A few weeks ago I had written an article about twenty five of the many pseudoscientific rationalisations of Hindu traditions floating around the internet. If there’s one thing a Hindu likes, that is validating their beliefs using science. It doesn’t matter to them that they’ve been fed with lies. Hell, they don’t even realise it most of the time. It certainly doesn’t help that they also do have a very skewed idea of what science really constitutes. It’s because of their ignorance that they’re happy assimilating the extremely widespread lie that Hinduism is scientific; they don’t bother verifying any of it.
It’s not all their fault. When in doubt, some of them do the right thing and look up for information. Sadly, most of what they find are articles by many Hinduism promoting websites that fuel their ignorance by presenting completely manufactured nonsense as science. They use scientific sounding words and terms to entice people who have no idea what they really mean. Of course, they cannot fool anyone with at least a rudimentary understanding of science, but a majority of Hindus simply don’t make that cut. They’re miserably poor at distinguishing fact from fiction.
An article of this kind has existed for a while now. It keeps resurfacing in my news feed. It makes fantastical claims about visiting temples and the positive effects it can have on humans. Total bullshit of course, but Hindus really buy it. They’ll use this exact article to convince you of the untold wonders of visiting the temple. I, right here, present to you a rebuttal to that article.
Why visit temples
Unfortunately, I have no idea where it originated. A quick internet search will reveal hundreds of copies and variations of that article. I’ll just be tackling the most common manifestation of the piece here.
Let’s get started, shall we?
The perfect opening
There are thousands of temples all over India in different size, shape and locations but not all of them are considered to be built the Vedic way. Generally, a temple should be located at a place where earth’s magnetic wave path passes through densely. It can be in the outskirts of a town/village or city, or in middle of the dwelling place, or on a hilltop. The essence of visiting a temple is discussed here.
Let’s break that down
- Weasel words: That passage and the rest of the writeup contains a load of ambiguous claims. Words like “not all of them” and “generally” are used to keep it vague enough to allow one to change or modify their claims when challenged, yet keep it similar enough to the original statement so it seems as if that was what they meant. That makes it difficult to refute, unless one is willing to go to great lengths and break it down. You’re welcome.
- Magnetic waves?! They’re not a real thing – at least not for a non-moving magnet like, you know, the gigantic magnetic field of the earth. Sure, there do exist such a thing called magnetic lines of induction, but they are evenly distributed across any given latitude. Along a longitude though, there will be more lines of induction passing through a given object the closer it gets to the poles. The northernmost tip of India will have a little over 24% more magnetic lines of induction per given area than its southernmost tip.
- Idiotic, isn’t it? More magnetic lines per unit area in the north and yet we have temples almost evenly distributed throughout the land of India. While the claims of India’s scientific prowess is questionable at best, there’s no doubt India never had ancient engineers.It’s an engineer’s duty to strive for efficiency. Given that they were stupid enough to think magnetic fields affect human beings, if they knew anything at all about magnetism they would never bother to build a temple in the south.
- Pseudoscience probable: It’s as if they never knew science at all, and have just recently begun to rationalise their superstitions.
Now, these temples are located strategically at a place where the positive energy is abundantly available from the magnetic and electric wave distributions of north/south pole thrust.
- Misuse of scientific terminology: The words ‘energy’ and ‘wave distributions’ describe certain precise entities in science. They don’t actually mean anything when misused, as is done here. Pseudoscientific works are notorious for misusing those terms to make it sound credible. It sounds like an impressive fact to the ignorant, but it really is meaningless.
- Energy in reality: The energy of an object, in classical mechanics, is its capacity to perform work (work like energy is a precise scientific term). While, in convention, we do at times refer to positive and negative energy to simplify calculations, no such thing exists in reality. Energy is absolute; positive energy is not a thing.In fact, everything that is bound to earth because of its gravity – including you and me – is, in convention, said to have a net negative energy. Human made satellites have zero energy and objects that have overwhelmed the gravitational pull of the earth – the Voyager missions for instance – have net positive energies. Take your idol and slingshot it into the air as high as you can. When it falls back to the ground, know that it fell because of its negative energy.
- About location strategy: As mentioned earlier, it would’ve been smart to build a purported magnetism harnessing contraption closer to the poles. Every magnetic line of force throughout the earth passes through its two magnetic poles.
