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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Ignorance is Bliss !!

Recently I had a post on "Naadi Astrology", in my Tamizh blog. On Adengappa's suggestion I shared my experience with my regular blog readers as well. This definitely has started a chain of events that I had no intent of starting.

I have given serious thought over the last three days, not to the "Naadi Astrology" but to the conflict between Western Scientific thought and its aversion to the paranormal versus the exotic relationship between the Occult and Eastern thought. Having read most of Joseph Campbell's works (thanks to my friend Erica for introducing me to his works) and been witness to some powerful scientific thinkers in south india who go about disproving the occult as fake (Most of you have seen a bearded scientist who goes from village to village in Tamil Nadu, to show that "sobbudu" viddhai (black magic) and the typical gimmics used by holy men to draw a fan base are pure fraud !!), I am trying to keep an open mind.

There is on the one hand a fascination for the dark arts in the western world simply because they cannot accurately explain these phenonmena. I am not talking about the fire walking and the materializing of holy ash from thin air. Anyone who has read the short story by Dom Moraes, where the sorceress pulls out a little statue from her hair and hands it as a gift from god to a little boy who is just mesmerized by the proceedings, and how the experience turns to one of utter disillusionment when he goes home and observes the scratched out "made in hong kong" at the bottom of the statue!, will see these things through. I am talking about more esoteric things, that are truly path breaking. Things that are hard to accept as possible, but can be proven to a certain extent even by the scientific western world.

Even more shocking is the attitudes of people who are raised in the East (especially in today's world) where simple faith in god can be considered unscientific and blind !! Faith in god and faith in science have always been at the crossroads, but not in the eyes of the general public. Both in the east and the west the Theologians and Scientists have been fighting a silent war. This is not new fact, but when someone writes a book like "Angels and Demons" he is able to sell a million copies!! This, not to mention the big debate on Darwins "Theory of evolution" clashing with the "Theory of intelligent Design" that has the United States and its people polarized.

My focus is not on the general populace, who usually make up their mind based on the coverage these issues get in popular media or from Dan Brown novels. My concern is the polarization among people who grew up with me in orthodox families, who were taught to have a healthy tolerance for the occult, but were also taught to have an equally healthy scepticism for the occult from their English medium education. As a scientist and researcher I look for data to conclusively prove cause and effect and design experiments to prove my hypothesis. This method may not be well suited for a lot of applications. I will elaborate !!

Galileo was on house arrest for suggesting heliocentricity few hundred years ago. The problem at that time was that only a handful of people could understand what they saw through the telescope. Einstein came up with a lot of theories a few decades ago but the experimental method did not have the level of sophistication required to prove or disprove his theories. Even today, they are sending out telescopes into outer space to understand the universe. I am not saying that the scientific method is flawed. I am merely suggesting that Horoscope reading or thumb print reading are not considered science by people who subsribe to western thought simply because the scientific method doesnt provide instant proof. What if there was an extensive database of fingerprints (maybe ask the Department of Homeland security ?) and we classified them into different types just like the Naadi Astrologers do, and we match the year of marriage of the people in the database to fingerprint type ! (just a suggestion). Or for that matter, do all single folk have something common in their fingerprints ? One cannot but wonder if the size of the database needs to be expanded to find the formula that may explain the "Unified Fingerprint theory" (hopefully I get to patent that one).

I can see potential upsides and downsides to the unified fingerprint theory. The Homeland security department or any other law enforcement agency would quickly correlate certain fingerprint features as common among terrorists and potentially all people with that fingerprint type would be arrested and sent to eastern europe for "you know what" !! Fingerprint alteration of course, silly !! Once you transplant some other dead social workers fingerprint on the dude, he will not be a threat anymore. That is the sceptic raising his head again...

No , seriously ...look at all the things that I can cite where we just ignore good stuff because we are taught to alienate eastern thought.

