Temple Pseudoscience

Update: this article was translated and published here by the Polish rationalist group, Racjonalista.

A short post titled Why Visit Temples purporting to give scientific reasons for visiting temples is being shared in many social groups. This article strives to debunk it. For easy and effective understanding I will quote sentences from the article and my response to them.

Generally, a temple should be located a place where earth’s magnetic wave path passes through densely.

Is there such a place? “Magnetic wave passing through densely” – just because this sentence sounds “science-y” doesn’t make it pertinent. And what exactly is a “magnetic wave”???

A Hindu temple in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Photo by Soman (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Now, these temples are located strategically at a place where the positive energy is abundantly available from the magnetic and electric wave distributions of north/south pole thrust.

Positive Energy? Let’s try to understand what is meant by this weasel word “Energy”. Borrowing Brian Dunnings’ words:

“Do you ever hear people talking about energy fields? What does that mean?

“Especially when the subject of New Age alternative medicine comes up, you’ll often hear people refer to energy fields. Life energy, spiritual energy, the body’s energy fields. That sure sounds pretty cool; is it actually a real thing that we can detect and use somehow? To answer that we have to start by understanding what energy really is. In short, energy is a measurement of something’s ability to do work. It’s measured in joules, after the 19th century physicist James Joule. Think of Einstein’s equation E = mc2. Energy is a function of mass. How much mass you can move a certain distance, is exactly how much energy you have.

“The electrical energy in this battery contains enough joules of work to move an electric train a certain distance. If I raise this weight, I input enough joules of potential kinetic energy to break six bones in my foot. That’s basically what ‘energy’ is. But that doesn’t seem to match very well with how we hear the word ‘energy’ being used. We’re told there are energy fields, that enlightened people can tap into and draw strength from. Like a glowing, hovering cloud of power, how you might envision a highly evolved creature from the original Star Trek series. That’s kind of what it sounds like an energy field is. New Age concepts like reiki or feng shui are entirely built upon the presumed existence of such fields.

“But the scientific definition of energy seems inadequate to explain these. Why is that? It’s because the word ‘energy’ has been hijacked for its scientific-sounding value. Real energy fields, like the electromagnetic field surrounding a magnet, the heat radiating from a warm body, or the gravitational field around a planet, have definite properties — and their strength, and thus their energy, can be precisely measured. On the other hand, New Age energy fields, like your bodies supposed ‘life energy’, have no describable properties, cannot be detected, and do no measurable work. We can’t say they don’t exist, but since they are undetectable, we can say that their existence is yet to be demonstrated.

“When you hear the word ‘energy’ being used in a sales pitch or an advertisement, pay very close attention to how it’s being used. If it’s anything other than a quantifiable measurement of work, the word is being misused and you are being misled. And now you have the tools to respond.”

In fact, the temple structure is built after the idol has been placed.

Does the idol draw all the “Energy” from that place or is it just placed in a place with full of “Energy”?  If it is the place that is important, then you accept that the idol is not important; and if you feel that the idol makes the “Energy” then you agree that the place was insignificant to begin with.

This *Moolasthanam* is where earth’s magnetic waves are found to be maximum.

Has anybody measured it? It’s really not all that difficult.

We know that there are some copper plates, inscribed with Vedic scripts, buried beneath the Main Idol. What are they really? The copper plate absorbs earth’s magnetic waves and radiates it to the surroundings.

Perhaps, worth only the value of copper (excluding any worth it may have gained as a result of it being an ‘antique piece.’  Copper is not attracted to magnets. Iron and perhaps Steel, Cobalt and Nickel are attracted to a magnet. Surely NOT copper plates. Perhaps Copper wire can be turned into a magnet, by passing electrical current; but surely NOT copper plates.

Thus a person regularly visiting a temple and walking clockwise around the Main Idol receives the beamed magnetic waves and his body absorbs it.

Once again, human body cannot receive magnetic waves (whatever they are) and surely the body cannot absorb it.  If that was the case, then imagine what would happen during every Magnetic resonance scan.

This is a very slow process and a regular visit will let him absorb more of this positive energy.

As clearly explained earlier, this is a flagrant, malevolent or (perhaps) ignorant but definitely a despicable act of hijacking the word “Energy” to make some woo-woo SOUND scientific; all a cheap attempt to beguile a credulous audience.

Scientifically, it is the positive energy that we all require to have a healthy life.

“Scientifically?” This again is a flagrant and malevolent misuse of the word Science to gain credibility.

The lamp that is lit radiates heat energy and also provides light inside the sanctum to the priests or *poojaris* performing the pooja.|

I wonder why they need the light and heat. Can’t they just use their divine powers? Why shouldn’t they simply pray to some “Light bagawaan” and “Heat bagawaan” for the same?  Perhaps, they know the futility of praying to Agni bagawaan if they resorted ONLY to prayers.

The ringing of the bells and the chanting of prayers takes a worshipper into trance, thus not letting his mind waver.

It’s only when you have already been led to believe during impressionable childhood into thinking of it in undeserved high regard that you feel that it takes you into a trance!

When done in groups, this helps people forget personal problems for a while and relieve their stress.

Ever wondered why the same effect NEVER happens whenever a christian/ muslim/ jew/ atheist enters a temple? Why is it that only the hindu finds the effect in a hindu place of worship? Such gatherings and rituals are sometimes, quite appropriately, called “Serotonin factories.” It might give you a high. But it is a false high.

The fragrance from the flowers, the burning of camphor give out the chemical energy further aiding in a different good aura.

There is that weasel word “Energy.”  For fragrance, going to a garden or a park is a far better experience. And camphor fumes are best avoided. It can only harm, and can never help.  It can cause seizures, hallucinations, confusion, etc!

*Theertham*, the “holy” water used during the pooja to wash the idol is not plain water cleaning the dust off an idol. It is a concoction of Cardamom,*Karpura* (Benzoin), zaffron / saffron, *Tulsi* (Holy Basil), Clove, etc…

Actually it is not plain water but contaminated water. If you want such a concoction, then it will be far better and safer to cook it hygienically in the kitchen.

Washing the idol is to charge the water with the magnetic radiations thus increasing its medicinal values.

“Charge the water with magnetic radiations?” As already explained, the idol or even the copper plates are NOT magnetic. And one cannot just “charge” the water with magnetic radiations. That hypothesis can be presented for a thorough peer review and scientific analysis. Also, such a water can only cause illness, it can never be medicinal.

Three spoons of this holy water is distributed to devotees.

Why only three? Why not 2 or 4? What is the sanctity of that number?

Again, this water is mainly a source of magneto-therapy.

Magneto-therapy is a scam. It is another form of quackery and already pointed out, medical quackery is one of the most odious of all charlatanry.

From 'A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism' by James Clark Maxwell (image in public domain)

Besides, the clove essence protects one from tooth decay, the saffron & *Tulsi* leaves protects one from common cold and cough, cardamom and *Pachha Karpuram* (benzoin), act as mouth fresheners.

So, why not just take the clove essence to protect from tooth decay? It will be far better to just follow regular oral hygienic measures which are tried and definitely tested too. Saffron and Tulsi protect from common cold? Why not suggest these to all the people who are so paranoid about the common cold and especially against Swine Flu nowadays? After all, the H1N1 is also a common cold causing virus.  Who will be ready to forego vaccination in lieu of this holy “theertham”?

It is proved that *Theertham* is a very good blood purifier, as it is highly energized.

“Blood purification” is mainly the job of the kidneys and the liver. Unless they explain what they mean by such vague terminologies, these claims must be dismissed off contemptuously.  And ruthlessly too, for it is dangerous to fool people when it comes to medical and health issues.

This is why our elders used to suggest us to offer prayers at the temple so that you will be cured of many ailments.

This is secondary rationalization. The “elders” have never ever mentioned in any of the holy scriptures that THIS was the reason. You are just trying to beguile the innocent people. For your kind information, the so called elders had no valid ideas about what CAUSED the ailments.

When people go to a temple for the *Deepaaraadhana*, and when the doors open up, the positive energy gushes out onto the persons who are there.

What is the positive energy that gushes out?  Again that weasel word “Energy” is used.

The water that is sprinkled onto the assemblages passes on the energy to all.

How?

This also explains why men are not allowed to wear shirts at a few temples and women are requested to wear more ornaments during temple visits.

Why? Should only the men benefit and not the women? Once again goes to show how all religions are misogynistic to the core. In all probability the men are basically forced to be bare-chested so that they could identify who are all wearing the sacred thread and who are not. Nothing but organized, divinely codified and sanctioned discrimination.

Also, it is a practice to leave newly purchased jewels at an idol’s feet and then wear them with the idol’s blessings.

For what? And how does the idol bless the jewels and what is the effect of the blessing?

This act is now justified after reading this article. This act of “seeking divine blessings” before using any new article, like books or pens or automobiles may have stemmed from this through mere observation.

Well the article was nothing but a bunch of utterly baseless claims.

Energy lost in a day’s work is regained through a temple visit and one is refreshed slightly.

What is the energy lost and how does a temple visit help in regaining it?

The positive energy that is spread out in the entire temple and especially around where the main idol is placed, are simply absorbed by one’s body and mind.

How does one’s ‘body and mind’ absorb the ‘energy spread out?’

Did you know, every Vaishnava(Vishnu devotees), “must” visit a Vishnu temple twice every day in their location.

Why should it be a MUST? Do you know that every muslim MUST perform the prayers 5 times a day at specific times. Is it be considered MORE powerful than the Vaishnava practice? Surely 5>2, right?

Our practices are NOT some hard and fast rules framed by 1 man and his followers or God’s words in somebody’s dreams. All the rituals, all the practices are, in reality, well researched, studied and scientifically backed thesis which form the ways of nature to lead a good healthy life.

“Well researched”? Can we have references please? “Studied” by whom? Can I please have access to the peer reviewed papers on this? “Scientifically backed thesis”?  Do you have proof for it being scientifically backed? In fact, this is the antithesis of science. Taking the name of science to garner automatic respect should be challenged head on!

The scientific and research part of the practices are well camouflaged as “elder’s instructions” or “granny’s teaching’s” which should be obeyed as a mark of respect so as to once again, avoid stress to the mediocre brains.

Mediocre brains? How can you automatically assume that all human brains are mediocre? Isn’t it condescending on your part? As elaborated earlier, there is NOTHING scientific in all the practices. In fact, they are all thoroughly irrational. And there is no proper scientific research in any of it. This talk of irrational statements being “camouflaged” is a cheap attempt at secondary rationalization. These were dogmatic dictates that one must follow and is so typically religious.

Wind energy converter. Photo by P0lyglut (CC BY-SA 2.0).

To sum up, whenever you hear the word “energy” being mentioned anywhere please substitute the word with “measurable work capability” and check if it still makes sense. If it does, then it is proper science (because that’s what it means in science); and if it sounds like nonsense then it indeed is nonsense and the person is trying to use the word “energy” just to sound scientific. E.g. “Positive energy”, “Negative energy”, “Spiritual energy” and “Divine energy”.

Similarly, whenever someone uses the word “vibration”, replace it with “uniform oscillation around a mean” or “a regular periodic variation about a mean”. If it still makes sense, then it is proper science (because that’s what it means in science); and if it sounds like nonsense then it indeed is nonsense and the person is trying to use the word “vibration” just to sound scientific. E.g., “Positive vibrations”, “Negative vibrations”, “Spiritual vibrations” and “Divine vibrations”.

Ganesh Veluswami

• AJ says:

I must applaud you for having the patience to try and debunk claims which are so juvenile and ignorant, it almost seems like a waste of time trying to do so.

It’s plain depressing that primary school concepts like magnetism can be lost on so many people – begs the question as to how effective our education really is. In my opinion, people just don’t seem to take science education seriously, in that, knowledge of physics and chemistry is viewed more as an entrance ticket to the IITs than what it really is for – explaining how the world works.

And just a practical opinion on how positive energy can be tested. If someone doesn’t believe that metabolism is their source of energy, I invite them to reside for however long they like inside their source of positive energy, in this case the temple, without food. Water can be allowed because it gives no energy, well, alright fine, I’ll let them cheat. They can have Theertham as well.

• Shekar says:

Mr. Ganesh Veluswami thank you so much for taking out the time to post this article. Really informative.

• Sathyan says:

Hi Ganesh,
I have read this on your blog.. awesome work.. appreciate the patience to set some time n debunk each claim.. waiting for ur next article..

• Thomas says:

So apparently going to temple is NOT for praying and asking for favors to imaginary, invisible sky people but rather to get your daily dose of magnetic “energy”? So why not just go for an MRI? You will get enough to last a few years 😛

• Rashmi P says:

Truly appreciate your patience to expose every pretentious statement! The post has been viral and now I believe it has a befitting answer! Great job.

• Bala says:

Ha.. ha… ha…. it is real truth!!! Now a day we can see many claim like this! The scientist and technologist hard work and invent something, There are few lazy masses who shamelessly claiming that, it was written in their religious book or Veda very long past. Shameless!!! This kind of claims is spread in a organized way to attract ignorant masses, but a rationalist alone can counter this baseless rumors.

• SJ says:

I observe that there are quite a number of atheists who are members of this site. My post is directed to those people in the “high IQ bracket”, who feel it’s rational to use science to debunk the existence of God. Personally, I know many who have become atheists, not because of a scientific temperament, but because life has been unfair to them – loss of dear ones, unexpected turn of events etc. Anyway, let me come to my question – why is science not able to explain many mysteries such as life, God? What is it that gives man the ability to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong, which fundamentally makes him different from the other species? Definitely this is not some energy which can be described by E=mc^2. There are many things out there of which man knows nothing, because he doesn’t have the capacity to perceive it. For instance, can man perceive unparticled matter? No? Why? There are no laws of physics to explain it? Why? We don’t have the capacity to observe it? Unobservable things don’t exist? Man needs to be intelligent to accept that there are gradations of matter, which is beyond his cognizance. Or else, all scientists would have become atheists by now!

“The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellation” – Einstein (The Faith of Scientists: In Their Own Words. Princeton University Press. p. 153)

So when you, atheists, debunk the existence of God, do you intend to say that you are smarter than Einstein or other scientists such as Newton, Faraday, Kelvin, or Max Planck who acknowledged God?

• Bala says:

” People in the “high IQ bracket”, who feel it’s rational to use science to debunk the existence of God.”

So by default, anyone who answers your post falls into this category of “high IQ bracket”, who feel it’s rational to use science to debunk the existence of God “. It is usually not a good idea to set your argument in such a way[1] . Coming to your comment, this post isn’t about debunking the existence of God. It is about pseudoscience being disseminated in the name of religion. Besides, atheists don’t have the burden to disprove god any more than people who believe in god have the burden to disprove Santa Clause. It is the person who makes the positive claim who has to provide reasons to believe their conclusion[2] One cannot prove a negative.[3]

“Personally, I know many who have become atheists, not because of a scientific temperament, but because life has been unfair to them – loss of dear ones, unexpected turn of events etc”

That maybe. But this information is irrelevant to the article or the remaining of your comment. We should try not to reach conclusions about a group (all atheists) based on observing an atypical sample size (atheists you know)[4] . I know that you did not conclude that all or most atheists are like the ones you personally know. But I felt that was the implied conclusion. If it isn’t, let’s move on.

“why is science not able to explain many mysteries such as life, God?”

Science does explain life on earth to a great extent[5][6][7][8] . But I assume that is not the answer you are looking for. If you are expecting science to confirm or deny the metaphysical/spiritual concept of life that you might already hold, or that which is expounded by the religion that you might be affiliated with, I’m sorry but that’s not how science works[9] .

“What is it that gives man the ability to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong,”

Society, Upbringing, Culture, Cognitive development can all have an influence on our moral compasses[10] . I’m using morality as the term for the ability to distinguish between right and wrong.

“[morality] which fundamentally makes him different from the other species? ”

This assumes two things. One, that non-human animals don’t have morals at all. Two, morality is the only attribute that differentiates humans from animals. It has been hypothesized that non-human animals too could, to various degrees, empathise with the plight of their fellow animals[11] . I am not equating empathy with morality but I assume you would agree that empathy is, to a degree, essential for being moral. Therefore morality, so defined, looks more like a gradation rather than a black and white issue. Therefore the second premise that morality is all that differentiates humans from animals, is at the mercy of future research that may (or may not) explain more about moral behavior in non-humans. ……[Continue to {x}]

“Definitely this is not some energy which can be described by E=mc^2.”

There has been advances in neuroscience which tries to understand empathy in humans[12] . The brain, it seems processes ethical judgments, similar to the way it processes reason based judgements[13] . I am not concluding that therefore ethical judgements and fact based judgements are the same. I am just saying that we have just scratched the surface and we don’t know what lies ahead, therefore we should leave the playing field open and not close some areas (morality) as forbidden for science to enter.

{x}…….. Even if all these research projects turn out to be inconclusive and that scientific enquiry simply cannot explain the ability to distinguish right from wrong, it still doesn’t matter. To say that since science cannot explain morality (or consciousness, life etc..) the explanation that I put forward (god, soul, atman, brahman etc..) are true would be to commit the fallacy of appealing to ignorance[14][15]

“There are many things out there of which man knows nothing, because he doesn’t have the capacity to perceive it.”

Assuming by “man” you mean “human”, and by “perceive” you mean by the senses, I totally agree.

“For instance, can man perceive unparticled matter? No? Why? There are no laws of physics to explain it? Why? We don’t have the capacity to observe it? Unobservable things don’t exist?”

I don’t know what “unparticled matter” is. A google search yielded articles that simply equate it to god. So without clearly defining the term, the rest of the questions in that sentence (except last one) cannot be fully answered. As for the last question “unobservable things don’t exist?”, No, we cannot assert something does not exist simply because we cannot observe it, and also we cannot assert something exists simply because we cannot observe it. It comes down to evidence. The question to ask is, “Is there sufficient reason to believe that X exists?”. What is meant by “sufficient evidence” depends on the conclusion that is reached. If the conclusion is an all-knowing all-powerful ever-pervasive, infinite, timeless entity, who also interferes in human affairs, then the evidence has to be equally extraordinary. But maybe you don’t mean that as the conclusion. In that case, moving on.

“Man needs to be intelligent to accept that there are gradations of matter, which is beyond his cognizance. Or else, all scientists would have become atheists by now!”

Again, without defining what “gradations of matter” means, it is impossible to fully understand your argument and reply. To me it just sounds like a roundabout way of saying ‘god’, but I don’t want to put arguments in your mouth. However, let me take the liberty of rephrasing that first sentence without ambiguity thus…

“Humans need to be intelligent to accept that there are things that they do not yet know”.