The main idol is placed in the core center of the temple, known as “Garbhagriha” or “Moolasthanam”. In fact, the temple structure is built after the idol has been placed. This “Moolasthanam” is where earth’s magnetic waves are found to be maximum.
- The purpose of the idol: They place the idol where they think they have the most magnetic waves. Then they build the temple around it. Was the idol really necessary? I know Hindus like making clay dolls (“action figurines” if you’re insecure about your sexuality) of their favourite fictional characters but isn’t it insulting to use them as a placeholder? Wouldn’t it be more prudent to use a marked stone instead?If you ever find a superman fan using a superman figurine as a placeholder to their Rochelle salt Fortress of Solitude, there would be riots. Oh! I get it now.
- Why is the idol still there? Is the idol at all responsible for channeling any of those non-existent magnetic waves? If not, why are the idols still kept there? If it does in fact channel magnetism, why is the location scouting necessary?
- Maximum waves?! To have more magnetic lines of induction pass through a region than is usual, that place has to have a substantially large amount of ferromagnetic materials. With a bit of engineering, the concentration of magnetism could be emulated rendering the location moot. People who really knew about the properties of matter wouldn’t be limited by “strategic” locations.
- How did they find the magnetism rich locations? Did they have some sort of a contraption that pointed them to the right areas?
We know that there are some copper plates, inscribed with Vedic scripts, buried beneath the Main Idol. What are they really? No, they are not God’s / priests’ flash cards when they forget the “shlokas”. The copper plate absorbs earth’s magnetic waves and radiates it to the surroundings.
- Copper is diamagnetic: It’s magnetic permeability is worse than the permeability of air or free space. There will be significantly fewer magnetic lines of induction through a block of copper than a container of a similar shape filled with air. Copper, in fact, weakly repels magnets. Any purported effect the magnetic field must’ve had would be cancelled by the copper.
- Absorption in magnetism?! There is no concept of absorption anywhere in magnetism. Magnetic lines of induction are a convention used to theoretically study magnetism. There is no absorption of any kind going on. Even if something like that did happen, copper would work worse than a block of cement. Paramagnetic materials like iron, cobalt and nickel would do really well.
- Magnetic radiation?! The number of magnetic lines of induction that get out of an object are always equal to the number that get in. The object does nothing to enhance or impede the path of those lines.
- Lazy rationalisation: The concept of absorption and radiation of magnetic fields have been a science fiction device for quite a while. It seems appropriate for Hindus to use it to promote their religion. Still, they could’ve been a bit more creative.
Thus a person regularly visiting a temple and walking clockwise around the Main Idol receives the beamed magnetic waves and his body absorbs it. This is a very slow process and a regular visit will let him absorb more of this positive energy. Scientifically, it is the positive energy that we all require to have a healthy life.
- Magnetism does not affect humans: Humans are made up of mostly water and organic compounds. They’re diamagnetic. Like copper, humans weakly repel magnets.
- No absorption possible: Magnetic fields are not something one can absorb as explained earlier.
- Misuse of ‘energy’: Energy mentioned here is a purely fictional concept and has got nothing to do with energy in reality.
- Scientifically? The entire article is laced with pseudoscience.
Lamps provide light?!
Further, the Sanctum is closed on three sides. This increases the effect of all energies. The lamp that is lit radiates heat energy and also provides light inside the sanctum to the priests or poojaris performing the pooja.
- Inconsistencies: How exactly does one expect a sanctum closed on three sides to enhance the effect of “energies”? If erecting barriers can stop outflow of energy, wouldn’t it prevent all that magnetic field from entering too?
- An element of truth: It must feel nice to say something factual after spewing over a dozen bullshit sentences. Yes, it’s true that a lit lamp radiates heat and provides light. It doesn’t get any better. It’s all downhill from here.
The idiot’s trance
The ringing of the bells and the chanting of prayers takes a worshipper into trance, thus not letting his mind waver. When done in groups, this helps people forget personal problems for a while and relieve their stress.
What really happens
- Association: In childhood, when one is taught to pray, they take comfort in the belief that they’re pleasing their gods. Doing something a lot forces the brain to make associations – in this case, it links prayer to comfort. Even after they’ve grown older and able to reason, those associations remain, which is why one might be able to pay their undivided attention to worship. Sadly, praying is worse than useless in the real world.
