The Great Tantra Challenge!

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!


Maria D'Souza grew up in different countries around the world, including Hong Kong, Trinidad, and Kenya and it shows. She currently lives in the Bay Area and has an unhealthy affection for science fiction, Neil Gaiman and all things Muppet.

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  1. That is a great story.

    If any US network did that there would be no shortage of “magicians” willing to go on. The notoriety of their 15 minutes of fame would be too compelling. The well-known magicians won’t because they know they will fail. They could have a new crowd every week.

    That would be a great boost for skepticism.

  2. At least magicians admit that what they do is slight of hand. If tantra power existed, then everyone would be killing everyone, esp. the government. This reminds me of Karate instructor George Dillman and his students that say that they can kill someone with “the death touch” (Dim Mak) and that they can knock someone out with their mind. Of course they can’t and when ask’d why it/they failed to produce the desired results, the excuses were similar to Tantra: it only works at certain times, the persons mind was too strong, the cameras somehow warded off the power to do so. Psychics, black majic(ians) and even chi practitioners are powerless when there are cameras around or scientific equipment to try and measure their effects. If it was so powerful, then shouldn’t it be able to over come something like an electronic devise.

    Kriss. Out. Late.

  3. If I was Edamaruku I would have been nervous. Despite rules to the contrary, he was repeatedly touched. There are a lot of methods whereby someone could poison you in this way, and I wouldn’t put it past a phony mystic to do something like this only to later say that the “spirits” manifested themselves as a poison. I assume some sort of legal release was made (no idea what laws like this would be like in India) so he could actually get away with a live televised murder. Anyway, I’m glad to hear he made it out alive.

  4. This clip contains violence, so sensitive viewers beware. A good example of what happens when a a master of Kiai has to face reality:

  5. C. Cain thanks for that great clip. If some type of chi practitioner had enuff skill to fight many people at the same time, then wouldn’t that person be a mulitimillionair fighter, or at least have some sort of attention going there way. Throwing someone is possible because of physics, tai chi can help because deep breathing releases chemicals in the brain that can produce relaxation, presure points hurt because it hurts when someone hits you. Likewise the healing arts ‘heal’/feel good because it feels good when someone gives you attention and touches you (shiatsu, reiki, yoga, theraputic massage…etc)

    Tanks again for the clip C. Cain. I love seeing that stuff. Have a nice day everyone.

    Kriss in Sacramento, 72 degree’s and a little bit cold.

  6. I think this sort of public challenge usually only draws the true believers. The ones who really think they can work supernatural wonders. Anyone who is consciously trying to defraud people is usually too smart to allow such close scrutiny of their techniques.

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