Toward Relational Reality

Gomatam, Ravi Toward Relational Reality--From Einstein and Tagore to Gaudiya Vaishnava Vedanta, in Partha Ghose (editor), “Einstein, Tagore and the Nature of Reality”, Routledge, pp 86-105.


Einstein and Tagore discussed Truth, Reality and causality, generally and in the context of quantum mechanics. Einstein held that science can lead to an understanding of reality independent of our individual subjectivities. However, Einstein did not distinguish between our subjective recording of the measurement outcome and the measurement itself, which is an objective interaction in the world. In quantum mechanics, the distinction is crucial.

Tagore, in contrast, held that Truth and Reality in the absolute sense can be comprehended only via a relational, but individual perspective. But he limited this perspective to a religious search for divinity by the individual, in perfecting the relation with the Universal Person, an idea he traces to the Bengali Vaishnava tradition of Bauls.

With a view to synthesize Einstein’s and Tagore’s positions so as to bear upon the issues of causality and reality in quantum mechanics, I introduce the tenets of the original Bengali or Gaudiya Vaishnava Vedanta(GVV) tradition, presented by Saint Chaitanya over five centuries ago in Bengal, India. Proposing the philosophy of acintya bhedaabheda (inconceivable simultaneous oneness and difference), it is neither monistic nor dualistic, although integrating features of both. Specifically with reference to the Einstein-Tagore dialog, GVV advances the idea of relation as being ontologically primary, with objects as epistemologically derived. This is in contrast to the relational viewpoint that has so far prevailed in physics since early mechanics, in which objects are ontologically primary, and relations as epistemologically derived. I discuss how this new ontological relational viewpoint of matter could be congenial to get at quantum reality and causality.