The God Delusion in Action: My Indian travelogue.

Written by October 3, 2008 3:30 pm 21 comments

New cars smell the same in India as they do in the US,” was the first thought that came to my mind as I took my seat in my nephew’s new Hyundai sedan in which he had come to pick me up from the Chandigarh airport. It was the first of August and I had just arrived in India for a short visit. My home-town was my first stop.

New cars in India may have the same leathery-plasticky smell as new cars everywhere, but they look like nothing else in the world. The car that I was riding in, like the tens of thousands that roll out of auto-showrooms everyday all over India, was bedecked in red ribbons and had a garland of fresh marigolds strung around the number-plates. The top of the front window had two swastikas and an “Om” painted on it in red color. The driving-wheel had the “auspicious” red string tied to it. The Ganesh idol on the dashboard had the residue of burnt incense in front of it.

My nephew told me that he was coming straight from the temple where he had taken his car for a “vahan puja,” a brand new Hindu ritual invented to bless the new vehicles that are clogging the Indian roads these days.

This being his first car- and the object of his loving devotion, at least for now – my nephew told me that he wanted to do something really, really, special for it. That is why, he told me, he took it to the temple where he had to shell out some serious cash for the ceremony, instead of getting a free puja which his dealership had offered as a part of the incentive package.

“What”? My ears pricked up. I must have sounded incredulous:  “Car dealers offer free pujas? Do they have pundits on their staff now? Car dealerships have become new temples or what?”

My nephew looked at me as if to ask where I had been all these years?! This is nothing new, he said. Knowing how popular vahan pujas are, more innovative car-dealers throw in free pujas for their customers. They hire full-time pujaris, who along with their helpers, do all the required rituals: break a coconut for auspiciousness, make you drive over limes to ward off evil spirits, while they recite Sanskrit mantras whose meaning even they don’t know. They give you prasad to take home with you.  They even take a picture of the ceremony on your digital camera that you can email your friends and relatives all around the world. A puja in a car-dealership feels just like a puja in a temple, really. But he still prefers a real temple and that is why he decided to forgo the freebie – my nephew told me this, all in one breathless monologue.

Car-dealerships with in-house pujaris! What a fancy idea, I thought, and how typical of Hinduism to cash in on this new opportunity to adapt and thrive in these times of globalization. The pujaris are happy as they can make more money sitting in the air-conditioned comfort of car-dealerships than in your average neighborhood mandir, I am sure. Car-buyers are happy, for they can cross out “puja” from their to-do list without any extra money and time.  Happiness and contentment all around !! I bet even the coconut sellers are laughing all the way to the bank. (Regular coconut deliveries to auto showrooms?! Only in India.)

What is not to like about this Brahman-bania business model? Isn’t this simply a creative re-enactment of the eternal partnership between god and mammon?

Why, then, do I feel a wave of dismay sweep over my heart? Why do I feel sad at the idea of so many educated young people like my dear sweet nephew – who I love dearly, and who is so touchingly proud of his first new car – believing that puja adds anything of value to their new vahans?

I felt that something is amiss in the way this generation of “modern” Indians is encountering the products of modern science and technology with an utterly medieval or even pre-medieval worldview. While they seek out and revel in every gadget and every creature-comfort created by a purely materialistic and rational understanding of nature, they seem to experience the world as if it is literally crawling with gods who have power of life and death over our lives. God is as much a part of their taken-for-granted reality as stones, trees – and, indeed, their precious vahans – are. A prayer to the gods is the ultimate insurance policy against any accidents and mishaps.

Of course, my nephew is worldly-wise enough to buy a real insurance policy. But why does he think he needs the puja over and above the certificate of insurance lying in the glove compartments of his brand new car? I wondered if he wonders who or what is this protective power he is bowing to, as he breaks those coconuts and burns the incense? Has too much praying blunted his capacity to wonder and to ask questions? If he can bow to an invisible power purely on faith without asking any questions, will this young man ask too many questions from other authority figures he will be asked to bow his head to in the rest of his life?