If you agree that this is a fair portrayal of your first sentence, your second sentence becomes a Non Sequitur[16] . Science thrives of things we don’t yet know. It is the constant quest to demystify and understand, with the help of sufficient evidence, that which is as of yet unknown that drives science. If we knew everything, there will not be any science.

[I am ignoring that quote from Einstein for now. Will come back to it later]

Another reason why the conclusion in the second sentence does not follow from the first sentence is that being an atheist does not mean one acknowledges the things that he/she does not yet know and tries to find evidences-based understanding of the same. It simply means, on one particular issue called the existence of god, this person, has concluded that there is not enough reason to believe in the entity. For all you know, an atheist might believe in the tooth fairy or santa claus. Some Buddhists who don’t believe in god might believe in reincarnation, even though there is probably equal amount of evidence for the existence of both.

“So when you, atheists, debunk the existence of God,”
We (speaking for myself) don’t. Refer to Endnote No.[3]

“do you intend to say that you are smarter than Einstein or other scientists such as Newton, Faraday, Kelvin, or Max Planck who acknowledged God?”

I guess the answer to the previous question makes this question irrelevant. But let me address the quote from Einstein. I’m not going to go into the content of the quote but the general idea that if scientists acknowledge the existence of god, then that gives sufficient reason to believe in god. This is appealing to irrelevant authority [17] . It begs the question, are scientists the right experts on the question of god?

Nevertheless, even if we agree that the opinions of scientists carry weight in the question about god, suppose if enough scientists say there is no reason to believe in god, would that be evidence that god doesn’t exist? Or would you say, this is a spiritual matter on which science has no authority? Because I can get you a number of quotes by scientists, and even by Einstein himself, that question the existence of god and concludes that there isn’t enough evidence to believe. Therefore I hope we can agree that the quote from Einstein is rather irrelevant to the point being made.

• Thyme says:

“If you are expecting science to confirm or deny the metaphysical/spiritual concept of life that you might already hold, or that which is expounded by the religion that you might be affiliated with, I’m sorry but that’s not how science works[9].”

Science does indeed work that way, Bala. o.O
Science has its basis in answering questions, it may be about any belief, any religion, or any other aspect of life. That was a very factually incorrect point.

• Bala says:

“Science has its basis in answering questions, it may be about any belief, any religion, or any other aspect of life.”

I agree that science has its basis in answering questions, but we cannot presuppose the answer before even we try to attempt. In other words, religious beliefs posit a conclusion and says, “prove this right”. If it is proven right, it is said that “see, even science proves my religion true”. If science has nothing to say about it, even then the belief is considered “True until proven otherwise”. If scientific enquiry says there is no enough evidence to support the belief, then it becomes “a matter of belief” and not subject to “evidence”.

Secondly, the concept you are trying to explain must be clearly stated and the terms properly defined. Mostly, I have found that this is not the case with metaphysical claims. The terms are rather vague and the definition shifts over time. This is not conducive for scientific enquiry.

Thirdly, the metaphysical claim must be falsifiable. That is, there must be a reasonable way by which the claim can be proven to be not true. Moreover this has to be explained by the person who is making the claim, not the person who is trying to test it. From what I have seen, metaphysical claims fail in this regard. This is what I meant when I said science does not work that way. Hope this clarifies my original point.

• Pannaichan says:

Dear bala sir,
A outstanding and befitting replay to a mesmerizing living lies, the lies which disturbed the human harmonic existence for thousands of year can be eliminated only by the rationalist people like you.
These people are more beneficiary of gods for thousands of year. Unplugging of the fake belief has been continuously done by Buddha, Charavak, Periyar, Ambedkar and etc… It is difficult to snatch out a honey pot from them. Now a day they are also wearing rationalist mask, it is their cunningness to confuse the rationalist idea and mix falsehood in it.

• Nikhil says:

First off, what does the number of atheists who visit this site have any bearing on the argument? In fact any member of any belief group could question the veracity of magnetism, energy and their relation to temples. You also seem to indicate that atheists seem to have some sort of intellectual elitism from your “high IQ” comment. Also welcome to Nirmukta: there are many members here including myself who have been raised in very liberal homes; have not suffered any orthodoxy and have come to our conclusions through logic and thought process. I am not angry with “god” for killing my relatives or for any other tragedies that he supposedly visits on believers and infidels alike.
You are partly correct in the statement that Man does not have all the answers. But freethinkers seek the answers as reality dictates and follow where the data takes us. Entire frameworks will be destroyed and rebuilt if required. We believe in evidence and not in fiction no matter how cruel reality might be.
The concept of free will and the complex roles involved in the formation of societies and justice/right and wrong are better understood by reading texts on sociology, psychology,anthropology and evolution. It is better to ask experts on these subjects to shed light on the matter rather than bluntly attributing the goodness of man to “god” or the supernatural. Also what is “gradation of matter”?
We never claimed to be smarter than Einstein. Let him believe what he wanted. The disproving of god’s existence will in no way invalidate or denigrate his character or his contributions.
Finally, I sense an undercurrent of aggression in your comment. You would have contributed far more if you tried to uphold your convictions on temples and “magnetic energy” rather than making obtuse arguments and accusations.

Good day to you.

• SJ says:

Hello,

Let me apologize for not posting this in the correct page. I actually didn’t find an appropriate page to put this, so put it here in the recent post. I don’t wanna discuss anything about temple superstitions or what not, that was not the intent of my discussion.

Ok wait, I’m not affiliated with any religion, nor do I intend to base my discussion on any particular religion’s point of view.

See, the problem with science is that it’s simply based on what we can observe. We don’t have the ability to perceive things beyond 3 dimensions. Our observations and inferences would be different from that of say, a creature in a flatland. Yes, science can nicely explain many complex phenomenon which can be proved and verified by conducting experiments in this 3D space. But what If we change the frame of reference? Will it hold good? Let me explain it with a simple example –

x + y + z = 6
x – y – z = 0

Now what science simply does it say x = 3, y = 2 as z is always 1 (a non-changing variable in this frame of reference). Well, what happens when z is not 1? Science says that cannot happen, because such a case is not observable. Well, let’s not just say that unobservable scenarios doesn’t exist or let’s simply hope for science to “catch up”.

I find it really funny when science explains life to have begun from a bunch of proteins or whatever it is. If that is the case, then it would be possible to one day experiment and recreate this “unparticled matter” which fuels all living things. How would that be described as? Some energy which dictates the organs to work in tandem? Okay, let’s not go to experiments. How is a new life, a self-sustaining zygote created? Why hasn’t science been able to find out this mystery, with so much of progress in quantum physics or what not?

I didn’t really have much time to respond to your replied specifically. Will do that later.

Finally a rebuttal to the hogwash that has gone viral. Have been waiting for this. Will share it. Thanks!

• Some A.B.V.P and R.S.S Internet activists send such propaganda material to the unsuspecting youth & others who do not know the basics on magnetism.One such E-Mail was recd. by my grand-daughter which I promptly forwarded to DR.Prabhakar Kamath.His reply was ” Temples were built to fill the cavity in the belly of Priests. Those who have cavity in their brains go to temples” Stupid masses can never be educated.Only if education from Primary stage is planned on Reason and rational thinking some reform may take place. When ISRO sceintists take the model of space-ship to some temple for consecration what we can do except engaging ourselves in hair–splitting dialectics?

• Satish Chandra says:

I think the intent of the pseudoscience was to imply that the body can benefit from the absorption of something, which can be seen to be ridiculous given the next statement of author (which you didn’t quote) – “If that was the case, then imagine what would happen during every Magnetic resonance scan.

• Thyme says:

Here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioelectromagnetism

“Biological cells use bioelectricity to store metabolic energy, to do work or trigger internal changes, and to signal one another. Bioelectromagnetism is the electric current produced by action potentials along with the magnetic fields they generate through the phenomenon of electromagnetism.”

Now, how can the human body not absorb or be affected by magnetism? Or electricity? Or electromagnetism?

I find the author’s assumption ridiculous, actually. I am not in support of any pseudoscience, I really don’t give a damn, seriously, I myself don’t believe in any God or whatever. I came across this article through a friend and thought there were certain things that the author of the article stated to be completely “ridiculous” whereas there is ample scientific proof for it. Which kind of pisses me off. Just because there is a propaganda attached to some article or someone, it does not mean that you have the right to ridicule everything associated with it. I personally believe that visiting temples, masjids, gurudwaras, etc can really lift people up, maybe its psychological (Placebo effect), but I believe there is more to it. I am not saying that the idols bestow divine grace upon the visitors and that is why temples must be visited and stuff, all I am saying is that if you have solid proof to negate some point with and are an expert about something, then go around talking about it. Also, just because some parts of the article are really really pathetic, don’t assume the others are too. Or prove it.

• Satish Chandra says:

The point isn’t just about absorption, but is also about the supposed benefits of the absorption, which you conveniently ignored.

So I’m inclined to think that you think the author makes ridiculous assumptions because you approve of going to temples and don’t like the irrationality of it being pointed out, but not because the author actually makes ridiculous assumptions. I admit, the statement of the author isn’t accurate, in the sense that it uses the same terminology of pseudoscience, without being academic to satisfy the exacting standards of quote miners. But I wouldn’t call it ridiculous or pathetic especially when all you found was one statement taken out of context. Also read citation [2] in Bala’s comment.

• Thyme says:

I am not “conveniently” ignoring anything. It is not my job to take every single incorrect assumption from his article and prove how that assumption and that point is wrong. It is the reader’s job. If you want to so strongly support any silly little article, first find out if has a well-rooted scientific base to it. Also, your assumptions about me are incorrect. It would have been very nice of you to not to delve into personal things and stick to talking about the article in an objective manner. Which you unfortunately, failed to do. And there are so many things wrong with this article. But I have a life and I would like to invest my time and energy living it rather than invest it in trying to explain certain things to people who cannot objectively identify with things. Thank you.

• santosh says:

thank u sir for giving this information but my mind still says beside this energies temples are built by some peoples to make us fool so i preferd not to visit it

• Prof. V.N.K.Kumar says:

It is a privilege, reading such a beautiful article. Ganesh sir, may your tribe thrive.

• The religious rituals and practices have some meaning and function , if we practice them understanding their functions . These should not be performed keping in mind to receive the socalled God’s blessings and grace .The purose of visiting temple should not be with the narrow view of getting grace from God . Only those who are devotees visit temples . what do we mean devotion to God . see my interpretation by going through my articles why we go temples , Devotion to God and others in the website http://www.knssnair.com open link articles .
Temple worship is a way of reforming ourselves and to help us cultivate virtues and eschew vices, which is the state of divinity . Those who follow bakthi marga take to temple worship , those who take karma marga take to virtuous acts and those who follow jnanamarga use their discrimanatory knowledge to be aware divinity in themselves .

• Jim says:

Let me restate it with search and replace:

Human sacrifice has some meaning and function, if we practice them understanding their functions . These should not be performed keeping in mind to receive the so called God’s blessings and grace .The purpose of sacrificing humans should not be with the narrow view of getting grace from God . Only those who are devotees sacrifice humans.

Human sacrifice is a way of reforming ourselves and to help us cultivate virtues and eschew vices, which is the state of divinity .

Thanks, I get it now.

• Aseem says:

I totally see your point,but that all this positive energy concept is nonsense.Its just that when a person introspects/meditates and in such well lit,windy,flagrant smelling surroundings and a certain feel good factor then he thinks there is something called positive energy.

Its just that our civilization is still in nascent stage,need religion to feel good about oneself and do good deeds,just cannot justify that one should conduct himself in a good,selfless manner towards others without no promise of reward.

• Drekthar says:

Just before you read my post and put me up in “Theist” or in the “Atheist” camp with your narrow scopes, a short note.

Science and reason is good enough but good reason lies in being open-minded and understanding the context and importance of everything in life. I see there has been a wave of pro-atheism but pro-atheism does not entail anti-theism.

Some salient points:
1) I have a piece of advice for the author. The author has spent an overwhelming space and time trying to corner and counter every single bit of small trivia which was redundant. You could probably have just reviewed and gave your critique in a much simpler and more elegant manner. As the author mentioned, that this post in fact addresses the “credulous people”. The manner in which you have written your post makes it far less accessible to those “credulous people”. You have quoted extensively from sources and some of it is not even relevant. And you have done far more to rebuke and express your sentimentality over this matter than as a passive observer tried to show the facts and round it up.

2)Also, please quit trying to scientifically counter with arguments just for the sake of it. Google does not mean that you quote up the first article that comes in the search.

For example, the source claims copper absorbs and transmits electromagnetism. You have out of nowhere connected it to being a magnet. All conductors generally are good conductors of electromagnetism. Magnetism has nothing to do with it and is only a property which explains how a material behaves in presence of an external magnetic field.

3)I don’t know why nobody listened to SJ. He really made a valid point. Science has it’s limitations. It’s limited to what we can perceive. Science is not absolute. To crusade, taking it as the ultimate truth would be wrong. Again, we cannot live without Science. It has it’s applications everywhere. It brings certainty to our life because it is known. It helps in controlling our lives because science makes things predictable. Science is knowledge of the calculated. However don’t try to think that whatever is not science does not exist. There may be a lot that may exist and may not. Some of it is more obvious and we know that this just doesn’t make sense. But the crux of the matter is to stay open-minded. Just remember that everything has it’s own place. Don’t try to invade each other’s territory.

Even though you don’t believe in temples, god and all the stuff and that is fine. And I am not talking about this article. But if somebody goes to temple, you don’t have to rebuke that person. He has faith, which will give more support to him than the cold reason will do.

• Bala says:

I will let Ganesh (the author) answer the points about Magnetism/Electromagnetism but there are some general observations in your comment which I want to address.

1. good reason lies in being open-minded and understanding the context and importance of everything in life.

This is a common mistake that many make. Being open minded, in the context of being a freethinker, does not mean one accepts, or considers equally valid, all ideas and concepts irrespective of the nature of its content. Whatever the concept (about the natural world) that is being espoused, it has to pass through the filter of reason and logic in order to be considered [1]. But what about things like love, affection etc which cannot be explained through reason? I hear you say!. Right. I wouldn’t consider them empirical testable claims about the natural world. However, If I claim that, when a person loves another person, they emit positive energy that has the power to cleanse impure toxins from the body and prolong one’s life……. Here I am making an empirical claim that can be tested. Similarly, in the context of temples, If you say going to temple gives people psychological comfort and is a matter of belief, then that is a perfectly valid statement that I wouldn’t contest. But, If one brings in Electromagnetism and Science-sounding terms just to prop up their otherwise unsound claim, then they are trespassing into the territory of science where the claims will be put to test, as the author has rightly done so here.

I think what you actually meant was, one should be considerate of the person who goes to temple as it is an important part of his/her life. But in that case you are missing the point of the article. It is not an attack on everyone who goes to temple. It is an attack on people who use pseudoscience to support their claim about going to temple. So by attacking that argument, the author is not saying that no one should go to temples. He is simply saying this is not a proper “Reason” for going to temple.

2. Science has it’s limitations. It’s limited to what we can perceive. Science is not absolute. To crusade, taking it as the ultimate truth would be wrong….don’t try to think that whatever is not science does not exist. There may be a lot that may exist and may not.

Science doesn’t claim ultimate truth. It simply tries to understand the natural world a little better than what we had before, always willing to admit mistakes and change based on proper evidence. However, there are a lot of things (like electromagnetism) about which we do have a fairly good understanding. Now if you want to challenge this understanding (or any other) because you think science has limitations, then you are most welcome to do so. But you have to play by the rules (reason, logic, evidence). It is not enough to simply point to holes in science. What are you replacing it with? Another claim? What evidence can you put forward to support that claim?

As I mentioned in the reply to SJ, If you say there are so many things that humans haven’t figured out yet using the tools of science, I am totally with you. If you say there are areas of knowledge where the tools of science does not apply, I may not fully agree but I can understand what you mean. But then to conclude that therefore, it is good to go to temple because it gives out positive energy produced by magnetic poles, is just plain dishonest. As you rightly said ” Don’t try to invade each other’s territory”. Here the arguer is overtly invading the territory of science.

And Finally,

” He has faith, which will give more support to him than the cold reason will do.”

That’s a false dichotomy. If you are putting faith on one side of the equation, then you are right in putting reason on the other side of the equation. But here faith side of the equation is a bit loaded. It also includes “give more support”. I assume psychological support. In that case, you have to include “Humanism, compassion, Kindness” etc,(none of which need faith) on the Reason side of the equation. Then it will be a balanced argument.

• Thyme says:

Okay. Here are some “facts”:

(Going in reverse order of your essay, Bala.)
When Drekthar said this:
“But if somebody goes to temple, you don’t have to rebuke that person. He has faith, which will give more support to him than the cold reason will do.”
(I am NOT conveniently ignoring ANYTHING here.)

I think he meant to say that people seek support emotionally and mentally through praying and their belief in some God sitting in some temple who helps them and watches over them, it helps them be happy and content and mentally stable. Here is some proof: http://ideas.repec.org/p/hal/psewpa/halshs-00566120.html
I have come across this research, and some other research that has much similarity to this, many times and it has been cited by many well renowned psychologists, but I could not find the other one. (And no, it is not that I could “conveniently” not find the other research article.) Furthermore, there is a lot of other research that shows that rationalists and people who rely heavily on logic have greater chances of suffering from depression, therefore Drekthar’s statement that “He has faith, which will give more support to him than the cold reason will do” holds true.

“Science doesn’t claim ultimate truth. It simply tries to understand the natural world a little better than what we had before, always willing to admit mistakes and change based on proper evidence. However, there are a lot of things (like electromagnetism) about which we do have a fairly good understanding. Now if you want to challenge this understanding (or any other) because you think science has limitations, then you are most welcome to do so. But you have to play by the rules (reason, logic, evidence). It is not enough to simply point to holes in science. What are you replacing it with? Another claim? What evidence can you put forward to support that claim?”

When you agree that science has its limitations then, making any assumption about something that we do not have much knowledge about, or rebuking people who are positive about it or blindly believing it or denying it, all these scenarios can be deemed to be inappropriate if you are being rational about it. Therefore, being open-minded is the way to go. The definition of being open-minded is, that, you are neither in denial or in absolute support of a fact unless you are presented with a good enough proof to deny or believe it. I do not see what is wrong with doing so. When you are admitting that science has its limitations and you are also not believing or denying anything based on your limited knowledge, then where is the problem? I understand that some theists deny the Theory Of Evolution because it is primarily based on empirical evidence (so they say), but this observable proof holds good to most of the scientific community, in this scenario, the ones in the denial of the theory are the ones that can be asked questions that you have asked, but otherwise, being open-minded is absolutely correct. And the context is very important.

