Hindutva’s fondness for pseudoscience.
Ever since the emergence of the Hindu nationalist BJP on the national political scene, many strange things have been happening. Saffron clad Yogis, who are supposed to be spending time on meditation and spiritual contemplation have entered the legislatures and even managed to grab top posts. None other than the Prime Minister of the country, who is expected to promote scientific temper among the people, stated that in ancient India implant surgeries were performed and also cited an example from Hindu mythology stating that Lord Shiva implanted an elephant head on Ganesha’s body after beheading him.
A BJP stalwart, Murli Manohar Joshi, who happens to be a professor of Physics, introduced Vedic astrology courses in some of the Indian universities in spite of stiff opposition from the progressive forces in the country. The latest in line is the Madhya Pradesh government, which, in order to save people from the ‘mediocre’ services provided by ‘uncertified astrologers’ has introduced a certificate course in the priesthood, and Vedic astrology. The people who will be graduating in these courses will be deployed to perform various rituals and give future predictions to the people who seek their services.
We are all well aware of the fact that religions and Gods are a mere creation of humans. Our innate sense of insecurity, however, does not allow us to lead lives free of religion. As it has rightly been stated by Marx, ‘religion is the opium of the masses’ as it acts as an analgesic which reduces the pain of the poor and the downtrodden especially when they are in crisis. The capitalist profit mongers and their politician cronies know how to exploit these fears to their advantage. Therefore, religion and the associated anomalies are part of the instruments of the ruling elites to control the people and mould the public opinion.
The ruling elites all over the world have been using religion to divert the attention of the people from the bread and butter issues. The BJP government, which is fully aware of the religion’s potential to hoodwink people, has deployed it to the fullest extent. When you deploy religion even the associated anomalies have to be somehow accommodated. When they introduce Vedic astrology in the universities the trained astrologers, palmists and soothsayers have to be employed somewhere.
By introducing astrology courses and deploying certified astrologers, the government appears to be trying to implant a false sense of well-being among the distressed people by giving them rosy predictions about their future. This is the typical behavior of the corruption ridden, crony capitalism infested unresponsive governments. While the blissfully unaware poor people find solace in the soothsayer’s words, the governments can comfortably rule the state unconcerned about the problems of the common man, while protecting the interests of their industrialist cronies.
The BJP’s ideological mentor, RSS hates two figures more than anyone else — one is Macaulay and the other is Nehru. They say, Macaulay, by introducing English medium education in India, had created elite liberals who are pathologically anti-Hindu. They also feel that Nehru, through his secularism, has created the minority problem which persists even today. They conveniently ignore the fact that if India has gained some reputation in the world, it is because of its IT and ITES industry. And the only reason for the development of this industry in India is its large English speaking graduates. If India has, to some extent, shed its caste prejudices and blind beliefs and turned progressive it is because of the architects of the modern India such as Nehru.
There is a strong criticism against RSS that except peddling its Hindutva ideology, which does not appear to be a unifying force in an infinitely pluralistic Indian society, it does not have anything worthwhile to offer. Some social scientists even feel that they are intellectually bankrupt and does not have anything to offer for the societal advancement. They have only one perspective – a Hindu perspective and whoever they feel have done something against the perceived interests of Hindus are branded as anti-Hindu and opposed. And now the RSS wants to counter the anti-Hindu ideologies by propagating the supposedly great things that happened in the ancient India.
They, however, instead of propagating the truly great feats achieved by the ancient Indians, have started peddling mind numbingly ridiculous things such as the invention of 14-engined aircraft by ancient Indians that could travel between different planets. Perhaps they are not able to realize the fact that by peddling such pseudo-science they are destroying whatever little credibility they have. If someone asks the question, if Indians indeed made such inventions why Indian society is infested with blind beliefs and why it is bereft of any R&D culture, they again blame the foreigners, especially Muslims invaders, for all the maladies suffered by the Hindu society.
What Indians need to realize is, at this juncture, India requires a pluralistic society that has a progressive outlook. Hinduism, no doubt, has many great qualities. It is, in fact, not a religion and as such is not infected with supremacist tendencies of Abrahamic religions. But it is also a fact that Hindu society, since ages, dehumanized Dalits and practiced a kind of apartheid. Moreover, the deeply caste-ridden Hinduism does not have the qualities of a binding force and therefore, is incapable of uniting all the Hindus. The Dalits and other repressed sections are not ready to forgive the insults meted out to them. Even the caste Hindus are not ready to shed their supremacist tendencies and embrace their Dalit counterparts. Therefore, all the efforts made by the Sangh Parivar to unite Hindus by peddling pseudo-science with an intention to glorify the so-called inventions made by ancient Indians will not fructify and instead will only discredit them further.