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Prejudice and Scientific Temper

Some events of recent days deserve attention.

A sadhu wrote to some ministers of union government that he had dreamt that a thousand tons of gold lies buried under ground near a temple in the village of Daundia Khera in Unnao district . He called upon them to bring out the treasure by digging there The sadhu has the reputation of being a miracle man. Subsequently on the 18th October the Archeological survey of India undertook excavation at the designated place.

Asaram Bapu, who preaches the existence of One Supreme Conscious, was arrested in the last week of last august on the charge of sexual assault of a minor. He has more than 400 ashrams in different parts of the country and abroad. The number of his followers is said to run in crores in spite of his having been embroiled in several controversies. His helicopter had crashed in 2012, but all occupants along with him and pilot were safe. Though it was a mere coincidence, people took it as a miracle. Subsequently the number of his followers swelled manifold.

Narendra Achyut Dobhalkar was murdered on 20 August 2013, while out on a morning walk. The assailants fired four rounds at him from a point blank range and fled on a motorcycle parked nearby. Two bullets hit Dabholkar in his head and chest. He was the founder-president of Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS), an organization set up to eradicate superstition. After working as a doctor for 12 years, Dabholkar became a social worker in the 1980s. He became involved with movements for social justice, He had taken on Asaram Bapu in March 2013 over an incident during Holi in Nagpur, when Bapu and his followers used drinking water from tankers brought from the Nagpur Municipal Corporation for celebrating the festival and were accused of wasting it while rest of Maharashtra faced drought
Dabholkar had faced several threats and assaults since 1983 but had rejected police protection.

“If I have to take police protection in my own country from my own people, then there is something wrong with me, I'm fighting within the framework of the Indian constitution and it is not against anyone, but for everyone.”

The above events are independent, yet a common thread runs across them. This is prejudice and superstition nurtured by tradition and passed down from past. The prejudices are sanctified by pretense to spiritualism and religion. These events remind us that in spite of our tremendous acquisitions in technology, our consciousness is not as yet free from the control of medieval times. It is an undisputed fact that even though our daily life is being regulated by technology there is an increasing decline in our scientific temper.

Jawaharlal Nehru, the author of The Discovery of India advocated for scientific temper for understanding the various phenomena and situations. the adventurous and yet critical temper of science, the search for truth and new knowledge, the refusal to accept anything without testing and trial, the capacity to change previous conclusions in the face of new evidence, the reliance on observed fact and not on pre-conceived theory, the hard discipline of the mind. He said that all this is necessary, not merely for the application of science but for life itself and the solution of its many problems.

The early man was completely unaware of the laws of nature. Rhythmic changes in seasons, weather, alternating day and night as well as the infrequent variations and natural disasters were mystery to him. The imagination of the concept of God and ghost helped him to cope with his problems. With advance of civilization and culture shadow over these phenomena began to recede. Man began to understand his surroundings without invoking either god or ghost. But The sway of god men continued to prevail.. Man often looks for shortcuts in his acquisitive pursuit of prosperity. This has resulted in a paradoxical situation.

Education, science and technology have reduced the domain of God and ghost, but the sway of god men has not diminished. A successful modern person has his own god men and his own pet.

Prejudices and superstitions are so intimately and intricately woven in the subconscious of different cultural groups that they feel their identities threatened by any attempt to question these. They resist such attempts relentlessly. It is very difficult to say whether man would ever be able to be free of them. The probability cannot be ruled out that man may seek security in the darkness of medieval times.


More by :  Ganganand Jha

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