“As I mentioned in the reply to SJ, If you say there are so many things that humans haven’t figured out yet using the tools of science, I am totally with you. If you say there are areas of knowledge where the tools of science does not apply, I may not fully agree but I can understand what you mean. But then to conclude that therefore, it is good to go to temple because it gives out positive energy produced by magnetic poles, is just plain dishonest. As you rightly said ” Don’t try to invade each other’s territory”. Here the arguer is overtly invading the territory of science.”

I think what is being concluded here is that in the process of being “rational” about something, please, for God’s sake, do not deny the fact that there is very good chance that all that we know, in the coming years, may be proven to be incorrect. Remember how many people believed that the Earth was flat and people were dissed for saying that it was round? Even though we are much more wiser than our ancestors, we are not really intelligent and knowledgeable enough to authorize ourselves to absolutely deny someone else’s beliefs and to judge them, because, again, what we know now might not be 100% true.

“I think what you actually meant was, one should be considerate of the person who goes to temple as it is an important part of his/her life. But in that case you are missing the point of the article. It is not an attack on everyone who goes to temple. It is an attack on people who use pseudoscience to support their claim about going to temple. So by attacking that argument, the author is not saying that no one should go to temples. He is simply saying this is not a proper “Reason” for going to temple.”

If this is so then the author should think again. Okay, fine, so you say that some aspects of that article are just very silly, and have incorrectly made scientific references. Fine. But the author has done so too. For all the people who are hungry for facts and dissatisfied with my previous posts, here we go:

“Once again, human body cannot receive magnetic waves (whatever they are) and surely the body cannot absorb it. ”

I have already given proof of how the body is affected by magnetism, tell me how can the body not be affected by magnetism if it does not absorb it? What are you kidding me? Where is the magnetic current going then? o.O It stimulates the brain cells, it stimulates certain parts of your brain to alter your speech! Of course the strength of this current has to be quite a lot, not a vague one. But it affects the body. Try to warp your head around this fact, please.

Also read about Alpha Waves. Alpha Waves are basically the electric current in your brain. If anyone has studied physics, you have got to know how a bar magnet works. Bar magnet creates an electric current. That’s how the induction motor works. Magnetism creates electricity. Do you get it? If magnetism and electric current is related. How can magnetism not interfere with the electric current of the brain? After this comment. I am not going to explain how the body absorbs magnetic waves.

“The ringing of the bells and the chanting of prayers takes a worshipper into trance, thus not letting his mind waver.”

For this I would highly recommend the author to read more about attention and perception in the human mind. The human mind has a this awesome capacity to be able to focus on a certain thing, or stimulus for a long periods of time. This ability helps people perform tasks. It is called attention. Attention requires a stimulus to focus upon. A visual stimulus, an auditory stimulus or that of any other sensory modality. This statement simply highlights the very easily observable fact, that, when the mind focuses on something and practices how to stay focused on that object only and ignore the rest of the stimuli, his or her mind will learn to absolutely ignore the other stimuli and focus on only one thing and it will create a state similar to that of a trance because they will not react to any other stimuli but only to one stimuli (that which they choose to focus upon). If you cannot comprehend this, I am sorry, I cannot help you understand it. Its very basic and very easy to understand.

“Ever wondered why the same effect NEVER happens whenever a christian/ muslim/ jew/ atheist enters a temple? Why is it that only the hindu finds the effect in a hindu place of worship? Such gatherings and rituals are sometimes, quite appropriately, called “Serotonin factories.” It might give you a high. But it is a false high.”

It happens to Buddhist monks in Hindu temples, it happens to Pagans in a Moqsue, to Muslims, to Sufi poets, everyone. How can you say that it happens to only Hindus in temples? Did the article say so? It can happen to anyone who tries. I think the author took the statement out of context here, confining it to only Hindus.

“The fragrance from the flowers, the burning of camphor give out the chemical energy further aiding in a different good aura.”

Ever heard of aroma therapy or been to a spa? Try it, its quite relaxing.
Here is “scientific” evidence:
http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822%2809%2901857-0
http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/1751

Usually the temples are associated with images and ideas of a place of sacredness and sanctity. When we visit temples we smell something fragrant always, the marigold flower in temples, roses in Mosques, it is not a very wild imagination to believe that these smells could trigger an emotional response in the person and make them feel safe, or maybe clean, or anything. Depends from person to person.

*Theertham*, the “holy” water used during the pooja to wash the idol is not plain water cleaning the dust off an idol. It is a concoction of Cardamom,*Karpura* (Benzoin), zaffron / saffron, *Tulsi* (Holy Basil), Clove, etc…

And later:
“So, why not just take the clove essence to protect from tooth decay? It will be far better to just follow regular oral hygienic measures which are tried and definitely tested too. Saffron and Tulsi protect from common cold? Why not suggest these to all the people who are so paranoid about the common cold and especially against Swine Flu nowadays? After all, the H1N1 is also a common cold causing virus. Who will be ready to forego vaccination in lieu of this holy “theertham”?”

Cloves, basil, camphor, saffron are what some of the medicines in allopathy have derived their composition from. There is no need to poke fun at religious practices rooted in very ancient times (they did not have MIMS India at that time, Sweethearts) that actually make quite a lot of sense if you look at it in proper context.

“Charge the water with magnetic radiations?” As already explained, the idol or even the copper plates are NOT magnetic. And one cannot just “charge” the water with magnetic radiations. That hypothesis can be presented for a thorough peer review and scientific analysis.

Then let it undergo scientific analysis before you indulge in any mockery.

“This is why our elders used to suggest us to offer prayers at the temple so that you will be cured of many ailments.”

Seriously, Do NOT underestimate the Placebo Effect.
It might not cure cancer, but it can seriously work in mysterious ways 😛 (I am kidding!!!!!!!)

Energy lost in a day’s work is regained through a temple visit and one is refreshed slightly.

Again, might be due to Placebo Effect.

“The scientific and research part of the practices are well camouflaged as “elder’s instructions” or “granny’s teaching’s” which should be obeyed as a mark of respect so as to once again, avoid stress to the mediocre brains.”

Ever heard of Nani K Nuske? I hear they are quite effective. Okay fine, there was no need to taint the knowledge passed down from the elder’s with religion but please don’t tell me you never applied Haldi to your cuts and wounds and never drank Haldi waala doodh, or sniffed camphor to open up your clogged nose, and drank ginger tea to help with your cough, etc. It really works. You cannot deny it, there is SCIENTIFIC proof of it.

So I find it really irritating how the author mocked the other article, took things out of context, and mocked ancient religious practices. It was not funny, it was sad. So, I conclude by saying that don’t be judgmental about people who visit temples. Live and let live. If you really want to fight religious propaganda go volunteer somewhere instead of posting ill-informed articles online. Let the pros handle it.

• Satish Chandra says:

You say –

1. Science has limitations.
2. We don’t have much knowledge about some things.
3. Being open minded is important.

So let’s apply your logic. For eons, it is believed that Unicorns exist. Though no evidence has been found for them, we can’t be 100% certain. Also, if Unicorns weren’t real, then how did people form the idea of Unicorns in the first place? Hence by being open-minded, there is a good chance that Unicorns exist and it folly to point out that believing in Unicorns is irrational. So it is much better to type out reams of comments on sites which point out the irrationality rather than acquaint the Unicorn-believers with reality.

The same can be applied to an infinite set of objects which science thinks are non-existent. Like the The Dragon In Your Garage, Flying Spaghetti monster and so on.

Your understanding of the placebo effect is incorrect.

Regarding live and let live, you are preaching to the wrong set. Religious morals are demonstrably destructive and religious apologists like you would rather have a “life” on sites like this than fight repressive morals.

• Thyme says:

*FACEPALM*
Dear dear Satish, you have yet again demonstrated you inability to stay objective. I request you to take 5 minutes, and think through what you are about to say before your make any personal comments or assumptions about me. Because it reflects upon you badly.

Secondly, will you be so kind as so elaborate more on the Placebo Effect thing rather than just provide a link to it? It will help me better understand what you really want to say.

Thirdly, I have also observed that people on this site have this strange problem with taking things out of context (which also includes the author of this post) and trying to then, talk about it, in doing so, let me tell you, you are making no sense and wasting your time and energy. Therefore you comment(Regarding live and let live, you are preaching to the wrong set. Religious morals are demonstrably destructive and religious apologists like you would rather have a “life” on sites like this than fight repressive morals.) holds no good, it is a waste, it is zilch, nada, zero. It is out of context. I was not talking about letting people go about murdering other people in the name of God, I was not addressing anything other than the fact that people must not be mocked if they hold a certain set of beliefs.

• Satish Chandra says:

Secondly, will you be so kind as so elaborate more on the Placebo Effect thing rather than just provide a link to it? It will help me better understand what you really want to say.

Placebo effect isn’t a mind of over matter thing. It is just a subjective perception of feeling better and is not indicative of the reduction of an ailment. That is of course overly-simplified and you should read the article.

Thirdly, I have also observed that people on this site have this strange problem with taking things out of context

Right, like how you quote-mine and then conclude that the author doesn’t know about effects of electromagnetism on the body. Since he is clueless about that, he gave an example of “what would happen during every Magnetic resonance scan.”. I would even add what would happen if hold cell phones near to our body, live in houses with electric wiring, sit in front of TVs, and sit in a car.

• Thyme says:

And regarding your cute little Unicorn example, it was also out of context. 🙂

But still, I will play along. The essence of being open-minded is that there is not need for anyone to go around pointing to other people,”Hey there is no Unicorn! You all are just a bunch of clowns!” when the Unicorn is helping people stay happy and resilient.

Therefore, live your life of rationality, stay happy, let others visit temples or believe in Unicorns, and let them stay happy. Unless some Unicorn believer throws a brick in your face because the Unicorn told them to, in that case, you MUST tell the Unicorn believer that there is no Unicorn and that they are Schizophrenic.

• Satish Chandra says:

Then you must not be knowing about pseudosciences getting government funding using the “religion is so scientific” nonsense. Religious apologists like you will conveniently ignore the status quo, that is irrational beliefs effect public discourse, setup the strawman of utopia where irrational beliefs are held only privately and don’t effect others at all, and then get all worked up when any attempt at breaking the status quo is made.

• Thyme says:

I know placebo effect. I just don’t understand how and what I know about it is wrong, or where I have wrongly given the example of it. I asked for that.

“Right, like how you quote-mine and then conclude that the author doesn’t know about effects of electromagnetism on the body. Since he is clueless about that, he gave an example of “what would happen during every Magnetic resonance scan.”. I would even add what would happen if hold cell phones near to our body, live in houses with electric wiring, sit in front of TVs, and sit in a car.”

I provided you with proper evidence. Also, read this:
http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/assets/docs_f_o/health_effects_from_exposure_to_powerline_frequency_electric_and_magnetic_fields.pdf

To quote from it:

There was one biological effect which the majority (14 out of 19) of the Working Group found to have strong evidence; exposure to electric and magnetic fields affects bone repair and adaptation. The remaining 5 votes were for moderate evidence. There appears to be substantial, accumulating evidence that complex clinical exposures to PEMF have a
significant effect on the primary bone healing processes. The studies of both osteotomy and spinal fusion show a robust effect. While quantification and analysis were weak in these two studies, they are prospective, randomized, double-blind trials, a rarity in the field of orthopedics. Perhaps the most convincing trial is that of the response of bone
tissue during limb lengthening. While no effect on secondary bone healing was observed, there was significant inhibition of bone resorption and evidence of new bone formation.

• Satish Chandra says:

“This is why our elders used to suggest us to offer prayers at the temple so that you will be cured of many ailments.”

Seriously, Do NOT underestimate the Placebo Effect.

You overestimated the placebo effect. It cannot cure ailments.

I provided you with proper evidence. Also, read this:

Evidence for what? That certain magnetic fields have negligible effect on the human body? Or for the strawman that the author doesn’t know about effect of magnetic fields on the human body?

• SJ says:

AT&T
—-
AT: “Dude, Dark matter is estimated to constitute 72% of the matter in the universe [1]”

T:”Oh really? But how do YOU know for sure? I mean there are 300 billion stars in our galaxy alone and there are about 300 galaxies out there!”

AT: “Science, duh!”

T: “But how can I, sitting over here, validate this statement?”

AT: “That’s what we have observed! You need to accept it unless you can disprove it (AIUYCDI)”

T: “Disprove THAT? Lol no thanks. You win. But, what if you can’t actually observe a phenomenon?

AT: “Yeah, we are actually struggling to come up with new cool terms like like black holes. You really can’t directly observe these things, even light can’t escape it. But yeah, we are coming up with some analysis of the magnetic fields and blah-blahs”

T: “Sounds so cool! Okay figure this – A creature in the flatland would see a sphere in the outside world as a circle. So, when we make observations of entities such as black holes, wouldn’t that be very narrow and qualified?”

AT: “I guess that’s more than enough for the earthlings. Nobody is gonna actually verify these observations because we know that they simply can’t ;)”

T: “Hm. A simpler question : How do you know if the north pole is actually in the north or the south? I mean isn’t every observation relative to the observer? I could say that the apple falls up to the ground due to gravity”

AT: “Laws are laws, dude. We make conclusions on what WE observe. The apple falls DOWN, not up.”

T: “Exactly! What I meant to say is that all these observations depend on the frame of reference. I am pretty much sure that most of the laws in physics would fail if tested inside a black hole. (if at all it is possible)

AT: “Of course. We have already acknowledge d that the laws of physics no longer apply there. We are coming up with a new framework to explain these”

T: “Hmm. What about the big bang?”

AT: “We have observed the oldest light in the cosmos, which is the most direct evidence”

T: “How do you know if that is THE oldest light?”

AT: “AIUYCDI”

T: “Dude come on! You guys say it took place 3.75 billion years ago! It takes 6 minutes for light to reach from our near Sun to the Earth itself! Okay let me do some math. I love math!

Distance of Sun & Earth – 149,597 870.7 Km
Time taken for light to reach us- 6 mins

3.75 billion years ago = 48469710106800 billion minutes ago.

Distance = Speed x Time
= 299792458 m / s X 48469710106800 x 60 s
= 871851211887900870864000 Billion m
= 871851211887900870864 Billion Km
= 871851211887900870864000000000 Km

Now, Why does this look like a very small figure?

AT: “You need to have a basic understanding of our black hole science to comprehend this”

T: “How about worm hole science? It’s like the new cool thing ;)”

———————

• Satish Chandra says:

SJ,

I don’t think this discussion can get anymore juvenile than that. That dialog is at best a strawman caricature, arising out of ignorance of even the basics of what science is. Also, you can read this to know what cosmology is all about.

• Bala says:

1. “I think he meant to say that people seek support emotionally and mentally through praying and their belief in some God sitting in some temple who helps them and watches over them, it helps them be happy and content and mentally stable. Here is some proof:”

Just because something is comforting, does not make it true. The same relaxing mental and emotional support can be attained through other means too. Belief in god or going to temples is optional.

2. “there is a lot of other research that shows that rationalists and people who rely heavily on logic have greater chances of suffering from depression, ”

I need to see this “lot” of research.

3. “When you agree that science has its limitations then, making any assumption about something …….can be deemed to be inappropriate if you are being rational about it. ”

4. “The definition of being open-minded is, that, you are neither in denial or in absolute support of a fact unless you are presented with a good enough proof to deny or believe it. I do not see what is wrong with doing so.”

I am not the one making assumptions. By “science has limitations” I did not mean “therefore every claim, however ridiculous, must be treated with equal respect”. There are a zillion “beliefs” out there and to be “open minded” to all of them will be counterproductive. Let me reiterate. It is the person who is making the *positive* claim (i.e. this exists) who needs to provide evidence. Until that evidence is provided, if I say I don’t believe that (negative claim), I am NOT being close minded. I am not making any assumptions. I am simply saying, I need more than your word to believe that piece of information.

We all do this in our everyday lives all the time. Say we come across a financial scheme that looks suspicious. We don’t say, “oh, lets be open minded” and go invest our money. There is 50% chance that this is genuine. No. We wait for the evidence. Does this work? Where is the money coming from? What does the company get out of this deal? What about people who already invested? Did they get cheated? Until we are provided with evidence to such answers, we hold tight to our wallet. We might even joke about it with our friends and relatives. Similarly, until the person making the claims about such “magnetic waves” and “positive energy” can give us reasons why we should believe him/her, it is not close minded to say “that seems so unlikely to be true that I’m not going to believe it until I see some evidence”. And just like we joke about spurious financial schemes, we can joke about these claims too. Remember, we are making fun of the claim. Not the people believing in it.

5. “please, for God’s sake, do not deny the fact that there is very good chance that all that we know, in the coming years, may be proven to be incorrect.”

What do you mean by “Very good chance”? If it is very cloudy, it is ok to say there is a “very good chance” that it might rain. But if it is scorching summer and you say there is a “Very good chance” it is going to rain, is it too “rational” to ask for evidence, like say, a weather report that says a storm is approaching?

6. “Remember how many people believed that the Earth was flat and people were dissed for saying that it was round?”

Again, Simply saying “Earth is round” and demonstrating “Earth is round” with proof are two different things. Simply saying “Magnetic waves gives positive energy that are good for your body” or some such claim and proving in a controlled experiment are two different things.

7″ we are not really intelligent and knowledgeable enough to authorize ourselves to absolutely deny someone else’s beliefs and to judge them, because, again, what we know now might not be 100% true.”

No one is authorizing anyone here. And similarly no one is judging the person holding the belief. Like I mentioned before, the bulk of the ammunition is pointed at the person/persons who perpetuate such unsubstantiated pseudoscientific claims about reality.

In science, there is a certain universal language spoken, understood by anyone in any corner of the world. Things like, logic, reason, evidence, sample size, probability, proof come up ever so often. As long as you are staying in the domain of “belief”, you are not obligated to play by the rules of science. A “belief” that going to temples causes physical wellbeing is not subject to rigorous scrutiny. But when you start making claims about reality using “science-sounding” terms like electromagnetism, you have left the domain of “belief” and entered the domain of science. If the idea that you are perpetuating does not hold up to the scrutiny, it will be tossed aside, no matter how old the belief is or which ancestor held them.

