Skip to main content

Recalling 1995, when Gujarat chief minister justified Ganesha 'drinks milk' superstition

By Rajiv Shah 
An interesting story in The Wire” on how the Sangh Parivar had “organized” the 1995 Ganesha milk miracle and why the plan flopped” a quarter of a century ago took my memory down the lane back to September 21, 1995, the day I began seeing long queues in Ahmedabad with people trying to “feed” Ganesha idols with milk in small and big temples, mysteriously wondering how the Lord was “drinking away” all the milk they were feeding. The queues must have continued for at least a week. 
I didn’t stand in any of the queues, but surely I found that many of my relatives, inimical in standing in queues, buying up Ganesha idols from the market telling me how they were “surprised” by the mysterious disappearance of the milk. While I don’t want to endorse or deny whether it was a Sangh Parivar plot, or if it flopped, what I surely remember how the then chief minister of Gujarat, Keshubhai Patel, went on to endorse the “miracle”. He said, “Haa… Bhagwan Ganesh doodh pive chche” (of course, Lord Ganesha does drink milk).
If I remember correctly, while the so-called miracle continued for a few days, yet, surprisingly, no organization – let alone politicians in the opposition from the Congress – came forward to point towards why it was a mere superstition. A seasoned politician, Keshubhai Patel, of course, was (and is – he is 90 plus now) not well-educated. But why others in the BJP who claim to be following some kind of scientific temper refused to expose the superstition.
Bewildered, I, with my family, decided to visit the residence of an Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientist, Abhijit Sarkar, whom I was then in close touch with – he lived not very far away from where we lived then. This scientist sat next to his young daughter, with mine – studying in the fifth standard in a very ordinary school – curiously looking at this scientist to see what he had to say.
The scientist brought a doll with which his daughter would play to demonstrate how it “drank away” all the water fed to her! He explained what the author of “The Wire”, P Raman, also states in order to suggest why the Ganesha idols were “drinking away” all the milk offered to them. According to Raman, “The first to demystify it was T Jayaraman of the Institute of Mathematical Studies. He showed that the phenomenon was a play of surface tension and capillary action.”
Raman also quotes Indian Rationalist Association president Sanal Edamaruku to say that “showed close-ups of idols to explain how milk coated the idol, collected at the pedestal and flowed into the gutter”. Then, “Another scientist said idols made of Mahabalipuram stone accepted milk more easily than those made of Orissa stone.” Further, “India Today” quoted psychologist Udayan Patel: “The point at which the milk disappeared is the point when the mind ceased to function.”
My interaction with BJP leaders, during my stint in Gandhinagar as the “Times of India” man, suggested that while many of them, like Keshubhai Patel, were not above board insofar as superstition was concerned, there have been those who do not believe in it any way. Take for instance Anandiben Patel. As education minister under Keshubhai Patel, and a Narendra Modi protégé, she told me once that solar eclipse should become an event for children to see and explore the phenomenon in space, and superstition around it needs to e exposed.
It’s another thing that, while they may not believe in superstition, they have a very poor understanding science. Take our Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for instance. Addressing Indian Forest Service (IFS) officials once in Gujarat as chief minister he talked of how the snake sips milk, with most IFS officials smiling at his ignorance. Instances on how he confuses science with some mythical events galore, and one can find several examples about it on the web.
However, I am still at a loss to understand why Congress leaders, who call themselves followers of Nehru-Gandhi ideology, don’t care to oppose superstition. “The Wire” reports how Sitaram Kesri, a minister in the then Narasimha Rao government, quoted internal reports to say that a temple in Jhandewalan Park near the RSS headquarters in Delhi was the “epicentre of the miracle”, and it was a “BJP ploy to gain votes in the ensuing Lok Sabha elections by spreading false rumours.”
However, I don’t recall either Rao or Kesri calling it superstition plain and simple. As for the leaders in Gujarat, less said the better. To them, Nehru and Gandhi, who opposed superstition, even today are less important than the Sonia Gandhi family. They don’t even recall the great contribution of Nehru to promote scientific temper in India, including setting up major scientific institutions like ISRO.

Comments

Unknown said…
India on Way to become RSS Ideology Dominated HINDU RASHTRA. I am Babubhai Vaghela from Ahmedabad. Thanks.

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

World Bank proved right, Narmada is already a destructive project: Medha Patkar

By Rajiv Shah  Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar has said that the World Bank’s independent review mission, which brought out the Morse Commission report , has been proved right: The Sardar Sarovar dam has not only failed to live up to the loud promises made for irrigating large arid areas of Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat, those who were displaced and resettled in Gujarat are getting increasingly restive as many of them are unable to get the promised water for irrigation and some for drinking water too. While 50,000 families have been resettled in three states and 20,000 have received land rights as land or cash, the authorities have not calculated what should be done with 15,000 families, whose houses are acquired for Sardar Sarovar but following changing backwater levels of the Sardar Sarovar dam, they are denied rehabilitation, Patkar tells Counterview in an interview (part1*): *** Q: What is the latest position in your view as far as the Sardar Sarovar dam is concerned?

