Debunked Freethought Activism Pseudoscience & Religion

Who Will Slay The Jabberwocky?

Alice was trembling with overwhelming fear like never before. She was in an alien land. She was facing a terrible beast. The Jabberwocky. Nevertheless, with the help of the white queen and her little soldiers, Alice had slain the Jabberwocky by nightfall!

Alice today was this beautiful creature we humans seem to hardly recognize anymore. It’s called “common sense”. The white queen was another long lost friend. She is called “the scientific temper” and the tiny soldiers were the infidels at IIT Madras who fought tooth and nail to restore the honor and the rightful throne of the white queen.

The Jabberwocky, of course was a man posing to be an expert in the field of Science. It wasn’t underland or wonderland but a wonderful land where scientific temper is nurtured.

IIT Madras.

My acquaintance with IIT has always been an exciting and a pleasant one. Whenever I had stepped into IIT, it had been for a good cause. It had been a few years since I set foot into IIT and things seem to have changed a little bit. Newer housing buildings had sprung up but the same old cozy heavily forested and lush with nature environment made one feel right at home.

When I entered the auditorium where Dr. A. B. Sudhakara Sastry was to deliver a speech on the topic of  “Vedic Sciences: A Treasure waiting for YOU”, little did I know this was going to be the “Heathens’ Night” with the DJ playing nothing but the blasphemy genre of music and we be partying all the way. So I entered and sat down with my friends who had invited me to the occasion. The speech was kicked off by an introduction and a warm-up speech by an IIT Professor. The speech was fascinating despite the references to vedic technology; the gist of it – nano particles in metals, making alloys etc., sounded great. The stage was set for Mr. Sudhakara Sastry. Of course, don’t expect me to refer this guy with a “Dr.” That entitlement is reserved for the medical practitioners or the research graduates or people who had actually done something worthwhile in life that has changed things for the good and has positively contributed to society. “Mr.” is my way of being nice and generous to people like Mr. Sastry.

The ritual (yes, it did not resemble a lecture) started off with a vedic chant. You know, with a start  like this, you can expect everything to go downhill from there on but never mind. I tried hard to listen with an open mind and Mr. Sastry started off with the usual list…

Vedic literature has every speck of knowledge we need for today. There is no need to invent; we just need to discover what’s already there.

Vedic literature is divided into two. Nigama – which is the science and then, Agama – which is the technology


Books written by our pandits are no longer available for us to read since they have all been lost in time. All of our thala pathra granthas have been stolen by the Germans in 3 ships.

Every search Mr. Sastry makes leads him to a German website because it’s all housed in German libraries in Germany. Some of our granthas have been stolen by the British as well. Mr. Sastry implied that this sort of explains why the Germans and the British have prospered with our granthas while we are where we are.

At this point in time, Professor Suresh Govindarajan from the Physics Department of IIT Madras got too irritated with all this hogwash and requested for some practical models and examples of how things were applicable. Mr. Sastry said that he had very limited time and that he was merely invited to provide a “High Level Overview” of the ideas that need to be explored and that if he was interested, he should come talk to him later in private. The crowd went totally “Booo!” on this response. Not just that, but it made two other professors join the cocktail party.

By this time Mr. Sastry had done several split jumps and double dives and taken the case of Vedic science to levels that were indefensible even if the paramatma himself descended from the heavens to prove the vedic books he inspired to write, as true and valid in today’s context. To add to the woes, there was this diagram that came up on the screen that made us go crazy.

Have a look. Hint: Grab a drink as well, you are gonna need it.

At this point, the Professor who started questioning first stood up and asked Mr. Sastry to explain this diagram and what it does and of course, Mr. Sastry couldn’t. Shots of vocabulary were heard being fired left, right and center. The organizers tried to do a bit of damage control and everyone calmed down to let Sastry proceed with his fairytale stories of how vedic science “is  the best” of all sciences. He went on to say more things that he would later painfully regret.

For example Sastry said that Ancient people could do far more complex arithmetic problems without a computer than people today with computers find difficult to grasp. When he said this I was like “Dude, windows calculator has scientific calculator too. Like seriously?!?”

