I am grateful for the opportunity given to me to inaugurate the All India Rationalist Conference. My credentials for doing so are doubtful, since I am a judge of a Court, the members of which, any member of the Supreme Court Bar will tell you, act and react most irrationally when dealing with special leave petitions. Perhaps those responsible for inviting me have been rash and irrational.
All that I know about rationalism is that it is a continuing revolt by reason against mysticism, by science against superstition, by technology against mythology and so on. I also know that rationalism is the sworn enemy of dogmatism and fanaticism. Honest intellectuals have played a vital role in the continuing struggle against ignorance, prejudice and superstition. I would like to say a few words about them.
The goal of building a secular, socialist, modern egalitarian society cannot be reached by the mere proclamation of these ideals in the preamble to the Constitution.
The great bulk of the Indian people still vegetate in this scientific Age. They bear the yoke of an unjust social system, where a few flourish at the cost of many, a system which despite being inequitable has been sustained throughout the centuries by the genius of the pernicious philosophy of ‘Karma’, a very convenient philosophy, indeed, to make the miserable masses of the country accept with resignation and without protest, every kind of inequality. Today, science and technology are manipulated by the upper castes and classes so that they can maintain their dominance by preventing access to the masses.
The effect of modernism on those that have received their education under this system has been to make them the apostles and the minstrels of revivalism, to chant and sing the glories of our great and ancient culture and heritage. Instead of being the bold torch bearers of scientific knowledge, they act as the defenders of tradition and superstition. They lay the foundation stones of steel plants and even of space labs to the chanting of ‘mantrams’ and the breaking of coconuts at the precise moments declared and chosen as auspicious by astrologers, Pandits, Swamijis, Babas, Bhagwans, Maharishis, Yogis and God-men.
They prostrate at their feet and receive vibhuti and other token gifts from them, to be worn and carried by them as blessed charms and talismans to protect them against all evil. Panchangs, Palmists, astrologers, sorcerers, occultists and diviners are consulted by ministers, politicians, High Court Judges etc.
Most of the national newspapers, with an honourable exception of ‘The Hindu’, (Chennai edition), carry a caption ‘What the stars foretell this week’. In the name of Indian culture (Bharatiya Sanskriti) there is incessant talk on Yoga, Vedanta and transcendentalism, book shops are full of books on these subjects. There is a demand to make Sanskrit an official language of the country and to establish Sanskrit Universities and there is an insistence on the observance of several foolish rituals and customs.
All these are the manifestations of Revivalism. Out of this revivalism are born recialism, communalism, regionlism, linguism, casteism and several such baneful ‘isms’. It is one of the principal and essential duties of the intellectuals of this country to wage a continuous war against these artificial, deceitful, narrow and foolish beliefs and to free people from the strangle hold of such beliefs.
Revivalism has made the Indian intellectual and the Indian bourgeoisie – great hypocrites. They will talk of spiritual things and indulge in things most material. From them have emerged many sanctimonious humbugs masquerading as spiritual leaders. They shed tears over the sufferings of SITA in Ramayana but they are oblivious of the sufferings of millions of ‘living Sitas’ around them.
As M.N. Roy pointed out once, we are such hypocrites that even ‘the delightfully sexual lyrics of Vidhyapathi, Chandidas and Jaidev are interpreted as mystic accounts of spiritual elevation of an erotic communication with the impersonal God. There are some legendary tales of the philandering of a youthful cowherd and the delicious abandon of the milkmaids. Philosophical content is read by the Revivalists even in these tales making them describe it as – ‘mutual attraction between Jeevatma and Paramatma’.
(To be continued in the next issue).
Cattle population increase, Nothing connected to Hindutva
Recently the provisional results of the 20th Livestock Census have been released. The Hindutva outfits chest thumb the female cattle population increase by 18 per cent is the result of cow protection propaganda. No doubt the population of female white cattle has increased but not in the said line of the ‘so called’ cow protectors. The Hindutva outfits advocate for the rearing of indigenous white cattle and not the foreign breed or cross bred animals. One of the NDA’s programmers viz. Rashtriya Gokul Mission aims to develop indigenous breeds of cattle. But the farmers of the land prefer to rear cross bred milch animals since they yield more quantity of milk comparatively. In 2019, the population of cross bred milch animals was 25.67 million, higher by 32.2 per cent in relation to the last census, conducted in 2012. But the indigenous breed milch cattle registered an increase of only 0.81 per cent. The population increase in cattle population is strongly influenced by the economics rather than Hindutva. Besides, the data of stray cattle population, whose maintenance is expensive and not profitable, are not available in the provisional result of Livestock Census. Nothing to glorify!