
(by artificial tools) to skip the 5th oblation.

Even in the birth of Kauravas,
the division of the embryo into 100 containers happen
after the 5th oblation is completed.
(Growth of embryo outside the womb is
something mankind might someday achieve, if we go by
this precedence but the same can not be said of
deliberate skipping of the 5th oblation).

This (cloning) is also akin to man taking up creation
in his hand, which is a prohibited act as in the case
of Vishwamithra.
There are 2 sides to this issue.
One is that since the soul descends through 5 oblations,
human cloning without 5th oblation is impossible.

If at all man succeeds in getting it done,
it would be that of the birth of evil-doers
whose evil karma would doom them to bad conditions of living.
In other words
the creator-man would face further problems in keeping
up his ‘creation’ than would achieve any positive

Another side of it is the very undesirability or
unsustainability of cloning.
The sudden death of the
first animal clone (Dolly, the sheep)
showing signs of
sudden aging reminds one of similar trends noticed in
the created world of Vishwamithra.

It is by hearsay (from elders) that whatever was
created by Vishwamithra (in Thrishanku episode)
fell short in some aspect from
the original world created by the Creator.

For instance there is one variety of curry leaves
(karivEppilai) known as ‘Vishwamithra karivEpilai,
which would grow yellow with aging.
But the original karivEppilai does not grow yellow.
It just whithers.
This might just be a figment of imagination
(I don’t know for sure whether such a variety of
karivEppilai ever existed. Can any one clarify?)
the point that must be noted is that our system of
knowledge does not foresee the creation and
sustainability of anything that is not part of the
scheme of Creation by Brahman.

Human cloning is one such thing.

1 comment:

nivrutta_r said...

Human clones in the form of identical twins are commonplace, with their cloning occurring during the natural process of reproduction. So cloning does exist in nature. Even in animal kingdom this natural process of cloning exists in 'red ants'and komodo dragon(a type of reptile)..the process called parthenogenesis. Asexual form of reproduction is a form of cloning ..but the clone will be usually genetically female.

Even in horticulture the plants grown by grafting procedure is a type of clone..