Sunday, 19 July 2015

Nature of Reality: Physical, Metaphysical and Mystical Aspects

Nature of Reality: Physical, Metaphysical and Mystical Aspects

Hardev Singh Virk
Visiting Professor, SGGS World University, Fatehgarh Sahib- 140 406, India
Nature of Reality has been subject of investigations since historical times both in science and religion. The physical interpretation of Reality has experienced a dynamic change from Aristotle to Einstein. Relativity theory and Quantum mechanics have led to formulations of new concepts regarding space, time, matter and reality. Uncertainty Principle by Heisenberg and the concept of dual nature of matter and radiation by Louis de Broglie gave a serious blow to the philosophy of determinism based on Newtonian Mechanics and Cartesian world view. The great debates between Einstein and Bohr at Solvay Conferences about the inadequacy of quantum mechanics to describe physical aspect of Reality are a part of history of science now. EPR paradox and Bell’s theorem have introduced the idea of connectedness and consciousness in Quantum Reality. Experience is the ultimate test of truth or Reality for the Indian philosopher. The Reality is trans-empirical, hence, it cannot be known through sense experience in the way in which empirical/scientific knowledge is gained. Reality is better understood or comprehended through intuitive experience for it transcends both the rational and the sensory aspects of human experience.
Keywords: Reality, Newtonian World view, Copenhagen Interpretation, Uncertainty Principle, EPR Paradox, Metaphysics, Mysticism.


Nature of Reality deals with investigations which fall under three different domains of knowledge pertaining to Physical Sciences, Metaphysics or Philosophy, and Mysticism. The queries to be addressed are: What is real? What is the universe made of? How does it work? What is the origin of life in this universe? Who created this universe? Physicists and philosophers have been asking these questions since the dawn of civilization. Greek Philosophers, including Socrates, Aristotle and Plato, are known as founders of modern philosophy. The concept of Reality has undergone a revolutionary change ever since the time of these celebrated Greeks. The study of planetary motion established that there is perfect order in the Universe. The philosophical quest for the ultimate Reality, using reason and speculation, transcended the boundaries of physical Reality. Recent developments in physics have revolutionised the physicist’s conception of Reality. Today many scientists explore the “metaphysics” of physics with their powerful instruments. The new insights of the modern physics into the mystery of the universe have prepared the stage for a dialogue between science and philosophy.


Classical notions about Reality: Aristotle is known as founder of Physics; he wrote the first book of Physics and introduced many metaphysical principles in physics.  Everything had a natural place and every object had its own nature in his world view. Aristotle made a sharp distinction between celestial and terrestrial world, the latter being imperfect, corruptible, and prone to constant change; while the former perfect, incorruptible and immutable. Aristotle’s philosophy of nature was comprehensive and highly appealing to the common place wisdom of the day. It gave birth to monotheistic conceptions of God and a dualistic vision of Reality. The germs of an anthropocentric worldview were inherent in Aristotle’s philosophy of science.

Newtonian mechanics gave birth to a mechanical philosophy of nature. It claimed that everything could be explained in terms of laws of motion and the interaction between the material particles. This meant that all things could be explained in terms of just four fundamental concepts: space, time, mass and force. A mechanistic worldview or the clockwork universe was the immediate consequence of Newtonian physics. The divine hand, having set it right in the beginning, left it undisturbed. There was not scope for divine intervention, chance and indeterminacy in a deterministic worldview. Reality can be known by using mathematical tools and all events become predictable in future.

In the beginning of 20th century, the advent of special theory of relativity dealt a death blow to mechanical philosophy of nature. Newtonian mechanics held space, time and mass to be absolute, but relativity theory showed them to be relative. Quantum mechanics introduced the concept of indeterminacy and chance in physical measurements. It gave a serious jolt to the mechanical philosophy of nature.

Scientists of Vienna circle, better known as Logical Positivists, believed that knowledge of Reality should be based on sense experience. All valid statements must have an empirical basis, otherwise they are meaningless. Logical positivists were antagonist to the use of metaphysics in science. However, mechanical philosophy of nature seems to be an internally inconsistent, experientially unrealistic and philosophically unreflective approach to Reality. Einstein2 had a dig at mathematical approach to Reality: “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to Reality, they are not certain, as far as they are certain, they do not refer to Reality.”

Einstein realized a new vision of the universe. His theory of relativity has altered the long-held scientific assumptions of Newtonian mechanics and changed radically the way we look at the world. Relativity shows that our knowledge of Reality is not limited by sense perception only, but brings home to us that Reality is often much deeper than what can be perceived by our senses. Materialism which refuses to go beyond what is observable by the senses has been shown to be an inadequate philosophy of nature.

Quantum Nature of Reality: The Copenhagen interpretation3 of quantum mechanics was the first and the most prevalent response to the quantum Reality question. Neils Bohr and Werner Heisenberg were the founding fathers of Copenhagen interpretation which was not acceptable to Einstein, the father of Relativity theory. The key idea in the Copenhagen denial of deep Reality was that the quantum entities did not have dynamic attributes of their own; it was only in the act of measurement that they received dynamic attributes. Principles of Uncertainty and Complementarity were the corner stones of Copenhagen interpretation, proposed by Heisenberg and Bohr, respectively.

The discovery of Uncertainty principle is the most significant development in the history of science. It puts a natural limit to the precision attainable in the quantum world. It must be noted that this limitation is imposed not by practical difficulties of measurement but by theoretical considerations, by the very nature of Reality itself. There will always be a finite inaccuracy and uncertainty; this is a law of nature. Since precise knowledge of the present state of affairs of a phenomenon is not possible, precise prediction of its behaviour also becomes impossible. Hence the quantum world and its Reality are indeterminate.

