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Psychic Yoga Challenge: Yogi Ashwini Vs. Rationalists

A Skeptic Vs. Psychic event is set to take place in Bangalore on the 31st of this month. The meeting will attempt to resolve a challenge proposed by Yogi Ashwini of the Dhyan Foundation to rationalist Narendra Nayak, president of the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations. The Yogi claims that his representative from the foundation can accurately diagnose the health-condition/disease of people from just their photographs. Here are the details of the event:

Date: 31st May, 2009 at 11:00 AM.

Venue: Ashoka Shishu Vihara at Shankarapuram, Bangalore.

Description: The psychic will attempt to accurately diagnose the current health of 10 people, from their photographs alone.

Contact: Narendra Nayak: 94482 16343

The challenge was proposed when Yogi Ashwini (often seen in his PR photos as posing with a mace for dramatic effect) contacted Narendra Nayak, the president of the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations, in regards to the astrology challenge announced here. (Note: A report on the abysmal failure of the astrologers who participated in that event to predict the election results can be found here.) There was a back-and-forth by email between the two, from which this challenge emerged. It was first proposed by Ashwini himself. The press has been invited to cover this event. The Yogi, who is peddling superstition in Europe at the moment, will not be present at the challenge. His representatives from the Dhyan Foundation will represent the psychic yoga side.

Here are some specifics: Narendra Nayak will provide the pictures in sealed envelopes to be opened at the time of the event. The medical reports comboof the persons in the pictures will be also be provided in sealed envelopes. After the envelopes containing the photos are opened on the spot in the presence of the press and representatives from both sides, and after the diagnosis is made by the psychics, the envelopes containing the medical reports will be opened. Yogi Ashwini has requested that there be 10 photos, 5 being of persons seriously ill (cancer or something similar), living or dead, and the other 5 being of healthy individuals. He has said that the pictures of the sick individuals may be from an earlier time when they were healthy. He has claimed that his representative will be able to say who is sick and who is not with 100% certainty. (It is my personal conviction that a statistically significant result should suffice in our estimation that yoga is indeed a powerful diagnostic tool, although such a statistical result would require multiple trials in order to lower the margin of error).

One comment from the email exchange struck me as peculiar. The Yogi accused Narendra Nayak of having “no faith in his culture. It is amusing that pseudosciences such as astrology and psychic yoga are considered Indian culture by these con-artists, while reason, rationality and skepticism are not. The Yogi needs to get educated about India’s long tradition in dialectical philosophy and materialism, before he slanders India as a land of superstitions by implying that reason was never part of our traditions. It can be said that he has no faith in his culture, in the same vein, because he rejects those aspects of our culture that are truly great. In truth, the Yogi seems to be ignorant of what science is, because in another email he states unequivocally that “Astrology is a perfect science”! Not only does he not know the history of India, but he also has no clue as to what science constitutes.

If this challenge demonstrates that the claims of the psychic yogis are false, will they concede that psychic predictions don’t work and will they close down their profitable organizations? Somehow I doubt that they will. It’s more likely that they will come up with some excuse to justify their failure. I invite our readers to suggest excuses in order to save them the mental strain of using their brains.

Update: The representatives of the foundation are now demanding that the FIRA send them the photos by mail and that they will deliver us the results at the venue! Of course, this is not acceptable, simply because it is not what was agreed to. The propaganda machine of the foundation is trying to spin this by saying that WE are the ones who are scared and backing away. Have you ever heard of any test where the people getting tested are the ones who set up the conditions of the test? These challenges between skeptics and so-called psychics follow well-established protocols. For example, James Randi in the US has been performing such challenges for decades. In all these cases, it is the rationalists who provide fool-proof conditions where these “psychics” cannot resort to tricks. We are all aware of the resourcefulness of charlatans in their trickery. So, unless the Dhyan foundation abides by the rules agreed to by both parties, this is a victory for rationalism and our claim that the yogi Ashwini is a con-man will be established.

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  • This is great. Wonderful. Looking forward to attending it.

    Can you please provide the address or some landmark or main road close by? This will be helpful in locating the place.


    • Pankaj, I’m sure you can call Narendra and he’ll be happy to include you in the team of rationalists, given that you’re on the Nirmukta team 🙂

      • I’ve circulated this mail to my contacts and am redirecting them here. I’ve never heard of Shankar Puram even after living in Bangalore for 11 years, so I thought it will be useful to have the details here.

