Pseudoscience & Religion

The Super-Intelligent Superstitious

Dakshina Kannada populace is a potent brew of a sixteenth century mindset super imposed on a 21st century technology, mocks Prof. Narendra Nayak.

(Originally Published in Mangalore Today Magazine, December 2010 issue).

While people all over think of themselves as very intelligent, we of the Dakshina Kannada have gone a step further; we consider ourselves super intelligent! This makes us proud that no one can take us for a ride or in any way get the better of us. Now we have proved to be super-superstitious too. While we laugh at others for their stupidities, our own are conveniently forgotten. Time and again we have proved ourselves to be newsworthy at international levels. Whether it be the pub attack and moral policing, we are proud to be in the news. This time it is our turn to demonstrate we are second to none when it comes to being superstitious, as two incidents which happened this month demonstrate.

The first one can be called a tragic comedy, while the second one is a despicable crime against humanity. Let us examine them in chronological order.

The first one was at the famous Kukke Subramanya temple. It is famous for taking people for a ride, whether it be a cricketer or a film star, doctor or engineer. All those who go there, tailor, tinker, soldier, rich man, poor man or beggar the diagnosis, is the same- you have naga dosha, and that means either you or  one of your ancestors going back several generations have killed a snake and you are being penalized for it! Not any snake mind you but Naga the cobra, which is a sacred snake and considered equal to a Brahmin. This can cause anything from ascites to Zollingers syndrome. If you don’t understand what these are, don’t worry it covers all diseases from A to Z!. But, the snake god is partial to skin diseases, and in fact very much to Hansen’s disease, also known as leprosy,while the rest of the world believes that it is caused by Mycobacterium leprae. So, one has to propitiate this god for having sinned. How to do it? Don’t worry, after diagnosis comes the treatment. After paying hefty amounts, solutions are found and everything comes to a fairy-tale happy ending! There are innumerable rituals here including the Naga Mandala which is the Rolls Royce of the stable. That it works is beyond question because if Sachin Tendulkar bats century after century it is because he came here; if Aishwarya Rai is happily married today, it is because of the god here. For the commoner there are less expensive ways to get treatment for their skin diseases. They can grovel before the god and achieve the same. Not just anywhere, but over the leaves discarded by the diners after having had a rich meal. Sorry, not the leaves on which the hoi-polloi have eaten but on those on which the Brahmins have partaken food. Again not on any day but on the Shashti day which comes once a year. We don’t know whether it is their saliva that is the active ingredient or whether the same is formed after they have partaken their refined carbohydrate -saturated fat rich meals or the banana leaves used therein is the major ingredient but the combination of three seems to be necessary. The fourth component is the gullible lot who believe in this but that is never in short supply in our district of super-intelligent geniuses! Anyway, if there is a caste factor in the panacea, there should be one for the patients too, and it is there! Most of those who seek solutions for their problems by rolling on these left overs (made snana as it is called in Kannada) belong to the “backward castes” and the Dalits. However, the temple management has clarified that the upper castes are not banned from doing it! The temple management has also clarified that they are helpless on this issue because it was a matter of ‘faith’.  So this time again the footage of people rolling over the discarded leaves hit the headlines with all the national level channels gloating over it! There were protests against this by various progressive groups, including some Dalit outfits, but these had no effect on the government at all. In fact, the minister for medical education, Dr.V.S.Acharya, defended the practice saying that it is a matter of faith, skirting the main issue of whether any disease could be cured by the practice as claimed. The heads of the mutts, the various dals and senas did not utter a word about the inhumanity of this practice. When I was queried by many of the channels for our take on them, I put forward these points:

1. If some =one wants to perform these rituals for recreation we have no objections, as people are welcome to entertain themselves in anyway they like provided it is within the norms of decency and does not cause problems for others.
2. If curative powers are claimed then we demand randomised controlled trials for the verification of the same, and after it is proved efficacious it could be added as a form of therapy.
3. If people are being coerced to do it, then we, like all right-minded citizens, should oppose it with all means available at our command.

CAUTION: Graphic image ahead.