If the person making the claim is confident and can back it up with enough supporting evidence, then there wouldn’t have been any need for this article or such lengthy exchanges. In fact, I would suggest you kindly find out who wrote that original article about visiting temples, and ask him/her where they got these information from and what evidence they are basing these on. I would have no problem in admitting I was wrong if I was shown the evidence.

• Thyme says:

“Belief in god or going to temples is optional.”

Absolutely.

Here are some links about the depression thing in theists and atheists:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9334555

http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/article.aspx?Volume=161&page=2303&journalID=13

Your examples about the money scheme and stuff are not in context, please try to understand, believing in something like religion is harmless, in fact it has been proven to be beneficial, however investing money somewhere by being open minded is a different ball-game altogether. It is a good example, but it does not have all the attributes of the subject of discussion.

“What do you mean by “Very good chance”? If it is very cloudy, it is ok to say there is a “very good chance” that it might rain. But if it is scorching summer and you say there is a “Very good chance” it is going to rain, is it too “rational” to ask for evidence, like say, a weather report that says a storm is approaching?”

Okay, by very good chance I mean a healthy possibility. There are so many things we don’t know about the Universe, and history is witness to the fact that things that people were so sure about in the past about the world have been wrong. So, considering how we don’t know very much about so many things, I say that there is a healthy chance that what we know might not hold good with what else we might discover. And I am not talking about God here, I am talking about science. And nobody said anything about not asking for evidence here. Ask. But don’t judge without having proper evidence.

“Again, Simply saying “Earth is round” and demonstrating “Earth is round” with proof are two different things. Simply saying “Magnetic waves gives positive energy that are good for your body” or some such claim and proving in a controlled experiment are two different things.”

In my reply to Satish I have given some evidence of it. Read it. The thing is, like this magnetic wave thing. It helps somehow, maybe tomorrow we will find out that it can be used to help in a more direct and an immediate way. Therefore, what is good is to be “open-minded”, and not say,”no”, say,”don’t know”. Because,”don’t know” is the truth and not “no” or “yes”.

“No one is authorizing anyone here. And similarly no one is judging the person holding the belief. Like I mentioned before, the bulk of the ammunition is pointed at the person/persons who perpetuate such unsubstantiated pseudoscientific claims about reality.”

In that case, the counter-claims have to be well-researched. Otherwise, you are giving the people using pseudoscience as a propaganda a chance to say that they were right or are at least partially correct. And judging, you might not be judging but the author certainly seems to be judging and mocking, which is disrespectful.

“If the idea that you are perpetuating does not hold up to the scrutiny, it will be tossed aside, no matter how old the belief is or which ancestor held them.”

This article fails to properly and correctly prove the arguments made in the other article to be completely incorrect. I agree with your statement but if it has to be applied to this article, then it holds no good. The author of this article should have at least acknowledged certain truths and possibilities, which he didn’t do. Which I thought was not good. So I commented. I did not comment here in support of the article asking people to go to temples. It was not my purpose.

“If the person making the claim is confident and can back it up with enough supporting evidence, then there wouldn’t have been any need for this article or such lengthy exchanges.”

Similarly, if this article was well-written and well-researched I would not be commenting here. Which I do not want to do but have to.

Its all about the article for me. I want to kick the religious morons more than anyone, believe me. Its just that people commenting here, and the author really need to work on their “rationality” and knowledge about the claims that they make, or how they want to nullify other’s claims. And also, the etiquettes.

“In fact, I would suggest you kindly find out who wrote that original article about visiting temples, and ask him/her where they got these information from and what evidence they are basing these on. I would have no problem in admitting I was wrong if I was shown the evidence.”

I am appalled at how you fail to notice we are on the same team. I am just mad at the author for acting like an intellectual and writing this post about some article from some ill-informed quack when he himself is so ill-informed. What a paradox.

All I wanted was to tell him, the author, to get this stuff right, I did not even comment I posted some links. But these people are so judgmental and jumping to conclusions here. And you tell me no one is being judgmental? Seriously? Then I *had* to waste my time posting lengthy comments.

Now I have a grudge against the author of this article and that Satish guy who fails to understand anything I want to say and assumes stuff about people. Wow.

• Satish Chandra says:

What’s really sickening is your attitude of entitlement. If the “likes” this article has received counts for anything, a lot of people do like it. Your concern trolling isn’t needed. So take your own advice – you have the right to not visit this page and get all incensed. Exercise that right.

• Jim says:

Since Thyme obviously supports the claims of the science-y article, couple of words:

– If you claim something, or support a claim, the burden of proof is on you.

– The “earth is flat” argument. I could easily use this in “Ages ago people used to believe in god, and now they don’t”.

– God of the gaps. If we don’t understand something, it must be god.

1. The effects of power lines. If you read the article, it says there is not enough evidence, but as an important policy matter, advises caution. Also note statements like “About 44% of the population has 24-hour exposures above 0.1 μT”.

There, they measured it. If temples “emit” magnetic waves, we should be able to measure them too, right?

2. Aromatherapy. You don’t need temples to say, it feels good to smell something good.

3. Depression and atheists: The second one states “After other factors were controlled, it was found that greater moral objections to suicide and lower aggression level in religiously affiliated subjects may function as protective factors against suicide attempts.”. Yeah right! It might as well have been titled “moral objections to suicide and its effect on depressed patients”. While on the same subject, how does this study explain suicide bombers?

4. Religion and happiness study (NIH). This may be true, but not because of religion. Religion offers a platform for social interaction. And socially active people are happier. But, we could as well replace this with any other organization for mutual support, without the burden of stupid beliefs. May be we should have more studies like “happiness and membership in philatelic clubs”.

Instead of unrelated studies, it would be great if Thyme could provide evidence of the claims in the original article. Such as “We measured magnetic fields in X temples, mosques, railway stations and abandoned warehouses, and it was found magnetic fields are Y higher in temples by a significant margin. The magnetic fields of temple visitors were found to increase by Z after the visit compared to control group”. Ah, right, you are a believer, so no evidence necessary. Back to square one.

• pannaichan says:

Thyme and SJ!

Rationality is nothing but understanding the nature, if you understand and go along with nature, you will not be requiring any mediator icons like god and his family, his home (temple?), his village and his relative of Thirty three crores! Most of the religious stuffs are against harmony of the nature. It induces Fight, flattery, cheating, hallucination, self mesmerizing on bad belief and etc… etc… The so called research about rationalist must be true because it is difficult to be wise in midst of fools! That too, if you have doubt about your perception of truth, it is more hell than anything else. Rationalist must be proud of being outstanding human, they should not oppose any thing; they must expose the foolishness and bring awareness. The rationalists are not from other planet, they arise out from existing mess, so it is difficult for them to fully desist from foul belief, that is their inner most mind oppose the new idea, this opposition within them sure land up in bad living style like hate, desertedness and etc.. I have heard a story of Ramakrishna bhramahamsas, wherein, he was hard working to attain superstitions but he was unlucky, since his kali matha icon not vanishes from his mind. Then he took a knife and wound his fore head to bypass that icon. After that he was able to mingle in the emptiness, in the nothingness and more to say he become super rationalist. This is the case for the Buddha, Jesus, Vallalar, osho… I think, I am missing some more super rationalists name here. Understanding of Buddha and Jesus by his follower must be gone wrong that’s what more irrationalism in their belief.

Most of the theist comments in this post is meant to impose that which are all beyond our reach and knowledge is must be a god! The god has taken different dimension at different time like creator, savior, destroyer, Baptist, Shariaist and etc… Now, the god is brought to dead end by validating certification from scientist like Einstein, Max plank……. This is the situation of god! Slowly nothingness and unknowingness hold the banner of godliness, that is, the theist dissolving their stone according to scientific inventions. The gap between dark matter and light is depends on the neutrino role (god particles?) or some other particles, but we are not satisfied, we pretend to call it as a god! so god became particles. If at all god is there what is his interest specially in the earth that too in the human built construction?. The god who controls billions of galaxy, billions and billions of solar system travel all the way to the earth, which is almost less then Nano fraction of universe mass and perform all kind of dramas, scripts and etc…. here!
It is purely chance our existence according to updated space exploration. The chance can be retained only if all human realize rationalism.

• Rama Rao K says:

very interesting article. And a very hot discussions that followed. I would like to add further:
1. Our ancients used some logic reasoning (though no line of reasoning given for most) but the conclusions drawn are now clearly known to be false. This however does not discredit our ancient people. Just as Newton’s theories, many of them flawed, but yet Newton is never discredited indeed he is the greatest scientist of all time.
2. The problem is with the people of the present most of whom believe that the ancient wisdom is correct for all times to come.
3. Many of these advocates of ancient wisdom couch their arguments in science-y sounding jargon to validate their logic. They conclude that ancients “knew” everything but did not elaborate because then the people were highly ignorant and could not have understood the logic.
As regards to Dr. Menon’s comment, that visiting temples helps us to cultivate virtues and eschew violence, my observations are totally in contrast to his:
I probably became an atheist after vising many temples during my childhood. The hypocrisy of both devotees and pujaris there made me think whether god really existed in that idol in the first place.
In fact, open Eenadu telugu paper any day, you will notice the scams, frauds reported relating to Tirumala devasthanam. A fight broke out when the laddus ran out of stock. Devotees ransacked the furniture and police were called in. Another incident where one junior priest locks horns with the senior one. And these incidents occur with sickening regularity.
I visited the famous Kashi Visvanath temple at Varanasi some time back. It is stinking hell hole. The greedy priests made a sore sight openly demanding money. So it the Puri Jagannath temple. And the list is endless. Certainly, one has to cultivate virtues and eschew vices anywhere else except in a temple.

• DrA.Sreekumar Menon says:

You have commented on my statement that temple worship helps to eschew our evils andcultivate vitues . What I meant that temple worship should help to refine us , if it is done in its true spirit . I have not commented temple work as it is today . If temples are centres are human exploitation, it is because the way they are run and the responsibility goes to those who run . My feelng is that people generally do not know the realpurpose to be served by worship in temples . They follw it simply as a ritual , For this we should not decry temples and temple worship. steps tobe taken to reform administration of temples .The prerequisitive of a devotee is eschewing evil tendencies and acquiring viryues.According to Astanga yoga of Pathanjali , self control and reformation of conduct is expected to be achieved by following intial steps like yama, niyama etc
DrASreekumar Menon

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• Dr. Prof. A V P Das says:

thank you by enlightening article!! i also believe that temples was make for make fool people. i recommend that you debunk supertitions in other religions also to make this world a better place (sic). it will be my honour to meet you by person. jai science

• […] A recent article in Nirmukta on Temple Pseudoscience elicited this Comment. […]

• Deepak says:

Okay. But why then all the temples were built? What would be the reason if “everything” inside them were useless?
Leave out modern day temples. I agree they are pure business minded.
But take the ancient temples.
If it was to make money, temple is not some compulsive way.!! Particularly many ancient temples which have marvelous architecture and so much of money spent on it. I do agree that people several centuries ago didn’t have any scientific knowledge. But neither they were super fools to build some building with that many intricacies, architecture and design. There must be some reason right?
Also it also cannot be to show someone’s wealth. For that some can build palaces, memorials etc, not necessarily temples!

• Aseem says:

Nice article..case in point..reading all the comments here and many people still believe in the wisdom of ancients that has gone wrong..its history/past bias..whatever is associated with old,ancient (also natural) is revered upon.

Great going,keep it up.

• Bal Krishnan says:

Very well-written and necessary article! Kudos to the writer and Nirmukta for this.

• Avinash says:

to be truly scientific, there’s no such thing as negative energy (thanks to quantum mechanics 🙂 ).

• Rama says:

Dude,

you are asking so many whys. there is always an argument for an argument. alright you are putting all the science you or anybody knows. what if the science we all know is only a fraction of entire science that yet we have to discover which will prove entirely opposite to your views. there were flight (viman) even before our scientists came to know about so called energy or joules (whatever u call). There were nuclear bombs even before Einstien era. my point is, when you are arguing with the science you know, I wouldnt have to listen as its not the entire science that exists. But I should appreciate your effort to gather so much info about the temple to support your view.

• Raja Keshav says:

Well written. Nowadays we see lots of people abusing scientific terms to fool people into believing their fantastic claims.
Hindu temple symbolism isn’t an esoteric or elusive subject for the pseudo-scientists to blabber about. There are actual scientific (sociological in some cases) researches being done on it. There, they don’t use foolish terms like “positive vibration”, “spiritual vibration” and so on. This is one such article I found recently.

• Suraj Sasidharan says:

Have you ever stood in a two hour queue to purchase a movie ticket? Have you felt tired/thirsty/desperate at that time? Now, Have you ever stood in queue at “Guruvayoor Temple” for two hours? Have you felt tired/thirsty/desperate? .. I have done both of this a lot many times and I know why even my grand-mother can stand in the Guruvayoor temple queue for two hours. You can also visit a Jail and then a Temple and compare your state of body and mind on those visits and then think of energy/vibrations etc. Rather than searching on the net and copy-pasting, please experience things and post your experience. Spend some valuable time with your grand-parents (if they are Hindu), and they will tell you what you need to know.

• Arjun says:

“Have you ever stood in queue at “Guruvayoor Temple” for two hours? Have you felt tired/thirsty/desperate?” FYI, I have stood at the queue there and I sure have felt tired and desperate. Now, if there indeed is such a physical energy field there, it would act independent of the beliefs of the person. You didn’t feel tired probably because you believe in god and you believe standing in the queue is some kind of holy act there. I don’t believe so and hence I surely felt tired, which proves that the effect is nothing but placebo.

• rahul says:

Have you ever stood in a two
hour queue to purchase a
movie ticket? Have you felt
tired/thirsty/desperate at
that time? Now, Have you
ever stood in queue at “Guruvayoor Temple” for two
hours? Have you felt tired/
thirsty/desperate?
sorry sashidarshan you are reacting without going deep into article. Article is all about hindu apologists who are spreading supertitions by mixing them with science. They are misusing the scientific terms like energy, vibrations and science. When you talk about peace in a temple than never forget muslims gets same kind of peace in mosques. Members of various cults use to spend hours in the que just to see their cult leader. They get same kind of peace in cult headquarter. And we know most cult leaders are fraud. So what you feel in temple is nothing to do with any kind of energy but with your mental state

• Good Day
Dear Westerner’s
India is a very advanced country in field of “self development”
Western world could not understand this advanced system’s and therefore the world is suffering.
Western’s developed materialistic world.
Vedic scientist put an Idol in this temple , so that common man ,who did not know this advanced science,would take the benefit.
Some examples. The “clock” which shows the time. Here the time is accurate, but the movement is wrong. What is termed as clockwise , is basically ” Anti-Earth movement. Therefore no one is thinking of mother earth.see the pollution.
Other examples: Kundilini yoga (very advanced).
Brgds
Ravi

• Ashoka says:

This makes no sense. “Clockwise” is just a metaphor since people can easily relate to clocks.

Pradakshinas are clockwise aren’t they? We could just as easily say the earth rotates “anti-pradakshina.”

It doesn’t mean ancient Indians were “wrong,” since neither clocks nor pradakshina directions were meant to show anything asbout the earth’s motion.

• Suresh says:

Remove the individualistic attitude of knowing everything and gracing one’s opinion to be above other’s faith. Where science cannot reach faith reaches .

• Captain Mandrake says:

Suresh

*Where science cannot reach faith reaches .*

That is true. Science is constrained by evidence and reason. Faith does not have such constraints. So faith can take you places science can not hope to go.

• nagesh says:

How much of science we have studied especially quantum Physics? What is really meant scientific? Can you explain the effects in hypnotism in scientific terms?

Thanks to all pseudo scientists for enlightening about science….

• abi says:

Thank you author for spending a good time to defy and argue with our present state of knowledge.

I have been working on ancient monuments since last few years. With my wit I want to state few things

1. Temples are not build after placing the idols. I have proof of foundation and platform beneath the main idol, that i have studied in a Sun Temple.

2. Our present state of knowledge of structural engineering is devised after 1500AD ,mostly after 1700 AD after Euler, Timoshenko and other legends of this period. Where as most of the monuments/temple are built before that . E.g. Sun temple Konark 1238-1250AD
So we are trying to explain a technique/concept with a knowledge which was evolved much after that.

3. This is the gap, for which things seem baseless, absurd now. I completely agree with the lack of scientific proof to convince you, but things are not definitely baseless. We haven’t enough tools to explain it and understand it.

For example- Puri Jagannath temple is 215ft ht (equivalent to 15 floor height ). But still gravagriha (main sanctum) has no shadow. You can see this amazing inexplicable truth in any clear sunny day.

Dear scientist, perhaps I have not enough proof now to convince you that all ancient rituals and traditions are not baseless, as I still belong to a science that have not enough tools to explain everything.

Indian Institute of Scientific Heritage (IISH) is working to explore these things. Many other people are too working. We too have a research group at IITK working on it.

• pannaichan says:

Government providing huge sum of money and facility to the researcher on the hopes of getting useful returns, now it is deliberate these facility and funds or utilized for digging deeply into dream. What way these activity benefit India ? this is the question in the minds of few of rationalist. The common people not expect, you researcher to get awarded noble or some thing like that but make them independent of block Market buyer of Chinese product.

A Farmer/Mason/Cobbler and many more people, feeding you like people by their sweat and blood, but it is pity to note the researchers are interested in a archeological works.

• Ravi says:

For example- Puri Jagannath temple is 215ft ht (equivalent to 15 floor height ). But still gravagriha (main sanctum) has no shadow

I did a quick search and it looks like a lot of people are making this claim about the temple… along with many other silly ones.

Here is an aerial video of the temple and it shows the shadow just fine.

• DrA.Sreekumar Menon says:

Certainly we had very rich heritage . The traditional knowledge both in Material and spiritual Sciences was vast. We have not discovered even a portion of it .The socalled modern discoverries, which we attribute to west in most of the material sciences and Engineering to which we give credit to scientists of the west were already known during vedic period which goes back to 5000 to 1000 years BCE. This knowledge was also put into practice. So also the rituals and religious practices which were practiced then were based on scientific knowledge.The fat is that we lack knowledge underlying those rituals and practices and we practice most of them as meaningless exercise .We should know why we practice a ritual and imbibe the meaning behind it .Dr.A.SreekumarMenon

• Dr ASM

Where did you get this information that vedic period which goes back to 5000 to 1000 years BCE?

Does not seem to be from any reliable history source!!

The historical consensus among majority of the academics places the outer limits of the Vedic Age at 1800 BCE. Your estimate of 5000 BCE is way out of line with the chronology of Vedic timeline. Even the older Indus-Harappan civilization is not earlier than 2500 BCE.

