Some cocktails just don’t cut it

Dear Darth Vaadhiar,

I am a fan of cocktails, and in the past, have experimented with some fairly interesting concoctions, and had it not been for my aversion towards all forms of intellectual property protection mechanisms, I would most certainly have patented my original creations. For instance,

  • Anthim Sanskaar – Beer, Mango pickle and Vodka shaken while Nirvikalpa’s Anthim Sanskaar plays in the background.
  • Raam Naam Sathya hai – Bacardi, Sprite, Passion fruit juice and 2 mysterious ingredients (determined by closing ones eyes and picking 2 random liquids from the fridge)
  • Kovil Theertham – Vodka, Sprite, Spinach juice and Vibhuti

were some of my popular creations a few years back. But, while these unseemly mixtures might make you pause for breath (no offense meant), I would like to lodge a formal protest at the unholy cocktail you and your gang have been peddling for quite a while now. I can tolerate vodka with Nannari Sharbat, Bacardi with Paanagam and Whisky with Rasna, but Religion with Science?

No way.

They don’t mix. Not even when you stir, shake, blend or make them collide here. So when you start bolstering religious superstition (like Vaastu, Astrology, Numerology, Gemmology and assorted Homams for getting US Visas) with pseudo-scientific jargon (such as radiation from Saturn, astral alignment, Cosmic vibrations, crystal vibrations and positive energy), you are doing not just grave, but electric cemetery disservice to science. Let me explain.

For the sake of clarity, religion here is referred to in terms of its visible effects on culture (superstition, ignorance, violence, caste), and not what it was meant to be ( Upanishadic wisdom, Kabbala or Sufi mysticism)

All religions went through the following three phases

1. There ain’t no science, so I am the boss. Believe in me or I shall poke you with sharp objects. Till you say “Ouch”.
2. Science, wtf? It can’t explain the true nature of the universe.
3. Damn it I’m losing revenue. People seem to be trusting science more now. So let’s co-opt it, and rebrand our offerings.

It’s phase 3 that I have a problem with. The expression “scientifically proven” is not something one can use lightly. Let me give you some specific examples

1. Mahabharatha and Advanced Nuclear Warfare – I love that epic, and to many people in this country, it is a religious artifact that is worshipped. But please, stop hinting that the Brahmastra was actually a nuclear weapon. It is embarrassing. There is a lot of history Indians can be proud of, the magnificent art, the beautiful music and the creative poetry and prose, and even the “zero”, but we did not invent nuclear bombs. So when you say that “It has now been scientifically proven that nuclear bombs were used at Kurukshetra”, you are actually saying that some accredited scientists found physical proof (such as radiation levels in that area, design blueprints for the Brahmastra, human remains that suggest effects of radiation, or Krishna’s personal, hand-held, wifi-enabled Geiger counter) and published these findings in a peer-reviewed journal. The last time I searched Nature.com for “Brahmastra nuclear missile“, I found zero results.

2. Astrology and “Radiation from planets” – I am fine with the hobby of Astrology as long as it remains a hobby and does not mess with people’s lives. But unfortunately it does, and what bothers me is the increasing throwing around of astronomical terms to “justify” astrology. The planet Saturn is (at the minimum) 1.2 billion km from earth, and as a source of “radiation”, I suspect we get more radiation from our television sets than from this ringed gas giant. Here is a list of known “radiation” sources on earth, so I propose that you alter the structure of horoscopes to include these “scientific” facts.

I currently suffer from the malefic influence of 7 and a half-year TV, and had cosmic background radiation been exalted in Aquarius, mine would have been a raja-yoga horoscope.

3. Eclipses and “Atmospheric Pollution” – Fasting in general is a bad idea. Fasting on days of eclipses is therefore also a bad idea. A renowned Sanskrit (not Science) scholar once claimed, that “scientifically speaking”, a solar eclipse results in a polluted atmosphere, and therefore people must fast. If atmospheric pollution was enough cause for skipping food, we would all have starved to death by now. In any case, how does the sun “clean” the atmosphere? I can understand that the moon can (because it causes Tide, which in turn is a detergent).

You get my point? If you have to use science to sell your ideas, you have to be ready to subject them to real scientific scrutiny. Until that happens, please do not mix methyl-alcohol laced religious bootleg sarakku with scientific champagne.

ps: Darth Vaadhiar is a caricature, and therefore, really a straw-man. Readers are requested not to consider this a well-informed tirade against religion.