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Saturday, June 2, 2007

CLONING - Explained

Dr. Gautam Allahbadia

There are two kinds of cloning - therapeutic and reproductive. In therapeutic cloning, healthy cells are replicated for the purpose of either evolving them into particular tissues or organs in the laboratory to replace diseased ones or to grow cells. Reproductive cloning, on the other hand, is the process of replicating the DNA of an individual to create another 'copy' of that individual. However, the cloned individual will not be an exact photocopy because, whatever you do, it is not possible to prevent the transfer of a lot of mitochondria, and various genes, with traits of their own, not necessarily identical to the parent cell.

There is absolutely no justification for banning reproductive human cloning altogether. In any case, it might already be a fait accompli. Indeed, amidst fiery debates over the ethics of Dr. Severino Antinori's programme to produce a cloned human baby, come a claim from the US that a French scientist has already produced such a baby.

The moment someone comes up with a pioneering case using new technology, the initial response is public outrage. NGOs and governments rush to legislate against it. This way, no new discoveries can be made ; no new technology can be perfected. The moment you ban something, the activity will be driven underground, as happens in the case of prohibition, Bootleggers thrive. In the medical field, this is more risky and dangerous, for no one knows exactly how and what is happening.

If human cloning is to be allowed, how should we go about it? The answer is to set up regulatory authorities to monitor research in this field. I think individual cases will have to be evaluated - it is not really possible to have a blanket law since the issue is highly sensitive and individual needs and circumstances differ greatly.

Let us suppose the only child of a couple in their 50s is brain dead after an accident. Since they cannot have another child the conventional way, their only hope would be to clone their dying son by using his DNA. The mother can find a surrogate to bear the child. For others who are medically unfit to have babies the conventional way - if the man has primary germ cell failure or if the woman has failed ovaries - cloning offers a ray of hope. It enables them to have their own child.

There has been widespread consternation about human cloning, many argues that animal cloning techniques have not yet been perfected, so this technology should not be extended to humans. To which I would say, this is not entirely true, for instance, it was widely reported that Dolly, the first cloned sheep, was "as old as her mom" ; that she was suffering from premature arthritis.

However, it was subsequently revealed that all of Dolly's illnesses were because she was pampered and overfed so that she was grossly overweight. After a strictly regulated diet, she now shows no signs of any disorder, nor does she have arthiritis. The media, however, does not give equal publicity to this news. It is not true therefore that cloned animals are flawed. At least, not cloned mammals which are closely related to man.

The other argument is that more than 200 cloned embryos were destroyed before Dolly could be created. To this, I would say, please go back 25 years to the laboratory of Drs.Steptoe and Edwards, who created the world's first test-tube baby. Louise Brown. More than 108 patients underwent attempts at in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatments are so common. No one objects to the technology. Thousands of test-tube babies have been born in the last 25 years. No one has complained of any kind of abnormality.

So, like nuclear technology is not junked but is allowed to be researched into with strict regulation, frontier research in reproductive technology, too, should be subject to regulation. As for fears that the technology would be prohibitively expensive, I can only say that there will be market, just as there is for in vitro fertilisation. Couples in India spend up to Rs. 55,000 per IVF attempt. Cloning procedures would probably cost ten times more.

The World Association of Reproductive Medicine, of which I am vice-president and Dr. Severino Antinori president, seeks to enlighten scientists about the advance in reproductive medicine. Dr. Antinori has publicised his attempts at human cloning. But there are several others who are keeping their research a secret. Dr. antinori is criticised for not publishing his research on the subject. How can he do so before his project is complete:? Steptoe and Edwards published their work only after Louise Brown was born, not before.

In the beginning, IVF researchers faces stiff opposition from the Catholic Church, Women's organisations and others. Today, the technique is part of normal infertility treatment. We are on a learning curve, so new technology should not be banned, only regulated.

(Courtesy: The Times of India, Dec., 28, 2002)


Anjali Mody

Suddenly, this week we are being exhorted to arm ourselves. Newspaper frontpages in the capital carry advice on what works against a potential rapist. Mace and pepper spray are good, so are high-pitched alarms. These concerns about women's safety are prompted by the gang rape of two young women in New Delhi, one of them was raped twice in the space of a month, and the assault on another outside a cinema in Chennai.

An obstacle course

This is but a passing display of concern, of gender sensitivity, in a country where for women the public space is an obstacle course of sexual harassment and sexual asault. In buses, on trains or on the street, and especially on university capuses, a woman has constantly to be on her guard. On guard against being leered at, whistled at, being verbally abused, touched or worse, raped.

The simple act of walking down a street is something that Manisha, a young woman working in New Delhi, described as "one of the toughest things to do." The constant stares, the physical assaults (a man driving by made a grab at her and sped off on one occasion) require something more than determination to get through.

Manju, a student in Thiruvananthapuram, says lewd comments, verbal abuse and 'flashers' - men who expose themselves to women - are all part of what they have to endure on the street. Yet, Manisha and Manju like most women commuting to work or university in almost any city or town in India have learnt to deal with these things. They have ceased to be enraged by the constant assaults on their persons by ogling eyes, abusive tongues and groping hands.

Offences under law

Jameela, a lawyer in Thiruvananthapuram, said most women put "these things" down as an accepted risk or occupational hazard that just cannot be wished away. But the fact is that this form of sexual harassment anyone may be more used to seeing described as 'eve-teasing, defined by the archaisms 'insulting the modesty of a woman' or 'outraging the modesty of a woman' are offences under the Indian Penal Code.Section 509 of the IPC takes a wide definition of verbal abuse and suggestive gesticulation, including winking. And Section 354, accounts for physical assault not amounting to rape. Verbal abuse, obscene gestures and assault of the sort that Manisha was subject to are not easily dealt with by the law. Lawyer Indian Jaisingh said it was difficult to pursue such cases because it is difficult to find the perpetrator. Such 'hit and run' cases, she agreed, were more a problem of society than of the law.

Culture of aggression

But as a society we seem unwilling to deal with the fact of a deeply ingrained culture of aggression against women. The fact that Holi is used as a cover in north India to assault women is seen as a 'law and order' problem. New flashpoints have emerged with globalisation.

In Jaipur, Valentine's Day was seen as a time to force unwanted amorous attention on women. Just the terminology we employ denies the violence of such acts. By describing what is unquestionably sexual harassment, often sexual assault, as 'eve-teasing', we seem determined to treat sexual agression, intimidation and preying on women as something banal. Something that some of the deviants who make these attacks term 'time pass.'

A problem of power

We have developed a vocabulary which trivialises the agressor as a 'Romeo' suggesting that his acts of sexual harassment are part of a culture of romance. The fact is, sexual harassment is certainly not about romance, it is not even, says Nandita Narain, about lust. Rather, it is a problem of power. Ms.Narain, who helped draft Delhi University's sexual harassment policy proposal, said the harassment of women is about men exercising their power to intimidate and set the terms on which women may or may not negotiate public spaces.

The reporters of 'roadside Romenos' indulging in 'eve-teasing' simply trivialise what is in reality a violation of woman's right to equality and to life and liberty. This may seem inexplicable to many. But a society in which half the population, because it is female, is denied the liberty of using public spaces with the same ease and sense of security as the other half, which is male, can be violating a basic principle of equality.

The powerlessness to deal with sexual harassment has in many cases pushed women over the edge. While Manju amd Manisha are confident women who have found ways of 'dealing with' aggression in public spaces, others are not so lucky. For, sexual harassment occasions, in some cases, the same emotions as a woman subject to rape. It has been described as 'psychological rape' as the victim feels nervous, suffers a loss of self-esteem and confidence, feels humiliated, tries to change her dress and behaviour, and feels a sense of guilt that somehow she has 'caused the behaviour'.

Security in the work place

For Sangita Sharma, a young lawyer practising at the Andhra Pradesh High Court, a Supreme Court verdict making sexual harassment in the workplace an offence made no difference. She killed herself leaving behind a suicide note, a diary and an affidavit accusing senior male colleagues of sexual harassment. Women's rights activist, Vasantha Kannabiran, said Sangita's case is not an isolated one: security of women at workplaces is minimal and far too many face untold harassment from male colleagues and bosses. But, for a woman to come out openly with such accustations whether it is against colleague or her boss, according to Susheela Devi, Chairperson of the Andhra Pradesh Women's Commission, takes a great deal of courage. Few do, despite the fact that the Supreme Court has created the space for challenging sexual harassment at the workplace. But, the fear of reprisal and further victimisation in male-dominated work cultures has been rather more successful in keeping a lid on a problem that is growing with the rising number of women in workplaces. As a country we have signalled that we have no problem with men who sexually harass or sexually assault women.

The most celebrated case of the survival of a sexual harasser and molester is K.P.S.Gill, lately adviser to the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi. Mr.Gill, while being the Punjab police chief, was convicted of molesting a Punjab cadre IAS officer, Rupan Deol Bajaj, at an official reception in Chandigarh. He pleaded drunkenness and said Ms. Bajaj was blowing things out of proportion. In January 1998, the court found him guilty as charged and sentenced him to three months rigorous imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs. 2 lakhs. Yet, this has not made a dent in his acceptability to the chattering classes, the political establishment or the media.

There have been far too few cases in which convictions have been achieved. In some it has taken years to get a modicum of what might pass for justsice. S.C.Bhatia, professor in the Department of Adult and Continuing Education, Delhi University, allegedly preyed on his students and several complained of molestation. But he was defended adroitly by a University that believed sexual harassment was a figment of women's imaginations. It was only in 1992 after a long campaign by women's groups in the University demanding a judicial inquiry into his activities, that Prof. Bhatia was dismissed. He has never been before a court.

