Op-Ed: Only Scientific Temperament Can Guarantee The End Of Superstition

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: There has been yet another incident of a black magician trying to revive a dead body at a government-run hospital in the state. The latest report has come from Bhawanipatna, the district headquarter town of tribal-dominated Kalahandi.

The family members of one Satish Gopal of Dumerimunda village from Kalahandi’s Kesinga area had rushed him to Bhawanipatna after he was bitten by a venomous snake. The doctors at the hospital declared him dead and the body was sent to the morgue for post-mortem.

Gopal’s family called a sorcerer to the hospital and allegedly got the morgue opened without the permission of the authorities in a bid to infuse life into the dead man. Though police later reached the spot and got the morgue closed the father of the deceased remained unapologetic about what had happened. “ We have faith in God. If he wants our son will come alive,” was his assertion justifying the family’s attempt at seeking the help of a black magician.

The sorcerer himself was quite brazen about what he did and reported claimed to have used his powers successfully in such cases in the past. The incident once again demonstrated the kind of hold these practitioners of the occult have on the popular psyche in the far flung rural areas of the state.

The big question is what makes people trust black magicians and sorcerers more than doctors? The most probable reasons appear to be lack of education and desperation caused by circumstances. In the present case, for example, the death of his son might have blinded Gopal’s father to all reason and made him put his trust in the powers of a black magician in the vain hope that the deceased could actually be brought back to life.

Illiteracy in the tribal-dominated areas has a big role to play in fostering superstitions. The state government is no less to blame as it has not only failed to create awareness among people against such beliefs but also made them dependent on quacks and black magicians with doctors playing truant in government hospitals on a regular basis. Had it been able to create a trustworthy healthcare system poor people in the state’s tribal hinterland would not be seeking the services of half educated, unregistered medical practitioners on a regular basis and turning to ‘disaris’ and ‘ojhas’ for help in case of dire need.

But why blame only illiterate tribals when even well educated people in our society nurture superstitious beliefs, many of these being justified in the name of religion. There seems to be something fundamentally wrong with our education system which has failed to foster the right kind of scientific temperament which alone can guarantee rational behaviour.

The foundation of this kind of education has to be laid at home with parents inculcating the habit of scientific thinking among children. Superstitious myths, many of which appeal to the young minds rather easily, should be debunked at home by parents and elders quite firmly. Only then can we hope of evolving a society with a scientific temperament and putting quacks and black magicians out of work.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)