Why “Innovate, Achieve and Lead” isn’t enough – A BITSian’s Perspective

Written by February 2, 2013 12:52 pm 69 comments

Pranab Mukherjee, the country’s present president, mentioned at the Indian Science Congress of 2012 that “Another Nobel Prize in the sciences is long overdue for India.”

Now this claim is by no means unreasonable. But if we are to go by the present scenario of ‘scientific temper’ in India, which the Indian Science Congress boasts as its guiding ideal, it looks as if they have their work cut out for them.

(Public domain Image) Source: Wikipedia

I am a proud sophomore student of BITS-Pilani, Goa. Like most students of BITS-Pilani, Goa, I always look forward to good food, a day well spent with friends, and the simply lovely Goan climate (especially during winter). Additionally, I am also a very big fan of freethinking, and the rational worldview.

And that’s why I’m going to talk about something that’s been a thorn in my side for over a year.

The offending party in question is the ‘Divine Vedic Youth Association’, a student’s organisation affiliated with ISKCON.

I first noticed this student’s organisation back in my first year, when I read a plain notice put up by them that detailed a series of seminars to be held. The second in this series caught my attention. “Does God exist?” was the topic for this session.

Now, I was, at that particular point of time, relatively aloof and distant from the heated battle-ground that atheists and the pious fence upon. I was what one could call the ‘Inoffensive atheist’. I would say that I didn’t believe in God, and promptly leave it at that, without any desire to argue or defend my position. Naturally, therefore, I passed off the invitation to ponder on this big question. At the behest of a friend though, I finally decided to go.

The seminar began with the speaker glibly mentioning his CGPA: 9.2. He then went on to introduce his other friends, with similar 9+ CGPAs. I thought this rather odd, because, while commendable, their CGPAs didn’t have anything to do with the existence of God.

He then began the presentation.

The speaker showed us a slide that had an image of Lord Krishna. Juxtaposed with it was a diagram of the electromagnetic spectrum, with the visible range indicated. He made the following comparison: “Just as the human eye is incapable of seeing all the other EM waves outside the visible range, so too is the human mind incapable of recognizing the omnipotent energy of God.”

He then went on to arrogantly claim that Darwinian evolution is false, citing the apparent lack of fossil evidence (I’m serious!) and the fact that all (yes! All!!) available fossil evidence that suggests that humans are an evolved species is fake. But his criticism of the Big Bang theory takes the cake. He said: “We all know that it is impossible for a car that explodes to yield two cars. How then, can an explosion have created the entire universe?”

I was yet to recover from this assault on the senses when he continued with his pathetic diatribe: “Look at this rose. It is very beautiful. Clearly it is a natural creation, and something like this couldn’t possibly have come into existence at random. It must therefore have been created by an intelligent designer.” Then came the usual creationist checklist: “Have you seen a building without a builder? Have you seen a watch without a maker…?”

A story he recounted was as follows: “One day, a man passed by a patch of water melons. He wondered why they grew on the ground, and then sat under a lemon tree for a nap. A lemon fell on his head, waking him from his slumber. His eyes opened, and then his ‘inner eye’ also opened, and he realised the answer to his question.” Apparently, according to the speaker, melons don’t grow on trees because otherwise the fellow in the story could have had a serious injury. And thus there are laws by which this universe operates. I ventured the question: “Why then, do coconuts grow on trees?” And to my immense surprise, out came the answer, “Because that is the law of this world, and we cannot wish for it to be otherwise.”

They then played a video that implored the viewers to recognise God’s good intentions in bestowing upon humanity fruits with skins to protect them, and sweetness that humans can savour.

The final bit included various misquotations of a number of prominent figures in science, from Issac Newton, who apparently read the Bhagvad Gita and thereby understood the gyroscope, to Einstein. Misquoting Einstein is a staple for the godly and pious, and I wasn’t surprised.

But what really worried me was not this credulous garbage that was inflicted upon the 40-strong listeners in the classroom, but the fact that practically no one bothered to question their delusions throughout the entire seminar. There was not a single voice of protest or inquiry, not a single demand for evidence or references. Nothing. These people had already been won over, because the speaker appealed not to their sense of reason, but their fear of failure. He asked how many people were worried about their grades, and went on to sell his religious fervour and supposed ‘knowledge’ as a mantra for success. Indeed, the other seminars in their schedule were all about how to absolve oneself of fear and focus on studying. A noble effort, perhaps, but I think not.

Preying on the insecurities of first-year students was their real weapon. And they were doing it year after year, I later realised. Grabbing hold of people who are emotionally vulnerable to pernicious suggestion in the competitive environment of an institution such as BITS is the tragic consequence of a society that de-emphasizes in-depth understanding of core ideas in science in favour of a superficial, result-oriented model that ultimately serves no purpose in developing constructive and rational thinking.

