Cloning (long)

Giri gmadras at ENGR.UCDAVIS.EDU
Wed Mar 19 19:25:02 CST 1997

On Wed, 19 Mar 1997, Gummuluru Murthy wrote:

> On Tue, 18 Mar 1997, Giri wrote:
> > On Tue, 18 Mar 1997, Gummuluru Murthy wrote:
> >
> >         I am not so sure about this, but maybe I am just misunderstanding
> > your statement. Even if the sense organs don't work (coma is a good
> > example) the person is still alive, since his central nervous system and
> > brain are functioning (atleast partially). Even if the person is
> > "unconscious" the person can be alive. I believe that a person is alive
> > so long as the "soul 'is in' the body."
> >
> I am responding to this point in a separate thread: katha upanishad:
> chariot analogy (was: re cloning)

>While every component in this analogy is important for the journey, it is
>the buddhi, the charioteer controlling the sense organs, the horses
>through the manas, the reins that control the journey. The chariot, the
>body, is simply dragged on.

        I agree, of course. What I meant was a person is alive as long
as the "soul" is in the body. But who is the Lord of the chariot ?
Atman/Self. I don't have the english translation with me, but am just
translating from the sanskrit transliteration.

[Katha upanishhad.h]

aatmaana.N rathitaM viddhi shariira.N rathameva tu .
buddhiM tu saarathiM viddhi manaH pragrahameva cha .. 1.3.3..

     Know the Self as the lord of the chariot and the body as the
     the chariot, know the intellect as the charioteer and the mind as
     the reigns.

i.e As long as the lord of the chariot, Self, "exists" in the body, one is

        I am not sure what translation you followed, but certain books
like 'The 13 principal upanishads' by Robert Hume, which seem to be a
favorite among western readers and web users miss the point completely. He
asks, if the world is unreal, why didn't the sages starve to death ? It is
better not to read translations by such persons since they have not even
understood the basis of advaita/maya/avidya. I am not saying my
translations are any better :-) but I know better than saying since the
world is "unreal," we can all starve to death.

>What I do not fully understand in this analogy is:
>Is Atman just the occupant of the chariot only and is a silent witness to
>this journey or is the journey taking place at the behest of the occupant?

        Atman is always the silent witness. Like the two birds example
in the upanishhad-s. It is not the occupant, but the Lord of the chariot.

>Chariot implies a journey. Whose journey is it ? Atman does not need it.
>Where is this journey to ? Is this journey inward in search of "Who am I?"
>(Atman already knows the answer). Or is this journey into the infinite ?

        Where is the journey ? There is no journey at the paramartha
level. Only what is born, journeys and then dies. Atman, being never born,
can never die and, therefore, never cease to exist.

>Why journey at all ? The Atman, being detached from the chariot, the
>charioteer and the horses, does not need the journey.

yastvaviGYaanavaanbhavatyayuktena manasaa sadaa .
tasyendriyaaNyavashyaani dushhTaashvaa iva saaratheH .. 1.3.5..

yastvaviGYaanavaanbhavatyamanaskaH sadaa.ashuchiH .
na sa tatpadamaapnoti sa.nsaaraM chaadhigachchhati .. 1.3.7..

One who is without knowledge, [for him] the senses are like wild horses
that don't obey the driver of the chariot  (1.3.5) and being without
knowledge and unmindful does not reach the goal but wanders in samsara
(1.3.7). Higher than sense objects is the mind, higher than that is the
faculty of knowledge and higher than that is the self, and higher than
that is the Unmanifest and higher than that is the purusha, who is the
highest goal of the journey. He is the SELF in all existences and is seen
by the seers of perfect understanding (1.3.9-12).
        Who says there is a journey ? Only who thinks he is a finite
individual with certain likes and dislikes thinks he is journeying.
        What exactly is the journey or the sadhana ? It is only the
journey from who we think we are (a body-mind complex) to who we really
are. There is a journey if we think we are the body-mind, but there is no
journey if you already *know* you are the Atman. That is, one has to be
careful at what level one is talking in. In the vyavahaara level, the
senses have to be controlled and restraint placed on the senses to reach a
"goal" but there is no difference between the seeker and the sought in the
ultimate sense.


