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.