My answer to What do you think of the Rajasthan High Court judge (India) who said that peacocks don’t have sex and …
Answer by Vijayendra Mohanty:
At first look, it is shocking to see a High Court Judge say something as ignorant as this. But when you think about it, it is not really that surprising. The things we talk about usually come from the lives we lead. What the Judge said is clearly a product of the kind of life he leads.
The peacock tear myth is semi-religious in nature. It comes, partly from an ignorant rationalisation of the bird’s secretive mating habits and partly from the need to justify its special place in Hinduism — Krishna wears a peacock feather in his hair as well as his crown.
Now imagine how many times the gentleman at the centre of this controversy must have heard this story. I imagine he is a fairly religious man who attends ceremonies and performs rituals on a regular basis. I don’t have direct evidence, but I think he must also be a temple-goer and he must have a guru or two that he follows.
Hearsay about peacock and cow facts are probably stuff of everyday conversation for him.
Now ask yourself this: How often do we discuss science in our daily lives? How often does the naturalistic world view feature in our conversations? Sure, Indians are very techie and love science from a standpoint of a career in software or engineering or medicine, but how ready are we with answers when it comes to biology and physics of the everyday variety.
This is about more than Mahesh Chandra Sharma. It is about the position we assign to science and the position we assign to unverified superstitious nonsense in our conversations. When we don’t have a Professor Yashpal or a Jayant Narlikar on TV, this is what happens.
The Judge is not the problem. He is a symptom of the problem that ails a society where everyone is ready to talk about the scientific basis of Hindu rituals without knowing how peacocks and cows work.