Pseudoscience & Religion

Am I a Hindu?

While it is not very difficult to be theoretical about one being or not being a Hindu, for those of us who are out in the field, sometimes faced by an audience of thousands, questions do get asked about what we are doing and/or whether we are the narrow end of the wedge being used by the missionaries to convert people to their religions. There are queries as to when we question the miracles and/or the articles of faith  of Hindus- which is not very difficult to do- and make them lose their faith, if there will be a spiritual vacuum into which the Christian missionaries would step into and convert the lot to their faith. While this would seem to be totally illogical to anyone who has an idea of what our movement is, it is also a fact that most of the audience does not know anything about our movement except the programs which are conducted for the public-generally the miracle exposure programs. So, this most popular face of the movement get projected as the only face of the movement visible to the people.

omThere are a number of limitations when one faces a large audience: the time available, the type of platform, the seating arrangements etc. Keeping these in mind one has to modify the presentation accordingly. The miracles of other religions generally come after about 15 items which can be said to be ‘Hindu’. Many a time we have to stop before these. It is not possible to have a sort of ‘balance’ between these. Many years back when I had an interaction with the public at St.John’s Medical College in Bangalore I said nothing about the miracles of Jesus Christ. When my program was over I was asked by the director of the Institution, a priest himself, as to why I had not said anything about them and whether it was due to any inhibition on my part. When I explained him to why it was so, he told me that I should make it a point to speak about them first when I go to any Christian institution! Next time he arranged a program for me I made it a point to do so! That apart, I make it compulsory to mention that I am a Humanist and that for me humanity is more important than any non-existent god. But, all these points will be difficult to put forward when you have the rabble-rousers of the Hindutva brigade waiting for an opportunity to create situations showing us in a bad light, trying to make their points by presenting totally irrelevant questions such as ‘what came first the hen or the egg’. They even make statements about “Christians” like Nostradamus to bolster their arguments!

The Hindu brigade also ask us why we are talking about Hindu miracles when there are so many such superstitions in other religions too. Being experienced in answering these questions, I am putting them in a list form along with my answers.

  1. Why are you exposing ‘Hindu’ miracles only?
  • There is no such thing as a Hindu miracle. A miracle is a miracle that is all.
  • Since 80% of the population is Hindus, it is statistically possible that the miracles too follow the same percentage.
  • We have been exposing others too. Take the example of Alex Orbito, the Philippino faith-healer, demos of Jesus Christ miracles like converting water into honey etc. We also mention the claims of Aslam Baba at the Darga of Quamar Ali Darwesh and other such claims that were exposed by us.
  1. Are you a Hindu?
  • Since there is no definition of Hindu and since I don’t belong to any other religion the law considers me one. But, I am an atheist, do not perform any religious rituals, eat what I want, do not follow the caste system etc. So, you can decide what you would like to call me; I call myself a Humanist and for me the most important thing is being a human being.
  • Ask “what do you call yourself?” If the reply is ‘Hindu’ ask the person whether the caste system is correct, whether Dalits are untouchables, whether he/she too supports the exploitation of his/her fellow Hindus by those claiming to have supernatural powers. That usually shuts them up.
  1. Why don’t you reform the other religions?
  • Since you call me a ‘Hindu’ I am interested in preventing the exploitation of my fellow human beings by clever crooks and charlatans masquerading as god men with supernatural powers. If you are interested in targeting those who follow other religions, nothing prevents you from doing just that.
  • Since reforms to religions must come and do usually come from those who follow a particular faith why don’t you convert to that faith and do those reforms?
  • What would you do about the ‘cross religious’ miracle mongers such as the Puttaparthi guy who combines a cross and the moon and stars with Hindu religious symbols to show that he is the chosen one of gods of all religions?
  1. We Hindus are a tolerant lot- that is why we put up with what you say.
  • Who gave you the right to be the spokesperson of all Hindus?
  • The way daliths and backward castes have been treated by the so-called ‘upper castes’ is a very good example of your tolerance levels.
  • Why should I take your permission to say what I want? Ours is a secular democracy in which we have the right to express our views.
  1. You hurt the sentiments of Hindus when you criticize our god men
  • What makes you think that these people are the representatives of Hindu religion? Most of them are caste-based regional feudal elements, using their following to exploit others.
  • If you have the right to proclaim from the roof-tops about their so-called powers and miracles, we too have the right to question them. If you think what we say is defamatory you can take legal action under the laws of the land.
  • The best way to shut us up is by proving that they really have supernatural powers by letting us test them under fool-proof and fraud-proof conditions. You let us do this and we shall join your god-man/woman’s followers.
  1. You deny the experiences of many of us who have witnessed the miracles.
  • The demonstrations we perform have much bigger ‘miracles’ than what you have seen. What about those?
  • Why don’t you let us also experience the same by asking your god-man/woman to repeat them under test conditions?
  • We also repeat our challenges to those with supernatural powers and ask the devotees to take them up and disprove us by showing that miracles do exist.

