Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Superstition of Gold

The air was so thick with smoke. Autos spewing white fumes burnt my eyes. The helmet didn’t help. My brain was getting cooked in it on this hot summer evening. The traffic wouldn’t move for the last 5 minutes. Surrounding me on the road were some of the most expensive cars money could buy. Jaguars, BMWs, dime a dozen Mercs, even a Range Rover. The traffic police were salivating as they fined every car and bike owner for having parked in the No-Parking zones outside the gold shops at Panjagutta. This was the Akshaya Tritiya pandemonium which happens every year to reveal the heights of superstition by humanity pinning hopes of prosperity on that elusive Auric element.

Every gold shop was full. People were jostling about to purchase even a gram of gold. Because buying gold on this day would supposedly herald the next year of richness and prosperity. As if the man made system of days and years was going to control our actions and somehow forgive our sins to give us only wealth. The earth keeps revolving around the sun. That didn’t change. The hot summer was upon us. That didn’t change either. People were born, living and dying. Even that didn’t change. So for the life of me, I cannot fathom why people go berserk on this day and throw all their faith on the atomic soft yellow element hoping it will magically turn their lives into alchemy.

Superstition has plagued us for ages and always will. It is the basis for satisfying our hurt egos when something goes wrong. Because humans have always found it difficult to accept themselves as the root cause for anything. A few examples:

1. As per vaastu, south facing houses are a strict no. So these houses are never built as far as possible. Yet, in this same country of Indians, south facing houses are considered the most auspicious in Tamil Nadu. I wonder whether they were made upside down or whether the rest of the country was. Either ways, everyone’s alive and kicking.

2. Do not sleep with your head towards the north. Because Lord Ganesha lost his head when defending his mother Parvathi against his father Shiva. So Shiva plonked the first available animal’s head found in the north (no guesses for which animal) on the boy’s decapitated body and created Lord Ganesha. Therefore the belief is we should not sleep towards the north either. But a human’s internal magnetic system is aligned with the earth’s magnetic field. It is a healing process and this means we should sleep with our heads towards the north. But who wins this argument? And what about the Christians, Muslims, Jains, Buddhists etc.? Who’s going to tell them not to sleep with their heads towards the north?

3. Sneezing before starting an activity is bad. But 2 sneezes in a row is ok. Or if only one sneeze happened, then wait for some time before beginning the activity. How much time? No one knows. Some say 5 minutes all the way upto half an hour.

Superstition happened when humans had more time on their hands and tried explaining all that happened to go one up on the other. Over the ages, so many have come about that they are now an integral part of our lives. It has become a belief system which gives us much relief when things go our way and a way to throw the blame on the divine when things don’t.

Animals have no such beliefs. They just follow the laws of nature. Even domesticated dogs and cats know when an earthquake is about to happen. Their sixth sense tells them so and they begin running for no apparent reason known to us. Same for other animals. Their sixth sense helps them move to areas of safety when the earth is about to shift. We have blocked our sixth senses with so much clutter of the mind and instead resort to buying a metal like gold on a man made day of the year because our actions will somehow be tuned to attracting more wealth. Such a Pavlovian method of thought.

The earth still revolves around the sun. The traffic cops along with the hot summer breeze must have laughed yesterday to see everyone doing frog leaps to barter a natural element paid for with artificially valued paper.

1 comment:

Savvy said...

Superstition is something man made out of the extra time they had - valid point Shankar. But the way i see it , every person in this world follows superstition in the form of sentiments, but the intensity might vary from person to person.