Our city’s superstition busters

Friday the 13th brings spooky beliefs to the fore. Metrolife meets campaigners who say vastu, horoscope-matching and astrology are just plain bunkum

Many anti-superstition campaigners in the city are going about busting blind beliefs and promoting rational thought.

HC Umesh, civil engineering contractor, has been a staunch campaigner against vastu and astrology.

“The vachanas of Basaveshwara talk openly against class and gender differences. When one follows him, it is not so hard to be a rationalist,” he says.

A follower of Basavanna and Ambedkar, he rues many in Bengaluru is ruled by blind faith.

“Vastu shastra has no logic. I own three houses in Jayanagar built without any consideration of vastu shastra, and people there are doing just fine,” he says.

About 90 per cent of Bengalureans consult vastu practitioners even to dig a borewell, he adds.

Nagesh Aralakuppe, rationalist and member of Akhila Karnataka Vicharavadi Sangha, says Bengalureans are also obsessed with godmen and miracles. “They are easily impressed by frauds creating ash or gold ornaments out of thin air. We conduct many programmes where we expose these miracles,” he says.

Nagesh recalls the contributions of Dr H Narasimhaiah, the renowned rationalist and educationist who also served as Bengaluru University vice-chancellor.

“He challenged Satya Sai Baba to create a pumpkin out of thin air instead of gold rings and watches and this propagated rationalism in the 1970s,” he says. “But we have returned to an age of superstition.”

Nagesh’s lectures expose how babas place ash between their fingers and hand it out as though they have pulled off a divine miracle.

Bengalureans consult priests, astrologers and babas even for daily decisions, he points out. “Our politicians perform all kinds of rituals, including some esoteric ones,” he says.

Human rights activist T Narasimhamurthy has been an anti-superstition campaigner for 30 years.

“As a youngster, I used to read many books on rational thought. I am a big fan of Dr H Narasimhaiah who used to celebrate lunar and solar eclipses by eating and sharing food. I hold similar events near Town Hall, where I bring loads of snacks like samosa and ‘kayi obattu’ and hand them out to people,” he adds.

For most people, eating during an eclipse is a strict no-no.

Narasimhamurthy goes out to personally debunk black magic rituals. “Whenever I see banana, chicken and other offerings scattered on the ground, I make it a point to eat the banana and disturb the offering,” he says.

Many have warned him he will die a painful death. “But I have told my wife a post-mortem should be done, even if I die a natural death, to show that no supernatural forces were responsible,” says Narasimhamurthy.

Prof A S Nataraj, founder of Akhila Karnataka Vicharavadi Sangha, hails from a family of priests and for a long time followed rituals religious. “I had learnt about astrology extensively and matched about 8,000 horoscopes. But over the years, I realised many truths,” he says.

One thing that occurred to him: The characteristics of two babies born on the same day and at the same time should be the same but they are not.

Rs 1 crore up for grabs

Rationalist A S Nataraj has made a Rs 1 crore challenge to astrologers.

“Anyone who can prove astrology works can take the money,” he says.

‘Ban astrology’

“Though an anti-superstition law is in place, black magic continues. Also, the law should include a ban astrology and vastu shastra,” says Nagesh Aralakuppe, a rationalist.

Want to join them?

Akhila Karnataka Vicharavadi Sangha: 080 2669 1927, 2669 6553

T Narasimhamurthy: 99806 27609

Is your prasada safe?

Nothing should be consumed with blind faith, and that includes prasada, says an activist.

“I have filed 10 cases with the food safety authorities against the laddu given out at the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, and now they have a clearance. If small tea shops should are accountable, shouldn’t the prasada have food safety certification? I have now filed cases against temples in Palani and Sabarimala,” says T Narasimhamurthy, anti-superstition campaigner.

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Our city’s superstition busters

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