These arguments shut up most of our detractors.

As I have already mentioned elsewhere, a few years ago I had made a statement about cow’s urine being like the urine of any other animal like, say, a dog. This infuriated the Hindutva gang, particularly those who were making huge profits from selling concoctions of cow’s urine as a cure for all diseases. They planned legal action under both criminal and civil laws. A local newspaper ran a campaign against me. After nearly a month of this, the same newspaper carried a long write-up by a legal luminary who debated at length as to which sections of the criminal law could be applied to me for having hurt religious sentiments. After a long list of these and a discussion of the punishment for each of them, his conclusion was that none of them could be applied to me as I was a Hindu and reform is an ongoing process within the religion! He also said that if I were a Muslim or a Christian I could have been prosecuted under all of the laws on his list!

Thus a beef-eating atheist who has never undergone anyreligious ceremony in his life, does not subscribe to any of the rules of the Hindus and rejects the caste system, came to be classified as a Hindu by a retired sessions judge who was proclaimed as a legal luminary in these parts. Alas, he is no more that I may seek some clarification from him!

About the author

Narendra Nayak

3 Comments

  • Your problems seem monumental, Narendra, because you deal with those who do not identify themselves as rationalists. On the other hand, I have seen such irrationality from those who call themselves logical thinkers and atheists!

    Just today I saw a group on facebook for Carvaka. I was about to join, but I stopped in my tracks when I saw these lines:

    “It’s time to embrace Carvaka and denounce the other false religions, keeping in mind that Carvaka is part of Hinduism. This school of thought does not give you any lies, falsifications, bull about angels and demons, or anything thing else that makes you question the validity. This is pure logic and reasoning. It continues Hinduism’s tradition of tolerance and good-will toward others.”

    In other words, the admin of this group is using Carvaka as a defense of Hinduism! This is why I despise religion. I am going to start a campaign to take back Carvaka from the Hindus. If Carvaka himself was alive today the odds are that he would be appalled at how his ideas have been co-opted into Hinduism!

    • I felt the same too.I felt sorry about how they have been hijacked into “Hindu culture”,when they’ve historically been vehemently criticized and parodied by other astika schools.

      Two interesting sources on the Carvakas are Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya and Ramkrishna Bhattacharya.

  • The problem is eternal. If we are to draw more people into the movement we have to go the public and when we go to people the sort of issues that we have faced are mentioned above.
    In the last general body of FIRA at Pune, Sri Ram Lagoo spoke about calling ourselves atheists and not rationalists and that we should openly declare so. That was also because the Mharashtra Andha Shraddha Nirmulan Samithi say that they have nothing against any belief in god.
    At that time I had to explain why we do not call ourselves atheists though we are all so. Since we have to get our message across to common people many of whom would close their minds the moment they hear the word atheist, we have to call ourselves by a milder name!
    We do not know whether this is the right technique but are following it for the lack of a better one. The debate is an eternal one and likely to go on!

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