faith /feɪθ/ noun
- complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
- 2.strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof.
the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.
Note: The underlined texts have references and video links added to them.
Part 1: The What
Recently, I came across a video titled “Temple Mechanics vs. Modern Science”.
Usually, whenever I come across such a video I roll my eyes and go to the next one. But since this video has been raking hundreds of thousands of views and is being shared left right and center on social media platforms I couldn’t sit it out.
This video purportedly explains the science and mechanics of the temples and claims to have found the relation between the chants and the architecture of the temple. There are many instances of name-calling and virtue signalling which I am not going to delve into but rather focus just on the veracity of these “scientific” claims.
Claim: “72 percent of your body is water twelve percent is earth six percent is air four percent is fire and the remaining is space don’t you think this sound has an impact on your system look at how drastically the water is responding to the sound similarly fire”
Wait! What? Our body is made of earth and fire?
Except for the part about water, none of the rest is true. The belief that the human body is made up of five elements, Pancha Bhoota, does not hold any water in actual science for a simple reason, none of the ‘elements’ except water is a molecule. And Pancha Bhoota, for what its worth should only be used in the realm of spirituality and philosophy but not in science. The guy with a straight face tried to pass it off as a fact as if the entire science community has accepted it and then proceeds to explain the “science” behind it.
Claim: “in fact, everything in the cosmos responds to the sounds that’s why yogis of the past have always said sound is the basis of existence”
No, you lack wit oaf, Cosmos is mostly space i.e. vacuum, sound is a form of energy that only propagates in the presence of a medium. Space has none. All the planets, stars and galaxies form only a tiny percent of the entire universe. On a cosmic level sound as an energy is inconsequential.
Claim: “every form is a certain reverberation of sound”
The title of this video, ‘Temple Mechanics vs. Modern Science’ when spelled backwards says, ecneisc nredom sv. scinahcem elpmet, which doesn’t make any sense just like his statement. Eloquent gibberish.
Claim: “if you master the sound you can play with the five elements that’s how the sages of the past used to walk on water disappear into the air, walk through the walls etc”
This is what happens when you watch one too many videos of Nithyananda. Taking myths quite literally.
Claim: “in harry potter movie what you have seen is just a fiction story but here we’ve got yogis who did all that for real even though there are many mystics who can do these things”
Oh, the irony! “Harry Potter is not real pfft, no one has even seen flying cars, invisible cloaks or magic wands in real life, there’s no proof, it’s just a damn story. But the myths are real and yogis in the Himalayas can walk on water. They are true, I’ve read it in a book”
Claim: “not just them you and I can do it if we attain certain mastery over the sound you need a perception beyond the senses to do that for that you need to do a different level of sadhana”
I love how he mentions that anyone could do it and immediately says you need a perception beyond the senses. A roundabout way of saying “you can’t do it”. The mental gymnastics these pseudo-scientific peddlers perform to avoid critical thinking is baffling.
Claim: “you can’t do that in a laboratory through some dumb experiment all those who tried either ended up neurotic or died in utter failure wasted a lot of money in the research”
Remember this gem of a statement. In his ensuing remarks, he’s going to contradict himself.
Claim: “inside the temple… they chant Vishnu sahasranama in the morning which will have different impacts on the human system…I went to a neurosurgeon to really ‘experiment’ and ‘document’ the impact of these sounds on the human brain the human system. I took my friend for the EEG test where you can see the brain activity the activity of the nervous system of a person on a computer we played Lalitha Sahasranama to him’
He should have listened to his advice. Anyway, it’s a sin to call the mambo jumbo he does at the hospital an experiment. He shows us a shot of the monitor reading and concludes that it had an effect. What’s the effect, how is it unique and what is the sample size of this study. Anyone can go to a diagnostic centre and ask for an EEG.
Claim: “the kind of parasynthetic differences that he’s getting is anonymous oh my god”
I remember saying eloquent gibberish. I take it back, this is just gibberish. The easiest way to legitimize a pseudo-scientific idea is by saying it in English with a hint of corrupted scientific terms and words which you don’t know the meaning of and viola, you created a new science.
