Narendra Dabholkar: The man who fought blind faith

Acclaimed thinker and reformer Narendra Dabholkar devoted his life to exempt people from the scourge of superstition.

Zee Media Bureau/ Supriya Jha

Mumbai: Acclaimed thinker and reformer Narendra Dabholkar, who devoted his life to exempt people from the scourge of superstition and inculcate in them a scientific thought process, succumbed to bullets fired by unidentified assailants in Pune.

Having exposed many self-styled godmen and babas, Dabholkar had become a harbinger of scientific conscience for Maharashtrians and a menace for those who had made a business out of superstition.

It is interesting to note that he was compared to Mahatma Gandhi by his very detractors, who threatened to kill him by saying, "Remember Gandhi. Remember what we did to him".

Born on November 01, 1945, Dabholkar was the youngest of his ten siblings and he grew up to become a doctor by profession. Having practiced medicine for over a decade, Mr Dabholkar in 1980s, dedicated himself to fight against superstitious practitioners, especially those who used trickery as a means to fleece the common people. Initially he was influenced by Baba Avadh`s `One village - One Well` movement and then joined Akhil Bharatiya Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (ABANS). He later found his own organisation to exterminate superstition and named it Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS).

For last 20 years, Dabholkar was engaged in inculcating a scientific thought process in the society by organising camps and shows which unravelled the mysteries behind the magic tricks generally used by tantrics and babas. He also authored a dozen of books in which he exposed various godmens. Dabholkar had been the editor of a Marathi weekly Sadhana for last 16 years.

He also spearheaded a campaign for enactment of anti-superstion bill (Eradication of Black Magic Bill) in Maharashtra State Assembly. The draft of the so-called Anti-Jaadu Tona Bill was written under his supervision. But it also attracted him a lot of detractors who called him anti-Hindu and anti-religion.

Dabholkar also questioned those practising astrology and dared the astrologers to prove the authenticity of kundlis and that astrology was a science.

Dabholkar also formed a de-addiction organisation in his hometown Satara, named `Parivartan`, which helped people to rehabilitate.
Other than being a true rationalist and reformist, Dabholkar also had a sporty streak in him as he was an eminent Kabaddi player who represented India against Bangladesh in a Kabaddi Test Tournament. He was also the first person to bag Shiv Chhatrapati award given by the Mharashtra Government for excelling in Kabaddi.
Dabholkar was a voice that spoke up against blind faith and fear. A voice of science, a voice of truth. That voice has been silenced now. But his rational spirit and movements will live on and continue to enlighten many ignorant souls.

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