Dr. N.Innaiah, A-60, Journalists Colony, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad 500 034.
The "Anti superstition campaign was launched in Andhra Pradesh (India) by Radical Humanists and Rationalists: Dr. N. Innaiah, author and journalist, M.V. Ramamurthy, Chairman, Indian Rationalist Association and Mr. Ravipudi Venkatadri, President Rationalist Association took up the cause, held public meetings, press meetings, articles in press, memos, to the concerned authorities to highlight fraudulent nature of institutionalised superstitions. Dr. P.M. Bhargava, Cellular biologist joined them in attacking the unscientific homeopathic system.
Indians at large are suffering with superstitions. The humanists and Rationalists, though a few in number are trying to educate the public in swimming against the current of superstitions. They are conscious that it is an uphill task. They have taken up three causes namely Astrology, Yoga and Homeopathy in this regard. Even the educated persons are suffering with these superstitions since they lack scientific orientation.
Astrology was introduced as a degree and diploma course in Telugu University, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. The rationalists and humanists called on the Vice-Chancellor of the university with a memorandum, showing that the astrology cannot stand the scientific scrutiny. Dr. C. Narayana Reddy, the Vice-Chancellor convinced with the argument, agreed to delete astrology courses from the curriculum. B.V. Raman, the astrologer from Bangalore protested for the action of the university. But the university asked Raman to prove the scientific validity of astrology. Anyhow, the rationalists won the case.
The humanists and rationalists argued thus. The nine planets mentioned in Indian astrology were not planets in the real sense. Sun is a star. Earth has a satellite i.e., the moon which was depicted as planet. Rahu and Ketu, the two shadows of the moon are also named as planets. The difference between the star, satellite and planet is not known to the Indian astrologers. Pluto, Neptune and Uranus were not included in Indian astrology. What happens to their impact is not known. Hence the whole base of Indian astrology is unscientific. Astrologers were blindly following the ancient books. Many people are doing business with the ignorance of the people. There was no controlled experiment in University to prove the validity of astrology. Hence the University should not entertain such courses and play with the future of the students. The Telugu University agreed with this argument. Indian astrologers went wrong in their predictions during eclipses. There is no rationale in selecting the time of the birth of an individual as the determining factor in predicting the life of a person. The astrologers do not keep any record for verification. Astrology in India was never subjected to scientific scrutiny. When thousands of persons die of earthquakes, fire accident, nothing is explained though horoscopes of persons predict differently. Persons in power are encouraging astrology in India.
The second must popular myth and superstition in India is yoga. Of late the television media is popularising it. Yoga is analysed and exposed by humanists and rationalists to put the things in perspective. Here again educated persons succumb to the false arguments of yogic business entrepreneurs.
Yoga is one among the six systems in Indian theology. They are: Sankhya, Vaiseshika, Nyaya, yoga, Purva Mimamsa, Uttara Mimamsa (Vedanta). Patanjali, the originator of yoga prescribed certain practices for attaining Moksha (liberation). He suggested the eight fold path. Thinking should be totally suspended and persons have to concentrate on god to attain total liberation. Control of breath (Pranayama) is one among the eight practices. Breathing is natural for persons. If one tries to control, problems will arise. Retention of carbon dioxide will cause panting, unpleasant feelings, hallucinations and gradually unconscious state. Carbon dioxide will impair the mental activity. Interference with breathing will cause depression, narcosis and madness. Hence control of breath is wholly unjustified from scientific point of view. Yoga is based on belief only.
In the name of healthy body, yogic exercises were prescribed and institutionalised by several persons. Government is giving financial aid to certain institutions and apathetic towards the consequences. The rationalists and humanists challenged the commercialisation of yogic practices which originally belongs to Indian ashrams, tantrik traditions etc. Yoga is not meant for physical fitness as per Indian theology. The authorities have not yet conceded the demands of rationalists and humanists and the fight is going on.
Another major superstition among Indians is Homeopathy medical system. When rationalista and humanists took up the fight against this sytem and challenged them to prove the scientific validity, they faced the wrath of Homeo practitioners. The attack on homeo affects the profession and hence homeopaths are on war path.
Homeo practice was banned in North Carolina, U.S.A., East Germany and Czechoslovakia since it is not able to meet the scientific requirements.
Homeo tried to gain scientific respectability by subjecting it to experiments in Canada, Israel, France, Italy, but none of their experiments proved correct. They have shown statistical errors, sloppy and peppered work. Honest Homeos conceded that Homeopathy believes in Vitalism and cannot stand the scientific method. (Bernard Leary, "Is Vitalism vital?" British Homeopathic Journal, April 1990). Dr. P.M. Bhargava, Cellular biologist also exposed the unscientific and irrational attitude of homeo system. Homeo cannot stand the Avagadro principle. It was not subjected to controlled experiments. Hence the government should not give any financial aid to the homeopathy unless it is proved scientific.
The rationalists and humanists submitted memos to the Vice Chancellor of Medical and Health University in Andhra Pradesh and other concerned authorities. None of the Homeo principles like similar cure similar, potentization, smaller dose etc., stand scientific scrutiny. In several places Homeos are practising allopathy without license. They keep the practice secret and never subject to scrutiny. They are not answerable to failures. Hence the humanists want the government to save people from the clutches of the Homeopaths.
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Last update: 22 July 1998