I picked this one to respond because of its chronological claim.

The rest is typical Hindutva revisionist nonsense.

The translations of these Vedic texts are in the public domain and claims can be subjected to verification.

There are no descriptive theories or hypotheses relating to material sciences and Engineering in those Vedas,Upanishads and Puranas that are comparable to recent(last 300-400 years) findings and discoveries in those disciplines.

Vivekananda and other latter revivalists (from whom the Hindutva bandwagon borrows its sales pitch) have indulged in imaginative revisionist interpretations of the some cryptic verses of the Vedas and Upanishads, which is a case of retrofitting modern knowledge to be read into ancient texts

• Ashoka says:

Excellent article.

• Keta says:

Some of the debunking points mentioned by you are wrong.Tulsi has an immune boosting activity,thus protecting from common cold by increasing your immunity.Just go to the web page of scientific journal-Pubmed and you would find numerous research studies on Tulsi.Secondly,Liver does the job of blood purification??Lungs do that job.The article explains the reasons behind people going to temples in that old era.When there were no antibiotics,preventive measures formed the basis of good health.Tulsi and other medicinal herbs are scientifically tested to prove their immune boosting active ingredients.So even today if herbs like tulsi are consumed on daily basis through various medicinal preparations,it would definitely help you boost your immune system,thus protecting you from diseases like common cold and viral infections.So your questioning regarding whether these herbs really improve our immune system is completely wrong.So please remove that point from your article.

• Tejasree says:

Hi Ganesh Veluswami,

Do you think you have scientifically posted the article condemning the facts. Though you intended to condemn the very own facts, you have lost the base of science even. Let me prove of the facts to you.
-> As you said, copper doesn’t absorb magnetic waves. Is this correct?? Go to the basic modern Physics and know the fact.
-> Doesn’t our body absorb Magnetic Radiation? If not why our modern science saying now that usage of mobile phones (Electro Magnetic Radiation) will harm human health drastically though not vividly. Go and check this.
-> You said, how radiation is related to health. then how as i mentioned the harmful, the sooo very well versed useful mobile phones, are impacting health.
-> Don’t simply neglect the usage of Tulsi and the above mentioned ones, think of why scientific people are fighting for patents on Tulsi, Termeric and many more if they are not that important.

You should be general and rational think correctly on the mentioned points rather than simply going against the theme with the art of writing.

• Anmol says:

magnetic field lines don’t have a beginning or an end (a consequence of the absence of magnetic monopoles) So no , Copper or any material for that matter , can’t “absorb” magnetic “waves” (if you take them to be magnetic field lines) . However magnetic “waves” is a rather vague term – it might even refer to electro-magnetic waes. In case it refers to electro-magnetic waves (EM waves in short) – every material has some sort of absorption and transmission bandwidth i.e. absorbing EM waves is nothing special since all materials have that property. Also it is true that repeated exposure to high energy radiations can be harmful.

• Anmol says:

the liver does take part in blood purification within the body – This is what causes liver damage due to excessie drinking

• Gaurav Mishra says:

This is so nice!

• Krishna says:

If there is an abundance of ‘positive’ energy where temples are located, then, should we see the death of hundreds of people in front of the Kedarnath temple as a ‘positive’ development?

• It is not the way to look at that temples are filled with positive energy and that those who visit temples would be absolutely safe.We should not see God as a superhuman being always ready to protect human beings and give them what ever they desire, in reonse to worship . It is a narrow minded view .Temple visit is expected to help to release positive energy in us, just like gym helps to build up health. We should not think that There is a super power outside us . Godsuperpower is everywhere including in each one of us . Temple worship should help us to realize that supreme power in each one of us . what people reap is what they sow .Those who commit sins will reap sorrows in the form of diseass and even death .Committing sin may not immediately follow by sorrows .There is a time gap .some people experience sorrows immediately, others take time to undergo the experience . It is a natural law . Temple worship is necessary, but for reasons common people hold now . See my Article can we find Gods in temples . in the above web site. open the web site, open link Articles and open DrA.SreekumarMenon’s rticles

POSITIVE ENERGY exists and it exists inside. Within us only. It may not be scientific though. In fact, all our beliefs are not scientific all the time.
Imagine a place which is calm and soothing, where you can go and meditate. Where the whole atmosphere is built in such a way that it promotes the positive energy inside you. The bells, which are used not only in hinduism but it is related to many religions and beliefs. Even chinese people use wind-chimes for ‘positive energy’. All the cloves/tulsi/insense sticks/idol/the priest/prayers/temple hall, everything, it all provides an environment conducive to POSITIVE THOUGHTs. So, we call this place a TEMPLE.
One may reject even the basic idea of Religion & God itself and call it not scientific. This positive energy doesn’t apply to them.

• Captain Mandrake says:

That is a lot of gibberish. I recommend you read high school (7th and 8th grade) physics text books to understand what the word “Energy” means.

• juan says:

amazing article

• Subramanian Venkatraman says:

As a Brahmin I only know one thing. All religions have evolved since their inception. While modern religions, I mean those religions which are just about a few thousand years old, have complete written records of their birth and growth, older religions do not have them in written form. The result is a lot of hearsay has been mixed with facts and this creates confusion. According to me “Facts are those which you believe to be so, with or without reason.” Information is pouring in from all sides nowadays. You do not investigate each and every information. You take for granted those information to be facts which you believe them to be and act upon them as you would like. Your beliefs are based upon your experience and experience depends upon your perception, emotional reaction and various other metrics of your own. That is why we have the world divided so much. No problem. If someone does not believe in the value of temples, so be it for him. For me it is still very valuable.

• the eddy says:

Your argument contains an implicit assumption that Hinduism is very old . No doubt , as you say, that very few ex-Hindu Atheists have the proclivity or even fewer the knowledge to distinguish between “criticisms” & “polemics” of what is this new phenomenon of Hinduism.
But then if sections of Hindus have the right to believe in or propagate balderdash & some even bigotry , why do you think sections of ex-Hindus should not have the right to same??

##No problem. If someone does not believe in the value of temples, so be it for him. ##
Thanks .

##For me it is still very valuable.##

They are valuable to you despite the corruption , caste discrimination, Brahmin supremacism ,superstitions etc that have always plagued them since the beginning ? You exhibited the same emotional argument that you were complaining of .Instead why squander wealth on these unworthy structures , when the same can be used for welfare of the needy instead of priests.If you want Hindu-bashing or even anti-Hinduism to stop then instead of defending the untenable & then complaining , fight for Reforms .Also stop defending Hindu beliefs , just for the sake of defending .Pay heeds to “real criticisms” of Hinduism,instead of conflating them with “polemics” & then overlooking them.

• Subramanian Venkatraman says:

I am sorry I did not knew about your reply to my comment till today when I received an email addressed to me as suman1938 at gmail which is my email address. Pl send a copy of your further comment, if any, to me also. Pointwise: 1. You ask: “…why do you think sections of ex-Hindus should not have the right to same??” I did not say anything like this!

• sajeev says:

Explain the double slit experiment with the same reasoning power you used above. Explain the quantum physics anomalies with the same reasoning ? Explain why the fundametal forces are there in the universe ? The scientists say that the fundamental forces are there by default and one has to accept it and then goes on building his scientific philosophy on the accepted belief. Is it not that the scientist also blindly belives on the existence of fundamental forces like a religious bigot who believes that god always existed? reason has its limits and is good if used reasonably

• the eddy says:

Scientists , “blindly believe”?
In the absence of knowledge , they make hypothesis, which are essential for further study & keep it , as long as it works , if it does not they trash it. But it is always made sure that hypothesis is not taken as a fundamental truth , unlike what the religious people ,not necessarily just the bigots , do.

• It’s good to read the pro-science arguments. It helps regulate our individual beliefs and question our personal assumptions. Nonetheless, it is sad to note that there are many who need to believe by disproving a belief. It is easier to disprove than to prove what cannot be proven. Hence the believer does not wish to prove. He only believes. And his beliefs are his own. They do not weaken. In fact, most times they grow stronger. Particularly when challenged by the views of a non-believer.

Energy is a fact. That there are various forms of energy is a fact. Humans have only very limited capabilities of sensing these energies. That is also a fact. We then turn to scientific and mathematical methods for measuring energies and continue to make astonishing discoveries. Will we one day create ways and means of measuring all energies in this universe? Maybe. Is there such a thing as ‘spiritual energy’? And if so, how can we prove or disprove its existence?

To the believer, these questions are already answered. Only the believer knows the answer. For he believes…

• Vishnu Sarma says:

I thank Mr.Ashwin Kumar for making me type less. I would suggest Mr.Ganesh to go through hindu religious texts before u start judging it. It is too big for one human brain to contain. but we can find pieces of information which would certainly give answer to how modern science is claiming they discovered something new which was already discovered centuries ago.
To compare two currencies u must know both of them. Just judging by the appearance won’t help.
Read, for u have proven ur quality to understand what u read.

No insults intended.

• Gouna Mani says:

How did ancient (I don’t know when, but let’s say 2000 years ago) hindus find out there were nine planets (nava grahas)? How did they do it before the invention of satellites or telescopes? If at that time people had said that they would only believe in nava grahas if there was any scientific evidence, then they would have to wait for another 2000 years before the scientific evidence was available.

So, Ganesh Velluswami, while your inner ego might have been satisfied by thinking that you had debunked certain things, you might have to wait for another 2000 years to know if you really did that.

• Ravi says:

Here are Nava Grahas…

Surya
Chandra
Mangala
Budha
Guru
Shukra
Shani
Rahu
Ketu

Surya is a star, not a planet. Chandra is a satellite, not a planet. Rahu and Ketu are shadows and not planets. That’s ancient cosmology for you.

How did they see each of these without telescopes? One does not need a telescope to see any of these. All of them are visible to the naked eye.

BTW, we no longer classify Pluto as a planet. So there are only 8 planets.

• Subramanian Venkatraman says:

I do not have any claim to any specialized knowledge having just passed elementary school. But during the last 77 years of my life has gained a lot of experience and it may or may not be worth anything. But no harm spending a few minutes reading what an old man wants to say just for fun! OK?

In the days of Veda thousands of years ago I believe there was no paper or writing instrument. Knowledge gained by Acharyas was conveyed from generation to generation by what we call slokas which were probably memorized. No books, no library, no computer, no google! A group of boys living together in a hermitage with their teacher for a number of years to gain knowledge and then going back to the society. Let’s guess
Today’s children ask their parents who smoke why they smoke. Do you think they can get a ‘satisfactory’ reply? We ask our children why they ‘waste’ so much of time and energy in social network and entertainment. They simply reply ‘you will not know.’ If you do not understand anything, try to get some answer. Otherwise leave it. Why bother others. They should know as otherwise they will not be saying it or doing it. Let’s all remember that there is always one more knowledgeable than you, only you have not met him yet or he has not bothered to make you wiser.

• Ravi says:

Please note that the article is more on contemporary people, who should know better, who cook up science-sounding explanations for traditional activities, rather than our ancestors who would not have known any better.

The next point is: Is this kind of traditional, through-tradition knowledge transfer reliable? The answer is No. Before science, there wasn’t really a choice. Now we do.

We now know that the individually generated “wisdom” is far more likely to be erroneous than it is to be right. You may ask then, but weren’t all great inventions and discoveries made by individuals until very recently, rather than co-ordinated by teams and communities? Yes, but for every good idea, there were perhaps hundreds of bad ideas. Without a verification process (science) to separate the wheat from the chaff, we can’t put trust on the basis of the idea alone.

With respect to thought, we now understand how terrible an idea it was to place weight into authority of “experience”. This does not matter whether it is the Pope, Acharya or even a really experienced modern doctor. We chide even modern medical professors, when they claim wisdom, to do a study first, before they preach. This is from harsh lessons from the past. Just read any ancient medical text, all of which have uncritically accumulated remedies, Acharya-style as you described, to that of a modern medical textbook, which states the evidence behind all medical claims. You (or at least a medical scientist or similar) will find that most of the ideas in ancient books are not in fact WISE, but rather very bad ones. It is in fact quite rare to find things that will stand to verification. Many are outright laughable (go bite the snake that bit you, do this special pooja for rabies etc) now that we know physiology and pathology.

The West had to review and discard almost its entire Aristotelian philosophy when it discovered that it had very little verification. We need to undergo the same, but haven’t quite gotten there yet.

She lived very long, probably eighties.

Now ask yourself how her other siblings, who did the same, survived. Half my mother’s siblings did not survive to adulthood and this wasn’t uncommon at all. There is a common misconception that older generations were healthier and longer lived. They were not. We live about 2-3 times longer than our ancestors, on average.

If you do not understand anything, try to get some answer. Otherwise leave it.

Challenging old ideas or just bad ideas (old or modern) is a good thing and needs to happen. Its not looking for conflict. No one is forcing people to read these challenges. Read if you like to be challenged. Ignore if you don’t care. Its not as if authors here are knocking on doors to share their ideas. I am shifting the burden back to you.

• Gouna Mani says:

You can keep challenging ancient wisdom, but you may not get a satisfactory answer in your life time. Some of the wisdom passed on by our “ancient aliens” are still beyond scientific explanation, let alone your and my small brains. While many “modern” Indians are abstaining from practicing yoga because there is no “scientific evidence” that does good to your mind & body, the western world has not only adopted it seriously, but they are also making money from that. Soon they will package our own ancient wisdom under new label and sell it back to us. Now, whose loss is that? Go figure.

• Ravi says:

You can keep challenging ancient wisdom, but you may not get a satisfactory answer in your life time.

The answers I gave to your Navagraha questions were very simple and straight-forward. You just don’t like them because they go against your beliefs. That is what prevents YOU from getting a “satisfactory answer in your life time”.

Some of the wisdom passed on by our “ancient aliens” are still beyond scientific explanation

Ancient aliens? Have you been watching that stupid show on the History channel? It isn’t “beyond scientific explanation”. Its just nonsense made up by self-proclaimed “experts” (crackpots) for a gullible audience. Shame on History channel for cashing in on the scientific ignorance of the public.

While many “modern” Indians are abstaining from practicing yoga because there is no “scientific evidence” that does good to your mind & body

If you are referring to the excellent article on this web site on scientific evidence with regards to Yoga, it does not say that it does not do any good. It also does not tell you to not do it. It just notes that there is no evidence it cures anything. Yoga is exercise. It has all the benefits and risks of mild-to-moderate exercise. If you like Yoga better than other forms of exercise, who is advising against it?

• Gouna Mani says:

I think you are finally getting my point. If someone believes in an an age-old theory/strategy/practice and it works for them, they can adopt/adapt/accept it. They don’t need to wait for scientific evidence. Don’t amuse me with superstitions. Of course one needs to have the ability to factor out plain stupid ideas, and those that are harmful to themselves or others.

• Ravi says:

What do you mean: “finally getting my point”? You thought that the old Navagraha view was still valid by today’s standards. I showed you that it was not the case. You said: how could they see these without technology? I told you that all “navagrahas” were visible to the naked eye. You did not understand what the Yoga article was about. Then you used “ancient aliens” as a bad prop to argue that because we might not have all the facts today, we should consider just about anything as an open question. Now you are revising and posturing as if you had some profound point and that it is me that is only now beginning to understand.

someone believes in an an age-old theory/strategy/practice and it works for them, they can adopt/adapt/accept it.

The article isn’t about “believes in an an age-old theory/strategy/practice” – that would be about regular temple-goers in this context. It is rather about modern revisionist attempts (apologetics) that demonstrate a comical lack of understanding of contemporary science.

and it works for them

You should say: they think it works for them due to cognitive fallacies (people certainly have a right to their fallacies, but not a right to have them be unchallenged in discourse, once they do engage in it). To know whether something actually “works” is a very complicated affair. For most people, saying “it works” simply means that they fell for the posthoc fallacy.

Or put in another way:

If someone believes in an an age-old theory/strategy/practice and it works for them, they can adopt/adapt/accept it. They don’t need to wait for scientific evidence.

That’s like arguing you want to sacrifice a chicken because it is an “age-old” practice in your village whenever anyone gets sick and you and every one else in the village thinks it seems to work. That’s up to you, but you will be challenged in any rational forum on that claim. This is just a logical fallacy known as Argumentum Ad Antiquitatem or Appeal to Tradition.

Don’t amuse me with superstitions

Amuse you? I am rebutting you… thoroughly.
Superstitions? You should be the one to talk.

Of course one needs to have the ability to factor out plain stupid ideas

Yes, for instance, one needs to know the difference between proper (and relatively boring) archeology and history vs. (masala) ancient aliens. One should know how to recognize actual scholarship from the products of myriad quacks who sell books and shows on fantastical ideas.

• Subramanian Venkatraman says:

Well said. I have realized that you can wake up people who are really asleep. But you cannot wake up those who are feigning sleep.

• Ravi says:

You mean feigning sleep… like you?

You said: “You should have our brains examined if you think that ancients believed biting the snake that bit you as an accepted cure for snake bites or special poojas for rabies. I would refer you to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sushruta_Samhita

I then proceeded to give you the text directly from the very book you named that showed exactly that. That argument encapsulates the question of ancient wisdom. Yet, you still think your arguments hold?!

I am just trying to understand: Is this confirmation bias, the very thing you go on about but can’t apply to yourself?

Or is this a case of inability to perceive your own ignorance, because that in turn requires some basic knowledge of the subjects involved, which you seem to completely lack.

After all, it is impossible to explain why evidence based medicine matters, to someone who does not understand probability theory. It is likewise impossible to convince someone who does not understand the basic principles of Astronomy that Astrology is bunk.

