Here’s a great story that was covered in SWIFT and other places about some of the work that Rationalist International is doing in India. Earlier this month, Sanal Edamaruku challenged a tantrik, or ‘black magician’ to demonstrate his powers on national TV.
After 2 hours of chanting, sprinkling water, rubbing his ‘victim’ and waving a knife, Pandit Surinder Sharma was unable to do anything to Edamaruku. He tried to make excuses (‘Edamaruku was being protected by a very strong god that was protecting him!’) and when that failed (Edamaruku explained that he’s an atheist), he said that he could use super 100% pulp-free with calcium unfailing black magic to destroy Edamaruku but that it only worked at night.
Sharma didn’t think this through, since they challenged him to come back that evening. The best part of all this was that India TV, the channel that showed this, got huge ratings and promoted this as “The Great Tantra Challenge.” And when, of course, Sharma did nothing except amuse Edamaruku that night, ripping up peieces of paper with Edamaruku’s name on it and burning them, throwing mustard seeds into the fire and burning an effigy of Edamaruku made of wheat flour (really), millions of people watched him make a fool of himself — which is probably better than the murder rap he might have faced if he’d succeeded.
I really hope this starts a trend – the newest form of reality TV – showing up people who make huge claims and getting them to demonstrate what really is going on.
By the mustard seeds of Edamaruku!