Holy Water

Apparently the Hindu Nationalist government of India is promoting the "discovery" of the ancient river that features strongly in the Vedas, the Saraswati.  They claim to have found its ancient course and have dug some ditches and holes, finding groundwater.  Some are promoting this water as a universal cure all.  Hindu Nationalism is deeply tied the mythology of the Hindu religion, and deeply invested in some rather credulous interpretations of those myths.

The attachment to religious mythology is convenient since it permits unlimited glorification of the accomplishments of Indian civilization in the past, including the invention of agriculture and even nuclear weapons in ancient times.  It also fosters a festering resentment of India's place in the world today.  To an outsider, this seems silly.  The very real and verified accomplishments of Indian civilization, in literature, mathematics, technology and philosophy are enough for any nation to be proud of.  Conjuring up improbable or bogus accomplishments looks counterproductive.  Selling religious malarkey is more likely to retard progress than aid it.

It's a not unfamiliar circumstance in the West.  It took a titanic struggle to establish science and free it from the dead hand of religious tyranny, and anyone familiar with American politics can see that that battle is never quite won.  In India, it appears, religion and myth are even more deeply embedded in the culture than was the case in the West, and it's a fearful thing to separate a culture from its religous core.

I have commented previously on how Hindu Nationalism seems to have suppressed data from the study of DNA from an Indus Valley Civilization site at Rakhigarhi, and led the principal investigator to issue misleading press releases.  When religion trumps science, a nation's progress is likely to suffer.  The problem is that the data suggests that the earliest known Indian Civilization is not directly ancestral to Hindu civilization, but that many elements of that civilization, including the Vedas, the most ancient religious documents, were created by foreign invaders.

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