Hariprasad’s Weblog

Tamasoma Jyotirgamaya – May HE lead us from ignorance to knowledge

The hypocrisy of our “secular” leaders

with 2 comments

Yesterday, we all witnessed a total solar eclipse. For devout Hindus, eclipses are a great time to pursue spiritual progress. Many of our scriptures and Puranas talk about the virtues of meditation, prayer, river-bath and Japa during this “Parva Kala” (auspicious time). People over thousands of years have also experienced the benefits of spiritual activity during eclipses.

Our rituals insist that during spiritual activities, one should not be bothered with distractions, including attending to nature’s calls. On the other hand, total duration of solar eclipses could last several hours. If one has to ensure that meditation or prayer could continue undisturbed for several hours without discomfort, it becomes essential to eliminate the possibility of having to address nature’s call. This is the *main* reason why fasting is suggested during eclipse times. For solar eclipses, one is advised to fast starting from at least 9 hours prior to the eclipse. Of course, there do exist religious and ritualistic reasons also behind the fasting.

Over time, people have started to blindly follow this ritual, even though they don’t care to perform any spiritual activity. Wrong connotations have come into people’s minds. Therefore, this custom of fasting during eclipses has become the target of our secular, rational leaders. During yesterday’s eclipse, a team of scientists put in a lot of hard work to discourage people from fasting during eclipses. They went around distributing sweets in the middle of the eclipse! The team also had Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister of Bihar, who also had, and distributed sweets.

– Fasting during eclipses is sanctioned by our scriptures. Saying that it is a superstition is a direct attack on our religious beliefs.
– Fasting during eclipses cannot cause any serious damage that it warrants the attention of the government and political class. They are almost treating it as a national disaster, that has to be gotten rid of.
– Just like they claim that eating during eclipses causes no harm, eating during eclipses doesn’t really indicate one’s scientific temper towards life.

What irritates me the most is the double standards adopted by these “secular forces”. Muslims fast during the day time for an entire month every year. That custom has an equivalent scriptural sanction (in their scriptures) as does the Hindu custom of fasting during eclipses (and Ekadashis). Even on the measure of scientific temper, it stands no better. But guess what the outlook of our secular leaders is towards that “superstition” – they actively participate and encourage it!! Nitish Kumar himself hosts Iftar parties during the fasting month (held to break the day long fast).

How is it that fasting by one community is superstition while that by another becomes a sacred ritual?

Written by Hariprasad

July 23, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Posted in Politics, Religion

Tagged with , , ,

2 Responses

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  1. Your anguish can be justified as the other community’s fasting gets recognition just because they vote enmass. But even BJP also has made covert efforts to woo this mass.

    Coming back to your eclipse dilemma. As per Hindu mythology, the Moon is considered ‘shudra’ while the Sun is ‘swarna’. It is believed that during eclipse the shudra moon touches deliberately the swarna sun and defiles the latter. In the process, everything that is under the sun gets defiled. The leftover food and water in the households is thrown out just because that has got defiled. Every swarna Hindu has to take bath, and if possible in some holy river to become shuddha.
    In rural India, the orthodox would throw grains of food towards the moon during eclipse and plead in loud voice requesting moon to leave sun alone.
    Here again, the untouchability, the bane of Hinduism comes into practice.

    The crux of the matter is that in almost every century, a Hindu saint took birth to enlighten Hindus and urged them to give up the dogma of untouchability. The last in the series was Swami Dayanand. But unfortunately, even his own followers, the Arya-Samajis do not give heed to what he preached.

    Therefore, the problem does not lie with the religious identities but with the beliefs practices and traditions of the religion. Civilizations are fast adopting democratic forms of governance. In this process of democratization, any religion would perish whose values do not conform to the democratic values -not even fundamental Islam, Hinduism or Christianity.
    There is lot to be done in Islam and Hinduism to make these religions compatible with democratic values and traditions. Catholics have been doing this since the days of Galileo when his thesis was tried to be given approval by the Vatican. But non-catholics surpassed them and became fledgling democracies like Britain and America etc.

    Liberal

    July 23, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    • Such misconceptions needs to be cleared – that is the work that must be done. And it can be done within the framework of the religion itself. Finding out the “true” meaning and reasoning behind our practices and beliefs is what is needed. Then, it can easily be applied in our current “democratic” context.

      Perhaps these stories come up as an easier way of enforcing the rituals/beliefs in those who are/were not inclined in that direction.

      The zeal with which the scientific community works in getting people to give up these practices should also be applied in researching the history, reasoning and possible benefits/drawbacks of these practices. *That* would be a truly scientific temper.

      Regards, Hari

      Hariprasad

      July 24, 2009 at 9:23 am


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