Social media went into splits on Tuesday after Hindutva protagonist, Manohar Sambhaji Bhide, claimed that the US space agency NASA had adhered to Indian astrological calculations for its successful moon mission.
Bhide - who is revered as 'Guruji' by his followers with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis reportedly his admirers - made the claim at a meeting in Maharashtra’s Solapur on Monday after the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) that the Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter had located the missing moon lander Vikram.
"Until now, USA's NASA has launched 38 missions to the moon which failed. Later, a scientist studied Indian lunar calendar and ensured that the next NASA mission was scheduled on Ekadashi Day and it succeeded," Bhide claimed.
The 85-year old activist explained that on Ekadashai Day, all the elements in the universe are in sync leading to the success of their mission and the Indian almanac system is incomparable.
Elaborating, Bhide — who usually moves around barefoot — said that the ancient Indian systems of astronomical calculations are so accurate that they can measure the thousandth part of a second, which the Americans deployed for their successful missions.
However, it is not known how ISRO has reacted to Bhide's indirect advice to it just two days after communication signals were lost with Vikram, barely 2.1 kms above the moon's south polar region, on September 7, plunging the whole country into a state of anxiety.
Bhide's also is one of the accused in the January 1, 2018 Koregaon-Bhima caste riots and violence that followed. Later in the year he created another sensation by claiming that mangoes cultivated in his farm helped couples beget a male child.
A doctorate holder in physics and a gold medal in MSc from Pune University, he served as a professor at the Fergusson College before he quit and joined social work.
Nevertheless, many on the social media networks poked fun at Bhide for his outlandish ideas and claims and some demanded action against him for his fanciful assertions.