Pseudoscience & Religion

An interview with Basava Premanand

In January, 2009 I went to meet Premanand at Podanur and exchange many ideas with him, or rather gather his ideas on some of the issues before us.

On the 21st January, 2009 I found him in a relaxed expansive mood. Though the secondaries of his cancer might have been causing pain, he did not appear to be affected. He was very happy that his pet dream project of building the museum of method of science was nearing completion. Excerpts from our conversation:

Which is your actual date of birth?

I still do not wish to reveal that. All I can say is that I was born in February, 1930. (I have arbitrarily fixed his date of birth as 15th of Feb., 1930)

Which are the happy movements of your life?

I am quite happy now as I am quite near realizing my dream of building a method of science exhibition for children. Dr.Malathi has helped me very much to realize that.( She had contributed nearly 50,,00 rupees in the last two months)

I was quite happy with my school at Thikkody where about 50 children of various castes and religions were being taught in an atmosphere of no superstitions at all until it was closed down by the Kerala govt (he had started a school there in the 1970s on an absolutely egalitarian basis only to be shut down by the govt. in three years!).

The only way to teach children the method of science is to stop teaching and let them learn on their own. The teacher should act only as a facilitator.

I am also happy that after me the exhibition will be taken care of by Dr. Subramanyam and a committee to oversee that.

Which are your unhappy moments?

I have been a failure with both of my children. Kabir was murdered and Sumedha died of a heart attack (personal details about them have been omitted). Another is that I have been unable to change my own people- may be it is because I have not spent enough time with them. Then whatever changes I have brought about have taken place very, very slowly at a pace about which I am not at all happy. Since the brain-washing of children starts soon after birth it is very difficult for us to make them get over those years and years of false propaganda.

If you were to have ten more years to live what would you like to do?

I don’t want to live as a burden on others. But, if I were to have ten years of active life, I would like to record about 1,500 so called miracles. I have been able to do only about 150 of them. My method of science exhibition is made up of posters only. I would like to develop working models for hands on experience for children.

What is your opinion of our movement as it is today?

We are not growing much as a movement. We are still in the stage of heroic struggles by individuals. If the members of our movement had spent the time on analyzing paranormal phenomenon and educating people instead of criticizing each other, we could have reached much greater heights.

Where do you see our movement say ten years from now?

Bqsava Premanand being interviewed by Narendra Nayak.Some movements which started well with rationalistic ends like the Jana Vigyana Jatha joined with the leftist politics and diluted the movement. Then some people who are in the movement have started promoting things like naturopathy, homeopathy, Yoga etc without bothering to verify their scientific validity. I do hope that activists of our movement be more scientific in their approach towards such things unless that happens we will degrade ourselves into a pseudoscientific outfit.

In England some atheists have started putting slogans on the buses like “There is probably no god”…… what you say about things like that? Do you think that we should have slogans like that in our country?

It could be possible only with the govt. support. Though we have freedom of expression here all these things depend on three factors: 1. Laws enacted 2.The enforcement of these laws 3. The judiciary with all these full of superstitious beliefs how do you expect these things to happen here?

It is said that as people grow older they tend to have spiritual inclinations? What about you?

It is only due to the fear of the unknown. I don’t have any such fears or any so called spiritual inclinations.

After you are no more what do you wish to be done to your body?

I am at present in Podanur where it may be difficult to do what I want to be done with my body. So, I plan to shift to Bangalore where the facilities are better after my work with the museum of methods of science is ready. I want all the parts of my body to be donated to others so that they can be put to use. I don’t want to be buried or cremated. I would like my remains to be used for study or research.

What is your advice to the activists of the rationalist movement?

I would like to tell all that one should practice what one preaches and preach what one practices. It is not very difficult to do so. Again, don’t waste your time with the older generation go the younger people who are going to change the world.

How are you feeling now?

My weight is under control ( he had been losing weight as he was unable to eat properly) and I am eating off and on. I am not in constant pain some times it comes and then goes.

I am not able to think and put my thoughts in writing as I am feeling some difficulty in that. Otherwise I am all right.