“There you go again!”, an old friend remarked when I shared this bit about free vahan pujas with him when we met in one of the many canteens that dot the Punjab University campus in Chandigarh. He is quite godless himself, but thinks that intellectuals must respect people’s religiosity and not presume to be more “enlightened” than them. That way, he fears, lies avant-guardism of the Bolshevik kind.

He went on: “Don’t you and people like you in America – all claiming to be so modern and secular – have your own superstitions? Tell me honestly: have you never worn your “lucky” dress for a job interview?  Haven’t you ever avoided, say, going over a crack in the pavement? So why do you get so upset over harmless little quirks of Indians? Let them do their pujas, if it brings them comfort in this harsh and cruel society that we are creating. A puja is not harming anyone, is it? Besides, don’t you realize that you are replicating the prejudices of English sahibs’ toward the natives? Are you not behaving like those Christian missionaries who labeled us as superstitious idolaters?  If you want to reach ordinary people, you have to respect their faith and not look down upon them – like you often do.”

Ouch! I have lost count of how many times I have heard such “friendly” advice to take my hat off, so to say, when speaking of religion. But no matter how many times I hear it, this idea of “respecting” other people’s faith will never sit well with me.

I happen to believe that indulging people’s irrational beliefs – like a parent puts up with a child’s follies – does not add up to “respect.”  In my rulebook,  the best way to respect people you care about is to treat them as worthy conversation partners who can be persuaded by reason (or who may persuade you with better arguments and evidence). The way I see it, engaging people in an honest and open dialogue about the matters of ultimate concern is to pay them the highest grade of respect that there is.

Besides, I have never been able to understand why my otherwise progressive friends bend over backwards to make exceptions for “the people’s” faith. My progressive friends actually take the lead when it comes to demanding good reasons and evidence when politicians, government bureaucrats, corporate CEOs or the “West” try to sell us some phony idea or products. But their critical faculties seem to desert them when it comes to challenging the religious faith of “the people,” even if that faith ends up causing so much unnecessary suffering all around. When it comes to popular Indian religiosity – be it Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, Chrisitan or whatever – secular and progressive Indian intellectuals tend to behave more like caretakers rather than critics, even though they themselves are quite devoid of any serious religious conviction.

My secularist friends, for example, are on the forefront of the struggle against Hindu extremists – and I respect them greatly for that. But I am also puzzled at their hand-off approach toward Hinduism itself. I have lost count of how many times I have heard them proclaim with all seriousness that “Hinduism has nothing to do with Hindu nationalism.” Why is that? How do they justify their position? Hinduism, they say, is a matter of “faith” (and therefore good) while Hindu nationalism is a “political ideology” (and therefore bad).

But I am afraid this raises more questions than it answers. Is it really the case that religious faith and ideology have nothing to do with each other? When has faith not served as ideology? Isn’t the story of Ramayana simultaneously faith and an ideology of a patriarchal and a caste society? Do my good secularist friends really believe that faith is like a pair of chappals that people leave outside the door marked “politics”? Religious beliefs, or faith, have always supplied the commonsense understanding of the world which ideologies mobilize. A consistent secularist has no choice but to challenge both the commonsense worldview derived from faith, and the political ideologies that resonate with this commonsense.

I have yet another bone to pick with those insist that we must “respect” people’s religious beliefs. Why should we respect beliefs that defy all possible evidence, which thumb their nose at all the accumulated knowledge about how nature works and which have played such a reactionary role throughout India’s history? Just because some beliefs come wrapped up in piety and tradition does not make them worthy of respect.

All these thoughts were racing in my head as I sat there under a tree. But I bit my tongue and did not say anything: I was enjoying my visit to the campus where I was once a student, and did not want a debate just then.

Thankfully, the chai-wallah (a young lad who should have been in school) came just then. We got busy with our chai and bread-pakoras.

One good new:  the junk food of my student days still tastes as good as I remembered it. Some traditions definitely do need to be preserved!


I was still mulling over my friend’s words next morning when the local newspaper ( I read The Tribune when I am in Chandigarh) arrived.

The headlines announced: “146 die in Naina Devi Stampede“.