        Anyways, one of my friends informed me that Shankar Puram is near Gandhi Bazaar, Basavanagudi and it is a small area.

  • Dhayan Foundation will certainly loose the challenge.

    The thing is that people still will believe in DF after it looses.

    • Hey Shobhit, have you actually heard of these guys? I had to look them up and it looks like they’re pretty big.

  • Dear All,
    Shnkarapuram is near Uma talkies. It is adjacent to Chamarajpet. You can contact Suba Rao9886679088 or AS Nataraj 08026696553 for diections. After Ashwini came to know that we are serious about the challenge, the emails started bouncing back. Arti whose name was given by him is at Delhi. I am sure that none will turn up. Any way you are welcome to join our Bangalore group and particpiate in the discussion- rationalism movement the challenges ahead.


  • I have my doubts about the objectiveness of this article. Its true that these days yog and astrology have become businesses to procure money. But for every thousand cons, there is atleast one genuine person. Before forming opinions, one must be given a chance.
    How can you pass judgements on somebody without even knowing who they are and what they stand for??? Is that rationalism??? I DONT THINK SO. This is sheer narrow mindedness.
    This seems like an organisation which has its preconceived notions, unwilling accept anything that new or different. I see this as the only explanation to why a Yogi has been called a Con Artist. This is not even ethical journalism, forget about rationalism. I think as educated individuals, we share the responsibility to present facts as facts, and let the results decide who or what is right.
    I too go by reason and experience only. But for that you have to experiment. And I did, and so I can say that Dhyan Foundation is an exception. Before generalising, I wish the editor had done a little research. Then he would have gotten to know that Dhyan foundation is a 100% non commercial organisation. they charge nothing for their services. So where does the idea of “profitable organisation” come from.
    Just an inkling for the inflated egos of non-believers…

  • To all,
    Dhyan Foundation is a spiritual and charitable organization.
    A living master and a modern day yogi Ashwini ji, who has taken the initiative of bringing “Yog” back to its original glory and presenting “Yog” to today’s world the way it used to be taught in ancient times.the experiences one gets, just by being around Him are enough proof that these are not empty our foundation miracles happens daily.

  • The Dhyan Foundation and it’s guiding light “Yogi Ashwini Ji”, have been solely responsible in giving my life an absolutely new meaning. In the few months that i have known Yogi Ashwini ji, i have experienced miracles on a regular basis. Miraculous changes in my emotional, physical and financial condition.

    Never before in my life did i have the good fortune of meeting someone as pure and selfless as Yogi Ji, the dedication he has towards helping each and every being who has the good fortune of meeting him, is unmatched.

    The Dhyan Foundation is a charitable organization, and the only organization that i have seen, which continues to follow the same methods of teaching yog in today’s day and age, as was done thousands of years back by our ancient rishi’s. It is the only organization i have seen which is 100% non-commercial and does not charge a single rupee for teaching yog in it’s purest form.

    I will request Mr. Nayak to get his facts straight immediately. What do you know about the ‘mace’???? It is a pure energy, and it has it’s own sadhana which brings about immense strength, stability, glow and balance in the body.

    But ofcourse, in your eyes and in your “rational” understanding it can never be anything more than a tool for “dramatic effect”.

  • lot has been said in the article about yogi ashwini and dhyan foundation without even knowing about them which is very amateur.
    let me tel d readers a bit about Dhyan foundation.
    Dhyan Foundation is a spritiual , non-commercial and a charitable organisation which is committed in imparting the DIVINE GYAN OF YOG in the same form as it was given by Rishi Patanjali 4000yrs back without any teaches yog absolutely FREE OF COST across the globe with the help of its volunteers who are from all walks of life.the volunteers are well educated rational people ranging from university professors ,top journalists,to administartors and profeesionals ,who truly understand d logic(even better than d self proclaimed rationalists) n yet hav experienced d power of yog, so much so that they spare thier valubale time for d purpose of yog without any charge.
    charity is an indispensable part of yog and that is the reason why Dhyan Foundation is involved in number of charitable activities from oraganising daily langars to teaching street children (Anand vidyalayas) and taking care of blind girls(National association for Blind), to name a few.