Today, an MLA in the Kerala Assembly and former Minister, is under investigation on a sexual harassment charge made by the senior woman IAS Officer.

Male-dominated work culture

The private sector is no different. Few companies have a sexual harassment polity to deal with complaints, although the Supreme Court judgment places the onus of dealing with the problem on the employer. In the male-dominated work cultures of most companies, women know that complaining about sexual harassment may mean losing their jobs.

Take the case of the CEO of a large infrastructure company, a man with a very long record of sexually harassing women colleagues. He got away with his crimes simply because his company did not believe this was a problem. Sexual aggression against and intimidation of their women employees was of little consequence. In this environment none of the numerous women subject to sexual harassment by the CEO found it in her to make a formal complaint. One, however, approached the trade union for help, but was unwilling to go on record. The Union had but one course. It told the company to deal with the CEO or it would go to the press. The CEO 'quit'.

The company still has no sexual harassment policy. And the CEO now heads a rival infrastructure company. It is unlikely that his new victims will receive a sympathetic hearing. Think about it: we live in a country where a young woman crossing a street with fast moving traffic is casually assaulted by the driver of a passing car, and she is a lucky one. For she is lucky not to have been dragged into the car, driven around the capital city and gang raped.

(Courtesy: 'The Hindu' 18th-August, 2002)


V. Kumaresan

The conflicts and controversies between theism and atheism have been existing for quite a long period, right from the time mankind was able to think and act. For both thse idologies, the pivot is God. The ideology of theist about God is merely based on trust and belief and in its entirety it is directed towards suppression of certain section of mankind. Atheism is based on rationalism and spirit of enquiry. It aims at emancipation of mankind. It talks about reality in practical life rather than superstition that is structured on divinity.

Neutral persons, neither committed to theism nor atheism, amount to major section of the society. Manyu persons are said to be theists by their adherence to religious customs forced on them by brought up and practising customs. Never do they think about the rationale of their adherence to theistic preachings and practices.

Navarathiri (Nine Nights) is the celebration of the worship of three Goddesses viz. Saraswathi, Lakshmi and Durga. The division of labour among these goddesses is well known. Educastion is said to be under the control of Goddess Saraswathi, wealth under Goddess Lakshmi and bravery under Goddess Durga. The purpose of worshipping these Goddesses are for the spread of education, wealth and bravery. Such division of labour among Gods does not exist in other advanced countries. They are favourably placed on these three aspects in comparision with ours. Has the division of labour among the goddesses served the purpose? Have the people got enlightened through education by worshipping goddess Saraswathy, acquired wealth by worshipping goddess Lakshmi, become brave by worshipping goddess Durga? In the country where pooja is performed for the goddess of education, the illiteracy rate is high; where pooja is performed for the goddess of wealth, the economic situation is at a low level requiring borrowing from the wealthy nations that do not possess any exclusive god for wealth; where pooja is done for the goddess of bravery, there are still territories occupied by aliens. Why do these peculiar, contradictory conditions prevail? If a person starts to think, the foolishness behind such worshipping will come to limelight.

The way of worshipping Goddess Saraswathi must be in the line with the spread of education, whatever may be the outcome. But what does the way of worshipping Saraswathi convey? On the day of Saraswathi Pooja, no one should read any reading material. This custom kills the very spirit of learning for which Goddess Saraswathi is avowedly worshipped.

What should be the nature of Pooja performed for Goddess Durga on the day of Ayudha Pooja? Some symbolic deeds to inculcate courage must be performed. Some sort of exercises must be carried out. What does actually happen? The worshippers lay at rest all the instruments, equipments, weapons etc and do nothing connected to bravery.

Paalaabisekam (Performing Pooja by pouring milk on the idol) is a very meaningless way of worship, but still considered as a favourite custom of worshipping of God Muruga. What a superstitious sentiment it is! Only animals waste more than what they eat. Paalaabisekam symbolises the prevalence of animal instinct in devotees.

Worshipping God is a personal belief and a private affair of an individual. It should not affect others, who have no such belief. It should not be inconvenient to public discipline and order. But our people show their devotion and faith in a way causing great harm and lot of inconvenience to others. On auspicious occasions, for example, they break big pumkins in the middle of the road. This ritual is done to ward off evil eye! But the pieces left in the middle of the road cause dangerous accidents that often prove to be fatal. Such practices based on blind faith in God and religion are not only harmful but also wasteful. They will make poor people poorer.

Oh, worshippers of God, listen to Periyar E.V.R.

" Forget God, think of humans". Only people have to save themselves and not any other supernatural power on earth can save them.


B. Premanand, 11/7, Chettipalayam Road,

Pondanur , - 641 023. Tamil Nadu, India.

Rs. 400/-

This is a hefty volume of 872 pages of demy 1/8th size containing material mostly investigative in nature meant to expose the corrupt self-serving activities of the influential elite in India. The author, Mr.B.Premanand is a lively gentleman, aged 72 years. He is slim and of medium height with greying hair and flowing beard. Amiable and unassuming with disarming smile, he is simple in appearance and manners. He is at home with the youth and those who fight against superstitions of every kind. He shows special interest in exposing miracle mongers who pose as godmen, and cheat and exploit the common people. His particular target seems to be Satya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi, Ananthapur District, Andhra Pradesh.

Sai Baba lures people by his miracles - producing out of thin air vibhuti (sacred ash), gold ornaments, costly watches, stone lingas and such other fancy little articles. He claims he could turn water into petrol. The devotees of this frizzy haired 'godman' are found not only among the ordinary people but also among the power wielding politicians, bureaucrats, very rich business people, judges, influential professionals etc. He had admirers in other countries also. This wide band of devotees has enabled him to collect several millions of rupees and form trusts to run hospitals, educational institutions, religious homes etc. Inspite of this solid and glittering material base, the activities of Sai Baba do not promote prosperity, well-being and joy. Instead they lead to corruption, intrigues, exploitation and violence. People come to the godman with hope and go away with despair. This is quite natural because the basis of all the activities - the claim to super natural powers - is a blatant untruth. So long as this kind of activities are allowed to continiue unchecked, they will ruin the nation, diverting people's attention away from constsructive activities. They are made to have faith in miracles, dubious ways to earn money and short-cuts to achieve positions of powers. But they do not result in the development - either of an individual or a community - but in disappointment, conflict and violent clashes. A remarkable example is the murder of six persons - aids and devotees of Sai Baba at Prasanthi Nilayam on the night of June 6, 1993.

B.Premanand produces massive evidence from documents and published material, to show that the investigations have not been carried on in an impartial manner to find the truth of the horrible and tragic episode. We have no space here to go into all the details, but we give below what H.N.Narasimhaiah, the well-known rationalist and former Vice-Chancellor of Bangalore University, said in an interview, published in The Sunday Observer, Bombay dated 13-19, June, 1993, soon after the incident. The interview is very revealing:

What do you make of this week's incidents at Puttaparthi?

I categorically condemn the reported attempt on Sathya Sai Baba's life. Whatever the cause, violence is not justified. But there are several intriguing factors that need to be examined (emphasis added)

Like what?

The police have destroyed all evidence by killing the alleged assassins in cold blood. It is very intriguing. . . Were they killed at the instance of someone? The police could have easily disarmed the culprits who were armed only with knives, not AK-47s or machine guns. This has aroused suspicion . . .

How do you explain his growing stature?

One of the reasons is blind faith. He impressed people with his magic. And politicians use him for their own ends. . .

Do you think the truth about the assassination attempt will come out?

Knowing how the man operates, I am doubtful of a fair inquity (Pages 137,138- Vol.II of the book)

Anyhow B.Premanand the author of this book and editor of the monthly, Indian Skeptic, took concerted and admirable steps demanding to initiate impartial investigation and bring out the truth in this case. But his plea for CBI probe was dismissed by Andhra Pradesh High Court. Finally the murder case was closed on a confidential G.O.! On page 19, the book quotes Goldsmith: "Laws grind the poor, and rich men rule the law!"

When people do not get justice from the executive and judicial wings of the Government in a case where influential public figures are involved they have to necessarily resort to the long-drawn struggle of educating and enlightening the common people on whose ignorance and blind faith miracle mongers and unscrupulous bigwigs thrive. It is for such noble service Mr.Premanand was presented the National Award of Rupees 1,00,000 for the Best Effort in Science Popularisation during the period 1992-96 by National Council for Science and Technolgy Communi-cations (NCSTC), Government of India. He continues his fight against godmen by propagating scientific principles among the various sections of our country.


(The award-winning docu-drama "Threads" screened recently by the Movement Against Nuclear Weapons - MANW - Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai, to coincide with the fourth anniversary of the tests at Pokhran, India, focussed on the dangers posed by a nuclear holocaust. The following is from a report by Savita Gautam, published in "The Hindu", Metroplus, dated 16-5-2002)The two-hour long docu-drama that was produced by BBC World Enterprise, won an award in 1984 for its powerful anti-nuke message. The story of a nuclear holocaust, "Threads" tells the tale of a young, pregnant girl who is a victim of a nuclear bombing of her small town in England.

The bombing leaves in its wake destruction and disease. People die of starvation and chemical poisoning. Diseases spread like wildfire. And there is no medical aid. Homes are razed down due to fires. The chemical dust takes months to settle, leaving little scope for agriculture. Babies are born deformed. And bodies rot for want of proper burials. It's Doom's Day, all right.

The fine thread that holds together different aspecsts of society can be destroyed with a single explosion. For what and at what cost? That's the question the film throws to the audience.

There has been much protest against nuclear weapons worldwide ever since the discovery of the bomb in 1930s. The Hiroshima-Nagasaki incident shook the world at that time but that seems to be a thing of the past.

