Pseudoscience & Religion

Take a Dip! Plunging the Nation into Superstition and Tragedy

Pushkar beliefs

Leo constellation. Image source: Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_%28constellation%29

Leo constellation. Source:http://bit.ly/1HECSwA

‘Pushkaram’ of a river is a Hindu religious concept and is triggered when the planet Jupiter ‘enters’ a zodiac sign that is linked to a particular Indian river. There are today 12 zodiac signs and 12 such rivers in the country are thus linked to the zodiac signs. Thus every river would get a pushkaram once in 12 years, because Jupiter takes nearly 12 earth years to complete a full revolution around the sun. So the planet ‘spends a year in each of the zodiac signs’. The first 12 days and the last 12 days of the year are particularly auspicious.During the auspicious time all the 33 crore Gods of Hinduism will take a dip in the water. This is the right time to wash off your sins.Those who die during the auspicious time are lucky.

Such are the beliefs associated with Pushkar, an event where millions of pilgrims congregate – it is of the order of a mini-Kumbh Mela! The Kumbh Mela is one of the great congregations of believers in the world, rivaling the gatherings in Mecca. It is worth visiting to see what unites the believers and what brings them there.

As Jupiter has now ‘entered’ Leo or ‘Simha Raasi’, it is River Godavari’s turn this year.

Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu at the Pushkar

Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu at the Pushkar

‘Have a holy dip in the river and all your sins will be washed away’ – the Chief Ministers themselves claim, accompanied by priests! Publicly funded advertisements are encouraging people to go to the Pushkar celebrations to get punyam – the reward for their piety.

To get punyam one has to not only have a pure heart but also give alms or make a donation. Not alms to the poor and the needy, to the hungry and the sick, but to the Brahmin priest. Why should the priest be a Brahmin or how donating a cow or a large quantity of rice to a Brahmin is an act of piety is not explained by anyone.

Telangana CM K. Chandrashekar Rao at the Pushkar

Telangana CM K. Chandrashekar Rao at the Pushkar

I went to the Godavari Pushkaram many years ago, and thought the experience was special. How could anyone get into the muddy waters of the Pushkar Ghat along with tens of thousands of others,imbibe some river water, and hope to get spiritual reward and not some disease or illness?

Every where you will see half-dressed Brahmin priests helping the devotees offer food to the long-dead, aided by a language long-forgotten by most.In powerful language the rationalist poet Vemana admonished the believers over 300 years ago, asking how the crows which come to eat the food could be their ancestors? In any case, if in the last Pushkar the descendants helped their ancestors goto Heaven, it is not clear why 12 years later they are repeating the ritual.

It is a more pleasant and safer experience by the picturesque villages near Ravulapalem. That is where I saw what a mighty river the Godavari was – and it was not even in spate then!

The Godavari river in perspective

‘Godavari is a great river, it is a huge river, it is next to Ganga in size, it is Dakshin Ganga’, we are told every where, lest we forget.And indeed it is a huge and awe inspiring river – it gives life, but takes away many as well in its tremendous floods. When you call a river a mother, it helps to think also of the floods.

In any case, let us put this river in perspective:

The longest river in the world is the Nile and close behind it is the Amazon river. They are of the order of 6500 + kilometres long. The Ganga in India, sadly the fifth most polluted river in the world, is no. 37th in the length-wise list of the world’s rivers. The Ganga is some 2600 kilometres long, while the Godavari is 1450 kilometres long.

Compared to the other rivers we know, the Godavari discharges more than 30 times the water the river Thames discharges at Staines. It is true that the Godavari is awe inspiring, but the larger rivers are likely to over whelm even more: while the Godavari flows through 3 states in India, the Nile flows through and gives life to 11 countries in Africa.

The absurdity of zodiac signs

In any case, blind belief is interesting.

This Babylonian superstition of astrological zodiacal signs was happily adopted by the Greeks. It then came to India and it was promptly incorporated into local calculations and astrological texts. Of course, it is all rubbish unless you think the sun revolves around the Earth!

And despite all the lies being spread, there is no mention of raasis /zodiacal signs in the Vedas. The Double Ph.D professional-astrologer next to me struggled but could not prove other wise, so he meaninglessly started praising the TV channel. Some business people are silly!

Entering a raasi?

