The Blind-faith Surgeon: Dr. Narendra Dabholkar

By Prabhakar Timble
27 August 2013 06:06 IST

Swami Vivekananda confidently and persuasively held that a battalion of hundred empowered, rational and committed youth can make the world progressive and humanistic. If the Swami was alive, he would have got one in Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, the religious reformer and social activist who worked with passion to inculcate rational thinking and scientific temper amongst youth and more particularly with the purpose to emancipate rural women and underprivileged sections who have been victims of social corruption in the name of religion, outdated scriptures and regressive superstitions enforced in the surname of culture. The near atheist leanings of Dr. Dabholkar never came in the way of respecting love and freedom of religion of the Hindus or for that matter any community. His was a struggle and movement for freedom from superstition and blind faith, keeping the faith in religion intact and enhancing spiritualism. His onslaught was on Godmen, anti-social and anti-national elements who under the mask of spiritual leaders swindle the gullible through the tools of witchcraft, black magic, miracles and blind-faith healing. It was a pressure group to purify and clean faith as well as religion.

As always happens, the reformers and progressive forces are show-cased by fanatics and fundamentalist elements in “religious or cult” organizations as anti-religious. They are dubbed as pseudo-intellectuals, pseudo-secularists, pseudo-communists and their nationalism is questioned. Blind worshippers using social and electronic media and godmen shower the pseudo awards on those who work for social transformation.

Swami Vivekananda died at a very young age and was saved from these nomenclatures. The ideology of the organizations which are today in the forefront of singing the glory of the Swami is rooted in religious hatred, parochialism, discriminatory social practices and intolerance to rational dissent. Swami stood for harmony, tolerance and inter-faith dialogue. He dislodged the superiority of any religion and was critical of the rigidity of religion with all its superstitions.  The violent death of Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, ostensibly at the hands of hired assassins allegedly fuelled by the intolerant forces who are hungry to take charge of Hindus, Hinduism and Hindutva comes as the nation commemorates the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. These are the forces which use the disguise of Swami Vivekananda to execute and slaughter all that he preached and espoused. Similar forces amongst the Catholics are crucifying Jesus Christ by commercializing faith healing and making a mockery of scientific and modern medicine.

Full stop, no RIP

For Dr. Narendra Dabholkar death is a full stop.  There is no question of re-birth or the soul transcending to Heaven or cascading in Hell.  He practiced what he preached. His family will not immerse the ashes in the waters, otherwise considered holy by the Hindus. For his rationalist mind, it was pollution.  His wish of donating the body could not materialize due to the autopsy conducted on account of murder. A doctor, he adopted an anti-Vastu Shastra stand and built his house facing south, going against popular belief that it is an inauspicious direction for entrance. Leading a simple life, he campaigned against lavish marriages that showcased vulgar display of wealth in a society ridden with disparities.

The Sanathan Sanstha, the organization of Hindus who take pride in propagating, marketing and commercializing outdated tradition, glorifying regressive superstitions and spreading hatred by holding the value of intolerance described the assassination as God’s gift. “It’s God’s grace to die in a manner in which Dabholkar died. Instant death is better than dying of a prolonged illness or suffering from pain induced by surgical procedures.” Dr. Jayant Athavale expounded through Sanatan Prabhat, the mouthpiece of the organization.  This organization projects itself as the voice of Hindus and those who do not fall in line are condemned as anti-Hindus and even anti-national. The populist argument is that Catholics and Muslims are under spell of their fundamentalist forces and organizations and hence Hindus should also adopt the same road and lose their freedom and creativity to such fanatics.


Dr. Dabholkar’s contribution is monumental. There is no denying the fact that women are the worst victims of superstition in our country. They are also the main agents and conveyor belts of superstition. The mental slavery of the society manifests in many ways. Taking out auspicious dates and time, total surrender to the birth-sign as determining the future, futile attempts to influence the stars by wearing different gems and rings, sacrifices of animals to please the God and even consenting to human sacrifices, healing remedies based on blind-faith, miracles and black magic are playing havoc with the lives of youth and particularly the rural families. For many elite and the urban educated, superstition could be fun- time and fashion. For the less privileged it further results in social exploitation. It is form of social corruption where blind faith is used as a tool to exploit and to take the people to a fatalistic way of life. Dr. Dabholkar through his prolific writings, extensive interventions and the activities of the ‘Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti’ has successfully removed the chains of blind faith and superstition.

Dispelling darkness

Maharashtra has become the first state in India to bring in a law banning black magic, witchcraft and other superstitious practices, though belated and after the assassination of the man who led the fight against such blind faith.   The new law will ban inhuman practices, human sacrifice, rituals to enable sex selection by pregnant women, and all forms of acts known as “jaadu-tona” in common parlance. The remorse is not on the death of a great rationalist and humanist. The pain is more because of the new generation of youth fall easy prey to blind faith and superstition.  It hurts when teachers, educated professionals, men of science and letters hold the fort for superstition and argue it as golden tradition and national pride.

Dr. Narendra Dabholkar held high the flag of fundamental duties enshrined in the Indian Constitution. His constituency to a large extent was of rural women and the underprivileged sections of society. His agenda and manifesto was inculcating humanistic values, spirit of inquiry, reason and scientific temper. His resource was the preamble and spirit of the Indian Constitution, the teachings of Swami Vivekananda, works of Babasaheb Ambedkar, Jyotiba Phule and the egalitarian values enshrined in hymns of great saints. He embraced and stood by his religion to the last.

The point blank shootout at Pune where India lost the prized jewel has to be the work of the wicked and intolerant fanatics who consider the regressive, unscientific and discriminatory practices as “golden” conventions.

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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Consistent to the thoughts in this article, rational inquiry and scientific temper is the integral part of the Vedic religion. Yajurved mantra 19.77 is “All humans at all times should have passion only for adoption of truth and rejection of falsehood. This should be a continuous process and one should keep detaching faith from what one discovers to be false and keep attaching faith to what one discovers to be true based on analysis, logic, facts and evidence.” Moreover, Adi Shankar while defining ‘Manan’ asserted that “Wisdom cannot be obtained by any other means other than inquiry. Without it faith will degenerate into credulity.” As such, any efforts to stop the logical inquiry is against the Vedas or the Vedantic traditions. The self-proclaimed Ayatollahs of Hinduism are acting against the core tenets of the Vedic religion which they claim to represent.

- Chetan Prabhu Desai, Paingin/ Toronto | 28 th August 2013 04:27


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