Naina Devi is a popular temple, about 100 km up north of Chandigarh in the foothills of the Himalayas. The temple is supposed to mark the “exact” spot where goddess’s eyes (or “naina”) fell when her body, reconstituted by her husband god Shiva after she had committed sati was blown into smithereens by the god Vishnu – a double dose of mayhem, you may say. (What is so holy about this act of violence, escapes me entirely).  Incidentally, there are at least two other so-called shakti-peeths, one in Pakistan, which claim the eyes of the goddess. There are at least 50 other such temples all over south Asian which lay claim to bits of the goddess’s decimated body. I wonder: how do they know that the right big toe, or the upper eye-tooth of the goddess fell exactly at the spot where the temple stands, I wondered. No one knows. Besides, it is not appropriate to ask such questions for these beliefs are based upon faith and therefore beyond reason. But wait: the same faith-based claims get trotted out as empirical facts backed by pseudoscience when government-run tourism departments want to promote these sites, or when Hindu nationalists want to lay claim on Ramsethu or the Babri mosque. The faithful want it – and have it – both ways in the good old secular democratic republic that is India. )

But I am rambling. Let me go back to the great stampede of August 2008.  Here is the clipping I saved from The Tribune, Aug. 4:

More than 146 persons, most of them women and children, were killed in a stampede in the Naina Devi shrine in Himachal Pradesh. More than 200 persons were injured, some of them critically.

Since it was the Shravan Ashtami mela on the second day of the Navratras and a Sunday, the crowd of devotees, an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 persons, thronged the popular hilltop shrine. The shrine has little space for such a huge congregation that waited in a serpentine queue to pay obeisance to the deity.

So many lives snuffed out so tragically…

My mind flashed back to what my friend had said yesterday: “harmless little quirks” is how he had described popular Hindu prayers to gods and goddesses. Well, it did not turn out to be all that harmless for these poor souls, I thought. I understand, of course, that stampedes can happen anywhere and at any event – from rock-concerts in the US to political rallies in India – without adequate attention to crowd-management. Yet, there was something so sad about so many people dying precisely when they had come all the way to ask for divine blessings for happier and longer lives.

A footnote: Even as I sit here, back in my home in Connecticut, USA, writing about the Great Temple Stampede of August 2008, the National Public Radio brings me the news of the Great Temple Stampede of September 2008. On September 29, nearly 200 pilgrims gathered at Chamunda Mata temple in the state of Rajasthan lost their lives in a stampede.

One more goddess, one more temple, one more stampede.

So it goes …


Within a week of Naina Devi tragedy, there was another case of utterly unnecessary and perfectly avoidable death and mayhem, this time in the streets and the highways of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.  Starting on August 11, and lasting for at least a week, there were daily reports of tens of thousand people from all parts of Kashmir marching toward Muzzafarabad, the capital of Pakistan-occupied part of Kashmir, demanding “azadi” or independence, from India. The protestors were trying to defy the economic blockade engineered against Kashmir by Hindu-right affiliated groups based in Jammu. Scores died in indiscriminate police firing and many hundreds were seriously wounded.

This fresh round of political unrest in Kashmir was sparked by religious enthusiasm for an ice stalagmite resembling Shiva’s lingam in the famed Amarnath shrine.  Incredibly daft though it may appear considering Kashmir’s status as the “world’s most dangerous place,” Hindu pilgrimage to Amarnath temple has been actively promoted by a bunch of state functionaries committed to advancing Hindu interests in this Muslim majority state. The current row was sparked by an attempted land-grab of some 400 acres of forest land by Amarnath temple’s management board which, by statute, is headed by the governor of the state (but only if s/he is a Hindu). After the Muslims protested, the land-transfer order was revoked. The revocation of land-transfer, in turn, provoked counter-protests among Hindus who demanded that the land be “restored” to the shrine. Hindu groups, most of them aligned with Hindu nationalist parties, blockaded the trade routes linking Kashmir to the rest of India, provoking the call for “azadi” among Kashmiris who began their march to Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. It was this throng of Kashmiri protestors who had come under fire from the security forces, leading to so many deaths and injuries.

It appears that wherever you find political strife in India these days, you are bound to find religion lurking in the shadows. Religious enthusiasm is to Indian politics what a virus is to pneumonia.

