Secular Mumbo Jumbo


Location: Our Lady of Velankanni Church, IRLA, Bombay.

Phenomenon: Water trickling from the foot of the Crucifix.

Assumption: Jesus is crying and the water trickling is Holy Tears

On the morning of March 5, a Hindu woman went to the cross of Irla to pray, when she noticed water tickling from the foot of the crucifix. She immediately alerted her neighbors, and for days dozens of people of every religion have gone to pay homage to the supernatural event, praying, lighting candles and collecting some of the water to bring home.

Sanal Edamaruku, the eminent rationalist thinker, arrived at the church a fortnight after the miracle began drawing crowds. It took him less than half an hour to discover the source of the divine tears: a filthy puddle formed by a blocked drain, from where water was being pushed up through a phenomenon all high-school physics students are familiar with, called capillary action. For his discovery, Mr. Edamaruku now faces the prospect of three years in prison — and the absolute certainty that he will spend several more years hopping between lawyers’ offices and courtrooms.

This is what religion in India has come to. We were supposed to be a secular country. Allowing people of all religion and walks of life to flourish. The Government is prosecuting this individual for bringing to light the fallacies of  phenomenons that are gravely misinterpreted as miracles. Water from a blocked drain seeps through and co-incidentally happens to emerge from an idol and people throng by the drones to collect this water. Look at your toilets people. There’s a lot more water where that came from.

It is wrong to point at a single religion and blame their respective zealots for inciting gullible people. The herd mentality is instilled so deep that it is unfair to term them as people anymore. Hence, the term “sheeple”. People are just looking for a scapegoat to blame all their problems on and reach out to that scapegoat in hope of a solution, the quicker the better. And what better scapegoat, than somebody or something that does not exist in physicality. Let’s give it a name. Say, God. Let’s shower him with requests, ask him for solutions to your problems, speak your mind to him, scare your children with tales of this person and force them in to eating their vegetables.

This is a country which would not hesitate to kill their own in the name of religion. First thing that comes to mind are the Babri Masjid blasts and the subsequent Bombay riots of 1992. Well this blog was meant to prove how Sanal Edamaraku was right in saying that a majority of religious organizations are out to scam people in to giving away their money in the name of religion. And right he is. Let me give you a few instances.

There is a very famous temple located in the hills of Sabarimala. This temple houses the idol of Ayyappa and a few million people visit this shrine every year. Now, the phenomenon that a majority of these people thronged to see was the “magical” appearance of a flame atop an opposite mountain and that symbolized the other Gods worshiping the Lord Ayyappa. Only recently did the Tranvancore Devaswom Board declare that the phenomenon was  man-made contrary to popular belief. On every 14th of January at about 7:00 pm, a few people from the Kerala Forest Department, Kerala State Electricity Board, TDB, authorities from the Sabarimala Temple and a couple of policemen carry 4 – 5 kgs of camphor (in the form of cubes) in a plate and a few matchsticks. They then proceed to the Ponnambalamedu hill, light it and show it to the devotees thrice. And this was revealed to the public after minting a few million dollars worth of currency and scamming people out of their hard earned money.

Then there was the infamous, Ganesha idol drinking milk. This skyrocketed the sales of milk and with thousands of people giving the Ganesha idol some milk, sure as heck, Calcium Deficiency will not be a problem for him. Then there was Puttaparthi Sai Baba, who tried his chicanery on his followers by producing gold chains and Siva Lingas from thin air. Physics defying don’t you think? I could go on and on about such stories.

Like dozens of other intellectuals and artists, Mr. Edamaraku is a victim of India’s god laws — colonial-era legislation obliging the state to punish those who offend the faith of others. Section 295 of the Indian Penal Code criminalises the actions of “whoever destroys, damages or defiles any place of worship, or any object held sacred by any class of persons”. Its sibling, Section 295A, outlaws “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class”. Section 153B goes further, proscribing “any act which is prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities”. Alarmingly, given the sweeping generalities in which these laws are written, truth is not an admissible defense. So the Government of India ensures that the people ensuring the truth comes to light are prosecuted and the ones who actually commit fraud are let scot-free.

The future of India can’t give in to frauds like these. Make yourself heard and try explaining this to people. This reminds me of John Morley’s quote, “Where it is duty to worship the sun, it is pretty sure to be a crime to examine the laws of heat”. A country that fails to protect its scientifically inquisitive is not worth calling itself a developing country. No wonder the brightest and smartest are leaving this country and we are stuck with corrupt and incompetent black magic believers back home.

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high. I really don’t think Tagore would feel that way right about now.

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6 thoughts on “Secular Mumbo Jumbo

  1. Oh was it a shivalinga? I thought it was a golden egg… I’ve always imagined a certain His Holiness as a folklore chicken with a divine afro.

  2. Very well written. Although, I personally agree a 100% with whatever you say, I’m going to play devil’s advocate for a bit. I’m thinking people need something to believe in. We create heroes and when we realize they’re flawed we tear them down with a vengeance. Our elected leaders are corrupt and more often than not, we have brought to power the lesser evil person, so it is futile to expect good values from them. In a world where people are losing faith in everything really quickly, it seems the only place left to go is upwards, towards God. He cannot be seen, touched or felt so he’s flawless and to reassure ourselves that he exists we look for miracles. For things to change, we need to look for and reaffirm the God (good) in people. The day we start doing that, the miracles we look for will also change

    • Thanks for your kind words Meera.. You indeed are playing the Devil’s advocate here. Ironic, as the post was supposed to be about God. 🙂

      My point about the blog was, really, to point out the fact that people were being taken for a ride, by notorious crooks. I absolutely agree with the fact that people need something to believe in, but there is quite thick line between belief in a higher power and sheer stupidity, case in point, Velankanni drain water.

      Secondly, for actually pointing out that fact, the person gets prosecuted and faces 3 years in prison, which undermines the foundation on which our country was built, and our USP was built on this. Live and let live.

  3. Very well-written. I have a proposed solution. All the scientifically aligned people should try and become a minority community ourselves – maybe under the umbrella of Rationalist Society. The only ideology of our community will be – we won’t believe anything that can not be explained by laws of Physics. Then every time some charlatan does some stupid magic trick to prove that s/he is God, we should sue him/her under article 295A for having hurt our sentiments!

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