Exposing The “Miracle” Of Blindfolded Sight- The Story of Ranjana Agarwal

Written by June 23, 2010 4:30 am 65 comments

This is the story of a little girl of fourteen and the ambitions of her mother whom we met at the studios of Live India TV channel on the evening of 18th June. The story begins on this date, when I received a call from the channel asking if I could visit their studios if I was in Delhi. When the call arrived, Shubrum, Rakshi and I were on our way over to their house, after a very important and successful meeting with the present director of Vigyana Prasar Network, Dr.Anuj Sinha. Since Shubrum had a meeting, Rakshi and I decided to go for the live broadcast to investigate the case of this girl, Ranjana. It was the claim of her family and some others that she had the unique power to see blindfolded. Some of these folks also accompanied her to the studio. It was claimed that she had been given a certificate by the Ministry of Human Resource Development that she had the power of seeing with a cloth tied over her eyes! That was supposed to be in recognition of her ‘unique talents’. It was quite clear that this girl who was from a village near Varanasi wanted to go places!

Ranjana Agarwal with her mother who was manipulating her

Ranjana Agarwal with her mother who was manipulating her

On the panel which went on air at 9 pm there was an astrologer, an ophthalmologist, Rakshi and myself. The discussions started with the so called “unique talents” of this girl, with some prerecorded footage of her showing her so called remarkable talents! Then the whole drama started. The opinions of the panel were asked.The ophthalmologist said that the phenomenon needed testing. The astrologer, as to be expected, said that it was a case of supernatural powers. Rakshi said that there was nothing supernatural and I promised that by the end of the program I would prove that she had no supernatural powers.

The tests started with a blindfold being tied round the girl’s eyes and a newspaper shown to her. She brought it down at such a low angle that she could read it through the gap between the blindfold and her nose! When I said this was something that anyone could do, the blind fold was tied around my eyes and I was asked to read something held higher. Obviously I could not do that. That was said to be my defeat in round no.1! The discussions continued and when it was Rakshi’s turn she said it was to be seen as to how this girl was doing it. The anchor kept on harping about the unique talents of this girl and how these were recognised by the govt of India, throughout the program!

Then we took a break and there was an argument between the anchor and Rakshi! When the show was off the air, heated discussions were going on. Though I tended to agree with Rakshi, I am a veteran of many such shows and decided to hold my peace in the larger interests of the movement. This was followed by more heated arguments and Rakshi went off the air. But the panel continued without her and so did the nonsense!

Two pieces of cotton were kept on the girl’s eyes and the blindfold put back on. Again she managed to ‘see’ a paper held before her eyes, through the same gap. When I suggested that I would put the blindfold properly on her the anchor declined and said that I would get my chance later! That was never to come! In the meantime there were many other superfluous things going on, They were showing footage from Mahabharath, the part where Kunti put her unique powers into Duryodhan etc. The astrologer was harping on about the powers of Sanjay in the Mahabharath who could read written words from miles away! So, I pulled out a currency note from my pocket and challenged the girl to read its serial number from ten feet away. The astrologer backed out saying that the events he mentioned had happened in Threthayuga and it was Kaliyuga now!

indi-tv_pujariThen came the denouncement! The next chance to prove the so called miraculous powers of the girl was another test. She was to have dough applied to her eyes and be asked to read the words. I said that I wanted to participate in this and went near her with two pieces of sticking plaster in my hands. I had observed where the gaps were between the blindfold and her cheeks and wanted to apply the dough to that area. When the ophthalmologist got ready with the dough, the girl complained that her eyes were hurting and that she was having problems seeing! I had anticipated this, as I could see the girls mother signaling to her, apparently out of the sight of all the others, that she should say no! The very sympathetic anchor said that she was a small girl and hence should not be subjected to more trauma! He who was keen up to that stage saying that we would conduct more and more tests to demonstrate these unique powers of the child, suddenly turned very sympathetic when the going got really tough.

I had got ready with the plaster, but there was no question of applying it now as the girl was shedding copious quantities of tears. The whole drama had been planned and carried out in such a way that the girl would be let off when it came to the crunch. She was to be ready to cheat when the criteria were not rigorous, and when really tough tests were to be applied such a drama would be enacted to get her off the hook! But, I was not willing to be a party to this. I was very vehement that the whole thing was a drama and asked why the rigorous criteria of applying dough to her eyes was not done in the first trial. I also wanted to know why I was not allowed to access the girl the first time! There was no need to go on for an hour when the so called miraculous powers could have been exposed in a few minutes.

The whole thing is about TRPs. They wanted to sacrifice a child at the altar just to improve their viewership. It was obvious that the driving force behind the whole farce was her mother who wanted to bask in the glory of her daughter’s unique “talents”. The whole exercise was fueled by the ambitions of the TV channels to improve their ratings. In fact before it went on air I was requested to wait for some time before I expose this girl, as the whole show was to go on for an hour or so.