The question naturally comes up: why in the world is pseudoscience still present in our institutions? I’m going to attempt to answer this question.

BITS-Pilani’s punchline is “Innovate, Achieve and Lead”. Fair enough. That sounds just about right, except for one small thing. It’s simply not enough.

All our technical universities seem to have one thing in common: their constant refrain to us to be ‘successful’. Be it the IITs, BITS or of course, the myriad others, anyone observant enough can make out that ‘success’ is the buzzword. ‘Achievement’ is a virtue, and dreams of 50 Lakh p.a. starting salaries seem to be the bench mark of the student who has ‘used his time wisely and worked hard’. And somehow, somewhere down the line, the real point of it all seems to have been lost.

It is simply not enough that universities exhort their students to make something of themselves. It is not enough that they churn out well-educated young professionals who still seek solace in astrology, continue to hold conflicting views about the universe in the face of scientific evidence, and continue to cling to crippling fears and insecurities about themselves and their purpose in life.

The cat is already out of the closet, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that a spurious understanding of science can co-exist with academic brilliance in higher education. If we are to really get anywhere to begin with, we must shed our collective cultural tolerance for faith-supremacy and stop riding on the popular bandwagon of Appeal to Antiquity. This manifestation of Karmic Capitalism comes at the cost of the rational worldview, and feeds off modern insecurity. It festers in a vacuum of discourse and open debate about what it means to be successful, or how we can overcome our anxieties thoughtfully.

Apart from the punch line, BITS subscribes to the motto “Knowledge is power supreme”. I like it. It’s simple and it’s true. And it’s what we need more than ever. Our emphasis needs to shift from the necessary but insufficient “Innovate, Achieve, Lead” to a culture where critical thinking trumps faith-supremacy, where the march to prosperity is complemented by freedom from ignorance, and where our institutions can operate without the interference of pseudoscience and superstition.

This post was written by:

- who has written 2 posts on Nirmukta.


  • Hope to have interactions with you people on the 24th inst when I sm coming there for a TED X talk followed by an interaction in the evening.

  • nice.. even am agnostic but sometimes propelled to counter.
    In today’s amitabh blog , he say when it pertains to importance like death, marriage we follow tradition even after associating with modern (why ? ) fear ..

    • As you say the fear of the unknown and what will people say sort of complex. Some of us have lived our lives totally outside religion without following any rituals, including marriage, death, house warming etc. I even celebrated 60th birthday which is usually done by thanking gods and swamis by hosting a dinner with all non veg food including pork and put up a banner- Lived for 60 years without the help of any supernatural power just to mock those who thank god!

  • Thank you for this post. I want to put in a suggestion regarding the confusion over how institutes like BITS can have people with this religious fervour: Birds of a feather flock together. The elitist idea of education (that only a chosen few can achieve great success and be on top of society, and there are clear processes like time-bound examinations to filter out these few and the ones who top these processes deserve to occupy higher positions than the ones who don’t) has religion, authoritarianism, division through competition, blind following, etc built into its fabric. Obviously where one oppressive ideology flourishes, others can piggy-back with it. So please dig deeper into what you mentioned about the insecurity of students who get hooked by these groups. I suggest you look up “Disciplined Minds” by Jeff Schmidt, and if possible, check out ideas about the unschooling or deschooling movement.

  • Very interesting article. I appreciate the first man of India to acknowledge this fact. I also appreciate Nirmukta team for bringing out this news.

  • Absolutely brilliant article!
    I am in my first year, here in BITS Pilani, Goa campus.
    I remember these people went from room to room distributing pamphlets which had some “moral” stories, all of which boiled down to one message “believe in god”. There are still posters stuck on the hostel notice boards about a session which was held recently. It seems they gave a lecture on “How to attain God?”.
    I am fundamentally a rational thinker. My atheism is just a consequence of that rational thinking. I am quite clear about my ideas and my opinions in theological matters. I never bothered to attend any of those “divine” workshops; for they argue upon the same illogical analogies that every theist on the internet has been using in their arguments with atheists. Their arguments are full of logical fallacies.
    People who haven’t completely adopted a logic and reason based thinking are vulnerable to these kind of seminars. And to prevent that, people need to break free from their current state of mind and start questioning everything.
    Science and religion can NEVER go hand in hand. Both are corrosive to each other. Sciences debunks all the junk in the religion where as Religion infects the minds of young people, thus preventing them from thinking rationally.
    To bring that change, we need a strong community like Nirmukta. I’ve been a fan of Nirmukta and Indian Atheist for quite a long time. I really can’t wait to meet Mr. Narendra Nayak.