- It’s inefficacious: The stress relief from a group worshipping session is merely a placebo. It works only on those who believe it will. The same effect is felt by Christians in church, Muslims in mosques and members of other religions in their respective places of worship because they’re the most comfortable there. A non-Hindu won’t feel those effects in a Hindu temple.
Pleasant olfactory torture
The fragrance from the flowers, the burning of camphor give out the chemical energy further aiding in a different good aura.
- Misuse of scientific terminology: ‘Chemical energy’ is a scientific term that means a very precise thing – the potential for a chemical substance to undergo a chemical reaction. It is true that burning camphor will release chemical energy, but not as is suggested. The “energy given out” simply converts the solid camphor to gaseous camphor that continues to fuel the flame.
- The chemical reaction of burning camphor is useless. It serves no higher purpose than to act as a fuel for a small fire. It certainly doesn’t affect anything else, especially not something as non existent as auras.
- Camphor is toxic: At least the kind of camphor used in Hindu rituals are extremely dangerous to humans. Ingestion in any form including inhalation can cause increased heart rate, skin flushing, slower breathing, reduced appetite and increased body secretions. A dose of over 50ppm can cause irritability, disorientation, spasms, convulsions and seizures. Higher doses can be lethal.
- Auras are not real: It’s a common occurrence in pseudoscience laden articles to legitimise itself by capitalising on something equally nonsensical yet widely believed. Auras just don’t exist. We know it doesn’t because there is no evidence for it.
The effect of all these energies is supplemented by the positive energy from the idol, the copper plates and utensils in the Moolasthanam / Garbagraham.
- Null semanticity: This statement is actually quite an impressive little needle in a haystack full of bull. The sentence is grammatically correct. Perfect even, some might say. It just doesn’t mean anything, nothing at all.
- Who is supplementing whom? First, it says that the flowers and camphor aids the other stuff in the temple. Now, it’s the idol, the copper plates and the utensils that supplement the effect of the temple. Really? Get your shit together, man!
Spicy deity bathing
Theertham, the “holy” water used during the pooja to wash the idol is not plain water cleaning the dust off an idol. It is a concoction of Cardamom, Karpura (Benzoin), zaffron / saffron, Tulsi (Holy Basil), Clove, etc… Washing the idol is to charge the water with the magnetic radiations thus increasing its medicinal values.
A few notes
- First of all, thank you. I’ve been pondering the recipe all over and I just couldn’t find it. It’s been kind of hard to pinpoint the ingredients with all of that unwanted dust muddying my talented tastebuds.
- Alternate proposal: There is no magnetic radiation going on and you’re just consuming a generous helping of whatever unwelcome pathogens resided atop the idol. You’ve perhaps built an immunity to them through repeated ingestion. A foreigner would likely not fare as well.
- Medicinal value: What impending ailment does this miracle water purport to cure? It’s not a secret that each of those condiments have an effect on the body. Modern medicine has extracted all of their active ingredients and used them in drugs. The medicinal value of the concoction isn’t really an argument for visiting temples.
- More on the magnetic claim: Water does not absorb magnetism in any way. It cannot be “charged” in any sense of the term. It does not turn into a permanent magnet like, say, a bar of iron would. It’s diamagnetic. It impedes magnetism as compared to many magnetic and non-magnetic substances.
Three spoons of this holy water is distributed to devotees. Again, this water is mainly a source of magneto-therapy. Besides, the clove essence protects one from tooth decay, the saffron & Tulsi leafs protects one from common cold and cough, cardamom and Pachha Karpuram (benzoin), act as mouth fresheners. It is proved that Theertham is a very good blood purifier, as it is highly energized. Hence it is given as prasadam to the devotees.
- The magic number: I’m curious now. Does three actually mean anything here? Will any less or any more of this arguably tasty holy water be inefficacious? Is it three teaspoons or three tablespoons or three ladles? Does the dosage change per body weight? These are things a real practitioner of medicine would care about, by the way. When you make assertions, let it be measurable for once.