About the author

Narendra Nayak

12 Comments

  • Good post Narendra. Kudos to Mr. Premanand for the museum. I was disheartend to learn that most rationalist groups lost it’s way. I agree that unless the government upholds the freedom given by our consitution and more rationlists join the movement with money and other forms of support, we won’t be able to reach critical mass to make any rationlist movement successful.

    • @ Nitwit Nastic and others. Comments take a little longer to appear now that people are not required to register before posting. The reason for this is that the spam filters are now active.

  • Thanks for posting this.

    I don’t know if there are any more people like me who get strength of being rational (& atheist) only by watching and reading about guys like you all!!

    Thanks for everything you are doing.

  • Thanks to premananda ji because of his tireless efforts this movement gain lot of momentum .now in inida also this movement spread all over india and people are realising that lots of cheating are being done in the name of religion and god.lots of fake godman spritual healer are cheating and looting the ignorant people.premananda ji very well said unknown fear is the root of superstition and it give birth to religion and god.there are 10 million people in the world who did not believe in established religion and did not follow rituals even they are living the same life and fate.I think after premananda this movevment will gain more momentum. lots of cheating and looting and killing in the name of magic and spritual healing are being published in daily news paper but people are not aware of this dangerous disease.
    I salute premananda your movement will definitly be successful on day.

  • contineous efforts to eradicate superstition and blind beief from the society and exerting pressure on the government by rationalist intelectual I am happy to know that govt. is going to make a law for the prevention of misuse of corrent law and cheating of poor public in the name of herbal and traditional medicine and spritual healing.Please take lead and persuade pressurise govt. to made strict provision for testing of medicine in standard approved laboratories with qualified medical pofessional before put in to practice on human being because lot of anuthentic unapproved and unscientific untestified drugs are being sell by fake company with motive of making money By these kind of malpractices only poor illiterate and ignorant people are cheated It is not only unconstitutional immoral but antisocial also.These kind of drugs are proving fatal for the masses Please make standard course for every pathy ie. aurveda homeaopathy unani sidha yoga and issue licence to every medical practitioner and allow them to use approved medicine if it is scientific and unanimously accepted by scientific community. bring them into perview of consumer law.no baba (magic healer) neem hakeem can play with the life of poor ignorant and illiterate people.don’t allow baba tantrik and mantrik to do medical treatment in the name of god and religion. no religious place be used as a treatment centre .if anything goes like that it should be checked and approved by govt. Regulating authority. after all this a democratic country evry body has right to know as to what kind of practice and system of medicine one can use.how it works on human body.gupt rog(sexualy transmitted diseases), incurable diseases and physcological diseases are the main cause of cheating bercause indepth research is not done on these diseases and there is no treatment for these diseases. Please think and make public freindly law to save the poor and ignorant people.please Try to mobilise suport from educated fraternity and press government to make law.there are already a law drug and magic (objectionable remedies )act 1954 but it is not much effective . thank you. .

  • Dr. Narendra Nayak had done a great work by publishing his useful discussion with Shriman Basava Premananda whose understanding rationalism will remain as a monument for the people who shall want to walk on the way of understanding Rtionalism at least in India.

    Swami Manavatavadi

    • I completely agree with you, Dr. Patwari. We are indeed trying to do just that, using the internet as our medium until we reach the tipping point.

  • dear sirs,
    I am trying to buy a copy of the book „Behind the mask of the clown”, SBN 91-974438-5-9 9 789197 443258 160 pages, by Conny Larsson, which was available from the late B. Premanand 11/7. Chettipalayam Road. Podnadur -641 023. Tamil Nadu (India)or from the The Garden Bookshop, Ozankoy, and the news agent’s at the top of Girne high street.(Indian Sceptic Reference.
    My question is, can somebody give me information if i can still order this book? Or how can I contact this Garden Bookshop?
    Thank you and Namaste! Ben Robijns, Germany

  • the csicop logo won’t helping. The conspiracy theorist would pointing finger you know. Try something freemason-ish

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