Beware of the black cat because it forebodes destruction for you! Breaking a glass on the eve of a journey brings seven years of bad luck! There are witches and black magicians who can cast a spell on you and make you respond mechanically to their dark wishes. Such beliefs still exist in our ‘educated’ society.
Superstitions, according to some thinkers, are man’s attempt to know the unknown and explain the inexplicable. For example, a man has two serious accidents on Thursdays in a particular year. Next year he has another accident on a Thursday. He reaches the profound conclusion that God does not want him to travel on Thursdays. He therefore consults an astrologer about preventing ill-luck on a Thursday.
Astrologers nowadays are generally well- spoken and highly educated cheats. They milk the fear of these individuals with the most lucrative consequences. The man who had the accident has no way to find out what God’s will is. He tries to develop an explanation for the misfortune that has struck him thrice, attempting to know the incomprehensible will of God. Thus he is trapped in a whirlpool of superstitions.
This is not an attempt to insult people who believe that astrology is a science. Many respectable authorities nowadays believe that planetary positions do affect human beings. But nobody can deny is that astrology has been used by unscrupulous individuals to insult the trust of an infinite number of vulnerable individuals who think that a particular lucky stone decides our destiny.
There was a time when people of higher castes stayed away from even the shadows of the lower caste because they believed that being polluted by the shadow of an inferior class invited bad luck. Even today housewives in numerous middle class Brahmin families wash the entire floor themselves after the sweeper who cleans the toilet leaves the house. In many Indian villages, you shall still find wells and temples where access to people of lower birth is denied.
Isn’t it ironic that this is the same India which has been eulogised by scholars like Max Mueller as a country where the human mind has developed some of its choicest faculties? Is it not supremely farcical that a country with Nobel Prize winners still finds cases of women being burned at their husband’s funeral pyre or women being beaten to death because they are suspected of practising witchcraft? It is not that the western society is immune to superstitions. Friday the thirteenth is a terror day for many in the West and it is not surprising to find hotels in the USA where room number thirteen is absent. But this cannot be an excuse for certain sections of the Indian society to resort to illogical practices that insult human intelligence.