- Magneto-therapy is a sham: It just doesn’t work. Contrary to what you might believe, a magnet has no effect on your biochemistry. Even if it did, wouldn’t it be smarter to just attach clothes with magnetic sequins? Why visit temples when all that magnetic goodness could be worn all the time?No seriously, magnets don’t affect the body. An MRI machine, at about 10000 times the strength of earth’s magnetic field, does not affect the human body. That’s a machine that can rip the smallest pieces of metals, you might’ve swallowed and not eliminated, right out your gut.
- Good breath and better teeth? Is that really an argument for visiting a temple? Do you really want temples to be characterised as the place where people come to freshen their breath? I’m not saying I have a problem with that. It’s totally fine; you do you. In the meanwhile, I’ll just brush my teeth twice a day, floss, use mouthwash, and perhaps visit the dentist twice a year.
- False claim about the holy basil: It is known to temporarily boost the immune system but it cannot prevent the common cold as well as, say, staying away from all of humanity. No one can be made impervious to communicable illnesses without specifically immunising for them.
- Blood purification?! We’ve actually got organs for that – the lungs, the liver and the kidneys do their respective parts. Any enhancement to the process of purification of blood will have to, by necessity, enhance the functioning of those organs. Keep them well and they’ll do the same to you. What does energising, whatever that means, have anything to do with it? How does it make it any more necessary to visit a temple when it can be had at home with proper hygiene?
The ultimate cure
This way, one can claim to remain healthy by regularly visiting the Temples. This is why our elders used to suggest us to offer prayers at the temple so that you will be cured of many ailments.
The clean up
- Claim to remain healthy?! Yes, sure, they can claim all they like, but without any evidence to back it up, it’s just about as real as a claim such as ‘Hinduism is scientific.’ Both those claims are wrong as the evidence is overwhelmingly stacked against them. On the other hand, my claim that the Shiva Lingam is a dickhead is true, literally.
- Take a moment and think about it. It’s really crazy for one to suggest that regularly visiting temple insures health. It’s crazier to say that offering prayers will further enhance their odds of surviving a disease. Does it need to be explained how wrong that is?
Admission to ignorance
They were not always superstitious. Yes, in a few cases they did go overboard when due to ignorance they hoped many serious diseases could be cured at temples by deities.
Clearing the air
- They were not always superstitious? They thought they could cure serious diseases by visiting temples. That’s superstition. How does one go about saying two contradictory sentences one after another in an article that’s supposed to convince one to visit a temple? Or is it that your target audience is really that stupid?
- Oh! The maddening idiocy. When you say that visiting temples prevent illnesses, how can you call someone ignorant for doing the exact same thing you’ve recommended?
- Wait?! You just called them ignorant. Yes, you just did. So they were ignorant and they did stupid shit because of their ignorance. You’re here trying to convince us that they were extremely clever and scientific in their approach and have been rationalising the stupid shit they did. Which of the two is it?
Drown in energy
When people go to a temple for the Deepaaraadhana, and when the doors open up, the positive energy gushes out onto the persons who are there. The water that is sprinkled onto the assemblages passes on the energy to all. This also explains why men are not allowed to wear shirts at a few temples and women are requested to wear more ornaments during temple visits. It is through these jewels (metal) that positive energy is absorbed by the women.
- Curious about the wall: The walls and the doors have to be special here. It lets energy flow in but none of it flows out until the temple doors are opened. That’s despite the fact that the copper plates radiate away the magnetic energy. I’ve tried looking for a tinted glass like substance for magnetism but I haven’t found any yet. Clearly ancient Hinduism has a lot more to offer than meets the eye.
- Seriously though, gushing of positive energy? Considering the high priests of a temple open the doors daily (after it has collected a lot of energy, of course), they should be invincible. None of that happens. You can chill it with the pseudoscience. You’re not convincing anybody. Oh! Wait. That piece has been shared hundreds of thousands of times. Damn! You really know your audience well, don’t you?
- The shirt thing: Is it not at all possible that the wearing of a shirt is prohibited so as to expose all those who do not have the special Hindu thread on? Just say so. Sure, we’ll know you’re a bigot but you’ll at least be telling the truth.
- Shirt as an armour: You can prevent yourself from absorbing the gushing positive energy just by wearing a shirt. Wear it and walk into the temple as if you’ve got a bulletproof vest on.Important note to Hindus: It won’t prevent you from actual bullets. Just saying. No offence, but I’m seriously starting to question your intelligence after having seen that article shared so many times.