These twin tragedies in the hills got me musing.

I began to see the connections between the relatively harmless (not counting the harm it does to the faculty of critical thought) middle-class rite of vahan puja, the tragic fate of pilgrims to Naina Devi and Chamunda Mata temples, and the politically disastrous outcome of government-encouraged Hindu pilgrimage in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. I began to see, more clearly than ever before, how the same worldview and beliefs of ordinary Hindus that makes them have pujas for their cars and undertake arduous and often life-threatening pilgrimages, also makes them sympathize with – and indeed actively demand – the open, state-sponsored Hinduization of India that has been going on in recent years.

This led me to see the folly of my secularist friends’ argument that popular Hinduism has “nothing” to do with Hindu nationalism. Or to put it differently, Hinduism has no organic – that is, cognitive, aesthetic and moral – connections with Hindu nationalism,  and that “bad” Hindu nationalism has “hijacked,” “distorted” or “Semitized” the “good,” “tolerant” and “harmless” Hinduism of the masses. I began to see more clearly than ever before that we cannot fight the faith-based politics of Hindu nationalists and the faith-based initiatives of the Indian state, unless we question and combat the very foundations of faith-based beliefs and rituals of popular Hinduism itself.  We cannot go on “respecting” people’s faith, but then turn around and start questioning them when they actually act upon that faith.

What is happening in Kashmir over the land-transfer issue is a perfect illustration of what I mean when I say that secularists cannot continue to “respect” faith while, at the same time, fight against faith-based politics. Let us suppose that out of “respect” we do not question the popular Hindu myth – which is endlessly repeated not just by priests but by the agencies of the supposedly “secular” state as well –  that the naturally formed ice stalagmite in the Amarnath cave is “really” Shiva’s lingam (or phallus) and that God Shiva actually revealed the secrets of the universe at this spot to his wife, goddess Parvati.  If we grant all that, then on what grounds do we turn around and start criticizing the mass mobilizations of Hindus that are taking place not just in Jammu but all over the country demanding that land be given to Amarnath temple so that more and more Hindu pilgrims can witness the “miracle” of the ice-lingam? Sure, we can criticize political parties and the temple management for their attempted land-grab for a temple in such an ecologically and politically sensitive area. But if we grant that people’s faith – even it if confuses a natural phenomenon with a divine lingam – is to be “respected,” then why should we not respect their right to demand more land to build better facilities so that they can exercise their freedom of religion?

I am convinced that as long as we don’t challenge the worldview, the background assumptions, the explicit and tacit beliefs that animate popular Hindu rituals and practices, we will be fighting against the menace of Hindutva with one hand tied behind our backs. For then, we will only allow ourselves to challenge the material and political interests of Hindu nationalist parties. But we will be no position to challenge and change the mentalities, or the habits-of-the-heart, of the millions of ordinary people that incline them to support Hindutva politics, enthusiastically (by joining the many rath-yatras, pujas and other religio-political spectacles organized by the Hindu Right), or passively (through the ballot box only). Unless we question the basis of faith critically, rationally and scientifically, we will not succeed in stemming the popular support for faith-based politics.  There can be no viable secular politics in India without a secularization of consciousness and conscience of Indian people.


In the middle of all this rather dismal news, I found the time to take care of the main purpose that had brought me to India: I handed over the completed manuscript of one of my forthcoming books, God and Globalization in India to S. Anand of Navayana who has agreed to bring out the Indian edition of this book.

It gives me no pleasure to report that what I saw in India this summer fully confirmed the thesis of my forthcoming book.

Time Magazine Cover

Time Magazine Cover

My nephew’s freshly prayed-over car confirmed one part of my thesis which states that the new middle classes are turning out to be more religious than the middle classes of the previous (aka “the Nehruvian”) generation. I argue in this book that contrary to the expectations of the classical secularization theory,  economic and political modernization is leading not to greater secularization but to invention of new rituals, gentrification of gods/goddesses, and to a perverse kind of scientism in which Hindu metaphysics which teaches pan-psychism (i.e., consciousness is a fundamental quality of even the smallest unit of matter) and vitalism (i.e. there is a special “life-force,” or “prana” that accounts of life) is being sold as if it is supported by modern science. The emerging middle classes, I argue, are “modern” only insofar as they have become more or less savvy consumers of global brand-names. These material accouterments exist amidst the mental furniture which harkens back to a world full of disembodied atman or shakti, which either roams free or gets “embodied” in idols.