Before the controversy over the incident subsided we hit the headlines once more for the wrong reasons, and this time it was a despicable crime against humanity. On the 17th of December a child, a young girl, was killed by a gang of three at Sharbatkatte which can be now called the center of the city. She was killed not in a fit of passion or by accident, but as a ritualistic sacrifice allegedly to please certain spirits. The person who is said to have performed this despicable crime is an old man of 75 years, Kamalaksha Purusha. His accomplice was a  lady called Chandrakala, and the relationship between then was dubious to say the least. This innocent girl was enticed and kidnapped from her by this gang who are her neighbours. When the child disappeared a complaint was made to the police who came to the spot and did not search the premises. Only after the public protested they arrested the woman who confessed to the crime and took them to the place where the body was concealed. Once it was discovered, all hell broke loose. The irate public threw stones at the police for their inaction who finally arrested both of them along with Kamalaksha’s brother. They have been produced before the court and have now been remanded  to judicial custody.

murder-4

While these are the events that have taken place an analysis of these issues is very much needed for an understanding of the psyche of these criminals and the attitudes of our people in general. The undivided districts of Dakshina Kannada and parts of Kasargod have their own brand of superstitions, with their brand of snake worship, bhoothas and such. There are numerous myths of human sacrifice. This added to the high level of literacy, higher per-capita income and ‘education’ have created a potent brew of a sixteenth century mindset super-imposed on a 21st century technology, and it is this combination that has caused these incidents, which are not isolated but are a sign of malaise in general.

The old man has been described as a weirdo by his neighbours. He is stinkingly rich and lives with his accomplice. The third person arrested is his long estranged brother with whom he had started speaking very recently. They have had nothing to do with each other for many decades until they made peace not very long ago. His wife died under mysterious circumstances, which people say was murder, but nothing happened to him. They say the police took him and he returned the same evening back to his house, where he was living at the time of this recent ritual sacrifice. The people of the locality also said that he used to perform all sorts of pujas and often blows smoke to hide what was happening. The angry people in the surrounding houses have attacked his house and damaged everything there, except the idols and the other items of worship found there.

The attitudes of society in general, the ruling Hindutwa party, the religious heads and the saffron outfits, have been very peculiar to say the least. Some of them made weak noises and threatened that no lawyer should take up the case of the accused. In fact, their advocate has sought police protection. Only one outfit, the CPI(M)-affiliated Democratic Youth Federation of India, staged a protest condemning the incident. The moral police of the district (in)famous for their attacks on intermixing of people, particularly youngsters of different religions, have been very silent on this issue. The pub-attacking, stone-thowing senas have not been protesting against this inhuman murder of an innocent child. The heads of the mutts who have been crying hoarse about Hindu religion being in danger day in and out have not let out a whimper about this event, which lays bare their hypocrisy. The Chief minister of the state, Yeddiyurappa, who has been always busy in amassing wealth for his family and trying to save his chair, visited the house of the slain child and promised two lakh of rupees for the bereaved family. But he did not utter a word about the rituals of “black magic” which have caused this. For he too is a big votary of such and is very much into them. During the elections and everytime his chair has been shaky he has performed such rituals to supposedly save himself. Not that the opposition is any better. His main rival, Kumaraswamy, the immediate past Chief minister, is also into these rituals. His father Deve Gowda who was once the Prime minister had conducted such pujas to save his chair, which had resulted in the mysterious death of an attendant of a buffalo which had been taken in procession in the area where this ritual was being performed. There was a public furore that this mute animal was going to be sacrificed on the last day of the ritual. But it ended with the body of the attendant leading this animal being found floating in a well one morning. This family are fans of tantriks who perform all sorts of pujas that are allegedly connected to “black magic”. During the last assembly elections they were supposed to have sacrificed a donkey to ensure victory for their party. That this victory did not come to pass was probably because those performed by the winning party were more powerful. This sort of a mindset has resulted in Karnataka being a state leading in software and also in black magic! This is more applicable to our district, which has one of the highest literacy rates in the country! The swamis of the mutts have been silent on this, because they too would like people to believe in stupidities like black magic as they can promise protection to their flock by conducting equally irrelevant rituals to ‘protect’ them against those. The so-called intellectual classes are more interested in furthering their own interests than to take up any sort of stand against such superstitions.

mng-murder-accused

But there are some positive signs too. The Chairman of the state Child Welfare Committee  has initiated measures to help the surviving children. The State Human Rights Commission has sought a report on the whole issue as a violation of human rights, and has asked the administration to initiate steps to stop such anti-human superstitious practices. We (FIRA) have planned to campaign against these practices all over the district to educate people that no one had or has any supernatural powers.