- Ornaments?! Gold and silver, the substance with which most jewellery are made, are diamagnetic just like copper, water and humans. They have fewer magnetic lines passing through them. When brought in close proximity with strong magnets they will actively repel them. You’re literally reducing the odds of women absorbing all that non-existent positive energy by making them wear more jewellery.
Also, it is a practice to leave newly purchased jewels at an idol’s feet and then wear them with the idol’s blessings. This act is now justified after reading this article. This act of “seeking divine blessings” before using any new article, like books or pens or automobiles may have stemmed from this through mere observation.
Cutting the crystals
- More fails: Jewels, as in precious stones, are mostly diamagnetic and like everything we’ve seen here, it slightly repels magnetic objects. Plus, magnetism isn’t something that can be absorbed.
- Meta article: The article breaks the fourth wall. It cites itself as a credible source of justification of ancient stupid practices. Hindu logic suggests there’s nothing wrong with that. Self validation is a common occurrence in Hindu rationalisation.
- Kinesiology is not real: Kinesiology is the study of crystals and the supernatural effect it has on people wearing them. It suggests stones are capable of inducing good luck and personality changes in people. None of that is true.
- Serious lack of communication: If the ancients did really believe doing those things would bring them blessings, why wouldn’t they just reveal it to their children? It’s not that difficult. It’s a five minute conversation they’ll remember their entire life. Were the ancients that much self-absorbed? Why leave to their children the task of observing and monkeying them when they could’ve simply explained the rationale of their beliefs?
Energy lost in a day’s work is regained through a temple visit and one is refreshed slightly. The positive energy that is spread out in the entire temple and especially around where the main idol is placed, are simply absorbed by one’s body and mind.
Plug in correctly
- Violation of a physical law: It takes energy to perform work. It takes energy to visit the temple. It takes energy to get out of the temple. Where, in this process, is energy regained? Sure, you have your bullshit explanation of magnetic waves and positive energy radiation but that’s absolutely false. Yes, you might have had something during your visit to the temple, but that’s basically just another food item. What explanation can you offer that might suggest one ends up with more energy on their way back from the temple?
- The placebo effect can perfectly explain the physiological and psychological changes that happens to a person who visits a temple. It’s mere association. Besides, believing that one will feel a certain way, actually might cause them to feel it. It’s not exclusive to temple visits. The same effect can be felt when one visits a famous region, a location or a monument they’ve wanted to visit for a long time.
Hard and fast
Did you know, every Vaishnava (Vishnu devotees), “must” visit a Vishnu temple twice every day in their location. Our practices are NOT some hard and fast rules framed by 1 man and his followers or God’s words in somebody’s dreams.
- A hint of sarcasm? I don’t know what the use of quotation marks around the word ‘must’ means in this context, but it’s almost exclusively used to denote sarcasm when it’s not actually quoting anybody. I’m starting to think the entire article was a joke.
- Hard and fast exactly means that. When you say it’s a must for a Vaishnava to visit their closest Vishnu temple twice every day, that’s a hard and fast rule. It’s exactly the same as the Islamic rule of Ṣalāt – pray five times a day.
- I’m glad you’ve taken comfort in thinking that your practices are not hard and fast. But does that make it any better? Instead of one single person misleading your people, you have a decentralised bunch of hundreds of thousands of idiots misleading them.
All the rituals, all the practices are, in reality, well researched, studied and scientifically backed thesis which form the ways of nature to lead a good healthy life.
How research works
- Well researched? What exactly passes off for well researched to Hindus? For that matter what passes off as scientific? I know what it means to the scientific community – you know, the people who do actual science. To consider something scientifically backed, it needs to have mountains of evidence in research. I don’t see a single scientific paper or a systematic review cited here.
- The article is full of metaphysical claims – claims that are outside the purview of science. Science only deals with the natural. Yes, there are times when it does entertain supernatural claims, but that always ends in discrediting the bullshit and results in completely naturalistic explanations.
The scientific and research part of the practices are well camouflaged as “elder’s instructions” or “granny’s teaching’s” which should be obeyed as a mark of respect so as to once again, avoid stress to the mediocre brains.
- The camouflage wouldn’t be necessary if your ancients had just told their children why they indulged in their seemingly nonsensical traditions. Heck, we wouldn’t have called them traditions if they were explained.