Never mind, we let him continue and he came up with this! ->

Maha Prakriti stuff. 25 schools of study/thought and if it does not fit into this, it aint science bro! The whole ordeal was so painful. I am grappling with the notepad to write as much as I can but Mr. Sastry has a flair for pseudoscience at the speed of light, which I was not able to keep up with, obviously.

Mr. Sastry went on to say how his metal alloys were being discussed with the DRDO and how we are trying to use such stuff in defense applications. It all made sense to me then. I knew why 2 out of every 4 rockets we send up ended in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea instead of hitting stratosphere.

Why blame him though? All of our granthas are with the goddamn Germans. Them thieves! While I was slowly recovering from the German thief’s recklessness, the last thing I expected on planet earth came on screen. I was so shocked that I failed to shoot a picture of it. I just froze in time!

Lord McAulays Hoax Qoute

Yes! Internet Hoax from a 6th grade school kid, of RSS parents.  When I saw this, I knew where this was going. If you are still wondering why I am so stuck up on this image, here is why.

I couldn’t let this one go but I had to wait until Q & A time. You see as a British servant, there was no reason for Lord McCaulay to go all waxy poetic about India’s awesomeness. Of course, the real text of his speech can be found here which is completely contradictory to this image, which has no valid sources except when it began appearing on RSS/VHP and other right wing Hindu extremist and Indian nationalistic webpages.

Mr. Sastry claimed how he had been doing research on metallurgy and concepts like making alloys by using herbs, which were environmentally friendly have to be explored from our ancient texts and our current way of making alloys is so inefficient and toxic. While I agree with him that environmental friendly ways of mass producing resources need to be considered and it could be that our ancient texts may have processes that we could take a look at for reference, this does not mean modern ways of making metal alloys are nonsensical.

Never mind, moving on several claims were made.

Panini, the great Panini came up…


Divine Engineering technologies came up as well. I mean, who knew…

Random quotes from Mr. Sastry’s paper boy, laundry man, mail man, janitor et al came up…

Did you infidels know anti-gravity was possible? I’m sure your narrow minded brains don’t compute this.

I mean, he could have advertised his company like this…

Talked about their universities awards like this…

And rolled the end credits like this and left.

But he didn’t. He decided to ride on and after this came the Q & A sessions. I’ll tell you what. The heathens were awake, wide awake!

Here is a sample of what happened…

Vedic Technology Lecture Q & A at IIT Madras (needs a Facebook account + membership in the Chennai Freethinkers Group)

Update – Video links provided by Javali.

Complete Video – Part 1, Part 2. Excerpts:

Professor Das pointed out that everything ancient cannot be termed as “Vedic”. Some of the items he showed were clearly post the Vedic period and that Vedas had nothing to do with it. Several other professors pointed out that there have been no models, methods or ideas mentioned in the presentation today. Some of the organizers tried to defend Mr. Sastri and said that he was merely someone who had scratched the surface of what is now known as “vedic science” and that too a small portion of it, metallurgy.

Sadly, this carpet bombed on them because there was a Professor on metallurgy sitting right there and that swung him into action, sigh! He questioned on the corrosive resistance values of some of the metal alloys presented in the discussion and some technical specifications (which I clearly did not understand as it went right over my head) and the same reply about “this is just basic stuff. Meet me offline if you are interested in learning from me” came up which people rightly shoved off as nonsense.

Several other technical questions came up on the methods and the review process of Mr. Sastry’s work. Again, several people from the organizing committee and some from the audience tried to defend Sastry saying he was merely an expert and not a scientist. This ended up back firing as well since Mr. Sastry claims to have scratched this field and has been a “one man army” trying to get the scientific community to dedicate some time to Vedic technology. Mr. Sastry also never hesitated a bit about boasting his credentials about writing a book on this subject. When contested about this, the “I wrote a book” claim was reduced to “he merely translated the book verbatim. Why are you questioning him on this?!?” from one of his supporters.

Nevertheless, the force was with us and the force was too much to handle for the people trying to help Mr. Sastry. At this point in time my friends who were with me questioned Mr. Sastry on his take on what Science was and what Science was not. Considering everyone was questioning Mr. Sastry I thought it was only fair that as a complete noob to the subject of scientific research, I only ask Mr. Sastry on his content integrity. I ended up asking why Mr. Sastry had an Internet Hoax image which even school kids and college goers would dismiss as unreliable evidence and how confident he was about his fact checking skills before he puts things on a slide. Mr. Sastry uttered an “Oh”.

