Brahmins are loathed across India for their touchability rules. But what if their belief was based on pure science (uh, alternate science)?? I’m not trying to defend Brahmins here, but since I’m a science fanatic I wanted to put forth an argument. Again, I’m NOT talking about “religion” in whatever meaning you perceive of the word.
Let me start with human emotions. Over the period of my life I’ve come to believe that human emotions are packed with power. When we are angry or scared, we can do things which are physically impossible for us in normal circumstances. Now since Power can be transformed from one form to another, emotional power ‘could be’ harnessed physically (scared – we run faster than we normally could; angry – we throw things much heavier than we could normally even lift).
And yet, imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon an article which claimed:
“Only a few years ago, the Chinese discovered some Sanskrit documents in Lhasa, Tibet and sent them to the University of Chandrigarh, India to be translated. Dr. Ruth Reyna of the University said recently that the documents contain directions for building interstellar spaceships.
Their method of propulsion, she said, was ‘anti-gravitational’ and was based upon a system analogous to that of ‘laghima’ (the unknown power of EGO existing in man’s physiological makeup), which is ‘a centrifugal force strong enough to counteract all gravitational pull.’ According to Hindu Yogis, it is this ‘laghima’ which enables a person to levitate.”
However, fear, anger, ego… all these are negative emotions… only love & hope are the positive emotions that have such high power. Now that we’ve established that emotions contain power, we’ll see how our emotions could ‘affect’ other people.
A question to all those who cook regularly: Do you think the food you prepare with a bad mood isn’t tasty? …As a child, I’d heard this story multiple times that there was once a sadhu who stopped for a meal in someone’s house. Though the family was happy to receive him, their cook was in a bad mood that day. While coming to work, he had found out that a man was coaxing his wife to elope with him. The cook was so angry, he wanted to kill that guy, but didn’t want to forego his duty as well. So with this cruel intention in mind, he cooked the meal. But as soon as the sadhu finished eating, he had an irresistible urge to go kill that man in question. Did the cook’s emotions get transferred to the sadhu by way of food? You could probably find the truth about this by observing your family after they eat the meal prepared by you… Do they gradually become irritated through the day if you’d prepared a meal with similar emotions?
We also know that a smile is contagious, but so is irritation. Imagine the effect of one irritated person on a room full of people. I don’t even have to get into how fear spreads.
In India, many people (including Brahmins), soon after taking bath, chant mantras while doing Puja. Puja is their way of connecting with God – the higher power with pure bliss. A majority of them don’t talk or touch anyone until their Puja is over. When asked the reason, they’ll say, “because it is ‘said’ so,” or “because that’s the way it is,” or something that doesn’t answer the question scientifically. The fact is, they follow these rules only because it is so written in the ancient Indian scriptures. This is the exact reason why most youngsters don’t believe in following these cumbersome rules, because the scriptures only mention the “procedure”, not the “reason why the procedure came into practice”. And even if some scriptures do mention the reasons, those reasons haven’t been passed through generations by word-of-mouth, as it has been done in the past thousands of years in India.
Example: If you’re an Indian, you would know that our elders have always told us not to sweep the house after sunset or never to cut nails after sunset. Ever wondered why? Probably you have. But here’s a plausible (logical) reason to this “rule”: (i) Electricity wasn’t invented/available in ancient times, so after sunset if you cut your nails, the fallen bits could hurt someone walking in the dark. (ii) If you’d accidentally dropped something valuable (like a gold ring) in the house and if you sweep in the dark, you could throw it out along with the garbage without seeing it. Hence, no sweeping after dark.
There are many such examples which make perfect logical sense, only if we know the reason behind such rules/procedures.
But what if this procedure of not talking or touching anyone till the Puja was over, was to avoid contamination of ‘holy thoughts’ by way of touching/hearing? Even eating for that matter! Many people, till date, don’t even eat anything until the Puja is over, or till they’ve visited a temple. You see, Puja is considered similar to meditation, only more pure. You have to sincerely think about and feel for God, nothing else. As we try and block out any distractions while studying for exams, so would be the “procedure” to block out any emotional/spiritual distractions while doing Puja. Someone’s negative feelings shouldn’t interfere with our pure emotions towards God.
