About the Book
The book deals with different problems of Change and unfolds the mystery of the Changelessness. Change is the nature of the world. Nay, it constitutes the stuff of the world-appearance. Now the question is whether Change persists eternally with its manifold appearance and shifting and deceiving nature. The author discusses various problems of change in a logical and scientific way and comes to the conclusion that as Change has a beginning it must have an end. The prime aim and object of all the living organisms are to reach the ultimate end of their purposive and meaningful marching, and that end is the highest realization of the innermost self or Atman, which animates them and inspires them in their way of strivings.
About the Author
Swami Prajnanananda, President, Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, Calcutta and President, Ramakrishna Vedanta Ashramas, Darjeeling, Kurseong & Siliguri; born in 1907, at Prosadpur, Hooghly Dist. (West Bengal); monk of Ramakrishna Vedanta Math; Educated; Calcutta University; initiated in 'Sannyasa' by Swami Abhedananda, a direct disciple of Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna; Awards; Sisir Memorial Prize for his book Historical Development of Indian Music (1960); D. Litt. by Rabindra Bharati University; Sarojini Gold Medal by Calcutta University, 1973; Fellow, Sangit Natak Academy, since 1963; publications; Bharatiya Sangeeter itihas; Raga-O-Rupa, bangla Dhrupadamala, Sangeete Rabindra Pratibhar Dan, Abhedananda Darshan, Tirtharenu, padabali-Kirtaner Itihas, Sangeet-O-Sanskriti (Vols.1 & 2), Natyasangeeter Rupayan, Mantra-Sadhana-O-Sangeet, Mahishasurmardinee Durga, Man-O-Manush, Vani-O-Vichar (Vols.I-VIII), History of Indian Music, Historical Study of Indian Music, Music of the Nations, Philosophy of Progress and Perfection, Schools of Indian Philosophical Thought, Philosophical Ideas of Swami Abhedananda, Christ the Saviour and Christ Myth, Thoughts on Yoga Upanishad and Gita, An Enquiry into Psychology Soul and Absolute, Historical Development of Indian Music, Sangita-sarasangraha, Music: Its Form Function and Value, Music of the South-Asian Peoples (Vol.I), Cultural Heritage of Indian Fine Arts. The Form and Function of Music in Ancient India (Vols. I & II), Edited: The Complete Works of Swami Abhedananda in 10 Volumes; The Works of Swami Abhedananda, Volumes one and two (abridged edition of the Complete Works of Swami Abhedananda).
The idea of progress, says Prof. Collingwood, was worked out for the first time by Targot (Discours Surl' histoire universelle; 1750) and Voltaire (Le Sie ele de Louis XIV, 1751) about the middle of the eighteenth century. It was then recognized as the fundamental category of historical thought. It was again developed in the Encyclopedic in 1751-56. During the next half-century this idea of progress was transposed into the terms of natural science. In another half-century it was again expounded by Erasmus (Zoonomia, 1794-98) and Lamarck (Philosophic Zoologique, 1809) applying it to the field of biology. It was then famous in the term of evolution.
It is commonly believed that Charles Darwin was the first to discover the doctrine of evolution in the West and he proved that 'the species of 'living organisms are not a fixed repertory of permanent types, but begin to exist and cease to exist in time'. But this is obviously untrue since Desiderius Erasmus had put forward his thesis long before Charles Darwin: 'The world was evolved, not created, and it was rather grown than came into being'. Not only this, but there was also current in the then society the belief or tendency: 'What had hitherto
been regarded as unchanging, was itself, in reality, subject to change'.
Without entering into details it can be said that after Erasmus, Charles Darwin and Charles Lyell developed the theory of evolution with a more scientific argument from the standpoint of biology. But still there was a difference between the two in the method of their application. Because when the former dealt with the inorganic nature of evolution, the latter proceeded with the organic one. According to Charles Darwin, says Dr. Stein, every organism exhibits a moving equilibrium which is recognized as a combination of balanced set of functions. This balanced set of functions can be called a life, whereas the overthrow of this balanced set is known as a death? But still it is a fact that all the changes constituting progress or evolution 'tend ever towards a state of absolute equilibrium' or rest.'
After the theory put forward by Darwin, the Lamarckian evolutionary process expounds that each living being wants an 'extension of consciousness and of power'. Each one strives hard to evolve until its old organs, habits and consciousness are modified, and new ones are created. In this wav everyone runs unceasingly 'for fresh conquest of Life' through the evolutionary process though it is slow. The Lamarckian evolution, says Bernard Shaw, was formerly called Functional Adaptation and is now known as Creative Evolution. The physicists and the biologists maintain that down from the embryonic stage, from a protoplasm upto the highest stage of the superman, every individual has to weave an infinite series of upward progress and fresh conquests. Some of the evolutionists believe that the evolutionary process is purely a hereditary one and the human life is continuous and immortal. Weismann, the neo-Darwinist, also subscribes to this theory of progress. But his tendency is to rest in the finality of progress and he regards this finality as an r original substance'. He says that all forms of life have developed as protoplasms from an original primal substance, and this substance is the 'primitive slime' (Urschleim ) from which were shaped out all the materials of the universe.' It. can be said that the theory of progress or evolution that comes down from Democritus, Empedoc1es and Heraclitus has always been modified and reconstructed in the hands of the successive evolutionists like Darwin, Treviranus, Lamarck, Mendel, Galton, Roth, Weismann, Samuel Butler, Huxley, Herbert Spencer, and others. Darwin's accidental variations, survival of the fittest, struggle for existence, etc., and Mendel's and Weismann's theories of evolution were all worked out from the standpoint of biological or the germ-cell theory. From this time onward the evolutionary process really advanced through the field of biology and science. Biology considers all the organism as a flux or process of becoming which is essentially a historic being. Prof. Hobhouse says: 'The biologists have been generally content to follow Mr. Spencer in conceiving evolution as a process from the simple to the complex, or they have regarded it simply as a progressive adaptation of the organism to the environment'.
Science draws the same conclusion. The function of science is to reduce the complex phenomena to simpler terms. It looks upon the world as becoming or ever-changing, but at the same time it values the account of becoming or change as 'causal as well as modal'. It is in favour of progress, because it turns its eyes always towards the future prospect and discovers things novel and new that become visible upon the dead and rotten things of the past. But the biological concept of evolution being confined to the phenomena of life alone, 'the need of a more generalized formula was felt and found its response in the wider Cosmic Evolution of Spencer who showed that biological evolution was only one chapter in the whole story'.
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