BENGALURU : There are 100 trillion cells in the human body. A cell is the independent structural and functional unit that can survive on its own if suitable conditions are provided. In each cell there are at least 1,00,000 chemical reactions every hour. You can imagine the number of chemical reactions that are taking place in the human body. In spite of this humongous activity, we feel as though nothing is happening and many times we even say, ‘I am idle and not doing anything.’ It is impossible to remain without any action. Even when we are sitting quite watching television, I trillionX100000X24 chemical reactions are taking place in our body.
What is surprising is there are millions of cells dying every second and millions of cells are born new. The skin cells are completely replaced every month and the lining of the gastrointestinal tract is replaced within 72 hours. Every morsel of the food that reaches the stomach contacts different sets of cells. Our body is never the same the next second. Just as the same person cannot step into the same river second time as the water has already flowed down, we cannot shake the same hand again.
Each cell has a nucleus that contains a twisted ladder shaped DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) material connected by the nucleotide rungs of adenine(A), thymine(T), guanine(G), and cytosine(C). The entire language of the planning and functioning of the human body depends on ATGC letters. A part of DNA that codes with the help of three letters out of ATGC to produce an amino acid is called a gene. Each gene controls a trait. A long double stranded molecule of DNA becomes a chromosome. Chromosomes always come in pairs. Human being has 23 pairs. Matching pairs of chromosomes come from the father and the mother.
All cells of the human body contain a fixed genome (complete set of genes present in a cell). The genes are separated and a copy of a single strand of gene is taken as RNA (Ribonucleic acid). This moves out of the nucleus as the messenger RNA (mRNA). The mRNA reaches the ribosomes (protein producing factory of the cell), and produces the corresponding amino acid based on the codon (the three lettered code).
Is this codon fixed? Are we working like robots which have a fixed programme? It is not like that. We can influence the structure of the genes by external self-effort. This is possible by conscientious wisdom of reality. The repetition of the same matter will sensitize our receptors that leads to the cascade of chemical reactions in the cell and later this will change the structure of the genes and rewrites the script on the gene.
The basic genetic character of the individual was taken as vasanas or samskaras in the advaitic jargon. However, the changes that are brought about by the constant practice of meditation of the reality will change our genetic predisposition and this process is called self-effort by the Advaita philosophy.
(The writer is the academic director of Chinmaya International Foundation)