• Subramanian Venkatraman says:

If you assume something to be right your mind keeps on supplying you with all arguments in its favour. Same thing happens when you conclude something is wrong. You evaluate both arguments and come to a conclusion. In the process unless you are a good thinker, you will notice your mind invariably sides with what you like! It happens because you generally take a view and look for confirmation. This is the case with most of the comments on various issues discussed in social media.
I laugh at you when you say, “…our ancestors who would not have known any better.” That is what my grandson told me with all the arrogance at his command, when I was trying to correct him from holding a knife in the wrong way. It is our ancestors’ DNA that is still making our bodies function. Don’t be so fast in refusing to acknowledge their identity.
Have you any proof that traditional knowledge transfer is not reliable? How many scientists have analyzed all such knowledge and how much has been found wrong? Incidentally, are not you aware many ‘scientific knowledge’ has been proved wrong subsequently when better methods of research were found? Instead of appreciating their path breaking (not only at that time but even now) conclusions and knowledge, gained totally without the advantage of so many instruments available now, it is ungrateful not to admit but to scoff at the knowledge that they left as legacy. It is that knowledge which served us as the basis for further quest in the same direction, even when it was wrong. The fact is, whether traditional or ‘scientific’, all knowledge is permanent and right, till otherwise proved wrong. Science took its birth when man uttered for the first time the words “Why?” and “How?” and questioned what everyone was taking for granted. Anything which makes you ask these questions forms the basis of your findings later on.
We use knowledge that each one has, in our day to day work. We do not go about looking for any ‘choice’ which could be better. If what we know works for us it is fine with us. Of course, we always improve our working by experience or acquired knowledge.
How do you ‘verify’ scientific knowledge? By putting it into use and checking. You keep on trying to find better ways of working. The last one you use successfully is the ‘scientific’ knowledge, whether it had been acquired traditionally or after ‘scientific’ checking. All ideas at any given time, long time ago or recently, are always accepted for regular use after checking. Only a fool at all times will accept an idea right away into use without checking.
You should have our brains examined if you think that ancients believed biting the snake that bit you as an accepted cure for snake bites or special poojas for rabies. I would refer you to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sushruta_Samhita just to give you an example of how advanced they were in the medical field. Please remember scientific knowledge keeps on evolving and today’s knowledge may get abandoned tomorrow once it is proved wrong. Till it is found to be wrong today’s or for that matter even ancient knowledge will remain scientific. Yes, of course, only a fool will argue that all ancient knowledge is right in the face of modern knowledge which proves otherwise. There are in addition some more fools who take just the opposite view: Every modern knowledge is acceptable as right just because it is a modern idea, yet to be proved. Once proved there is no need for any discussion about what is right or what is wrong. We have just to accept that we all come from the past and that humanity is progressing.
Unfortunately my mother’s other siblings did not follow her footsteps. They were ‘modern’. One of them is around 85 and ailing with all problems. The other is about 70 and cannot walk a mile! I am 77 and have serious heart problem, high blood pressure, etc. because of my incessant smoking when I was an adult. I do not know if you attribute the reason for half of your mother’s siblings not surviving to adulthood, to their following your mother’s unscientific ways of living. Or due to other reasons. If you want to put this forward as the basis of your current ‘scientific’ attitude, I have only pity for you.
I think you are a totally confused person. In the concluding paragraph you say ‘challenging old ideas … is a good thing and needs to happen’. In the next sentence you say “Its not looking for conflict.” If challenging is not looking for conflict, what is conflict?
You again say “Its not as if authors here are knocking on doors to share their ideas.” What else you are doing, though in my opinion you are not fit to be an author? True authors do publish their findings and REQUEST for opinions from others. That is what a number of real authors in nirmukta.com do. You are unaware of this because you are not an author, but far from it.
After all the fireworks in the third line of your last paragraph, you say exactly what I said in my last line! You are also completely and totally wrong when you say “Its not as if authors here are knocking on doors to share their ideas.” (‘It is” are two words. Throughout you say ‘Its’ when you mean ‘It is’. You may like to correct if you care.) Author literally means one who has authored any writing. Authors write and then publish their views or what they think about anything, just like you do, for others to know what their views are. If you believe in what you say, then why did you have your blog published?
It is no burden but a pleasure to educate children. Thanks.

• Ravi says:

If you assume something to be right your mind…

In short… confirmation bias. You don’t need to explain any cognitive and logical biases to me. I am quite familiar with them.

Have you any proof that traditional knowledge transfer is not reliable?

Sure. For instance, it is difficult to say that the herbs that our ancestors used are the same ones we use today. They just were not adequately described in old medical texts. Very little of the empirical data (assuming it even existed) survived “traditional knowledge transfer”. So we have no idea whether the conclusions were results of a proper process or just made-up claims.

are not you aware many ‘scientific knowledge’ has been proved wrong

Unlike with religion, science never states that any claim will stand forever. Science is simply the process to arrive at the most rational conclusions given data collected by best possible means. Of course, scientific positions evolve. That is the strength of science, not its weakness.

it is ungrateful not to admit but to scoff at the knowledge that they left as legacy.

Who said I scoffed at any legacy. But it is time to move on. Treat legacy as legacy. Don’t cling to it. Study the beliefs of the ancients as history and culture. Don’t continue to treat it as valid truths when proof is absent.

The fact is, whether traditional or ‘scientific’, all knowledge is permanent and right, till otherwise proved wrong.

Actually, in science, all claims are taken as false until they are proven. That was the reverse in ancient times and it was a terrible idea. The critical approach made a huge difference. Otherwise, every Tom, Dick and Harry could (and did) propose every kind of nonsense.

Science took its birth when man uttered for the first time the words “Why?” and “How?”

You are defining science very loosely then. I define it on much more strict terms. For instance, medicine wasn’t scientific until just 100-150 years ago.

Only a fool at all times will accept an idea right away into use without checking.

And yet, that was exactly what the ancients did (see quotes below). The checking process was extremely weak until fairly recently in history. Please read about the history of evolution of epistemology in the sciences. It continues to be refined.

You should have our brains examined if you think that ancients believed biting the snake that bit you as an accepted cure for snake bites or special poojas for rabies. I would refer you to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sushruta_Samhita just to give you an example of how advanced they were in the medical field.

LOL. Where do you think – biting snakes that bit you and doing poojas for Rabies comes from? I was in fact quoting Sushruta Samhita. Most Indians bluster about Vedas and Ayurveda without bothering to read a single page of the said texts. Looks like you are no different.

I am copy pasting some quotes of the “science” in Sushruta Samhita that I posted elsewhere.

– Pre-op preparation: “Prayers, offerings and prophylactic charms should be offered”.

– Care against miscarriage: “Hence (in the eighth month of gestation) offerings of meat should be made to the demons and monsters (for the safe continuance of the child).”

– Congenital abnormalities: “The malformation of a child in the womb should be ascribed to the atheism of its parents, or to the effects of their misdeeds in a prior existence….”

– “Every morning after a bath a man should offer ten thousand oblations in fire and take the powders and decoction of the roots and bark of the Vilva with milk in a spirit of self-control, whereby he would be able to acquire longevity.”

– “For the successful application of his newly acquired knowledge (Mantras he shall devotedly worship the gods with offerings of perfumes, garlands of flowers, edibles, (animal) oblations, etc., and with the appropriate Mantras sacred to them as well as with burnt offerings, since a Mantra chanted by a man in an unclean spirit or body, or accented or uttered incorrectly will not take effect.”

– Rabies: “The patient should be bathed at the crossing of roads or on the bank of a river with pitcher-fuls of water containing gems and medicinal drugs and consecrated with the appropriate Mantra. Offerings of cooked and uncooked meat, cakes and levigated pastes of sesamum as well as garlands of flowers of variegated colours should be made to the god (and the following Mantra should be recited). ’O thou Yaksha, lord of Alarka, who art also the lord of all dogs, speedily makest me free from the poison of the rabid dog that has bitten me.”.

– Snake venom: “The venom of celestial serpents lies in their sight and breath”

– Scorpion Venom: “The venom of a scorpion lies in their saliva”

– Snake Bite: “It would do the man bitten by a snake an immense good if he could bite the serpent that had bitten him or failing that, bite a clod of earth without any loss of time”.

Before you lecture me on basic concepts of science and medicine, I should let you know that I spent my life time on the topics. I am not speaking from “elementary school” knowledge that you candidly disclose that you are speaking from. I don’t need to read the Wikipedia article on Sushruta Samhita. I read the actual text. You don’t need to get your “brains examined”. Just make sure you have actual expertise on areas you make loud proclamations on.

One of them is around 85 and ailing

Don’t argue entirely with anecdotes. The same grandmother of mine who lost half her kids before adulthood lived to her 90s. These examples and counter-examples mean nothing. Either you understand this kind of data statistically or you understand nothing.

If challenging is not looking for conflict, what is conflict?

I think that was pretty self-explanatory. Challenging ideas is not conflict. Its discourse. Conflict is more along the lines of you pitying me, wondering if I was a fool, saying I am not fit to be an author, that I need my brains examined etc.

What else you are doing, though in my opinion you are not fit to be an author?

Actually, I am an author on this web site. I could not care less for your opinion.

True authors do publish their findings and REQUEST for opinions from others.

Looks like you haven’t read Nirmukta much. Authors here do argue their case against comments. They don’t merely “REQUEST” opinion. This isn’t a scientific journal where you can assume minimal scientific competence from all readers, or even rationality for that matter. Yes, I have also authored proper articles in science journals. So much for your claims about my authorship qualifications.

(‘It is” are two words. Throughout you say ‘Its’ when you mean ‘It is’. You may like to correct if you care.)

Before you lecture me on my English in an online comment, perhaps you should read up on what a contraction is in English? Even if you complained about the apostrophe here, it would be rather cheap. I can point to more than a dozen of such frivolities in your text.

If you believe in what you say, then why did you have your blog published?

I have no idea what your point is. Of course, people write hoping to be read.

It is no burden but a pleasure to educate children.

I am not as old as you, but when it comes to science you are very much a child (nothing wrong with it as you said you had only elementary school education) and you don’t get to “educate” anyone on it. I do expect you to have the wisdom to recognize that.

• Aishwarya Bhargav says:

You can regain the energy lost in a days work by going to a temple 🙂

This one I must say is somewhat true…

We need approximately 2000kcal in a day and I am sure the Chakara Pongal and Puliogarai given in the temple will help you relenish the calories you burnt that day 🙂

• venky says:

Lets say that someone very close to us or someone we love suffered a grave illness and doctors says the probability of their survival is exactly 50% and another 50% being not surviving. Which 50% we will want to happen? Of course on the surviving 50%. Lets say that probability shifts to 90-10 in favour of not surviving. Now which side? Still in favour of surviving right? Even though statistically we r wrong. Why is that? Because life is more than science or numbers or statistics etc. God is also similar in that aspect. The probability of occurrence of god is exactly 50%. Nobody proved the existence of god nor did anybody proved the non existence. So its 50-50 exactly. So which side u want to be in? (Moreover its not like researches have stopped since yesterday. Technically this earth can hold us for another 4.5 billion years. Human race is 200 thousand years old and in those years the discovery of humans are enormous. So imagine what will happen in another 4.5 billion years. Might prove there is god or there is not). Saying that existence of god is not possible just because science can’t prove it is lament. Because if god really exists do you think that it will knock our doors and give us blessings daily and meanwhile proves it’s existence scientifically. Hey that might not sound like a god. Science is the product of human. Our dog knows no science. So its about the belief not science. If you are so sure that god doesn’t exist, why don’t you steal things, kill humans for fun, and rape girls and enjoy your life is that way. Can you? No you can’t. Its not because there are rules which prevents but because of our conscience. MAYBE that good conscience is given by god.

• Kiran says:

Great that you took time out to clear mists surrounding. Cheap people try to hijack science. IMO, theft or robbery is far better than tweaking scientific words and try to endorse religions.

• There is no magnetism and electricity claims made by tantra vidhi or agama shastras. So religion should not be blamed for these pseudo scientific stuff.

A statue of God is made and a seer using mantras consecrate the aura of Lord in statue thus making it idol. Strict rules and pujas are made so that Lord is respected and worshipped. Also temples were meeting places for great men who chanted discussed vedas, Sanskrit etc and were kind of universities previously. Period.

• Soujanya Shivram says:

‘Cheap’ are the people who’re refusing to think beyond the limit of their tiny minds and accept that there’s something beyond all our perception. Our forefathers recognized that ‘energy’ and have to preserved it in the temples.
So, if y’all don’t have the broad minds to accept that there are some things you won’t understand, at least don’t try call them false and baseless.

• Jay says:

venky, you have a completely wrong understanding of what statistics and probability is. Without previous frequency data, talking about either of them is meaningless. Saying “occurrence of god is exactly 50%” is silly. That is true for anything never proven to even exist, not just god.

Good conscience is made by evolution social evolution, not a god.

• Ashok says:

Hmm..personally i do agree with spirituality and energies.

The powerful linga at Uttarkashi was consecrated over 2000 years ago, and it is still reverberating as if it was done yesterday.

If you go to the Vishwanath Temple in Uttar Kashi which was consecrated about 2030 years ago, and you have some sense of the space and how these things happen, you will find that it is just like brand new, as if it was consecrated yesterday.

You can also visit the other powerful forms, Dhyanalinga at Isha Coimbatore, India, is a little subtle. It will envelop you all over, you don’t feel it. But Linga Bhairavi Devi also at Isha Coimbatore, Just go sit there, You will experience the waves of intensity if you can be there for a period of time without being excited or already fixed its fake. Just sit there for a while…just be curious..whether it works or not..that’s it and see what happens..

You can also check out:

Sri Prasanna Venkateswara Swamy Temple located at Appalayagunta which is 16 km from Tirupati in Chittoor District of Andhra Pradesh, India.

Just go there be neutral, see if the places reverberate with energy…ya..just with this mindset..atleast…see if there is any energy…just curious..nor excited, neither pre-decided its fake and hogwash…

Just make sure you go there after a cold or normal shower and as fresh as possible..it will help to experience the energies…

Else if you do spend some time, just sitting there, you will not miss it..worst case, keep going for few times,..surely the energies can be experienced..

I just did out of curiosity to see if the folks who say temple has energies, bla-bla are saying is true or what..

I still lead a very much cosmopolitan life and do enjoy life the way most folks in city do.

Just that i was able to experience this dimension..

I know most will disagree..but what can i say..there is truth to energies and temples..
just that it requires you to be curious/NEUTRAL as to see if its true or hoax and visit after a cool or normal shower.
Be calm and not already assumed that God is there or science always right…just check if its true..spend some time..

• Idol Worship and Beyond – Why Idol Worship?
Contents

1 29. Idol Worship and Beyond – Why Idol Worship?
1.1 29.1. prANa prathisThA
1.2 29.2. Closing of eyes while praying and bowing to any idol
1.3 29.3 Formless Ishvara and Ishvara with Form – both can exist
1.4 29.4 One Becomes Many
1.5 29.5 Idols are not Gods, they represent God
1.6 29.6 Does not veda-s say ‘God does not have Idol’ – na tasya pratimā asti ?

Idol Worship and Beyond – Why Idol Worship?

‘Hindus worship Idol’ or ‘Hindus are idol worshippers’ is the most common opinion. However this opinion is a result of incomplete knowledge about Hindu dharma which is so different from other religions especially those not born in India. The truth is no Hindu ever worships any idol. Idol is not God. If one says that idol (mūrti) is God, then it would lead to a kutarka (bad-logic), ‘Humans make God and they worship God’. There are two common procedures that are easily noticeable in so-called idol worship

prANa prathisTA

Closing of eyes while praying and bowing to any Idol

Lets understand what these means

29.1. prANa prathisThA

prANa pratisThA is the first ritual that has to be done before any idol can be worshipped. In this ritual, God which is formless, is invoked to be present in the idol and manifest his blessings on devotees through this idols. An idol is like a postman who is the ‘middleman’ between sender and receiver. A guru plays the same role. Since not all are fortunate to have a guru who can guide you, hence temples are created where devotees can gather and pray to God directly through an idol which represents him / her. prāṇa pratisṭhā is also known as consecration. In this process, a part of (ansha) of the Īshvara’s shakti (energy) manifests in the Idol. In other words, prāṇa pratisṭhā is a kriyā (process) in which one requests Īshvara to bestow his / her grace and blessings to the idol and shine forth through idol just like Īshvara shines (empowers) the mind and shines through the mind.It is said in Gītā that ‘Īshvara sarva bhūtānām hṛidyese Arjuna tisthatī’ meaning Īshvara is in all five bodies but it’s magnificence shines through the heart. This indicates that though Īshvara or Brahman is everywhere (sarva-vyāpi) and is spread in all five bodies of Humans, it’s energy manifests in greater magnitude in the heart.

In this sense, invoking Īshvara to be present in Idol makes the idol live with his grace and it becomes a bridge between the devotee and God.

29.2. Closing of eyes while praying and bowing to any idol

We must have observed that after devotees offer their salutations to God, they join hands, bow down and close their eyes when they are in front of idol. The question arises – Why would you close your eyes when the very purpose you have come to temple is to have darshan (sight) of your beloved God? Meaning of darshan is generally taken as ‘to see’, however darshana in deeper sense means ‘to know’. Eyes here represent all five senses (eyes, ears, etc). Hence closing of eyes symbolically means to pull back all senses or to disconnect any external stimuli and see within. bhagavAn in gItA BG 18.61 says, ‘I am in your heart’ meaning that though ISvara is omnipresent and is present everywhere, but as said earlier, the degree of manifestation is more in heart. Hear heart is not the physical heart. It is either taken as anAhat chakra or heart could mean ‘core’, ‘center’, ‘source’. Hence this practice of closing eyes (pulling senses back and focusing inwards) is an advise to look ‘within’.

There are more reasons for worshipping idol. Mind is habituated of seeing names and form. Each form has a name and vice versa. It is difficult to visualise an abstract God who is formless and present everywhere. How can mind visualise it? It is much easier to focus on a particular object. Hence idol is preferred.

Each form of God has his / her unique character. God performs deeds that no human being can replicate. They have various devotional hymns, compositions and mantra-s dedicated to them. bhagavAn in gIta says, ‘leave all types of dharma (and adharma) and (unconditionally) surrender to Me, the Brahman’. The order is given by Īshvara in Gītā, but one cannot produce bhAva (spiritual emotion) and attachment towards God. Here too a form and character of God help.s purANa-s help create a unique personality of God. When glorious divine deeds of krShNa or Siva are known through purANa-s and other works, an entire scene of created in mind. For example, when krShNa is playing flute and all cows and other animals get attracted towards him, and a pleasant, divine atmosphere is created, mind constructs the whole scene and stays immersed in it. Concentration becomes natural when one has natural liking for a subject. Repeated reading of such divine stories, inspiring incidences of their life, their unparalleled divine deeds, and listening and singing infinite glories will make one stay immersed in God and increase devotion to the all mighty. It helps increases satva guṇa which has divine qualities, like devotion, surrender, compassion of all, spiritual love, kindness, let go (forgive and forget), patience, etc and removes negative lower emotions of rājasika and tāmasika nature like greed, anger, attachment, possessiveness, revengeful attitude, urge to gain glory, etc.