Until the last generation, people also used to make an untouchable out of a lady for those 3/4 special days of the month… hell, I personally have been treated this way once. I still remember how embarrassed and disgusted I felt that day. But keeping the emotions aside for awhile, and thinking purely on scientific explanation about this “procedure”, could it be because the lady has troubled/unhappy thoughts during those days? Let’s be honest, with all the modern day privileges, we still can’t shake that feeling of unease or unhappiness, can we? Ladies experience emotional spikes during those days, don’t they? Those who believe in supernatural phenomenon also believe that the possibility of having a supernatural encounter is higher during childhood, adolescence, monthly periods, and pregnancies. Can you tell what’s common between all these phases? — People during these phases don’t have emotional control over themselves. And hence, ‘something else’ can control/overpower them.
Anyways, my maid is a non-Brahmin, but she is spiritually enlightened towards one particular goddess, or so she claims. But as a result, she claims that if she consumes anything prepared by a lady having monthly periods, her body doesn’t accept the food consumed. She either throws up, or suffers from an upset stomach. This was absolutely far fetched for me and so, I made plans to trick her. So this one time, I offered her a steaming cup of tea without letting her know that I had my periods going. Surprisingly, she threw up soon after! Surprising, because that day she looked very happy and fit – she had had her breakfast, had proper sleep, didn’t have any acidity or other health problems which would cause vomiting. And though she didn’t suspect any foul play on my part, I decided to behave going forward.
Then again, probably Brahmins took this “procedure” for a “rule”, and overdid it without giving any reasons to those who were subjected to untouchability. Maybe some of those Brahmins didn’t know the reasons themselves. But what they failed to realize while practicing these procedures was that it was creating a lot of negative emotions in the hearts of the ‘subjects’ of these rules.
There’s another story, which I’ve heard over the years, which may probably shed some light from a different angle: Long ago, in a small village somewhere, a villager/s did something wrong and God became angry. As a result, the village suffered from famine and misfortune. The elders in the village suggested everybody to pray. With so many prayers, God became considerate again. He appeared in the village-head’s dream, and instructed that if the villagers offer milk enough to fill the courtyard of the village temple, God will make everything right again. The news spread like wildfire, and every household brought loads of milk to fill the courtyard. But no matter how much milk was poured, the courtyard was still half empty. So, the village head instructed everyone to bring even that milk which was meant for kids and the calves. Every single drop was to be utilized for the benefit of the village. The villagers complied, and yet, the courtyard couldn’t be filled. Now there was only one household left which was yet to offer milk, and the villagers became disheartened. On top of this, the lady brought only one cup of milk. The village head shouted irritably, “Didn’t I clearly instruct everyone to bring ALL the milk they had in the house? Why did you bring only one cup?” The lady answered, “How could I keep my kids and the calf hungry?” Realizing that the remaining milk had already been consumed, she was allowed to offer whatever she brought. But lo behold! As soon as the cup was emptied in the courtyard, the milk tipped over the edge. Everyone was surprised – the courtyard which was only half-filled till now, tipped over with just one cup of milk? Then God spoke so everyone could hear his voice clearly: “I didn’t want anything for myself. What was I going to do with so much of milk? All I really needed, was for you to care about each other and be happy & satisfied.”
Maybe, while following the procedures mentioned in the scriptures, care should have been taken to not hurt anybody. And then again, history is being repeated with the ‘reservation and quota system’ being implemented in India today. Maybe we didn’t learn anything about discrimination after all.
- The Caste System: The Hindu’s imaginary Achilles’ heel – George Augustine (bharatabharati.wordpress.com)
- Asian groups keep cultures alive (toledoblade.com)
- Why have the Brahmins become a miserable lot in modern India?