Mola Ram

Image by bluemoose via Flickr

This story has been doing the rounds recently and I have been fascinated and appalled in equal measure. Sanal Edamaruku, the head of the Indian Rationalists’ Association (membership is currently over 100,000) volunteered to be killed live on air by someone using mystical magical holy super powers.

Pandit Surender Sharma was the man who was to kill him. Only one outcome could possibly be predicted. Some kudos to Sharma for having the courage of his convictions and to actually try to complete the mystical murder. Huge kudos to Edamaruku, he stood up to someone who has some (secular) power and has an awful lot to lose. It would not surprise me if he gets threats – if he hasn’t already.

Think on this: smug woo-ists will always say “ah, but look to the East with their ancient spells and history and all their mysticism. There’s something in it, you know”. Well, looking at the videos below, no there isn’t.

First, the master chanted mantras, then he sprinkled water on his intended victim. He brandished a knife, ruffled the sceptic’s hair and pressed his temples. But after several hours of similar antics, Mr Edamaruku was still very much alive — smiling for the cameras and taunting the furious holy man.

When the guru’s initial efforts failed, he accused Mr Edamaruku of praying to gods to protect him. “No, I’m an atheist,” came the response. The holy man then said he needed to conduct a ritual that could only be done at night, outdoors, and after he had slept with a woman, drunk alcohol and rubbed himself in ash.

The men agreed to go to an outdoor studio that night — all to no avail. At midnight, the anchor declared the contest over. Reason had prevailed.

“The immediate goal I have is to stop these fraudulent babas and gurus,” says Mr Edamaruku, 55, a part-time journalist and publisher from the southern state of Kerala. “I want people to make their own decisions. They should not be guided by ignorance, but by knowledge.

Now, before we go to video, it’s worth mentioning this: it is very easy to scoff and say “oh, well that just proves that Indian religion is rubbish”, or something similar. But remember this, every religion has a method for killing your enemies by means of magic or prayer and all religions have a similar success rate. Why would this failure make an Indian religion any less true than any other?

Hat-Tip to Hemant Mehta and others for this. Please watch the videos (should take about a half hour).

Sanal Edamaruku: Tantra Challenge Part 1

Sanal Edamaruku: Tantra Challenge Part 2

Sanal Edamaruku: Tantra Challenge Part 3

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