Mr. Sastry’s woes did not end with me. Another round of what “Traditional Knowledge” is and what “Science” is was schooled to Mr. Sastry by Professor Das. The last comment was from another Professor (I think) and he described how humiliated he felt to have someone like him on the dais. Someone mentioned that they missed Professor V. Balakrishnan who was absent during this session.

The Q & A session had to be put to an end. It was going nowhere as people were heckling the living daylights out of Mr. Sastry for his tall and hollow claims. We all walked out and for another half an hour there were discussions internally on how this entire fiasco happened, I assume. I finally met some of the professors, thanked them for standing up for the “scientific temper” and “rationality” and we had a good chat for another 30 odd minutes before getting back home.

I feel like a wounded soldier in a battlefield. I’m stupefied beyond belief that someone like Mr. Sastry would even warrant an invitation at an institution like IIT. All the jokes in the Dravidian circle about IIT being Iyer Iyengar Technology seemed so real for a brief 30 minutes but then the way IIT Madras slam dunked this man this evening, IIT stands right where it needs to be. IIT is a living breathing creature and it takes a lot to violate the integrity of a creature like the IIT. IIT will be safe. There are enough torch bearers of the “Scientific Temper” who will make a bonfire out of the Sastrys that will set foot into IIT.

As for me, I think I should go to bed. I’m listening to Jackie Chan’s Believe in Yourself. (Yes, Jackie Chan is a professional singer as well!) I think it’s a deserving  and an apt song to retire for the day, thinking about all the hurdles Science skimmed through like a breeze amidst a meadow of flowers.

Alice had to slay the Jabberwocky. She did.

About the author

The Infidel Preacher

I'm an Infidel and i preach blasphemy. I deny the holy spirit in all forms, except when im at the pub where i consume highly spirited things...


  • Well done, I think we should utilise such ops to screw up these pseudos. We did such a demolition job on one Khurrana(mind the two r’s in his name)at PGIMER, Chandigarh where he was to speak about Dharma, astrology and medicine. We have reported that on nirmukta com as quacks flop show. I suggest that we should keep doing these things to show people that we are alive and kicking and will not put up with nonsense.

  • I couldn’t attend this talk because I’m on leave at present, and out of Chennai. But I was aware of the scheduled lecture. There was considerable email correspondence between many faculty members (including myself) regarding this matter. Many issues are involved here, ranging from intellectual liberty and freedom of expression to value judgments on appropriateness and censorship. The discussion is an on-going one. Clearly, the line between passionate conviction and pathetic self-delusion is a thin one, as can be the lines between speculative science, fringe science and pseudo-science. (Polemics, ideologies and dogmas further muddy the waters, but that is another story.) Meanwhile, in the present instance the matter seems to have got sorted out in what is perhaps the best manner: by open and direct discussion, enabling all concerned to judge for themselves what is valid and what is not.

    • Sir,

      I do share the concern that a screening could lead to a situation when “against consensus” ideas can not be not discussed. The fine line it is, but then should we actually give a “flat earth theorist” a discussion space at universities? Sure, it does highlight some of the deficiencies in our pre-university system.

      It was good that the matter got resolved in the discussion for this particular case. Well, one might always come up with an excuse of “category of people” present (may be, not in this one) and why such a “consensus” itself is not valid. There is a growing issue of mistaking a method with a consensus. No matter how many people agree or disagree, the truth about material reality (or what can be ascertained as closer to reality) is not all about concensus although it would be great if it were. We need methods and even have debates on the “scientific discourse on finding truth”. But using the word “science” to describe such conjectures as Shastri made is not only irritating, but highly dishonest too…… So shouldn’t we also be debating the “morality” of including such people, even if we take it for granted that they just happened to be “against concensus”?

      • Exactly the point I raised in my letter to one of the authorities, though I called it ‘appropriateness’ rather than ‘morality’. While agreeing with him on the need to let people have their say, and to let people decide for themselves, I did feel that some judgement ought to be exercised in all such cases, especially as formal/official lectures, even those organised by student bodies, involve the institution itself. And in this case it was pretty clear from the speaker’s website what one could expect.