Claim: “then I understood these sounds are engineered in such a way that the rhythm of the chant will go inside your parasynthetic nervous system and will put you into a deep sleep within three to five minutes”
So the point of Lalitha Sahasranama is to put you to sleep? The Vaag Devis would bang their heads if they were to listen to the nonsense that is being spouted by this semi-literate in the name of science.
True, Lalitha and Vishnu Sahasranama are very old. Each name eulogizes the countless attributes of the deity. The chants are rhythmic and are recited loudly. The reason for doing them the way they are doing is, the words in Vedic verses, particularly the ones which were transmitted orally, were either meticulously joined with sandhi (a property of classical of poetry) or split into accented words to form padapāṭha(I might be wrong about padapatha). This is mainly done because oral texts are prone to corruption and exaggeration with time, so a great emphasis is put on Uchharana, the pronunciation.
The reason why they do it is simple, belief.
Claim: “will your doctors treat you for free but these temples are doing it for free for ages”
I wonder whether he’s going to take the vaccine or not. On a lighter note, I don’t think God does anything for free either, you need to pamper him with chants and pledge him your eternal subservience.
Claim: “temple design is such the energy waves reverberated by the gopuram will pass straight and touch the antenna kind of arrangement here and stored in the energy format people are supposed to touch it a lot of people touch their heads without knowing why they are doing it and then you are supposed to walk into the space which is filled with this energy transmitted by the rock inside”
I roll my eyes whenever he says “Temple design” and “Stone Idols” as if there is only one design that is universally followed. There are various designs for non-tantric, animistic feminine deities. But primarily Hindu temples are divided into two types Alaya and Mandir
Mandirs are prayer halls which you find in North India which are constructed in accordance with Vastu Shastra, the architect has the freedom to tweak the architecture. The idols are sculpted out of wood or stone and are painted with colours, to put it plainly they are left to the imagination of the sculptor. Devotees can touch the idols, perform the rituals. The priest plays a nominal role and worship is mostly communal which involves Bhajans.
Devalaya are temples that are constructed in strict accordance with Agama. There are precise rules and regulations for the architecture and no deviation is allowed. The idols should be carved from black granite, the rituals should be only performed by the priests and devotees aren’t allowed into the sanctum sanctorum and the defining feature of a Devalaya is a dhvaja stambha, a flag pole.
In a philosophical sense (not mine but according to the scriptures), the human body is a temple of god, Antaryami. So a temple resembles a human body, with the head at garbha griha, the sanctum sanctorum and foot at Gopuram, the spire.
Claim: “this design is not there in a mosque or a church not just church and mosque any sort of engineering on the planet cannot beat the engineering of a temple it’s incomparable”
..says every typical zealot ever. My god is the most powerful, my religion is the best religion and my superstitions are better superstitions ermm.. science.
Claim: “Modern science is still in infancy when compared to the science and technology used in temple construction I am sure you watch praveen mohan’s channel he has done a mind-blowing work on temples”
Great minds think alike. Praveen Mohan, an equally if not more, insufferable fool.
Claim: “what was taught in schools and universities in the name of science is a ridiculous crap”
Says unironically looking at a camera, copies the raw footage to a Hard Drive, and edits it using software, and then uploads it on to the internet and still dares to call science ridiculous crap. Your inability to understand science is not a valid argument against it.
Claim: “sadguru is the living example of a mystic who consecrated dhyanalinga”
Speaking of mystics who can walk on water and disappear in thin air, did Sadguru ever grace us with such a performance? Sadguru who should be called Jaggi Vasudev, neither speaks Satya nor is he a Guru. He’s a charlatan who spouts woo-woo and pseudo-scientific jargon and passes them off as mainstream science.
Claim: “there are temples to solve every damn problem those problems which your doctors cannot solve your psychological imbalances bipolar neurotic whatever..cosmos download the energies from various places of the galaxies are now in such a horrible condition idiots have no idea”
This video stands as a testimony of what happens when you are suffering from a neurotic disease but you refuse to go to a doctor and instead make videos on youtube.
