Thursday, May 3, 2007

Superstition or fear of the unknown?

I hop by India Uncut regularly, and enjoyed reading this, and also this piece by Mrinal Pande, which the entry links to.

I am not so sure if the analysis is correct though. Much calumny has been heaped upon the Bachchans, and the Big B in particular, for forcing their beautiful and talented daughter-in-law to be to go through meaningless rituals.

Just recently,I read parts of Harivanshrai Bachchan's autobiography - In the Afternoon of Time (Big B's father). Two things stand out in my memory. One is when Bachchan writes of how he was ostracized by his community (for a variety of reasons), and that is why, when he began writing, he dropped his official last name of Shrivastav and took the pen name 'Bachchan'. He writes of how his wish going forward was that each member of his family would look to create his own identity and not hark back to the past lineage.

In the chapter devoted to his son's superstardom, he writes of the harrowing time after Amitabh suffered a near fatal accident in 1982, and how amazed he was by the depth of belief of some of his fans in superstitious cures.

It suffices to say that the Bachchans come across as a fairly rational, progressive family during the book. And yet, 25 years later, we have his son indulging in the most irrational and superstitious of beliefs.

Begs the question, why?

For some reason, my mind went back to a book called Business Maharajah's, by Gita Piramal. In her profile of Aditya Birla, the reclusive billionaire is reputed to have said " Successful people find it easier to believe in God".

For someone like BigB, whose life has seen immense ups and downs, including a close shave with death, has life changed him over the years? Has he come to believe that there is a greater power which determines his destiny at various points, and allows that belief to be shamelessly exploited?

I cant help but feel that the basic driver behind people indulging in superstitious beliefs is just that: pure fear, a fear of the unknown. My take is, dont blame them, blame those who use this fear for their benefit.