Principle of Complementarity highlights the linkage between different aspects of Reality. For instance, the particle nature and wave nature of light are mutually exclusive in the sense that the presence of one excludes that of the other. Thus this principle argues that even items which appear incompatible are united at a deeper level. What appear opposites need not be contradictory, but may be two poles of the same deeper reality. The principles of Complementarity and Uncertainty show the unbreakable link between the act of observation and our picture of Reality. Bohr sums up his outlook on quantum Reality4. “There is no quantum world. There is only an abstract quantum physical description. The task of physics is not to find out how nature is; Physics concerns what we can say about nature.” In the Copenhagen interpretation, there is no Reality in the absence of observation, or in the other words, observation creates Reality. The conceptual weakness of the Copenhagen interpretation is that it regards both the measuring device and the measurement act as ultimately unanalysable.

Consciousness and Quantum Reality: David Bohm5 explains the limitation of Copenhagen interpretation by introduction of a new concept: the implicate order. The implicate order is a process of enfoldment and unfoldment in a multi-dimensional space. The entire universe with all its fields and particles is an unfoldment of this implicate order. It implies an organic vision of the universe unlike the classical emphasis on fragmentation.

Another important aspect of the quantum revolution is that it highlights the role of consciousness in creating Reality. According to Eugene Wigner6: “It is not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to the consciousness. It will remain remarkable that the very study of the external world led to the conclusion that the content of the consciousness is an ultimate Reality”.

John Stewart Bell7 developed a model of Reality known as Bell’s theorem: Reality must be non-local, which means that at a fundamental level, the different isolated objects of our experience are connected in an intimate and immediate way. Where quantum physics revealed the inadequacy of our common sense ideas to deal with the microscopic world, Bell’s theorem showed the inadequacy of the same to deal with the macroscopic phenomena.

EPR (Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen) Paradox aims to show that quantum theory was incomplete since it fails to give a full description of nature. The key idea of EPR is the assumption of locality or the principle of local causes. According to this principle, what happens in one place is in no way dependent on an experimenter or an event at another place, where the distance between the two places are ‘space-like’ separated. EPR effect seems to indicate a super – luminal (faster than light) communication8.

Bell’s theorem resolves the contradictions of EPR Paradox. Bell stated that either the statistical predictions of quantum mechanics or the principle of local causes must be wrong. Experimental proof of Bell’s theorem established that assumption of locality collapses while statistical assumptions on which Bell based his theorem are correct. To show that the principle of locality is false, it should be shown that what happens in one area is dependent on the changes that an experimenter makes in a distant space - like separated area. Thus in Bell’s theorem, non-locality imposes itself as a fundamental Reality against our common sense idea of the world as consisting of different parts.

Einstein believed that quantum theory was incomplete and hence inadequate to describe the nature of Reality. As a whole, there seems to be contradictions, logical paradoxes and speculative jumps inherent in quantum theory in explaining the physical Reality. Bell9 and some of his supporters share the view that the quantum mechanical description of natural phenomena will be superseded in future. Each model of Reality of the physicists is thus also indicative of the unexplored regions of Reality. Concept of Reality has undergone a sea change since the times of Aristotle. Let us probe the metaphysical and mystical roots of Reality and explore the possibilities of a dialogue between Science and Religion.


Metaphysics is a systematic and sustained inquiry into the nature of ultimate reality. It is an attempt to know the reality as against mere appearance. Metaphysics is the bridge between science and religion. Religion relies both on reason and revelation in its attempt to study the nature of Reality. In the Mandukya Upanishad, the method of inquiry into the states of experiencing, waking, dreaming and deep sleep is frequently adopted.

To the Indian philosopher, experience is the ultimate test of truth10. Since the reality is trans-empirical, it cannot be known through sense experience in the way in which empirical objects are known. It is known through intuitive experience (anubhuti), it is the experience of the highest level, for it transcends both the rational and the sensory aspects of human experience with which we are normally acquainted.

Since the ultimate reality is trans-empirical, the Hindu philosophers rely on scripture (sruti) for obtaining the knowledge of the real. Discursive reasoning functions at the relational level. Since the ultimate reality is distinction-less, reason is not competent to comprehend it. So the proper ground of rational knowledge is immediate experience, which differs from experimentation in science.

The truth, which the scripture speaks about, is the direct outcome of the intuitive or mystic experience of the ancient seers. It contains what is borne out by their direct and authentic experience. Though the scripture is authoritative, the knowledge which one derives from it is only mediate. The knowledge, which is revealed by the scripture, must become a matter of experience; only then revelation would have fulfilled its mission. A man who has realised the integral experience, there is no need for him to depend on any external authority in the form of a scripture. His wisdom is self-certifying or self - revealed.

According to Upanishads, Brahman or Atman, which is the ultimate Reality, is of the nature of existence (sat), consciousness (cit), and bliss (ananda). It is one only and non-dual. The pluralistic universe is only an illusory appearance of Brahman or Atman due to Maya or avidya (ignorance). There are two views of reality in the Upanishads, the cosmic view and the acosmic view. These two views serve as the bases for the theistic and absolutistic schools of Vedanta. Hindu Philosophy of Vedanta considers this word as Maya (illusion) and lays stress on Reality beyond appearance in phenomenal world.


In contrast to scientific knowledge, mysticism is concerned with a direct experience of Reality. It is by transcending intellectual knowledge and sensory perception that we come to the “absolute knowledge” of the Reality. According to Fritzof Capra11: “The knowledge of Reality in mysticism is the direct experience of undifferentiated, undivided, indeterminate ‘suchness’. In mysticism knowledge of the ultimate Reality cannot be attained through reasoning because it transcends our conventional modes of language”.