    i myself hav experienced d power of yog and it hasnt made me wee bit fact yog is also a science which is 100% accurate.
    n as far as superstition is conncered yogiji himself says that u shud not believe in hearsay ,books and lectures about yog till u urself experience it.
    Mr Narendar if hes a rationalist ,which he claims, shud at least wait for d experiment and then speak.
    ayush jain

    MBA student, Delhi

  • I am highly surprised to read the views of the entire rationalists. Rationalism is to my understanding is the come to any conclusion after the event and rationale. Rationalists are not only a group of people who are trying to behave like endorsing agencies. However it is a vast open community of people like me and many other, who draw their opinion based on own experiences. How can u people say something with certainty for the things which you don’t EVEN know? First come experience it and than only share your opinion. DHYAN FOUNDATION is one of the very few GENUIENE & AUTHENTIC Spiritual & charitable ORGANISATION.
    This is the only organization to my knowledge where not a single penny has been taken for imparting of yoga. We have learnt Yog without money and thousand other people like me are experiencing not only at the physical level but also at financial and emotional level.
    Everyday the volunteers from Dhyan foundation are holding thousands of charitable activity on a daily basis. Blind school is being run by the foundation & unprivileged children are being fed and taken care by them medically.
    Not only that I have experienced myself the miracle in my life. When i came to the foundation since im a private banker therefore I also go only by logical way. I was having high Blood Pressure that time and was using anti stress pills from 15-20 days. My family doctor said it’s because of my hectic professional life, if the BP would continue to that level i will have to start BP medicine. We all know once you start taking BP medicine than you can’t stop it you will have to have it forever. I went to Yogi Jii with Skeptical eyes. The moment i went to him he just asked me one question that why are u emotionally congested? I said i don’t know what are u talking about but certainly im not feeling well. He looked at me and asked me do certain very simple looking practices. I came out from the foundation and felt very light. Continued by basic practices and after that never looked back it’s been 7-8 months now i don’t even remember if i would ever felt heavy forget BP… Its magical… Everyday numerous miracles are happening… Which are very difficult to understand from a logical mind like you and me…? But for Yogi Jii it is a law of nature. He is an evolved being… Here we totally believe in experiencing not on narrating stories.

    Come and have your own experience than we will discuss about it…

    Private Banker

    • This is a very nice introduction my friendand I will be calling back later for a morelengthy visit…Have a very good start to your Thursdayand i hope that your 4th of July celebrationswere incredibly exciting Androgoth

    • Hoi Andre,Het is gruwelijk interessant om de experimenten te volgen, en vooral hoe die werken in het gewichtloze. De veer om massa c.q. gewicht te meten. Kijk dat is toegepaste natuurkunde zoals we die vroeger leerden op school of lazen in de Kijk. Dit soort grapjasserij was deze jongen allang vergeten, zo wordt het ineens weer levendig.Nog heel veel plezier met je werk daarboven, we blijven je hier beneden volgen.Wim

  • Some facts to those arriving here from the Dhyan Foundation’s misinformation propaganda headquarters:

    The article was not written by Narendra Nayak. Being a charitable/ non-commercial organization does not mean that it is not profitable. The fact that mumbo-jumbo has a placebo effect on you does not mean that the whole thing is not a con. The fact that the mace may have exercise potential, in light of it being a heavy object requiring muscular exertion, does not mean that the psychology behind the superstitious and submissive tendencies of the religious is not being preyed upon to present a heroic authority figure, much like in the myths.

    All this is secondary. We are not interested in a long philosophical argument with you on the implausibility of the supernatural. There are other venues for that. No more of this diversion will be tolerated here. If you wish to be constructive (and not violate our comments policy), address the subject under scrutiny here. Namely, the challenge issued by Ashwini.

    This guy challenged Narendra Nayak, and now he is not responding because he knows that we are serious about testing him in front of the media, in a setting where he cannot use trickery.

    Despite your co-ordinated propaganda campaign, not a single one of you has addressed the issue. This is because you know very well that this is a scam. If you are so sure that it is not, then why don’t you tell your leader to keep his word and follow through with the challenge. Our representatives will be at the venue, along with the media. If Ashwini is really what he says he is, then you should look at this as an opportunity to prove the rationalists wrong. If you avoid this subject and keep diverting the conversation, we will conclude that the Dhyan Foundation and Ashwini are a scam.

    Stop wasting our time with your new-age nonsense and talk about the challenge. We have the emails sent to Narendra Nayak by your master. It is a matter of a few clicks for us to retrieve the email header information, containing the authenticating information, and send it to all the major newspapers and publications.