You raise some very interesting points on cloning:

> Because of the mental union, the child is accepted with any deformities
> and there is a natural love towards the child.

        This may have been true (or it may be still true for certain
people). However, in India, the sex of the child is determined and if it
is female, it is aborted. There are hundreds of cases *every day* Besides
this, in "advanced countries" like the USA, the same thing happens if the
child is deformed or has genetic flaws. I don't see any great love
expressed because the "baby" is in the womb due to physical and mental
union. Of course, I am not saying that this is the case for everyone or
that it is the majority, but if one does not want to love a child because
it is female, or because it is deformed, the options of aborting it still
exist in any civilized world. This does not depend on the manner in which
the baby was conceived. Of course, none of this is dharmic.

        One can argue that a child of "natural conception"  has a chance of
getting more love than a cloned child. Maybe. I don't know. Ultimately,
it depends on the "parents" and the society on how and why it views a
"normal" child as different from a "cloned" child.

        Though certain members of this list may disagree with me, I do
feel that the whole concept of "true human love" is flawed. We certainly
don't love another person for his/her body. If so, we wouldn't burn/bury
their corpse. If we love them for their mind, then we should hate them
when they are sleeping (when the mind is not "functioning") or after they
die. The love of a husband/wife is the love for the Self in that person,
not because of their mind/body.  In a sense, we don't love an "other"
person, but love our Selves, since, in essence, we are all One without
a second.

> In the cloning procedure,
> the objective is to produce this product, which, if found defective, can
> be destroyed with the least inhibition.

        What I am saying is that the same thing is happening every day
for normal conception. Not that it is right/wrong.

> The only objective of cloning
> (apart from scientific ego-boosting) and the willingness to be cloned
> is that there are spare parts available if any are to be replaced in
> the donor without rejection.

        I do not think it is as simple as thinking 'spare parts would be
available.' In a world in which a son is unwilling to donate a kidney to
his father/mother (even if it matches), why should the clone behave any
differently ? Given that having a clone is similar to having a child, the
clone would have the rights of an individual who has to make a choice of
donating his/her organs to the family member.

>What are the ethical implications on artificial insemination through
>semen-donation? Suppose a man donates his semen to a woman whom he has never
>met, and a baby is born to the woman, is the man duty-bound to bring up the
>child like a father? I have no views on the subject of ethics in cloning or
>artificial insemination and would like to know if the two issues are related
>in any way. Thanks.

        It is adharmic not to be celibate till marriage. And after
marriage, it is dharmic to be faithful to your spouse. Naturally, these
cases (like donating semen etc) falls under the class of "adharma." Any
action done with the idea of 'I am the body/mind" has its karmic
implications, whether the person is guilty of sin or not. I think Shri
Gummurulu Murthy pointed this out. Atleast that is my understanding.

>This is a much more common occurrence: there are people who bring up others
>children as their own (e.g. Karna was the son of Kunti, but grew up in the
>house of a charioteer, and Sita was "born of the earth" but was brought up by
>king Janaka). Who exactly is the "real" parent: one who is genetically the
>parent, or the one who looks after the child? Sita is often called Jaanakii,
>but Karna never publicly acknowledged Kunti to be his mother. (These cases may
>or may not include child adoption).

I would just quote Vidya's original posting on this issue:

"The general Hindu view also attaches a good deal of importance
to those who rear the child. Karna remained Radheya till the end, even
after he knew that he was Kaunteya. Krishna is as much Yashoda's son as he
is Devaki's. Thus, although a cloned child may be an exact genetic replica
of the donor parent, the mother who carries the pregnancy to term, and
those who rear the child are also its parents."

        One of my friends was adopted and followed the gotra of his
adopted parents. Later in life, he came to know of his real parents and,
hence, his "real" gotra. However, during his marriage, he refused to
identify with the gotra of his "real" parents (who abandoned him) though
he was careful enough not to marry someone from either of the above
gotras. This may be an isolated case, but the priest said this was fine.


More information about the Advaita-l mailing list