I do not think the Geological Survey of India or the Archaeological Survey of India would have started excavations at the fort of Raja Ram Baksh Singh in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh, merely on the basis of a priest’s dream.
As a former scientist who has worked with one of them, I know for sure that before any excavation, apart from detailed surveys on land morphology and historical and archaeological evidence, detailed sub-surface studies using geophysical soundings are carried out to confirm the presence of any anomaly at depth.
Such surveys indicate the presence of material of high density or conductivity, but cannot confirm whether it is gold or some other metal. The priest’s dream is perhaps an afterthought meant to take credit for any possible findings of a ‘treasure.’
It is not clear whether the ASI was driven by the seer’s dream or a preliminary scientific survey. But the fact that a seer is asserting the presence of gold beneath the ground — despite knowing that the failure to trace the metal will end his godly career — inspires great confidence and curiosity in people. Success in Unnao will bolster the image of India as a land of mysticism but a failure could be the last nail on the coffin of godmen culture.
A scientific temper means checking the veracity of every claim made; it does not mean rejecting outright whatever cannot trace its source to a laboratory. India is a land of saints and seers (including dubious ones).
Let the ASI finish excavating the site. Why should we jump the gun and say the move encourages superstition? To be fair to the ASI, it started to dig only after the Geological Survey of India confirmed the presence of metal in the fort. There may be interesting finds, if not gold.
Had the rumour about a sadhu dreaming about hidden gold under a structure been believed by a few, there would have been a gold rush to excavate the imagined bounty. The law and order situation would have gone out of control. The ASI has done the right thing by undertaking the excavation work under police protection so that the rumours could be set at rest once and for all. The ASI may unearth artefacts such as bones, pottery and implements to determine if an earlier civilisation inhabited Unnao.