Algorithm is the new trendy word as research in Artificial Intelligence (AI) reaches new heights. To be very specific, there is a branch of AI which is called Deep Learning or Deep Neural Networks. This technology enables machines to “learn things on their own” and do things “on their own.” Basically it consists of algorithms which enable a block of code to generate more code on its own according to the data (Big Data) it is fed with.
It has a plethora of possible applications including image recognition (photo forensics), self-driving cars, online advertising, medicine, online trading, practice-oriented or even professional services (like lawyer, doctor, etc.) and many, many more. In fact, it promises to penetrate into every area of our lives. It promises to remove and replace much of the human involvement that goes into all these systems of interaction. The scientists and technology enthusiasts have been bragging about their new-found toy all over the Internet and the excitement is at an unprecedented level.
But there is one big opportunity they are probably not noticing — to get a glimpse of God here. This tendency to automatize everything comes from God. If we look around ourselves, we find the algorithm of God in action. How is it that the flowers, the sky and everything in between is painted? How is it that gigantic planets are placed and kept in orbit? How the powerful bulb of the sun is arranged and is producing unlimited supply of light and maintaining life on all planets? How are seeds producing gigantic trees, which again produce millions of seeds which have the potency of producing millions of trees? How are we endowed with a perfect system called the body which has in place all the organs that we need, and with the potency to create more bodies? Everything seems to be automatically done by nature or the cosmos.
What we ought to realize is that there are many ingredients that go into doing anything but the cardinal ingredient is the performer himself. Without somebody doing, nothing would happen. And when we see something happening but we don’t see anyone doing it, we should know without a doubt that a program or algorithm or agency is set in motion by a person who is remotely controlling the process. Every great software program or algorithm exists because of a great coder or programmer. The algorithm itself may do wonders but it is set in motion by a person. Therefore, when we use the words ‘automatic’ or ‘chance’ as explanations for natural phenomena, it just denotes our foolishness. There is a person behind this grand cosmic algorithm — the ultimate coder or programmer — God.
The news reports us that the technology giants Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and others are investing heavily in AI and are hiring top notch experts and paying them generously for it. If so much credit can go to these puny coders, how much credit we owe to God for the cosmic machine and its infinitely complex algorithm?
Another aspect to note is that any algorithm is made for a purpose. For example, Microsoft Word is made for enabling writers craft documents. Adobe Photoshop is made to process images. Google Search is a program to enable searching of information of all kinds. And the list goes on. Purpose is something that is innate in any endeavor. No endeavor happens without a purpose or goal in mind. So what then is the purpose of the cosmic algorithm?
These are the big questions we need to ask. We may be excited about all this puny latest AI glamour but we need to understand that we ourselves are being processed by a grand cosmic algorithm. Fortunately the ultimate programmer, God, gave us cheat sheets in the form of Vedic literature, especially Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam, so that we can have proper perspective of what this cosmos is, how is everything programmed, what it is for, and more interestingly, how to hack this program and break free from it.
In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krsna establishes Himself as the ultimate programmer. Ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate: “I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me.” [Bg 10.8] He further says:
“This material nature is working under My direction and it is producing all moving and unmoving beings. By its rule this manifestation is created and annihilated again and again.”
This program called the material nature is called Maya or Durga. Maya means the illusory energy of the Lord and Durga means a fortress from which it is very difficult to escape. The scripture known as Brahma-samhita (5.44) summarizes the complete range of functions of Durga.
chāyeva yasya bhuvanāni bibharti durgā
icchānurūpam api yasya ca ceṣṭate sā
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
“The mighty functions of creation, maintenance and dissolution of the cosmos is carried out by the algorithm known as Durga. (Krsna’s algorithms are persons; therefore Durga is a person. This is a special feature of Krsna’s energies.) Although so powerful, the algorithm follows the will of Krsna just as a shadow follows the movement of an object (or just as a software program follows the orders of the code of the programmer.) Therefore the Supreme Lord Govinda (Krsna) is to be glorified.” The functions are so perfectly carried out that there is absolutely no need of any personal involvement by Krsna in the affairs of the material world.
