Sometimes I just don’t understand things.

ISRO. Indian space research organization. They have a facebook page for their next Mars Orbiter Mission. The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C25) rocket carrying the Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft will blast off on November 5.
I am so proud of India for having this mission but I get shocked when I learn that the ISRO chairman Dr. K. Radhakrishnan has been offering prayers at the temples before the launch. I also learned that people at the space center would perform coconut breaking and other religious rituals just before the launch. Believe it or not, ‘traditions and beliefs trump science and technology in India, even when it concerns launching a rocket into space.’

Isro chairman prayed for smooth satellite launch at the famous hill temple of Lord Venkateswara. He also prayed for the launch of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C21) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre.


Science is against religion and superstitions. Religion and superstitions are against science. There is no doubt about it. But I do not know how it is possible for people like Dr. K. Radhakrishnan to believe in religion, superstitions and science at the same time.


  1. Albert Bakker says

    I think it is called compartmentalization: the art of keeping two magisteria in your head from colliding. An internalized inconsistency that usually comes effortless and might only take some discipline to maintain if other people are rude enough to inform about some fantasy they might regard as particularly peculiar.

  2. Lofty says

    This is simple politics. Want to keep your job? Don’t insult religion by ignoring it. Religious dogma demands continuous reinforcement, otherwise people forget who’s in charge, the priests. I suspect it’s a small price to pay to be allowed to do science in India.

  3. left0ver1under says

    I would like to ask him which will do more to result in a successful launch and mission:

    (a) the hundreds of hours collectively that team members have wasted on praying

    (b) hundreds of more hours spent double and triple checking software and hardware

    Even if this weren’t about religion, if the question were hundreds of hours at the beach or hundreds of hours rechecking systems, the answer would be the same.

    “The most expensive hyphen in history” was due to insufficient double checking. Maybe it was a result of time wasted on prayer.

  4. says

    I agree with the appeal to compartmentalization.

    Science is a process of explanation testing. The explanation is a mental object that they have in their perception when they do science. Individuals who compartmentalize are context-sensitive-science-doers.

    The rest of the time like other human beings they find emotional value in many different things that include superstitious cultural rituals. The point of the rituals is the emotions and the feelings associated with the group activity. They don’t celebrate the process of science with rituals and every society likes social rituals so they use the ones that they have.

    Otherwise they would feel anxious due to the loss of the familiar routine as a group. They have always done these sorts of things with major national/cultural events, therefore they do them with things upon which science is used and they do not have the science in their heads when they are doing it.

  5. Jinat islam says

    I think this is the finest example of the hypocracy &double standard of one of the best democratic country of the world,India Our Indian society is truely hypnotised &biased in different shhere of social &political issue.when a director perform puja to lunch a rocket then it is the first &foremost duty of every Indian to offer worship to reduce the incredible icresing of the price of commodities or formation of next central govt or indo-pak relation &organise a grand “jagya” to get back money from Swiss Bank.

  6. lorn says

    It also provides a soft place to land if there are technical failures. Instead of letting people know you are a technical incompetent people will think it was one of those quirky failures of a religious offering. Perhaps the bananas weren’t right, or you mumbled a word of the prayer. You know how those Gods are, they can be both picky and capricious.

  7. says

    Oh, everyone constantly drags religion and traditions into space exploration. Just watched a multinational team of astronauts do some Russian tree-planting ritual. I can’t say I hear as many quotes from religious texts as I used to do, but early US spaceflight was rife with them. Probably still is, but there is just so much more content, and more actual scientists involved, that the religious (especially military) crap is buried.

  8. Joseph George says

    He should not have any problem normally if he did not pray.But I am pretty sure that he will be blamed for not taking sufficient precautions like praying at the required places, for failure is always a possibility with space missions.Whether he believes in prayer or not, he obviously doesn’t want to be blamed for not praying in the event of failure.He is hedging bets see. As for the pujas and other ceremonies, the people at the space center will conduct these whether Dr. Radhakrishnan wants it or not.This is routine procedure in India.Remember, this is a country in which a state government conducted pujas in temples using millions in state funds for rain!.

  9. sarita says

    Some scientists consider religion or offering prayer may help to invent more things or bring them fame in science field. Actually they may be men of science but simultenously they are afraid of some super power i.e superstition.! So they dont feel any contradiction to go to temple before go to lab…. appeasing both ( science and superstition) side bring them a kind of mental satisfaction.. after all they are human beings and man is born sinner !! LOL

  10. A.Prashanth says

    I can’t believe that there are still people with the misconception that science and religion are against each other. The flaw is not with the ones mature enough to accept both, but the ones who could not tolerate it and consider it silly. And how could certain things be deemed superstitious, if its part of a religion (as long as it does not hurt anyone)? And why is it a problem for anyone if a scientist worships God or a priest is into science? Some of the renowned scientists and creators of various theories are highly religious men. I would strongly recommend to respect others’ beliefs and if one does not believe in religion or God, better to not see the ones who believe to be inferior.

    Ultimately there is no difference between a religious fanatic calling men of science as sons of Satan and a man of science having a condescending look towards a believer. Of course religion is so flawed with lots of misconceptions and misunderstandings and science is still at its infancy with a majority of the findings getting disproved not long after, but these are no reasons to shun either. It takes a great mind to find a place for the two to co-exist.

  11. anil says

    religion and science against each other? how on earth can you conclude like that? its absolutely absurd to conclude like that.

  12. says

    Is this some kind of joke or what? Science is not against any religion. In fact some of the best scientists today believe in god more then anyone else. J Robert Oppenheimer quoted from geeta on first nuclear explosion,there is a ‘Natraj – a Hindu god’s statue on CERN entrance where the world’s most famous experiment Large Hadron Collider was conducted & NASA passes on peanuts before every mission(superstition). Scientists believe more because they actually know how little mankind is in front of the power whom we call God.

  13. thoma says

    The mars is not created by his father.If his father do that ,no need for any pray to reach their
    He (Dr.Radhakrishnan) has brain.He knows universe formed not only by an explosion

  14. Su30mki says

    Isro is launching rockets so why are you feeling proud. I dont think bangladesh has any thing to contribute in this mission

  15. says

    //Science is against religion and superstitions. Religion and superstitions are against science.//

    I do not think Hindu religion stands against science. In fact, Hindu religion accepts new science out comings.

    After telescope is invented, science read about our solar systems. But without the telescope Hindus can accurately read the same about our solar system.

    Hinduism does not deny any scientific findings.

    I request you to google about thoppukaranam and Super Brian Yoga.

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