The latest to join the tribe is Jagdeep Dhankhar, governor of the eastern state of West Bengal. Dhankar left many academicians and scholars scratching their heads by saying that Arjun, a mythological character of Hindu epic Mahabharta, had arrows with atomic power.
The occasion for his claim was the inauguration of a science and engineering fair in south Kolkata, capital of West Bengal.
“The plane was (invented) in 1910 or 1911. But ... if we delve into our old scriptures we will see in Ramayana, we had ‘uran khatola‘ (aircraft). And, in the Mahabharata, we had a situation where Sanjay narrated everything and not from the (battle) field. We had those arrows of Arjun which had nuclear power,” Times of India quoted Dhankhar saying on Tuesday, 14 January.
Dhankar joins a long list of Indian lawmakers who draw parallels between ancient epics including the Ramayana and the Mahabharata to modern-day science and technology.
The politicians appear to be leaping beyond benchmarks of sanity by making statements that not only lead to widespread condemnation but also leave people laughing at the absurdity.
Elephant-headed Lord Ganesha went Under Knife
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is surely one of the top "offenders" of the list, after his 2014 unscientific claim that plastic surgery was performed by doctors on Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed boy. He also said that the Mahabharata character Karna was a test-tube baby, as the latter, and not necessarily the former, was not born from his mother’s womb.
“We worship Lord Ganesha. There must have been some plastic surgeon at that time who got an elephant’s head on the body of a human being and began the practice of plastic surgery,” said Modi, pitching that ancient India has always been well ahead of modern science and technology.
Cow Breathes Oxygen and Exhales Oxygen
The Education Minister of western Rajasthan, Vasudev Devnani, left many dumbfound with his “bovine discovery” of the anti-radioactive properties of cow dung and oxygen exhaled by cows. The minister sparked a row after a video went viral in which he claimed that cow milk and urine can cure breathing problems and asserting that a cow is the only animal on Earth that inhales oxygen and also exhales it.
“The cow is the only animal that takes in oxygen and also releases oxygen,” the minister said in 2017, while speaking about the importance of cow dung.
Live-War Commentary in 3137 BC
Another minister claimed that the internet and satellite communication existed in ancient times. The chief of the Indian state of Tripura, Biplab Kumar Deb, said Sanjay, a character in the Mahabharta, gave a live relay of a war to the blind king Dhritarashtra. His claim was made at a computer workshop in 2018.
Rejecting the invention of modern communication technologies by European countries, Deb claimed that India was way ahead in technology in ancient times but he could not speak to why the nation foundered and halted its progress.
Cow Milk Contains Gold
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief of West Bengal, Dilip Ghosh, sent social media into a tizzy with his pearls of wisdom claiming that cow milk contains gold and providing an equally absurd justification for his absurd claim.
"A feature of the Indian cow is that its milk contains gold. That's the reason the colour of the milk is yellowish," Ghosh said in November, 2019.
"The Indian cows have humps, which foreign cows don't have. Foreign cow has a straight back, like a buffalo. The hump has an artery, called 'swarnanari' (gold artery). When sunlight falls on it, gold is made."
Not to be left behind the myth-promoting nationalist politicians, a vice chancellor of a university speaking at an annual congregation of scientists in 2019 claimed that Indians had knowledge of stem cell research, test tube fertilization and guided missiles thousands of years ago, inviting criticism from the scientific community.