The after-effects of the nuclear accidents at Three Mile Island in Pennyslgania and Chernobyl in Russia are still evident.

In fact, such accidents are believed to have led to a rise in the incidence of cancer and other incurable diseases.

But all that does not seem to deter nations, which are gearing up for a nuke war.

Is the common man aware of the repercussions of such a war? It is here that an organisation like the MANW plays its role.

An umbrella of about 33 people's groups and organisations such as the PUCL, the JNW and the ISANW, the MANW has for the past four years been working towards creating awareness by holding exhibitions and slide shows, trying to educate students, office-goers and even slum-dwellers.

In fact, it recetly spoke to the stone quarry workers in Trisulam on the issue.

Protest marches and anti-war slogans are still the order of the day. People are aware of the outcome of war. To what extent, is the question. Are the stark realities of war being spelt out? Only time will tell.


Girish Mishra

(Excerpts from 'Atheist' dated April, 2002)

All kinds of people have been going to astrologers, tantriks, babas, and devis and ammas for guidance and help in order to promote their careers and tide over existing or impending difficulties, calamities and misfortunes. And on the basis of their mentors' advice, they have been spending money and time on performing varieties of sacrfices and yagnas with all seriousness and full devotion. Most of them are fairly rich and educated. (The other day The Hindu carried a colour picture of the Minister for Informatifon and Broadcasting offering sugar equal to her weight to some deity, obviously to advance herself on the ladder of power.)

Why have they been doing so? There are a variety of reasons. One of them is ignorance and incapability of understanding certain natural phenomena. This has been a major factor, prompting the belief in certain supernatural entities and fashioning out explanations accordingly. Take, for example, the outbreak of bubonic plague in the fourteenth century in France. When the monarch Philip VI asked his chief physician to look into the causes of its outbreak, he came out very promptly with his explanation: the conjunction of Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars at 1 p.m. on March 20, 1345 had sent the epidemic to devastate France and the neighbouring countries! One does not know much about the steps taken by the mighty king to prevent such a conjunction happening in the future.

The Atharva Veda is replete with various charms to cure diseases and possession by demons, imprecations against demons, sorcerers, and enemies, and charms to secure prosperity with house, field, cattle, business, gambling, and kindred matters.

According to this fourth Veda, one can resort to charm for finding his lost property, for keeping evil dreams away, for endowing a horse with swiftness, for diverting the main course of a river to escape flood devastation, for success in gambling, for propitiating the weather god, for confusing the enemy, for restoration of an exiled king to his throne and so on.

. . . ignorance of real causes of diseases and other phenomena led the primitive man to invent some explanation or the other of his own and fashion the remedies . . .

More importantly, elaborate mantras are given to secure a husband of one's desire, to get a suitable wife, to ensure conception so that only a son could be born, to prevent miscarriage, to remove evil characteristics from a woman's body and so on.

Occult science could be practised against enemies. For example, an incantation was prescribed to make any woman sterile or to destroy a rival. All kinds of worms, poisons and even unwanted growth of hair could be got rid of by chanting mantras prescribed by the Atharva Veda. One wonders as to why the Sangh Parivar should go in for the atom bomb when other economical ways to destroy the enemies are available!

Anyway, the point which needs to be stressed is that ignorance of real causes of diseases and other phenomena led the primitive man to invent some explanation or the other of his own and fashion the remedies or the ways of escape accordingly.

Yet politicians, who are unsure of their prospects at coming elections or the reshuffle of the Ministry have to get the gods to take care of their interests. The intermediaries from astrologers and tantriks to Vaishno Devi and Bajrangbali Hanumanji are sought to be appeased to intercede on their behalf!

Corrupt politicians, bribe-taking bureaucrats, dishonest shopkeepers, unscrupulous industrialists and traders, tax evaders, thieves, pickpockets, robbers and professional murderers are great devotees of the babas and mahatmas. And these are the people who are in a great need of the services of astrologers. One seldom finds a landless agricultural worker or an urban hawker queuing up for their services nor do the self-appointed hi-fi intermediaries of gods care for poor clients.

These days students have been turning in large numbers to them not only at the time of examinations and the publication of results, but also to enhance their chances of getting jobs in view of the declining vacancies in both the public and private organised sectors owing to economic reforms.

Most people are unable to understand why corrupt persons prosper while many honest ones suffer and even starve. It baffles one's understanding why racketeers and the less qualified and less competent people supersede more brainy ones. This may be observed in almost every walk of life, be it the academic world, business sector, journalism, scientific activities or politics. Since they cannot find any rational explanation, they assume the role of fate or some supernatural factor to be crucial. They themselves begin seeking the advice of tantriks and astrologers Consequently, they lose self-confidence and get dehumanised.

It is a matter of common knowledge that astrologers and the babas and the mahatmas operate generally near hospitals and law courts where they can easily find their prey. It is the claim to bring about miracles that sustains the faith of the gullible in the practitioners of astrology and the activities allied with it. On close examination, this claim turns out to be utterly bogus. A miracle means reversing or violating the laws of nature.

An honest god is the noblest work of man

- Robert G.Ingersoll

Each nation has created a god, and the god has always resembled his creators. He hated and loved what they hated and loved; he was invariably found on the side of those in power. Each god was intensely patriotic, and detested all nations but his own. All these gods demanded praise, flattery, and worship. Most of them were pleased with sacrifice, and the smell of innocent blood has ever been considered a divine perfume. All these gods have insisted upon having a vast number of priests, and the priests have always insisted upon being supported by the people, and the principal business of these priests has been to boast about their god, and to insist that he could easily vanquish all the other gods put together.

These gods have been manufactured after numberless models, and according to the most grotesque fashions, some have a thousand arms, some a hundred heads, some are adorned with necklaces of living snakes, some are armed with clubs, some with sword and shield, some with bucklers, and some have wings as a cherub; some were invisible, some would show themselves entire, and some would only show their backs; some were jealous, some were foolish, some turned themselves into men, some into swans, some into bulls, some into doves, and some into holy ghosts, and made love to the beautiful daughters of men. Some were married - all ought to have been - and some were considered as old bachelors from all eternity. Some had children, and the children were turned into gods and worshipped as their fathers had been. Most of these gods were revengeful, savage, lustful, and ignorant. As they generally depended upon their priests for information, their ignorance can hardly excite our astonishment.

These gods did not even know the shape of the worlds they had created, but supposed them perfectly flat. Some thought the day could be lengthened by stopping the sun, that the blowing of horns could throw down the walls of a city; and all knew so little of the real nature of the people they had created that they commanded the people to love them. Some were so ignorant as to suppose that man could believe just as he might desire, or as they might command, and that to be governed by observation, reason, and experience was a most foul and damning sin. None of these gods could give a true account of the creation of this little earth. All were woefully deficient in geology and astronomy. As a rule, they were most miserable legislators, and as executives, they were far inferior to the average of American Presidents.

These deities have demanded the most abject and degrading obedience. In order to please them, man must lay his very face in the dust. Of course they have always been partial to the people who created them, and have generally shown their partiality by assisting those people to rob and destroy others, and to ravish their wives and daughters.

Nothing is so pleasing to these gods as the butchery of unbelievers. Nothing so enrage them, even now, as to have someone deny their existence.

Few nations have been so poor as to have but one god. Gods were made so easily, and the raw material cost so little that generally the God market was fairly gutted, and heaven crammed with these phantoms. These gods not only attended to the skies, but were supposed to interfere in all the affairs of men. They presided over everybody and everything. They attended to every department. All was supposed to be under their immediate control. Nothing was too small-nothing too large; the falling of sparrows and the motions of the planets were alike attended to by these industrious and observing deities. From their starry thrones they frequently came to the earth for the purpose of imparting informatifon to man. It is related of one that he came amid thunderings, and lightings in order to tell the people that they should not cook a kid in its mother's milk. Some left their shining abodes to tell women that they should or should not, have children; to inform a priest how to cut and wear his apron; and to give directions as to the proper manner of cleaning the intestines of a bird.

When the people failed to worship one of these gods, or failed to feed and clothe his priests (which was much the same thing), he generally visited them with pestilence and famine. Sometimes he allowed some other nation to draft them into slavery-to sell their wives and children; but generally he gutted his vengeance by murdering their firstborn. The priests always did their whole duty, not only predicting these calamities, but in proving, when they did happen, that they were brought upon the people because they had not given quite enough to them.

These gods differed just as the nations differed; the greatest and most powerful had the most powerful gods, while the weaker ones were obliged to content themselves with the very offsprings of the heaven. Each of these gods promised happiness here and hereafter to all his slaves, and threatened to eternally punish all who either disbelieved in his existence or suspected that some other god might be his superior; but to deny the existence of all gods was, and is, the crime of crimes. Redden your hands with human blood; by slander the fair fame of the innocent; strangle the smiling child upon its mother's knees; deceive, ruin, and desert the beautiful girl who loves and trusts you, and your case is not hopeless. For all this, and for all these, you may be forgiven. For all this, and for all these, that bankrupt courts established by the Gospel will give you a discharge; but deny the existence of these divine ghosts, of these gods, and the sweet and tearful face of Mercy becomes livid with eternal hate. Heaven's golden gates are shut, and you, with an infinite curse ringing in your ears, with the brand of infamy upon your brow, commence your endless wanderings in the lurid gloom of hell-an immortal vagrant- an eternal outcast - a deathless convict.

