(I have written it almost entirely in the context of modern Hinduism.)
It all started with Smriti Irani when she was made HRD minister by Narendra Modi. Modi’s agenda (or lack of it) vis a vis education was instantly clear with this anointment. Until this point, I vehemently rejected the idea that dangerous Hindu Fundamentalism was on the rise but subconsciously, I had been disturbed for a long time. Then Irani was made HRD minister. As things are turning out now, Modi indeed has an agenda for education. And for this agenda to fructify, he had to chose a person who lacks futuristic vision, taste for science education and academic qualifications. Or may be Human Resource Development ministry wasn’t such an important department. May be he thought he would pull the strings behind the curtain while making Irani a puppet minister. When faced with questions about her credentials, she claimed she had a degree from prestigious Yale University, though she merely participated in a program for which she got a certificate. In fact, one of the first statement Irani gave was about incorporating ancient texts in education.
Same kind of thoughts were iterated again and again by Modi and Rajnath Singh. For example, Modi, in an inaguration ceremony in Mumbai, said,
“Mahabharat ka kehna hai ki Karn maa ki godh se paida nahi hua tha. Iska matlab yeh hai ki us samaye genetic science mojud tha … Hum Ganeshji ki puja kiya karte hain, koi to plastic surgeon hoga us zamane main, jisne manushye ke sharir par haathi ka sar rakh kar ke plastic surgery ka prarambh kiya hoga.” [It is said in the Mahabharata that Karna was not born from his mother’s womb. This means in the times in which the epic was written genetic science was very much present. We all worship Lord Ganesha; for sure there must have been some plastic surgeon at that time, to fit an elephant’s head on the body of a human being.]*
I wonder why he didn’t explain Ganesha riding a mouse, that too, when aeroplanes were already there in ancient times. I couldn’t quite imagine this picture of Ganesha, who had elephant head, riding on a mouse. But I was afraid to ask this in public for I’d be declared ‘paapi’, ‘adharmi’ and will be accused of committing blasphemy. I don’t want to die like Dabholkar. Fortunately, Modi answered part of this question for me. The answer is that our surgery knowledge was way too advanced at that time. The source of this knowledge is Mahabharata in which Kansa kept Devki and Vasudeva in same prison cell despite the fact that their offspring would be responsible for his death. He would kill the offspring but wouldn’t keep them apart. Even a kid these days will tell you that Kansa was dumb enough to keep them together. Knowledge is the power. Questioning and curiosity are the most powerful tools and for this reason, religions hate scrutiny. For religions, the most powerful tools are blind belief and unfounded fear.
Similarly, as per Rajnath Singh, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle was already there in Vedas. Heisenberg published his paper about Uncertainty principle in 1925. That was some 90 years ago. Can Rajnath tell for which work in Physics Nobel Prize was awarded in 2013? No he can’t. He isn’t bothered about that. Can he explain Uncertainty Principle even in most basic manner? No he can’t. He isn’t bothered about that either. He is bothered about Vedas. More precisely, he is bothered about acceptance of Vedas as eternal source of knowledge. He want you to read Vedas but not Physics. You’d be his hero if you can find out Godel’s Incompleteness Theorems in Vedas but you’d not be given a single damn if you can teach Godel’s Incompleteness Theorems.
If you are feeling angry at me for writing such stuff, try browsing this website, part of which has dedicated section for showing Holy Quran is full of scientific facts. Or this Quran and Science website. Or try this website which try to establish the authenticity of Bible and God through reason and science. If you disagree with them, which you in all probability will, try debating with them. They’d behave exactly like you. You’ll realize they are nothing else but your mirror images. You are as idiot as you think they are. All religion are claiming modern science to be their own fiefdom. The truth is science and religion never co-existed amicably. One survive at the expense of other.