After devotee becomes inwardly pure so much so that now s/he losses interest in worldly activities, external objects and loved ones and heart longs only and only for God, then one can either shift to formless aspect of God or can continue to worship his/ her IshTa devatA (form of God of personal choice). In such a blessed devotee, satva guṇa is at it’s peak i.e it is predominant guṇa and one feels peace and bliss constantly flowing through the body the whole day even while working in office. One feels God is God is very near. Such a devotee unconditionally surrenders to God and does not ask anything in return but constant company of beloved God, then God takes control of his / her life and gives what is best for the devotee. God himself shows his / her true nature.

29.3 Formless Ishvara and Ishvara with Form – both can exist
In Sanatana Dharma, Ishvara or Brahman can be formless and can appear in many forms. This can be verified in many puranas like Vishnu Purana and Bhagavat Purana. The trinity of Brahman-Vishnu-Mahesha appear as different as they assume different jobs of creation-preservation-destruction. In reality all three are one. On the other hand Ishvara can be formless (nirAkAra) and can be with and without any attributes (nirgUNa). Four out of five basic elements of creation known a panch-mahAbhUta-s can be nirAkAra only pruthvi (earth) can be seen and has definite shape. Jala (water) and agni (fire) can be seen but does not have any shape and last two vAyu (air) and AkAsha (space / ether) cannot be seen. vAyu can be felt but AkAsha cannot even be felt and is only present and subtlest of all five, then why can’t Ishvara can be nirAkAra and nirguNa, which is subtler then the subtlest of five elements?

29.4 One Becomes Many

According to Puranas, formless Godhead takes the form of Trinity based on work. This supreme Godhead is known as MahaVishnu or Shiva or say Mahaganapati. Mahavishnu is sometimes simply referred as Vishnu, but yet it can be seen that Vishnu creates the trinity or divides itself into three. Here, Vishnu is not chaturbhUja Vishnu holding (shankha, mace, etc) in his hands. In other words, Vishnu which creates trinity is not a person but formless Godhead who is eulogised of being creator, preserver and destroyer.

In simply words, One Godhead, appears as many. This Ishvara is said to have name, form and a personality. There are glories associated with a particular form of Ishvara. There are mantra-s associated with that form of Ishvara and Ishvara can be invoked (AvAhana) and a part (ansha) of his infinite power can be concentrated (prANapratishThA) in an idol. There is a definite process for each form of Ishvara. Thus the formless, infinite, omnipresent, all-powerful Godhead or Ishvara can be visualized in a form and can be worshipped through this form.

29.5 Idols are not Gods, they represent God

Idols are an important part of spiritual progress, but as explained earlier, they are not Gods. Just like national flag is not a country, but represents a country, so does idols represent a form of Ishvara. If one says that Idol is God, then those Idols are made by humans and humans cannot ‘make’ God. Secondly, there are festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi and Durga astami. On the last day of these festivals, Idols of Ganesh and Durga are devoutly submerged in water. It would imply that God is now no more. How can this be possible? If God dies or ceases to exist, then the world too will cease to exist. The ideal of visarjana (submerging Idols of Gods in water) implies that for many days we have worshipped them externally in Idols, now we must carry forward our devotion toward them by establishing them in our hearts permanently.

29.6 Does not veda-s say ‘God does not have Idol’ – na tasya pratimā asti ?
There is popular belief that earlier during vedic times, there was no idol worship as in veda-s idol worship is not found. In support of this claim, sloka-s from from Svetasvatara Upanishad 4.19 and yajurveda 32.3 and 32.4 are quoted.

It is rightly said that earlier there was no idol worship only yajna-s, however, recent excavations have established the fact that idol worship is not a recent creation. In Iraq, in 2015 archaeologists have found 6000 years old carvings and in Jharkhand, 6000 years old idols of Rāma, Sītā, Lakshmaṇa and Hanumāna (with folded hands) were found.

Idol worship was practised in the Kaliyuga. Details about idol worship which is called as archa-vigraha is not only found in purāṇa-s like Bhāvagat Pūṛaṇa (in Uddhava Gītā) but also in many Āgama śastra-s which give details like size of mūrti, shape of havan kuṇḍa, temple construction, etc. Certain features that are to be present in each form of God for e.g. Viṣṇu mūrti has to be of a particular size and shape and it has certain shape and size of eyes which makes it distinctive. This helps the devotees to recognise the form of deity from distance. Many deities do not have clean human like facial features. They have big eyes, or a nose ring (in case of devi mūrti). So such rules were made to easily recognise the name of deity.

Coming back to the above sloka-s let us first quote the one from Svetasvarata Upanishad 4.19. There is a commentary attributed to Śrī Ādī Śankarāchārya jī available on this upanishad. The sloka is –

नैनमूर्ध्वम् न तिर्यच्चम् न मध्ये परिजग्रभत् |
न तस्य प्रतिमा अस्ति यस्य नाम महद्यशः || 4-19 ||

nainam ūrdhvaṃ na tiryañcaṃ na madhye parijagrabhat /
na tasya pratimā asti yasya nāma mahad yaśaḥ” // 4.19 //

No one can catch hold of Him either from above, or across, or in the middle.
There is no likeness (pratimā) of Him. His name is Great Glory (Mahad Yasah) (Translation by Tyagisananda)

The problem comes in this sloka is the word ‘pratimā’ – ‘na tasya pratimā asti’ which many translate into ‘there is no idol’. Here pratimā is often translated into idol or mūrti. However, this translation is not true. There are many meanings of the word ‘pratimā’ like – copy, image, likeness, resemblance, measure, extent, picture, symbol, statue, idol and even creator.

In hindi translation of Gita Press, the word used is ‘upamā’ which translates to ‘resemblance’ or ‘similarity’. This means that the word pratimā is used to compare Brahman. Swami Tyagisananda of Ramakrishna Mission has used to word ‘likeness’ for ‘pratimā’ (refer page 96-97)

So the simple translation is that there is no one else who can be compared to Brahman, who in this upanishad, is referred as ‘rudra’ and in this sloka is termed as ‘the great glory’. So the translation will be

No one can catch hold of Him either from above, or across, or in the middle.
There is no one comparable to him. His name is Great Glory (Mahad Yasah) – Svetasvatara Upanishad 4.19

Śankara bhāśya will give clarity.

‘…due to being of the form (rūpa) of akhaṇḍānanda-anubhava i.e. ‘of the form of unbroken, undivided, continuous bliss-experience’, there is no second similar to it and there is no pratimā of this Īśvara’. – Ś. Bhā. Svetasvatara Upanishad 4.19

Ādi Śankarāchārya jī has used the word ‘pratimā’ in his commentary and not any other word, but the meaning is clear from his interpretation that the sloka does not intend to say ‘that is no idol of God’. Even if one translates pratimā into idol, the sloka or any later or earlier sloka-s does not say that ‘one cannot worship God as idol’ or ‘idols cannot be worshipped’ or ‘idol worship is forbidden’

Similarly, Yajurveic sloka can be translated as –

na tasya pratima asti yasya nama mahadyasha
Hiranyagarbha ithyesha ma ma hingseethithyesha yasmanna jatha ithyesha
Esho ha deva prathishonu sarva poorvo ha jatha sa u grabho antha
Sa eva jatha sa janishyamaana prathyang janasthishttathi sarvathomugha

O God your mightines , supremeness is the top, you are unmeasurable, only you knows your true form, you created the things like sun, the God who is not born from anything is worshipable, let him not hurt us
The Supreme God is filled everywhere, he was in the mind and in the creations of all times , he is in everything in a secret form. he exists in all times, his strength is filled everywhere.

Then another sloka from yajurveda 40.9 is wrongly understood as ‘ones who worship idols go to hell’

Antham thama pravishanthi yesambhoothimupasathe
Thatho bhooya iva the thamo ya u sambhootyang retha – Yajur veda 40:9

One who ignores the truth enters darkness.he worship or follows the worldly subjects (for material desire) he thinks there is nothing beyond this world and tries to gain pleasures from it.

Thus we can understand that though there was no idol worship during treta yuga or even dwapar yuga, it is suitable in Kalyuga ans is often recommended in this yuga in purāṇa-s like Bhāgavat Purāṇa and by many saints like Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa

• Space and Cosmology in Indian Temples- Angkor Watt

Presented at Vaastu Kaushal: International Symposium on Science and Technology in
Ancient Indian Monuments, New Delhi, November 16-17, 2002.
Space and Cosmology in the Hindu Temple
by Subhash Kak
According to the Sthapatya Veda (the Indian tradition of architecture), the temple and the
town should mirror the cosmos. The temple architecture and the city plan are, therefore,
related in their conception. Volwahsen (2001) has remarked on the continuity in the
Indian architectural tradition. The Harappan cities have a grid plan, just as is
recommended in the Vedic manuals. The square shape represents the heavens, with the
four directions representing the cardinal directions as well as the two solstices and the
equinoxes of the sun’s orbit.
A late example of a city designed according to the Vedic precepts is Jaipur. Vidyadhara,
who designed the plan of the city, used the pithapada mandala as the basis. In this
mandala of nine squares that represents the universe, the central square is occupied by the
earth. In the city, which consists of nine large squares, the central square is assigned to
the royal palace. The astronomical monuments of Maharaja Jai Singh II may also be seen
as embodiments of the Vedic altars (Volwahsen, 2001).
The monument that has been studied most extensively for its cosmological basis is the
Angkor Wat temple. Although it is located in Cambodia, it was built according to the
principles of Indian architecture and, therefore, we will describe it at some length. The
connections between Angkor Wat and Vedic astronomy emerged out of my own work
(Kak, 1999 and Millar and Kak, 1999).
The astronomy and cosmology underlying the design of the Angkor Wat temple was
extensively researched in the 1970s and it is well summarized in the book by Eleanor
Mannikka (1996). Basically, it was found that the temple served as a practical
observatory where the rising sun was aligned on the equinox and solstice days with the
western entrance of the temple, and many sighting lines for seasonally observing the
risings of the sun and the moon were identified.
This paper presents the basis of the Hindu temple design going back to the earliest period.
We trace this design back to the fire altars of the Vedic period which were themselves
designed to represent astronomical knowledge (Kak, 1995, 2000, 2002). An assumed
equivalence between the outer and the inner cosmos is central to the conception of the
temple. It is because of this equivalence that numbers such as 108 and 360 are important
in the temple design.
The number 108 represents the distance from the earth to the sun and the moon in sun
and moon diameters, respectively. The diameter of the sun is also 108 times the diameter
of the earth, but that fact is not likely to have been known to the Vedic rishis. This
number of dance poses (karanas) given in the Natya Shastra is also 108, as is the number
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of beads in a rosary (japamala). The “distance” between the body and the inner sun is
also taken to be 108, and the number of marmas in Ayurveda is 107. The total number of
syllables in the Rigveda is taken to be 432,000, a number related to 108.
The number 360, the number of days in the civil year, is also taken to be the number of
bones in the developing foetus, a number that fuses later into the 206 bones of the adult.
The centrality of this number in Vedic ritual is stressed in the Shatapatha Brahmana.
The primary Vedic number is three, representing the tripartite division of the physical
world into the earth, the atmosphere, and the sky and that of the person into the physical
body, the pranas, and the inner sky.
The Hindu temple also represents the Meru mountain, the navel of the earth. The Brihat
Samhita 56 lists the many design requirements that the temple building must satisfy. For
example, it says “the height of the temple should be double its width, and the height of
the foundation above the ground with the steps equal to a third of this height. The
sanctum sanctorum should be half the width of the temple” and so on. It also lists twenty
types of temples that range from one to twelve storeys in height.

We first summarize some relevant characteristics of the Angkor Wat temple that
emphasize the relationship of the design to astronomy. This will be followed by sections
on the Vedic antecedents of the temple and the medieval expression of the philosophy
behind its design. We will also consider the question of the chaitya hall with its pointed
arch as an alternate tradition within India that has been connected to the Lycian arch
which may have influenced the design of the cathedral.
The most impressive aspect of the temple representation is that it occurs both at the level
of the part as well as the whole in a recursive fashion, mirroring the Vedic idea of the
microcosm symbolizes the macrocosm at various levels of expressions. This is done not
only in the domain of numbers and directions, but also using appropriate mythological
themes, and historical incidents. The mythological scenes skillfully use the oppositions
and complementarities between the gods, goddesses, asuras, and humans defined over
ordinary and sacred time and space.

