I still feel this way » « Blog monkey Freethought in India I know I have a few readers from Asia who might be interested in this: a new freethought site established specifically for all the brilliant skeptics in India, Nirmukta. The rest of the world might enjoy it, too. Share this:PrintEmailShare on TumblrTweet I still feel this way » « Blog monkey
Thanks for the link PZ. Here’s Prabir Ghosh’s site.
Wish them all the best !
Combatting the influence of superstituous beliefs in India is not going to be an easy task, but it’s great to see that some are willing to take up the challenge.
I am not terribly enthusiastic about groups like these, because their line of thought flows from the Protestant missionary criticism of Hinduism and India. One of the sponsors of this group appears to be Meera Nanda, who is singularly ill-equipped to analyse the Indian intellectual tradition, being ignorant of India’s classical languages. It is true that Amartya Sen has in recent times talked of a “rational” or “skeptical” tradition in Indian history, drawing references from ancient literature. But this again is simply reading ideas from what he knows into a tradition he barely understands. All the best though!
Reginald Selkirk says
India does have a long tradition of freethought. Look up Carvaka (alt spelling Charvaka) some time.
It is a good start but beliefs in India are very very strong. Moreover, they like to mould beliefs to their own benefit :)
It is atleast a foot in the right direction.
Ajita Kamal says
Thanks for the link PZ!
@ rimpal: I’m not sure why you would say that our ideas “flows from the Protestant missionary criticism”. Are you suggesting that Indians are not capable of formulating a critical thought on their own? About Meera Nanda, I think you are ill-informed on her achievements. Please look up her credentials and her books in which she analyzes many Indian belief structures in-depth.
This a common attitude that one encounters while attempting to challenge the social aristocracy in India. Please challenge us on the subjects we write about and we can have a productive conversation.
Meera Nanda like many other contemporary scholars of the humanities in India leave me underwhelmed. The problem begins with basic errors of fact. There is no social aristocracy here.
I find no evidence of that in their website. If anything, their line of thought seems to flow from rationalism and science.
Well, you don’t need to be aware of classical languages to realize the pseudoscience and mumbo-jumbo which is prevalent in spades in vedic literature and related commentary.
See this excellent article by Meera Nanda, for an example
I’ll call this out. What errors of fact?
Also, Fantastic work Ajita Kamal, and the rest of the group! I’m looking forward to your content.
Wow. Here’s a quote from Meera Nanda’s article (emphasis added):
Ajita Kamal says
@parseval: Thanks! We look forward to your participation at the site.
@sgl: That is just a glimpse of the challenges ahead!
Nick Gotts says
I guess the cow urine is drunk to accompany bullshit?
Nick Gotts says
p.s. Nice site! I’ll add it to my “scepticism” folder.
India is the most religious country on earth. There is almost no nonsense that is not believed by thousands of people.
But India’s first(and longest serving) Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, was a confirmed agnostic. In that sense atleast, the US still lags far behind.
Rimpal, this type of criticism has been addressed before as the Courtier’s Reply:
also the most superstitious and, in some cases, fanatic.
and, i’ve learnt today, more corrupt than about half the world’s countries. i wonder how that is so, if religion’s central claim is that it is a guide to morality.
This is a better group http://antisuperstition.org/
The website belongs to the very respected group called ANS or “Andhashraddha Nirmulan samiti” (Andha-shradhha means blind faith or superstition. So their name means Superstition Eradication Committee).
They’re a very dedicated group of people who go around in villages and cities with street plays, demonstrations, lectures promoting rational thought.
We have many problems in India which are unheard of over here – eg., there are some people (usually in villages) who if they get a knot in their hair will consider it to be a gift of a goddess and will not cut it for years roaming around with a big nest full of dirt and lice. obviously then no one would employ such a character so usually these people are left with no option other than begging on the street. so this group counsels such people out of their fear of cutting their hair.
ANS has also saved many ‘possessed’ women from being taken advantage of by charlatan ‘holy’ men.
It has been promoting its secular wedding style to indians and has also been campaigning to reduce the wastage of food and grains that happens at religious weddings.
The group has been in action for quite a few decades and is not just a website.
Please take a look at their newsletter on their website.
Sorry for the long post…but you hit a nerve by posting something about my homeland.
forgot to add ..
ANS also has a James Randi-type of offer/challenge
Rey Fox says
Anybody remember that Pharyngula post with the video of the Indian skeptic valiantly resisting a magical attack by some woo peddler? I wonder if he is involved in this.
Courtier’s reply…why did it take so long?
Take the matter of development of logic in India. I can see why some would take Meera Nanda’s word for it than wade through the 800 pages of Phillips and Tathacharya’s volume on Gangesa’s epistemology of perception – http://preview.tinyurl.com/4xzvnt. That is why one needs to know classical languages. all the best!
Ouuummmmmmmm linga linga linga linga. Killikilli! Killikilli!
There. That should take care of that.
I’m a huge fan of Meera Nanda — so if she’s endorsing this, I think it a plus.
It’s very common for people who criticize atheism to bring up Eastern religions, which they claim have ‘no problem’ with science because they’re not dualistic. Unlike the West, they have never separated Nature into material and spiritual. Atheists, you see, are justifiably criticizing Western religions, but missing the sophisticated Eastern version which has eliminated all the problems!