Oh yes, how can Jupiter, about 62 crores or 620 million kilometres away from us ‘enter’ the Leo sign which has stars that are 37 million light-years away? Do they know what a light year means? How many thousands of crores of Kilometres is a Light year? How can Jupiter ‘enter’ a Raasi? The error is parallax on which the monumental stupidity of astrological signs is based. The raasis so-called look different if you view them from the moon! And now they are talking of 13 zodiac signs – so they should find another eligible Indian river – do not forget Pushkar is only for Hindu rivers! And there is a fraudulent claim that this happens only once in 144 years! Even some astrologers are disputing the 144 business!

But, on what basis could it be 144 or 1440 years when the very original assumption of entering a raasi itself is ab initio wrong?

Do remember, the Vedas have no mention of raasis, and it is the work of some people doing business with superstition that this wrong idea about the Vedas is being spread. There is much in the Vedas that is interesting and some parts are the height of philosophy of that age -or is it poetry? But the Vedas are products of the human mind of that age, not revelation.

The astrologers?

BTW, how come not one astrologer predicted the terrible loss of 23 lives of the poor pilgrims who went to have a dip in the Godavari and got caught in a stampede?
I participated in a couple of telugu TV discussions on the Godavari Pushkaram.
In one the double PhD in the parrot studies of astrology who was sitting next to me – did he have any hunch? Did he give a hint? Another discussion had to be extended by 30 minutes as there was a tremendous public response and the phones kept ringing with eager callers wanting to ask questions.

A Chief Minister said leave your sins in the water. Why do the politicians make the sad assumption that ordinary people are over loaded with sins? Why would they be? Most try to live an honest life, don’t they?

Purity or Cleanliness?

It is important to get some matters clear: purity and piety are different from CLEANLINESS. That is why in Punya Bharat, we still need Swaccha Bharat! The Caste system is based on the idea of birth-based purity! Purity is not hygiene.

Have you seen the muddy waters in the river where the holy dip was being taken? Rivers with such power – which clean us up of our sins like a modern detergent takes care of the stains on our clothes – why don’t they clean themselves and get rid of the chemical pollution as well?

Sin and crime – did Lord Brahma do the right thing?

Also, sin is different from crime! In the mythology that is evoked to justify Pushkar observations, Lord Brahma asked Indra to have a holy dip to absolve himself of the consequences of adultery.

Now think about this – Lord Brahma did nothing to help Ahalya who was criminally deceived by Indra, the Lord of Heaven. Indra had disguised himself to appear like Ahalya’s husband and had physical relations with her in the dark! She was then cursed by her husband to become a stone. And Indra who too was given a terrible curse to have female genitalia all over his body went to Brahma who helped him.

With a modern understanding of morality can we applaud the celebration of a story where a victim is punished and a criminal helped in this manner? In the Indian Penal Code Indra’s actions would attract Section 497 of the IPC! And Ahalya would be protected by the Indian State.

Modern India

Modern India has come far from the times of its mythological past, but is still waiting for many of her citizens to catch up to the modern values of the modern world so that they could shape their beliefs and values on the basis of modern knowledge. Let us manage to do that and then we will see what a powerful country India would become!

I wonder why and how those super nationalists who speak of Indian culture and nationalism and the bad influence of foreign culture have no problem with Babylonian and Greek superstitions being part of their Hindu culture? And how come they still do not understand that Indian culture is not Hindu culture alone, but also that of the Atheists, the Carvakas, the Buddhists, the Jains, the Sikhs, the Muslims, the Christians and many others?

Special callers!

Some of the callers during the TV programme were special. ‘What you say hurts us’, one of them said to Mr. Krishna Rao who was in fact very soft and gentle. ‘You do not criticise the Muslims and the Christians’, says another. Which intelligent person will speak of Islam when the discussion is about Pushkar practice? Listen: Don’t like what I say? Then, don’t listen!. Or change the Channel. Don’t behave like a child. And don’t say ‘why did you not criticise the others (meaning Muslims and Christians)’. The simple response is that Christians and Muslims do not have Pushkar, that is all. Further, when the Christians and Muslims have their functions and events, the state does not promote them! Here it is the state doing that!

And we do not organise these discussions, we are guests at sessions organised by TV channels. Yes, the Christians have prayer healings and prayer oils and other deceptions. When a discussion is organised on that subject we will speak. We have previously spoken about that as well. Very often we do not wait for discussions. Remember the psychic healing fraudster Alex Orbito from the Philippines? He was exposed by Humanists and Rationalists when he came to India. and why were all the Hindu celebrities sitting in the audience when he was performing his scam?

