Editor’s Note: Narendra Nayak has been touring India, teaching young rationalists how to educate the public about the tricks used by conjurors and mystics. His first round concluded, Narendra Nayak is back from Mumbai and is now in Mangalore for 2 days. The second round started last night (the 1st). Narendra will be back in Mumbai on the 11th and then travel to Mangalore. He will be participating at the 7th World Atheist Conference in Vijayawada and then proceed on to Itarsi for two days.
The next program is in Allahabad, from the 1st of Feb to the 5th. The contact in Allahabad is N.K Singh: 094509 61953. This program is supported by NCSTC, Ministry of HRD, Goverment of India.
From the 6th to the 10th of Feb there is a training program at Sitamarhi, Bihar. Contact : Suman – 09709748810 and 09608012094.
Miracle Persons of Rural India.
For those of you who think that the people who perform miracles and have supernatural powers exist only in cities where the powers that be dwell, you are sadly mistaken. While we have people like Karnam Satya Naryana Raju (aka Satya Sai Baba) starting from such a background and now having followers from all over, I am sure that there are hundreds of such people in various parts of our country waiting for recognition and fame!
As I travel through the country, I keep coming across such claims and would like to share some of them.
One common thing I have seen whether it be Jhoomritalayya or Goriguntalahalli, is that the locals are indeed proud of their local proponent of the supernatural and proclaim tall claims of their powers. Only when asked for a demonstration under fool-proof conditions that they procrastinate and finally admit defeat. That also gives us an insight into their minds that they would like to extol the virtues of their local product!
Let us see a few examples of such. In the month of December 2004, I had taken up a tour of KarnatakVidya Niketan school, Hyderabad for about a fortnight and during that I had been to a village near Gadag called Sigli. There was a lecture demonstration in a local school. During the question answer session that followed, the science teacher of the school told me about their local swami who he claimed was able to live without air, food and water for a month by his yogic powers. When I asked
the claimant for a demonstration under experimental conditions, the teacher said that if needed he could arrange for an interview. I informed him that I had much greater yogic powers and could live for several months without any of the above. The teacher was angry and challenged me to demonstrate that. I told him that he could interview me! At that he was angrier, but I coolly told him that he could not apply different standards to different people- what was good enough for his swami should apply to me too! However, I told him that I could live for several minutes stopping my heart beat and pulse and proceeded to demonstrate that! I also told him that I had laghima siddhi (that is making myself very light) and could do that to others too which was followed by the standard trick of four people raising a heavy person with the fingers. He as well as the audience was flabbergasted and intentionally I did not reveal the secret behind the trick to them!
During this trip, I had to face a challenge from a science teacher and two of her students at a Junior college at Gulbarga in North eastern part of Karnataka. This area is well (rather, ill) known for its preoccupation with a type of black magic called Bhanamathi.The teacher told me that she and her students could summon spirits through what she called as a “spirit come” set up. When asked what it was, I was told that it was a circle in which alphabets were written on the circumference. Then a coin would be kept in the middle, two of them would place their fingers on the coin and summon spirits. When I told them that the only spirits which I knew came in bottles the teacher was very angry and told me that the spirits which she referred to were not those but could answer any questions put to them. Then I told her, that I had a challenge for her spirit and would be happy if it could read the serial number of a sealed currency note. I also told her that if she could do that she or her spirit would be given all my property if it was correct. I then took a fifty rupee note and put it in an envelope. She went away with her students and returned in a few minutes and there was a number on a chit. Without opening the envelope, I told her that the number was wrong. She was cut up with that and berated me for giving a judgment without opening the cover. I replied that the number she had given me had been a seven digit one while notes have only six digit serial numbers. She retorted that her spirit would be never wrong, so I had to open the envelope and show her the note. Though disappointed by that, she did not give up. She told me that her spirit could not be put to frivolous tests like that. It could really give answers to proper questions. She also gave me an instance when they had lost some ones phone number and the spirit having provided that. In that case I told her that
she could ask the spirit for my wife’s mobile number. Again she returned in five minutes with a ten digit number! Alas, only the first two digits were correct! The spirit had rightly guessed the first two to be 98(which most of mobiles in Karnataka start with) but none of the others tallied! That was the sorry state of the famous spiritually-inclined medium of Gulbarga!
This has a sequel too! I told the challengers that in case they were right they could have taken all my property. Since they had been proved wrong what would they like to give me? The teacher was silent but the students replied asking me what I would like from them. I asked them for a promise that they would stop doing this spiritual nonsense. After few months I had a call from a girl who introduced herself from that college. I could not immediately place her but she told me that she was the spirit girl and that she had stopped doing her so called “spirit come” sittings. That made me happy that I had brought out at least one person out of this so called spiritual experience.
