Abraham Thomas Kovoor, a renowned rationalist of South Asia, was born and educated in India. After his studies he worked as a teacher in various colleges in Sri Lanka. He was instrumental in forming Rationalist association of Sri Lanka. He campaigned widely in both India and Sri Lanka, exposing as frauds many god men and para normal phenomena.
Following is an excerpt from his popular book Begone Godmen.
From 1921 to 1924 my younger brother the late Dr.Behanan T. Kovoor of the Yale University, U S., and I were students at the University of Calcutta. The city of Calcutta is about 1500 miles from my native town Tiruvalla. It took about five days for us to reach Calcutta by train.
A trip from Tiruvalla to the distant city on the banks of the river Ganges, by two young boys in search of higher education was an unusual event those days among the people of our neighbourhood. Because of the long distance and the heavy expense involved, we used to come home only once a year during the long mid-summer vacation.
Our departure to Calcutta after the holidays was a ceremonial affair. Days before our departure, both my brother and I were feted by our neighbours. During the last few days of our holidays we had practically all our meals in the neighbouring houses irrespective of caste, creed or class. Almost all the ” Nair ” families wanted us to bring for them, when we returned, at least a few drops of ‘” theertham” (Ganges water). For them, we were extremely fortunate because even in our boyhood we would be getting a chance of bathing in the ‘sacred’ waters of the ‘holy’ Ganges, and thus attain ‘moksha’ without much effort…..
The river Ganges which has its source in the ‘sacred’ Kailas (Himalayas) flows down the Gangetic plain for out 1500 miles and falls into the Bay of Bengal. It is in flood throughout the summer months when the snow on the Himalayas melt. Since it is a fast-flowing it’s water is always muddy. During my long stay in Bengal I bathed in this only once. It became my first and last bath in that because of a shocking experience I had on that occasion As I lifted my head out of the water after a long immersion my head came in contact with a white and object. It turned out to be a highly decomposed dismembered human hand, partially eaten away by fish made me sick, and I had to go without food for a couple of days….
As a result of the abhorrence after my first nauseous experience in this ‘holy’ river, I decided not to take even a drop of water from it to my good neighbours. Since Behanan and I were reluctant to disappoint them, we decided to substitute some good well water for the Ganges water.
The nearest Railway Station to Tiruvalla those days was Kottarakkara. When we got down from the train at Kottarakkara we used to fill two bottles with drinking water from the filter in the waiting room, cork them ,properly and keep them along with our luggage. From that time onwards the water in the two bottles was called ” theertham”(sacred water).
To make sure of their fare the conductors and cleaners of the few buses at the Kottarakkara Railway Station used to struggle among themselves to put the luggage’s of the waiting passengers on the hood of their own buses. Once the luggage was on the top of their bus. they were sure that the owner of the luggage would get into their bus.
When the conductors and cleaners handled our luggage roughly in their struggle to secure their fare, we used to beg them to be extra careful about the handling of the two bottles of ‘” theertham” The word ” theertham” had an electrifying effect on them as well as the other fellow passengers. They handled the two bottles with due respect, and saw that both of us were given specially reserved seats by the side of the driver Finally. on reaching Tiruvalla. the bus is diverted from the normal route with the sardine-packed passengers in it, and driven to an extra distance of about two miles to drop us at Kovoor house. After dropping our luggage and us at home the conductor produced a small phial with the humble request for a small quantity of the ” theertham” to be shared among the driver, the cleaner and himself.
We used to entrust the two bottles of ” theertham” to our devoted Christian mother. With pride and pleasure she used to distribute the ” theertham” to our ” Nair ” neighbours according to their needs. Till the death of our beloved mother in 1942 she was not told the real truth about the ” theertham” .During the first two days of our arrival home, our neighbours used to flow in to greet us and to get their share of the sacred water.
Next mid-summer too the same fraud was repeated with all solemnity. Thus, for four consecutive years we continued to cheat our Christian mother and the Hindu neighbours with the ‘Kottarakkara Railway Station water and every holiday we had to give patient hearing to numerous accounts of miraculous cures effected by the previous year’s supply.
Puthur Raman Nair had this to say: “During the two years we had no need to seek medical help. My mother had a severe attack of diarrhoea last April. I just gave her a spoonful of honey with two drops of ” theertham ” in it. That was all. Within three hours she was perfectly cured.
Kilannaparampil Lakshmi Amma said, “Every time my daughter got cold or fever, a single drop of the ” theertham ” gave her perfect relief. I was subject to severe migraine since I had a miscarriage three years ago. Now when I get any symptom of the headache coming on, I simply apply a drop of the ” theertham ” on my forehead, and it stops with that. Even if it comes, the pain is only very slight.
Vettvelil Parukutty who had two difficult and complicated child-births when she gave birth to her first two children, had a very easy one it home when her third child was born. All what she did at the third time was to take two drops of the ” theertham” immediately when labour pain started.
Oliprakkatu Narayana Kuruppu proved the miraculous power of the ” theertham” by an experimental research . He had two grafted mango trees in his garden. Both were of the same stock and of the same age. During the dry season he watered the two trees. Once he added a few drops of the ” theertham” to the water he poured for one of the trees. When the flowering season arrived, the tree which got a dose of the ” theertham” flowered, while the other tree produced only a crop of tender leaves.
Chankroth Patchu Pillai immunised all the members of his family by pouring spoonful of the ” theertham ” in the family well. Since taking this precaution not a single member the Chankroth family fell ill.
There were numerous similar stories of miracles narrated by our neighbours who came to repeat their request for a further supply.
Dr Kovoor concludes the article by explaining that it is the power of suggestion and brain washing from childhood that made the humble ordinary water from railway station a sacred healer of all illnesses.
If school students were asked to read and study such articles, India would have been a much better place.