Thursday, March 4, 2004


Science stands for knowledge and ignorance is Nescience. We should make efforts to dispel nescience and promote science. Knowledge is both material and spiritual. There is no contradiction between the two. Material sciences have given us prosperity to live and reasonable comforts of life. When a man is born in this world, he and his people have a right to live comfortably and with luxury. But man is not matter alone; he is something beyond it. He has yet to explore his true nature, and it is very much doubtful whether the material sciences would enable him to do so. But he can have today an outlook much more rational than his predecessors could have had. All religious practices are not necessarily spiritual or rational. Everything that goes by the name of religion is not altogether religion. Superstitions and credulities are deep seated and it would take time to eradicate them.
Every society has different superstitions. Men belonging to the most developed groups have yet a good deal of superstitions clinging to them. Most of them are traditional. We shall try to summarize a few of these superstitions and credulities.

Theistic Superstitions: Even the most primitive societies have some notions about the hidden powers, which regulate their lives. Majority of them are based on awe and fear. They believe in the existence of a number of supernatural agencies, say, presiding over clouds, over rains, over storms, over eclipses, some living in the heaven above, some in thick bushes and very old trees, and so on and so forth. In order to calm their wrath, they have evolved various primitive practices, including sacrifices of children and animals, goats, sheep, horses and bulls.

Witchcraft Superstitions: These superstitions prevailed up to the middle ages of our culture and they still persist in backward societies. Under this craft, women and men practise sorcery. When Powers are used for beneficent purposes, it is known as the white witchcraft. Most of the witches were reputed to practise black magic, and they and been terrors to the society. It is not that their crafts had some magic or they possessed evil supernatural powers. Theirs had been the cruel ways of frauds and deceptions.

Forecasting Superstitions: Since man's past and future are so unknown and uncertain, hypothetical practices have been introduced, some of them predicting the events to happen in future and some for reading the past. Most common of these superstitions is the practice of palmistry, astrology, numerology and a belief in good and bad omens. These predictions are hoax, and they exploit the credulities of masses. A superstitious use of astronomy has come to be known as astrology. Man is supposed to have been born under the influence of certain stars, which occupied certain relative positions at the time of birth. These stars are supposed to exercise good or evil effects. Detailed horoscopes are prepared to describe the astral positions and a good deal of spurious literature has accumulated in a number of countries to interpret these positions and correlate them with the past and future destiny of man. There can be nothing more nonsense than this. The word horoscope indicates that this practice most probably started with Greeks. They began observing sky and planets a certain moments, especially at the time of birth of a child, and drew out a scheme showing disposition of the heavens at that particular moment. As we have said biologically, the birth of a person is not the moment when the child comes out of the womb of the mother (we have caesarean cases where it depends on the will of the surgeon to determine the moment at which the/delivery of a child could be accomplished by cutting walls of abdomen of the mother). Biologically, the child is born, the moment a sperm fertilizes an ovum. And nobody knows the position of stars at this moment.
Superstitious people are not only interested in knowing their future; they would very much wish to get over the evil dispositions of heavens. This gives an opportunity to the practising foreteller to carry his profession with monetary gains. The “unfortunate” person is exploited to the extreme by person indulging in superstitious forecasts. They are the self-interested persons, not knowing their own destiny, and play on the credulities of innocents.

Palmistry Superstitions: Palmistry is a younger cousin of astrology, equally a spurious craft to associate the numerous lines drawn on a palm with the incidents of life in a myth. The lines in our palm are different, the veins spread over the leaves of one and the same plant are differently arranged but they have nothing to do with the past and present events of life. Everybody signs differently, but it does not mean that his variations in signatures signify some events connected with his life. We all are associated with different types of individualities in our modes of speech and even in our modes of walk and the sound of our footsteps. The way we speak, the way we move, the way we smile, they are all different with all of us, but they cannot be rationally linked with events, past or future.
Every society has a long list of good or bad omens. It is actually difficult to trace their origin. They are the outcome of our illogical associations of certain events of our life with the coincidence of the appearance of certain characteristic signs in our surroundings.
Of course, these events, called omens, portending the coming evil or good, can have no rational associations, and yet, we have become superstitious enough to take their cognisance and be mentally affected by them. Whilst you are proceeding on an errand, a cat goes across you, or somebody sneezes, and you interpret these behaviours as sufficient omens forecasting some evil. Such omens have been associated with many birds like crow or eagle, many creatures and even with clouds, thunders, earthquakes and rains.
Sometimes we approach Oracles to forecast these events for us. We associate somebody with special supernatural powers in this field. Sometimes we have our own-made gods and goddesses to help us in these matters. All this is a great hoax, and a man, sincerely interested in the rational religion of man should not succumb to these cheap notions. Instead of rendering service to society, these credulities and superstitions have played havocs.

Superstition Concerning Stones: It is difficult to enumerate all types of superstitions prevalent in the society. Even some of the stones have been regarded as auspicious or inauspicious. Such superstitions have been associated with diamonds, corals, rubies, emeralds and sapphires. Sometimes, when in contact with our body, they are supposed to cure certain diseases; sometimes their use in supposed to bring certain calamities as death of somebody so dear to you. Some stones have a history. Stories are current about them that whosoever owned them, met with calamities.

Superstitions Concerning Evil Spirits and the Dead: It is a popular belief in an underdeveloped society that when someone dies, he or she assumes subtle bodies, normally not visible, but so often appearing as ghosts and evil spirits. Some of the spirits have been associated with benevolence even, and they are supposed to be assisting you in your difficulties. Some of the old buildings, and heaps of ruins have been associated with the hovering of spirits. These are the places of heinous crimes, when an undesirable element of our society, plunderers, robbers and murders, usually take shelter, and it is the duty of society to eradicate this type of superstition from our minds. The situations are to be met with caution and courage.

Amulets and Omens: On the one hand, we have bad omens and predictions of the forthcoming events, on the other we have amulets supposed to meet evils and compensate for the ill effects. These amulets are prescribed by astrologers, the so-called spiritual leaders, mystics, and the like. Some persons are raised to godhead with special potentialities of healing and curing. Mere touch by the sacred hands of these people is supposed to bring healing and comfort. The mere presence of some of them is supposed to do miraculous wonders. Some of them would ask you to wear special amulets or necklaces, others would ask you to chant or recite certain syllables, aphorisms or lines, some may ask you to sacrifice a lamb or a goat at a shrine, for the compensation of the ills and evils you are doomed to meet. Most of these persons are professionals and we should not be credulous about them. There are certain holy and well-meant sacred persons amongst ourselves but their devotees have created an undue halo around them. To associate any person with supernatural powers and gifts is a non-theistic attitude. Nobody possesses secret and mystic powers. This creation of our Lord is an open book and there is no hiding. We ought to look to things and events with open eyes. If you have a mental disease, go to a psychiatrist; he might help you. If you have a physical ailment, go to a physician or surgeon, and in case, you feel that you have some ethical handicaps, go to a religious preceptor or a teacher to suggest something to you.
And when in extreme cases, there is no hope of cure; the calamity has to be endured with explicit faith in our Loving God. One can treat but ultimately He cures.

God bless you!