01/06/2017 3:30 PM IST | Updated 01/06/2017 3:59 PM IST

Brahmachari Peacocks And Other Homegrown Desi Beliefs You Can't Miss

*Cries peacock tears.*

Portrait of beautiful peacock with feathers outPeacock in the wild on the island of Sri Lanka

In the wake of the claim by Justice Mahesh Chand Sharma of the Rajasthan High Court that peahens and peacocks are lifelong bramhacharis (celibate), social media has been flooded with memes, jokes, GIFs and videos, all taking a swipe at the honorouble judge.

Well, for one thing, a peahen does not conceive by drinking the tears of a peacock. We have already explained that to Justice Sharma.

But while folks are despairing at the kind of mindset displayed by a high court judge, he is hardly the first person in India to have taken myths and legends to be literally true.

Often, culture and mythology are so intertwined with everyday life, and so entrenched in the mind, that people have a hard time distinguishing between history and folklore.

Mistaking myth for reality is not Justice Sharma's problem alone. There have been many instances when people in positions of power and influence in India have mixed up mythology and history.

Here's proof:

1. When Narendra Modi Was Proud Of India's Ancient Medical Skills

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's love of Indian culture and everything Indian is well known. Hindu nationalists have claimed for years that modern science has been influenced by ancient Indian knowledge. And, PM Modi reflected this mindset when he said, "We all read about Karna in the Mahabharata. If we think a little more, we realize that the Mahabharata says Karna was not born from his mother's womb. This means that genetic science was present at that time. That is why Karna could be born outside his mother's womb."

The prime minister also said that Lord Ganesha, who has the head of an elephant, must have been the miraculous feat achieved by an ancient plastic surgeon who sewed up an elephant's head to his human body.

2. When A BJP MP Told Parliament That India Had Conducted Nuclear Tests Millions Of Years Ago

Going by mundane, everyday history, India's first nuclear test was conducted on 18 May, 1974. But if we are to believe Uttarakhand's former chief minister and BJP MP from Haridwar, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Sage Kanad had conducted one millions of years ago.

Addressing the Parliament, Nishank said, "Today we are talking about nuclear tests. Lakhs of years ago, Sage Kanad had conducted a nuclear test. Our knowledge and science do not lack anything."

He also shut down those questioning Modi's grasp of ancient Indian science and technology. "People are raising questions on Modiji's comments on Ganesha's surgery. It was actually a surgery. The science available to us is not available elsewhere in the world... science or knowledge to transplant a severed head existed only in India."

Where is the documented evidence of this millenia old nuclear test? That's anybody's guess.

3. The Pythagoras Theorem Was Written Much Before Pythagoras, By An Indian Of Course!

Did you have a hard time mastering the Pythagoras theorem in middle school? Well, no need to blame Pythagoras for it. Because, apparently, it wasn't Pythagoras who first came up with the theorem that bears his name. Nope, it was an Indian who came up with it three centuries before the impostor Greek mathematician.

Dr Gauri Mahulikar, head of the Sanskrit department in Mumbai University, said in 2015, "In the Sulbha Sutra written in 800 BCE, Baudhayan wrote the geometric formula now famously known as Pythagoras theorem. It was written by Baudhayan 300 years before Pythagoras."

4. Indian Built Aeroplanes And Even Flew To Other Planets.

Turns out that the first aeroplanes were not built by the Wright Brothers after all, and that giant leap for mankind was made long before Neil Armstrong — if a paper presented at the Indian Science Congress Association Summit in 2015 is to be believed.

The Times of India had quoted the paper by Captain Anand Bodas and Ameya Jadhav as saying, "The knowledge of aeronautics is described in Sanskrit in 100 sections, eight chapters, 500 principles and 3,000 verses. In the modern day, only 100 principles are available."

5. Stem Cells Were Invented By Indians, And Cars Existed During The Vedic Age

Another example of a gross mixing up of mythology with reality is Dinanath Batra's book, Tejomay Bharat. In the book he says that stem-cell research was invented by an Indian doctor, Dr Ganpat Matapurkar, who in turn was inspired by the Mahabharata.

Batra also says in the book, "What we know today as the motorcar, existed during the Vedic period. It was called anashva rath. Usually a rath (chariot) is pulled by horses but an anashva rath means the one that runs without horses or yantra-rath, what is today a motorcar."

The book is compulsory reading in schools in Gujarat.

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