The process of scientific research tells us that an experimental enquiry into the nature of Reality cannot discard either reason or intuition. Since both these abilities are integrated in the one human being, a mutual complementarity of the two is essential. The significance of intuition and reason is quite evident in our life and they must complement each other in our search of Reality. There cannot exist a rebellion between truth and truth. The pragmatism of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum theory indirectly affirms the desperate quest for integration. As Gary Zukov12 puts it: “ The rational part of our psyche, typified by science, began to merge again with that other part of us which we had ignored since the 1700’s, our irrational side”.

Modern science has come up with the most exciting discovery of the interconnectedness of the universe. The vastness of the Universe poses no threat to its interconnectedness. This phenomenon is found both at the local and cosmic levels, both in the ontological and epistemological levels. This progressive trend towards greater unification enabled science to transcend the apparent contradictions of several pairs of opposites, e.g., force and matter, particles and waves, motion and rest, existence and non-existence. The scientific research has established interconnectedness of all material beings tracing their common origin to quarks and leptons. The Human Genome Project has proved the unity in diversity of the living world.

Capra13 has established parallels between the principal theories of modern physics and the mystical traditions of the East, viz., Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism. For example, we have no direct sensory experience of the four-dimensional space-time continuum, and whenever this 'relativistic' reality manifests itself we find it very hard to deal with it at the level of intuition and ordinary language. A similar situation exists in Eastern mysticism. The mystics seem to be able to attain non-ordinary states of consciousness in which they transcend the three-dimensional world of everyday life to experience a multi-dimensional reality, which is impossible to describe in ordinary language.

Opposed to the mechanistic conception of the world is the view of the Eastern mystics14 which may be characterized by the word 'organic', as it regards all phenomena in the universe as integral parts of an inseparable harmonious whole. For the Eastern mystic, all things and events perceived by the senses are interrelated, connected, and are but different aspects or manifestations of the same ultimate Reality. Our tendency to divide the world we perceive into individual and separate 'things' and to experience ourselves in this world as isolated egos is seen as an 'illusion' which comes from our measuring and categorizing mentality. The division of nature into separate objects is, of course, useful and necessary to cope with everyday environment, but it is not a fundamental feature of Reality.  For the Eastern mystic, any such objects have, therefore, a fluid and ever-changing character.

The Eastern worldview is thus intrinsically dynamic, and contains time and change as essential features. The cosmos is seen as one inseparable Reality -forever in motion, alive, organic - spiritual and material at the same time.

Mysticism is the art of union with Reality15. A mystical state has the quality of ineffability. It thus resembles a state of feeling rather than a state of intellect. The mystic experience is imbued with a noetic quality, a quality of transience and of timelessness. There are many stages of evolution in the life of a mystic. Ultimately, the mystic attains the perfect union with God and he cries: 'I am God - aham brahm asmi'. It is a well-known fact that mystics feel that exalted state of ecstasy but fail to describe it in ordinary language. The mystics use the simile of a dumb person who cannot describe the taste of candy16. Saith Kabir: "Such state is like the dumb tasting of sugar, which in no way can be described".

Mystics believe in the integral or holistic experience of Reality. We need not rest content with the partial truths revealed by astronomy, by physics, by biology, by history; each true in its own field, none complete in itself, none giving the whole picture; nor yet with the truth of mathematics or the truth of language, primarily truths of expression, obeying rules which men themselves have made. Beyond all these, beyond the contradictions of each separate truth, lies concealed the supreme and final truth.

The realm of mystic experience is a Reality beyond the comprehension of our senses. But there is clear evidence in Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS)17 regarding the transcendental nature of this phenomenon:

"In this realm, one sees but without the eyes; one listens but without the ears;
One walks but without the feet; one works but without the hands;
One speaks but without the tongue; thus attaining life in death.
O Nanak, one meets the God after realisation of the divine law".


1.      A. Pamplany and J. Kozhamthadam, East – West Interface of Reality, ASSR   Publications, Pune, p. 13-33
2.      Fritzof Capra, The Tao of Physics, Bantam Books : New York, 1984, p. 27
3.      Pampalany and Kozhamthadam, East-West Interface of Reality, ASSR Publications Pune, p. 45 (Copenhagen interpretation was developed at Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen, hence known by its name).
4.      Richard Morris, The Nature of Reality, Noonday Press : New York, 1987, p. 104
5.      W. Kilmister, Review Article on David Bohm: Wholeness and the Implicate Order, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 32 (1981) p. 305
6.      Nick Herbert, Quantum Reality, Anchor Books : New York, 1987, p. 27-28
7.      Henry Stapp, S-Matrix Interpretation of Quantum Theory, Physical Review D, 3(1971), p. 1303
8.      Paul Schilpp, Albert Einstein : Philosopher – Scientist, Harper and Row : New York, 1944, p. 85
9.      J.S. Bell, Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics, Cambridge University Press : Cambridge, 1988, p. 27
10.  Mahadevan, T.P. Essays on Hinduism (Ed.  L.M. Joshi), Punjabi University, Patiala, India, 1968.
11.  Fritzof Capra, The Tao of Physics, Bantam Books: New York, 1984, p.16.
12.  Gary Zukov, p. 62 (cited in ref. 7).
13.  Capra, F. The Tao of Physics. Shambhala, Berkeley, USA, 1975.
14.  Capra,F. Modern Physics & Eastern Mysticism. J. Transpersonal Psychology, 8(1)(1976), pp.20-40
15.  Happold, F.C. Mysticism, Viking Penguin, 1991.
16.  Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Kabir, P. 334
17.  Sri Guru Granth Sahib, M 2, P. 139