  • i always used to say both atheists and theists are same…they “believe” and they are reluctant to accept “plurality”. Srinivas ramanujan math formulations are today used in calculating the hyper singularities in astrophysics related areas.Mock modular forms, super symmetry functions. Ramanujan said that his findings were divine, revealed to him in dreams by the goddess Namagiri !!! Is it ? all the noble prize winners must be atheists which is not true. One has to understand plurality exist EVERYWHERE. Streamlining it to IIt’s , BITS…is illogical….U need not be an Iitian or Bitsian to get a noble prize. Noble prize demands strong fundamentals/passion and in co-relation/Research. Being a theist doesn’t harm ur passion or ur logical part of your brain. There is a difference between the domains of Belief system and laws. One has to understand the plurality.

    • V. Balakrishnan

      It’s the Nobel Prize, by the way, not ‘noble prize’. The very concept of a prize is rarely, if ever, entirely and totally noble…!

  • I read this quote somewhere
    “If atheism is a belief, NOT playing chess is a hobby.”
    Atheism is absence of belief in god and not a belief itself.
    It doesn’t matter which scientist believed in god and which did not. Only things that matter are reason, logic and evidence. Without them, no matter which Nobel laureate may declare that god exists, no rationalist would believe him.

  • Similarly it doesn’t matter if a person discusses about higher order intelligence or consciousness. No matter which Atheist declare that god doesn’t exists, no rational spiritual Conscious observer would believe him. Just by saying that i believe in singularity i don’t become an astrophysicist or by saying that i don’t believe in singularity doesn’t make me an astrophysicist. What is required is understanding roots, origins, path, progression, co-relation and application of singularity. An atheist has no logical reason to not to believe in god. Even a blind theist has no logical reason. Both are same. They just believe or follow or adapt a school of thought , thought processing which appears to “THEM” rational , of course not Universal . the illusion of duality always exists. We are bound to it by nature. We are bound to this diversity NATURALLY..one has to understand the plurality.

  • so much belief in god, so much advertising of god, so much worshiping n still a CGPA of 9.2!!!! u need to pray more, babe 😀

  • So you need a reason to NOT believe in something? This is again a logical fallacy. One doesn’t prove a negative. No one can prove the non-existence of god. If it exists, it needs evidence. It is completely illogical conclude something exists just because one cannot prove its non-existence. That’s not how scientific method works. I want to make it clear that “scientific method” is the only way to know the universe, only way to acquire knowledge. Just check this out:
    This is perfect example of your kind of argument. Your argument has a fundamental logical flaw. One cannot prove that a teapot is NOT revolving around the sun. That doesn’t mean you simply believe it.

  • A Muslim friend once told me that his religion is also rational. Elaborating his point, he said that suppose there is a big shop and there are everything in the shop. Could you say that there is no owner of this shop. Like that this world is a big shop and the Allah is the owner.

    Amused with his nonsensical argument, I just asked him only one question. “If the world is the shop who is the buyer and who is the seller.” He could not answer and kept quiet.

    • Abhishek Patro

      U asked a very nice question but let me give you the answer. In many shops, the biggest customers(buyers) are the employees(sellers) themselves. So the people are the buyers and sellers of the world created by GOD/ALLAH/DARWIN,etc. Don’t take the analogy provided literally. They are meant metaphorically.

  • V. Balakrishnan

    Thank you for a very thought-provoking and forthright article. To emotional vulnerability one might also add intellectual laziness (or an innate reluctance to think things through dispassionately) as the two states of mind most commonly exploited by proselytizers of ALL stripes down the ages. It is also a fact that most people cannot readily spot non sequiturs and syllogisms in the domain of philosophy and ‘spirituality’, which makes the job easier for experienced evangelists.

  • Abhishek Patro

    Though I am neither an atheist nor an agnostic,and it was very nice read. I support ur side with this account as the ISKON guy misinterpreted the faith. One thing I like about your character is that I firsttime came across an atheist who call themselves a Inoffensive atheist. Keep up the spirit!!

    • Almost every atheist I know is ‘Inoffensive atheist’ , just that world is stacked in a way that systematic brainwashing, indoctrination, conning and in-the-face preaching are common and socially acceptable, causing anyone who does not wish to accept subjugation to be seen as oversensitive or rebellious, stigmatization of atheists and humanists by painting them as rebellious and waspish is yet another way for those with privilege to facilitate subjugation and thwart dissent.

      There are however many atheists who are ‘offensive’, who are angry , but for all the right reasons, about which greta christina has talked in detail, here:

      • Abhishek Patro

        i agree that inoffensive atheist would be a common term for u guys. but all the atheist groups i joined on facebook only posted disrespectful things abt the ones keeping faith. i was bit relieved thts all.

