Superstition refers to the excessive belief and ‘blind faith’ for the supernatural. It is the belief in some customs, rites and rituals that are usually baseless and without any reason.
Meaning of Superstition
There are many things in Nature which are beyond human knowledge. We try to understand the mystery of Nature. But there are still many things in the world of Nature which cannot be explained through reasoning. We consider them the wishes of unseen power. We give fanciful causes for happenings which we cannot explain.
There are many natural events which are said to be due to supernatural forces. These beliefs in supernatural forces is known as Superstition. Our logic fails and reasoning does not satisfy us.
Superstition in India
In India, the pundits and Sanskritic scholars set some taboos or inhibitions of human behaviour, such as:
- Carrying eggs, oil and many such articles during journey was regarded as inauspicious.
- Journeys away from home were strictly codified for the seven days of the week.
- The newly initiated ‘brahmcharis’ were strictly forbidden to see the face of the lower caste men like the scavengers.
These strict rules struck root in the households and were especially so because people were illiterate, unenlightened, orthodox and sometimes dominating.
Causes of Superstition
Superstition arises from ignorance. It is a child of fear as well. Superstition is generally a legacy of our ancient civilization. But it is strange that the advancement of science and modern education can not eradicate superstition.
An ignorant man cannot understand the cause of lighting and thunder. He invents an imaginary explanation for the happening. He thinks that some unseen power is behind these natural events. There are people who believe in ghosts and spirits. They also believe in witch-craft. They think that the power of mantras controls everything. So ignorance is the cause of superstition. Most of us are superstitious in some way or the other.
It, sometimes, survives even in scholars and learned persons. An internationally reputed Hindu philosopher may staunchly object to his daughter’s marriage with fine specimen of a boy who belongs to the opposite community. People are not able to overcome the traditional snag of the past.
Today we have learnt the scientific explanations for many natural events. But we are yet not free from the chains of superstitions.
- If somebody sneezes, we take it as a sign of something unfavorable.
- If we are going somewhere and a cat moves across the road, we become upset. We lose our confidence. We begin to pray to God for a safe journey. Thus we are always afraid of unseen forces.
Superstition in India is not based on common sense.
There is a basic difference between ‘common sense’ and ‘common belief’. The latter may harbor superstition or may not; it depends upon the degree of enlightenment within the society. But common sense has something to do with reason, logic and argument. It is a healthier tradition. Primitive society and culture followed customs, ritual and traditional practices. But today even rustic or illiterate persons are amenable to reason. They are often prepared to give up their blind and obsolete ideas if they are made to see reason in the changed outlook.
Many superstitions still rule the lives of the backward classes and tribal people. They are ignorant people. But when the educated people fill his life with superstitions, we hardly find any explanation.
To conclude, superstition in India is a sequel to fear for the unseen. It seems extremely difficult to erase out from the mind all considerations of a nameless fear, although it is not an unattainable ideal.