I have belittled the religious foolishness of that benighted country called India – a nation that allows women to marry snakes, forces men to marry dogs, and has companies that elect imaginary friends to their board.
Alas, we have lost one of our own – an intrepid individual who made it his mission in life to expose all the religious garbage for what it is – garbage.
PUNE, India — For nearly three decades, an earnest man named Narendra Dabholkar traveled from village to village in India, waging a personal war against the spirit world.
Police officers removed a banner bearing the image of Narendra Dabholkar near the spot where he was shot in Pune, India.
If a holy man had electrified the public with his miracles, Dr. Dabholkar, a former physician, would duplicate the miracles and explain, step by step, how they were performed. If a sorcerer had amassed a fortune treating infertility, he would arrange a sting operation to unmask the man as a fraud. His goal was to drive a scientist’s skepticism into the heart of India, a country still teeming with gurus, babas, astrologers, godmen and other mystical entrepreneurs.
That mission ended Tuesday, when two men ran up behind Dr. Dabholkar, 67, as he crossed a bridge, shot him at point-blank range, then jumped onto a motorbike and disappeared into the traffic coursing through this city.
Dr. Dabholkar’s killing is the latest episode in a millenniums-old wrestling match between traditionalists and reformers in India. When detectives began putting together a list of Dr. Dabholkar’s enemies, they found that it was long. He had received threats from Hindu far-right groups, been beaten by followers of angry gurus and challenged by councils upholding archaic caste laws. His home state, Maharashtra, was considering legislation he had promoted for 14 years, banning a list of practices like animal sacrifice, the magical treatment of snake bites and the sale of magic stones.
This is a sad and sobering reminder to us all – that sociopaths masquerade their narcissism in incense, prose and imagined piety, until it is all exposed as folderol. And then their masques are shorn away to reveal the blazing psychopath inside.
Narendra Dabholkar – you shall be missed.
Till the next post, then.