It is time for the educated, super intelligent Mangalorean to decide whether be a part of this supernatural skull duggery or be against it, for there can be no middle way. We have reiterated our challenge to those with supernatural powers to come forward and demonstrate them under fraud proof conditions and take away all my worldly belongings. Any takers?

subramanya_madestana

Published in Mangalore Today Magazine December 2010 issue.

Professor Narendra Nayak is the president of the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations. He has been traveling the country, holding demonstrations and teaching scientific temper to school children, for the past 3 decades.

Associate Editor: Siddharth Singh

About the author

Narendra Nayak

29 Comments

  • Sir, Fantastic article.

    When I encountered a victim of a snake bite long back, I was told by the bistanders of the patient (eventhough that case was a case of ‘dry bite’) that snake bit because they failed to perform a pooja for Naaga. While I asked them to explain more about it, bistander told me that the family of the victim was divided into two team. One team started to work on snake bite victim, hospitalizing him and medication while other team started working to solve the “NAAGA problem”.
    AFter speaking to my coleagues and some local people, I got to know that people in this century still believe those unscientific approach. I went on learning about beliefs/myths/stories about snakes and snake bites. These are some of my collections.

    1) There is something which is popularly known as snake stone! It is believed that if it is placed on the bite wound, the stone sucks the poison which has been injected into the body by snakes. But in reality it does nothing. It may adsorb a little blood from bite site but certainly not the poison. Relying on snake stone may cause death to the victim of venomous snake bite.

    2) In a few books on folk medicine, it is stated that poisonous snakes have four fangs. They are even named as makari, karaali, kaala raathri and yamadoothi. It is also stated in the books that if there only two fang marks at the site of the bite, no treatment is needed. If three marks are found, it is possible to save the life of the patient. It is also mentioned that if four fangs marks are found, death of the patient is a certainty. But reality, it is not so. In general venomous snakes have only two fangs. Sometimes one fang falls off. Even in such case, that snake can venoumate the victim effectively. Sometimes fang marks may not be visible as explained above in which case bite may be fatal. So, believing the text of folk medicines is dangerous!!

    3) A few years back, it appeared in press that there was a person who could cure patient of snake bite from a long distance by his maanthrik power!!. Only thing what was to be done was to injorm him(? Maanthrak) over tele phone or telegram. Only gullible people may believe such cock and bull stories.

    4) There is a belief among people that cobra bite can cure leprosy. Somewhat 80 yrs ago, a disater took place in Punacha village in South Canara district of Karnataka due to this belief. A patient of leprosy volunteered for bite by a cobra believing that he might be cure of leprosy. Result was just opposite. The poor leper succumbed to the cobra bite.

    5) There is a strong belief that anyone who is having a “garuda rekha” (line of eagle), will not be affected by a poisonous snake bite. In reality it is not so!

    6) There is also a belief that by applying incised rectum of a chicken to the site of the snake bite can absorb venom from the blood. This type of treatment is also a fatal.

    7) There is also a belief in rural India that biting back the culprit snake can save the patient!

    8) When I was a small boy of 8years, I was told by a few of my ignorant elders that if a cobra opens its hood, it is a symbol of giving a promise that it will not bite. But in fact, it opens the hood only to bite. I was a also told that The Indian Cobras do not bite unless there is a curse of some great persons, brahmins etc,. in south India, there is a belief in vogue that some untoward incident takes place-the cause behind it is “Naga dosha”. For this as(s)trologists advice some rituals viz, ashlesha bali, sarpa samskaara(post mortem ceremony) as a remedy for naaga dosha.(Naaga=Cobra)

    9) Snakes can leave without any food for a long time (few months). Those who observed this, came to a wrong conclusion that snakes can live only ‘eating ‘air. Because of this conclusion snakes were named Pawanahaari.(means air eaters)

    10) It is stated in Materia Medica of homeopathy that if patient of snake bite drinks whisky until he gets fully dosed, no other treatment is necessary to get cured. But in case of neurotoxin snake bites like King cobra, Indian Cobra and varieties of krait will worsen the condition of the patient and will fatal too.