  • We have our first excuse, people!

    Ashish, representing the foundation writes:

    “We have made it amply clear to Sh Narendra Nayak as well as the sectty of the rationalists group, Sh Subbarao vide my telephonic conversation with him early this week that since it is not possible for people to travel to bangalore, we would still want to have the photographs of the said people sent to us and on 31st may we would have someone from Bangalore visit your seminar and present the results to you all.”

    Hmmm… how is “not possible for people to travel to bangalore” but if we provide the photographs ahead of time they will “have someone from Bangalore visit your seminar and present the results” ?? Don’t bother answering, it’s a rhetorical question. I’m sure there’s another excuse to cover the lapse in logic of this one.

    Maybe we should practice this type of testing for all our school board exams as well. Mail students the questions a few days in advance and have them turn in the answers on the day of the exam.

  • Students have books and all sorts of help, to do questions,at home.What can DF people do with the photos of healthy or unhealthy ,living or dead people.Millions and trillions of people are here in India.I don’t think FIRA should have any problem with it.What they want,they will be getting by mail or on the spot.Come on face the challenge.

    • Your people already lost the challenge. Question your leaders as to why they avoided meeting the challenge under the conditions that they agreed to, before you defend them blindly. They are fooling you into being their spokesperson. There is a set protocol for such challenges, in order to establish the objective, controlled nature of the experiment. Refer to my comment in the other article here: for why a test needs to be controlled for it to be acceptable.

      The fact that the tester cannot provide a mechanism for how the test-taker will cheat is not a reason for the test-taker to set the conditions of the test. Your empty calls for us to face the challenge are laughable, since the challenge is already over and you failed. Again, like I said, turn your critical eye on your leaders and really question them why they did not meet the challenge when they easily could have. Don’t be a mouthpiece.

    • In the future if your organization wishes to take the challenge again, it will have to be under similar fool-proof conditions that we can monitor carefully. For information on established protocols as to how “psychics” are tested by skeptics refer to the James Randi challenge:

      You can win a million dollars for your foundation to do its great work for mankind. Why are your leaders (who are all powerful and psychic as per your claims) not taking up this challenge? Of course the conditions of the test eliminate any possibility of cheating, but I’m sure that, like all the other “psychics” your leaders will find some excuse as to why their psychic powers” cannot work under the objective testing conditions.

  • Dr. jadeja is blot on our religious and spritual system.they are enemy of the society .they did not help in any way the society infact they always cheated the innocent people.that’s why Dr. narendra nayak chairman of the rationalistic society of India is said spritualism is total fraud. this is one of the best example and we witness thousands of such cases in the history of spritualism/ religion.this kind of god and godman were always in controvercy with their activity and was under suspicion.their miracle was hidden they did not alow to examine by rationalist and scientist .they cheat people in the name of faith this the weakness of our society.recently one altaf baba also caught in Guna who also claim give me 1 Rs I will give you 10 Rs back.
    It is duty of the intellectual and civilized people to awake our masses and eradicate blind belief and superstition from our society to uplift our society and country .This would certainly be a humanitarian work selfless service of humanity.

    I humbly request writer mediamen thinker and social worker to guide our innocent people from such cheater

  • theirs a book released by yogi ji named 51 miracle and the haunting. plz get the book read it, there are certain evidences provided, research on them. and then say whatever you people are willing to say

    • By definition, a miracle is supernatural. There is no point in researching miracles 🙂 It is like researching UFOs. There are people in this world who want to believe in all kinds of weird things, so as to give some justification for their own absurd lives.

      Whether we want to waste our times conversing with them is a decision each individual has to make for himself / herself.

      But I am really admire guys like Narendra Naik who drive some sense into the masses. Because ultimately, we live in a society, and a healthy rational society yields more happiness to everyone than one which is mired in superstition.

      • You keep making this outrageous claim that what we do is a waste of time. Professor Nayak has eliminated much suffering in the world. What have you done for humanity, to be so arrogantly denouncing the work of these people?

  • One should not follow anybody blindly. Mind it I say blindly. I don’t go by what others say. Being a real rational, first do a test, produce results and then take it as a fact.

    I did same, met yogi ashwiniji, did practices as told had amazing experiences in all aspects (be it financial, emotional, health, relationships and etheric) and hence I can conclude yogi ashwiniji has turned my life to the positive. So for me its a fact that I have experinced true power. I will advise readers, to go by their own experience. Don’t go by what i say or anybody else, your own experience will tell you the truth.