        • “Appropriateness” is in deed the appropriate word. I used “morality” to imlpy that honesty and integrity are moral principles too. Self delusion is onething, but cooking up things and making tall claims another thing. And we get lectures on plagiarism and other “academic evils” but every now and then somebody who does that in broad daylight comes for “invited lectures”. So it is also about the examples set.

        • Sir,
          As an attendee of the lecture I have doubts whether this lecture was organized fully(including choosing the speaker) by the current student body. During the Q & A, a very senior person introducing himself as some office bearer of Alumni association declared that he himself invited the speaker. Also, an introductory talk to the “lecture” was given by one of the faculty members.

          • He was invited by so-called professor who gave introductory talk. IITM -EML committee have better people to invite to the dais.

      • Being an alumnus of IITM myself, I don’t think there is any serious ethical issue involved with inviting clowns like these to the institute, because I believe that a larger good purpose is being served by bringing them to the limelight and debunking their claims publicly the way it has been described here. Now, this guy’s reputation and integrity are permanently tarnished, and Googling his name will probably throw up this article from now on. Which is good, if you think of those considering joining his institute and want to look up more information on him and come across this nasty review which causes them to drop that idea like a hot potato.

        In my opinion, the issue of scientific integrity is applicable in cases where the bad apples are not easily discernable from the good ones, such as inviting a mainstream scientist who has been found guilty of fudging data to get his Ph.D at a reputed university. But in cases like these, I do not think the reputation of the institute is diminished in any sense, because the nonsense of his theories is too obvious to the students as well as the outsiders. Even within student circles, this incident might have spawned off debates on Vedic science which might have otherwise never been addressed, and I believe that this is a good thing.

        I believe that a rebuttal of pseudoscience coming from IIT professors, in a face-off with its advocates, is probably the best way to educate the public, and therefore I do not believe that IITM was wrong in inviting him to give a lecture. In fact, the IITs will do social service by presenting minutes of such lectures, including debunking the claims, and posting them on cyberspace for public consumption.

        • I can agree with what you said under the “ideal setting” in which IIT students and Professors are always agile and mindful about ‘quacks’. It was not the case and that is why this example stands out.

          In the earlier episode of Dr. Gopalakrishnan he even made a youtube video against his naysayers in which he argued that “those brilliant patriotic minds present at IIT Madras approved me”!!! Trust me, I have seen how these people spread their message. They use the “IIT” tag name to gain legitimacy among the common crowd. Therefore the faculty and students of IITM who stands for science and rationality should be eternally vigilant. I’m all for it. But there will always be invisible censorships and pressures from a viewpoint dominant in the administration, that would compel any student to buck down. It is real!! And sorry, we always give compliment to our democracy, but that would be the last thing you will ever find in most higher education institutes.

          • In many US campuses, student affairs officials recommend counterprogramming as the response to visits by charlatans and bigots, because outright embargos are hard to justify. The more visible the counter-programming the better, and for this reason, it is important that episodes like these become part of conversational fare outside of campuses as well. Quoting Edsger Djikstra from this essay:

            The unruly nature of academic life, of course, offends the orderly mind, and more than one regime has tried to deal with the problem by doing away with the restless minds, but the measure never had the effect the regime intended: destroy the campus, muzzle your intellectuals, and rapidly life deteriorates in all respects. The explanation is that, with all its aloofness, the university has an essential role to play, viz. to explain to the world the foolishness of its ways. Of course, all religions always try to do that, but religions being what they are, no pope, patriarch, ayatollah or dalai lama has enough authority to be taken seriously. Only the academic gadfly has so much authority that its sting really hurts.

        • Dear Prof. Shankar,

          I am glad to see that you are following happenings at IITM. I agree that there are no ethical issues with inviting jokers like this to IITM. However, given the high pedestal onto which IIT’s are placed in Indian society, certain amount of care is to be placed into who is invited to speak, irrespective of the forum, at any IIT. In this instance,nothing will stop this speaker from touting the fact that he gave a talk at IITM without referring to the shellacking that he was given. Not everybody reads blogs or watches videos on youtube.

          I am also sure that, like me, you regularly receive unsolicited emails and letters from scientific cranks with subjects like “Einstein was wrong”. Would you want to give all such people a voice to air their opinions?

