The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the United States of America created quite the flutter on social media recently after they shared photographs of individuals who had received an opportunity to pursue an internship and the space research agency.
While inviting applications for internship, NASA shared the photograph of Pratima Roy, an Indian American, along with others and it is her image that has caused the flutter. The photograph showed Roy with Murthis of Hindu Goddesses on her table and the wall plastered with photographs of Hindu Gods and Goddesses.
Such overt expression of Hindu piety irked quite a few self-professed ‘intellectuals’ who were not happy with the devotion that Roy bears towards her Gods. Such ‘intellectuals’ resorted to questioning her ‘scientific temperament’, which one would assume is more than competent, since she earned the opportunity to intern at NASA.
Some even accused NASA of destroying ‘Science’.
After seeing this we said;— Mission Ambedkar (@MissionAmbedkar) July 11, 2021
Science ka Naash kar diya NASA ne. https://t.co/Wx0fy7D1BC
The more pompous ones questioned why do Hindus need to surround themselves with Gods and Goddesses, which is equivalent to questioning why do fish need to live in water. They even questioned why NASA had decided to choose that particular image. Ashok Swain appears to have deleted his quoted tweet since then.
There are numerous other comments with regards to Roy that make the pulpable Hinduphobia abundantly evident.
The 4th one research subject would be how the bigot Ram was using pushpak viman(mythical plane) to reach cross 7 seas, etc. ? https://t.co/imgXh6OxaY— Thaiyaan (@thaiyaan) July 11, 2021
NASA is this some joke??? https://t.co/pmYAJYddzp— Ayyuuusssshhhhh (@Saguraocacti) July 10, 2021
Look at the Indian kid. With all the Lakshmi, Saraswati & what not matas on her desk. But not a pic of #Savitrimai the one who revolutionized women's education. She isn't at fault, her parents, her grandparents are. https://t.co/PprVxMfBds— 💙💚✊ (@manishahire) July 10, 2021
The 4th intern will send an email saying "rama built a bridge" and sanghis will use that email to say "nasa accepted rama as real and the blue guy built that bridge". https://t.co/kBuVvd5NeZ— NastikMan (@ManNastik) July 11, 2021
All of this only serves to demonstrate the pervasive Hinduphobia that persists. It is quite obvious at this point that if the photograph of a Christian woman or a Muslim had been shared by NASA with the religious symbolism of their personal faith, then it would not have attracted such similar reactions.
There has been great discussion recently regarding Hinduphobia and its implication in institutions. Many have denied that such a phenomenon even exists, even though noted individuals such as former US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has highlighted the Hinduphobia she encountered during her career.
Ashok Swain, one of the ‘intellectuals’ who had the most problem with the Hindu faith of the NASA intern, is an notorious Hinduphobe who had claimed that ‘Hindu supremacists’ were involved in the Capitol Hill riots with ‘White Supremacists’. The person he claimed was a ‘Hindu supremacist’ was actually a Christian. Also, there is no evidence that the Chrisdtian man was involved in any manner of violence at all.
The argument about ‘rationality’ and ‘scientific temperament’ is moot here since we are speaking of NASA and one certainly has to possess the required scientific skills to earn an internship there. Furthermore, Science and Religion do not share an antagonistic relationship in Hindu faith.
Srinavasan Ramanuja, for instance, one of the greatest mathematicians to have ever lived credit his knowledge to visions from his Goddess. He is known to have famously said, “An equation for me has no meaning, unless it represents a thought of God.” He credited his achievements to Mahalakshmi of Namakkal, a family Goddess.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), an institution that has given the country cause for a lot of pride in recent times, has a long tradition of its chief offering prayers at a Temple before the launch of every significant space mission. K Sivan, the head of ISRO, is himself a devout Hindu, as are a great many of top Indian scientists.