In 2005 I had been to a place called Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh. Here I was discussing some so called paranormal phenomenon with a group of people who were taking yoga lessons from a teacher. He was feeling left out and tried to butt in many times and had been rebuffed. Finally he came up with a trump card that he had a guru with a special supernatural power. He told me that the guru could shatter bulbs and tube lights by staring at them. When I told him that he was welcome to bring him and take all my property by a demonstration of that power. He told him that he would bring him the next day. When the next day arrived the guru was nowhere to be seen. When queried I was told that he would come the next day. The next day also there were no signs of the challenger. Finally when confronted the yoga teacher who had made the claim told me that the guru had gone to Mauritius and it was not know when he would be back! So was the end of the challenge of the guru who could shatter glass by looking!
Last month, November 2008 when I was in Dumka, which is the second capital of Jharkhand, I was told
that there was a father-son duo who could guess the amount of cash in one’s pocket as well as a number of other things. The father would see the things and the son who would be blindfolded could tell about them. That sounded like a familiar old trick in which one could inform the other in coded language. But, the challenger assured me that the father could read the number of a currency note in ones pocket. That sounded indeed interesting and the person challenging me said that he would bring the duo the next day. The next day the trainee came but the performer was nowhere to be seen. When queried I was told that the duo could not be contacted but they would come on the next day. When the same was repeated the next day, the other trainees’ assured me that the father-son duo was what I guessed them to be! I put out a challenge that I would seal the father’s mouth with tape and the son’s eyes too after that if they could tell me the number of a note I would agree that they had some powers worthy of further testing. That was the end of the challenge of the “world’s greatest supernaturalist” duo of Dumka!
In December 2008 I was conducting a training program at Ghaziabad. Some participants from a nearby town informed that the world’s greatest materializer was a citizen of their territory. That person I was told was a homeopath with a busy practice, but could produce sweets from thin air. My first reaction was to retort that he stop his medical consultations and open a sweet shop! Then I told the informants that they should test the powers themselves and let me know!
How about those who brag about their own powers? One such challenge was issued by a Dr.Srinivasan from a village near Chennai. He had taken up the challenge of the Asian Rationalist Association in Birmingham, England. They had a publication on the internet promising an award of ten thousand pounds for anyone could show the existence of a supernatural power. Dr. Srinivasan’s contention was
that he could do that and take their money. They conveyed that challenge to me and asked me to verify that. After a round of discussions it was agreed that the challenger would meet me at the Chennai central railway station where I would have a few hours in between two trains. On the appointed day the contender met me and introduced himself as a medical doctor. When I queried as to where he got his MBBS degree from, he informed me that he was a siddha doctor. However, he assured me had a good background in basic sciences! His contention was that he had the lungs of a sixty year old. When asked the basis on which he made that statement he told me that he had a scan report to show. He also showed me that. When I saw the so called scan report, it was my turn to be shocked! It was what is called as a Kirlian scan. According to the practitioners of this “phenomenon”, the body is supposed have an ‘aura’ which can be seen only by some and only they could do these scans. The scan report stated that all the organ systems of Dr. Shrinivasan were normal but for his lungs. The report also stated that the lungs were that of a 60 year old! It was obvious that the scanners of Kirlian system could not only see the organ systems but also state their age with great accuracy!
Dr. Shrinivasan went on to clarify that his lungs had been affected by some ones black magic and had prematurely aged and their age was nearly twice the chronological age of the other organs of his body (brain being the exception!). He said that by certain processes known only to him he could reverse that process and bring his lungs back to the same age as the other parts of his body! He would prove that by another Kirlian scan. When I told him that we would be satisfied with a scan report from a radiologist with a minimum qualification of MBBS and a post graduate diploma in radio diagnosis which led to a long argument and he came to another conclusion. That was that his DNA had been affected by the black magic. When I asked him what DNA was, he told me that it was dioxynucleic acid! To impress me a biochemist, he made an attempt to bring some thing from my subject into it (and failed to expand even the initials of deoxy ribonucleic acid). He asked me to get his DNA analysed! When I told him that he was demanding for a test which would cost millions of dollars to sequence his DNA he was speechless. That was the extent of the ignorance of this “doctor”!
Needless to add as I go around the country more such claimants are certain to put forward such claims. Most of these get screened out at the preliminary stage it self! Do stay tuned to be informed about more such as and when I come across them!