Posted by: Lister | March 14, 2008

Sanal Edamaruku

An interesting experiment was aired on TV in india. The willing guinea-pig was Sanal Edamaruku, president of India’s Rationalist International.

India TV, one of India’s major Hindi channels with national outreach, invited Sanal Edamaruku for a discussion on “Tantrik power versus Science”. Pandit Surinder Sharma, who claims to be the tantrik of top politicians and is well known from his TV shows, represented the other side. During the discussion, the tantrik showed a small human shape of wheat flour dough, laid a thread around it like a noose and tightened it. He claimed that he was able to kill any person he wanted within three minutes by using black magic. Sanal challenged him to try and kill him.

The tantrik tried. He chanted his mantras (magic words): “Om lingalingalinalinga, kilikili….” But his efforts did not show any impact on Sanal – not after three minutes, and not after five. The time was extended and extended again. The original discussion program should have ended here, but the “breaking news” of the ongoing great tantra challenge was overrunning all program schedules.

[…] After nearly two hours, the anchor declared the tantrik’s failure. The tantrik, unwilling to admit defeat, tried the excuse that a very strong god whom Sanal might be worshipping obviously protected him. “No, I am an atheist,” said Sanal Edamaruku. Finally, the disgraced tantrik tried to save his face by claiming that there was a never-failing special black magic for ultimate destruction, which could, however, only been done at night. Bad luck again, he did not get away with this, but was challenged to prove his claim this very night in another “breaking news” live program.

If the tantric can find enough excuses to last a few decades, he might be able to stay in business. But, so far, his magic has failed.

(Via James Randi who, btw, offers a James Randi doll complete with voodoo pins!).



  1. So, is he saying that if he had died within three minutes, then the tantric would have been right? That’s a bit like jumping off a cliff and saying that if God doesn’t save me , then He doesn’t exist.

    Acts of rationalist stupidity don’t prove or disprove that God or a magical god exists – all it proves is that the imaginary god couldn’t be bothered showing up…or, as Christ once said, “You shall not put the Lord God to test or on trial.”

  2. As I understand it, it was the Tantric who made the claims and was then challenged to support them. Did the rationalist prove anything? No. The point is that the Tantric failed to support his own claims.

    You can draw your own conclusions.

    Suppose I told you that I can read your mind… Do you believe me? If I try to guess what your thinking and get it wrong, what would you conclude?

    You’re thinking of ice-cream.

  3. Lister you make no sense! What do you mean “the rationalist didnt prove anything”?!!
    Its actually very simple: if you claim you can read my mind and you fail, what will I conclude? I WOULD CONCLUDE YOU CANNOT READ MY MIND!

    Im NOT thinking of ice-cream, im thinking of all that people who actually were afraid of this “black magic”.

  4. I appreciate the point you make, Leandro. But it’s really just semantics.

    People with claims are the ones that need to prove things. You could say the rationalist claimed the tantric was wrong. But then everyone’s got a claim. I see it as the tantric had a claim and was asked to prove it. Then he failed.

    Like I said before: If the tantric can find enough excuses to last a few decades, he might be able to stay in business. “It was raining in Vancouver…. A car backfired in Sydney…”

    Most people would see these as daft excuses. But… Some people aren’t most people. 😉

    How many claims has Benny Hinn made and failed to prove? I think he’s still in business.

    And you so were thinking of ice cream! 😀

  5. Nice Blog. Too bad I found this too late. I heard about the incident, seems pretty humorous. Here is a link I found accidently that is claim the whole thing was staged.


  6. Thanks for the link, Brandon. I’ve tried googling for infomation on Pandit Surinder Sharma, but I don’t get anything which doesn’t mention this challenge.

    I’ll ask around, and post if I hear anything.

  7. I’ve sent an e-mail to Sanal Edamaruku:


    Back in March 2008 I posted a blog about your challenge of a Tantirc who claimed he could kill you with mantras and the like.

    Recently a comment was added linking to another site which claims the whole thing was a hoax.

    I’ve tried to look into it, but have fallen at the first hurdle of esablishing that Pandit Surinder Sharma was a famous tantric. There seem to be no articles related to him on the web except for those related to your challenge. I’d be grateful if you could provide some details of Sharma.

    Also, perhaps you could detail some of the mantras that the tantric uses on the TV show.

    If you wish to contact me, you can post at the above blog, or (perhaps better) at JREF


    And thanks to EHocking at JREF for the link.

  8. Anything new on this?

  9. Sorry, but no.

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