Everyone of us is born to die. But death becomes eventful when it mean serving humanity. Death of the legendry rationalist Dr.Abraham Kovoor is one of this kind.
Dr. Kovoor, the world renowned rationalist , psychologist and philosopher breathed his last on 18th September,1978. As per his will, his eyes were sent to Chennai and were promptly grafted on two blind men. Those two blind men could see the world through his eyes. His body was given to the medical college for the benefit of the students. Later his skeleton was given to ThurstanCollege, where he worked as professor for a long time. These were examples of serving humanity even after death. For Dr. Kovoor, death is the end of his life and as per him there is no soul or “atma” that can survive the death. Dr. Kovoor became a legendry for his researches on psychic, para-psychic and spiritual phenomena. He spent over half a century studying the so called paranormal happenings and he came to the conclusion that there is no objective truth behind such claims and beliefs. He said, “Nobody has and nobody ever had supernatural powers. They exist only in the pages of scriptures and sensation-mongering newspapers.” Dr. Kovoor attracted sensation when he issued a challenge to all who claim paranormal or supernatural powers to prove it under fraud-proof conditions. He offered a reward of one lakh rupees to the winner. But till his death no one came forward to claim this amount.
Dr. Kovoor’s life was mission to teach people to go by reason and not by superstition. He widely traveled around the world to propagate this message. His “Divine Miracle Exposure campaign “ trips to India is well known. He could attract the attention of millions through his powerful speech. His speech was always followed by a miracle exposure demonstration by his friend Mr . B. Premanand, who has won the NCSTC award from Government of India for imparting scientific temper. Mr. Premand used to demonstrate hundreds of items which are baffling to the common man. It used to be breath taking to see an oil-lamp is lit with water as fuel instead of oil and when a man drinks concentrated nitric acid and when images appear on glass plates when blown on it and when fire appears from nowhere to burn the towel held in hand!
Dr. Kovoor accompanied by his wife Mrs. Acca Kovoor used to go and investigate paranormal happenings where ever reported. He even challenged the tantriks and mantriks to kill him with in a stipulated time period using their so-called power. They visited cemeteries during mid-night in search of ghosts and visited haunted houses to find cause behind it. The true stories of such investigations are compiled his books “BEGONE GODMEN” and “GODS, DEMONS & SPIRITS”. One story from his book was filmed in Malayalam and the film was a block –buster.
Dr. Kovoor was born in Kerala on 10th April, 1898 as the son of the late Very Rev. Kovoor Eipe Thomma Kattanar, the Vicar General of Mar Thomma Syrian Church of Malabar. Dr. Kovoor comments about his birth thus: “Over three quarters of a century ago I was born in the beautiful land of Kerala in a Syrian Christian family as the son of a Christian priest as the result of a geographical and biological accident, over which I had neither control nor choice”.
After completing his school education at the Syrian Christian Seminary, Thiruvalla, started by his father first at his ancestral home, and later moved to dominant site in the town donated by him to the church, the young Abaham Kovoor, with his younger brother the late Dr. Behanan T. Kovoor, formery of Yale University, U.S.A., and the United Nations, proceeded to Calcatta for higher studies. At BengabasiCollege, Calcutta, he specialized in botany and zoology.
After two years of service as Assistant Lecturer in botany at the C.M.S.College, Kottayam, Kovoor migrated to Sri Lanka in 1928 at the invitaion of Rev. P.T.Cash, the principal of JaffnaCentralCollege. Rev. Cash, an outstanding botanist, met Kovoor at Ooty while both of them were out in the field collecting specimens of mountain flora.
During his first year at the JaffnaCentralCollege young Kovoor was asked to teach scripture to the final year students in addition to botany. When the results came from the CambridgeUniversity it was found that all his students passed in scripture with credits and distinctions. Next year there was no scripture in Kovoor’s time table. It was given over to Rev. O. L. Gibbon, the Vice-Principal. When questioned about it, Rev. Cash saild with a smile in his face, “Abraham, I know you produced the best result in scripture. All your students passed in scripture, but all of them lost their religions!”
Leaving JaffnaCentralCollege in 1943, when Rev. Cash retired and left Sri Lanka, Dr. Kovoor joined RichmondCollege, Galle, and later St. ThomasCollege, MountLavinia. In 1959 he retired as the head of the science department at ThurstanCollege, Colombo.
