More often than not, knowledge is left out in the modern assessment of independence. However, the deeper question is, can knowledge enslave us? Take modern science for instance. The explorations and frontiers it achieves are within set boundaries, and deviations from it run the risk of being perceived blasphemous; something no one wants.
But those who go beyond such boundaries, script evolution. In this interview, I meet Dr. Kamalika Banerjee, the pioneer of ‘Scientific Wisdom’, in India, a rebel and a revolutionary of her own kind.
‘Scientific Wisdom’ is a unique venture and philosophy that amalgamates science with consciousness and human learning. Dr. Banerjee’s depth of work on both fronts has been a forebearer in creating a philosophy that strives to expand the understanding of our universe, both within and without us, often transcending the boundaries of science and logic. This is a deep dive into her co-founded initiative, ‘The Light Mission’.
Avantika Srivastava (AS): Do you believe in God?
Dr. Kamalika Banerjee (KB): Well, that depends on what God is, here. Is it that all pervasive egotistical entity that ‘rules’ everything and ‘runs’ everything, something ‘beyond’ and ‘away’ from what we are, or the God that is you and me and this chair and this pen (holds up her pen), everything in a unison, talking to itself, being a part of its own story, happening each moment to everyone. That is God to me, that is in you and in me. Yes, I believe in God.
AS: What led to your research into ‘Scientific Wisdom’?
KB: For me, being a scientist was a childhood dream. As a wide-eyed 9 year-old, I would fill my personal diary with ideas on Science – a portable X-ray machine, varied microscope designs, the string theory and many so were part of my pre-teen life. The interest only deepened in years to follow and thirteen years later, I secured a Ph.D. program in my dream institution, IIT-Delhi.
But during my years there, I gauged that the epitome of human intellect is usually accorded to the prowess of scientific and logical wit, be it scientific frontiers or artistic expression, logic often subduing nature and creativity.
This thought baffled me and it suddenly shone upon me that, nature and creativity do not emanate from ‘logic’. Instead ‘logic’ is a confined, constricted, gullible and a seemingly understandable version of the nature of creativity.
The nature of creativity – something we are happy to ‘decode’ but not embrace, learn and revere. Hence, it gradually happened that I drifted towards the ‘reason’ and ‘purpose’ of creation in addition to the ‘how’ of creation. This was the birth of ‘Scientific Wisdom’ – the vision I pursue.
AS: Interesting! So, what is Scientific Wisdom?
KB: ‘Scientific Wisdom’ simply put, is a breakthrough educational pedagogy that amalgamates scientific concepts with consciousness, inspiration, socio-emotional learning and behavioral life-skills through sessions, books, e-learning and AI-based gaming.
This novel pedagogy achieves communication of science and its congruence with laws of nature and its connection with a human life’s experience. It builds bridges among concepts and derives corresponding learnings of life for a holistic and deeper understanding, assimilation and retention across all age groups.
The spirit of ‘Scientific Wisdom’ encompasses the understanding of the whole nature and creation itself, going beyond the foundations of logic into a realm of interconnected knowledge, inner understanding and the profound view of the universe through the Self.
The spectacular aspect of it is that the learning emanating from its depths can benefit a five-year-old and a fifty year-old, aptly. With numerous programs for primary school, mid-school, high school, graduation, post-graduation, researchers and general masses, the learning connects everyone’s scientific understanding to a deeply embedded wisdom and learning.
Let me give you an example, a kid who is learning about body parts, also learns how our human body teaches us equality (fingers), acceptance (faces) and, the power of choice (digestion and assimilation). Similarly, a teen understands about the circulatory system and body nourishment preferences along with nourishment of relationships and responsibilities in our social lives. Thus, more than just our curiosity, numerous frontiers of science have the power to fuel our Consciousness. Our focus is on honing the human qualities of love, hope, compassion, kindness, co-existence, acceptance, free-thinking and creativity among one and all.
AS: Does that mean that every form of science – everything that we see around and within us, holds a learning and it can teach us something?
KB: Our concepts of human learning and understanding have primarily focused on understanding only the ‘functionality’ of everything that surrounds us; we have mostly never looked beyond the structure and function of the creation. Be it an organ, an organ system, concept of physics or chemistry, a pebble, a river, the wind or the nature itself – we have stopped listening to the hidden message.
We believe that it is through Scientific Wisdom that we can find and present that hidden message, inspiration and learning and provide new meaning to the way we learn science, the way we teach, learn, perceive our creation and eventually impacting how we live – a profound way of life.