Opinion: “why can we all keep the fights aside and unite for the cause free temples from government control don’t think your gods will come and save the temples”
This is the point on which he should have put all his effort(although he hasn’t put any). People of his ilk need to be taught the definition of belief, an acceptance of a thought without any proof. A temple or a belief, as long as it’s not hurting others, does not require approval or acceptance of science for it to be followed. A simple act of applying vermilion on the forehead doesn’t require fantastical claims like UV rays, third eye and sixth sense.
As a wise man once said, some ignore the errors of their Holy Books and accept science and others disregard science and accept the Book. Some try the middle way and attempt all kinds of fantastic and astonishing methods of interpretation to try to reconcile revelation and science.
P.S. Personally I do not buy his argument on temple control. Most people assume temples under government control is wrong. True many temples are in a sorry state but government control is the reason why temples aren’t discriminating against the people of lower castes. Temples which were once under the control of private individuals were responsible for rampant discrimination. But that is not the case today. A Dalit is equally welcome in the sanctum as a Brahmin or a Kshatriya.
Now for the people who argue “but the churches and mosques aren’t under the control of the government”. True, but unfortunately the caste system is unique to Hinduism and this write up is on Hinduism.
Oh, you’re still reading! Thank you.
Brump, Ping Pong and Lodi walk into a bar. Brump says my country is so great, when we dug 100m we found telegraph lines which means my ancestors had telegraph technology. Ping Pong says, our country is so great, when we dug 500m we found Optical Fiber cables which means my ancestors had the internet. Lodi says my country is so great, when we dug 1000m we didn’t find anything which means my ancestors had wireless technology.
Part 2: The Why
A typical pseudo-science peddler is usually someone, who has a basic understanding of science, who is neck deep into religious literalism and most importantly someone who can speak good English, because someone who speaks English surely knows what he’s talking, right?
Take Jaggi Vasudev for example,
Knows a thing or two about basic science- check.
Neck deep into literal interpretation of religious scriptures- check.
Who can speak good English- check check check.
Let’s go through one of his claims.
This claim was made in response to the question “why water of the river Ganga is considered sacred”.
Any man who has a basic understanding of history knows that rivers are the backbone of a civilization. Rivers act as a water source to grow crops. When Hunter-gatherers realized this they became farmers which led to a sedentary lifestyle which in turn paved the way for civilization. So rivers are considered sacred in all civilizations. Nile for the Egyptians, Yangtze for the Chinese, Indus and Ganga for the Indians.
But no, it is too simple an explanation for Jaggi.
“Surely the water has some magical properties. Surely cultural beliefs aren’t just beliefs. Surely my religion is superior to others and hence there needs to be some science behind such a belief. Now watch me science the heck out of it.”
“Water has memory”
Classic case of working backwards. This is neither, reason leading to conclusion nor conclusion tracing back it’s reason, it is conclusion making its own unreasonable “reason”. You have a belief which does not have any scientific reason behind it so you create your own science and try to legitimize it by throwing in some experiments by a crackpot as references.
If you think I am nitpicking here are a bunch.
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(A Quora user Raziman TV debunked most of his pseudo-scientific claims, before you say he’s a Muslim, he’s motivated, he criticizes Zakir Naik and Quran just as much)
But there is a study and people have conducted experiments.
The sad part is, these claims are shared left right and center on social media. Even though these claims go against our intuition and basic understanding of science we tend to believe them in the name of a ‘‘scientific study’’ posted as a reference. Remember, just because a scientist conducted an experiment and published his studies doesn’t mean it is a legitimate Theory. Samuel Birley Rowbotham, an English inventor ran an experiment and claimed to have proved the earth to be flat. He even published a book detailing his procedure and findings and offered a wager to prove him wrong. Alfred Russel Wallace (who conceived the theory of evolution independently and unbeknownst to Charles Darwin) accepted the wager and proved him wrong. Although Rowbotham was reluctant to accept it.