One of these gods, and one who demands our love, our admiration, and our worship, and one who is worshipped, if mere heartless ceremony is worship, gave to his chosen people for their guidance the following laws of war.: "When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. And it shall be if it makes thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee. And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it. And when the Lord thy god hath delivered it unto thy hands thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword. But the women and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself, and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies which the Lord thy God hath given thee. Thus shall thou do unto all the cities which are very far off from thee, which are not of the cities of these nations. But of the cities of these people which the Lord thy god doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth"

Is it possible for man to conceive of anything more perfectly infamous? Can you believe that such directions were given by any being except an infinite fiend? Remember that the army receiving these instructions was one of invasion. Peace was offered upon condition that the people submitting should be the slaves of invader, but if any should have the courage to defend their homes, to fight for the love of wife and child, then the sword was to spare-none-not even the prattling, dimpled babe.

And we are called upon to worship such a god; to get upon our knees and tell him that he is good, that he is merciful, that he is just, that he is love. We are asked to stifle noble sentiment of the soul, and to trample under foot all the sweet charities of the heart. Because we refuse to stultify ourselves - refuse to become liars - we are denounced, hated, traduced, and ostraicized here; and this same god threatens to torment us in eternal fire; the moment death allows him to fiercely clutch our naked, helpless souls. Let the people hate, let the god threaten - we will educate them, and we will despise and defy him.

The book called the Bible is filled with passages equally horrible, unjust, and atrocious. This is the book to be read in schools in order to make our children loving, kind and gentle! This is the book to be recognised in our Constitution as the source of all authority and justice!

Strange! that no one has ever been persecuted by the Church for believing God bad, while hundreds of millions have been destroyed for thinking him good. The orthodox Church never will forgive the Universalist for saying "God is love." It has always been considered as one of the very highest evidences of true and undefiled religion to insist that all men, women, and children deserve eternal damnation. It has always been heresy to say, "God will at last save all."

We are asked to justify these frightful passages, these infamous laws of war, because the Bible is the word of God. As a matter of fact, there never was, and there never can be, an argument even tending to prove the inspiration of any book whatever. In the absence of positive evidence, analogy, and experience, argument is simply impossible, and, at the very best, can amount only to a useless agitation of the air. The instant we admit that a book is too sacred to be doubted, or even reasoned about, we are mental serfs. It is infinitely absurd to suppose that a god would address a communication to intelligent beings, and yet make it crime, to be punished in eternal flames, for them to use their intelligence for the purpose of understanding his communication. If we have the right to use our reason, we certainly have the right to act in accordance with it, and no god can have the right to punish us for such action.

The doctrine that future happiness depends upon belief is monstrous. The notion that faith in Christ is to be rewarded by an eternity of bliss, while a dependence upon reason, observation, and experience merits everlasting pain, is too absurd for refutation, and can be relieved only by that unhappy mixture of insanity and ignorance called "faith." What man, who ever thinks, can believe that blood can appease God? And yet our entire system of religion is based upon that belief. The Jews pacified Jehovah with the blood of animals, and according to the Christian system, the blood of Jesus softened the heart of God a little, and rendered possible the salvation of a fortunate few. It is hard to conceive how the human mind can give assent to such terrible ideas, or how any sane man can read the Bible and still believe in the doctrine of inspiration.

Whether the Bible is true or false is of no consequence in comparison with the mental freedom of the race.

Salvataion through slavery is worthless. Salvation from slavery inestimable.

As long as man believes the Bible to be infallible, that book is his master. The civilization of this century is not the child of faith, but of unbelief - the result of free thought.

All that is necessary as it seems to me, to convince my reasonable person that the Bible is simply and purely of human invention - of barbarian invention - is to read it. Read it as you would any other book; Think of it as you would of any other, get the bandage of reverence from your eyes; drive from your heart the phantom of fear, push from the throne of your brain the cowed form of superstition - then read the Holy Bible, and you will be amazed that you ever, for one moment supposed a being of infinite wisdom, goodness, and purity to be the author of such ignorance and of such atrocity.

Our ancestors not only had their god factories, but they made devils as well. These devils were generally disgraced and fallen gods. Some had headed unsuccessful revolts; some had been caught sweetly reclining in the shadowy folds of some fleecy cloud, kissing the wife of the god of gods. These devils generally sympathized with man. There is in regard to them a most wonderful fact; In nearly all the theologies, mythologies, and religions the devils have been much more humane and merciful than the gods. No devil ever gave one of his generals an order to kill children and to rip open the bodies of pregnant women. Such barbarities were always ordered by the good gods. The pestilence were sent by the most merciful gods. The frightful famine, during which the dying child with pallid lips sucked the withered bosom of a dead mother, was sent by the loving gods. No devil was ever charged with such fiendish brutality.

One of these gods, according to the account, drowned an entire world, with the exception of eight persons. The old, the young, the beautiful, and the helpless were remorselessly devoured by the shoreless sea. This, the most fearful tragedy that the imagination of ignorant priests ever conceived, was the act, not of a devil, but of a god, so-called, whom men ignorantly worship unto this day. What a stain such an act would leave upon the character of a devil. One of the prophets of one of these gods, having in his power a captured king, hewed him in pieces in the sight of all the people. Was ever any imp of any devil guilty of such savagery?

ne of those gods is reported to have given the following directions concerning human slavery: "If thou buy a Hebrew servant, six years shall he serve, and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself; if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master hath given him a wife, and she hath borne him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master's and he shall go out by himself. And if the servant shall plaintly say, 'I love my master, my wife and my children, I will not go out free.' then this master shall bring him unto the judges, he shall also bring him unto the door, or unto the door-post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall serve him for ever."

According to this, a man was given liberty upon condition that he would desert for ever his wife and children. Did any devil force upon a husband, upon a father, so cruel and so heartless an alternative? Who can worship such a god? Who can bend the knee to such a monster? Who can pray to such a fiend?

All these gods threatened to torment for ever the souls of their enemies. Did any devil ever make so infamous a threat? The basest thing recorded of the devil is what he did concerning Job and his family, and that was done by the express permission of one of these gods, and to decide a little difference of opinion between their serene highnesses as to the characater of "my servant Job."

The first account we have of the devil is found in that purely scientific book called Genesis, and is as follows: " Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made, and he said unto the woman. Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat the fruit of the trees of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman. Ye shall not surely die. For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her and he did eat. And theLord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil; and now, less he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So he drove out the man, and he placed at the east of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword, which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life."

According to this account, the promise of the devil was fulfilled to the very letter. Adam and Eve did not die, and they did become as gods, knowing good and evil.

The account shows, however, that the gods dreaded education and knowledge then, just as they do now. The Church still faithfully guards the dangerous tree of knowledge, and has exerted in all ages her utmost power to keep mankind from eating the fruit thereof. The priests have never ceased repeating the old falsehood and the old threat: "Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die". From every pulpit comes the same cry. born of the same fear. "Lest they eat and become as gods, knowing good and evil." For this reason, religion hates science, faith detests reason, theology is the sworn enemy of philosophy, and the Church with its flaming sword still guards the hated tree, and like its supposed founder, curses to the lowest depths the brave thinkers who eat and become as gods.

For ages all nations supposed that the sick and insane were possessed by evil spirits. For thousands of years the practice of medicine consisted in frightening these spirits away. Unsually the priests would make the loudest and most discordant noise possible. They would blow horns, beat upon rude drums, clash cymbals, and in the meantime utter the most unearthly yells. If the noise-remedy failed, they would implore the aid of some more powerful spirit.

To pacify these spirits was considered of infinite importance. The poor barbarian, knowing that men could be softened by gifts, gave to these spirits that which to him seems of the most value. With bursting heart he would offer the blood of his dearest child. It was impossible for him to conceive of a god utterly unlike himself, and he naturally supposed that these powers of the air would be affected a little at the sight of so great and so deep a sorrow. It was with the barbarian then as with the civilized now- one class lived upon and made merchandise of the fears of another. Certain persons took it upon themselves to appease the gods, and to instruct the people in their duties to these unseen powers. This was the origin of the priesthood. The priest pretended to stand between the wrath of the gods and the helplessness of man. He was man's attorney at the court of heaven. He carried to the invisible world a flag of truce, a protest, and a request. He came back with a command, with authority, and with power.

The fact that Christ could withstand the temptations of the devil was considered as conclusive evidence that he was assited by some god, or atleast by some suprior to man. St. Mathew gives an account of an attempt made by the devil to tempt the supposed son of God; and it has always excited the wonder of Christians that the temptation was so nobly and heroically withstood. The account to which I refer is as follows: -

"Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when the tempter came to him, he said: 'If thou be the son of God, command that these stones be made bread.' But he answered, and said: 'It is written : man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.' Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city and setteth him upon a pinnacle of the temple and saith unto him: 'If thou be the son of God, cast thyself down, for it is written: He shall give his angels charge concerning thee, lest at any time thou shalt dash thy foot against a stone.' Jesus said unto him: 'It is written again, thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God.' Again the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, and saith unto him: 'All these will I give thee if thou wilt fall down and worship me.' The Christians now claim that Jesus was God. If he was God, of course the devil knew that fact, and yet, according to this account, the devil took the omnipotent God and placed him upon a pinnacle of the temple, and endeavoured to induce him to dash himself against the earth. Failing in that, he took the creator, owner and governor of the universe up into an exceeding high mountain, and offered him this wrold-this grain of sand - if he, the God of all the worlds, would fall down and worship him, a poor devil, without even a tax title to one foot of dirt! Is it possible the devil was such an idiot? Should any great credit be given to this deity for not being caught with such chaff? Think of it! The devil-the prince of sharpers - the king of cunning - the master of finesse, trying to bribe God with a grain of sand that belonged to God!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Islam and Women

Dr. Younus Shaikh

Dr. Younus Shaikh, Pakistani Rationalist and founder President of the Rationalist organization of Pakistan, "The Enlightenment", who was once sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan, writes on Islam and Women.