    11) Among of the folk medical people there is a practice of patting the head with some branches of a particular plant. This only kills the time and patient and is of no use.

    12) In India, there is a wide spread belief that if a cobra is caused to suffer pain by somebody, it does not forget the incidence and person who annoyed it for 12 yrs long and waits for a proper time to take revenge. This belief persists among educated people even in urban area. Even in movies, this superstition is magnified without limit which has created lots of strong believers!!

    There are many Blind beliefs (all beliefs are blind). Some of which I could catch from my people and by refering some books.

    • Dr. Nayak, your comment here is very detailed and fascinating. I was aware of some of these superstitions, and have always known they were nonsense having been a student of natural history and having learned a bit about snakes in general. It is incredible that in this day and age people still believe in such nonsense.
      Would you be interested in developing this comment into a post on Snake-related superstitions in India? We would be glad to make you a contributor!

      -Ajita

  • Dr. Sandeep! very good way of educating people 🙂 I will forward this page to many and will ask them to forward to as many as possible

  • First of all there was no sarpa dosha in oldest astrology which was known to Vedavyasa( who was a scientific thinker and astronomer) more than author of Mahabharatha epic. This sarpadosha and Kujadosha(martian affliction) are new additions by modern astrologers to Indian astrology for betterment of their lifestyle. I have seen few dumbo astrologers in TV channels who don’t know to explain logically what is what. You can make them stammer easily.

    Anyways let me do logical analysis by trusting everything viz astrology and remedies and sin and virtuous deeds:

    Point 1: When a person is born his entire life is decided based on place, time and date of birth

    Point 2: If a person kills a snake he experiences problem in future. So this contradicts point 1 because by killing snake one’s life will change

    Point 3: Person who has sarpa dosha will nullify it by doing sarpadosha parihara in kukke subrahmanya. So this can also mutate your life which was decided by your horoscope.

    Point 4(rational): If some remedies can change your life , why don’t you decide your own life by taking good decisions now. I am engineer because I decided it 12 years back. I was a Functional tester one year back. I decided to become Performance tester one year back and strived for it and now I am good Performance tester. So this applies to all people including drunkards, theifs, cheaters, in whatever skills they excelled in 🙂 🙂

    What you are today is because of your decisions in past, what you will be tomorrow is based on your decision today. Trust yourself more your horoscope(decided by your parents and/or doctor), purohiths and astrologers who capitalize your ignorance for their luxurious lifestyle.

    Have a great future 🙂 🙂 decided by you now 🙂 🙂

    • Hi Manjunatha,

      What is the source or inference for your belief that Vedavyasa was a scientific thinker and astronomer more than author of Mahabharatha epic?

      The reason for my question is that this (astronomy and science) seems to be new feat or accomplishment being attributed to Veda Vyasa

      Whether Vedavyasa was a real person is itself up for debate and those who are not blinkered by religious faith consider this person to be fiction of a hindu mythology. The fact that so many scriptures spanning multiple millennia are attributed to one person itself makes the likelihood of the reality and authorship of such a person very remote.

      Also there seems to be no work of astrology or astronomy attributed to Vedavyasa.

      The rest of your comment is good food for thought on the claims of astrology

      • Vedavyasa is real person according to my analysis.
        1)His time is around 5200BC. No epic fell down to earth from Space. It should have been created by people who existed in earth.
        2) His excellence should shut down the mouth of current day so called Brahmins who claim they are intelligent most.Vedavyasa was not a Brahmin.
        3) His explanations about position of planets(astronomically) matches to 5200BC by backward interpolation.Indians were good in tracing positions of planets even before telescope was invented. Indians used to predict the days of eclipse in advance no matter whether it is Geocentric or helio centric. Astrology is subtopic born from astronomy. denying astrological prediction does not mean astronomy behind it is wrong.
        4) He has explained the places in Asia clearly by position in Mahabharatha.
        5)I believe Mahabharatha and Ramayana are oldest history than Myth because carbon dating of Adam’s bridge says it is as old as the days of Ramayana.
        6) If Rama and Krishna was not born, after 10 laks years people say Jesus and Mohammad was not born. Oldest history does not mean mythology.

        • Manjunatha,

          In reply to my questions, instead of answers, you seem to be putting out more stupefying and illogical theories of your own.