A study doesn’t become legitimate just because there is an experiment to support it. Only when the study is peer-reviewed and only after the experiment, even on multiple iterations, yields similar results, does it become a legitimate Theory.
What gives science the authority. Who put scientists in charge of facts.
No one, for science is not a certifying agency which puts a stamp on everything there is. Nor is science a shadow government which is trying to control the narrative. Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe. Science unlike religion is not a codified doctrine, it is an evolving enterprise.
And a scientist is not a twice-born. He is not virtuous just because he’s a scientist. Scientists, just like any other human, are motivated by their own agendas and studies are prone to errors. That is why science puts a great emphasis on scrutiny. This becomes apparent when you watch a science conference, when a scientist is presenting his study, people in the audience who are also scientists are waiting there like vultures trying to end his career. A scientist is cautious of every word he utters and every term he refers, not because of virtue but because of vultures.
This level of caution is not observed by people like Jaggi or Ramdev. They are loose cannons who take zero accountability.
Surely there is advanced science in scriptures. Surely people of the past ‘figured it all out’ how else could you explain temple architecture. Modern science can’t build a structure like Pyramids.
We built an 800m tall building, created artificial islands, raised bridges across seas, put a rover on mars, how hard is it to build a pyramid for there is no alien technology involved. All it takes is thousands of tons of rock, sledges, subservient slaves and pretentious monarch who refuses to adjust in a 6*3 coffin. We are not building a pyramid because it doesn’t serve any purpose, not because we can’t.
People find it very hard to believe that books written by bronze age people who had very limited knowledge of science and who had limited access to resources were wrong about topics like geology, chemistry, astronomy and physics. After all, How else could you study stars without a telescope?
Some ignore the errors of their Holy Books and accept science. Acknowledging errors in the face of reason is not blasphemy, at least in Hinduism. Aryabhatta would have been content with the flat disc model of earth had he not embraced reason. He didn’t contend himself and hence bhu-mandala became bhu-gola.
And others disregard science and accept the Book. Although they are a minority.
But, Some try the middle way and attempt all kinds of fantastic and astonishing methods of interpretation to try to reconcile revelation and science. They are not idiots who are misled by lies and who would change in the face of facts. They are people who cannot influence others based on their intellect, but when they embrace ideas like Water memory, temple technology or Flat earth or creationism suddenly they become part of a bubble where group-think is encouraged and critical thinking is frowned upon. In the real world they’d be ridiculed but in the group they will be revered. Their fragile ego would not allow them to accept the obvious no matter how overwhelming the evidence is against them. Defending this bubble gives them a purpose. They’d go to any length to defend this bubble. Like that WhatsApp uncle who’d call you bookish when you call out his Nonsense. Like that aunty who wouldn’t shut up about “science” behind patriarchy and caste system. Or like a certain bearded old man who has millions of devotees, who enlightened us with the connection between cloud technology and RADAR.
When this sort of ignorance is allied (or sponsored) with religion, the fundamentalists, the people who benefit from the status quo, the soft-core religious people, the people who are just short of a push, get swayed. And in any movement as numbers dictate the “truth”, woo-woo like this becomes mainstream science. Any criticism against the group becomes criticism against every individual’s very existence, against his ego. Here he is not defending the movement, he is defending his ego “Since I like Sadguru, any criticism against him or his movement is a criticism against me”.
Be wary of such people. Never allow them to get into a position of power. As James Bladwin famously said, “Ignorance allied with power is most ferocious enemy justice can have”.
But what about free speech?
You have the right to opinions but you do not have the right to facts. Sure, you have every right to believe that the earth is flat, sure you have every right to believe that water has memory, just don’t cry hoarse when people call out your stupidity.
But this is all wishful thinking as long we have scientific illiterates, like, a HRD minister who believes evolution is false as none of our ancestors have ever seen an ape turning into a man, an MP who claims Cow Urine to have had cured her cancer, a certain baba clad in saffron who claimed to have invented vaccine for COVID, in position of power we can only chant GO CORONA GO and pray to be alive to see the sun rise the next day.
“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities” -Voltaire