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Superstition In relation to Indian context

To begin with as famous American writer James F.Cooper said Ignorance and
Superstition ever bear a close and mathematical relation to each other-

As superstition is defined as a belief in something not justified by reason or


evidence. It means to believe in something blindly without verification superstition are
both good and bad related to things and circumstances.

For example, eating sweet curd before exams, seeing peacock in journey, matching
horoscopes in the marriage alliance etc. are considered to be good, where as cat crossing
our way, sweeping house at night, sitting of owl on house top, dogs howling etc. are
considered to be bad.

Looking at its history superstitions evolved along with civilizations, where it


became stronger by increasing influence of religions, though for a logical reason or not.

Perhaps these might have been necessary in the days when primitive man had to
experiment his faith against natural phenomenon like cyclones, flood, forest fires,
diseases etc., where superstitions might have helped him to take a decision on the spot at
least giving him the illusory feeling that this was an informed approach i.e. if he had
survived his superstition was validated and when he did not it would be a case of dead
dont tell tales.

Now, this makes difficult to differentiate between the good and bad of such
beliefs.

Indian beliefs and superstitions are passed down from generation to generation.
These faiths have sprung with an objective to protect from evil spirits, but some were
based on scientific reasoning.

Ex: Astrology is an integral part of Indian culture.

Even today people prefer to do good things such as entering new houses, marriage
related activities admissions in schools, colleges, starting new business or even launching
a rocket etc. according to astrological belief.

Famous French Philosopher Voltaire once said Superstition is to religion what


Astrology is to Astronomy, the mad daughter of a wise mother.

Though Indian society is fast progressing, there are many people who are still
superstitious and have a strong faith in these local beliefs. Superstitions are deemed as
pertinent in India because these generally hint at future occurrences and can either be
good or bad.
Though by changing time we try to believe that these are baseless believes but
somewhere deep inside our heart, we are struck to our roots and still believe in some of
the superstition if not all.

Is science a solution for all superstitions?

If ever we are trying to put both together, its like trying to put two opposites
together and in many cases its happens that science and superstition go hand in hand,
where science tend to accept a superstition/belief whose logic could not be decoded either
by science or religion itself.

For example, for a satellite launch, which is purely governed by laws of science,
we choose an auspicious date and break coconuts before the launch. Likewise in the
planning of the most modern town of Chandigarh, which included forty seven sectors and
the so called unlucky thirteen number sector is missing, this again proves that the most
educated, modern architects and technicians do believe in some or the other superstition.

All these doesnt mean that superstitions/beliefs are to be left without paying
attention, as many indict greater loss to the society by practices like sati, human scarifies,
black magic, witch craft, exploiting the innocent people by the unscrupulous few both in
rural and urban India. Ironically, a man dedicated to fight against these ill superstition in
society. Mr. Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead in public in Pune. This incident marked
the importance of introducing stringent laws against the cruel acts such as sacrifices of
innocent children or humans and the practice of witch craft and black magic. For an
incidence, in British India Kandh tribe agitated against the Britishers for they going
against human sacrifices.

In the light of above incident, Maharashtra passed a anti-superstition Law, which


is a welcome step and such a common anti- superstition law is necessary to the entire
country.

Law does not change the society is a half truth, but the society doesnt change
without a law is a complete truth.

Superstitions are the part and parcel of religious affairs.

For example the Aghori sadhus who practice extreme rituals are considered to be
descendents of Lord Shiva and they are dated back to 5th century AD.

A famous temple in Guwahati, Assam of goddess Kamakya Devi is seen as a


place for induction of people to become an Aghori; it is marked by a famous religious
gathering.

Thus, by law, does it mean that, we are playing God? NO, Not at all, its mere
common sense protecting the people from Evil practices and unscrupulous exploitation.
These laws bring social awaking and awareness in the society and to create a
healthy and a safe social environment with a view of protecting common people against
the Evil practices and customs thriving on ignorance and blind beliefs and to combat and
eradicate human sacrifices and other such evil and gruesome practices born out of beliefs
propagated in the name of so called supernatural or magical powers of evil spirits, by un-
scrupulous people with the motive of exploiting people.

Many political parties driven by religious motives for their vote banks are against
such laws claiming it would curb the freedom of belief/faith.

Indian constitution, prescribed religious freedom under articles 25, 26, 27 and 28,
where article 25 is about freedom of conscience and free profession of practice of
religion.

And anti- superstitious laws are not against religion or religious beliefs but it is for
protecting the people and preventing un-scrupulous elements in society taking advantage
of the ignorance of people.

Article 51(A) (H), clearly states that, it is the duty of every citizen to develop
scientific temper. Only by laws we cannot expect the situation to change, for ex: the
prevalence of dowry, female foeticide puts upon the ineffectiveness of the laws. But it is
half truth in the cases of prohibition of practice of sati and other such un civilized
practices proves that enactment of laws has helped society to give up such evil, un-
civilized practices.

Even before, Maharashtra, Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh have enacted laws
to restrict witch craft, but these legislations could not bring desired results. A report, says
that more than 2,500 Indian women have been killed in the name of witch craft in 15 Yrs.

Thus, this also focus on the increased role of schools, NGOs, Civil societies,
Science forums to educate the people, improve scientific temper, hold awareness meeting
and workshops apart from this we should also train lawyers, Police men and Public in that
particular law.

We have to go a long way to achieve the desired results in our democratic country,
where superstitions exists in a very large extent in the majority of uneducated and
educated strata of society and thus only by a collective effort we can envisage a moral
society, driven by a logical reason.
REFERENCES:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEpJdHS1pV0
http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/on-the-murder-of-narendra-
dabholkar/article5052946.ece

by BHARATH DABBIKAR