AS: This is revolutionary! I am intrigued to know how our organs and organ systems can teach us?! Or what life learning can be derived from, say, the ever convoluted physics?
KB: Well, the learning never ends, I am always exploring. Let me present it through few examples of modules that are part of our programs.
Life-Blood: The science of circulatory system and human relationships – how the blood teaches us to nourish relationships.
You are an army: Immune system and fighting fear – The concept of Mental Immunity.
Cellular compassion: How love is a universal concept. A practical force connecting everything, from a cell to the cosmos.
Toxic-Out: Excretion and toxicity in lives
The law of light: Optics and Inspiration, the all-pervasive law of light and how it can overpower any darkness. The concepts of reflection and refraction connected to human behaviours and what the sun and moon teach us about the truth of Life.
We are awesome: The uniqueness of the human body and how it teaches us about body diversity and acceptance.
AS: In the age of expression and the internet, how are diversity and acceptance changing?
KB: Self-acceptance and self-respect have taken a toll due to heightened identity crisis in the era of social media, and limitless expression has taken the route of ‘reactions’ than constructive ‘action’, just like opinion is prized above creation in today’s times. Bombarded with pseudo-cultural and business-based narratives of mindsets, beauty and gender, the youth today are often found grappling with societal pressures that either glorify or demean our physical and/or mental and emotional countenance. The learning module prepared for this topic is focused on young children and helps them find acceptance and appreciation in physical, mental and emotional diversity, early on in life. Challenging them to think beyond the set definitions of ‘beauty’ and ‘being’, both.
AS: This is surely vital. How does Scientific Wisdom impact our life? What are its core outcomes for an individual or the masses?
KB: Thanks for the question! As a result-oriented science student myself, I believe any learning should be deep, such that it influences the entire ecosystem holistically. Some concrete outcomes of learning for the beneficiaries would be –
Firstly, a deeper and lucid understanding of science and nature: The ability to see science and nature mingling with core concepts of life will help in communication of science and its understanding. Now, it would be easier to teach about the science of digestion by understanding how we enjoy (consume) our favourite Netflix shows!
Netflix and chill will now be, burn and learn (digest the food and assimilate).
Secondly, interconnectedness of knowledge: It will provide a larger and horizontal connectedness of our learning across disciplines.
Thirdly, socio-emotional learning: Vital skills can be inculcated from an early stage of schooling and is made a part of the learner’s behavioural ecosystem. It is important to note that scientific learning becomes a part of a child’s education at the age of seven onwards, however inspirational and life skills are often not a formal part of education. Even if they are, up until now, for majority learners they are considered as non-essential aspects of development.
Scientific Wisdom here, is a necessity.
Fourthly, mind Immunity and mental health: Creating a positive thought-force against negative and depressive mindsets. The learning helps develop robust yet free-thinking thought structures, that are ‘creators of knowledge’ and not ‘devourers of information’.
Fifthly, creativity and alternative intelligence: Human intelligence is often a result of what is fed to it and not what it is inspired to manifest. Scientific Wisdom inspires creation by opening the possibilities of scientific frontiers and human understanding. Also, it has every trait of a great learning pedagogy – the ability to support and confront mindsets, cajole and contradict idea systems, and eventually igniting and inspiring action. The artistry of this learning is all the more remarkable because it is not to be learnt, but embraced and manifested.
AS: With the current National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 recently rolled out in India, where do you see Scientific Wisdom fitting in?
KB: The NEP 2020 has introduced the vision and I quote, “Education must build character, enable learners to be ethical, rational, compassionate, and caring, while at the same time prepare them for gainful, fulfilling employment.”
Now, specifically, our education system has always concentrated on the latter parts of ‘gainful fulfilling employment’ since Independence, as India was a labor force for the colonials. The ancient form of Gurukul education where ‘character-building’ was the core of education was replaced with a cold and mechanical way of ‘training’ human beings.
It pains to even think and recall of any structured learning on compassion, empathy, giving and kindness. For 73 years, our nation was devoid of a learning that practically runs this universe. A learning that was never a part of the curriculum, and we expect our generation to become visionary?
The NEP plans to achieve these goals by assimilation into subjects of arts, science and humanities. Scientific Wisdom is congruent with the vision of NEP, and we serving the nation and the world through this learning is an honour.
Dr. Kamalika Banerjee can be reached on LinkedIn by clicking here and written to at firstname.lastname@example.org.