Speaking of this, Let me recount a tale from childhood school days. Late Rajendra Singh ‘Rajju Bhaiya’, who had been Sarsangh Chalak of RSS once visited my school in 1995 as a chief guest of our annual function. In his speech, while eulogizing Hindu culture, he recounted a story of scientist Oppenheimer. As per his story, when Oppenheimer witnessed the first nuclear bomb test, he was said to utter “Kotisurya Samprabha” [the light of millions of suns]. I haven’t checked the veracity of this tale but the way Rajju Bhaiya recounted this story is of particular interest. He wasn’t praising Oppenheimer. He was implicitly telling us that all knowledge was there in our culture. My school was established in the name of Deendayal Upadhyay and is largely influenced by RSS ideology. As far as I could remember, RSS ideology wasn’t that aggressive in old days. Anti-muslim sentiments, though always existed, weren’t that prevalent among RSS veterans. Those things have changed now. People like Ramdev, Subramaniyan Swamy are hell-bent to turn Hindus into talibanistic fundamentalist. These days being liberal is exact opposite of being cultural as is evident in this piece by R Jagannathan where he accuses Pankaj Mishra as genereal-hater-in-chief of anything in India. Jagannathan logic is this: since New York Times can’t criticize India’s heritage as doing so might paint it as racist, it bring likes of Pankaj Mishra on its payroll to do the job. Follow this link for Pankaj’s original article which has rattled many ‘nationalists’.
And see how they are walking the talk when they decided to make abortions by Ayurveda, Homeopathy and midwives legal. Forget Ayurveda for the time being. In scientific fraternity, there is stiff opposition to consider Homeopathy as valid medical science. Most of them call it a fraud. My father runs a medical store and in our shop, we also sell entire range of ayurvedic medicines. And let me tell you how most ayurvedic ‘doctors’ treat diseases. All of them have some books/manuals which list medicines as per the symptoms. They check your symptoms, browse the manuals and bingo! here is the name of your medicine. In my memory, ayurvedic companies like Dabur and Baidyanath haven’t practically come up with any new medicine in light of modern developments in studies of diseases. I am not saying that ayurvedic system is entirely fraud. Many medicines do work. But still, ayurvedic system is a far cry from being a science. The imbalance in combination of three doshas (kapha, vata and pitta) are reasons we get ill. This is the fundamental principle of Ayurveda. Surely there is no scientific basis behind this. “There must have been some basis for saying so” is all you will hear when you question Ayurveda’s science. Majority of ayurvedic doctors have pathetic understanding of diseases like AIDS and cancer. Even medical students are far better in that respect. See how scientifically illiterate but an eminent ‘yogi’ Swami Ramdev claims being homosexual is a disease and he can cure it! He goes on to say, “The practice of homosexuality is unscientific, unnatural, uncivilized, immoral, irreligious and abnormal.” At another point, he added, “Homosexuals don’t contribute to fields like science and economics.” It may be out of context but I was amused to see Ramdev’s company manufacturing Patanjali Mari biscuits. By the way, scientists don’t consider homosexuality unscientific, unnatural, uncivilized, immoral, irreligious and abnormal.
And people like Ramdev are horsemen of new age movement of defining ancient Hindu culture. These people are shaping BJP policies of tackling education and other cultural issues in dangerous regressive ways. Their objective isn’t making more students learn about Heisenberg Principle. Their motive is making more students learn that Heisenberg Principle was already there in Vedas. Their objective isn’t spreading awareness among students about Riemann Hypothesis or Goldbach Conjecture, their objective is to make students believe Vedic Mathematics can solve all these problems. Mathematics has evolved to the point that one top notch mathematician couldn’t even understand other top notch mathematician’s work. I can safely claim that none of my acquaintances knows what stem cell is but as per Dina Nath Batra, stem cell technology was there in the times of Mahabharata. Batra’s books, which teach that stem cell technology, motor car, television were already there, are part of curriculum in Gujarat schools. This self declared ‘Hindu savior’ Batra went with all his guns ablaze against Wendy Doniger’s book on Hinduism. He wants to force all of us to look at Hinduism through his eyes. He wants you to accept Hinduism ideology as he sees. People like Batra possibly made Tagore say, “bigotry try to keep truth safe in its hand with a grip that kills it.” And people like these get patronage and support from the likes of Modi. In fact, Batra has been inducted in a panel for education reform by BJP government in Haryana. This very BJP opposed the slain activist Dabholkar’s works against religious superstitions. He finally paid the heavy price for this as he was murdered last year in Pune. Possibly by ‘cultural’ goons.