Dr. Younus Shaikh
Dr. Younus Shaikh

Before the advent of Islam, the pagan Arab women generally enjoyed a respectable status in society; many of them including Khadija - the first wife of the prophet of Islam, had the right to engage in business and choose or dismiss their husbands in a matrilineal fashion; they took part in most activities of war and peace including public worship. In female oriented Arab paganism, goddesses had special status; in Mecca, the female goddess Al-Uzza, in Taif the goddess Al-Lat and in Medina the goddess Manat were the most popular deities, and their statues were most revered while the statue of the stern Allah was almost neglected.

Arab pagan poetry was mostly concerned with the beauty and grace of their women, and the glory of their tribal values in peace and war. And it was only in one predator tribe of Mecca that the evil custom of burying alive of the daughters prevailed. It was highly unusual for a man of pre-Islamic Arab society to have more than one wife in his house; and it is quite certain that polygamy was introduced and encouraged by the prophet after the revelation of Islam. Women were to produce as many Muslims as possible. This ultimately resulted in the degradation in the status of the married woman in the Islamic society. Whereas the pre-Islamic Arab custom allowed many looser forms of marriage on the matrilineal and matri-local tradition that gave the woman freedom and liberty as full human being, however the artificial rules of Islamic nikah reduced marriage to mere sexual and social slavery.

The prophet of Islam, before prophethood, opposed the burying alive of the newborn daughters; he was eager to work for a woman and gladly married a divorced woman. The early Islam continued with most of the pre-Islam tribal traditions; there were no hijabs or veils for women of Madina; and at a later date only the nine wives of prophets were restricted in their social intercourse as their home was constantly full of visitors. However the prophet's women sex-slaves were not restricted in any such manners.

Indeed, the semi-transparent half-face- veil (hijab) was actually a very old custom originating in the Assyrian times, a status symbol and a mark of social distinction for the free women. The pre-Islamic pagan Arab woman of the cities often wore the fashionable semi-transparent half-face veil but the tribal women never did.

Later, Islam added measures for "the preservation of modesty for women" -like casting down their eyes in public, concealing their breasts and jewellery and the likes. However, these restrictions were later extended by the followers of the prophet far beyond his original intentions as expressed in Koran, and remained more or less a permanent fixture of Muslim life thereafter.

Later on, however, the insecurity of early Islam gradually added to the exclusion of women, and 100 years later, by the reign of the Abbasid Caliph Haroon ur Rashid, women became merely sexual toys and breeding machines; and as married women they were merely maid servants- mere man's social appendages. Moreover, as female sex-slaves, women were freely bought and sold in open markets of all Islamic countries, and loaned, rented or bestowed as gifts to friends. The prophet himself bestowed women sex-slaves to his favourites. There was no limit to the number of slaves one could own; one of the companions of prophet Hazrat Zubair Ibn ul Arvan, for example, had 1000 men-slaves and 1000 women sex-slaves. Islam took the woman as the land tilled by the man where he spilled his seeds.

The prophet himself took part or guided nearly 100 wars or raids or attacks for plunder. After him, his followers continued the offence. The fierce Islamic tribal Bedouins with centuries long experience of ruthless and cruel tribal warfare proved to be the worthwhile shock troops of Islam. After Iraq, Syria fell to the Islamic Empire in 634 CE. Despite surrenders, great massacres took place at many places; thousands of men were slaughtered and women and children sold into slavery; monasteries were ransacked, monks and villagers were slain and nuns were raped. After the conquest of Egypt, many of its towns were put to sword and their entire population wiped out. Great massacres also occurred in Cyprus and North Africa. The Roman province of Iraq, the Syrian province of Iran, and the conquered Iran brought hundreds of thousands of men-slaves, women sex-slaves, and the vast fertile lands of these once mighty and civilized countries where the women had been held in high respect e.g. the Manichaecian Iraq, the Pharonic Egypt and North African Civilizations.

As in Egypt and Iran, wherever the conquering Islamic Bedouins armies went, they destroyed the local civilization's cultures, imposed their Islamic tribal medievalism recklessly murdering men and degrading women to perpetual sexual slavery. In short, the Islamic tribal Bedouins and barbarians did the same to the surrounding higher civilizations what the Roman barbarians did to the highly civilized ancient Greeks. Meanwhile the Islamic Bedouins continued to raid and abduct the European women for Islamic slave markets during all these Islamic centuries. The conquest of Syria forced the conversion of thousands of Christian priests to Islam, who changed their religion but not their profession: they became the stern anti-feminine Islamic mullahs and not only continued their religious magic and rituals but also continued the essentially Christian medievalism under Islam.

In short, as a result of these conquests, destructions and imposition of Islamic tribal medievalism, societies under the Islamic Empire went further than any other in their total exclusion of women from political power and social influence. Islamic legislation went far beyond anything the prophet had originally dreamed of in his tribal religiosity in cheating women of their rightful place in society and in matters of inheritance. Where originally the Koran gave women the right of inheritance, the Islamic mullah invented the legalized institution of Waqf- the religious foundation, to exclude the daughters and their descendents from inheritance. Though the Koran does give the right of inheritance to women, she continued to be a minor; usually uneducated needing a guardian in father, husband or the son. Indeed, the status of women in Islam is theoretically exalted but utterly deplorable in practice.

Multiplying number of harems (residing place for the female sex-slaves), finally institutionalised under Caliph Al-Walid II, emphasized the inevitable degradation of womanhood under Islam. Haroon ur Rashid, the Islamic Caliph (ruler) had 2000 female sex-slaves, Caliph Mutwakkal had 4000 female sex-slaves; and every mullah, official or soldier of Islamic state had some men-slaves and women sex-slaves belonging to the conquered civilization nations. Not being allowed to learn, experience or think for herself, it is no wonder that there are hardly very few outstanding women in 1600 years of Islamic history, and those who by chance or by the force of the ancient pre-Islamic customs came into light or in the corridors of power were sooner or later eliminated on the orders of some pious and religious Islamic mullah.. Indeed, Islam's violent anti-feminism have been as nefarious as Christianity's burning of hundreds of thousands European women as witches in 15th, 16th and 17th century. The female hating instruments of the Islamic Empire, the mullahs and the Caliphs, continued to promote degradation of women under the formal and sordid Islamic legal code of Shariah, the final seal on the complete subjection of the female element.. The modern history of Islam is merely the continuation of the Islamic tribal medievalism, only the technology , phraseology and the façade is modern.


"Indian sub-continent suffered the humiliation and destruction under Islam, as did Africa. The Islamic General Mohammad Bin Qasim decimated great Buddhist and Hindu civilizations. Acting on the orders of a representative of the Islamic Caliph, Governor Hijaj Bin Yousaf (who was a deadly enemy of the Hazrat Ali and Hazrat Hussein's family-some of whom have taken refuge under the Buddhist monarch Raja Dahir in Sindh), Mohammad Bin Qasim conquered the kingdom in 712 CE. His Islamic plunderers and looters demolished temples, shattered sculptures, plundered palaces and killed thousands. It took his Islamic army three days to slaughter the inhabitants of Debal, their women and children were taken into slavery. Later on he pardoned many prisoners and tried to establish a just rule of law which enraged the very Islamic and murderous Governor Hijaj Bin Yousaf; therefore Qasim again reverted to the Islamic barbarity and massacred between 6-16 thousands in Brahiminabad, their women and children were sent to Arab Islamic slave markets.

This was the beginning of the destruction of the classical ancient Indian civilization, and start of the medieval age of Islamic darkness in India. The 11th century witnessed another Islamic murderer and plunderer, Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi an agent of Islamic Caliph, who utterly ruined the great Indian civilization and looted and plundered most of its wealth. Fifty thousand Hindus were massacred in just one of his attacks at Somnath; he invaded India more than 17 times. Thousands of Hindu men and women were sent to the Islamic Afghani slave markets. The highly cultured and civilized daughters of the noble Hindu families were sold to the illiterate, un-cultured and barbaric Afghanis for equivalent of just one Frank (Pound/Dollar) each. After every Afghani Muslim had four wives each, there were lots of surplus women left; to that the evil Islamic mullahs responded with an ingenious translation of Koranic verses proving that Allah allowed each Muslim to marry 18 women at a time along with an unlimited number of women as concubines. Soon the new military instruments of the Islamic Caliph, the Turks and the Moguls followed, decimated captured Delhi and turned whole of India into a grand open-air slave camp. Sultan Firoze Shah Tughlaq- an Islamic Turk ruler had 100,000 men-slaves and thousands of female sex-slaves in his harem; the pious Islamic Mongol (Mogul) Emperor Shahjehan had 15,000 female sex-slaves and concubines for his personal harem. Indeed, the Islamic Turk invaders and rulers did the same in India as they did in Armenia-the whole races of peoples were exterminated. (However, credit must be given here to the agnostic and secular-minded, humanist Mogul Emperor Akbar the Great who refused the title of "the King of Muslims" and preferred to be called "the shadow of God"- for his God, he declared (in accordance with the mind and language of his age), is the beneficial deity and protector of all-Hindus, Muslims and other races of humans and creatures alike. He gave up his faith in Islam and tried his genius in creating a pluralistic religion comprising traditions of all the prevalent religions and ideologies of India. He even invited the Christian Jesuits priests from Goa to his ideology-discussion-palace but could not swallow their childish Jesus-son-of-God myth).