Bull. In her book Prophets Facing Backwards, Nanda analyzes and explains what’s really going on under this claim of science-friendly “holism.” They’re redefining science. This is idealistic monism — as opposed to materialistic monism — and their epistemology is based on mystical insights which come from experiencing an undifferetiated connection between spirit and matter:
“…The problem is that the picture of the world that the Hindu apologists defend as having anticipated and/or being affirmed by modern science has nothing that any respectable, mainstream scientist would recognize as scientific at all. What is being affirmed is the idealistic metaphysics of Vedanta which views the objective world of matter as a by-product, or an epiphenomenon, of disembodied, immaterial consciousness that Hindus call “Brahman.” This is a world where natural objects have a quasi-divine intelligence and purpose embodied in them, and where, in the words of Deepak Chopra, ‘human desire or intention is a force in nature, just as gravity is a force in nature, or electromagnetism is a force in nature.'”
This IS supernaturalism, if the ‘supernatural’ is more specifically defined as indicating a top-down view of mind or consciousness shaping matter, and not just a vacuuous “outside of nature” which can be fitted to include or exclude anything. And no, science cannot be redefined so that it simply accepts mystical insights as veridical.
Highly recommend the book.
Kausik Datta says
Sastra, for a long time, I have been meaning to ask this forum one particular question regarding the impact of religion in every walk of Indian life. My question is about music, especially Indian classical music, and appreciation thereof. Indian classical music is very different from Western Classical music in some aspects. If you’d be kind enough to help me formulate the question, could you please drop me a line at kausik (dot) datta (at) gmail (dot) com? Anyone else who can help is also welcome.
Ajita Kamal says
@#15 Pradeep: Nice timing with The Courtier’s Reply! Its amazing how well it lays open these empty defenses.
@#22 Sastra: That was very well said! Meera is indeed working with us and will be writing as time permits.
Swami Saiexposedananda says
Ajita, just wondering if you plan to run any articles on Sai Baba, especially since I notice you have Narendra Nayak (associate of B. Premanand) working with you guys?
You can check out my blog too if you like, there’s tons of stuff there about Sai Baba, though I don’t know if any of it is useful to you.
Swami Saiexposedananda says
For example, I have written up some researches of Sai Baba’s “biography” that effectively debunk many of the myths surrounding him, in terms of reincarnation claims, acquisition of supernatural powers, etc. You can check out the ‘Articles of Note’ (on the right sidebar) where I placed what I thought were the best or most notable articles I’ve written.
Hesitant Iconoclast says
Sastra, the Vedantic tradition is not necessarily monistic. It, in fact, lends itself to several interpretations (including dualism) and these schools of thought are extant today and equally “credible”. Therefore it may be subject to the same types of criticisms offered by “Western critics”.
(For the philosophers here, I am referring to Sri Vaishnavism and Tattvavada, among others, known classically as Vishishtadvaita and Dvaita respectively. These are dualistic traditions (the first is neo-dualistic) that claim support from the same Vedanta as Advaita.)
John C. Randolph says
There is no social aristocracy here.
So, the efforts of Indian governments since Ghandi to abolish the caste system have succeeded? That’s wonderful news!
If only it were true.
Yes, exactly like the efforts of US governments since 1860s to abolish racism have succeeded.
wow. thank you pz. and thank u dliz. i’ll check http://antisuperstition.org/ too. i was all along hoping for finding a site that addresses superstitions and religious issues in india. hoping to find like minded people closer home.
It is usual drivel site. First of all it doesn’t allow anonymous comments, otherwise
I would be commenting there instead of here.
As usual they like to talk about evolution without really dealing with
its consequences. Racism cannot be eliminated simply because tribalism
is embedded in our genes. Hinduism is more than religion it is way
to organize a society. Which all atheist can never come up with an alternative
than matches Evolution. For example hindus didn’t adopt for simple fact
that evolution doesn’t allow men to raise someone else child without dire
consequences like incest, etc. This only changed because of British telling
how backwards we were.
So spill all the crap you want. I bet you that site will not say a word
about communist, christian missionaries, muslims, etc.
Number system was developed by Hindu priest. So was the grammar of Sanskrit.
Don’t forget that main point that Indian History was written by Enlish Missionaries.
and Is sustained by psuedo-secularist who are really communist who have no business living in India for they believe in a foreign philosophy.
About time… I had given up on the land of my birth after the Osho-ites invaded my neighbourhood with Drugs, Sex and Rock and roll!
Anyhow, I shall be following their progress with considerable interest.
Bullshit. That is utter nonsense. Where’s the evidence that racism is hereditary? Do you have any peer-reviewed studies to back that claim? All the evidence points to the fact that Racism is mainly due to environmental factors and ignorance.
I’m sad that you so amazingly ignorant. Do you mean to say that fathers of all adopted children practice incest? Seriously?
Most of physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics were not invented by Hindu preists. What exactly is your point?
No, we have a scientific worldview which is entirely at odds which most of the religious worldviews, including Hinduism. How nice and tolerant you are…
Kausik Datta says
rd @#31… Wow! You are steeped in it, aren’t you? Such vehement expression of utter ignorance, and arrant jingoistic nonsense! People like you reinforce the need for having more and more of organizations like Nirmukta and antisuperstition.org!!
I don’t know if it is just me, but I have seen lately in multiple different fora, that any time anyone uses the term ‘pseudo-secularist’, a gush of ludicrous nonsense almost always spews out thereafter. There ought to be something akin to the Godwin’s law for this term!!
Swami Saiexposedananda says
I forgot to mention, my blog is:
Sai Baba EXPOSED!