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News & Analysis

India’s Dangerous Myths and Superstitions

Khurshid Alam

The vast majority of people in India cling to superstitious beliefs and believe in myths. These are assiduously peddled by manipulative Hindu priests to keep the masses under their spell. The vast majority, trapped in grinding poverty, seek escape in myths.

Even highly educated people are prone to superstitious beliefs and myths. For instance, certain days of the week based on the alignment of stars are considered to bring good luck. Thus, when getting married, a person’s parents would ask a pundit (priest) to determine whether a particular day will bring good or bad luck if the event were to take place.

Given the ubiquitous caste system, the society is also divided along caste lines. Injustice and exploitation are ingrained in this system. Upper caste Hindus look down upon those of the lower castes with disdain and utter contempt. The very notion of upper and lower castes is anathema to human dignity.

Inter-caste marriages are forbidden and those that dare to breach the caste barrier pay a heavy price, often in life and limb. The number of people, especially men, killed for attempting to marry a girl of the upper caste is staggering. On the flip side, upper caste Hindus frequently rape lower caste girls and even murder them but the police refuse to lodge any cases against them.

This is one dimension of the problem in India. Equally disconcerting is the Hindutva brigade’s attempt to rewrite history to advance their hateful political agenda. The particular targets of this hate-filled ideology are Muslims although Christians and other religious minorities are not spared either.

The Hindutva ideologues view Muslims as aliens in India even though they ruled the country for more than 1,000 years. Muslims gave India such monuments as the Taj Mahal (one of the wonders of the world), the Red Fort in Delhi and a host of other spectacular landmarks. Muslims settled in India and developed a peculiarly Indian culture including music, cuisine and language. What irks the Hindutva fascists is the fact that there are more than 200 million Muslims in India. As recently as last December, Hindu fascists openly called for genocide of Muslims without evoking so much as a peep from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his henchmen.

Together with calls for genocide of Muslims, an equally insidious campaign of drinking cow urine and eating cow dung as cures for the coronavirus is being peddled by many politicians (see here and here). Even more appalling is the fact that the Indian government officially called on scientists to study the alleged curative properties of cow urine, dung and milk. This did not go down well with some members of the scientific community in India.

More than 500 scientists have asked the Indian government to withdraw a call for research proposals on the ‘uniqueness’ of indigenous cows and the curative properties of cow urine, dung, and milk, including potential cancer treatments. In an online letter, the researchers say the call is ‘unscientific’ and a misdirection of public money at a time when research in India is already facing a financial crunch.”

These 500 scientists braved the wrath of the Hindutva fascists to openly challenge the government’s “unscientific” and dangerous proposal at a time when India was suffering from the raging pandemic, but there are others that actively peddle myths. One is a group called the Indian Science Congress. Founded in 1914, its intended purpose is not to advance science but to distort history for the advancement of Hindutva ideology.

For instance, in January 2019, this so-called Science Congress convened its 106th annual meeting at which participants peddled completely unscientific nonsense. The fantastic claims peddled by this outfit include the ancient Indians being proficient in stem cell technology and having built aircrafts. Whatever happened to those aircraft?

This was not the first time this forum made such idiotic claims. Four years earlier (2015), the same Indian Science Congress meeting included a presentation on how ancient Indians had planes capable of interplanetary travel as well as surfing the internet. Modern medicine, it claimed, was also an invention of ancient Indians. One can visualize ancient Indians sipping cow urine latte sprinkled with cow dung while surfing the Internet waiting to board their interplanetary spacecraft to Mars, or was it to Venus?

Such fantasies are peddled as part of a broader agenda against Muslims. Hindutva ideologues allege that India’s ‘progress’ was interrupted and destroyed by the arrival of Muslims in India. The purpose of peddling such nonsense is to prepare the ground for Muslims’ extermination as part of a larger project of turning India into an exclusivist Hindu state.

In their anti-Muslim campaign, Hindutva ideologues have sought inspiration from Nazism and other fascist movements in twentieth-century Europe. Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (better known as V.D. Savarkar. Like the sexually-transmitted disease, VD, Savarkar’s poisoned ideas, propounded in Essentials of Hindutva (1923) also spread quickly), a pioneer of Hindutva ideology, was a great admirer of Nazism. He found in Adolf Hitler’s treatment of Jews in Europe a useful model for how to deal with Muslims in India.

Others, like M.S. Golwalkar, second leader of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS, the largest Hindu fascist outfit with more than 6 million members), wrote that Germany’s “purging the country of the Semitic Race—the Jews” was “a good lesson for us in Hindusthan (sic) to learn and profit by.”

Modi emerged from the bowels of the RSS and today BJP policies are based on its hate-filled ideas and practices. The RSS acts as BJP’s storm troopers. Its 6 million members, trained in violent tactics, terrorize Muslims, Christians and other religious minorities in India while targeting foreign academics and professionals that expose its horrific crimes abroad.

Article from

Crescent International Vol. 50, No. 12

Jumada' al-Akhirah 29, 14432022-02-01

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