The tragic events in Naina Devi and Amarnath in the month of August confirmed the other part of my thesis which argues that a “state-temple-corporate complex” (my term) is emerging to fill the space left behind by the neoliberal state which is retreating from its public sector obligations, especially in education.  In the name of promoting economic development, this STC is openly promoting “temple tourism”; in the name of  promoting “Indian culture,” it is promoting Hindu symbols, rituals and practices; and in the promoting “values education,” it is promoting pseudo-sciences like astrology, Ayurveda-yoga and vastu. Globalization is turning out to be great for the gods in India.

Take this case of pilgrimage to Naina Devi which ended in such tragedy. It would be wrong to see the rush of pilgrims as an index of the “natural” religiosity of Indian people, for this religiosity has been actively fostered by the supposedly “secular” Indian state. Just last year, the state of Himachal Pradesh where Naina Devi is located, received a grand sum of 71 million rupees from the central government for promotion of tourism. An unspecified but a large enough chunk of it was assigned to “promote temple tourism in a big way,” to quote the relevant minister of the state. Tax-payers’ money was used to promote the state as the “land of Gods,” complete with the Puranic legends of Naina Devi as one of the Shakti-peeth temples – an idea that completely defies all reason. Such promotion of superstitions makes a complete mockery of the state’s constitutional obligation to promote “scientific temper” among the citizens. Not only that, state bureaucrats on the government payroll acted as advertising and booking agents for would-be pilgrims. The supposedly secular government put more of its resources in promoting a Hindu yatra than in actually preparing for the rush of pilgrims. Why are we so surprised that there was such a deadly stampede at the temple?

What happened in Amarnath is even more appalling. For years, the state governor, S.K. Sinha, actively and routinely participated in Hindu yagnas and darshans bringing the prestige and the power of his office to the Vaishno Devi and Amarnath temples. In his capacity as the ex-officio head of the management trusts for these two most well-known temples/pilgrimage spots, the governor acted more as a Hindu activist than as the head of the state which is supposed to have no religion. Tax-payers’ money was used not just to provide facilities for the pilgrims but to actively promote pilgrimage by organizing cultural festivals including dance, drama, food and handicrafts. Why are we so surprised at the communal rift that has opened up afresh in such a geo-politically sensitive state as Jammu and Kashmir?

All that I saw and read in the one month that I was in India this summer confirmed my thesis that globalization and market economy are proving to be a god-send for the many gods in India.


Well, after about a month in India, I came back to the United States where I have lived for many years.

I happened to attend a music concert in the Hindu Temple in Middletown, Connecticut. There, among other notices, the list of “religious services” caught my attention. Among priestly services for wedding and funerals, I found the following:

“Vahan Pooja: $ 31.”

Well, why not? When Indians move from one god-crazed country to another, that is what they do.

So it goes…

This post was written by:

- who has written 8 posts on Nirmukta.


  • happy to get to know this blog. good show. keep going

  • Thanks to Meera Nanda for such a provocative story. Hopefully this will be the first of many posts on Nirmukta! I find it interesting that the younger generation in India is actually more religious than the Nehruvian generation, even in light of the wealth of scientific/technological advancement in everything from neurobiology to genetics to the internet since the 1980s. Does anyone else agree with the claim that the middle class is actually more religious or is secularism on the rise in India?

  • Indian_the_patriot

    Meera nanda ? Is this same person which Daniel dennett mentioned i his book Breaking the Spell ? OMG — FYI – OMG is Ohh My Goodness

  • Dear Meera:
    Great to see your blog. Welcome!

    As you rightly said, we cannot brush the blind beliefs as ‘just for fun’, or ‘innocuous idiosyncrasies’. They look tiny when seen in a local context, but create the necessary fuel for bringing a tide of hatred and bigotry when required. These innocuous and harmless fun, that’s how the adherents of blind beliefs justify them, can cause damage and affect lives.