If you really respected your rivers none of them would be so dirty and polluted.Take care of your rivers by stopping the pollution.

A guide to thinking

Do not try to make us criticise those you hate. Our agenda and intentions are different.

  • We do not entertain hatred.
  • We do not get provoked because we do not hate any one.
  • We do not hate your religion.
  • We reject all religions which are based on revelation and miracles and holy books and holy prophets.

Most of us propose a modern philosophy of life based on knowledge and Human Rights and Democracy. We simply are inviting you to think about the beliefs that prevail in society. You can do the same about our own assumptions and statements.When subjected to valid criticism, our views would also improve. Our aim and goal should be to increase the level of rational fact-based thinking in society so that all our lives become happier.Ours, and yours. In the contest of ideas there is progress! In fact this is how Hinduism became better – look at how Swami Vivekananda and Swami Dayananda Saraswati and Gandhiji improved Hinduism. All religions need reformers to move forward. If you respect and love your religion you will do it.

There is a clear and strong current in the public mood – 85% of the TVSMS poll (not scientifically organized and the no. of people polled were not announced) said that the Government organizing the Pushkar events on that scale was to distract the people’s attention from their real problems. Whatever you may wish to do, those like us need to protect ourselves and our families from the invasion of superstitions and irrationality.

About the author

Babu Gogineni

16 Comments

  • The indra, ahalya scene was re-enacted very well in Power Star Pawan Kalyan’s Attarintiki Daredi movie and the hero also raises similar points about whose fault is it.

  • Indeed by these state sponsored religious events, one starts wondering if the state even recognizes that secularism as one of the basic constitutional principles! As much as this story is deplorable, I am afraid even worse things are happening in other states. A state like Gujarat actively goes out of its way, to protect Hindutva terrorist and rioters. Even the central government is now pressurizing investigative agencies to go soft on such accused. So many BJP ruled states are actively engaged in espousing Hindutva through their daily diktats and pronouncements, be it Maharashtra or Haryana. In midst of all of this, this Godavari-Pushkar fiasco seems only a mild transgression. Such is the state of affairs.

    • Yes, I am also unable to understand how spending huge amounts for pushkarams is even legal? Since India is a secular country. How can a secular country like India show bias towards Hinduism?

  • The Foundation for such disgusting superstitions was laid by Vedic Brahmins most likely after 4 th century A.D to generate a wide base for their parasitic livlyhood.,when they released BhagavatGita., which created Perennial Poverty for shudras and perennial superstitions for all. How can a drop of nectar fall zig–zag in 3 or 4 rivers. All stories were concocted by Brahmins Even though highly educated they do not speak a word against this rubbish. Some time back Highly educated proffesionals in America performed KUMBHA Bath in a artificial Tank with water from many rivers flown -in from India. Such is the depth of stupidity. Not only INDRA many other Gods have similar criminal records Rationalists like Sri Gogineni should expose the entire Hypocracy of HINDUTWA to the Youth of the country.

    • What nirmukta does not understand is that atheism is only possible as a critique of a definitive theism.
      Making banal statements like the Brahmins created poverty are venomous calumny.budha was an atheist of the right sort.if you were to blame the bourgeoisie for the poverty created through exploitation based on surplus labor the theory would have some legs. Without an inkling of logic you blame the Brahmins when the truth is mores complicated. No I do not go to temples, but I do not criticize people who find peace in it. Do you criticize the golfers for wasting precious water in California on a green golf course when there is a drought, no you do not. You are on. Crusade OF PROMULGATING A RELIGION OF ATHEISM WITHOUT HAVING STAtedTHE ONTOLOGICAL DEFINITION OF atheism..
      Your world view is that religion is the cause of evil. Marx wrote a scathing critique of Bruno Bauer because Bauer had in the similar vein criticized religion. Marx actually never bothered with religion
      The quote attributed to him that religion is the opium of masses is actually from Bauer.
      And yes you will criticize the Bhagavad Gita but not
      because you have said that teaching Gita is
      Religious. In the most expensive private school a secular one in the United States where my son went the bible is taught ,which actually is a religious book. The Gita is definitely worth while and was popular in the Soviet Union, may or may not be considered religious
      It is actually Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky who are religious but I see no outrage in studying them

      What is the role of the critic?

