Saturday 22 September 2018

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India superpower or super(stition)power?

 

Spread of education is recommended to transport the underprivileged masses of the country to the modern age. But, if the educated ‘elite’ of the country remains in the throes of these medieval ideas, is there too much hope left?



India is supposed to be in the race for "superpower" status. But as things stand today, with our society becoming increasingly superstitious, the ‘super' seems to be derived from that word. The dividing line between ‘shraddha' (faith) and ‘andhashraddha' (superstition) is a thin one. It has always been a blurred one too, but now, in present-day, in ‘modern' India it has nearly vanished.

Jawaharlal Nehru, in his autobiography, wrote "The spectacle of what is called religion, or at any rate, organised religion, in India and elsewhere has filled me with horror, and I have frequently condemned it, and wished to make a clean sweep of it. Almost always, it seems to stand for blind belief and reaction, dogma and bigotry, superstition and exploitation and the preservation of vested interests".

Though Nehru found it difficult to accept the divinity of any religious founder or scripture, his main quarrel was not with religion, as such, but with ‘organised' religion. His honest belief that organised religion promoted superstition, and above all, communalism, is proved right today.

The superstitious mind has already lost the ability to question, to reason out or to rationalise. It is fodder for communal propaganda, especially when the same religious leaders who prescribe superstition, also administer the doses of communal hatred.

It is true that nearly all recent terrorist campaigns have had religious links. Though this does not mean that the particular religion preaches hatred and violence, the sad reality has been the involvement of ‘gurudwaras' and ‘babas' in the "Sikh" Khalistan movement, of ‘madarasas' and ‘moulvis' in "Islamic" terrorism and that of ‘sadhus/sadhvis' and ‘maths' in the "Hindu" variety.

All organised religions demand blind belief. And this blind belief in irrelevant rites and rituals can be easily transferred by a skilful ideologue to belief in violence and hatred.

It is the greatest tragedy of the country, that a large proportion of our leaders - political, social and corporate - glorify superstition, be it in the garb of religion, or otherwise. Cutting across the spectrum of political party, religion or any other divide, blind faith in babas, gurus, healers and other such frauds seems to be a great unifying factor.

Even though the criminal activities of many of this tribe have been exposed, the insecurity of today's upwardly mobile class ensures a continuous supply of these babas and others of their ilk. Even our sports icons have fallen prey to such indiscriminations.

The apocryphal story that an auspicious ‘muhurt' had been sought to commission India's first supercomputer may be totally false, but IT engineering students from Mumbai walking barefoot from far-off suburbs like Santa Cruz or even further, to the Siddhivinayak temple to ensure success in examinations is a sorry fact.

Spread of education is recommended to transport the underprivileged masses of the country to the modern age. But, if the educated ‘elite' of the country remains in the throes of these medieval ideas, is there too much hope left?

One of the fundamental duties of each citizen, as stated in the Constitution of India, is "to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform". But, in this modern scientific era, when scientific ‘miracles' have ensured a better standard of life, saints are decided by the so-called miracles they perform.

Man has walked on the moon, and we still believe that the planets rule our fates. Scientific temper is not restricted to our academic science studies. It is the bounden duty of each and every one of us to inculcate scientific temper and the spirit of inquiry in each and every facet of our life. It is only then, that we shall be truly modern, truly progressive.

Luck, an intangible manifestation of divine intervention, is another much misused superstition. Arnold Palmer, the champion US golfer put things in the right perspective with his famous quote "The more I practice, the luckier I get".

Hard work, discipline, talent, et al cannot be substituted by divine interventions. I would not wish any of our own sporting icons to say "The more I pray or the more rituals I perform, the luckier I get".

In our own state, we are told, in all seriousness, that God saved us from the bomb blast at Margao. Was it the same God that sent forth the ‘sadhaks' to plant the bombs?

We tend to believe that a twisted root of a tree at Karmalghat is the trunk of a God. Will the same God or his messenger also tell us to kill and destroy followers of other religions?

If we believe that stone and plaster statues drink milk, can that day be far off?

Yes, we have to decide. We have to decide whether India  will be a "superpower" or a "super(stitious)power".




Many times unexpected jolts in one's life tend to make him superstitious! Many times certain incidents which take place can't be explained and logical explanation can't be given and then one tends to become superstitious. Science tries to give answer to 'how', but has many times no answer for 'why'. This again makes a person superstitious. However, the more important question today before our Nation is the cancer of corruption, which has spread its tentacles in all walks of our life! It it time the intellectuals come out of their shells and condemn this menace and stand against this to save the Country from complete disaster! That is our first priority. The print media too needs to be impartial in its true sense and not toe the line of the corrupt. But is this possible in our Country, where it is controlled directly or indirectly by the same corrupt people who come to power again by following unethical methods and again making a mockery of the whole democratic system?

 
Vishwas Prabhudesai |

A synonym for superstitian is irrational fears. It describes to you the handicap these people have in decision making. It affects their day-to-day and also social, career and other life besides making a fool of themselves attracting all sorts of ridicule.

An educated Indian couple is settled in US. They buy a posh limousine, invite Bhatjee and do puja. Then they tie chillies and chappal to the car and take photographs. If Africans come to our country and do similar thing and dance in their local fashion, wouldn't we laugh and ridicule?

This is what is cultural clash.

 
Kalidas Sawkar |

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Dilip Prabhudesai

An electrical engineer by profession and social activist by compulsion, loves the wild, dabbles in theatre, and is a cine buff.

 

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