People for years have mocked Islam and Muslims for certain urophagic and coprophilic teachings as practiced by some Muslims on the basis of Mohammed’s example and words as a substitute for real medicinal training. Hindu nationalists, who are also known to criticize Islam, except for sinister purposes, have also pointed these things out.
But just like Islam, Hinduism has her own form of the same interest with bodily waste products. According to a recent story from the Wall Street Journal, Hindu nationalists and supporters of Hindutva ideology- the same people who would attack Muslims over the same actions in their context -are now peddling cow urine and feces as a cure for coronavirus.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote this week to Xi Jinping, offering the Chinese leader help in tackling the Wuhan coronavirus. Details of the assistance aren’t public, but Mr. Modi’s offer probably didn’t include supplies for a “treatment” that a senior Hindu fundamentalist advocated recently.
Swami Chakrapani Maharaj, president of the Hindu Mahasabha—a century-old organization that advocates Hindutva (or “Hinduness”)—declared that “consuming cow urine and cow dung will stop the effect of infectious coronavirus.” The swami added that a “person who chants ‘om namah shivay’ and applies cow dung” on his body “will be saved.” The Sanskrit chant is a salutation to Shiva, a Hindu deity.
The cow is revered by many Hindus, who abjure its meat and believe that its byproducts, especially urine, have health-giving qualities. The swami is a prominent figure in hard-line Hindu circles and has an ideological affinity with Mr. Modi. His pronouncement on the coronavirus is the latest in a list of questionable scientific assertions made by Hindu nationalists.
This cohort believes that much of modern science originated in ancient India. Since the Hinduist Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, ascended to national power in 2014, its views have infiltrated textbooks and even scientific discourse. Mr. Modi has suggested that ancient Indians had test-tube babies. Citing the case of Karna—a hero of the “Mahabharata,” a Hindu epic from the third century B.C.—Mr. Modi told a gathering of doctors in 2014 that since Karna was “not born from his mother’s womb” (in Mr. Modi’s version of the myth), this had to mean that “genetic science was present at the time.” Referring to Ganesha, the elephant-headed god, he said, there “must have been some plastic surgeon at that time who got an elephant’s head on the body of a human being.”
Mr. Modi is too smart to believe all this. He spoke those words because he knew they would delight his nationalist base. His fellow travelers routinely resort to pseudoscientific assertions in the service of Indian glory. Among the claims: Indians beat Pythagoras by 300 years to the theorem that bears his name; nuclear weapons were used in the great war depicted in the “Mahabharata”; and ancient Indians flew airplanes.
Meera Nanda, an Indian historian of science, has described this as a school-the-world complex. Nationalist Indians believe that India has “always known everything that is worth knowing.” The conviction that India is an inherently omniscient land, she writes, has prevented Indians “from developing an ethos of honest inquiry.” (source)