          If your conclusion of Vedavyasa being a real person is based on your own analysis, from a critical thinking perspective it leaves a lot to be desired, since quite a few of your points are lacking in corroboration and a means of verifiability.

          If Vedavyasa’s origin is around 5200 BC, that is way before even the Indus-Harappan civilization. So then Vedavyasa belongs to which civilization? Surely not the Vedic civilization then since that is estimated to have begun around 1500-1800 BC

          Even if we accept that Mahabharata explains places in Asia correctly, that would make Vedavyasa a good geographer not an astronomer

          Whatever your beliefs about the antiquity of Ramayana and Mahabharata may be, you have got your information about the carbon-dating of Adam’s bridge all wrong.

          Pls refer to this link regarding NASA’s clarification about Adam’s bridge
          http://www.internationalreporter.com/News-2590/nasa-claifies-its-stand-on-adam-s-bridge-in-parlk-strait.html

          Regards

        • “His explanations about position of planets(astronomically) matches to 5200BC by backward interpolation.”

          Please let us see the peer-reviewed astronomy journal where this study has been published.

          “carbon dating of Adam’s bridge says it is as old as the days of Ramayana.”

          Again, link to peer-reviewed journal carrying this research, please.

          You are making claims that are in direct violation of known science. The least you can do is provide your sources. In case you discover that there are none that are legitimate, you mignht want to consider reading about what the scientific consensus is on the timeline of human evolution. The period during which Ram is supposed to have existed predates the evolutionary timeline of Homo sapiens by a ridiculously long period of time.

          • Sorry for misinterpretation here. It is not around 5200 BC. It is around 5200 years back that is around 3100-3200 BC. I want to make clear one thing here. If historeans were not existed at that time, we cannot deny the fact of existence before that. We Indians trust outsiders history more than our own. But among outside historeans also you can find different opinion. So what is guarantee for non existence of civilization before documented 1500- 1800 BC.
            I can deny superstitions, but can’t deny existence of something without proof for that.

            Let us leave that topic. Why the person who compiled so artistic epic with 100000 shlokas which are very complicated. If someone has studied samskrit language in schools you may know how much effort you have put in compared to learning other languages and what we learnt may be some 10% compared to complexity of shlokas in Mahabharath. Now I want to discuss why a person who struggled so much to create epic of Mahabharath will give the credit to third party Vedavyasa is my very point. I can agree mahabharath is not a history according to dates of civilization, but cant agree that epic came from outside earth. Also why all those who compiled 18 puranas gave credit to Vedavyasa is another sincere question. I may not be right. But my question is not wrong 🙂 🙂 Please let me know who compiled such complex novels and gave credit to Vedavyasa.

          • Manjunath,

            It is not stated that no civilization existed prior to 1500-1800 BCE. A known civilization in the Indian sub-continent around 3000 BCE is the Indus-Harappan, which is described to be very different from the Vedic/Aryan civilization which is believed to be of an Indo-European or Proto-Iranian origin (Nothwithstanding the Aryan Invasion theory controversy and debate). Archeological findings from the Harappan remains do not support any conclusive cultural/ethnic link with the Vedic civilization.

            Most opposition to western evaluation of the historicity of the Vedic civilization and beyond is mostly of a polemical nature and most attempts to re-interpret history of such periods is largely motivated by political and religious considerations (Hindutva-inspired)

            Regardless of all this debate about dating history properly, the point you seem to be missing entirely is that the 3 major texts with which Vedavyasa is credited as the author/compiler (Vedas, Puranas, Mahabharata) originated in periods separated from each other by not just centuries but millennia. Which means that either there had to be 3 Vedavyasas or the one Vedavyasa had to be almost 3000 years old.

            Regarding your 2nd para of comment, your questions itself carry some clues about the answers. Before I elaborate on them, let me state that Mahabharata is more a convoluted epic than one with any complexity. The core of this epic consists of 24000 stanzas or shlokas. The present size of the epic of almost 100,000 shlokas has been reached by numerous additions and interpolations to the core epic over the span of many centuries continuing till the early CE age. It is the aura and halo around this epic fostered by many centuries of evangelism by scores of misguided prophets and thinkers and furthered by religiously inspired myopia that has sustained the belief of so many Indians in the monolithic nature of this epic, that is so far from truth and reality.