    The followers of such blind beliefs justify their practices saying they can turn it off when required as if it is a tap. That’s now how it actually happens. When businessmen refuse to do business or sign an agreement on a Tuesday, or when a key employee refuses to show up because his astrologer warned him not to leave his home during certain time, it affects people.

    Blind beliefs combine certain prejudices into its fold. Some followers, who are trained to follow the belief system faithfully, without questioning, do not know how or where to differentiate between the two and hence they carry out prejudices with vigor and strength of a any devotee.

    Blind beliefs get a life and legitimacy through religion, and there lies the problem with religion.

    As you said, Indians have embraced modern products but not the modern rationale.

  • I just discovered this blog whileroaming- wonderful! keep it coming!

  • Indian_the_patriot

    Hello Meera

    Could you once again summarize or brief here about “Prophets Facing Backward ” ?

  • great article! clear and direct withot the obfuscation that po-mos resort to and the ad hominem arguments and the great person quotes that the rightists use to criticize rationalist thought.

  • Some mean-spirited personal attacks have been removed from this thread. In order to keep the conversation productive and amicable we are instituting a stricter moderation policy. Any comments containing ad hominem attacks of any kind will no longer be tolerated.

    We intend on keeping comments open for those interested in the process of learning and bettering ourselves and our culture. In regard of this need, we are forced to implement this strict moderation policy.

    I want to insist that this policy is NOT intended to censor any alternative points of view on the subject being discussed. We invite all those who disagree with the writers to present their arguments in a civil and reasoned fashion, as many of our friends do so regularly.

  • Ajita,

    I read those comments (and your response), and I didn’t think they were mean-spirited. They added a contrast to the chorus of comments above. Reminds me of your grouse against Shashi Tharoor’s op-ed and where your comments were not published. Say hello to hypocrisy. :) :)

    • If you actually read the comments that were removed, you would not be making this assertion, but since the comments are not available, its easy to make any and all exaggerated claims. I knew this comparison to my criticism of Tharoor’s censorship of contrary views would come up, so if anyone requests I have the original comments and will personally mail them to you. There is a difference between censoring valid and reasonable contradictory views, like my arguments to Tharoor, and removing unsupported and hurtful ad hominem attacks like the ones that were presented by the Hindu fundamentalists here.

      In my comments to Tharoor, I was saying that the moderate position on tolerance was not productive because it only appealed to other moderates, while it also excused the perpetuation of religion itself, leading to the unintended continuation of extremism. Since this was not in Tharoor’s interests, they were not allowed. I can elaborate at length, but I feel no need to do so here. If you actually know what you’re talking about, I will tolerate your discussion. If you continue making unsubstantiated and accusatory remarks, then I will have to dissuade you in the name of reason. You have no idea what my comments to Tharoor were, and you are defending his censoring of my comments simply because of your ideological positions. Tharoor was censoring my rational comments, not any unsubstantiated or irrational attacks on his person.

      Ad hominem attacks of the sort that were presented in this thread were not meant to add to the conversation, but to belittle the opponent. And really, Im tired of being falsely accused of hypocricy by the same people whom I have already accused of the same, them not having proven themselves as beyond criticism. At least, come up with something original.

  • Hi, I really enjoyed the article. Very interesting. Incidentally, I noticed that I have small Ganesha figurine in my Car. I kept that because it kind of looked Cute to hang in my car, it is not my spiritual insurance, I assure you!

    $31 for a vahan pooja seems to be the standard tariff in North America. I saw that in a temple in Canada. The fee includes two pairs of fresh lemons that you can place it under the tyre (DIY) to cause your first casuality. You need to pay extra if you want the priest to come out and place it under the tyre. I am not sure if you have to tip him.

    I think in a highly superstitious environment like India it is hard for people to think beyond the suppositious surrounding.

