Essay # 1
Superstition may be defined as an illusory, irrational, and unfounded belief that has little scientific evidence to support it. Superstition is generally born of traditional beliefs.
“Superstition is the religion of feeble minds,” said Burke. It stems from the fear of the unknown. The genesis of the superstition goes back into the long-lost past. The ancient too believed in various superstitions. Ignorance, fear, illiteracy, and Jack of scientific knowledge, all fortifies superstition. Superstition is a universal phenomenon that pervades all nations of the world.
How does superstition manifest itself? It is expressed through belief in omens, oracles, and rituals perceiving the hand of the supernatural in everything. A superstitious person reveres or fears anything that is beyond his comprehension. He propitiates all powers that seem beyond his control. Demons, ghosts, and fairies obsess his imagination.
Let us examine some common superstitions, particularly in India. A black cat crossing one’s path is inauspicious or an owl sitting in the compound wall of a house portends evil. The sight of a widow or one-eyed person is considered ominous when one starts a journey. On the contrary, the sight of newly-married women, when beginning a journey, augurs well. So does the sight of a Waterman’s donkey. Hanging a horseshoe or a three-leaved clover brings good luck.
More often than not, superstition only brings cruelty, misery, and phobias. It is not uncommon to find people making human sacrifices to appease gods at the bidding of superstition. Sometimes, the suspects involved in witchcraft, etc., are persecuted. Superstitions breed narrow-mindedness and needless mental suffering.
How can we combat this evil? Superstition is the child of ignorance, Promote knowledge and superstition will flee. A scientific attitude can help overcome superstition to some extent. Superstition must be treated as an anachronism, as a relic of past times. Taking recourse to reason alone can help dispel superstition. One must make a conscious effort to avoid servile attachment to mindless, illogical rituals and not treat everything as an, outcome of working of providence or supernatural powers, but rather as a consequence of our own past actions.
Essay # 2
The belief which has no basis in reason is superstition. Superstition is the daughter of ignorance and fear. The word literally means “standing still” at a thing in fear or awe. In religion, superstition means an irrational fear of the mysterious, and reverence for objects which are not proper objects of worship. Ignorant savages have no scientific knowledge of what we call the forces of Nature; they think the sun and the moon, fire and wind and water, are governed by supernatural beings, which sometimes seem kind, but more often terrible and cruel. These they fear and worship, and try to propitiate with offerings and sacrifices and senseless rites. And their imagination peoples the universe with imaginary beings – demons, ghosts, and fairies. As knowledge grows, superstition dies; and today we laugh at such beliefs and fear, as at the follies of childhood. But superstition dies slowly; and even in civilized countries today, silly bits of superstition still lingers. We still find people who think number thirteen unlucky, who will not walk under a ladder, who feel troubled if they upset the salt or see the new moon through glass, and who do not like starting a journey on a Friday.
A tree is judged by its fruits, and the fruits of superstition are all evil. It has been responsible for a vast amount of cruelty, misery, and madness. In old times men offered up human sacrifices to appease imaginary gods. In the middle Ages in Europe, the belief in witchcraft led to the persecution of poor old women, who were suspected of having sold their souls to the devil. The Spanish Inquisition tortured and burnt thousands of good people, at the bidding of superstition. And, though such horrors are no longer possible in civilized countries, superstition still produces narrow-mindedness, bigotry, and needless mental suffering.
Superstition is a thing of darkness: it cannot stand the light. It is the child of ignorance, and hates and flees from the face of knowledge. As knowledge increases, superstition decreases. Science, which has discovered the real nature of the forces of nature, has banished all the old bogeys of superstition – demons, ghosts, and goblins, and all the creations of fear and ignorance which once made men afraid. And as our knowledge grows and our wisdom ripens, we shall less and less believe without a sound reason for belief, until all superstition vanishes like a bad dream when we awake.