The medieval Islamic Empire of the Turkish Osmania Caliphate disappeared after Axis defeat in the World War I and with the rise of the Turkish secular hero Mustafa Kemal Pasha. However, it soon metamorphosed into the modern Saudi Islamic spiritual Empire. It is noteworthy that while the very Christian Holy Roman British Empire of the West required standing armies to control the bodies of men in all its colonies, the theocratic Saudi Islamic spiritual Empire of the East depended on the standing army of clerics-Mullahs and Imams-stationed in mosques to control the minds of men-the social, cultural spiritual and psychological control. It is true that Islam dismantled the old Arab tribal loyalties and some of its taboos and traditions; however it created a new tribe in the name of Islam with prophet himself as its chieftain and his family and tribe-Hashmis and Quresh acquiring an elevated and sacred status- a replacement of old medieval tribe with a new theocratic tribe. However, it essentially continued many of the ancient pagan rituals of worship as well as many of its old taboos and traditions. The tribal blood loyalties were replaced with the new tribal religious loyalties. At intellectual level Islam is merely the continuation of the medieval Jahiliya (Ignorance) in the holy garb of Islam- the Islamic Jahilia (the Islamic Medieval Ignorance). Modern Islam is, indeed, merely a continuation of that medieval tribal ignorance and mental backwardness.

Since the advent of the Saudi oil, petrodollars started to support the Islamic extremist movements all over the world and continue to do so. The Saudi petrodollars have created thousands of Islamic centres for social and political control and propaganda- the mosques-all over the world; 1000 mosques were built in the USA only in just last few years. Islamic brainwashing and political propaganda continues in these mosques and madrassas-the religious schools, as well as through the Islamic newspapers, magazines, radios and televisions. All kind of extremist Islamic terrorism and fundamentalism emanates and flows from the " Kernel of Evil- the Epicentre of the ugly Islamism-the Saudis". For Allah of the Saudis makes submission to Islam obligatory for all humans. Those who refuse their submission to Allah or differ from the Saudi version of Islam are called the Satan's party, and must be eliminated by Saudis or their paid and brainwashed zombies-the Muslims- called the Allah's party. Saudi Arabia is in fact the worst example of Islamic medievalism, and mental, social backwardness. Slavery was legal in Saudi until 1960s when it was officially abolished on the personal request of the non-Muslim US President J F Kennedy! However, it continues in new names: the foreign female domestic servants-the private property of the Islamic Bedouin barbarians. Saudi petrodollars continue to support the extremist and fundamentalist mullahs, and continue to lure the Islamic states into the barbarity of the Islamic medieval Shariah laws, and the Saudis continue to spread Islamic mullah terrorism and Islamic theocratic totalitarianism all over the world."

Iran basically an Islamic spiritual colony, is the godfather of the Shiite Islamic terrorism,( Saudi Sunnis are an Islamic sect like the Christian Catholics while Shiites are like the Protestant Christians). This Allah's government in Iran is the most evil religious state today. Torture, murder and Islamic absolutism- an Islamic version of Hitler's Nazism, Stalin's Communism and Mussolini's Fascism combined. There were 5,195 political and religious executions only in 1983 alone! Few years ago a bill was presented in Iranian Parliament asking that in according with the tradition of Islamic prophet, marriage should be allowed with 9 years old girl child! Human rights are definitely not allowed to exist in the Islamic Iran, where according to the English language Radio Iran, the Holy Spirit of imam Khomeni hovers over Iran all the times. Women have been hanged on suspicion of sexual crimes. Even proved virgins have been sent to gallows, however, they are hanged only after being raped, as Iranian Islam does not allow hanging of virgins. Iran had used its oil money in the interest of Islamic revolutions all over the world, and continues to do so.

Algeria, known for its Islamic civil war continues with its Islamic horrors. Islamic absolutism and totalitarianism is imposed with guns and slaughters in the interest of religion of Islam. Men are usually killed for their religio-political crimes while women are killed just for the crime of being a woman in an Islamic country. Thousands were islamically raped and more than 500 were killed only in 1993. Women have been killed for not wearing hijab (veil) or refusing to do so when imposed, for refusing to engage in Iranian-style temporary marriage, for being married to foreign men, and for working and living alone. The victims have been as young as 9 years and as old as 69 years. Women are often raped and tortured before being slaughtered. Thousands find themselves imprisoned in Islamic camps for no legitimate reasons. It is worth mentioning that women had a respectable status in society before the conquest of Algeria by Islam.

Egyptians, heir to the great Pharonic and Alexandrian civilizations continue to suffer the chronic evil of Islam. Known for the miseries of hijab and female genital mutilation, Egypt is also a centre of child prostitution for the wealthy Saudi Islamic Bedouins. In Egypt, four out of five women are forced to wear some kind of hijab. Female genital mutilation is very common; up to 73% in Cairo and 95% in rural areas. In 1995 a shaikh (religious dignity) of Al-Azhar University Cairo issued a fatwa (the religious decree or bill), which reportedly announced the procedure pf Female Genital Mutilation as "laudable practice that does honour to women"; and stating that it was, a religious duty as important as praying to Allah.

Sudan had a long history of Islamic conquest and repression. Islamic totalitarianism and barbarity continues to this day. Recently, Sudan was brutalized by the Saudi-backed Gen.Numeri's Islamic fascism. In 1992 a religious decree-fatwa-was issued that gave justification to the military onslaught against the non-Muslims. Islamic barbarism and genocide continues in Darfur to this day.

Indonesian Islamic army mass-murdered 200,000 East Timurian non-Muslims before East Timur got its independent. The country is known for its extreme religiosity, corruption, ethno-religious problems and Islamic extremism.

Pakistan, an experimental laboratory of Islam, had turned into a horror. Notwithstanding the hundreds of thousands of rapes, abductions and murders under the watchful eyes of the very Christian administration of the Holy Roman British Empire at the time of religious division of the Indian sub-continent in 1947 by the Christian British Empire, when half a million people were forced to migrate, Pakistan has never made any certain move towards civilization. Pakistan is a centre of Islamic fundamentalism, extremism and terrorism. Pakistan's very Islamic army invaded her province of East Pakistan in 1971, killing hundreds of thousands of Bengali Muslims and non-Muslims and raping half a million women ranging 9-69 years in age, in its attempt to create a half breed Pak-Bengal race which would be loyal to Islam and Pakistan. In 1974 Pakistan army invaded its province of Baluchistan resulting in similar calamities. In 1980 Islamist General Zia ul Haq introduced further islamization under the Saudi pressure for introduction of the medieval and tribal Islamic Shariah.. Along with the compulsory public prayers, there were brutal Islamic laws for the very natural sexual acts and for the presumed blasphemy: the repressive Hudood Ordinance and the infamous Blasphemy laws. Thousands of innocent women continue to suffer under these and other Islamic fascist laws for mere allegations. Raped women had been sent to gallows for the crime of being raped. (Islamic Shariah is the only system of law, which punishes the victims: Fatemollah). Pakistani state has proved to be a willing and sinister instrument of the evil Islamic mullah fascism and terrorism. Pakistan created the hated Afghan Taliban and many other such organizations in Afghanistan. Similar organizations continue to flourish in Pakistan and try to create a totalitarian and fascist Islamic state. Despite all tall claims of fight against Islamic terrorism, the evil continues to flourish. Pakistan is undoubtedly a major source of supply for the Iraqi terrorism. Illicit drug trade continues with the blessings of the Islamic mullahs and the ISI (the Islamic Military Intelligence). There are Islamic prostitution centres in every Islamic city of the Islamic Pakistan where abducted and non-Muslim women are forced to suffer. The secular, liberal and rationalist intellectuals continue to suffer in Pakistan like the victims of the infamous Christian inquisition of medieval Europe. While the Christian churches burnt the heretics, Islamic mullahs get them indicted for Blasphemy.

Eternal vigilance is the price of civilization.


While fundamentalism, superstition, ignorance, lack of human rights, female genital mutilations, forced seclusion of women within their houses and in their hijabs; religious extremism, fundamentalism, suicide-bombing and Islamic terrorism continue to be the hallmarks of the Muslim states and societies under the influence of the Saudi Islamic Spiritual Empire of the petro-dollars or Iranian Shiite area of influence under its Shiite oil-money; it is high time for the civilized world to wake-up from the stupor of multi-culturism and blind tolerance of the organized intolerance; for the disease is spilling herein already. Many of the acts of the Islamic states and societies, organizations and individuals are barbaric and medieval; the beheading of the innocent hostages, death penalties and murders for religious reasons; chopping of hands and feet; stoning to death of women for getting raped or on accusation of natural sexual intercourse; honor-killing on mere suspicion, suicide-bombings and acts of terrorism; these are indicative of a deep-seated disease. Murder on the name of a merciful Allah is mere hypocrisy.

The rise of Saudi-sponsored extremist Islam is a danger to civilization everywhere. All extremist Muslims are potential terrorists and Allah's soldiers. There should be no tolerance for this religiously organized intolerance against liberalism, human rights and women's equal status and other manifestations of our civilization. Muslims in civilized and democratic societies should be required to take the oath of loyalty to the state and democracy. Political right to vote to those whose political loyalties are located in some far off desert is not only harmful but also suicidal for the state as well as for the very ideology and system of democracy. Political right to vote for those who wish to destroy the very system of democracy? Think again, Ladies and gentlemen.

There is no place for optimism for a liberal Islam. Nearly all Islamic states and states have failed to appreciate the basic human rights of their people, their women and their minorities. Saudis and Emirates are the worst offenders; and are the financial godfathers of fundamentalism, extremism and Islamic backwardness everywhere.. Nearly every Islamic country is dangerous not only for itself but for the world as a whole. Pakistan, for example, after supplying Iran and with Korea with nuke-secrets continues to offer the dangerous technology; Vietnam and Brazil are the new customers. The nuke-terrorist Dr. Abdul Qadir Kahn is safe, well protected and facilitated by the State of Pakistan, with full impunity, of course.