Cosmological Ideas in Science and Religion: The Riddle of Singularity and its Solution by Guru Nanak

Cosmological Ideas in Science and Religion: The Riddle of Singularity and its Solution by Guru Nanak

 Hardev Singh Virk
Visiting Professor, SGGS World University, Fatehgarh Sahib

Cosmology deals with the problem of the creation of the universe.  Almost all religions have dealt with the problem of creation of the universe from time immemorial in their sacred texts. Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh faith, critically examined the theories of creation of the universe prevalent in India before his advent, from pre-historic times to the end of 15th century. The seeds of modern cosmology, namely, the Big-Bang  cosmology are explicitly visible in the sacred writings of Guru Nanak and his successors, compiled during 1604 in the form of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book  The cosmological hypothesis of this sacred text has been compared with other texts, both of oriental and occidental traditions. It has been observed that scientific evidence supports the Big-Bang model of cosmology. An overview of the scientific theories has also been given for sake of comparison and to appreciate the revelatory but scientific vision of Guru Nanak.
Scientists use physical and chemical methods to discover the secrets of universe while the Prophets use divine intuition to reveal these secrets. All their conclusions may not coincide but their objective remains the same to explore the secret of Laws of Universe for the benefit of the humanity so that humanity can live peacefully on this tiny planet, the earth.

The most important question discussed by the Prophets and scientists is the origin of the universe. The question has been answered in two different ways. One line of thought is that the universe came into existence itself. The other line of thought is that there are signs of designing and planning in the universe (Intelligent Design); therefore, it must have been created by a superpower.

There are a large number of theories about the creation of the universe but so far ‘Big Bang Theory’ is widely accepted by many scientists. However, with every new scientific discovery the theory may undergo a drastic change in the future. One must keep in mind that theories are based on some scientific information and use of logic and it will change as soon as more facts are discovered. Many theologians emphasize that theories propounded by scientists change with the time, therefore, the science is not a stable field. On the other hand they say that the God has revealed the theology to the deities, prophets, Gurus; therefore, it cannot change. But one should also not forget that God has also revealed principles of science, Laws of Universe, to the scientists. Therefore, science and theology cannot contradict each other since both have been revealed by God 1.

(A) Cosmological Ideas in Science

Cosmology2-5 deals with the problem of creation of the Universe.  It has played a decisive role in the conflict between science and religion.  Various cosmological theories and models have been proposed in both science and religion. Newton’s approach towards cosmology was metaphysical and he considered the creation of the Universe as an act of God.  In his system, space and time appear as absolutes and the earth occupies a unique position in the Universe.  More than a century later, Kant and Laplace put forward their views, together known as Gas-Cloud hypothesis.  It considers the creation of the Universe out of gases and vapors such as hydrogen, methane, carbon dioxide, cyanogens and water.  The planets and the sun were created out of the same nebular gas medium.  A similar view has been expressed in SGGS6:
God created the air, from air came water and from water the world was created.  God spirit permeates all the beings.

swcy qy pvnw BieAw pvnY qy jl hoie ]
jl qy iqRBvxu swijAw Git Git joiq smoie ]

Relativistic Models of the Universe

The real investigation of the cosmological problem begins with the advent of Einstein’s general theory of relativity presented in 1915, which is in reality a cosmological theory.  Each cosmological solution of the field equations of Einstein gives us a model of the Universe, by which is meant an account of the history of the Universe.  Of the many models available, only one can be correct, as we have only one actual universe.  We will describe several models which have been proposed till date.
            A cosmological model is intended to represent the positions and motions of the clusters of galaxies.  The basic feature in the history of the universe is the expansion.  For relativistic cosmological models, the expansion curve is obtained from solutions of Einstein’s equations.
            Let us fix attention on two typical galaxies A and B, and suppose that at a certain moment the distance between A and B is 1 unit: the unit could be any large distance, say 100 million light years.  Before this moment the distance AB will be less and afterwards it will be greater.  If R is used to denote the distance AB, then R depends on the time.  Different models (Figure 1) give different graphs for the dependence of R on the time.  Accordingly we get these models:
(1)          Einstein-De Sitter model,
(2)          Cycloidal model,
(3)          Hyperbolic model.

1. The Einstein-De Sitter model:  It is simplest relativistic model which starts from a ‘singular state’.  This means that function R is Zero in the beginning so that distance AB was zero, and the distance between all pairs of galaxies was zero.  Matter was so closely packed that density was infinite.  In this model, R increases rapidly from zero, the rate of increase becomes less rapid as time goes on.  According to this model, the present time is about 7,000 million years after the singular state.
2. Cycloidal model:  In this model, R increases to a maximum and then decreases to zero again.  The distance AB between the two galaxies increases up to time M and after time M, it starts decreasing, until at E, the distance AB is again zero.  The event ‘E’ which is known as ‘end of the world’ is the most remarkable feature of this model.  Both S and E represent singular states.
In the cycloidal model, light from distant galaxies is shifted towards the red while the expansion is going on.  During the second half there is a contraction and the red shift becomes a violet shift.  During contraction the night sky will appear as bright as the day.  According to this model the space is finite and the expansion of universe can be explained on the analogy of an expanding balloon.
3. Hyperbolic model:  This model has an expansion curve similar to that of the Einstein-de Sitter model, but it rises rather more steeply.  The model starts from a singular state and expands for ever; its volume is infinite.

We can sum up all three models, based on their expansion curves, as parabolic, elliptic and hyperbolic, respectively.

