A glimpse of what the VEDAS say about FRICTION

Inceptional Reference – Vedas and Science

It would be interesting for the reader to know that a reference to contact friction has been made in Vedas, the origins of which can be traced back 5000 years. The following Sanskrit language text, which refers to contact friction, is taken from the “Swethashwathara Upanishad” which means ‘Superior White Horse’. Upanishads are the essence of the Vedas which are the highest authority of all spiritual guidance in Hinduism. The Vedas do not give dos and don'ts but shows the way of life. They give principles to be followed and leave the responsibility of working out the details required for the present day society to the contemporary scriptures (Smritis). After the study of Kathopanishad, Kenopanishad and Taitttiriya Upanishad the fourth Upanishad is the ‘Svetasvatara Upanishad.’ This Upanishad, belonging to Krishna Yajur – Veda, takes its name from the sage ‘Svetasvatara’ who first revealed it to others, as mentioned in the verse 6.21 of the Upanishad. Adhwarendra Dharmaraja, a well renowned Sanskrit scholar, has explained the meaning of this text in his commentary called ‘Vedanta paribhasha’.


Shruthiprokthaha (meaning as told in Veda)- A reference to contact Friction material in the Swethashwathara Upanishad (Superior white horse) as explained by Adhwarendra Dharmaraja, a well renowned Sanskrit scholar in his text ‘Vedanta Paribhasha’ is explained here.

The transliteration of the Sanskrit language text to English is given along with the text below for the reader

While explaining the quote above, the author would like to explain the three states of mind in relevance to the contact text. Jagradhavastha - one to one conversation which is in the present, on the status of mind. Sushupti- the status of mind with happiness without realizing it. Svapnavastha - visions perceived in dreams but are actually the facts or envisioned thoughts.

It is in relevance to chariot and the contact of the wheel the quote explains dream state, when a perceived thought on Chariot, is not a recollection, ‘It is seen as a chariot’. In addition, it would violate the scriptural statements that establish the creation of the objects such as chariot in a dream. (Sanskrit text quote “na tatra ratha na rathayoga na panthano bhavanti, atha rathan rathayoga pathassrijate” ). (Brihatharanyakam.Up.IV-3-10). Initially (in the dream state), there are neither chariots, nor the horses to pull those chariots nor the roads for them to traverse. Therefore the chariots, horses and roads are created (in the dream). The chariot experienced in a dream is a projection of the mind. They remain real for the perceiver as long as the dream or the projection lasts. Generally, these projections are negated by the subsequent knowledge arising from further perception. In the case of dream objects, the objects may exist as long as the dream lasts.

The infinite consciousness which is self-effulgent is the substratum of the chariot, because the chariot is experienced in the dream, it is not unreal like the son of a barren woman. Since the chariot and other objects are experienced as existent in the dream, the consciousness manifesting as existence forms a substratum for all. The space where they are located is also part of that experience and hence is a superimposition on the consciousness because of which one is conscious of the space. Because one sees the chariot in the dream, the eyes that see the chariot are also of the same order of reality as the objects that are seen. All are projected as existent ‘this’ and existent ‘that’ on the substantive consciousness.

Since the experience is in the subtle form as ‘this’, the knowledge of the experience will also be in the form ‘this is a chariot’ and not ‘I am a chariot’, even though the limiting consciousness of the jiva, forms the substantive for all. Some are of the opinion that dream chariots and other objects seen in the dream are transformation of maya preserving the same order of reality as the cause, while others are of the opinion that they are transformation (parinama) through the medium of mind. The mandukya karika-s presents the analysis more precisely .

The Vedic text explains about a ratha or chariot drawn by the horses. It is driven by a Sarathi or a charioteer whose vision of the terrain and driving force is controlled by the entwined threads held in his hands. The above Vedic quote in Sanskrit explains “Anuyogi” meaning contact, “Kampanam” meaning stop, “Prathiyogi” meaning there is no physical contact of the surface after the first point of contact, “Rathasamyoga” meaning continuity of steps. At the point of first contact i.e. Anuyogi the wheel is in the same place and only contact is the point of reference.

In the second position, all conditions remain the same with only the contact changing with each rotation. Again “Prathiyogi” the next step is referred to likewise. The charioteer has the vision to control the stopping of the chariot well ahead, with the clarity of the distance at which the chariot has to be stopped. “Anyesham Sangraha” means that during the movement of the chariot.

The finest part in any dream, is the wonder, what looks illusory or imaginary is in fact a fact experienced. A child questions the author asking why he should accept as true what Veda says. The author replies that the act of stopping the chariot is a fact and not illusory as it is thought to be. The author states that for every step by step movement the point of contact changes while all other things remain the same. Finally from a philosophical sense of this text, man should realize that his own life is uncertain as is exhibited in any serious accident when life ends in a fraction of a microsecond between one rotation of the wheel contact and the next point of contact , if the braking action is inadequate. This is a reference from one of the quotes taken from Upanishad on Nirodhakam meaning friction.