Can you show me your God? asks Sir C.V. Raman

The following events took place in 1930 while Jagadguru Srila Bhakti Siddhant Saraswati Goswami Thakur ‘Prabhupad’ was still present. A month-long festival was being held at the Calcutta Bagh Bazaar Gaudiya Math for Sri Janmashtami. Each day a different dignitary was invited to sit as Honorary Chairman of the evening meeting. Some students of world-renowned Nobel laureate scientist, Sir C. V. Raman were amongst those who came regularly to listen to the lectures of the Gaudiya Math preachers. One day, these students came to see Srila Prabhupada and complained that every day a different distinguished person was being made Honorary Chairman, but their professor, whose fame had spread throughout the world, had not even been invited.

Srila Prabhupada answered that he had no objection to making Sir. Raman Honorary Chairman for one evening. He asked Srila Paramgurudeva (His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Dayita Madhav Maharaj) to take charge of inviting him. Srila Paramgurudeva first went to Sir Raman’s house but did not find him there. The scientist’s wife sent him with an orderly to Sir Raman’s laboratory on Circular Road. There, Srila Paramgurudeva met with him on the second floor where he was sitting in a corner of a huge loft, engaged in his research activity. Sir Raman spoke neither Bengali nor Hindi and so their conversation took place in English.

Upon being asked by Sir Raman the reason for his coming, Srila Paramgurudeva answered, “A large month-long religious gathering is being held by the Bagh Bazaar Gaudiya Math on the ocassion of Sri Krishna Janmashtami. On each day, a different dignitary of the city is invited to grace the chairman’s seat and we humbly invite you to do the same.”

Sir Raman answered, “I do not believe in your Keshto-Bishtu (Krishna-Vishnu). I have no faith in anything that cannot be confirmed by direct sensory experience. I cannot waste my valuable time with imaginary things. I would gladly attend any conference dealing with science or education, but not a religious one.”

Srila Paramgurudeva said. “Your own students have been coming regularly to listen to the Math’s swamijis speak. It was their desire that you be honoured in the same way that so many other Calcutta community leaders has been. I have been asked by my Gurudeva to invite you, so please accept our invitation.”

Sir Raman then challenged Srila Paramgurudeva: “Can you show me your God? If you can show Him to me, I will go.”

One side of the lab room in which the conversation was being held was a windowless, door less wall, on the other side of which lay the whole of north Calcutta. Srila Paramgurudeva asked, “I can see nothing on the other side of this wall, but if I say that there is nothing there, will that be true?”

Sir Raman answered, “Perhaps you cannot see what is there, but you could with the appropriate instruments.”

Srila Paramgurudeva then asked him, “There is a limit to what your instruments can do. You can only see as far as they allow you. Can you say that there is nothing beyond these limits?”

Sir Raman replied, “Never mind. I will not waste my time on this. I will not give my attention to anything that is not within my sense experience. I will only spare my valuable time if you can actually show me your God. Can you do it?”

Srila Paramgurudeva: “If your students were to say to you that they will study your scientific findings only if you can show them the truth of what you have realized through your experiments, what would you say?”

Sir Raman: “I would make them realize it!”

Srila Paramgurudeva: “Can you make them realized before teaching them?”

Sir Raman: “No, I would first have to show them the process by which I have come to realize the truth. They will have to follow that process if they want to have the same realization. First they will have to earn their B.Sc. degree, then their M.Sc. Then they will have to study with me for another five years. Then I will be able to make them understand.”

Srila Paramgurudeva: “If this is true for you and your scientific knowledge, then can the seers of ancient India not say exactly the same thing? Follow their process and see whether you experience God’s existence or not. You are not able to show the scientific truths you profess to your students until they have adopted your process. Similarly, if you want to experience or understand God, you have to follow the process by which that is accomplished. If it does not happen, then you can deny the value. But how can you deny the value without having experimented?”

Sir Raman could not answer.

Srila Paramgurudeva’s quick-wittedness and presence of mind was such that it was impossible to get away with an illogical statement in his presence. Such capacity does not come with simple book learning. Only one who has surrendered himself to his spiritual master and has come to direct realization of the truth through his mercy can display such divine power. To such a person, a display of intelligence without any basis in realization cannot get very far.

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