Despite boasting no scriptural authority, black arts still reign supreme

Astrology and all such mystical things are generally signs of a weak mind; therefore, as soon as they become prominent in our minds, we should see a physician, take good food, and rest.

Published: 23rd December 2017 10:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 21st December 2017 10:31 PM   |  A+A-

Astrology and all such mystical things are generally signs of a weak mind; therefore, as soon as they become prominent in our minds, we should see a physician, take good food, and rest. This is a quote from Swami Vivekananda. And Buddha says, “Whereas some ascetics make their living by such base arts as predicting an eclipse of the moon, the sun, a star, that there will be a shower of meteors, a blaze in the sky, an earthquake, thunder; a rising, setting, darkening, brightening of the moon, the sun, the stars; and such and such will influence someone’s life. The ascetic Gotama should refrain from such base arts and wrong means of livelihood.”

Vivekananda or Buddha are not the only great spiritual masters who have spoken against superstitions such as astrology. Belief in astrology is not a disease. It is a symptom of a disease called lack of self-confidence. The symptom may manifest through various other means such as belief in faith healing, belief in esoteric arts and crafts like gemmology, palmistry, numerology, Vastu, Feng Shui, black magic, Naadi etc. That is why Swami Vivekananda correctly diagnosed such beliefs as signs of a week mind.

All cultures in the world have such beliefs. Each vouch for its own infallibility and claims to be based on scientific facts. None of them possess any theory that is observable, testable, repeatable, and falsifiable, the basic requirement of anything to be called scientific. Most of them are based on selective memory and anecdotal proofs. It is an irony that some of the high-profile faith healers who summon higher powers to miraculously heal gullible followers take refuge in modern hospitals when they are struck down by illness.  

The belief in such superstitions has no relationship with education, wealth, religion, caste or political beliefs of the followers. Recently, a district office of the Communist Party of India was in news as the office-bearers fought over the correct Vastu placement of the door.

Blind believers never pause to question what would happen if one wears a gem that is supposed to bring ill luck. Or whether the name spelt in English, modified to bring luck as per numerology, would remain lucky when spelt in some other language. It is possible that the Aadhaar card will have both good luck name in English and bad luck name in Hindi, thus mutually cancelling the effects.

Many a time, Vastu and Feng Shui contradict each other and both will be in variation with the birth chart. The ludicrousness of such pseudo sciences can be understood better when we know that there are ardent fans of Rumpology, in which predictions are done by examining crevices, dimples, warts, moles and folds of a person’s buttocks. What if lines in one’s palm read contrary to what the bottom foretells is anybody’s guess.

In India, most of these are sold in the name of ancient knowledge and the term Vedic is used nonchalantly. Or the sanction of some holy book like Bible or Quran is used by faith healers. All such pseudo holy men get clients as the basic driving force of insecurity, fear and greed is the same among the gullible.

It is an insult to both science and religion to call these crafts sciences. The belief in such crafts goes against the belief in God.  These black arts have no scriptural authority among any religion. Even if we take epics, the marriage of Ram and Sita was through Swayamvara. Lord Krishna had 16,008 wives and it is unlikely that he sought any astrologer’s advice to match the horoscopes. Pandavas won Draupadi with Arjuna’s archery skills. Shiva fell in love with Parvathy and married her.

If Karma theory is correct, belief in astrology and other crafts is wrong and vice versa. If Biblical or Quranic or Vaishnavite or Shaivite omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God theory is correct, then such crafts are an insult to the God as it is tantamount to changing the God’s will with the help of some yantra, Vastu correction of toilet commode, name spelling change etc. A God whose will is changed or is fooled by mere addition of one letter, a God who changes his plan just because of a hysterical faith healer’s antics is no God at all.

The true practitioners of any religion should be horrified that quacks use the holy books for profit. Such beliefs go against the teaching of spiritual masters. But all religions have strayed from the teachings of their masters.

Though many states have enacted anti-superstition acts, they are often never implemented. The Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954, states clearly that advertising ‘magic remedy’ that includes a talisman, mantra, kavacha, and any other charm of any kind which is alleged to possess miraculous powers for or in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of any disease in human beings or animals or for affecting or influencing in any way the structure or any organic function of the body of human beings or animals; is a cognizable offence.

Yet, we find that the classifieds of newspapers, websites and apps abound with such advertisement. When people who are supposed to enforce law, themselves are believers of such pseudo sciences, there is little hope that such practises would be curbed. The only remedy could be doing our fundamental duty as a citizen which is to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform as envisaged in the Constitution of India.

Anand Neelakantan

Author, columnist, speaker

India Matters


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