Light a diya of reason, not superstition (By Ashwin Tombat)

By Ashwin Tombat
05 April 2020 10:35 IST

At 9am on Ram Navami – the ninth day of the lunar month of Chaitra – in a nine-minute recorded video, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged people to gather on Sunday 5 April at 9 pm and show they were together in the fight against corona virus. "We will challenge the darkness together. At 9 pm, turn off all the lights in your houses and light a diya, candle, torch or the flashlight on your mobile phone for 9 minutes at your door, or balcony," Mr Modi said. This, he emphasised, would send out a message that no one among 130 crore Indians was alone in the fight against this deadly infection.

This cryptic series of ‘nines’ has given rise to a host of ‘explanations’ of the Prime Minister’s appeal.

The Pseudo-Scientific Explanation
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal to light diyas, torches and candles is related to Chapter 6 of the Yoga Vasishta,” said Dr K K Agarwal, Padma Shree awardee and former chairman of the Indian Medical Association (IMA). In a viral video, he talked of the “principle of ‘collective consciousness’, in which 95 per cent of people follow what 5 per cent of people think and do”.

Claiming that his theory was based on concepts of quantum physics, Dr Agarwal said: “If all of us collectively make a decision to not let corona virus stay on the ACE-2 receptors of the cells in our bodies, then the collective consciousness will make sure it happens.”

Dr Aggarwal has put a lot of random words together that ‘collectively’ mean nothing. Consciousness – collective or individual – cannot stop the corona virus. As yet, it has no cure or vaccine. Only physical distancing can stop it. The Prime Minister himself has said so.

Dr Aggarwal should be prosecuted under Section 188 IPC for spreading fake news about the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Astrological Explanation
The reason for choosing 9pm and 9 minutes is to initiate the double effect of Mars (Mangal), which leads to higher immunity and can help overcome hurdles,” said astrologer Dr Jai Madaan in a video. She added, “On 5 April the moon is in Leo, the sun sign that relates to light and power. Diyas and mantras together form light and sound energy, which is an amazing combination.” Dr Madaan suggests not to use electronic energy, which gives rise to Rahu.

Astrology says that heavenly objects influence events on Earth. But being of ancient origin, it includes only those objects that can be seen by the unaided human eye. The planets Uranus and Neptune – both not visible to the human eye – do not feature in astrological calculations. Nor do millions of unseen galaxies. Even by its own definitions, astrology cannot be accurate since it misses out so many heavenly bodies.

The Numerological Explanation
Numerologist Nitin Gupta said that the spread of the virus happened due to the transit of Rahu. “The number for Rahu is four and it’s right now travelling in the Budh Rashi. The number for Budh (Mercury) is five,” he explained. “April 5 is the only date in the month that gives the combination of both numbers. If you add the number of the year, 2020, it also comes to be four…”

Numerology exclusively uses the base-10 system of numbers. Today it’s the dominant system of counting, but it isn't the only system, or even the oldest. Computers use the binary system, which has only ‘0’ and ‘1’. Indigenous tribes counted in pairs. Some societies used base-12, or base-60, which we still use to tell time.

The year 2020 is of the Christian era. It’s also Saka (Hindu) year 1941 or Hijri (Islamic) year 1441. Where does that leave numerology? Numbers are just tools invented by humans; they can’t affect life.

And finally…

The Political Explanation
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), India’s ruling party, was founded on 6 April 1980. On 5 April 2020, it completes 40 years. The ‘diya jalao’ directive is actually to celebrate this landmark, and the Covid-19 lockdown is only an excuse.

I am sure you can guess where this particular explanation comes from.

It was disappointing that the Prime Minister chose to make a purely symbolic gesture when, after losing their livelihoods, lakhs of migrant workers on daily wages are either walking hundreds of kilometres to their villages or are virtually imprisoned by the authorities at temporary camps in stadiums, schools or railway stations. There was no provision to lighten their pain or ease their financial anxieties.

If you choose to light a diya today, let science and not superstition be your guide. May it be a light of reason. Remember, the war against this virus can only be won by physical distancing; the PM himself has said so.

Blogger's Profile

Ashwin Tombat

Ashwin Tombat has been the Editor of Gomantak Times and Herald. Worked as an Associate Editor of national magazine Gentleman in Mumbai, before shifting to Goa. Loves sailing, also participates in Marathons. Has worked as an activist in students's union and trade unions in Maharashtra. Also an artist of Street Theatre during student days.

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Previous Comments

Mr. Tombat has studied the issue well. But as usual nothing comes positive from his article. Finally he comes to the real issue which says BJP doing this to celebrate (?).

I would have been happy in the same manner he had to study why thousands of Tablighis were kept in masjid after lockdown, why they all went to different masjid all over India, what is their motive, why they misbehaving in hospitals.

Also so many good things are happening around regarding controlling of covid in India. There is so much.

It's pity that a talented journalist wasting his energy only opposing Modis ideas and policies

- Sudesh Prabhudesai , Margao | 05 th April 2020 07:25

 

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