Singular State and a job for God:  The three models of the universe described above all start from a condition of infinite density which is called a singular state.  What happened before the expansion started?  Einstein’s equations break down at the singular state and our models fail to explain the history of the universe backward. Scientists have to invoke God to get rid of singularity problem and for starting expansion.
Oscillating model:  To get rid of the singular states, the oscillating model (Figure 2) has been proposed.  Each contracting period in the universe’s history ends in a smooth transition to subsequent period of expansion.   The universe is infinite in time but finite in space.  There are no singular states and hence no need of bringing in the creator.  The universe continues for ever following the cycles of expansion and contraction.

Relativistic Models with Cosmic Repulsion

1. Einstein model: This model is static with its space curved and of finite volume. Einstein assumed a static universe, and to accommodate for it, he introduced an antigravity unit called cosmological term which is multiplied by a cosmological constant. The reason for its inclusion was simply to provide for a static cosmic equilibrium. The assumption that cosmic bodies are continuously experiencing mutual gravitational pull would eventually cause the cosmic bodies to converge and become one. In other words, the universe would collapse. To overcome gravitational attraction, Einstein introduced a l term in his field equations to bring in repulsion at cosmological distances. With Hubble’s observation of an expanding universe, Einstein regretted modifying his theory of general relativity with the cosmological constant and called it “the biggest blunder of my life.”
2. Lemaitre’s model:  This model (Figure 2) starts from a singular state at O, and begins to expand rapidly.  The expansion slows down and for a period AB the conditions are almost static as the gravitational attraction is being balanced by cosmic repulsion.  After AB, the repulsion predominates and the universe expands continuously for ever under the influence of the l  term alone.  If there is no cosmic repulsion, Lemaitre model would be similar to cycloidal model with its curved space and a finite volume.

Lemaitre believes his model to be a correct representation of the real universe.  In particular, he has pictured the initial singular state as being the explosion of the ‘primeval atom’ as mentioned earlier.
Steady State Theory/Model
It is important to understand that steady state universe is not static.  Change is going on all the time, but the overall picture does not alter.  There is continuous creation of matter and unceasing motion.  But the amount of matter created is so small, that it has not been detected by any experiment so far.
The most controversial feature of the theory is the creation of matter.  It is created not out of radiation or something else, but out of ‘nothing’.  The rate of creation is so small and the universe so large that if one hydrogen atom is supposed to be created in a room of normal size every 5000 years, there will be enough matter for 50,000 Suns every second.
This model (Figure 2) is based on cosmological principle: ‘Universe is the same for all observers, for all the time and space to come’.  There is no singular state to be explained.  The main objections to this model are:
(1). It does not obey the law of conservation of energy, and (2) no explanation is given of why the universe is expanding as there are no field equations, as in relativistic models, with or without l term.  To detect creation of matter would be a final test for this model.
Fred Hoyle and Jayant Narlikar (1962-63) have introduced field equations to explain for expansion of the universe.  The observations of M. Royle of Cambridge University on distant radio galaxies contradict the predictions of Hoyle and his group.  The detection of cosmic microwave background radiation at 30K has dealt the final death blow to this model.

Big Bang Theory/Model

The creation or expansion of the universe from singular state is referred to as ‘Big Bang’.  It’s most ambitious and detailed theory is that of Gamow and collaborators, known as abg theory.  They suppose that universe started from a very dense, hot mass of neutrons which decayed into protons and electrons. These combined to form complex nuclei.  The temperature during this phase was 10,000 million degrees Kelvin and most of the heavy elements were built up in the first 30 minutes of the expansion.  The  abg theory fails to explain the production of heavier elements after helium.  Lemaitre explains the big bang from a primeval atom--an atom which contained all the matter of the universe. 

The Big Bang theory is an effort to explain what happened at the very beginning of our universe. Discoveries in astronomy and physics have shown beyond a reasonable doubt that our universe did in fact have a beginning. Prior to that moment there was nothing; during and after that moment there was something: our universe. The big bang theory is an effort to explain what happened during and after that moment.

