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Secular Superstition

Updated: December 25, 2010 10:08 am

India That Is Bharat

 

This ‘blind faith’ business is getting curiouser and curiouser, and for soft-brained Satiricus harder and harder to comprehend. He learns from learned lexicographers that a superstition can be a practice, an opinion, or even a religion, that is widely held but is unjustified, even irrational. So is there such a religion in secular India? Of course, there is. It is Hinduism. So should Satiricus say this Maharashtra Bill against superstition is actually a Bill against Hindu superstition? He does not know but this man Narendra Dabholkar seems to know. He is a leading light of the anti-superstition movement in Maharashtra, and has been described by the English-cum-secular media as a “famous rationalist”.

                Now Satiricus happens to know a close relative of this Dabholkar, who once asked him, why do you target only the Hindus? In reply, this rational anti-Hindu could only hum and haw, and then say, let’s first do something about our own religion. That was an admirable answer, because it showed that discretion is the better part of rationalist valour.

                A Pope of historical times may have called Jesus Christ “a lie”, but for Dabholkar and his righteous rationalists he must remain the truth and nothing but the rational truth. Then again, Satiricus had read a glowing biography of Mohammed which says, when Mohammed was born the heavens glowed with a heavenly light. Should Satiricus say this is a silly superstition in view of the fact that he was born in a leading idolatrous family that had the privilege of looking after the Hindu shrine of Kaba and he himself was an idolator till he founded Islam at the age of forty?

                Satiricus has read a Muslim writing that because the Prophet of Islam was an Arab, the language of Paradise is Arabic. Is this an arrant lie for a rationalist or is Dabholkar going to join an Arabic class before booking a ticket to heaven?

Ticket To Heaven

And talking about a ticket to heaven, not long ago a Governer of a state in the USA publicly endorsed a Christian preacher’s assertion that anyone, who does not believe in Jesus Christ is going straight to hell with a one-way ticket. So where does Dabholkar want to go—up or down? If this shining light of secular rationalism leaves superstitious Hinduism and embraces rational Islam in a bid for a place in paradise, he becomes a non-Hindu but he still remains a non-Christian, and so must go to a Christian hell. On the other hand, if he becomes a Christian he becomes a non-Hindu but still remains a non-Muslim, an infidel, and all un-Islamic infidels rot in hell, no? Talking of Christianity, Bernard Shaw said the Bible is a bundle of silly superstitions like, for instance, the world began a mere five thousand years ago.

                But can Satiricus raise such doubts in secular India? His belief in superstitious Hinduism automatically disqualifies him from indulging in such presumptuousness. Rather, he should be rational enough to pray “Oh God, if there be a God, forgive me my sins, if there be sins”. But will God forgive? He may, if Satiricus prays in Arabic.

Canny Canines

Satiricus must apologise. Only the other day he had said he was happy the world was going to happy dogs. That was stupid of him. Apparently it seems the world is going to stupid dogs. For it has been reported from London that celebrities, who are often photographed carrying “handbag dogs” have fuelled a rise in the demand for pedigree canines worldwide. But a study has now claimed that pedigree dogs have become increasingly stupid, as they are now bred for their looks and not their brains. Reseachers of the University of Stockhlom have found strong evidence that breeding dogs for appearance has led to a decline in intelligence. The mental and physical agility of many pedigree breeds is being eroded as owners are now looking for docile, pretty pets. The worst-affected working breeds were dogs used for hunting even dangerous game.

                Fortunately for us Indians, Satiricus does not think we have fashionable dogs even in modern Mumbai. In fact, Mumbai abounds in street dogs. So the Mumbai Muncipal Corporation’s idea of training even stray dogs to become “sniffer” dogs to find out bombs planted by terrorists is not such a bad idea. Actually, if a world going to the dogs becomes a safer world, Satiricus would not mind our war on terror going to the dogs.

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