The scripture Isopanisad mentions in the same vein:
oṁ pūrṇam adaḥ pūrṇam idaṁ
pūrṇāt pūrṇam udacyate
pūrṇasya pūrṇam ādāya
“The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Whatever is produced of the Complete Whole is also complete in itself. Because He is the Complete Whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance.”
The Svetasvatara Upanisad (6.8) also says:
na tasya kāryaṁ karaṇaṁ ca vidyate
na tat-samaś cābhyadhikaś ca dṛśyate
parāsya śaktir vividhaiva śrūyate
svābhāvikī jñāna-bala-kriyā ca
“The Supreme Lord has no equal or superior. He has no duty to perform because everything is carried out automatically by his multifarious energies or algorithms.” In the Bhagavad-gita (10.42) also He says, viṣṭabhyāham idaṁ kṛtsnam ekāṁśena sthito jagat: “With a single fragment of My potencies, I pervade and support this entire universe.”
A remarkable example of this automation is the generating principle of the Supreme Lord. Many great devotees of the Lord like Sri Tukarama and many others glorified this feature of the Lord’s creation. In ordinary man-made factories, machines are created on a conveyor belt by another big machine. The big machine needs to churn out these small machines every time. Now, in the Bhagavad-gita (18.61), every single body of every species of life is referred to as a yantra, or machine. But the Lord’s algorithm for generation of these machines is by creating a seed. This method of manufacturing has been completely unknown to the modern industrialist but with Deep Learning techniques of AI, they are making their first baby steps in this direction. Nevertheless, they can never replicate the quality and quantity at which the Supreme Lord conducts these processes.
By the will of the Lord, a small seed is invested with so much potency that it can produce a gigantic tree which in turn can produce so many fruits, each containing so many seeds, each of which contain the potency of an entire tree again. In this way the whole manufacturing process is set in motion effortlessly and it is the most sustainable method of manufacturing by far. This method is not limited to trees. According to sastra, the bodies of living entities are manufactured in 4 different ways: some are born by way of an embryo (jarāyu-ja), some by way of eggs (aṇḍa-ja), some by perspiration, like bed bugs (sveda-ja), and some, like the trees, by way of seeds (udbhij-ja). All of these bodies or machines are produced in this way. In the Bhagavad-gita (7.10), Lord Sri Krsna confirms, bījaṁ māṁ sarva-bhūtānāṁ: “I am the original seed of all existences.”
What about the huge planets? Lord Sri Krsna informs us in the Bhagavad-gita (15.13), gām āviśya ca bhūtāni dhārayāmy aham ojasā: “By My energy, all the planets revolve in their orbit.” The Brahma-samhita (5.52) gives us the following information in this regard:
yac-cakṣur eṣa savitā sakala-grahāṇāṁ
rājā samasta-sura-mūrtir aśeṣa-tejāḥ
yasyājñayā bhramati sambhṛta-kāla-cakro
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
“Let me worship,” Lord Brahmā said, “the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Govinda (Kṛṣṇa), who is the original person and under whose order the sun, which is the king of all planets, is assuming immense power and heat. The sun represents the eye of the Lord and traverses its orbit in obedience to His order.”
Thus far, we have learnt how Lord Krsna is the ultimate programmer. But what is the purpose of this program or energy called Maya or Durga? In the Prema-vivarta, a great devotee of Lord Caitanya, Jagadananda Pandita puts it simply yet perfectly, and according to the verdict of the sastras:
kṛṣṇa-bahirmukha hañā bhoga-vāñchā kare
nikaṭa-stha māyā tāre jāpaṭiyā dhare
“Actually the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, is the supreme enjoyer. When a living entity, instead of serving Him favorably, wants to imitate Him, he is removed from his blissful position in the spiritual world and is accommodated in the material world where is struck down by the mighty illusory energy known as Maya. Here he is given a chance to satisfy his false desire to lord it over material nature. That is the beginning of his downfall.”