You civilized people! Yesterday you refused to acknowledge the dangers inherent in the rise of the Christian Nazi and Communist ideologies. Yesterday you supported Islamic Taliban even when they trampled rights of their women under their feet. Your refusal to confront militant Islam today may cost us more dearly than our individual lives-our cherished achievement -our civilization. Beliefs have consequences-the centrality of Islam to mental, social, intellectual and cultural backwardness; organized offences against women and minorities; fundamentalism, extremism and modern terrorism are impossible to deny. "Religions of peace and tolerance" are mere empty words.

Islam is an organized crime against humanity!

India: Miss World in trouble with astrology

When one of the most beautiful women in the world gets ready to marry, curiosity is running high. In case of Aishwarya Rai , one of the top most Indian actresses and former “Miss World”, people may be a bit disappointed though: the chosen one is just an ordinary mud pot! Seriously, the lady is going to have a full-fledged Hindu marriage with priest and parents and pujas and all the rituals and ceremonies, just to become a mud pot’s wife. That is a proposal of her astrological advisers, as you may have guessed, and since beauty does not prevent gullibility (and obviously even her university education did not help much), she is all set to succumb to it.

Of course, the story will not end there. The young widow – because the poor bridegroom will be brutally broken into pieces before the marriage is consumed – will soon proceed to her second wedding. Actor Abhishek Bachchan is already in the queue. And that will then also be her last one, if the astrologers are to be trusted. Ash, as fans fondly call her, is a manglik , allegedly born in a special astrological constellation that is spelling misfortune for her potential husband. “In her horoscope, Rahu is placed in the 12th house which signifies marital problems”, says Pandit Sridhar Pandey in the holy city of Varanasi , who had the great ideas with the mud pot and is performing all the pujas that Ash and the rich and famous Bachchan family have to undergo these days.

If a man, who is not a manglik himself, marries a manglik woman, he is risking his life, claim the astrologers. Indian newspapers use to have special advertisement columns “Manglik bride searches for manglik groom”. Still many manglik girls from devout Hindu families find it difficult to get married.

India deserves a (more) dignified and responsible President

Sanal Edamaruku
Sanal Edamaruku
President, Indian Rationalist Association and
Rationalist International

The poet-President & the “creator of the universe”

India’s President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam has been the chief guest during the glamorous birthday show of controversial godman Sai Baba on 23rd November 2006. It is shameful and outrageous that the Indian President pays respect to a saffron charlatan, who exploits the gullible by claiming that he can produce ‘holy ash” from thin air, cure all illnesses, has created the universe and other nonsense more. It aggravates the case against President Kalam that he did not content himself with performing a kind of public relations routine, but went out of his way praising and glorifying the charlatan.

“I have immense love for Sai Baba”, Dr. Kalam said in his speech at Sai Baba’s headquarters in Puttaparthi . “I penned a poem in my mother tongue to greet Sai Baba on his birthday.” And he was not ashamed to read his poem (in a Telugu translation of the Tamil original) publicly to the cheering crowd of Sai Baba devotees. The rather embarrassing piece glorified Sai Baba as a glittering lighthouse and symbol of goodness. Because of Sai Baba’s presence, the President of India rejoiced, the earth was the most blessed planet in the solar system.

This is not only extremely silly and in bad taste. It is moreover irresponsible and undignified to a degree that is not compatible with the august office of the Indian President. President Kalam has misrepresented India and betrayed the trust of her people. India deserves a (more) dignified and responsible President.

India’s President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam & Satya Sai Baba
India’s President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam & Satya Sai Baba

The scientist-President & the exposed miracle man

It is deplorable that there are still many poor people in India, who are deprived of basic education and who don’t have any opportunity to develop scientific literacy. They are easy prey for frauds, fanning their fears and raising their hopes with “miracles” and promises of magical solutions for all problems. Miracle mongers and faith healers are inflicting a dangerous disease upon the weakest section of Indian society and have to be stopped by all means. It has to be one of the primary tasks of human development in India, to help the victims of superstition and blind belief to break the shackles of their archaic mindset and join the twenty first century.

Besides being the Indian President, Dr. Abdul Kalam is seen as one among the most prominent scientists of India and has raised great hopes for a better future, guided and protected by science. His concept “Vision 2020” promises to lead India smoothly into the orbit of the developed world. If a man of this stature and position uses his influence to come to the rescue a scandal-tainted godman, he commits a serious and unpardonable betrayal.

The children’s President & the alleged child abuser

In recent years, Sai Baba has hit international headlines as the center of another scandal. The aging godman stands accused of sexual abuse of minors among his devotees. Numerous cases of victims from India and abroad have come to light. Though Indian authorities seem still far away from opening a trial against the well-connected offender, too many victims and witnesses - mainly from Europe and USA - have broken their silence to further ignore his crimes. Some of their statements are recorded in articles that appeared in the London based The Daily Telegraph and in the film documentary "Seduced by Sai Baba", produced by the Danish State Television. In 2000, UNESCO washed its hands off Sai Baba by deciding neither to sponsor nor take part in a conference it had been planning to organize along with the Institute of Sathya Sai Education (ISSE, Thailand) and The Flinders University Institute of International Education (Australia), in Puttaparthi, India.

But all this seems not enough to stop President Dr. Abdul Kalam from publicly praising the fallen saffron star to the skies and lending him the shield of national honor to cover his shame. It is a shocking and somewhat macabre picture to see President Kalam, who loves to show himself in the company of children and cultivates an image of the great friend, promoter and protector of India’s youth, quite unperturbed and in such cordial relations with the man, who is held responsible for using his godly image to commit cruel and inhuman sexual abuse against hundreds of helpless minor devotees.

Philanthropy? A letter to the Indian President

Tainted and defeated, Sai Baba found a new avatar. One year back, on the occasion of his eightieth birthday, fans announced his transformation from miracle-man to philanthropist. Sai Baba's trust , which claims to be "the biggest NGO in the world after the United Nations", has allegedly spent millions of Dollars for drinking water, hospital and school projects around Puttaparthi (Andhra Pradesh) and in Bangalore (Karnataka). His down-to-earth development work is winning Sai Baba "even the hearts of non-believers", hoped his supporters.

In December 2005, I have written a letter to President Dr. Abdul Kalam, which was never answered. It demanded criminal investigations against Sai Baba. "If Sai Baba's social development projects are meant to be indulgence to nullify his crimes, this procedure is unprecedented and unacceptable", I wrote. "It is a shame for India that well-founded accusations and numerous reputed witnesses against Sai Baba are ignored without any investigation. Do saffron clothes make an offender untouchable for the law? Do we have to tolerate that political protectionism raises its head so boldly, mocking India's democracy?" I asked in my letter.

Spending a part of the great fortunes, swindled out of the gullible by pretending to have supernatural powers, for social development around his ancestral village doesn't make Sai Baba a great philanthropist. It is a well-known strategy of dacoits and gangsters, to build themselves a strong support base and a safe haven by winning the total loyalty of "their" villagers at home. Hasn't the cocaine mafia in Colombia done the same with their comparatively modest means? By the way, isn’t it a matchless irony that Sai Baba spends money, obtained by claiming the power to cure all illnesses, for super-specialty hospitals? Sai Baba himself, when he recently fell ill, preferred to be treated in one of his modern hospitals instead of relying on his own magic.

The people of India have a basic right to receive drinking water, appropriate medical care, education etc. It is the duty of any government to provide these essential goods. And it is an utter humiliation, if people are forced to receive their dues as alms from the hands of a "philanthropist" who expects them to bow theirs heads in front of him and praise his generosity. The situation becomes worse, if the government leaves the citizens in dependency of a "philanthropist", who is a criminal and a megalomaniac, and claims that he has supernatural powers and even created the universe. Sai Baba's birthday has become a day of national shame for India with a section of leading politicians, scientists and artists at the feet of a charlatan and alleged child abuser. If they express their devotion, because they are personally weak and gullible people, we have to ask ourselves why we don't elect confident, efficient, strong and intelligent politicians instead. If they do so because they want to celebrate the "benevolence" of a politically well-connected fraud and alleged criminal, they are deeply corrupt.

Saint or Sex Maniac?

The Two Kanchi Sankarachariyars, Jayendrar and Vijayendrar, who are now accused No: 1 and 2 respectively in a murder case of Kanchee- puram, have behaved like sex-maniacs according to letters written by Sankararaman, who was said to have been murdered by their hirelings.

According to certain published $ items, the behaviours of both of the Sankarachariyars has come to light. The $ report is given below:

The police have started to dig out the sex complaints made against the Sankarachariyar. They are now making secret enquiries to ascertain about the ladies with whom the Sankarachariyar was said to have connections as found in the letter written by Sankararaman.

In one of the letters written by Sankararaman, it has been described that the Kanchi Sankara Madam has become the harem of Sankarachariyars. Jayendrar was described as an ‘Arab Sheik’ by Sankararaman for his sexual affairs with ladies.

There is a boy named Ananthu, the brother of the Telegu youth Prakash, living in America. Jayendrar used to read the pornographic magazines and books sent by this boy and practically enjoyed sex life as described in these books, it was alleged in the letter of Sankararaman.

It is alleged that Jeyandrar used to have sex with one Prema, nicknamed as Panparak, the wife of Natarajan in a peculiar way. All these sexual acts will be enacted in the presence of her husband. This fact was revealed in the letter written by Sankararaman in a false name of Somasekara Pandian.