          In this instance, some of us went to the talk. However, that is not always the case and similar speakers have been given a free ride to say whatever they wished with impunity.

  • Was present there in the role of one of the “little soldiers” and happy about it.

    We -some belonging to that miscule minority who advocate scientific skepticism at IIT Madras- will upload the video soon.

    The worst aspect is that I learned from him is that IITM has recognised his laboratory as an external MS-PhD centre… Is that true?

    Is Indian defense research in danger too, for according to him even DRDO has colaborated with him?

  • Javali,

    This issue of “external MS-PhD centre” is yet to be verified! It was announced in the beginning as “MOU” and at the end, the same person commented to me, that it is a technical tie-up. I hope that it was merely an attempt to create a hype by the person and nothing more.

    Will get to know this soon.

  • I think the little soldiers now need to invite a rationalist for an EML. Not enough to just counter such speakers – this particular one may not come back but there will be many others. This was an EML and many attended – most of the times it is just not worth one’s time to even attend these talks. And those speakers get reinvited!

    I am all for free speech but for everyone concerned. Why do we have to go to an outside blog to express our opinion?

    • There are many irrationalities in these so called scientific institutes of national importance. Right from three temples and chruch inside, sankrit slogans in files of degree certificates and symbols, grand ayudha poojas celebrations and guru-sishya, appeal of authority to name a few. Now also your problem is “why in a outside blog ?”. But the real problem is something more important than this.

      You want to maintain the imaginary prestige which IIT’s maintain outside with people who do not have the confidence to question? IIT’s need to atleast work towards removing irrationalities in our country instead of being gullible.

      • “You want to maintain the imaginary prestige which IIT’s maintain outside with people” -> Dear Indhu, May i ask you to justify why you consider the prestige or say the Image of the Indian Institute of Technology is “Imaginary” in nature?

        • IIT’s haven’t designed anything of even negligible significance, nor have they done any path-breaking research.
          They haven’t even designed an optical mouse nor have done research in any frontier areas thereby leading to new technologies. Their research output has been scant and feeble.

          What has the average Indian got after pouring in crores and crores of their hard earned tax money into these crappy institutes??

          • It is easy to write off IIT as insignificant – like you do.

            IITs don’t produce world-class research, but they do a good job of providing India with a quality pool of human resources(not necessarily in the science field). Considering that they are only about half a century old, they have done a pretty good job.

            You cannot seriously expect them to blossom into MIT overnight, can you now?

          • You may be right but then i fail to see how top colleges like St. Josephs or Sathyabhama Engineering etc., have contributed as well. IIT is our premier institute and have produced some of the finest tech celebrities and entrepreneurs in Indian history. Start with the Senior Management folks of Infy, TCS, Wipro, CTS etc.,

            Thats just the IT & ITES sector alone. I do not even know how many in other fields of business. I dont think its fair to write off the IIT or IIM’s in the country. Criticism though is very welcome.

    • I would presume that the political pressure or the censorship quotient would have been multiple times higher + the probability of not having a crowd like we had on this event. Probability wont favor Mr. Ravishankar for long. He will get nailed sooner or later.

  • Nice!!!!

    I don’t need to write another line about how misleading and oppurtunistic such “doctors” are and how much they get away with.

    What I found awesome was:
    1. The professors ate the guy for lunch. Nice to know that they are teachers of spirit.
    2. This guy is one of the top “Vedic scientists”, yet all he has are hoax images and evasive responses. I don’t think we have much to worry about from this specIes of witch-doctors.
    3. Jackie Chan can sing. Yay!!!!!

    • Jackie Chan is a trained singer. Sadly, i discovered this only last week when i went to Malaysia for business. He sings the title and end credit and OST songs in every movie of his. Just Google and find out how awesome the guy is 😛

    • Why is the professor (one collaborating with Mr. Sastry) is not answering the question of Prof. Das, on how they measured the conductivity enhancement, how much is the enhancement compared to micron copper etc. Instead, he is bluffing, “I ll send the paper to you all”, “any research takes time”, “dont you believe your colleague (so-called IIT Professor)” etc etc.