        • As our about us says:

          Nirmukta and Indian Atheists are opposed to religion in all its forms. At Nirmukta however, we are careful to make a distinction between ideas and people. Religions are comprised of ideas, and as with all ideas that Freethinkers deal with, must be scrutinized and dismissed if found wanting. People, however, have thoughts, desires, foresight and the ability to feel compassion, kindness, pain, sadness and empathy, and so must be treated on a different footing. Simply put, people deserve respect, ideas do not. This simple distinction is lost on many people, both religious and otherwise. Our position at Nirmukta is extremely nuanced, given that we are anti-religion, but pro-people of all kinds. We are not anti-Muslim, but are anti-Islam. We are not anti-Hindu, but are anti-Hinduism, and therefore by default anti-caste system. The same goes for Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism and all other organized belief systems that seek the protectionist status accorded to this idea we call “religion”.

    • Kartik Sreedhar

      Thank you for reading my article. While I appreciate your support for my views, I must point out that I mentioned that I ‘was’ an inoffensive atheist. I’m quite sure writing this article will offend someone’s sentiments, as there is no way an ‘inoffensive atheist’ can make themselves heard without sounding offensive to the religious. Nevertheless, I refrain from attacking people themselves, and focus only on their ideas.

  • I am a research grad and i know very well how the concept of Advaita philosopy, thevarda buddhism, Fourier Integrals , Quantum leaps etc have in common. I am not drawing parallel. Carl sagan says that ancient vedic cosmology is accurate to the last digit in the prediction of equinoxes, cosmic alignments, corrections etc to the modern day calculations. Well, vedic cosmology was all related to Demi -gods or deities. We have Navagraha in all temples, the lunar calendar that has been constructed from the above. So how did this demi god concept be true to modern day findings ?? The problem with atheists is they think they are scientific, but actually are not.
    Newtons first law says …”every object that is in rest or motion (relative to the observer) will continue to remain until unless acted upon by an external force”…..well then what do u say about “Telekinesis, Psychokinesis ” …what force is making them move ?something goes beyond matter , beyond the so called “reality” . In simple terms, i cannot measure or quantify the infinity…i can only infer.
    Yajur veda says ” Men may not be dreams of god, but god are surely dreams of men” ……the SAGUNA (form) qualities has been described here. the concept of GOD is different in different religions and even the atheist doesn’t know the concept and notion of GOD. God doesn’t mean a FORM with feelings , emotions etc. Both atheists and theists are same , they adapt a school of thought processing on which they believe according to THEM is the reality.

    • Captain Mandrake

      * I am a research grad and i know very well how the concept of Advaita philosopy, thevarda buddhism, Fourier Integrals , Quantum leaps etc have in common. *

      So what do they have in common? Your post does not shed any light on the commonality.

    • As lije said in this thread:
      (Coming from a christian dominated society)

      Carl Sagan was so impressed with such large numbers, the kind of which do not feature in creation myths of other civilizations, that he mentioned it in his Cosmos series
      But if you compare the numbers from Hindu cosmology with current estimates from science, it becomes clear how wrong they are. The estimated of the age of the Universe is 13.7 billion years, whereas according to Hindu cosmology it is 155 trillion years. Even if we ignore that number and take the start of a mahayuga to mean the start of the Universe or the birth of Earth, the age of current mahayuga – 120 million years is nowhere close to either the age of the Earth or the Universe. Of all the numbers listed in Vishnu Purana, just one number – 4.32 billion years – comes close to a number given by science.

      Hindu apologists latch onto that one number and heartily declare that the ancient texts are in acceptance with science. It doesn’t matter to them that the ages of the Universe and the Earth given by Hindu cosmology totally contradict the values given by science.

      Its amazing how people will go to great lengths to pick out one little area where their superstitions coincide with science, and ignore all the other nonsense that’s part of their religious beliefs

      The point isn’t what you believe but why you believe it, atheists at nirmukta did adopt a school of thought but what differentiates freethinkers from others (which may include some atheists too)is that our methods are empirical, our predictions testable, our results reproducible

      What we believe and not believe in is not a binary, just that how strongly we believe in anything should be justified by how much supporting evidence we have for it.

      Also no evidence have been found supporting telekinesis , most of the experiments that claimed to support it have turned out to be errors in experimentation or fraud, others are not reproducible.

    • @Lalit
      {Actually faith is one of the four bad reasons to believe in anything , it is by very definition,not freethought, a theist can be a freethinker, however zhe will have a hard time defending hir stance.}

      So, free thinking has a definition now, eh? Any thing which is defined is not free but constrained by the definition. If any individual regards the other individuals thought as not free thought, his approach is not free from judgment, so how can such people be recognized as free thinkers?

      Thus, the so called free thinkers need to understand that there is more than what meets the eye most often and respect other people’s views as even their opinion or thought is also a view and not reality, just as others.