      • > What nirmukta does not understand is that atheism is only possible as a critique of a definitive theism.

        Nirmukta is a rationalist website. Rationalism goes beyond atheism. It is a general critique of all non-rational thought such as astrology, homeopathy etc. Critique of theism is just one component of it.

        > No I do not go to temples, but I do not criticize people who find peace in it.

        With respect to the article, ideas are being critiqued, more than people being criticized.

        Is it wrong to demonstrate that the festival lacks an actual scriptural basis?; to use this as an opportunity to demonstrate the pseudo-science of astrology? To perhaps look to gently change the tone of the festival from being a “charity” to the priests to instead being a charity to the truly impoverished?

        I doubt any rationalist will criticize a charity festival for the poor, even if it is based in irrationality. If all religious people *only* used astrology to shower aid on the poor on planetary alignments, I would restrain my criticism of astrology. I would however critique a festival that poses public health and public safety risks.

        Is it wrong for us (not just rationalists, but by the practitioners of the ritual) to take command of our own culture and reform it towards a more humane and higher form, while not dismantling cultural events for those who still need them? If it is OK to only symbolically sacrifice flour animal models, why is it not OK to symbolically sprinkle purified and bottled pushkara water at home?… until a later age, when we are more enlightened to understand astrology for what it is.

        > Do you criticize the golfers for wasting precious water in California on a green golf course when there is a drought

        Yes, why not? Are you a golfer?

        California’s obsession with lawns and golf courses is not environmental common sense in times of drought.

        I am sure you are familiar with this piece
        http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/05/us/california-drought-tests-history-of-endless-growth.html
        The pictures say it all. Its time Californians faced reality.

        > You are on. Crusade OF PROMULGATING A RELIGION OF ATHEISM WITHOUT HAVING STAtedTHE ONTOLOGICAL DEFINITION OF atheism..
        > Your world view is that religion is the cause of evil.

        He is just one poster. If you are setting him up to be THE face of Nirmukta, you are looking for a strawman.

        If you want to know: Atheism is a rejection of theism, deities etc. That’s ontological enough. Yes, Buddha works fine. Have you seen Nirmukta write any articles on why Buddha was not rational and that Buddhism is evil? (not that the caste structures and other ritualistic aspects of later Buddhism are immune to critique)

        http://nirmukta.com/2011/01/26/buddha-the-sensible-rationalist/

        Or even theists like Jains, Bahais or Ahmedias? All religions are not the same. All practices do not merit equal condemnation.

        > In the most expensive private school a secular one in the United States where my son went the bible is taught ,which actually is a religious book.

        Expensive does not equate good. You did not say whether the Bible was being preached or taught. If your son is getting preached the literal contents of the Bible as facts, I am not sure you are getting your money’s worth. There is nothing wrong with teaching about religion, on the other hand. In fact, I would say that one cure for religious fundamentalism is teaching more religion, comparative religion that is – which enables students to see religion in context… a cultural component or an artifact, rather than an edifice that is absurdly positioned to be free from critique.

        > The Gita is definitely worth while and was popular in the Soviet Union

        I am curious, what percent of schools and universities in the Soviet Union taught The Gita? I ask because there is often a tendency to magnify a smidgen of a presence, when something aligns with one’s position.

        > It is actually Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky who are religious

        Not in a conventional sense.

        > but I see no outrage in studying them

        But of course. I admire Dostoyevsky myself. I have never seen any rationalist criticize Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. Did you?

