Pseudo-scientific nonsense does not boost national pride – Ravi Shankar

Pushpak Vimana

Ravi Shankar EttethThe irony of India’s current rediscovery of itself is that its prototypes of superiority are Western—Kaurava test tube babies, Ravan airlines, Mahabharata internet, et al. – Ravi Shankar

To say that the Greeks first gave us history and mythology in one package would be a fair assumption. Traveller, adventurer, rebel and author of Histories, Herodotus is considered the father of history for laying the early foundations of the human narrative by recording what he saw and heard, to which he added the collective memories of nations. Euhemerus is the father of euhemerism, which applies real historical events and personalities to mythology.

India and Greece have the richest, multi-divine mythological heritage in the world. Their cartography was similar too: topographically adjacent deshas and over 1,000 poleis (city-states) stretching from Turkey to France respectively. But it is a section of India that is being euhemeristic now. Lack of evidence is challenging newly minted national pride. Evidence is not what we see. It is the conclusion we arrive at after examination.

Though the West is hated in neo-nationalist societies, its classical philosopher-scientists like Copernicus and Galileo had the temperament and curiosity to challenge established notions. They were rewarded with condemnation and prison. History in the Christian world was once purely Biblical and devout Christians even today believe Jesus got up two days after he died; to assume that his sidekicks revived him using stem cells and beamed him up in a spaceship to Kashmir where he learned yoga would make a fabulous, but unauthenticated story.

India’s mytho-historical crisis is a blowback of colonial intervention. British historians distorted Indian history to impose their culturally inferior, but scientifically advanced ethos. Commerce drives the West, enabled by the greed to conquer and subvert other cultures and markets. But it has also generated breakthroughs in medicine, space research, anthropology and engineering. Science makes the world explainable.

The irony of India’s current rediscovery of itself is that its prototypes  of superiority are Western—Kaurava test tube babies, Ravan airlines, Mahabharata internet et al. The colonial desecration of Indian history is responsible for this descent into nonsense for revalidating past pride: Indian history is seeking revenge by denying and discrediting Western progress and influences like English and Nehru, et al.

The side dish of parody is also on the table: the “scientific” claim that gravitational waves will be renamed “Narendra Modi waves” would undoubtedly embarrass the prime minister. Carl Jung notes that the human psyche needs mythology to find meaning and order in a seemingly chaotic and meaningless world. This is the time to leave mythology to the aesthetics of upbringing. By enabling the youth to script new history by becoming an industrial, innovative, scientific and literary powerhouse, India can own the future. The past is always around. – The New Indian Express, 13 January 2019

» Ravi Shankar is an author, cartoonist and columnist for The New Indian Express in New Delhi.

Indian Science Congress 2019