- The idiot’s humility: This is a brilliant strategy. It’s much more easy to pass off your own nonsense as the truth if you show some humility.
- I’m glad you’ve admitted to being an idiot. That’s the least you could do after demonstrating your utter lack of intelligence. A rudimentary understanding of science is stressful to some people as is made abundantly clear in your work. But sorry, we can’t bring ourselves to respect your grandmother’s camouflaged instructions, precisely because it’s laced with ignorance of the highest possible order.
So there you have it. One pseudoscientific article completely deconstructed.
I would stop right here but, as it turns out, I happened upon a variation of the article that may very well be the origin of it all. That piece is quite different. It’s much more detailed than the ones commonly floating around. Perhaps it is not as popular because it dares to detail by using actual numbers to prove its legitimacy.
Just like every other piece of this kind, it fails at making its point, at least to the educated lot. Here’s some more decimation for you.
Apart from the above facts, each and every round taken in the temple is just simply burning fats in human body and in those days people regularly visited temples and never used to get sugar complaints/diabetic! In addition to it the Vedic chanting helps visitors some refreshing feeling in body and mind thus achieving mental peace, which is the ultimate aim of every soul. And in those days, it was quite rare, you’ll see persons with Sugar level high in their blood. In fact, the regular round trip to the temple itself protects one from increasing sugar levels.
- Visit temples, burn fat. Yes, you read that right. Temples should actually be known for their ability to help you lose weight. How do they do that, you ask? You walk back and forth of course. It’s a brilliant way to lose weight. Sure, you have gyms now where you can actually also build your body and there are parks where you can walk as many rounds as you like, and there really is no reason to visit a temple, but forget all that. Temples have magnetic waves and stuff.
- Ultimate aim of every soul? No, there is no ultimate aim because there are no souls. Souls are a fictional concept that only have a place in mythology.
- The refreshing effect is nothing more than the placebo effect. Believing in the power of mindless chanting can cause actual physiological effects. It’s a well known concept in medicine and isn’t exclusive to temples.
- How would you know if one indeed had diabetes? It is not like they had any equipment to detect that or even knew what diabetes was. It is likely that people just died unexpectedly from diabetes and that went unexplained. It doesn’t mean diabetes never existed at the time.
Maintaining the divine gym
OKAY, DO ALL THE TEMPLES HAVE THE SAME VALUE?
NO, NOT AT ALL. Those temples constructed in earlier during Vedic Era used to be in accordance with Vedic principles and it has all such rich potentials listed above. As of now only about 180 temples in India qualify this & most of it is situated in the southern part of India. The location, structural, daily rituals followed without fail etc are counted. Unfortunately, some of the temples that are materially worthy are in the verge of collapse and are neglected of any proper maintenance. In fact, most of these architectural marvels deserves protection from the Heritage point of view, if not from the Religious importance!
Some grease required
- Do you expect anyone to believe that? Temples were very important. It ensured people remained healthy and yet no one cared about maintaining them? They’re in such a bad condition that many of them are on the verge of collapse? Not surprising, but seriously do you think people will actually believe any of it?
- Location error: You believe that magnetism actually has an effect on temples and the people who visit there, yet most of the temples that comply with the Vedic principles are in the south. To make better use of the magnetism shouldn’t there have been more of them in the north? Better still, have one single temple at the north pole to satisfy all your temple needs.
- Architectural marvel?! The pyramids of Egypt are architectural marvels. They’ve withstood the test of time. They’ve been there for over five thousand years. Your temples have failed to do exactly that. On what basis are you classifying those temples as architectural marvels?
And now I’m done.
I’ve avoided discussing the numbers on that article because, honestly, I have no idea what those are all about. The fact that there are two Vedic compliant temples out of this world just blew mind. I might perhaps entertain those claims some other day. Maybe someone else will deal with them for us.
Either way, I hope you’ve enjoyed the whole thing. Do let me know if there’s anything on your mind. If there are factual errors anywhere in this post, let me know that too. Righting wrongs is what I do here. Have you written articles like these? Point me to them and I’ll be sure to cite them in the future. Got any links to pieces of misinformation you’d like debunked? Throw them my way.
Most importantly, keep thinking…