There is no trace in history as to when exactly we desired this way. Therefore Srila Bhaktvinoda Thakura, a great acarya (saintly person), writes in a poem, anādi karama-phale, paḍi’ bhavārṇava-jale: “Since time immemorial, I have been placed in this miserable world of illusion (Maya) due to my tendency to lord it over the material nature.”
So this Maya program or the cosmic algorithm is designed to punish us by placing us in an illusion pursuit of happiness. What is the illusion? We are eternal, cognizant and blissful beings but we are forced to accept fleeting material identities by being covered by material bodies one after another. This is given to us to facilitate our false desire to lord it over. Since we wanted to imitate he Supreme Lord, we have been given the chance to imitate Him here. Therefore, in this material world, everyone is power-hungry. They want to become controllers — individually and collectively — under various nomenclatures like family, country, business, etc. The research on Artificial Intelligence is also an attempt to gain more control.
But the truth is that we are tightly under the grips of the material nature or the cosmic algorithm. In the Bhagavad-gita (3.5), Lord Krsna states:
na hi kaścit kṣaṇam api
jātu tiṣṭhaty akarma-kṛt
kāryate hy avaśaḥ karma
sarvaḥ prakṛti-jair guṇaiḥ
“Everyone is forced to act helplessly according to the qualities he has acquired from the modes of material nature; therefore no one can refrain from doing something, not even for a moment.” If we don’t act, we cannot even maintain our lives. We all are in the pursuit of happiness and permanence but all we face is misery and impermanence. This is the struggle for existence. All our assets and empires will be rendered null and void when death arrives. And then we start a new chapter again in another birth with absolutely no relation to the previous one, just like dreams which have no relation to one another.
Lord Krsna has certified in Bhagavad-gita (8.15) that, duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam: this material world is temporary and full of miseries. The four primary miseries that override any happiness we hope for are aptly mentioned in the Bhagavad-gita (13.9) as janma-mṛtyu-jarā-vyādhi- duḥkha-doṣa: “birth, death, old age and disease.”
One thing is clear: we need to get out of here. This world is not where we should be living. In Bhagavad-gita (8.20 and 15.6), Krsna promises that there is another world, our real home, the eternal kingdom of God. Once we go there we never have to come back into this miserable material world. We absolutely need to hack and break free from this vicious algorithm of Maya. But this Maya is so powerful. How can we hack it? Krsna mercifully gives the secret.
daivī hy eṣā guṇa-mayī
mama māyā duratyayā
mām eva ye prapadyante
māyām etāṁ taranti te
“This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difﬁcult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.” In Bhagavad-gita (18.66), He further explains that once we surrender to Him, He will personally cut the chain of our fruitive activities (karmic reactions) which are the shackles that bind us to this world of illusion.
Now that we theoretically know the hack, that is to surrender to Krsna, how do we practically do it? This last piece of the puzzle is to learn the process from a person who has successfully hacked this algorithm. In Srimad Bhagavatam (10.2.31), there is a prayer which elucidates this point.
svayaṁ samuttīrya sudustaraṁ dyuman
bhavārṇavaṁ bhīmam adabhra-sauhṛdāḥ
bhavat-padāmbhoruha-nāvam atra te
nidhāya yātāḥ sad-anugraho bhavān
“O Lord, who resemble the shining sun, You dissipate the darkness of ignorance within this world. When ācāryas completely take shelter under Your lotus feet in order to cross the fierce ocean of nescience, they leave behind on earth the method by which they cross, and because You are very merciful to Your other devotees, You accept this method to help them.”
Lord Sri Caitanya, and in His lineage Srila Prabhupada, have given us the ultimate cheat code to hack the cosmic algorithm. It is the mahā-mantra:
hare kṛṣṇa hare kṛṣṇa
kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa hare hare
hare rāma hare rāma
rāma rāma hare hare
Lord Krsna assures (Bg 4.10) that many great devotees have successfully hacked this Maya algorithm by applying this process and urges us to immediately take it up for our own good. [End]