            With reference to Sanskrit, those with a perspective of history and evolution of culture and society will see that in its complexity lay the seeds of the eventual downfall and decline of Sanskrit. Many easier and practically usable languages like Avadhi, Braj (just to name a few) devolved from the rigid stratified Sanskrit, leaving this language far behind in the linguistic evolutionary race. The fact that this epic was composed in a hard to follow language which depends on highly contextual and subjective interpretation which is often confused with its concision, cannot be made out to be a crowning achievement of the epic or its author(s)

            Intuitive and conventional thinking about these epics is usually divorced from any perspective of the historical, cultural and social reasons underlying their propagation.

            Since the dominant hindu dogma about scriptural origin is that they are all divinely revealed, this itself acts as a big deterrent to any claims of human or mortal authorship of such texts.

            Also it is important to understand that there were many rival rational and non-theistic philosophies and movements challenging dogmas of Vedic tradition intervening between the end of Vedic age and the onset of Islamic invasion of India. Keeping the true authorship of the epics under wraps serves well in explaining away and rationalizing its inconsistencies and contradictions and preserving the ranks of the faithful against the onslaught of reformist creeds like Buddhism, Caravaka etc.

            The two dominant abrahamic faiths of Christianity and Islam have used this tool of the divine origin of their primary scriptures very successfully for their self-preservation and growth. Dogmatic Hindusim is no different.

            Regards

          • I think you are interpreting wrong here. 24000 shlokas are there in Ramayana and 100000 in Mahabharatha.

            “It is the aura and halo around this epic fostered by many centuries of evangelism by scores of misguided prophets and thinkers and furthered by religiously inspired myopia that has sustained the belief of so many Indians in the monolithic nature of this epic, that is so far from truth and reality”

            So what is scientific evidence you have to say that 100000 shlokas of Mahabharath are formed by adding 76000 to 24000.

            Another comment about downfall of Samskrit is joke, Samskrit is stilll existing but literatures are not growing at the rate which it grew in olden days. Reason being creamy layer(not all) of intelligent people who are capable of understanding and doing something for growth are distributed in so many other professions. Another widespread comment of Samskrit is brahminic language is joke. No vedas and epic says that. It is creation by Brahmins for differentiating. So the blame should not go on Samskrith, it should go to Brahmins who are most insecure feeling category among human beings.

            If Samskrith Vedas and Puranas are only reason behind superstitions, what about Bhootharadhane, Cock sacrifice in Dakshina Kannada? So Thulu literatutre is also base for superstitions? Arabic and English also have caused superstitions if you dig it.

            So, Kindly don’t blame Samskrith language. It is great, beautiful and artistic language. People who used language as Brahminic language can be blamed left and right 🙂

          • My information on the Shloka statistics of Mahabharata are sourced from the Wikipedia and Hinduism websites.

            Please check out this link; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahabharata
            with particular reference to the section ‘Accretion and redaction’

            I don’t know if this is of interest to you, but as per a previous census by Govt. of India, less than 600 persons in India are known to be well-versed in Sanskrit. If this is not the decline of Sanskrit, what more stark proof do you need?

            I am not in any way demeaning the beauty and elegance of Sanskrit about which there is no doubt at all, since I am a classical music enthusiast and admire many musical Sanskrit kirtanas. But complexity is also a characteristic of this language, being one of the major reasons why it lost favor as the language of the ‘hoi polloi’ of India.

          • “But complexity is also a characteristic of this language, being one of the major reasons why it lost favor as the language of the ‘hoi polloi’ of India.”

            True. Indeed, any linguist will tell you that all ancient languages contain words and phrases with unclear meanings, contradictions and unnecessary abstractions that make them extremely difficult to interpret in any straightforward sense. This is also the reason why two of the big religious texts, the ones written in Arabic and Hebrew, continue to offer contradictory interpretations and muddled apologetics keeping the believers satisfied, the priests well-fed and the “religious academics” comfortable in pompous polemic rhetoric. Sanskrit is no different.