        • Rationalism is not an absolute term. You already have an answer to astrology, and to everything else.What idea are you criticizing?The festival lacks a spiritual basis . What does that mean.The Eastern concept of spirituality is based on Being qua being as the basis much like Heideggar. Spirituality does not exist outside but is validated by the inner being in various manifestations, so who are you to say what is spiritual?Yes atheism is a denial of theism, but what if theism starts from being rather then as a reflection of becoming or the objective world. See you are a preacher yourself advising me to reject my son’s school. Yes he was taught Bible as cultural history of the west, but implicit in it is the reverence given it.
          They teach Ramayana too but as a religion of polytheism idol worship etc which is exotic if you are a Christion you can position the debate in that manner.Majority of students from my son’s school are ivy league bound and the future leaders of America and they have been indirectly indoctrinated by a religion called atheism which is metestacized Christianity. Namely the exclusivist thesis that the subject is always a reflection of the object.That rationalism is absolute while in reality it is the flavor of the day
          I am a jock and a coach. I love to explain to my students the concept of Karma Yoga, how to fight, How to persevere, how to be totally focused on winning while at the same time be totally unconcerned about winning. This dialectic is foriegn to Aristotle or Christianity and yet every athlete knows about it. It was in this context the likes of Matveyev in the Soviet Union saw it. Timothy Gallway in “The inner Game of tennis” paraphrased the element of Bhagavad Gita , Arthur Ashe read it in 1974 and won Wimbledon practicing this technique to get in the zone, as they say in sports.Hundreds of my students, not a single one a Hindu have benifitted from the sane advice. Gita is a practical manual
          Now to Dostoyevsky. He presents a morose Russian culture where the alienation is escaped through alchohol or Christ, Dostoyevsky Chooses Christ, and I am fine with that my problem with you guys is that you give him a pass.
          You say that no rationalists criticize Dostoyevsky. Of Course not since they operate within the Christian framework, namely where being is always a reflection of the object and thus all solutions have to be from the object to subject.
          The very debate of atheism vs theism is an Abrahamic exercise.
          We are in modernity and are focused on a debate fit for 18th century western world.
          The problem in India is not religion but the colonial past that restrains us from being creative. Indian athletes have an inferiority complex, other then Leander Paes most tennis players are meek. We lack Pride , not because we are superstitious but because we are McCauley Indians.
          I like the approach and audacity of you guys and that is why I take the time to write.My PnD dissertation has no mention of Indian philosophy although it was on the concept of Logic and Criticism, because I was not aware of its relevence.
          So please keep the search and despite my criticism i believe that you are questioning and that is very important

          • > Rationalism is not an absolute term.

            Clearly not for you, for whom everything is dialectical. I prefer the simplicity of Searle in my world view.

            > The festival lacks a spiritual basis.

            Read again: I said, scriptural, not spiritual. Its an astrology based festival. People can’t point to religious texts as the basis. This makes it more open to reform.

            > The Eastern concept of spirituality is based on Being qua being as the basis much like Heideggar.

            Sigh. Not again. Can’t you give your dissertation readings a rest?

            > Spirituality does not exist outside but is validated by the inner being in various manifestations

            Its not communication if only you can know you say.

            > so who are you to say what is spiritual?

            All this yarn… because you misread the word: scriptural? The things we put up with here :-).

            > Yes atheism is a denial of theism, but what if theism starts from being rather then as a reflection of becoming or the objective world.

            Atheism isn’t interested in fighting your personal philosophies. It is interested in fighting the very real human rights problems, political problems and public health problems. This is NOT about atheism as an abstract idea. This is about the lack of education and critical thinking that come with having a still poor country. We aren’t interested in reforming your personal philosophies, Dostoveysky’s religion, Newton’s religiosity or Einstein’s spirituality. We are concerned with mundane earthly problems of festivals that are prone to stampedes and public health risks. Are you capable of understanding this? You will need to get off the philosophical high-horse first for that.

            > See you are a preacher yourself advising me to reject my son’s school.

            No, I just said you might not be getting your money’s worth. How you choose to splurge your abundant wealth is however not my concern.

            > Majority of students from my son’s school are ivy league bound and the future leaders of America and they have been indirectly indoctrinated by a religion called atheism which is metestacized Christianity.

            There are two components to this rant. Half of it is bragging. Rest of it is baggage, not relevant to this article.

            > That rationalism is absolute while in reality it is the flavor of the day

            So you think that Atheism is the mother of rationalism, when it is the other way around… and you effectively assert that you are NOT a rationalist?

            > I am a jock and a coach.

            You keep saying that in every other post. That, and your Heidegger. We get it.

            > I love to explain to my students the concept of Karma Yoga.

            I don’t think we have anything against that. Having to put up with their coach’s idiosyncratic sermons is your students’ concern. I am not worried about them, just my own country men. And if they do find Gita useful, most excellent, good for them. I don’t have a problem if non-Indians find our epics thoughtful or useful. I’d even feel proud. They are cultural products of our civilization, even if I am irreligious. I’d be as proud when people cite our epics, as the Greeks would be, when non-Greeks cite Iliad and Odyssey.