Lets take simple medicine..

a. south indian women used to liberally apply turmeric paste as part of their bathing regimen. Todays woman probably shuns this because it leaves them looking a bright yellow for a day or two. Pretty soon, turmeric usage was a "no no". Now foreign pharmaceutical labs are making millions by taking active ingredients in turmeric and incorporating it into your "fair and lovely" type creams. Same goes for the antiseptic nature of turmeric and neem oil.

b. ever get a loose stomach. my grandmother used to open my mouth wide, put a handfull of fenugreek seeds in my mouth, and make me gulp it down with buttermilk.. Voila, no more loose stomach. This combo could give your "Immodium" a run for its money. I always used to favor the tablet, and pay $4.99 for it instead of fixing the problem with free stuff at home.

c. Grannys used to give women who have just delivered kids a combination of betel leaves, saffron and some other common herbs. This helps them recover nicely. Read in national geographic magazine that this combination releases a local anesthetic of the "caine" family and helps heal internal wounds. My wife would rather have vicodeine than the betel leaf medicine..

My grandfather used to tell me that the Germans got a hold of 3000 year old palm leaves which had the Ayurveda and Max Muller was in charge of getting them out of India and translating them. He used to say : "what are you doing, you and your research ? it is just re - search.. all searching has already been done in the past !!". Dont know if this is true. It is my sincere hope that the unabridged version of Ayurveda wasnt used to graduate a whole bunch of Germans with their Ph.D's on antiseptics and stool softeners !

Keep an open mind folks. Ignorance is bliss, only as long as you dont know your ignorance. . .

5 Comments:

I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 10:11 PM, Blogger Balaji S Rajan wrote...

Sundarji....... yes... I am fully with you. Your post is thought provoking. I have talked about turmeric to my colleagues in UK. My wife has given 'Kashayam' to plumbers, and other guests who had come home with severe cold and headache. My landlord (British) has always appreciated our Patti medicines. I have faith in those still like Fenugreek, and milk with Turmeric powder and mild pepper for Sore Throat. As your grandfather, even elders in my family have said the same.

 
I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 6:36 AM, Blogger WA wrote...

My chithi uses a LOT of turmeric on her face, when my cousins were little avunga rendu perukkum nalla powder poosi pottu vechi kooteetu varunvaanga chithi. The only issue was that she would have used the same powder puff resulting in both my cousins (boys) will have nice blotches yellowy talcum powder stuff on their face. Sorry for this silly diversion from your serious topic :D

 
I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 8:01 PM, Blogger visithra wrote...

Unified Fingerprint theory - this sounds interesting - but that might make life to generic dont u think?

I have a theory on eastern people - until the west tells u something is good - eventhough u knew it all this while ure not gonna use it

i swear by fenugreek during travel

i hate pills u see - n the more u think the bigger dosage u need in the future - that cant be good - we say fast food is unhealthy yet we're ok about fast pills?

Whenever im not lazy (which is few months once) i use natural products for my skin n hair - i think there should be a limit of how much chemical goes in your body ;)

n here ppl still practice ancient medicine for after pregnancy treatments in all races

uma lol

 
I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 8:05 PM, Blogger thennavan wrote...

Naturopathy-naa ellaarum inge vaango :-) (Amma being a naturopath and a holistic health consultant practising many alternative systems, naanga ellaarume Naturopathy Kudumbam dhaan) :-)

 
I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 11:54 PM, Blogger Sundar Narayanan wrote...

sorry folks, the last week has been extremely crazy.. with midnight clean up operations, heavy work and a bad cold...

i finally get to respond to you all.

balaji sir, you are so right. how can i forget kashayam .. and paththu (the one they put on your forehead when you have a headache)!!

wa, laughed at it. but i have also been victimized as a kid with the manjal.. so i sympathize with those boys. and no, it is not a silly diversion. you are proving the point that we used these things when we were little but we would be reluctant to probably use those things on our kids !!

visithra, you impress again!

thennavan, you are blessed !but you should ask your mom what kind of response she gets for natural treatments in the US ? let us know.

 

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