It was only after retirement from service that Dr. Kovoor began to speak write about his life long research into the field of spiritualism and psychic phenomena. Dr. Kovoor said, “Like all children I was indoctrinated and brain-washed in the superstitious beliefs and practices of my parent’s religion, and it was an uphill task for me to get rid of those foolish notions in my adulthood.”
As an investigator of so-called occult phenomena Dr.Kovoor busied himself in removing from the minds of ignorant people their unfounded fear about ghosts, and debunking the claims of miracle performers, charmists, astrologers, palmists, spiritualists, numerologists, necromancers and the like who exploit the ignorance of people and amass wealth. He slept in haunted houses and walked in cemeteries during mid-night in search of ghosts. He commenced the most important events of his life at inauspicious moments. To convince the people that all those claims of para-normal powers are only tall claims , he had thrown out his famous open challenge to them to prove their claims under scientific fraud-proof conditions.
Dr. Kovoor said, “He who does not allow his miracles to be investigated in a crook. He who does not have the courage to investigate a miracle is a gullible. He who is prepared to believe without verification if a fool.”
Mr. Hariharan Poonjar, a journalist and a close friend of Dr. Kovoor said in his introduction to Dr.Kovoor’s book “GODS, DEMONS & SPIRITS”, “Kovoor was a happy man. He had realized how happy it would be to be rational. No superstitions, no fear and no dogmas. His was a mind that reached out to freedom propelled by the fuel of knowledge. It rose and rose and had a vision of Being from the height of rationalist self-realization that ruled out an eternal self. So he had no difficulty in willing that his body after death should be used for medical research and that his eyes should be used for grafting . Here was a balanced man with a mind attuned to the laws of nature.”
Belief in supernatural and para-normal powers are not the outcome of any research or objective enquiry. They are the result of ignorance and fear. These beliefs originated during the primitive period when man was unaware of the causes behind nature and natural forces. When faced with thunder-storm, flood, lightening , forest-fire, or any other natural calamity man had no alternative other than hiding in some caves. As he was unaware of the causes of these calamities, he started adoring these forces, which lead to the nature worship. Later he attributed all these to some sort of supernatural forces, and thus gods and goddesses took birth in human minds. Compared to the primitive man who used stones, arrows , bows and swords as weapons, today’s modern man is equipped with worst destructive weapons like atom, hydrogen and neutron bombs. Man has revolutionalised his communication net work. Primitive man’s world was limited to the place he lived in and to the extent he could cover by walk. But today the entire world is at his fingertip. A man lived in first century could have never imagined of computers or information technology. Man dreamt about flying in the sky like birds. He could therefore imagine about traveling by air. There is mention about a plane “pushpak viman” in Ramayan. But there no mention about Television, mobile phone or computer in any of the epics. The kings used pigeons to send messages. But today man uses E-Mail to communicate with other s which takes only seconds to communicate around the world. As generations pass, man’s intellect is growing, which enable him to explore new fields. Though man has advanced a lot materially, mentally he is still in the primitive age. He is still visualizing and adoring those people who used primitive weapons and primitive attire. A good majority of people, especially in developing countries like India live in mental slavery. They have given the ownership and the governing right of their mind to some leaders or agencies. These leaders are able to make these people dance to their tunes. When they tell to jump and die, these people blindly obey with out any second thought. But the leaders remain absolutely safe under protection. This is an indication that material advancement does not bring in cultural and social changes. Only an educational movement can bring in this change . The social reformers like Mahatma Phule of Maharashtra, M.N. Roy of Bengal, Sree Narayana Guru , Bhramhananda swami Shivayogi , Ayyankali and M.C.Joseph of Kerala , Periyar E. V. Ramasami of Tamil Nadu tried to wipe out the blind faiths from the minds of people and establish a religion-less, cast-less society in which every one lived like own brothers.
Dr. Kovoor based his movement on modern science. He tried to bring about social change by inculcating scientific temper among masses. He used scientific method in solving the numerous encounters he had with psychic phenomena. He has narrated those true stories in his books “BEGONE GODMEN and GODS, DEMONS and SPIRITS (Published by Jaico Publishers, 121, M.G. Road, Fort, Mumbai-23) He advised people to go by reason in all matters. He has realized that modern era belongs to science and only science can bring about human progress. His contribution in modernizing the human thought makes him next only to Bertrand Russell.