            > Now to Dostoyevsky. He presents a morose Russian culture where the alienation is escaped through alchohol or Christ, Dostoyevsky Chooses Christ, and I am fine with that

            I like Dostoevsky because he highlights our fundamentally irrational core. Each to his own, eh? As a rationalist, I am fascinated by Dostoevsky’s exploration of the central seat of irrationality in the natural human condition.

            > my problem with you guys is that you give him a pass.

            But it was you who said: “but I see no outrage in studying them”. Now, you do see an outrage? Finicky.

            > You say that no rationalists criticize Dostoyevsky. Of Course not since they operate within the Christian framework

            I already answered you in the Yoga discussion that it isn’t a Christian/Abrahamic framework that drives Atheism. Its the scientific illiteracy and lack of critical thinking abilities in our beloved country men and women that drives us.

            > namely where being is always a reflection of the object and thus all solutions have to be from the object to subject.

            That’s not the Christian/Abrahamic framework.

            > The very debate of atheism vs theism is an Abrahamic exercise.

            For you, it is. Not for the rest of us.

            > We are in modernity and are focused on a debate fit for 18th century western world.

            Who are we? You in California? Most of India isn’t even in 18th century, intellectually speaking.

            > The problem in India is not religion but the colonial past that restrains us from being creative.

            Both. We are lagging behind European Enlightenment. Our scientific temper is very low. Creativity in the modern era is not possible without clear scientific thinking. You won’t get all this, because as you have demonstrated in the Yoga discussion, your understanding of what science is, is quite weak. Science isn’t hermeneutics.

            > Indian athletes have an inferiority complex, other then Leander Paes most tennis players are meek. We lack Pride , not because we are superstitious but because we are McCauley Indians.

            McCauley argument has some nominal merit. The rest of it is trash. People keep pulling it out as if it is an argument-ender. It isn’t.

            Never in Indian history did exist a government that could dictate the culture and psychology of Indians. We aren’t China. There never were institutions that would allow such control that the British Empire could commandeer.

            Most of our population resided in villages in the colonial era. Villages were nearly untouched by the British influence – also why after independence we tended to treat the village as an unadulterated and pure unit, perhaps a mistake in retrospect as that delayed industrialization. That said, the colonial era did produce an elite class which was impressed with the West, and some of it, by design. But there were legitimate reasons for that admiration as well. Saying McCauley, McCauley does not close arguments on a complex era.

            Indian athletes are weak because they are not economically well-supported yet. The training is not modern and the nutritional education and support is poor. The infrastructure to extract talent from school level is missing. Money explains a lot. As Indian economy grows and institutions strengthen, everything will pick up in time.

          • That was a late night post.

            > Its not communication if only you can know you say.

            There is a “what” missing there.

            Its not communication if only you can know what you say.

            And its Macaulay, for both of us.

            I have to ask again:

            Is your dissertation, that you keep referring to, one that was produced in a regular PhD program, where you spent several years toiling full-time at the campus, rather than some distance program, where you got a few readings done after work?

            Is the university that accepted your dissertation, one that is ranked in the US by USNews?

        • You can easily see your skills in the job you write. The market exeactptions for even more excited writers such as you that are not afraid to mention how the writers feel. All your heart is followed by the time.

  • Can you please prove it this statement “Vedas are products of the human mind of that age, not revelation”. With Proof please…

    • common sense.
      You should a great proof to claim some content written in a book is revelation of god as this is an unnatural phenomena.
      It doesn’t require a proof to claim some content written in a book is human work as it is a natural phenomena.

  • Most of the scholars and historians have proved that 4 VEDA–s were completed over a pe riod of 500–1000 years. The words SHRUTHI and REVELATION were coined By Priests to fool Gullible, semi tribals and Innocent people to make them beleive that theDocuments were recieved directly from Gods.

  • Excellent piece !! The State will continuously promote the people’s superstitions (esp. the Majority’s, whosoever it is) …not just because they might themselves believe in it (at times , they might not) but for the sake of populism- the idea on which our entire democracy is pivoted.

    If a government takes stringent measures against irrational activities , it goes down. Indeed it are not the motley con-men but the people themselves who are a problem.
    Further , with growing population , poverty & illiteracy (even those who are literate are not really ‘educated” as education does not tantamount to enlightenment but mere self-sustaining in this rat race) this problem will be more endemic than ever , until a non-populist government is formed.

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