    For more read : ‘SANATAN KRIYA – 51 MIRACLES AND A HAUNTING” BY YOGI ASHWINI (a book that compile experiences of 51 educated people and professionals from all walks of life)

    @ ajitaji : please publish complete email and not the distorted facts or chosen parts that suits your motive to defame the pure science and misguide people.

    I am an educated person, did masters in finance and currently working with an MNC. So definately I am a aware citizen.

    Whether you believe in gravity or not but you are bound by gravity. Likewise if you believe or not facts wouldn’t change about thousands years old vedic science.

    The science which makes one experience that a human is not just physical body and by accesing higher level of conciousness nothing is impossible for a being. It is not a superstition which is based on belief but a pure science which is based on facts and proofs. Experience yourself and you can find truth.

    • Deepti,
      You seem to be unaware of the difference between anecdotes and science. There is a famous quote that goes something like this:

      “The plural of anecdote is not data”.

      You claim that I only published part of the email. This is a lie. I did not edit or in any way distort the emails that were sent to Prof. Nayak. It is you who is ill-informed.

      The fact that you are an educated person is irrelevant as to your propensity to believe in pseudoscience and irrational ideas. It does not help that you are misinformed as to what science constitutes, and are repeating the common misunderstanding that experience somehow equals science. Please read some of Carl Sagan’s books to understand what science really is.

      We are still waiting for Ashwini to keep his word. What is preventing him from doing so? We are willing to organize this event and have the TV channels there as well. This is in writing. The conditions required have been agreed to by both sides, and have been posted here. Instead of ganging up to defend your godman, why don’t you ask him to take up our challenge?

    • The truth is, you are being conned by this guy AShwini. There are many simple tricks that these conmen use to convince people like you that they have magical powers. Please look up ‘cold reading’, just as an example. Besides, the fact that you are already emotionally invested in this foundation has primed you to ignore any facts that are inconvenient and may get in the way of your belief. This is why we need scientific tests to judge the truth. Science helps us transcend our subjective biases, and to see things for what they are.

      Many frauds have been caught and exposed to be cheaters, but not one human has been able to prove in a scientific experiment that they have supernatural powers. There are several important criteria that a true scientific test must pass, most important of which is the statistical significance of the data. Also, please look up “double-blinding”, an important design step in establishing scientific credibility to such experiments. There are many such rules that must be satisfied for an idea or experiment to be considered scientific.

      Some people respond to this with “That is how you define science, now how I define it”, further exposing their ignorance that science is a constantly defined, rested and modified body of rules that are pretty rigidly adhered to by a powerful academic community through the process of peer review. In other words, what you are doing is misappropriating the word science.

  • Dear Ajita Kamal,

    What about Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev since I am planning to join yaga class. Kindly share you views which may help me


  • Dear sir, I am afraid my comment deviates from the scientific discussion expected in this section.
    However, I can’t help myself writing what I think. …. Once I had a severe non stop headache for 3 days. Though my employment needed strenuous supervisory work I did not avail of leave since my presence was indispensable. I took seven pain killers in vain. But I happened to receive a letter from the editor of a weekly magazine quite unexpectedly appreciating me on certain counts. Believe it or not no sooner I read that letter than I found my headache gone! That confirmed my tentative assumption that mind had an important part to play in our body’s nature. As an extension, I tried to find out if different thoughts/emotions affected our body accordingly. Please understand all this happened before I had any interest on this subject or had recourse to any doctor or book or a sage for clarification or learning on this subject . Later on, I had occasions to be convinced that mind is of paramount importance for health.So, whenever I see that ‘placebo’ effect is accepted but godmen’s (placebo) effect is hotly refuted I get confused of the real motives of the learned rationalists. Let us refute their ‘super powers’ but why should we reject the claims of their disciples , arguing that anecdotes or experiences are not science. Are we not throwing the baby with the bath water? What if we try to find the science behind this placebo effect? While exposing fake godmen is a service to society, failing to exploit them for the welfare of the society will become a great disservice. I believe science comes within the purview of human knowledge. Is
    it not six blind men trying to ‘figure out’ an elephant? Do the rationalists believe their knowledge encompasses everything in the universe? How do they account for what lies beyond the universe?

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