Our universe sprang into existence as a "singularity" around 13.7 billion years ago (some say about 15 billions). What is a "singularity" and where does it come from? Well, to be honest, we don't know for sure. Singularities are zones which defy our current understanding of physics. They are thought to exist at the core of "black holes." According to Big-Bang model, our universe is thought to have begun as an infinitesimally small, infinitely hot, infinitely dense, something - a singularity. Where did it come from? We don't know. Why did it appear? We don't know.
Mathematically speaking, the moment of origin (time, t=0) of the universe is called a singularity; the density of matter and space-time curvature is infinite and the distance between any two “observers” is zero. Interestingly, the laws of physics, as are known to us, breakdown here. To understand the events close to the singularity, rules of quantum mechanics are employed.
In 1964 Arno Penzia and Robert Wilson discovered very high frequency radio microwaves coming from all directions of the sky.  They believed that these microwaves were the remnants of the "echo" of the Big Bang, which is still pulsating and reverberating through the universe7. Evidence collected by astronomers during the last 50 years confirms the hypothesis of expanding Universe and it is the basis of Big-Bang cosmology. 
According to current scientific understanding, origin of the universe is best understood by reversing the expansion process. In the reverse, more than 100 billion galaxies with billions of stars are compressed together. As it shrinks the temperature and the density of the primordial plasma rises. Extrapolating to the point of origin the universe would have begun as a point of extremely high temperature and density. The Big Bang occurred at this stage and space and time came into existence. It was believed that matter is made of protons and neutrons, but with the advances in particle physics these have been replaced by their smaller constituents called quarks. Before protons and neutrons the universe is said to consist of quarks, electrons and photons. Using this model the history of the universe has been reconstructed to one thousand-billionth of a second (10-12) after the Big Bang.
Inflation Theory of Big-Bang
Alan Guth of MIT proposed Inflation theory8 to explain the rapid expansion of Universe.  According to this theory, the size of the Universe doubles every 10-35 of a second and age of the Universe is about 15 billion years.  Quantum physics allows the Universe to appear out of nothing at all, as a vacuum fluctuation. It should be noted that “quantum nothingness” is different from absolute nothingness (complete emptiness). Chaotic inflation led to the sudden expansion of the Universe out of a quantum fluctuation.
The seed of the Universe is considered to be a ‘magnetic monopole’, according to a new version of inflation theory.  Hubble Telescope has provided some most useful data to clinch the issues in Big-Bang Cosmology.
In 1992 COBE satellite discovered hot and cold patches in the cosmic background radiation that are characterized as primeval ripples. These patches have traveled undisturbed since the cooling of the universe, three hundred thousand years after the Big Bang. George Smoot, 2006 Nobel Laureate9, has discovered the long-sought hard evidence for the Big-Bang origin of Universe on the basis of small fluctuations found with the help of NASA’s Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE).
(B) Cosmological Ideas in Oriental and Occidental Religions
Hindu Religion
Let us examine the approach of Hindu religion to the problems of cosmology. The world’s most ancient text of religious literature, viz.  Rig Veda deals with the problem of creation of universe in its famous chapter10Nasdiya Sukt’.  The Vedic seer sang in Rig Veda thus:
Who can tell us surely?
From what and how this universe has risen?
And whether or not till after it the gods lived?
Who then can know from what it has arisen?
The source from which this universe has risen
And whether it was made or uncreated,
He only knows, who from the highest heaven rules,
The all-seeing Lord or does not He know?

 We may quote some more hymns on the creation of the Universe from Atharva Veda11. It is known as Golden Womb (Hiranyagarbha) hypothesis which assumes Universe as extension of God. The division of creation into terrestrial, celestial and interspatial regions is more akin to Greek and Islamic traditions. The relationship of man and universe is also demonstrated through this division into three realms in a perfectly logical manner.
In the beginning was Hiranyagarbha, The seed of Elemental Existence, The only Lord of all that was born. The whole of this Universe is stationed in the Omnipresent and the Omnipotent God.
We see Him in various forms. He brings to light all these Worlds. Him they call the Kala, Infinite, pervading the Infinite Space.

In this creation are held in balance the three regions, terrestrial, interspatial and celestial, and the three divine realms pertaining to body, mind and spirit provided with three eternal functions-physical, mental and transcendental.

Upnishadas, the great treatises on Indian Philosophy, also deal with the cosmological problem.  According to Deussen12 there are four views of creation in Hindu philosophy based on Upnishadas:
1.    Matter is eternal and Purusha (creator) has always been independent of God.  God does not create the matter but moulds it into creation as a potter makes the earthen pots.
2.    Purusha is the cause and creator of matter.  But after the creation, God does not interfere in its working and it continues according to its own fundamental laws.
3.    God himself transforms into creation i.e., changing his Nirguna form into Saguna form.
4.    Creation is a play of Maya.  It is a mere illusion.  Only God is real.
Hinduism has several funny creation beliefs in the Purana literature13. According to Vamapurana, Brahma lay within an egg and after it broke the sacred word Om emanated. The first sound was bhuh, the second bhuvaha and the third svaha. The sun emerged from the egg, in the centre of which was the creator Brahma.
In Brahmanda Purana, Brahma hatched from a golden egg and made the sky and earth from the eggshell. After creating rocks and mountains, Brahma created Saraswati and fell passionately in love with her. He persuaded her to marry him and at the end of the wedding night Manu, the first human being was born. To him Brahma gave eight gifts - five senses, movement, reproduction and intelligence.
The age of the universe according to the Hindu view is infinite.  There are innumerable Brahmas who are employed in the process of creation.  Each Brahma has life-time of 100 years.  On astronomical time scale the year is much bigger than our solar year.  Some of the units are given below:

1 Maha Yuga = S+D+T+K (Four Yugas)
                        = 432x104 Solar Years
1000 Maha Yugas= Kalp=Day=Night (of Brahma).
1000 Maha Yugas = 14 Manvantar + 15 Junctions.
After working out the above relation we can get:
1 Manvantar = 71x432x104 Solar years.
For an analogy if we represent the cosmological time as still water in a pond, then the cycles of creation can be represented by the surface ripples which continue for ever.  Thus the age of universe in this system is infinite and the creation (Utpal-Parlo) is a mere phase in it.
Semitic Religions
Judeo-Christian Tradition
According to the Holy Bible, the creation of universe is the manifestation of God.  The whole process of creation was completed in six days.  The first book of Moses, called Genesis14, opens with the lines:  In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. God created the universe out of nothing (ex nihilo) through a series of commands.
And God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light (Gen. 1:3). "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters" (Gen.1:6). And God said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear." And it was so (Gen. 1:9). "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years (Gen. 1:14).
And God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the firmament of the heavens" (Gen. 1:20). Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth" (Gen. 1:26).
In 1650, Bishop Usher of Ireland calculated the date of creation as 4004 B.C. according to the ‘Genesis’ story of the Bible.  This date has been pushed back by a long span that has elapsed since the appearance of man on earth confirmed by recent archeological find (Neanderthal man in Europe).
The end of the world too is envisaged in the Bible: “The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” 15.
Islamic tradition
According to a recent study of Cosmology in Quran, Kamel Ben Salem16 tries to interpret Quranic verses in the light of scientific theories of creation of Universe. The Holy Quran speaks of creation as a big bang.  When Allah spoke the word ‘Kun’ there was creation all around. The Quran states that the creation phenomenon in the universe is a continuous process (Sura 30, verse 11):
  "It is God Who begins (the process of) creation; Then repeats it."