  • I agree with the author’s view by and large, but I also think the article is lacking in balance. It is quite biased. If the author had not attempted to compare the Indian system with the US, it would have been fine. But she did, and that’s where she lacks a sense of balance. If you want to compare apples to apples, then you have to include the significant section of conservative christian population in the US which uses the benefits of modern medicine yet refuses to teaching to evolution in schools. The same significant bunch has a strong influence on the republican party. They are vehemently anti-abortion even in the case of rape and incest. They are also anti-gay.

    Disclaimer: I am neither religious nor nationalist. Just a rationalist :)

    • Well, she does end the article with this:

      Well, why not? When Indians move from one god-crazed country to another, that is what they do.

      She also says this:

      I happen to believe that indulging people’s irrational beliefs – like a parent puts up with a child’s follies – does not add up to “respect.”

      So from where did you get the idea that she gives a pass to irrational beliefs in USA?

      Or is it that you made an attempt at whataboutery? We do see some people who call themselves atheists, rationalists etc.., but the moment somebody criticizes Hinduism, they post indignant comments which ask “What about Christianity? What about Islam?”

      • Chandrashekhar

        Dear Mr.Satish, Read the first statement. She is blaming the Indians only for the irrational beliefs. And in case of parent and child, there is not any FAITH involved. So the case you are making is based on wrong arguments.

  • Sindu Bhairavi


    Hinduism teaches that there is consciousness even in the inanimate. When they can prostrate in front of the inanimate sculptures in the temples, why not the car? It is a matter of faith and not a delusion as you have asserted boldly in the title. Anyway, your writing is an art that I should appreciate as I appreciate the art value in Hindu temples.

    • Saying “Hinduism teaches that there is consciousness even in the inanimate.” is a rationalization. The car poojas are done because people have an irrational belief that doing so would bring the car some good or would prevent something bad from happening to the car. Same goes with idols. People pray to keep them and their families happy, ask for favors etc… Not out of some realization of “consciousness”. (Also, inanimate objects have no consciousness. That is one more irrational belief).

      So calling them delusions is quite apt.

  • Jagdeep Singh

    i would just like to say that in science what have we known so far ……actually we have known nothing …..there can be no single theory which can actually represent the reality …as boldly stated by Feynman and Popper ……then how can you just conclude that whatever type of belief the hindus , christains , muslims or any other type of people have that are baseless …they have some basis ….like the concept of NIRVANA …how can u say that there is not any such thing related to the uniqueness of soul and god!!….have you all followed any of the yogas to experience the REAL TRUTH !!!!……if you have done so and you don’t get any result , then it is disproved …this is the way science also works based on experiments …..u can disprove any theory with experimental data only!!…… do the experiments stated by VEDAS …if they don’t give the required results then u can afford to say that all your beliefs are fake ………thats just bcoz the experiments are tough u conclude without any thought that all this things are fake!!!!

    • Here is what Feynman really had to say about the existence or otherwise of a Theory of Everything.
      Also, no experimental data can prove a theory.
      However, even one conflicting observation is sufficient to disprove a theory (or in practice, at least expose its insufficiency or inapplicability to the problem at hand). The problem with any of the God hypotheses is that they are stated with insufficient clarity to lend themselves to any meaningful investigation, and whenever some claims are indeed made explicit, they often conflict with observed reality.

  • To say that the article is superb is undermining its content. I for one thing has been writing freethinking poems and my friend’s business of ‘respecting others beliefs’ often collide for he thinks (and many think) that I have an obsession. But after reading the article, my conviction that god/supernatural beliefs should be removed from earth at the earliest, got strengthened one notch further. Excellent, again is undermining the content of the article. Thank you for making my vision of having 200 crore atheists in a decade a really, really need of the hour thing. Let us all strive hard to share whatever we feel strong and conviced worth of sharing for the emancipation of humanity.

  • This article matches so much of my views.
    I have long been arguing with friends that this generation(especially Indian middle class) is the most fanatic/intolerant generation since independence.
    I abhor the hinduisation of the syllabi in schools in particula and of society in general.They are teaching absolutely incorrect info to the children in the name of valuing hindu faith(syllabus has many inconsistencies).
    You can add one more dimension to this article:
    The hinduisation can now be called ramaification and krishnaification of hinduism.

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