      All thoughts are free, implementations costs.

      • Satish Chandra


        You too are using a definition of “free thought”. The words by themselves are just a sequence of letters. They acquire meaning only when you define them. When you are using language, there’s no escaping definitions.

        Freethought is not free + thought just like freewheel is not free + wheel. The word has been in existence for a long while and has a generally accepted meaning. You’d know that had you actually bothered to read what Lalit has linked to.

  • even though we don’t see or feel IR radiation, we know it exists in the spectrum because we can detect and interact with IR. We are restricted in a sense as We need to develop external additional tools or equipment’s to detect IR frm our understanding and thoughts. Similarly one has to develop “qualities” by performing certain constructed “duties” in order to understand the illusion of ignorance that binds us and relatively higher order consciousnesses that surrounds . Just because we are unable to prove doesn’t mean that it/whatever(doesn’t exist). There is evidence regarding Psychokinesis and telekinesis …i hope u go through more authentic journals. I am not defending…all i want to say is by searching and working for yourself u will understand better without getting biased . I am not a theist nor an atheist. Because a blind theist wastes his time believing in god without no reason…and an atheist wastes his time in debunking the notion of god. for me Both are same.Both construct speech, thoughts, and actions …the only difference one believes and other tries to debunk. If atheists think the GOD is an illusion or man made….then they should just ignore it, don’t talk about god/religion…don’t think about it…Erase it from you dictionary and work with/towards science and humanity. Which unfortunately doesn’t happen. The illusion of duality always exist and hence the plural nonlinear nature of the universe has to be understood.

    • Satish Chandra

      There is some pretty solid evidence to say that IR exists. What evidence is there for psychokinesis other than research of dubious standards?


      • Yeah.Instead of making wild claims why dont the proponents of PK move a single pin by a single centimeter and get price money of millions of dollars and all my property too!

        • In dharmic centers or buddhist ashrams where there is strict practice of Kundalini, tao, chi and zen are practiced PK,TK,CK can be witnessed. Well, go ahead and make a visit ,see for yourself. Investigate and Inquire rather sitting and searching in Internet.

          The scientist struggles for identifying the SMALLEST ”matter” particle of this universe, fails, identifies to an extent and therefore “models” a system and proceeds further ……

          The human struggles for identifying the HIGHEST “supernatural” of this universe, fails , identifies to an extent and therefore “models” a religion and proceeds further …..

          Scientist accepts failure because at the micro level, classical mechanics fail and the quantum takes its position…..Human(both blind theists and blind atheists) never accepts that he failed , for he modeled his system and brain in such a way…. ## Blind belief’s and blind dis belief’s. Just talking physics doesn’t make one physicist.

          • Satish Chandra


            Sounds like a load of deepities to me. Btw, did you know that Narendra Nayak is endowed with a number of super human abilities? Maybe you can ‘investigate’ and ‘see for yourself’. Who knows, you too might acquire some of those super human abilities.

          • There are no blind atheists. Only religions demand blind obedience without the need for a shred of evidence of any sort.
            As for CK,PK,TK we are waiting for some one to come along and prove that we are wrong! Please go ahead and do that.
            For this challenge I know that you will give the usual excuse that these people will not come out into the open and do it. If that is the case dont talk about them too and make claims about their powers. I too have such powers for example I can lift a ton with my little finger but I dont want to show off that and give an inferiority complex to you people!

  • I think science is what we have discovered so far. There are yet multitude of things to be discovered. But though naive i do agree that whatever the speaker was saying does hold weight, it simply means science has to find more answers it currently is incapable of.

  • DIVYA. Yes, we match at hating it. But, when it comes to theology, I am (as you’ve said me before)
    an opportunist. Personally I think, faith gives optimism and hope and science gives reasons and logic. And I’ld like to add- be an atheist, theist, agnostic, anything else but never be a hypocrite. Awesome article by the way. :)

  • 9.2CGPA or higher makes them eligible for preaching irrational belief? I wonder, the audience were not from any village or public mass. There always, no need of a hard working individual to support or preach superstitious belief, quite possibly it might be the intensive strategy of the indolent people to retain their position as much as possible in the society.

    If they fail in their CGPA they think, they are useless in the world, this is the nonsensical scale constrained upon their carrier by the society and the parents and our poor system.

    A question for them, Could the god be possibly established only upon acquiring the CGPA or breaking evolution theory or Car explosion/universe explosion/ magnetic wave/radio wave/micro wave/radioactive/neutrino? Poor god and their theory!!!

