Often, it is hard to say when some people present thoughtful observations or logical inferences and when they just blabber. Such people often make casual (read detrimental and incorrect) statements. However, as responsible citizens, we must confront these people and their irresponsible and factually incorrect remarks when they are well-known personalities or celebrities who can influence many people. Else, they will continue to blabber; then, such casual statements will get recorded as facts in the annals of history. Hence, it is important to call their bluff as soon as possible. We expect this from real journalists, and this would be real journalism.
Some days ago, there was a rumour that Eknath Shinde, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, met an astrologer. Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS), the organisation that fights superstition in India, wasted no time and made this a big issue. MANS was quick to ask – “How can the CM visit an astrologer when there is a law – ‘The Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013’, which specifically prohibits such behaviour ?” MANS condemned the CM’s visit. The so-called liberals, intellectuals and opposition leaders joined in to score some brownie points.
1. The Indian Medical Council condemns Dr Lagoo as he spreads rumours (read superstition) about medicines
Several members of MANS have preserved their own superstitions in the past while working for the so-called anti-superstition organisation. Once, I put a direct question to Dr Narendra Dabholkar (Founder-President of MANS), who was addressing a public event. He was speaking about Dr Shreeram Lagoo, the face of the anti-superstition movement of Dr Dabholkar and MANS. Dr Lagoo would accompany Dr Dabholkar when he would appeal to the people to ‘retire God from their lives’. Dr Lagoo publicly tried to peddle superstition about scientists and medical science. As a result, the Indian Medical Council (IMC), the statutory body to establish uniform and high standards for medical education in India, condemned Dr Lagoo for his antagonistic stance.
The (Late) Dr Lagoo, an Indian film and theatre artiste, used to promote some balm and pain relief tablets. He used to justify these advertisements merely as a professional model. If you do not believe in the healing properties of medicinal tablets, how do you promote superstition as a model ? “I used to take some medicinal tablets for my headache during the shoots”, Dr Lagoo used to say while promoting these tablets. The IMC warned Dr Lagoo to stop such advisements, or the Council would revoke his medical degree. The IMC categorically said that no tablets could cure a headache; hence, it was scientifically incorrect for him to claim this. Dr Lagoo shamelessly ignored such warnings; he continued with these advertisements. On one hand, he had blind faith on the medical system – selling tablets, and on the other, he was selling astrological gemstones from his shop. For the world, he was promoting ‘retiring God’.
2. Real superstition or blind faith is to condemn the CM’s visit to an astrologer before checking out the rumour
Dr Dabholkar conveniently ignored the medical superstition of Dr Lagoo since he wanted a celebrity to attract large crowds for his anti-superstition gatherings. If Dr Lagoo’s acts are justified as professional duty, the astrologer also fulfils his professional responsibility to earn his livelihood like a model or actor does.
Even though for Dr Lagoo it was just modelling to earn a livelihood, we must understand that people bought tablets and balms because they trusted him. Also, wasn’t Dr Lagoo peddling superstition about tablets, pain-relief creams or constellation gems and diamonds ? When such hypocrites try to eradicate superstition or blind faith, they fail to realise their true nature. Fake or self-declared Saints, people like Dr Lagoo and Dr Dabholkar, have their superstitions and, as a result, cannot effectively work against real superstitions. Likewise, the so-called liberals and intellectuals did not find it necessary to check if the CM met any astrologer. Believing something without verifying is real superstition. If believing in God, performing some ‘Grahashanti’ puja (to seek the blessings of a planet), and paying fees to the priest who performs ‘Grahashanti’ are pretentious acts, and hence superstitions, then by the same yardstick, criticising CM Shinde over an fictitious visit before checking its veracity is ‘superstition’ too. Paying respects to something you have not seen or experienced and condemning an event that never took place are two sides of the same coin.
3. Relentless coverage by the media is the biggest ‘superstition’ of our times
Later, CM Shinde and Mr Deepak Kesarkar (Spokesperson of his party, an MLA and a Minister), clarified that the CM did not visit any astrologer. The Dailies in Maharastra, TV channels and websites peddled lies. To me, such fake news has become the biggest superstition of our times. These news channels also shared fake news that CBI had given a clean chit to the accused in the Disha Salian murder case. This is a lie or a superstition, since the Government never handed over this case to the CBI; hence, it does not make sense to believe that CBI has declared the murder to be an accidental death. Yet, the liberals and intellectuals seized the opportunity to brush it away as an accident. Hence, if the people who prostrate in front of an Idol, and who believe in the effects of planets on our lives, are superstitious, then by the same yardstick, aren’t the so-called secularists and intellectuals superstitious too because their premise is often fake news or a preconceived notion. Political leaders also try to seize the opportunity and issue statements that suit their political agenda. In this case, Sharad Pawar, the supreme leader of NCP and his daughter Supriya Sule, MP, condemned the CM’s (imaginary) meeting with an astrologer.
