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I entered into a debate with my friend regarding origins of life and on why classifying objects as "living" and "non-living" is one of main problems of science, since this immediately raises the question of origins of life.

Given that in Hinduism, people worship earth, sun, etc., which are considered "non-living" according to science, does Sanatana dharma also classify "objects" as those that possess life and those that do not possess life? Or does it say everything has "life"?

  • Everything is Brahmm, a godly "soup". By def., whichever entity that has Prana flowing through it is "alive" with respect to Hinduism. Now what is Prana? And in what entities does it exists? Its known that it flows through Nadis, namely Ida, Pingala, Sushushma. Another thing is Atman i.e "Self". If a Human Body is analogous to a "Car", then its 'Fuel', and 'Driver' would be Prana and Atman respectively. And the "fuel" gets over, Atman has to get off the car i.e the body. Thus the body becomes dead. So the "non-living" things neither have Atman, nor the Prana. – Hindu Dec 4 '14 at 7:31
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    There are few other aspects of "Life" too. Like the Pancha-Maha-Bhoota i.e Ether (Space) -> Air -> Fire -> Water -> Earth. Here, the arrows means "gives out" or Precedes. Interestingly, this is the SAME order as the Chakras in our body (starting from Vishuddhi Chakra in throat), that has ALL of these Maha-Bhootas. You see, the mystery of Universal evolution is embedded in our subtle structure itself. World is nothing but a Fractal. It we can just know ourselves, we would know the WHOLE creation itself. – Hindu Dec 4 '14 at 10:00
  • Imagine a dream: in your dream there is you, your friends, you house, everything gets replicated. Yet is it really your friends who come in your dream? is your house really present in your dream? no, they are all your imagination. It is you yourself playing the role of you, your friend and your house. None of these are any different from You. The only difference is the role that you choose to play with these entities. It is the same with this world. Everything is a dream by the dreamer - God. Everything is God! Living + Non-living, there is nothing that is not God. This is Advaitist :) – Sai Dec 4 '14 at 15:57
  • The response is this - 'The answer to your question is the same as your answer to this question - "Do YOU differentiate between living and non-living entities" ?'. If your answer is yes, then dharma's answer is also yes. If your answer is no, then dharma's answer is also no. You can ask - how is it possible for dharma to be subjective, and not objective. Simple - If you consider your neighbor man to be same as a non-living stone, and crush him/it, then the government will consider you also to be a non-living stone and crush you. Since you don't differentiate, neither does dharma. – ram Nov 28 '17 at 0:54
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Yes it does with a qualification. All living and non-living manifestations are Brahman. There is nothing which is not Brahman.

Having said that, the Prasna Upanishad (I. 4) says '...Prajapati the creator...created the pair, the moon (rayi) and the sun (prana). He said to Himself: "These two should produce creatures for Me in manifold ways."'

The moon (rayi) is food. Sun (prana) is the life principle and eater. Moon and Sun can also mean matter and life. So at the beginning the undifferentiated One first created matter and energy which in turn produce the various material entities. Prana, energy, being the life principle.

You said above that "Hindus worship the sun and earth which are non-living..." This is not a true statement. Hindus worship the devas that are in charge of those entities or they are worshiping the One God through those entities. The Rig Veda says that Brahma makes His home in the Sun. This is why worship is directed to the sun.

Swami Vivekananda was once asked by a Maharaja why people worship idols. He asked for one of the attendants to bring a photo of the Maharaja to them and then asked the attendant to spit on it. The attendant refused. Swami, said why, it is not the Maharaja, it is only paper. When asked why, the attendant said to do so would be the same as spitting on the Majaraja himself. Swami then explained to the Maharaja that idols represented God and just as the picture represented the Maharaja himself to the attendant, so idols represent God to us. Worship of the earth and sun remind us of God himself. To not treat these with reverence is the same as not treating God with reverence.

Remember that Sita (whose name means furrow in the earth) was born from the earth.

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LalitA sahasra nAma states that she is

चितशक्ति चेतना रूपा जड शक्ति जडात्मिका ।

Chitsakthi Chethana roopa Jada shakthi Jadathmikha

"cicchaktis cEtanA rUpA jaDassaktir jaDAtmika"

(Chitsakthi)-She who is the strength of holy knowledge ,(Chethana roopa) -She who is the personification of the power behind action ,(Jada shakthi)- She who is the strength of the immobile ,(Jadathmikha) - She who is the world of immobile.

So brahman is present in non-living things as potential energy. Even our day-to-day lives we clearly see the fact that matter and energy are inter-convertible.

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    If you're quoting the Lalita Sahasrananam, you should give a specific citation to it. And you should give the meaning of "cicchaktis cEtanA rUpA jaDassaktir jaDAtmika" for those who don't know Sanskrit. Also, scientific speculation is considered off-topic on this site. – Keshav Srinivasan Dec 24 '14 at 3:27
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Yes, it does. But the thing is that, Santana dharma consists not of a single philosophy or doctrine but it is composed of many others. If you don't already known, then you will find it interesting that there is Vaisesika School of thought which says objects are composed of atoms.

Like modern science that school of thought categories visible objects like earth, water, etc. as bhutas and states that they are reducible to atoms. It holds atoms as the fundamental units of the universe which combine with each other impelled by an invisible force (adrushta) to form the visible word. Please see padartha in the Vaisesika School of thought and you will find substances that are differentiated from soul.

Apart from that school of thought, also in Vedanta energies of God are classified into two categories known as jiva and maya. Between these two maya or nature is accepted as the inert energy which has no life of its own and the visible world is only the product of this maya. A verse of Gita explains it breifly:

bhūmir āpo ’nalo vāyuḥ khaṁ mano buddhir eva ca
ahaṅkāra itīyaṁ me bhinnā prakṛtir aṣṭadhā
apareyam itas tv anyāṁ prakṛtiṁ viddhi me parām
jīva-bhūtāṁ mahā-bāho yayedaṁ dhāryate jagat
[BG - 7.4,5]

Meaning
Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego – all together these eight constitute My separated material energies. Besides these, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is another, superior energy of Mine, which comprises the living entities who are exploiting the resources of this material, inferior nature.

So Santana dharma does classify and discriminate between objects having life and not. But people worship sun, water, etc as the visible form of gods present in heaven realms. Due to inter mixture of many beliefs, thoughts and philosophies the distinction has become unclear.

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