It was also alleged in the letter that Jayendrar has arranged for the construction of a hospital for a lady doctor with whom he was having sexual affairs. In this letter, Sankararaman revealed and expalained in detail giving the list of ladies with whom Jayendrar was haviang sexual affairs. Villupuram Kanagavalli, Mumbai Prema, Thangammal, Vijaya, Tirupathi Aunty, Mythili, Thambaram Baby, Leela and there is no end for such a list.

The police is now making investigations and have started enquiries with all these ladies mentioned in the letters of Sankararaman with whom Jeyandrar was said to have been having sexual affairs. It is also reported that another set of sexual cases are being processed and Jayendran can be arrested again based on these allegations.

(Source: Malai Murasu : 22-2-2005)

[In the year 1983, in the book ‘Saint or Sectarian’ our Editor, K.Veeramani, hinted these kinds of their moral turpitude.

Now we are happy the police, through its investigations, brings these things to light.

The Dravidar Kazhagam’s Women’s Wing has agitated a few weeks back demanding to book them under the Indian Penal Code for thse criminal acts! ]

Theism - an obstacle to social progress

Levi Fragell
Former President , IHEU, London

All who are here - and humanists, atheists and freethinkers all over the world - are filled with grief and sorrow after the enormous disaster which struck this part of the globe in the middle of the festivities called Christmas,the celebration of the birth of the Christian god. But our despair is mixed with anger. Why should an immense catastrophe again hit the poorest ones, those who had to build their simple homes close to the seashore to feed their families and earn their living. Why do always the worst catastrophes - those not caused by civilisations, but by the so-called acts of God - why do they hit so hard on the world’s underprivileged? Those who live in houses of mud and clay; the old ones who cannot escape in time; the bedridden; the small children, playing on the beach. They are just as nice, honest and god-fearing as the rich people, living in stronger houses, made of solid brick, reinforced with iron rods and sheltered from cyclones and floods. Why should their gods punish them again and again for just being poor?

Why the poor suffer more?

Don’t the suffering million ask the same question? Of course they do. But they give the wrong answers. Or, more correctly - they are given the wrong answers by their religious leaders: bow your head, go down on your knees. Nobody can understand the ways of the Almighty, but he loves you so much. Just pray more, bring more sacrifices - so next time he may rescue you from evil and loss.

Such words may comfort individuals. But the religious answers do not give comfort to all. Every holocaust creates atheists. The stumbling block of unjust suffering becomes a step to new insight; If there is an almighty god, he cannot be good. A circle can not at the same time be a quadrangle. The god concept becomes meaningless. After the second world war, where millions of Jews were exterminated, thousands of Jews became atheists. Without having statistical evidence - I feel sure it exists somewhere. _ I do think there are more atheists among educated Jews than in any other ethnic community. One of them is the famous scientist Sir Herman Bondi, who has meant so much to the Atheist Centre here in Vijayawada.

But what is the atheist response to the natural catastrophes? Of course we will comfort the suffering, show compassion and give help - as the Indian Atheist Centre has done again and again during floods and earthquakes. But the basic, functional and long-term atheist and humanist response goes even further, beyond the humanitarian efforts. It consists of two questions and one appeal : The first question is : What can we - the world - learn from the catastrophe? And the second : What can we do with the knowledge we obtain? And the appeal is : Do it!

It may still be too early to draw conclusions about what we can learn from the recent disaster. But humanists will never turn their back to what has happened and hope to better luck next time. We want to know. We have to learn. May be what we learn will concern the forecast technology, the warning systems, the information channels, the international rescue awareness and potentials etc. If this kind of matters are problems that must be solved, the atheist and humanist appeal is : Do it! Stop producing bombs to some time, and develop the technology that can save lives. Make sure that electronic warning systems are upto date also in the third world, that satellite communication, land-based transmission and broadcast systems are distributed fairly throughout the world. And build safe houses to the poor, before you build religious cathedrals.

Criticism of Theism

Should the atheists blame the theists - those who belive in god - for the social and political shortcomings in this world ? Not at all - as individuals. Religious people have usually been among the first to help and support the victims of disasters. My parents were Christians, and both of them were nicer, more moral, more contributing to their neighbourhood than I will ever be. It is a fine and difficult balance to accept god believers as freinds on one hand - and criticise Theism on the other. It is necessary to make clear what in theism you crititcise. My own criticism of theism includes the following three parts of the theistic tradition, all three of them etymologically and semantically connected to the word theism.

The first one is Theology, which is the teaching or the doctrines about god, based on so called holy-scriptures. These doctrines claim to be the absolute truth about scientific matters, for instance the origin of the Universe, they explain the meaning of life for all and everybody and give the final laws and rules to moral behaviour. As secular knowledge and human experience accumulates, the religious doctrines often become more and more dysfunctional - inhuman and suppressive. The conditions for women in many theology-based cultures are one example. Social development is obstructed and natural human needs are neglected. For more than two thousand years humanists and philosophers in India, Greece, Rome - and later on all over the world - have attacked theology as the absolute truth. This has been a major contribution to the civilisation. Criticism of theology is still extremely important for the future welfare of millions.

Stop producing bombs to some time, and develop the technology that can save lives

Another effect of theism is theosophy, the wisdom from god. I am not particularly thinking of The Theosophical Society, established here in India by Madame Blavatsky. But she exemplifies the tradition. She insisted that she got her wisdom, her knowledge, in a supernatural way via her Masters in the Himalayas. Thousands of sect-leaders have insisted that they have had the same kind of revelations, through visions, dreams and encounters with angels and holy ghosts. Some of these experiences have had enormous consequences, like the Mosaic religion, Christianity and Islam. More often the followers have been more limited in number, but sometimes very harmful. In Sweden we have recently had murders based on claimed revelations from god. Since the 1970s the New Age movement has been highly influenced by the mysticism of theosophy. So called alternative and spiritual science has been promoted often as the result of supernaturally channelled wisdom. And secular science has consequently been rejected.

The third negavice effect of theism is theocracy, which means a state or a society ruled by god. A state can be a democratic and a relatively open society even where theology has a high standing and even where the culture is influenced by theosophical irrationality. But in a theocracy democratic ideas are banned, the religious laws are the civil laws, the rulers are the priests, the judges are theologians, the executors are deacons.

Together are these three fruits of theism an obstacle for human progress - and a possible danger for our civilisation. Examples are the role of religion in nationalism, imperialism, the biblical fundamentalism in The Middle East, the “Gott mit uns” doctrine in most religions etc. We should not overtook the danger of nuclear, biological or chemical attacks based on religious insanity. Manmade disasters may be worse than any earthquake.

But today’s question is : Can atheism also contribute to reducing the effects of natural catastrophes? I would not be a humanist if I did not think so. How? We do not belive in the final Apocalypse, willed and arranged by any god. We do not accept theologically-based restrictions on scientific research. We know that a civilisation that can explore moons and planets, get rid of polio, clone life and send a picture from this audience directly to my wife in Norway from my mobile - also can protect fishermen, their wives and children from extinction on the shores of the Indian ocean. I do not think any human effort can prevent the earth to quake or the volcanoes to erupt. The nature will always get the last word, and in a few billions of years our planet will collapse and the molecules disappear into the endless eternal Universe. But till then the godless minority will fight dogmatism and superstition on all levels of society to improve life for humankind, transcend the irrational obstacles for human progress. But let us get President Bush out of the scientific laboratories.

(From : Atheist - Feb., 2005)

Bakti is either foolishness or fraudulence

Periyar E.V.Ramasamy

What is Bakti (devotion to God)? Going to temples and worshipping idols, being deep in meditation, applying either Naamam or Viboothi on the forehead, being loyal to the Brahmins and making them presents in cash and kind, reading Ramayana, Mahabharatha, Bhagavatha, various Puranas etc, and listening to religious discourses are deemed by Brahmins as the activities of the devotees.

Going to temples and other places of worship, undertaking pilgrimage to holy places, reciting psalms, hymns or devotional songs are considered to be the activities of real devotees.

When they speak about Bakti, they refer only to some such activities. It has no relation to intellectual activity or to any of the human values and qualities like morality, honesty, gratitude, being helpful, uprightness etc. They do not refer to the good qualities we have to follow while dealing with others.

If the above qualities had been propagated among the people as essential ones to be adhered to, we would not find among them so much of indiscipline and dishonesty.

We see people putting on religious marks on their foreheads (like Naamam or Viboothi), going to temples, performing poojas at home, chanting various names of gods, etc. They are lauded as activities of true devotees. But we are not able to find among them even a fraction of qua-lities like honesty, morality, upright-ness etc. What is the reason?

Generally devotion to God is nothing but sheer selfishness; it is of no use to others. Even if any benefit accrues due to Bakti, it accrues only to the concerned individual, and no one else is benefitted by it in any way.

But if a person cares for ethics and is honest, those values will make him / her a respectable one and benefit those among whom that person lives.

If a person is lacking in his devotion to a deity (Bakti), it does no harm to others. But if a person’s behaviour is unethical and if he is not honest, will it not harm those around him, make them miserable and to suffer loss, and give them mental agony?

Conduct or behaviour that is basically harmful (essentially injurious) to others is unethical and dishonest.

All Gods, every one of them, are capable of only forgiving or punishing the scoundrels who harm the people. They are incapable of preventing a being or a person causing misery to other beings or persons.

When a person, who has harmed others, is punished, it may help to prevent him / her repeating the same kind of behaviour. But in what way God can compensate the affected person for the suffering caused or the harm done? Even if the affected persons are good devotee, they meet with the same result. God does not help them in any way.

Is the practice of devotion to God capable of atleast improving the character of a peson? Or is it helpful in preventing harm being caused to others?

So I ask: Is not the practice of Bakti a foolish, fraudulent and useless activity?