This was a case of ‘Making a mountain out of a molehill’. This assumes that there is at least some molehill. In these cases (the Disha Salian murder case and CM Shinde’s visit to an astrologer), there is absolutely nothing, and this figment of imagination was blown out of proportion by those who seek to gain publicity. To me, this represents real superstition or blind faith. The liberals and intellectuals said that the CBI closed the case, which was never given to the central agency ! A CBI officer acknowledged that the fake news was first shared by ‘Economic Times’ and ‘Times Group’, and in no time, every TV channel and Daily had picked it up, and the fake news became viral. Is this not superstition or a case of blind faith ?
4. Political hypocrisy : Sharad Pawar did not raise any concern when a senior Congress leader worshipped Sathya Sai Baba, while he was quick to condemn CM Shinde’s visit to an astrologer
Politicians from Sharad Pawar to Supriya Sule wasted no time expressing their opinion on the Disha Salian murder case and CM Shinde’s visit to an astrologer. I almost felt that they must have been in a deep trance for a long time because of some black magic. A few days ago, Chandrashekhar Bawankule, BJP’s Maharashtra President, claimed that Sharad Pawar had performed some black magic on Uddhav Thackeray, and hence he’s lost his way. Political leaders even condemned the use of the word ‘black-magic’ by the BJP State President.
In 2009, Sathya Sai Baba visited ‘Varsha’, the official residence of Maharashtra CM in Mumbai. Sharad Pawar’s NCP was a coalition partner at that time. However, Pawar conveniently ignored this and did not raise any concern. Does Pawar not remember his stance ? Former Congress CM Ashok Chavan and his father Shankarrao Chavan were disciples of Sathya Sai Baba, and they never kept it a secret. When Ashok Chavan was the CM, he invited Sathya Sai Baba to perform some rituals at his official residence. At that time, Chavan’s Congress Government was supported by Sharad Pawar, Supriya Sule and Ajit Pawar. Do you remember these leaders questioning Chavan’s stance the way they have condemned CM Shinde’s visit ? When such incidents occurred in Maharashtra, were Pawar and Sule in a deep trance ? It seems as if they were hypnotised, since they could not speak out against these superstitions. They faced 4 journalists. These so-called journalists could not even ask Pawar to break his silence on this topic. They should have asked Pawar – ‘Were you fast asleep when Chavan invited Sathya Sai Baba to ‘Varsha’ ?’ They did not. The servant is ‘His Master’s Voice’. The so-called journalists remained mum in front of their master (Pawar). However, the same journalists became hyperactive and challenged CM Shinde over his visit to an astrologer.
5. Secularism and Liberalism are the true blind faiths
When they do something, they call it worshipping God; but when we do it, it becomes superstition ! When Chavan invited Sathya Sai Baba to ‘Varsha’, the ex-CM performed an elaborate puja of his Guru. However, some politicians chose to ignore their stance. When they challenge the current CM about his visit to an astrologer, they conveniently ignored what had happened at ‘Varsha’ around 12 years ago. If we confront him, Chavan may even deny that he had invited Sathya Sai Baba. These Congress and NCP leaders, so-called secularists and intellectuals, conveniently ignore some incidents since they do not suit their narrative, but highlight other incidents when they want to score some political goal or to further their selfish agenda.
Hence, I wonder if these people have finally awakened after years of slumber. The members of the MANS who made CM’s visit to an astrologer a state issue, did not raise any objection and did not organise any protest march against the superstitious behaviour of the then CM. We must realise that they are conceited and their actions are only to further their selfish agenda. Their blind faith is even more strong than the superstition an ordinary villager may have about some customs and traditions. Secularism and liberalism have become actual blind faiths indeed. These days, the blind followers of these dangerous ‘isms’ have become ubiquitous. As a result, these people are making a mountain out of a molehill by deliberately targeting CM Eknath Shinde over a visit to an astrologer, which never took place. (Reference : ‘Pratipaksha’, Bhau Torsekar’s YouTube channel)
Congress & NCP leaders, secularists & intellectuals, conveniently ignore incidents if they do not suit their narrative !