by Prishni Sutton
The Bhaktivedanta Institute for Higher Studies (BIHS) is a center for the research and dissemination of a nonmechanistic scientific view of reality. The main purpose of the Institute is to explore the implications of Bhagavata Vedanta philosophy as it bears upon human culture and to present the Institute’s findings in courses, lectures, conferences, monographs, digital media,and books. Our work contributes a nonmechanistic view of matter and consciousness to scientific discourse, exploring consciousness as an irreducible aspect of reality.
A central doctrine of modern science is that all phenomena, including those of life and consciousness, can be explained and understood by recourse to matter alone. The Vedas, on the other hand, teach that conscious life is original, fundamental, and eternal. The Bhaktivedanta Institute is dedicated to disseminating this most fundamental knowledge throughout the world.
Srila Prabhupada described in a letter to Thomas Doliner (Dravida Dasa) dated April 2, 1977:
We have formed the Bhaktivedanta Institute for organizing scientific presentations of Krishna Consciousness. This party is our most important preaching arm… I want them to travel vigorously throughout the world to lecture in all universities and other institutions.
In a conversation held in Los Angeles in 1973, Prabhupada further clarified the Institute’s relationship to the scientific community in a conversation with Dr. Gregory Benford, Professor of Physics at the University of California: “I don’t decry your scientific discoveries. We welcome you. You are a scientist, and we appreciate your labor. But we criticize you only because you forget Krishna.”
Richard L. Thompson (Sadaputa dasa), a founding member of the Bhaktivedanta Institute, also commented on the project’s aspirations in an article published in Perspectives on Bhaktivedanta Institute (1979):
In the vision of Srila Prabhupada, the theoretical system of modern science is a relatively undeveloped and tentative description of reality that should be corrected and extended within the broader context of the spiritual science described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. (p.25)
Since its founding over four decades ago, the Bhaktivedanta Institute has kept the same purpose: to articulate a disciplined presentation of Vedic knowledge established upon a genuine scientific basis.