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When Science and Myth Converge

By 21 marca 2020No Comments

The dictionary meaning of 'myth’ is suppose to be a 'traditional or legendary story, usually concerning some being or hero or event, with or without a determinable basis of fact or a natural explanation, esp. one that is concerned with deities or demigods and explains some practice, rite, or phenomenon of nature’. Very often we are quick to discount a 'story’ we hear as a myth but how often do we stop to think, admit and say 'hey, hang on, it could be true!’ I am going to take the example of a Hindu 'mythology’ to explain my point. To me this is not mythology, it is faith.

One of the important deities in Hinduism is Lord Shiva and his consort Parvathi. In this account of events, they are called Mullaivananadhar and Garbarakshambigai (Garba means womb, raksha means protect, ambigai is the goddess). Legend has it that ages back there lived a couple called Nithuruvar and Vedhigai. After several years of marriage they had no issues and were concerned. They took guidance from some saints and offered service to the Lord and Ambigai. With their blessing, Vedhigai conceived. During her pregnancy, her husband left her alone at home as he had to run some errands and promised to come back soon. Vedhigai was suffering from all typical ailments common in pregnancy and was absolutely exhausted. At this time a sage named Urdhuvapada came to their place and demanded offering (it was customary for sages to live on food offered by people). As Vedhigai could not even move around, she could not offer anything and this made the sage angry. He was unaware of Vedhigai’s condition and cursed her. She was diseased and this led to loss of her baby in the womb. She then pleaded to the goddess to protect her baby. The goddess, Ambigai or Parvathi took the form of Garbarakshambigai and protected the baby in a 'kalasam’ or a divine pot. The baby grew in the pot just like it would in a womb. From then, Vedhigai requested the goddess to show mercy on everyone that prays to her asking for a child, a safe pregnancy and childbirth and a healthy baby. From my own experience, the goddess indeed does that.

I had a rough pregnancy with spotting once which was treated as threatened miscarriage and good amount of bleeding around 22 weeks. My family was constantly praying to this goddess for a safe pregnancy and delivery. My placenta remained low until 38 weeks and they were going to fix a date for C section as I was told it is very unlikely to rise after 38 weeks. 39 week scans did show that the placenta was out of the way and I could have a natural delivery. Next challenge was that my waters broke and my baby had aspired meconium. I had to be induced and was in labour for 20 hours. All through this time my mother, who was in the labour ward with me, was constantly chanting prayers (slokas) in the name of Garbarakshambigai only sipping cup of tea in between. Eventually I did deliver a healthy baby boy who we then took to the temple and put him on the golden cradle just as we had committed to do. It was the faith that the entire family had that helped me go through a difficult pregnancy and have a natural childbirth. One of my mother’s friends had repeated failure with IVF. We then offered prayers to this goddess on her behalf and within few weeks, success! Now she is a proud mom of twin girls.

I would not be surprised if some laugh at this whole story and even my experience. The same people however may not laugh when a scientist or doctor says they kept a baby in an incubator in Special Care baby unit as it was born in say 24 weeks gestation and once fully grown, handed it to the mother. The same people may not even laugh at attempts being made to replicate human womb so human embryo can develop outside of human body. These do not sound very different from what the goddess did to her devotee. So, what are we missing here? Were these concepts and 'techniques’ already in existence so many years back and did man just miss the opportunity to learn it or pass on the learning? Is man only rediscovering things now? Is man really doing unprecedented things?

In essence, rather than discounting 'myth’ why can’t we look at them from a different perspective and understand what we can learn from them. Just because there is no obvious evidence, does not mean there is no truth. As a matter of fact, man himself has created the evidence through his technological innovations and yet 100 years back, he would have discounted even the possibility of anything like that happening. This is evidence enough to show that myth and science do converge at some point, after all.

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