  • I am for free speech and believe that anyone can give a talk when there is an eager crowd to listen. However, extending the same principle for Shastry’s lecture is tough for me as it gives out a wrong message to the country. In this lecture he was stating the he gave a lecture at IIT Madras on the same topic some years ago, clearly using it to gain credibility for his claims. Imagine when he goes to a rural school to make his claims and states that he was invited and gave lectures in IIT Madras two times and one of the Professors accepted his claims as scientific.

    • Hi hari,
      There are two things here. One is the individual belief and the other is the conclusion based on evidences. There should be no problem as long as it is specified correctly. The problem comes when individual belief are specified as evidence or analytically arrived conclusions. Problem is when these nomadic thoughts are portrayed as scientific conclusions from scientific institutes of national importance.

      • Yes. The problem is, after he has given the “lecture”, we don’t have much of a control of what he will say about it somewhere else. After attending the talk, I feel that he will most probably try to convince his next audience that his individual claims were scientifically accepted at IIT Madras. Some people give a lot of face value to an “invited lecture in IIT Madras”.

  • IITM gave an exposure to Mr. Sastry. He got exposed. But Prof. Balakrishnan”s sober comments on conference etiqutte deserves serious attention.This same institute gave Mr.Raman an oppurtunity to present his project on herbal petrol long ago.See, we dont have any forums like the hyde park or the flat earth society , in London,for speaking out ones ideas (including untested) For both it is a wrong forum But the scientific community should definitely be interested in panchaloka castings (may be by lost wax method)some two thousand years back and the astronomical references still older.May be they are not aware of Keplers laws.or the solar system the way we understand now.

  • It has been proved that we are living in the 2012 and fooling on the fantasy topic will not be tolerated.
    It seems they are much worried about the Hinduism than S &T/R&D; also it is wonder to note they spent huge sum and their scholarly brain to the cause of the religious bluff. I think, this is the real failure of Indian competitiveness par with the global research and invention.

  • My commendations on this excellent post. I have no words for the quasi-religious pseudoscientific hogwash that this guy tried to peddle to IIT-M. Plaudits to the students for the just backlash… It redeems the IITs in my eyes. These premier institutions seem to have been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately, particularly IIT-B (remember the ridiculous defence of homeopathy, anyone?).

    TIP, I’d heartily recommend you read Brit journalist Angela Saini’s well-researched book Geek Nation, if you haven’t read it already. You’d find a lot of information and inspiration for future posts in there.

  • These vedas were composed/written somewhere around 1000-2000BC! All those things humans knew at that time, like which fruit, leaves or vegetables are edible, how to store them, how to hunt animals, how to build a house, etc. and their way of life, beliefs about god, the nature, universe and so on would be there in these vedas.
    In my opinion, if we take one primitive tribe and write everythng about them (or if they themselves write) that wont be much different from these vedas.

  • Hello. Lovely post.

    Also like the connection you have drawn to RSS and the religious right wing. This religious right, is clandestine, it is organized and it also has expertise in misinformation. Apart from this Vedic propaganda, they claim the existence of Ram Setu between Kanyakumari and Sri Lanka, the existence of Dwarka and believe in literalism as far as Hindu sacred texts and mythology is concerned.

    We have seen how the myth of Ramjanmabhumi destroyed the social fabric of our usually tolerant country. Now we also hear plenty of other stuff being thrown around to rouse a whiplash of Hindu conservative ‘sentiment’ against so-called invaders (read muslims and christians) who brought our great nation down into ground by destroying its ‘egalitarian ethos’ and it’s ‘scientific advance’.

    We are living in dangerous times and it is of utmost importance that every rational person stands up to misinformation in his/her own way and lets them know that their bullshit peddling will not go unchallenged.

    So hearty congratulations to all of you and your professors, keep up the good work! Long live the IITs! 🙂

  • Thank you nirmukta and contributors for posting such insightful articles which exposes such shams , esp in the places of higher learning like IITs. However, could the admins kindly request the contributors to use titles which can capture the sensational content in the article more effectively, titles which can appeal to the general public and provoke them instantly to at least open the link, when such things are shared by freethinkers in social media.
    for example, in this particular case if the word IITM would have been present in the title, it would have caught the attention of at least 20-25 IITians in my FB list.
    P.S:Pl pardon me for intruding in to the artistic space of the contributors.

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