 According to the Islamic view, there are seven heavens and seven earths (Sura 65, verse 12):
"God is the One Who created seven heavens and of the earth a similar number.”

 The Quran almost repeats the Biblical version of the genesis story that God created the Universe with all its manifestations in just six days but does not state that God took rest on seventh day (Sura 50, verse 38):
"We created the heavens, the earth and what is between them in six days and no weariness touched Us."
Some accounts deal with the creation more specifically stating that earth was created on a Sunday and Monday. On Tuesday He created the mountains and on Wednesday trees, water and cultivation came into existence. On Thursday God created heaven and the stars, sun, and moon and the angels were created on a Friday.
The Universe is divided into three realms as shown in Hindu view of creation in Atharva Veda: those which are found in heavens; those which are found on Earth; those which are found between the heavens and the Earth (Sura 32, verse 4):
"God is He Who has created the heavens and   the earth, and all that is between them in six days”.

The Quran says that the universe was created from a gaseous mass with fine particles, the elements of which were initially soldered to form one unit which will later be divided. Expansion started after the build up operation and it continues until now (Sura 51, verse 47):
 "The heaven, We have built it with power, Verily We are expanding it."

The Quran advocates a cyclic view of the Universe as in Hindu and Sikh Cosmologies, and specifies that after expansion there will be a collapse, then a re-birth in exactly the same way as at the beginning (Sura  30, verse 11):
"It is God Who begins (the process of) creation; Then repeats it."

 According to Ben Salem, the following chronology may be established according to the verses concerning the creation and the evolution of the universe in Quran, provided we consider the length of God’s day equivalent to one thousand lunar years (Sura 32, verse 5):

The age of the Earth       = 4.6 billion years
The age of the Universe = 13.8 billion years

The end of the Universe is linked to that of the solar system (according to Sura 81, verse 1 and Sura 41, verse 10), which would occur towards 18.4 billion years after the big-bang.

Cosmology in Sikh Religion
It is my considered opinion that Sikh Cosmology as enunciated in SGGS has been found to be most scientific and compatible with the modern cosmological theories of science.  Guru Nanak challenges the Hindu world-view as archaic and based on dogma and mythology.  In Japuji, Guru Nanak sums up his ideas about creation of the Universe, which he elaborates further in the most precise and scientific manner in the Raga Maru Solhe in SGGS.  The creation hypothesis is summed up as follows by Guru Nanak 17:
‘God created the Universe by uttering a word.’

kIqw pswau eyko kvwau ] iqs qy hoey lK drIAwau ]

Thus the problem of ‘singularity’ faced by the Big-Bang model of the Universe is solved by the Guru by bringing in God as the creator of the Universe.  Once this riddle is solved, the sequence of creation, its epoch and extent is described in SGGS in a most rational manner. Guru Nanak poses the next question in Japuji18:
‘What was the time and the moment
the day and the month,
When the world was created?

kvxu su vylw vKqu kvxu kvxu iQiq kvxu vwru ]
kvix is ruqI mwhu kvxu ijqu hoAw Awkwru ]
In the next stanza, Guru Nanak provides the answer 19:
‘Neither the Pundit can find this date
by looking through the Purana texts,
Nor can the Qazi tell from the Koran,
Neither the Yogi nor any one else knows
The day, weak, season and month of creation,
The creator who creates the World
He alone knows the time’

vyl n pweIAw pMfqI ij hovY lyKu purwxu ]
vKqu n pwieE kwdIAw ij ilKin lyKu kurwx ]
iQiq vwru nw jogI jwxY ruiq mwhu nw koeI ]
jw krqw isrTI kau swjy Awpy jwxY soeI ]

Guru Nanak does not want to formulate any hypothesis based on false assumptions and leaves this question open.  The creation process is started under the command of God, the creator of the universe.  The Guru envisages the creation of the Universe out of ‘Sunya’ which is devoid of matter but not of energy.  Hence a beautiful analogy with quantum concept of creation ‘out of nothing’ as a vacuum fluctuation is established in Raga Maru Solhe 20:

In the Primal Void, the Infinite Lord assumed His Power
He created the air, water, earth and sky;
He created universe and the man in the fortress of body

                         suMn klw AprMpir DwrI ]…………………
pauxu pwxI suMnY qy swjy ] isRsit aupwie kwieAw gV rwjy ]
This wonderful drama of creation is elucidated further by Guru Nanak in his mystic reverie.  Surprisingly, there is a perfect correspondence between the epoch of ‘Big-Bang’ and the creation out of Sunya phase as enunciated in Maru Solhe, the most beautiful hymn on Sikh Cosmology 21:

‘For billions of years, there was nothing but utter darkness.  There was neither day nor night, nor moon, nor sun, but the Lord alone sat in profound trance.  Neither there was creation, nor air, nor water.  There were no continents, nor underworlds, nor seven oceans nor rivers, or the flowing water.  There was neither death, nor time.   There was no Brahma, nor Vishnu or Shiva.
When He so willed, He created the world and supported the firmament without support.  He created Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and extended the love of mammon.  He founded the continents, solar systems and underworlds, and from the Absolute self,He became manifest.”