  • Please publish some more articles debunking popular belief like-brahmin thread ceremony beliefs,misleading use of scientific concepts to explain ‘wisdom’ of hindu rituals,truth behind the science presented to justify solar eclipse rituals etc.I don’t care whatever religious fanatics comment about this website but i love nirmukta ever since i came to know about it since august 2012.I am losing my faith in hinduism ever since i knew about people who propagate and encourage(vast majority of hindus)the viewpoint(and falsisity)of scientific foreknowledge in the vedas.I think its a sheer mockery/ignorance of hard work of many great scientists who have discovered many things,things that these people say were first discovered by the authors of scriptures.I also request you to publish some articles serving as a guide to rationalism and freethinking as i am new to this and need your help to know these in which i am deeply interested.I also wanted to know from you should i ignore every theory of “science in the vedas” presented in any form or do some still stand a chance.I am a undergraduate student and sometimes can’t gather enough confidence in me to entirely dismiss these claims but i want to dismiss them and hold to the truth that the credit goes to our beloved scientists.So please kindly guide and help me.I need it.

    • If you will kindly go through the write ups in nirmukta most of the issues that you have raised here have been dealt with including the relevance of Bhagavadgita. AS for any claims it is for the claimants to produce evidence and we can dismiss them until they are proved. As it is said extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence!

      • Sir,
        Thank you for your help.I had a question that if ever these claimants did produce any sort of sound evidence then do we have to accept the absurd idea that hinduism is a rational faith and everything is a rediscovery of what was found earlier?(surely i don’t want to accept it).Because i don’t feel the joy of learning science keeping in mind that the faith that i do not like is significantly credited for the development of science.Please do reply.

        • If they produce sound, reproducible evidence then we will surely accept it. If one is interested in pursuing the path of reason then we will have to accept it whether one likes it or not. Again, there comes the question of why one should not like it? Should we have a preset ideas which will reject sound evidence?
          Many times we see technically sound ideas being given labels of supernatural origin. For example you could read my write up on a Nastik in Devabhoomi(http://nirmukta.com/2009/04/17/a-nastik-in-devbhoomi/)in which a finely balanced trishul weighing several quintals and could be moved by a little finger was called as a miracle as it could be moved only by the little finger of the right hand only.
          The locals had accepted myth without any question.They were surprised when it could be moved with left hand etc. Such stories have been built up around hundreds of such masking the real mental and physical effort that would have gone into them.

          • Sir,
            I am grateful to you for your frank answer.But I wanted to know from you that can I maintain my atheistic attitude towards hinduism while at the same time accepting the the scientific conclusions that have been derived from it by the production of an evidence by the concerned claimants?If yes how.Another thing that I wanted to know from you is that does articles by Meera Nanda(I am sure you might have heard about her)makes a good read for my sort of thinking.I sometimes feel some of her essays are too exaggerated like ‘how hindu is yoga'(what is your point on that?)but i find most of her articles encouraging and i feel that she points out genuine things in them.Still I want your advice and please do mention any other recommendations,if you can.I thank you especially for reading my long questions and queries with patience and regularly responding to them.
            I really appreciate it.Thank you very much indeed.Please do reply.

          • Captain Mandrake


            It is not clear what your intentions are when you say the following.

            **same time accepting the the scientific conclusions that have been derived from it by the production of an evidence by the concerned claimants**

            What evidence has actually been produced by hindutwadi-nuts? Can you please be more clear about it.

          • The tendency is to call everything that was in this subcontinent as Hindu and glorify that as a part of the religion.For example the Gaumutra proponents prepare a most primitive galvanic cell by immersing electrodes of copper and zinc in cows urine and claim that the voltage generated comes from the power of the urine while any one knowing high school science will know where it comes from.
            Well what now passes off as “YOGA” are some exercises concocted by BKS Aiyengar for the benefit of the Mysore Maharaja which include calisthenics, floor exercises and some yoga asanas. It is not an aerobic exercise at all and it does not burn any calories. The bearded contortionist Ram Kishan Yadav is a fraud of the first order and you can see what I have said about him on nirmukta. He, the double mister and the so called godmen supported by the Hindutvawadis are taking the people for a ride by claiming that every discovery in the world was there in the vedas- the same like Muslims claiming it was in the quoran an Christians in the bible.

    • Nitish,

      You could also go through the the Nirmukta forums, especially the pseudoscience section for more information on the so called ‘science’ of Vedas/Hinduism.

  • Dear Captain Mandrake,
    Here I was pointing to any probable future situation that these hidutva wadi people might produce sound,reproducible evidence in support of their claims(about which i was discussing with Narendra sir).By the way,its good to hear that these people couldn’t gather any evidence so far that testifies their spurious and ridiculous claims.None of their claims(in the manner presented by them)have been proved yet,isn’t it.

    • We shall deal with these things when they arise. Until then let us question the tendency to put fort claims without any evidence whatsoever.

