by Biranchi Narayan Mishra, Dhenkapur Sasan, Keonjhargarh - 758 001.

I came across a news report in The Stateman of Friday, April, 20th, 1990 (Calcutta) with the heading, "Jayawardene to Meet Sai Baba." It told of the arrival of Mr. J.R.Jayewardene, his wife, and a party of 12 to meet Sai Baba at Whitefield. Both Jayewardene and his successor, Ranasinghe Premadasa are devotees of the Satya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi. The Sri Lanka Government was seeking the godman's mediation to repair its relations with India. In this connection Sai Baba is said to have had a meeting with Mr. V.P.Singh the Indian Prime Minister, in the last week of March.

This was Jayawardene's first visit to India after laying down office. He refused to talk to the reporters who turned up in large numbers at the airport and his transit hotel.

This is strange news indeed! That the Sai Baba must be called upon to repair Indo-Sri Lankan relations! How is it that he does not lend his good offices for solving our Punjab or Kashmir problem? He was 21 when India was partitioned. Why didn't he try to preserve the unity of the sub-continent then? No historian mentions anything about his efforts in that direction.

The spectacle of countless babas launching their careers through charlatanry is common today. The credulous are overwhelmed by their ability to materialize vibhuti, lingams, honey etc. They look to these godmen for psychological solace and end up falling victim to fraud. Even scientists, doctors, politicians and statesmen are numbered among the gullible. With their paranormal tricks, Babas also do philanthropic work. Many well-intentioned people, overlooking fraud, sincerely co-operate in this social work. The babas then achieve a halo of goodness and charity and anyone criticising them or unmasking their fraud is denounced by their followers.


Dr. Dhaneswar Sahoo

The fourth State Conference of the Orissa Rationalist Society (ORS) was held on April 7/8, 1990 at the district headquarters of Phulbani. The inaugural session took place on 7.4.1990 evening with Prof. D.N. Padhi in the chair. Mr. Lavanam, Director of Atheist Centre, Vijayawada and Mr. S.Baya, A.D.M., Phulbani were the chief SPEAKER AND CHIEF GUEST RESPECTIVELY. Prof. D.Sahoo gave a brief outline of the activities of ORS and introduced the guests. Mr. Lavanam in his speech pointed out that though the Indian Society has not been free from superstitions and communal tensions, still it is heartening that India has adopted the most progressive constitution in the world. At least in principle we have accepted rationalism as a value-goal for our Republic though we have to go a long way to implement the ideals laid down in our constitution in our society. Chief guest Mr. Baya spoke about the harmful effects of superstitions and called upon the young people to fight out the communal tendencies which seem to challenge the very unity of our nation. Prof. D.N.Padhi in his presidential speech stressed on the spread of scientific temper and secular values which has become a need of the hour. Md. Sukur the local convenor of the ORS proposed a vote of thanks.

On 8.4.1990 morning Dr. A.K.Patra, a scientist of the Orissa University of agriculture and Technology presided. Miss. Malati of the Atheist Centre, Vijayawada spoke on womens problems in our country and maintained that the spread of rationalist outlook can emeliorate their condition and establish the dignity of the individual. Mr. Lavanam in a very illuminating talk explained the predicament of our society in face of rising communal and anti-secular divisive forces. He explained the consequences of the prevailing caste system in Hindu society and gave a historical exposition of the reformist movements in our country. Casteism stands on the way of Hindu identity and solidarity and communalism, Lavanam held, is a hindrance to national-security and integration.

The valedictory session was held on 8.4.1990 evening with Dr. N.Patel, A.D.M.O, Kalahandi in the chair. Dr. B.C. Panda a noted gynaecologist spoke on the significance of rationalism as a cultural value. Mr. Lavanam in his valedictory speech stressed upon the march of human civilisation from religious society to religious tolerant society and then to secular society and finally to a post-religious society, Dr. A.K.Patra gave some action programme to dispel superstitions from our masses. Dr. Patel in his concluding remark maintained that the prevalence of communalism and authoritarianism makes society decadent while the spread of rationalism and secularism represents the cultural progress of the society. The meeting came to an end after Mr. S.K.Mukherjee proposed a vote of thanks.

Delegates from different parts of the State had come to attend the convention. Delegates expressed their opinion to make ORS a registered body and have life members. It was also proposed to hold ORS convention every year and form units in different parts of the state. Besides it was also proposed to chalk out plans to mobilise the masses towards a rationalistic way of life. Delegates expressed their thankfulness to the rationalist friends of Phulbani for hosting the conference.

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Last update: 17 July 1998