Arbd nrbd DuMDUkwrw [[Drix n ggnw hukmu Apwrw [[
     nw idnu rYin n cMdu n sUrju suMn smwiD lgwiedw ]……

Guru Arjun Dev, the fifth Sikh Guru and compiler of SGGS, describes in   Sukhmani the myriad forms of creation22. The cyclic theory of creation is accepted as a norm in SGGS:

There are millions and millions of galaxies and solar systems in the universe.  The phenomenon of creation has occurred so many times.  But the one Lord remains for ever and ever.”

keI koit KwxI Aru KMf ] keI koit Akws bRhmMf ]
keI koit hoey Avqwr ]  keI jugiq kIno ibsQwr]
  keI bwr psirE pwswr] sdw sdw ieku eykMkwr]

The universe is still expanding since the Big Bang occurred. And no limit has been established according to the present day knowledge of science. Guru Nanak explains infiniteness of universe in his own inimitable style after rejecting the hypotheses put forward by religions of both the oriental and occidental traditions, as follows23:
There are hundreds of thousands of nether worlds,
and hundreds of thousands of skies.
After great research the Vedas have said it definitely.
The Semitic books say that there are eighteen thousand worlds,
and that is the fact.

pwqwlw pwqwl lK Awgwsw Awgws ]
EVk EVk Bwil Qky vyd khin iek vwq ]
shs ATwrh khin kqybw AsulU ieku Dwqu ]
However, Guru Nanak does not enter into any mathematical rigmaroles to make an assessment or count of the celestial bodies comprising our Universe. After quoting the prevalent tradition or information available at that time, Guru Nanak records his own observations in SGGS in the form of his mystic reverie. He says that the cosmos (universe) contains countless number of celestial bodies. The real number would be known only to the God, the creator of the Universe23:

It cannot be possible to count (number of the celestial bodies in the universe)
because the accounting person may reach the end of his life during counting,
it will still be incomplete.
He further says that the God is the Great,
Who knows the account (of the celestial bodies in the universe).

lyKw hoie q ilKIAY lyKY hoie ivxwsu ]
nwnk vfw AwKIAY Awpy jwxY Awpu ]

According to the present scientific information available there are billions of galaxies and each galaxy is composed of billions of stars and their planets and moons. Our sun, having nine planets revolving around it, is one of the billions of stars of our galaxy, the Milky Way. 

The riddle of creation of the Universe will remain an enigma for cosmologists and there is no final word yet in cosmology.  About the present theories and models, we may conclude with a quotation from the Benti Chaupai in Dasam Granth 24:

“Everyone explains the creation process according to his intellect,
But no one can tell, O Lord,
How you first created the universe”

                         Awp AwpnI buiD hY jyqI [ brnq iBMn-iBMn quih qyqI [
qumrw lKw n jwie pswrw [ ikh ibiD sjw pRQm sMswrw [
End Note: This Essay is part of My Book: “Scientific Vision in Sri Guru Granth Sahib and Inter-Faith Dialogue” published by Singh Brothers Amritsar (2007).
1.    DS Chahal, Understanding Sikhism: The Research Journal, Vol. 9(1), p.46, 2006.
2     HS Virk, Cosmology: Religious & Scientific Aspects, Khoj Patrika, Punjabi            University, Patiala, pp. 150-161, 1969.
3     HS Virk, Cosmology in Science & Religion, Proc. Summer School History of Science, INSA, New Delhi, 1974.
4     HS Virk, Cosmology in Science & Religion, Journal of Sikh Studies, Vol. 9(2), pp. 19-30, 1982.
     5    HS Virk, Cosmological Ideas in Science & Aad Guru Granth Sahib,
     Omega: Ind. Journal of Science & Religion, Vol. 3(1), pp. 72-75, 2004.
6   SGGS, M1, p.19. (SGGS = Sri Guru Granth Sahib, published by SGPC,      Golden Temple Press, Amritsar. This Holy Book of the Sikh Religion is treated as a Living Sabad   Guru).
7   Time Magazine, Hammond Almanac Inc. Maplewood, New Jersey, 1979.
8   John Gribbin, Watching the Universe, Universities Press (India) Ltd, p. 202, 1998.
9   George   Smoot, CERN Courrier, Vol. 47(3), p. 26, 2007.
10 The Holy Vedas, English Translation by Pandit Satyakam Vidyalankar,            International Veda Trust, Delhi, 1983, p.39 (Rig. 10.129.7).
11 Ibid, Hymns on Creation (Atharva, 4.2.7).
12 Paul Deussen, The   Philosophy of the Upanishads (English Translation by Rev. A. S. Geden), Dover Publications, New York, 1966.
13 PMS Ahluwalia, The   Handwriting   of God, Monthly, Issue No. 12, May 2003, pp. 1-6.
14 The Old Testament, Genesis, Chapter 1, p. 5.
15 The Old Testament, II Peter, Chapter 3, p. 964.
16 Kamel Ben Salem, The Evolution of the Universe: A New Vision, Pacific Journal of Science & Technology, Vol. 6(1), May 2005, Akamai University, Hawaii. Also the revised version: “The Future of Solar system and Earth from Religious point of View” published in:  The Future of Life and Future of Our Civilization (Ed. V. Burdyuzha), Springer, 2006, pp. 437-453.           
      17 SGGS, M1, p.3.
18  SGGS, M1, p.4.
19  SGGS, M1, p.4.
20 SGGS, M1, p.1037.
21  SGGS, M1, p.1035.
    22 SGGS, M5, p.276.
23 SGGS, M1, Jap 22, p. 5.        

24 Guru Gobind Singh, Benati Chaupai, Dasam Granth, Published by  Bhai                 Chattar  Singh - Jeewan Singh, Amritsar, 1902, p.1387.