      • Sir,
        When you wrote ‘The tendency is to call everything that was in this subcontinent as Hindu and glorify that as a part of the religion.For example the Gaumutra proponents prepare a most primitive galvanic cell by immersing electrodes of copper and zinc in cows urine and claim that the voltage generated comes from the power of the urine while any one knowing high school science will know where it comes from.’ in response to my question did you mean that I can maintain my position as an atheist to hinduism while,at the same time,accepting those claims derived from hinduism which might get proved in future by any production of evidence with an open mind by accepting those conclusions as purely scientific and secular and without linking them to hinduism.Please clarify.

        • Dear Nitish,
          First of all let us come to the definition of what a Hindu is before further discussions. Under the laws a citizen of India who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi, Jew is deemed to be a Hindu! So, that would include Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains and atheists too! This would naturally include you and me! Again the term Hindu was essentially brought by ‘outsiders’ who called people on the eastern side of river Indus as Hindu.
          But, the narrower definition would be those who believe in the caste system, worship one or more of the trinity- Brahma, Vishnu or Shiva!So, it would be quite difficult to define a Hindu. The Saffronites are again having their version of one born in the subcontinent and/or following one the religions originating from here etc to suit their own ends.
          It all depends on what you want do as a Hindu! While I have given in the census that I am an atheist and have no caste I may be considered as a Hindu if there is a Hindu-Muslim riot by either of the parties! One may let me off saying that I am one of their own while the other may attack me saying that I am from the opposite faith.
          It is more important for us to concentrate on what we want to do rather than dry discussions of this sort. Please check my write up- am I a Hindu?This is the link-http://nirmukta.com/2009/12/11/am-i-a-hindu/. Let me again tell you about a ‘caste’ called ajat. I think there was a group people calling themselves as ajat as they wanted to get out the caste system- they ended up being a caste called ajat(which means no caste!).Similarly, lingayats in Karnataka/Maharashtra are followers of Basavanna who took all castes into his fold and called them as veerashaivas- now they have their own subdivisions and are labelled by the caste of their ancestors before they came into this fold!
          As far as linking things to ‘Hinduism’ goes it is only a set of rituals or practices that can be called as Hinduism by the present popular perceptions about it. So, it is upto you as to how you define yourself.

          • Sir,
            I am least concerned about the labels,terms,definitions that are linked with me.I only wanted to ask you(verify from u) that in ur comment did u reflect ur view point that we can accept any scientific theory(at all times) with open mind,while being indifferent to the claims presented in order to link them to hinduism,by thinking of these theories as entirely scientific and secular and ignoring any religious claims linked to them.It would really help me if u respond(i might get an attitude to deal with such situation).

  • Dear Nitish,
    That is clearly said that evidence can be accepted regardless of its labels. I was only pointing out at the futility of such labels and the methodology of labeling and the legal positions in the matter.
    Just because a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian made a discovery of any scientific fact it does not mean that the religion takes the credit for it.You can make it clear when you argue with some one. Another point to be made is that these were not made because of the religion but in spite of it like those of Galileo, Darwin etc.

    • Sir,
      Thank you very much for your reply.There is a site called ‘agniveer’,when I viewed its content I was taken by astonishment that how people took claims for granted without the demand for evidence when the scientific or scientific sounding claims are linked with hinduism(eg-they have quoted in there that nowadays science and vedas are synonymous and also that the thought in vedas calls for rational and scientific thinking).They don’t even stop in there cherishing their ‘beautiful culture’ making claims that scientists like Sir Isac Newton,Albert Einstein were heavily influenced by vedas to think rationally and they none other than vedic things.I would like you to visit that website at least once and you too will be amazed and sometimes ridiculed by their claims.I also wanted to ask you about your viewpoint towards Swami Vivekananda much of the people consider him as their inspiration(especially young Indians).However, I don’t consider him to be so.For me rationalists and scientists are better inspiration than him.He along with Dayananda Saraswati began this mindset of ‘Science in Hinduism’ Isn’t it.I am eagerly awaiting for your reply.

      • Yes. But, I think they were reformists in the sense that they wanted to elevate the levels of superstitions from a very low level to higher levels!
        They are the inspiration for many young people because they have no others to look up to. Probably I would look up to Bhagath Singh or Netaji Subash Chandra Bose or even Jawaharlal Nehru to some extent.The ideological icon that I would really look up to is M.N.Roy who brought up the concept of radical humanism.

  • We could discuss these things when we meet on Sunday the 24th.

    • Sir,
      I am waiting for your reply.I have read an article about status of women in manusmriti.When I said about it to my they said that this is not actually the case because the British made corrupt translations of the scriptures in order to deliberately deceive the people about hinduism.What are your views on it.Please reply.