          • Agreed. Current generation professionals including me interested in profession which is more revenue generating at the cost of complicated head scratching work( except Astrologers and Purohiths). Even I have felt like leaving my profession(software engineer) at times(in just 4 years). But money is stopping me 🙂 If money was not the attribute for getting respect in society I would have become Sanskrit professional which I loved in High school days. Generating Shloka in Anustub chandas is actually a herculean task( It should have meaning, it should have 32 letetrs and 4 parts, 5th letter of each part should be Laghu, 7th letter of 2nd and 4th part should be Laghu, 6th letter of each part should be Guru). So compiling 100000 shloka of Anustub needs herculean task. If not for other reasons atleast for the mindpower of authors I should Salute them 🙂 So people choosing professions which has more monetary benefits is reason behind decline of Samskrit. I am very sure that very few Purohiths understand meaning of Manthras. If Purohiths income was like early 20th(1900-1930) century Purohiths income( my grandmother still says ” my father who was main priest in Venkatramana temple was getting only foods in most of client places”) even Purohiths would not have existed by now because they would have got into other professions.

          • manjunath man, you are making a fool of yourself. The so called “epic” are man made creation and any connection to the so called divinity is just absurd as it will be today if someone makes that claim. I can go ahead and write a great treatise and say there was a divine force. To the rational it will just as absurd as when Mohammed went into the cave and said 40 days later it was archangel Gabriel. these folks who penned the epics couldn’t even explain why it rained or why there was an earthquake. they lived in the fantasy world and therefore the literature they produced are disgustingly fanciful.

        • Indians were good in tracing positions of planets even before telescope was invented. Indians used to predict the days of eclipse in advance no matter whether it is Geocentric or helio centric

          What does tracing positions of (naked-eye observable) planets have to do with telescope?? Nothing. Kepler was the first one to predict very accurately, and that was because of the empirical method of painstaking data collection over 25 years by Tycho Brahe, along with mathematical insight (such as ellipses), and Copernicus’s heliocentric model. Accurate predictions had everything to do heliocentrism. Geocentrism doesnt cut it. NOBODY was accurate enough before that.

          However, with the subsequent invention of the telescope, and wonderful improvement in building techniques by William Herschell etc, even more accurate observations of the positions of planets were taken.. and this led to the wonderful prediction of existence of a new planet Neptune (based on perturbation of Uranus’s positions), and detection of Precession of the perihelion of Mercury, and subsequent explanation by Einstein’s theories. And only then do we have perfect prediction of planetary positions.

          Manjunatha,
          Enough of these wild assertions, and “moving the goal posts” by moving from one wild assertion to another.

          • I am not dong any assertion here. Pls use polite here in this forum. I am just expressing my analysis. I did not force to accept my analysis. It is undergoing peer review and I am accepting that.

            People were observing estimated eclipses not by surprise even before science improved. Even in current days Panchangas give eclipse dates based on ancient way of calculations( drigganitha siddantha or vector mathematics). It may not be accurate but Indians have attempted too much in Astronomy on par with european astronomers.

  • Have you heard people saying Ashuddha(impure) for Rajaswala(woman in menstrual cycle) . I don’t see any logic in this because none of us born without our mother undergoing that cycle. I am still seeing untouchable brahmin ladies (menstruated) in intelligent people’s district. I could see it even in Bangalore. My neighbour brahmin lady in Banagalore called me to turn of the tap of her home from which water was flowing from 10 minutes and bathroom was overflowing. I turned off tap and got to know the reason from her later. To my surprise she told she in menstrual cycle and she dint touch that tap because Kaveri water flowing in that. Oops. I had eaten seafoods heavily that day and felt pity on that woman for impuring her tap.

    Whatever this periodic untouchability is still a question to be answered by intelligent Brahmins 🙂

    • LOL, that story about your neighbour is hilarious! Its amazing how much cognitive dissonance is going on. She has to literally shut her mind off to countless factors to believe in that bull. Kaveri water, indeed. Think of all the people who urinated and defecated in it. Not to mention all the “unclean” animal poo.. ewww. Thank goodness for modern science that we can be fairly confident about the quality of the water that comes out of the taps.

    • In October I had addressed the Nepal National commission for women. They told me that it is a bigger problem in Nepal for women having their monthly periods. I was told that I should demonstrate some of the so called ‘miracles’ on those who are having them to show that they too can do such things. I told them we can do it if the subject is willing to admit that in public.
      I have seen women in temple cum residences shifting to some other place for that duration. Really barbaric.

