The hypocrisy of our “secular” leaders
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?