What will the World Think of India?

The panel discussions in the English news channels in India are amazing. It keeps amazing me how panelists manage to reply at length to a straight forward question without giving an answer. Usually, the anchor shifts his position, asking the questions that would make the person targeted most uncomfortable. However, on 18th October 2013, the anchors of both Times Now and Headlines Today did not shift their position. They took a clear stand on whether there is merit in following up on the dream of a ‘Baba’. The stand was: definitely not!

Usually anchors talk a lot, but on this occasion they were truly fired up, almost hysterically laughing and shouting. Their verdict was that it is absolutely ridiculous, even outrageous, to dig for gold because a ‘Baba’ had a dream that there are tons of gold hidden under the earth in the old fort at Dondia Khera village. It was an irresponsible waste of tax payers’ money. The way they pronounced ‘Baba’ brought up the typical portrayal of Babas in Bollywood movies – vile and evil with a big red tilak on their forehead. Even a sane question from a panelist about the track record of the Baba regarding other prophecies was at first acknowledged as valid, then however the laughter resumed.

“What will the world think of us?” they asked and came to the conclusion, “We will be a laughing stock in the eyes of the world.” They reminded the viewers that the founding fathers of the nation wanted Indians to develop a scientific temper and here we go again – back to superstition. They made however one point clear: they, the anchors and several of their guests, do not belong to these superstitious Indians. The world should take note. There are progressive Indians in India, but unfortunately, the masses still have a long way to go to reach their level.

In their zeal to be seen as persons with scientific temper they overlooked a few points. Scientific comes from ‘knowing’ and knowing is not restricted to reason and logic. In fact, the Indian rishis explored thought and consciousness deeply. Inspiration comes from beyond thoughts. So developing a truly scientific temper might just mean that Indians should become more spiritual and follow the advice of their rishis.

The reason why Indians are considered intelligent and are doing exceptionally well in science compared to people from other countries might well have to do with the fact that many Indians are still rooted in their spiritual tradition and therefore are, in all likelihood, more satvic than others. From my own experience, I am convinced that vegetarianism for example is beneficial not only for a cleaner body but also for a cleaner mind. Not eying ‘others who don’t believe what we believe’ with suspicion (so typical of societies with Abrahamic religions), and having trust in Bhagawan /God (so typical of Indians) might also help to create space for inspiration from that great intelligence that is in all of us, irrespective of country or religion.

Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887-1920), the great Indian mathematician, credited openly his talent to the family goddess Namagiri. Imagine he would show his notebooks to all those ‘modern’ Indians who claim to have a scientific temper that everyone should cultivate, and explain, that he received in his dream visions of scrolls of complex mathematical content unfolding before his eyes. I wonder whether he would emerge a broken man from the TV studio. Probably not, as he knows it is true what he experienced.

Indians often don’t realize that ‘the world’ is actually greatly interested in the knowledge and power of genuine Indian yogis or sadhus, often called ‘babas’. And yes, the police in western countries does occasionally employ the services of clairvoyants to locate missing persons. Consciousness studies are considered the next scientific frontier and have taken off all over the world and sadly, least of all in India, where the principles on which those studies are founded originated. It is acknowledged that certain yogis have remarkable abilities that were considered impossible in the west. Tests have been done on Indian yogis and Buddhist monks already since the 1970s. Typically, the western researcher, who measured the feats of the yogis, will be remembered as a great scientist, whereas the yogis who actually did the impossible, fall by the wayside. One can be sure that the west will try to exploit Vedic knowledge for its own advantage and not for the benefit of all humanity.

Back to the Baba Shoban Sarkar, who had the dream. It certainly would be worthwhile to find out whether he is genuine and a good person. The people around seem to be certain about it. It is said that since the 1980s, he has done great community service by building eight inter colleges and one polytechnic. He renovated a temple and built several new ones, and even sourced all the building material for the Buxar bridge, when the government had refused to take up the project.

Since it is common knowledge that dreams ‘can’ be prophetic, since Rajas were known to own a lot of gold (and Raja Rao Ram Bux Singh who was killed by the British might not be an exception), and since anyway the area was already demarcated as worthy of excavation since decades, why was there this fury on TV? If nothing else, the Baba has only catapulted the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) into action that was long overdue. The west probably considers those modern Indians as a laughing stock, who would, if they could, forbid the digging, and nonchalantly forego a chance, however small, of finding a treasure. Meanwhile the west may hold its breath and hope the dream of the Baba does not come true.

Maria Wirth

Maria Wirth is a German and came to India on a stopover on her way to Australia after finishing her psychology studies at Hamburg University. She dived into India’s spiritual tradition, sharing her insights with German readers through articles and books. She is the author of the book “Thank you India – A German woman’s journey to the wisdom of Yoga”.