      • Captain Mandrake

        ** When I said about it to my they said that this is not actually the case because the British made corrupt translations of the scriptures in order to deliberately deceive the people about hinduism.What are your views on it.**

        May be the British did, may be they did not. What do you think is most likely given that the status of women in Hindu society is extremely low compared to western standards even today.

    • Sir,
      I am waiting for your reply.I have read an article about status of women in manusmriti.When I said about it to my friends they said that this is not actually the case because the British made corrupt translations of the scriptures in order to deliberately deceive the people about hinduism.What are your views on it.Please reply.

      • So, the caste system also was made by British, the sati was also devised by them, child marriage was their invention etc. etc. They are also responsible for astrology and a number of such superstitions too!
        Please remember that the British rule in India was supported by the upper castes and they were invited here by the Kshatriyas who were made Rao Bahadurs, Zamindars etc.
        The law banning sati was made by them, the marriageable age for girls was also set by them. Of course they had their own vested interests but were probably better than our own indigenous class of exploiters the Rajas and nawabs.At lease we are communicating to each other because of their language.

        • Sir,
          British also introduced railways to India and they also introduced english medium schools and reformed educational systems.There are many things that we must thank to British for,but most Indians blame British for any bad things in India and take the praise for themselves for any good things.Britih are synonymous with tyranny and oppression for many Indians.Indians consider that India was a great and successful country before the British set their foot on it.They also suggest that the education system of Ashramas(I think its not of any worth)were better than that introduced by the British.Britain was the first nation to be indutrialized.Great British scientists were the pioneers of scientific revolution,the results of which still influence and shape our modern and convenient life and what comes from India’s side-it’s awful lot of bhajans,bhakti movements,theological discourses,Swamis going to USA whose speeches are praised,swamis and babas are praised for their discovery of ‘essence of science in the vedas from eternity'(like vivekananda did it and was admired).This is the Indian heritage and as said ‘Our great contribution to the world’.Sir I want to know your reply about my questions on swami vivekananda and that of the site ‘agniveer’ which I have asked you earlier.Please reply.

        • sir,
          Now I am accepting those scientific theories that are supported by evidence and those that are verified by the scientific method entirely in a secular sense being indifferent to any claims of its religious association.Am I right in my attitude towards science and its achievements.Please reply.

          • yes. That would be the right attitude but please check the quality of the evidence that it is right and logical.

        • Sir,
          Thank you for your reply.I wanted to ask you that is there a possibility that in future science will ever defy its main principle of methodology ie Naturalism(every phenomena has a natural cause).I mean to ask will science ever give a supernatural explanation behind thing(like-Indra deva makes rain fall down on earth.).If it ever does so it won’t be sounding like science at all and it be hard to accept for people like me who are secular in attitude.But what are your views on it.Will and can science,given its very nature,ever give supernatural explanation behind various natural phenomena.Another thing that I want to ask is that will science ever be able to prove or disprove the existence of any supernatural entity(God,Demon,Angel etc).Will it ever affect the methology of science as explained above and will go contrary to our free will to believe in god or follow a religion.Please reply.

          • Science needs evidence if we take the progress of science we see that as it has progressed more and phenomena have been explained.I am sure that our level of understanding of nature has gone up with progress of science.
            I am sure that though everything may not be explained our level of understanding is going to increase to higher levels than what it is now. Is it possible for any one to give a definite answer to that? Science is not like religious dogma which claims to have an explanation for everything. This is all I can say.

        • Sir,
          Please reply to my latest comment dated 17.3.2013.

  • I came across this blog after googling ‘criticism of Indian culture’ (don’t ask why) and am overjoyed to see that there are such articulate and clear thinking students like you in my old college (I graduated in 2009). Very well argued.

    By the way, do you happen to be a member of the literary and debating club (LDC)?

    • Kartik Sreedhar

      Hello 😀 Thank you for reading and appreciating this. Contrary to what you may think, I am not a member of the LDC (I did try getting inducted).

  • We need much more article like that because these people are not only in BITS but they are all over the prestigious engineering colleges. They are even in IITs and they have particular strategy to attack people and mold there rationalist thought or to make it numb.
    I was the member of ISKCON until my brother who introduced me to rational thinking process. I used to keep faith in these people and accept there pseudo scientific theories blindly.
    The website run by one of the devotee chaintanya charan das http://www.thespiritualscientist.com/ is the most database for pseudoscience theories
    I finally request you to write more articles like that

  • This is all the more entertaining to read, because I remember each of the arguments presented by that ridiculously self-assured fellow telling us about DIVYA, and reliving them is pretty hilarious.

    I take issue with one point though. You certainly weren’t the only one at that talk who was put off by what was happening. As I recall, there was a whole group of us sitting at one side of the classroom, some four or five people, and we all had a good laugh at the absurdity of it all when you showed us the piece of paper you’d written your coconut question on before passing it to the speaker.

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