  • Hello Prof. Narendra Nayak,

    I am from Mangalore (Dakshin Kannada) and I really appreciate your attempts to expose con-men. However I have trouble in drawing the line between what to be called as a conning scheme. And I bring up this issue with you, in particular, since you are from Dakshin Kannada. I assure you that the following is neither a mockery nor a light hearted article. I really wish the following is an agenda on Nirmukta or whatever.

    I believe I am aware of another scheme which is equally ‘conning’ as the naga dosha problem. In fact, people in Mangalore seem to have biases like the naga dosha in other areas as well. One of my cousin who had a serious problem in her natal chart(astrology), was told to have some dosha and her parents tried to solve the problem by methods outlined in your article. Another family friend/uncle of ours scoffed at such an act and proudly told us that he has no such worries, since his son goes to ‘Expert’! There are lot of idiot parents (you might know people around you) who believe sending their kids to Expert solves the problem. “Expert” advertises itself by showing toppers as ‘Experts'(akin to Mrs. Rai and Tendulkar in your article). They claim it is a heritage and people have to sometimes beg for a ‘good class’ (I know actual cases!).

    I think it is inhumane for kids to be ‘morally’ coerced, with peer pressure (read as emotionally blackmailed”) and so I put forward these points:

    1. If some one wants to send their kids for recreation I have no objections, as people are welcome to entertain themselves in anyway they like provided it is within the norms of morality and does not cause problems for others, especially their kids.

    2. If topping powers are claimed then we demand randomised controlled trials for the verification of the same, and after it is proved effective it could be used as a form of education.

    3. If people are being coerced to do it, then we, like all right-minded citizens, should oppose it with all means available at our command.

    I believe Naga Dosha: Sources and Solutions and Expert: Sources and Solutions have similar pattern and arise from people’s belief in the unknown and their trust in the established advertisements. I wonder why people are so passionate in debunking naga dosha but not in asking for randomized trials in education (coaching classes). The latter is breaking/murdering your children’s future. I say this out of experience because I had taught loads of kids in 9th and 10th for Math Olympiad classes, where they were incredibly smart and creative. Just a single year of expert coaching had left them as dumb graduated grappling with formulae and memorizing text in Science! And you wonder why they cannot appreciate scientific methods! Hmph….

    P.S: I am pretty sure every parent from super intelligent Mangalore can relate to my post. So Prof. N.N can you tell me the line between belief in Naga Dosha solutions and the ‘coaching class’ solutions?

    P.P.S: Expert is just a popular, specific example like Naga Dosha. Please do not harp on that. I mean coaching classes in general.

    P.P.P.S: Do not be judgemental too. I was allowed not to choose coaching classes. I did not go for the popular CET/AIEEE coaching classes and fared decently. I have just seen too many brilliant kids turned into mindless drones, who are now using astrological solutions for their mundane problems! I think we should catch people young and instill scientific temper, rather shoot the old ducks!

    • My stand on coaching classes is that I have neither attended one in my life as a student or teacher. I had passed the National Science Talent search scholarship exam and was awarded that in 1967 without the help of any coaching class.
      I feel the duty of a teacher is to teach full time and is paid by the state to do so. The full time otherwise employed teachers who take coaching classes are traitors to their own profession by admitting that they are no good and hence they have to take these. I am not speaking about any individual teacher, but the community as a whole.
      In my whole teaching career of 28 years from 1978 to 2006 I have always gone out of my way to help any student who could not follow something in class, which is only clarifying doubts and have never taken anything from them or their parents. The same had been done for weak students too, particularly the failed ones(who are called casuals in the medical college terminology) So, the Expert dosha is as bad or worse than Naga dosha. It is not applicable to just one but to all those who conduct these coaching classes.
      If state employed teachers are conducting such they should be raided by the state and punished for it. In fact such things have happened in Karnataka.

  • Dear Dr. Narendra Nayak
    I am amased seeing the website and reading important article. Article on Naga “Snake god” is really interesting and need to be disseminated to general public. Inspite of our all efforts we are not reaching to general public as strongly as Radio and TV channels bambarding superstitions, faith, religion.

  • When I see all this I kind of agree with Mohammed’s(or Gods) assertion that Polythiests are devils and straight from hell.

    Tell me one abhorant thing that a Hindu has not done.

  • Thanks to all for educating on the facts and figures. More than the rituals i look it as the place which fills us postive energy in us and recharges us because of the natual surroundings there.

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