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Industries dumping effluents into Narmada, destroying Adivasis' organic farms: Medha

By Rajiv Shah  Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar believes that it is not just rehabilitation issues which nag the Sardar Sarovar dam affected people, especially Adivasis who have lived along the Narmada river for centuries.  The river water is now facing excessive sand mining, on one hand, and effluent discharge in Narmada and its tributaries, on the other, making people increasingly restive, Patkar tells Counterview in an interview (part 2*): *** Q: Apart from rehabilitation, which other issues, in your view, are affecting people living next to the Narmada river today? A: Since in 2019, when they filled up the dam to the full reservoir level, 138 metres, we notice, the river is going down and down and down... Q: Is it because of the climate change? A: Partly, but the main reason is illegal, unbound, unwanted sand mining. Just as Yamuna got finished, Narmada is following the same pattern. We won the case against illegal mining. There are also a number of judgments, like

Vadodara violence: Fine Arts Faculty alumni raise fingers at Varsity's political appointee

Hasmukh Vaghela with PM Counterview Desk  In a statement, alumni of the Faculty of Fine Arts (FoFA), Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU), Baroda, Gujarat, referring to the “violence” by right-wing groups for displaying “objectionable” paintings that “hurt religious sentiments” at the one of India’s top fine arts institute May 5, have taken strong exception to “the assault and rustication” of one of the students, and lack of action taken against those who “violated” the institution and committed the act. Floated as an online petition seeking wider support, the FoFA alumni, in their statement, addressed to the vice chancellor, MSU, said, there should be “thorough” investigation in the whole incident and “immediate action” should be taken against syndicate member Hasmukh Vaghela, MSU, who sparked the assault, and “other co-conspirators” for breaching “university code of conduct and unlawful activities committed in broad daylight”. While the alumni statement doesn't say so, Vaghela

Polygamy in India "down" in 45 yrs: Muslims' from 5.7 to 2.55%, Hindus' 5.8 to 1.77%, "common" in SCs, STs

By Rajiv Shah Amidst All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) justifying polygamy, saying it “meets social and moral needs and the provision for it stems from concern and sympathy for women”, facts suggest the the practice is down from 5.7 per cent of Muslim families in 1961 to 2.55 per cent in 2006.

Ukraine: Why Gandhi's thinking offers serious alternative to today's 'violent' civilization

By Prem Singh*  Splintered lies the ethics, In varying degrees Which both have bent The Pandavas less, the Kauravas more Oh, when will this bloodletting end …? – 'Andha Yug', Dharamveer Bharati. The Russia-Ukraine war shows no signs of ending. However, there continue to be constant statements, discussions, and write ups from leaders, diplomats, experts, officials, scholars and ordinary citizens on various aspects related to the war. Whatever the significance of this whole exercise in the discussion of the causes, implications, effects, consequences etc. of war, it has been if little help in exerting any positive influence. It seems that modern violent civilization doesn't appear to have many options, not only by politicians and diplomats, but also by various experts and scholars who have taken their stand on the war. It can also be said that that they do not perceive modern civilization as violent. The UN general secretary says that the Russia-Ukraine war is an absurdity, a

UK leader cites Indian farmers' struggle one of top global fights against neoliberal order

Counterview Desk  Jeremy Corbyn, member of the UK Parliament, former leader of the UK Labour Party and founder of the  Peace and Justice Project , in his  inaugural speech to the  Progressive International’s  Summit at the End of the World on May 12, 2022, has said, what is happening across globe suggests that "image of apocalypse -- bombs and raids, oil spills and wildfires, disease and contagion -- is a reality for people across the planet." In an adaptation of his speech, distributed by  Globetrotter , Corbyn, however, said, there are fresh examples action, too -- by Indian farmers forcing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw three neo-liberal laws;  by workers, communities and activists against the top giant multinational Amazon's "greed and exploitation"; and by Latin American people's struggle to say "no more to the domination by imperialism, the destruction of their communities and the abuse of their environments." Stating that this is n

This Maoist justified US, western Europe's anti-Soviet stance, even Bhindranwale

By Harsh Thakor*  A glaring example of the extent to which those seeking to identify themselves as revolutionaries can go in making odd compromises with those normally considered as “class enemies” in Marxist jargon is late Kondapalli Seetharamiah. Few know that this Maoist organiser two decades ago was so enamoured by the Chinese three worlds theory that he called for a united front with the United States and other western countries against what he considered Soviet social imperialism! This wasn’t the only “compromise” Seetharamiah made during his career as a revolutionary. On Punjab he took a most eclectical stand of supporting Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, thus soft-pedalling the terrorist Khalistani movement. Among his other opportunist alliances, about which few are aware of, include support to the Akalis in Punjab, on one hand, and the NTR Telugu Desam regime in Andhra Pradesh, on the other – all part of his anti-Congress thrust. Also known as KS, this Maoist started his career as

Custodial death of Muslim youth: Govt of India told to ratify UN convention on torture

Counterview Desk  Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), and national convenor, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), Hooghly, West Bengal, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has drawn to the custodial death of a Muslim youth following his torture in police custody after registering a "false case" based on manufactured records. Seeking "proper investigation" the whole incident, Roy in his plea insists, the incident legitimizes his organisations' long-standing demand "for immediate ratification of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment." Text : Here I want to draw your kind attention to one incident of custodial torture by the Deganga police personnel and the subsequent custodial death of one Muslim man from the Other Backward Class community in Dum Dum Central Correctional Home. The name o