The Science Behind Hindu Traditions
Traditions in Hinduism were considered mainly as superstitions, but with the advent of science, it is becoming evident that these traditions are based on some scientific knowledge and moved from generations to generations as traditions. Though the common people did not know science in it, they were following it very faithfully over the years. This article is an attempt to bring forward the science involved in these traditions and rituals…
Throwing Coins into a River: The general reasoning given for this act is that it brings Good Luck. However, scientifically speaking, in the ancient times, most of the currency used was made of copper unlike the stainless steel coins of today. Copper is a vital metal very useful to the human body. Throwing coins in the river was one way our fore-fathers ensured we intake sufficient copper as part of the water as rivers were the only source of drinking water. Making it a custom ensured that all of us follow the practice.
Joining Both Palms together to Greet: In Hindu culture, people greet each other by joining their palms – termed as “Namaskar.” The general reason behind this tradition is that greeting by joining both the palms means respect. However, scientifically speaking, joining both hands ensures joining the tips of all the fingers together; which are denoted to the pressure points of eyes, ears, and mind. Pressing them together is said to activate the pressure points which helps us remember that person for a long time. And, no germs since we don’t make any physical contact.
Why do Indian Women wear Toe Ring: Wearing toe rings is not just the significance of married women but there is science behind it. Normally toe rings are worn on the second toe. A particular nerve from the second toe connects the uterus and passes to heart. Wearing toe ring on this finger strengthens the uterus. It will keep it healthy by regulating the blood flow to it and menstrual cycle will be regularized. As Silver is a good conductor, it also absorbs polar energies from the earth and passes it to the body.
Applying Tilak on the Forehead: On the forehead, between the two eyebrows, is a spot that is considered as a major nerve point in human body since ancient times. The Tilak is believed to prevent the loss of “energy”, the red ‘kumkum’ between the eyebrows is said to retain energy in the human body and control the various levels of concentration. While applying kumkum the points on the mid-brow region and Adnya-chakra are automatically pressed. This also facilitates the blood supply to the face muscles.
Why do Temples have Bells: People who are visiting the temple should and will Ring the bell before entering the inner sanctum (Garbhagudi or Garbha Gruha or womb-chamber) where the main idol is placed. According to Agama Sastra, the bell is used to give sound for keeping evil forces away and the ring of the bell is pleasant to God. However, the scientific reason behind bells is that their ring clears our mind and helps us stay sharp and keep our full concentration on devotional purpose. These bells are made in such a way that when they produce a sound it creates a unity in the Left and Right parts of our brains. The moment we ring the bell, it produces a sharp and enduring sound which lasts for minimum of 7 seconds in echo mode. The duration of echo is good enough to activate all the seven healing centres in our body. This results in emptying our brain from all negative thoughts.
Why do we have Navratras: Our living style has drastically changed if we compare it to the society hundreds & thousands of years ago. The traditions which we follow in present are not establishments of today but of the past. Ever thought, why do we have Navratras twice a year unlike other festivals like Deepawali or Holi? Well, both these months are the months of changing seasons and the eating habits of both the seasons are quite different from each other. Navratras give enough time to the body to adjust and prepare itself for to the changing season. These nine days were marked as a period when people would clean their body system by keeping fasts by avoiding excessive salt and sugar, meditate, gain a lot of positive energy, gain a lot of self confidence & increase the self determination power (fasts are a medium to improve our will power and self determination) and finally get ready for the challenges of the changed season.
Why do we worship Tulsi Plant: Hindu religion has bestowed ‘Tulsi’, with the status of mother. Also known as ‘Sacred or Holy Basil’, Tulsi, has been recognized as a religious and spiritual devout in many parts of the world. The vedic sages knew the benefits of Tulsi and that is why they personified it as a Goddess and gave a clear message to the entire community that it needs to be taken care of by the people, literate or illiterate. We try to protect it because it is like Sanjeevani for the mankind. Tulsi has great medicinal properties. It is a remarkable antibiotic. Taking Tulsi everyday in tea or otherwise increases immunity and help the drinker prevent diseases, stabilize his or her health condition, balance his or her body system and most important of all, prolong his or her life. Keeping Tulsi plant at home prevents insects and mosquitoes from entering the house. It is said that snakes do not dare to go near a Tulsi plant. Maybe that is why ancient people would grow lots of Tulsi near their houses.
Why do we worship Peepal Tree: ‘Peepal’ tree is almost useless for an ordinary person, except for its shadow. ‘Peepal’ does not a have a delicious fruit, its wood is not strong enough for any purpose then why should a common villager or person worship it or even care for it? Our ancestors knew that ‘Peepal’ is one of the very few trees (or probably the only tree) which produces oxygen even at night. So in order to save this tree because of its unique property they related it to God/religion.
Start with Spice & End with Sweet: Our ancestors have stressed on the fact that our meals should be started off with something spicy and sweet dishes should be taken towards the end. The significance of this eating practice is that while spicy things activate the digestive juices and acids and ensure that the digestion process goes on smoothly and efficiently, sweets or carbohydrates pulls down the digestive process. Hence, sweets were always recommended to be taken as a last item.
Choti on the Male Head: Sushrut rishi, the foremost surgeon of Ayurveda, describes the master sensitive spot on the head as Adhipati Marma, where there is a nexus of all nerves. The shikha protects this spot. Below, in the brain, occurs the Brahmarandhra, where the sushumnã (nerve) arrives from the lower part of the body. In Yog, Brahmarandhra is the highest, seventh chakra, with the thousand-petalled lotus. It is the centre of wisdom. The knotted shikhã helps boost this centre and conserve its subtle energy known as ojas.
Applying Mehendi/Henna on the Hand: Besides lending color to the hands, mehndi is a very powerful medicinal herb. Weddings are stressful, and often, the stress causes headaches and fevers. As the wedding day approaches, the excitement mixed with nervous anticipation can take its toll on the bride and groom. Application of mehndi can prevent too much stress because it cools the body and keeps the nerves from becoming tense. This is the reason why mehndi is applied on the hands and feet, which house nerve endings in the body.
Celebration & Cleaning During Diwali: Diwali usually falls in October or November which marks the start of winter season and end of rainy season. Rainy season wasn’t a good time for everyone back then; many homes needed repair and renovation after a heavy fall. That is why time before diwali was considered the period during which everyone can indulge in cleaning and beautification of their home. And also take out their winter clothes and pack the summer ones.
Sitting on the Floor & Eating: This tradition is not just about sitting on floor and eating, it is regarding sitting in the “Sukhasan” position and then eating. Sukhasan is the position we normally use for Yoga asanas. Sitting in this position while eating helps in improving digestion as the circulatory system can focus solely upon digestion and not on our legs dangling from a chair or supporting us while we are standing.
Why not to sleep with Your Head towards North: Myth is that it invites ghost or death but science says that it is because human body has its own magnetic field (Also known as hearts magnetic field, because the flow of blood) and Earth is a giant magnet. When we sleep with head towards north, our body’s magnetic field become completely asymmetrical to the Earth’s Magnetic field. That cause problems related to blood pressure and our heart needs to work harder in order to overcome this.
By Anil Bharti
(The writer is Ludhiana-based industrialist)