Speaking just of numbers, the various lengths and circumferences of units representing
the motion of the moon may equal 27, 28, 29 (nakshatras or days of the month), 354
(days of the lunar year), or 360 (tithis of the lunar year). Other lengths represent the solar
year (360, 365, or 366) or larger time cycles. For example, the west-east axis represents
the periods of the yugas. The width of the moat is 439.78 cubit; the distance from the first
step of the western entrance gateway to balustrade wall at the end of causeway is 867.03
cubit; the distance from the first step of the western entrance gateway to the first step of
the central tower is 1,296.07 cubit; and the distance from the first step of bridge to the
geographic center of the temple is 1,734.41 cubit. These correspond to the periods of
432,000; 864,000; 1,296,000; 1,728,000 years for the Kali, Dvapara, Treta, and Krita
yuga, respectively. It has been suggested that the very slight discrepancy in the equations
might be due to human error or erosion or sinking of the structure.
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In the central tower, the topmost elevation has external axial dimensions of 189.00 cubit
east-west, and 176.37 cubit north-south, with the sum of 365.37. This division of the
almost exact length of the solar year into unequal halves remained a mystery for some
time until it was found to be connected with the Shatapatha Brahmana numbers for the
asymmetric motion of the sun.
Over the half-millenia of Khmer rule, the city of Angkor became a great pilgrimage
destination because of the notion of Devaraja, that has been explained by Lokesh
Chandra as a coronation icon. Jayavarman II (802-850) was the first to use this royal
icon. According to Lokesh Chandra (1995), “Devaraja means `King of the Gods' and not`God-King’. He is Indra and refers to the highly efficacious aindra mahabhisheka of the
Rigvedic rajasuya tradition as elaborated in the Aitareya-brahmana. It was not a simple
but a great coronation, a mahabhisheka. It was of extraordinary significance that
Jayavarman II performed a Rigvedic rite, which lent him charismatic authority.”
The increasingly larger temples built by the Khmer kings continued to function as the
locus of the devotion to the Devaraja, and were at the same time earthly and symbolic
representations of mythical Mt. Meru, the cosmological home of the Hindu gods and the
axis of the world-system. The symbol of the king’s divine authority was the sign (linga)
of Shiva within the temple’s inner sanctuary, which represented both the axes of the
physical and the psychological worlds. The worship of Shiva and Vishnu separately, and
together as Harihara, had been popular for considerable time in southeast Asia;
Jayavarman’s chief innovation was to use ancient Vedic mahabhisheka to define the
symbol of government.
To quote Lokesh Chandra further, “The icon used by Jayavarman II for his aindra
mahabhisheka, his Devaraja = Indra (icon), became the symbol of the Cambodian state,
as the sacred and secular sovereignty denoted by Prajapatishvara/Brahma, as the
continuity of the vital flow of the universal (jagat) into the stability of the terrestrial
kingdom (raja = rajya}). As the founder of the new Kambuja state, he contributed a
national palladium under its Cambodian appellation kamraten jagat ta raja/rajya.
Whenever the capital was transferred by his successors, it was taken to the new nagara,
for it had to be constantly in the capital.”
Angkor Wat is the supreme masterpiece of Khmer art. The descriptions of the temple fall
far short of communicating the great size, the perfect proportions, and the astoundingly
beautiful sculpture that everywhere presents itself to the viewer. Its architecture is
majestic and its representation of form and movement from Indian mythology has
astonishing grace and power. The inner galleries of the temple have depiction of the
battle of Kurukshetra, procession of King Suryavarman and his ministers, scenes from
heavens and hells, churning of the sea of milk, the battle of Vishnu and the asuras,
victory of Krishna over Bana, battle of the devas and asuras, Ravana shaking Kailasa
with Shiva and Parvati atop, and the battle of Lanka between Rama and Ravana. These
and other scenes are drawn with great artistic beauty. No wonder, the temple ranks
amongst the greatest creations of human imagination.
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Numbers at Angkor Wat
The temple has 1300-m north-south axis and 1500-m west-east axis. The temple faces
toward the west because that situates it to the east with respect to the worshiper, the
appropriate direction for Vishnu who is a solar deity. At the heart of the temple are three
rising, concentric galleries. Bordering these is further space, and a rectangular moat.
About 40 m in from the moat is a laterite wall, 4.5 m high, with large single entrances
from the east, north, and south, and five entrances on the west.
Mannikka has suggested that the Vastupurusha mandala at Angkor Wat forms a grid of
49, rather than the standard of 64 or 81.
Various numbers from the Vedic astronomy are encountered at Angkor Wat as simple
counts, or measurements in cubits, or phyeam = 4 cubits. Some of these represent just the
basic constants of the system, while others provide specific information related to the
orientation of the temple related to the nakshatras and the positions of the planets. For an
example of the latter, consider that the length of the north-south axis, door to door, in the
sanctuary is 13.41 cubits, which according to Mannikka represents the fact that the north
celestial pole is 13.43 degrees above the northern horizon at Angkor. This number is also
basic to the second gallery, devoted to Brahma who is “situated” at the north celestial
pole.
The order in which the planets rose over the eastern horizon at the end of July 1131 is
represented in the bas-relief of the northwest corner pavilion: Saturn (Agni), Jupiter
(Indra), Venus (Kubera), Mars (Skanda), and Mercury (Varuna).
According to Mannikka, the design of the temple can be seen in three architectural units:
1. Central sanctuary: Mount Meru, with 45 gods, the north celestial pole, the centre of the
mandala, the spring equinox, the axis of the earth, Vishnu, Brahma, and King
Suryavarman
2 Circumferences: the ecliptic, the moon and lunar periodicity, the constellations, the
planets, the celestial year, the krita yuga, the grid of the
mandala, the history of King Suryavarman
3 Axes: the building blocks of time (60, 108), the yuga cycles, the solar year, the lunar
year, historical dates in Suryavarman’s reign, the mandala and its transformation of time,
and, finally, the solar year and lunar time cycles from the vantage point of Mount Meru.
Some basic numbers that we encounter frequently in the architectural plan are given
below. For more examples see the book by Mannikka which, however, does not
recognize the special place of the altar numbers 78 and 261. Neither does it know the
correct significance of the number 108.
21 The earth number shows up as the number of steps to the libraries.
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27/28 This count of nakshatras is represented at numerous places; the total inner axes of
the sanctuary.
32/33 This represents the number of devas and it is found as the number of pillars,
windows and various lengths.
44/45 The number of divinities of the Vastupurusha mandala are shown in the total
number of steps, main entrance and flanking Central Western entrances. As 450 cubits,
various axial entrances and circumference of gallery.
54 As half of the distance in sun- or moon-diameters to the sun or the moon, 54 cubits or
54 phyeam are encountered several places on the Western bridge and the outer enclosure.
78 The atmosphere number is found in the central cruciform, inner axes as 20.08 phyeam,
which equals 80.32 cubits. The 20 steps in several of the stairways to the libraries may
also represent the same number divided by 4. Further evidence for that comes from the
distance of 19.42 phyeam = 77.68 cubits each library, west-east outer axis. Since books
represent the `atmosphere' in reaching the`sky’ of knowledge, its use in the context of
library is very appropriate.
108 In-and-out circumambulation of four corner towers together; circumambulation of
the central Vishnu image from three axial entrances; inner axes of all four corner towers
without images; full vertical distance above and below central sanctuary.
130.5/261 As half of the sky number 261, we find it in the circumambulation path to
north end chamber, each end gateway. The number is 32.74 phyeam which equals 130.96
cubits.
354 The length of the lunar year in days, it is the distance between naga balustrade and
first step at end of walkway to upper elevation.
360 In phyeam, the circumambulation path around the Cruciform Terrace.
366 Solar axes of gallery from walkway on west to bases on each side.
371 This is the solar year in tithis, and it is found in an in-and-out circumambulation of
all four corner towers.
Solar and lunar measurements; Temple Antecedents
The solar and lunar numbers that show up in the design of the Angkor Wat temple are the
number of nakshatras, the number of months in the year, the days in the lunar month, the
days of the solar month, and so on. Lunar observations appear to have been made from
the causeway.
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The division of the year into the two halves of 189 and 176.37 was recently explained by
the author as being derived from the Shatapatha Brahmana. In layer 5 of the altar
described in the Shatapatha, a division of the year into the two halves in the proportion
15:14 is given (Kak, 1998, 2000). This proportion corresponds to the numbers 189 and
176.4 used at Angkor Wat, where in the central tower the topmost elevation has
dimensions of 189 east-west and 176.37 north-south.
The elliptical orbit of the earth together with the fact that the sun is at a slight offset is
behind the asymmetry in the sun’s orbit. The period from the autumnal equinox to the
vernal equinox is smaller than the opposite circuit. The interval between successive
perihelia, the anomalistic year, is 365.25964 days which is 0.01845 days longer than the
tropical year on which our calendar is based. In 1000 calendar years, the date of the
perihelion advances about 18 days. The perihelion was roughly on December 18 during
the time of the construction of Angkor Wat; and it was on October 27 during early 2nd
millennium BC, the most likely period of the composition of the Shatapatha Brahmana.
In all these cases the perihelion occurs during the autumn/winter period, and so by
Kepler’s 2nd law we know that the speed of the sun in its orbit around the earth is greater
during the months autumn and winter than in spring and summer.
During the time of the Shatapatha Brahmana, the apogee was about midway through the
spring season, which was then somewhat more than 94 days. The extra brick in the spring
quadrant may symbolically reflect the discovery that this quarter had more days in it, a
discovery made at a time when a satisfactory formula had not yet been developed for the
progress of the sun on the ecliptic.
It is possible that the period from the spring equinox to the fall equinox was taken to be
about 189 days by doubling the period of the spring season; 176 days became the period
of the reverse circuit.
Why not assume that there was no more to these numbers than a division into the
proportions 15:14 derived from some numerological considerations? First, we have the
evidence from the Shatapatha Brahmana that expressly informs us that the count of days
from the winter to the summer solstice was different, and shorter, than the count in the
reverse order. Second, the altar design is explicitly about the sun’s circuit around the earth
and so the proportion of 15:14 must be converted into the appropriate count with respect
to the length of the year. Furthermore, the many astronomical alignments of the Angkor
Wat impress on us the fairly elaborate system of naked-eye observations that were the
basis of the temple astronomy.
But since precisely the same numbers were used in Angkor Wat as were mentioned much
earlier in the Shatapatha Brahmana, one would presume that
these numbers were used as a part of ancient sacred lore. The count between the solstices
has been changing much faster than the count between the equinoxes because the perigee
has been, in the past two thousand years somewhere between the autumn and the winter
months. Because of its relative constancy, the count between the equinoxes became one
of the primary ```constants' of Vedic/Puranic astronomy. 7 The equinoctial half-years are currently about 186 and 179, respectively; and were not much different when Angkor Wat temple was constructed. Given that the length of the year was known to considerable precision there is no reason to assume that these counts were not known. But it appears that a```normative’ division according to the ancient
proportion was used.
As it was known that the solar year was about 365.25 days, the old proportion of 15:14
would give the distribution 188.92 and 176.33, and that is very much the Angkor Wat
numbers of 189 and 176.37 within human error. In other words, the choice of these
`constants’ may have been determined by the use of the ancient proportion of 15:14.
Astronomy of Altars and Temples
We now present the Vedic astronomical tradition at the basis of Angkor Wat and the
other Indian Hindu temples. In a series of publications I have shown (Kak, 1992, 1993,
1995, 2000) that the Vedic altars had an astronomical basis related to the reconciliation of
the lunar and solar years. The fire altars symbolized the universe and there were three
types of altars representing the earth, the space and the sky. The altar for the earth was
drawn as circular, whereas the sky (or heaven) altar was drawn as square. The geometric
problems of circulature of a square and that of squaring a circle are a result of equating
the earth and the sky altars.
The fire altars were surrounded by 360 enclosing stones, of these 21 were around the
earth altar, 78 around the space altar and 261 around the sky altar.
8
In other words, the earth, the space, and the sky are symbolically assigned the numbers
21, 78, and 261. Considering the earth/cosmos dichotomy, the two numbers are 21 and
339 since cosmos includes the space and the sky.
The main altar was built in five layers. The basic square shape was modified to several
forms, such as falcon and turtle. These altars were built in five layers, of a thousand
bricks of specified shapes. The construction of these altars required the solution to several
geometric and algebraic problems.
Two different kinds of bricks were used: the special and the ordinary. The total number
of the special bricks used was 396, explained as 360 days of the year and the additional
36 days of the intercalary month. Two kinds of day counts: the solar day, and tithi, whose
mean value is the lunar year divided into 360 parts. Considering the altar by layers, the
first has 98, the second has 41, the third has 71, the fourth has 47 and the fifth has 138.
The sum of the bricks in the fourth and the fifth layers equals 186 tithis of the half-year.
The number of bricks in the third and the fourth layers equals the integer nearest to one
third the number of days in the lunar year, and the number of bricks in the third layer
equals the integer nearest to one fifth of the number of days in the lunar year, and so on.
The number of ordinary bricks equals 10,800 which equals the number of muhurtas in a
year (1 day = 30 muhurtas), or equivalently the number of days in 30 years. Of these 21
go into the garhapatya, 78 into the eight dhishnya hearths, and the rest go into the
ahavaniya altar.
The main altar was an area of 7 1/2 units. This area was taken to be equivalent to the
nominal year of 360 days. Each subsequent year, the shape was to be reproduced with the
area increased by one unit.
Three different years were considered: (1) nakshatra, or a year of 324 days (sometimes
324 tithis) obtained by considering 12 months of 27 days each, where this 27 is the ideal
number of days in a lunar month; (2) lunar, which is a fraction more than 354 days (360
tithis); and (3) solar, which is in excess of 365 days (between 371 and 372 tithis).
A well-known altar ritual says that altars should be constructed in a sequence of 95, with
progressively increasing areas. The increase in the area, by one unit yearly, in building
progressively larger fire altars is 48 tithis which is about equal to the intercalation
required to make the nakshatra year in tithis equal to the solar year in tithis. But there is a
residual excess which in 95 years adds up to 89 tithis; it appears that after this period
such a correction was made. The 95 year cycle corresponds to the tropical year being
equal to 365.24675 days. The cycles needed to harmonize various motions led to the
concept of increasing periods and world ages.
The number of syllables in the Rigveda confirms the textual references that the book was
to represent a symbolic altar. According to various early texts, the number of syllables in
the Rigveda is 432,000, which is the number of muhurtas in forty years. In reality the
syllable count is somewhat less because certain syllables are supposed to be left
9
unspoken. The verse count of the Rigveda can be viewed as the number of sky days in
forty years or 261 x 40 = 10,440, and the verse count of all the Vedas is 261 x 78 =
20,358.
The Brahmanas and the Shulbasutras tell us about the altar of chhandas and meters, so we
would expect that the total Rigvedic hymn count of 1017 and the group count of 216 have
particular significance. Owing to the pervasive tripartite ideology of the Vedic books we
choose to view the hymn number as 339 x 3. The tripartite ideology refers to the
consideration of time in three divisions of past, present, and future and the consideration
of space in the three divisions of the northern celestial hemisphere, the plane that is at
right angle to the earth’s axis, and the southern celestial hemisphere. The number 339 is
simply the number of disks of the sun or the moon to measure the path across the sky: pi
times 108 is approximately 339. The number 216 represents the distance to the sky,
which was twice the distance of 108 to the sun. The Rigvedic code then expresses a
fundamental connection between the numbers 339 and 108.
As mentioned before, the number 108 is actually the average distance that the sun is in
terms of its own diameter from the earth; likewise, it is also the average distance that the
moon is in terms of its own diameter from the earth. It is owing to this marvelous
coincidence that the angular size of the sun and the moon, viewed from the earth, is about
identical. It is easy to compute this number. The angular measurement of the sun can be
obtained quite easily during an eclipse. The angular measurement of the moon can be
made on any clear full moon night.
An easy check on this measurement would be to make a person hold a pole at a distance
that is exactly 108 times its length and confirm that the angular measurement is the same.
Nevertheless, the computation of this number would require careful observations. Note
that 108 is an average and due to the ellipticity of the orbits of the earth and the moon the
distances vary with the seasons. It is likely, therefore, that observations did not lead to the
precise number 108, but it was chosen as the true value of the distance since it is equal to
27 x 4, because of the mapping of the sky into 27 nakshatras. In reality, the diameter of
the sun is also about 108 times the diameter of the earth. But it is unlikely that the Vedic
sages knew of this fact.
The temple is considered in the image of the Cosmic Purusha, on whose body is
displayed all creation in its materiality and movement. Paradoxically, the space of the
Purusha (Rigveda 10.90) is in the sanctuary only ten fingers wide, although he pervades
the earth. The prototype of the temple is the Agnikshetra, the sacred ground on which the
Vedic altars are built. The Agnikshetra is an oblong or trapezoidal area on which the fire
altars are built. Tripathi (1990) has argued that the agnichayana sacred ground provides
the prototype, because in it is installed a golden disc (rukma) with 21 knobs or hangings
representing the sun with a golden image of the purusha on it. Tripathi shows that the
detailed ritual includes components that would now be termed Shaivite, Vaishnava, or
Shakta. In Nachiketa Agni, 21 bricks of gold are placed one top of the other in a form of
shivalinga. The disk of the rukma, which is placed in the navel of the altar on a lotus leaf
10
is in correspondence to the lotus emanating from Vishnu’s navel which holds the
universe. Several bricks are named after goddesses, such as the seven krittikas.
The temple is the representation of the cosmos both at the level of the universe and the
individual, making it possible for the devotee to get inspired to achieve his own spiritual
transformation. The purusha placed within the brick structure of the altar represents the
consciousness principle within the individual. It is like the relic within the stupa.
Complementing the tradition of the Vedic ritual was that of the munis and yogis who
lived in caves and performed austerities. From this tradition arose the vihara, where the
priests lived. The chaitya hall that also housed the stupa may be seen as a development
out of the agnichayana tradition where within the brick structure of the altar were buried
the rukma and the golden man (see Shatapatha Brahmana 7.4.1 for details; 7.4.2
describes how above the man is placed a perforated brick which encases it like a casket).

The rock-cut chaityas represent a variant form of a tradition that was usually
implemented using wood or brick. The evidence for that comes from the very nature of
the structure with its beams. A conjectured wooden chaityagriha is shown.
The mature temple is thus an organic development of the Vedic tradition. Further
evidence for wooden structures is provided by a painting from Ajanta

The rock-cut temples preserve features of earlier structures that have not survived. For
example, we see the pointed arch of the chaitya halls that is not seen in other monuments
on the ground made of brick or stone until the 8th or 9th century. In the words of Susan
Huntington (1985) regarding the Lomash Rishi cave: “The sophisticated woodworking
techniques recorded in the cave makes it certain that ancient India had an elaborate and
lengthy history of wooden architecture prior to the Maurya period, though some of the
forms are only preserved then.”

The temple construction begins with the Vastupurusha mandala, which is a yantra, mostly
divided into 64 (8 x 8) or 81 (9 x 9) squares, which are the seats of 45 divinities. Brahma
is at the centre, around him 12 squares represent the Adityas, and in the outer circle are
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28 squares that represent the nakshatras. The Vastumandala with its border is
the place where the motions of the sun and the moon and the planets are reconciled. It is
the Vastu in which the decrepit, old Chyavana of the Rigveda 1.116.10 asks his sons to
put him down so that he would become young again. Chyavana is the moon and Sukanya,
whom he desires, is the sun.

In the basic Vedic scheme the circle represents the earth and the square represents the
heavens or the deity. But the altar or the temple, as a representation of the dynamism of
the universe, requires a breaking of the symmetry of the square. As seen clearly in the
agnichayana and other altar constructions, this is done in a variety of ways. Although the
main altar might be square or its derivative, the overall sacred area is taken to be a
departure from this shape. In particular, the temples to the goddess are drawn on a
rectangular plan. In Shiva or Vishnu temples, which are square, change is represented by
a play of diagonal lines. These diagonals are essentially kinetic and are therefore
representative of movement and stress. They embody the time-factor in a composition.
In the Shilpa Prakasha} 1.90-106, a 9th-12th century Orissan temple architecture text,
Ramachandra Kaulachara describes the Yogini Yantra for the layout of the goddess
temple. Alice Boner writes (in Kaulacara, 1966),
14
[The Devi temples] represent the creative expanding forces, and therefore could
not be logically be represented by a square, which is an eminently static form.
While the immanent supreme principle is represented by the number ONE, the
first stir of creation initiates duality, which is the number TWO, and is the
producer of THREE and FOUR and all subsequent numbers up to the infinite.
The dynamism is expressed by a doubling of the square to a rectangle or the ratio 1:2,
where the garbhagriha is now built in the geometrical centre. For a three-dimensional
structure, the basic symmetry-breaking ratio is 1:2:4, which can be continued further to
another doubling.
The constructions of the Harappan period (2600-1900 BC) appear to be according to the
same principles. The dynamic ratio of 1:2:4 is the most commonly encountered size of
rooms of houses, in the overall plan of houses and the construction of large public
buildings. This ratio is also reflected in the overall plan of the large walled sector at
Mohenjo-Daro called the citadel mound. It is even the most commonly encountered brick
size.
There is evidence of temple structures in the Harappan period in addition to iconography
that recalls the goddess. Structures dating to 2000 BC, built in the design of yantras, have
been unearthed in northern Afghanistan. There is ample evidence for a continuity in the
religious and artistic tradition of India from the Harappan times, if not earlier. These
ideas and the astronomical basis continued in the architecture of the temples of the
classical age. Kramrisch has argued that the number 25,920, the number of years in the
precessional period of the earth, is also reflected in the plan of the temple.
As a representation of the macrocosm, change in the temple is described in terms of the
motions of the heavenly bodies. According to Alice Boner (Kaulacara, 1966):
But in asmuch as it incorporates in a single synthesis the unequal courses of the
sun, the moon and the planets, it also symbolizes all recurrent time sequences: the
day, the month, the year and the wider cycles marked by the recurrence of a
complete cycle of eclipses, when the sun and the moon are readjusted in their
original positions, a new cycle of creation begins.
The Hindu temple, as a conception of the astronomical frame of the universe,
serves the same purpose as the Vedic altar, which reconciled the motions of the sun and
the moon. The progressive complexity of the classical temple was inevitable given an
attempt to bring in the cycles of the planets and other ideas of the yugas into the scheme.
Concluding Remarks
This paper has shown how the Hindu temple represents the outer and the inner cosmos.
The outer cosmos is expressed in terms of various astronomical connections between the
temple structure and the motions of the sun, the moon, and the planets. The inner cosmos
is represented in terms of the consciousness at the womb of the temple and various levels
15
of the superstructure that correspond to the states of consciousness. The position of the
gods in the vastupurushamandala within the temple is a symbolic representation of the
spatial projections of the cosmic purusha in his own body.
The temple must be seen as a structure that gives us considerable information about the
science and cosmology of its times. Regarding technology behind the constructions, one
must look at each structure separately and see how it fits in the evolving techniques of
design and artistic representation across the region.
References
Boner, A., 1962. Principles of Composition in Hindu Sculpture. E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1962,
page 27.
Huntington, S., 1985. The Art of Ancient India. Weatherhill, New York.
Kak, S., 1992. ```Astronomy of the Vedic altars and the Rigveda'', Mankind Quarterly, 33, 43-55. Kak, S., 1993.```Astronomy of the Vedic Altars,” Vistas in Astronomy, 36, 117-140.
Kak, S., 1995. ```The astronomy of the age of geometric altars," Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society, 36, 385-396. Kak, S., 1998.```The sun’s orbit in the Brahmanas,” Indian Journal of History of Science,
33, 175-191.
Kak, S., 1999. ```The solar equation in Angkor Wat,'' Indian Journal of History of Science, vol. 34, pp. 117-126. Kak, S., 2000. The Astronomical Code of the Rgveda. Munshiram Manoharlal, New Delhi. Kak, S., 2002. The Gods Within. Munshiram Manoharlal, New Delhi. Kamiya, T. 2002. Lycian influence to Indian cave temples. http://www.ne.jp/asahi/arc/ind/lycia/liki_eng.htm Kaulacara, R., 1966. Silpa Prakasa. Boner, A. and Rath Sarma, S. (eds.). E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1966. Kramrisch, S., 1946. The Hindu Temple. The University of Calcutta, Calcutta, 1946; Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1991, page 35-36. Lokesh Chandra, 1995.```Devaraja in Cambodian history”, In Cultural Horizons of India.
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Mannikka, Eleanor, 1996. Angkor Wat: Time, Space, and Kingship. Univ of Hawaii
Press, Honolulu
Millar, F.G. and Kak, S., 1999. “A Brahmanic fire altar explains a solar equation in
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Tripathi, V., 1990. Agnicayana. Sampurnanand Sanskrit University, Varanasi.
Volwahsen, A., 2001. Cosmic Architecture in India. Prestel, New York, and Mapin