Those in on this plan wanted the so called special powers of this girl to be certified by us, which is why I had been invited. This invitation led to their exposure and downfall. In the process, the child was hurt and had to undergo humiliation in public. But the very relevant issue here is that the child was put up to this sort of exploitation. The anchor had been talking all that time about a ‘testimonial’ awarded by the Ministry of HRD, govt. of India. I was wondering, on what grounds did the government issue this “testimonial”? How could have this department verified that this girl had the ability to ‘see’ with her eyes blindfolded, before issuing the testimonial? The anchor was also bragging about the ‘certificates’ issued by some local govt. medical officers. Who had given them the authority to certify this so called miraculous power?

This certificate produced by the girl's mother appears to be a fake. No mention of Ranjana Agarwal can be found in her name. If this is a case of fraud, forgery charges must be brought against the mother.

Edit: On further checking this certification has been verified to be genuine. The target now includes the ministry of HRD, the government of India, which has so carelessly declared that this girl has the ability to see blindfolded.

While the child’s alleged miraculous powers were exposed on the show, what was the gullibility level of those who certified her? Did none of them have any sense as to see how she was reading blindfolded? My conclusion was that Rakshi had been right from the beginning. It was not about the exposure of so called ‘miraculous’ power, but about a greater exposure of how a publicity-hungry parent, TRP-crazy media and gullible public joined to make a celebrity out of an ordinary myopic girl who was peeking at things held under her nose through the gap between the blindfold and her cheeks. The case needs a more thorough investigation by some agency looking out for children’s welfare, because Ranjana Agarwal is only fourteen years old and legally still a child.

Professor Narendra Nayak is the President of the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations (FIRA). He regularly tours the country, giving demonstrations and holding workshops to develop scientific temper.

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- who has written 109 posts on Nirmukta.

65 Comments

  • Recently 1-2 days back , there was such more kids showing this ability on ZEE NEWS and IBN 7

  • It is possible. I pity anchor’s ability to understand basic science behind such technique and appreciate yogic capability that can be acquired through meditative mind while balancing right and left brain.

    Even my 12 year old son can read easily and not just what can be staged – he can do ride bicycle also in blindfold. I have taught this skills to 3 other children in apartment and would do for 10 more this weekend. Mr. Nayak need to read more about brain and learn why such thing is possible then strive to prove it wrong.

    • My son also doing same but i want to know the longterm effect

    • Thank you. You could train a hundred more or probably all the children in the country to peek through blind folds which you think are fool proof. Let any one of them see through the blind fold which I shall put. Perhaps it is you who who needs to think a little more about the gullibility of parents like yourself which is a part of the process of learning more about the human brain.
      There is a challenge for you too. If your son can pass the tests which I shall put him through under conditions specified by me, I can gift you an amount of 5 lakhs. But, the catch is that you have deposit 10% of the amount as a deposit which will forfeited if he fails the test. If he passes it the amount will be refunded along with the prize money. However, the tests will be designed me and it will be under fraud proof conditions which I will specify.

  • I don’t think its not possible..we humans possess powers that we can’t imagine..Just need to have an open mind..on what grounds can you claim that she was fake? She is a child. Of course she would cry if she has to undergo such trials..

    • Narendra Nayak

      She cried because her mother prompted her to to do that when she was off camera. That was because, they knew that I was going to expose her. If they do not want to ‘expose’ the child to rigorous testing it only means one thing- the are faking it.
      The whole thing is that they want to make hay with the so called ‘extraordinary talent’ which is just peeking through the gap between the nose and the blind fold. Would they or any one who claims that their children can see blind folded willing to subject them to proper testing by us? People just want to make claims as long as they are not properly tested or questioned.

    • Captain Mandrake

      **we humans possess powers that we can’t imagine**

      Yes, powers like unbelievable gullibility.

      • Very rightly said! Right now I am investigating into one more such which goes in the name of Mid brain mastery!The write up will follow soon and this the preliminary report-http://www.mangaloretoday.com/exclusive/Mastery-over-the-Mid-brain-.html

  • Michael Dsouza

    This is the same trick similar to the bike riding in busy road blind folded.

  • hi, there is another teaching center. But from the tv interviews, i dont notice the children’s cheating. But the can read blidfolded. Can someone help me to explain this? I doubt the ability of them reading blindfolded but i cant find the loopholes in the video.
    The course is claim to help children to memorise things easily

    http://grc.com.my/index.php?categoryID=560

  • Narendra Nayak

    They are trained to do that. They peek through the gaps and just note where they hold what they read.

  • Today I just happened to visit one such child.
    I couldn’t believe….I had doubt what you correctly pointed out in the article.
    Only I wonder how they can teach children to lie in the name of the business.
    And why our government, activist not taking necessary steps to stop such things.
    Even in November I saw article on the subject endorsing blind fold reading.
    To my surprise one of the magazine published by My company also mentions successful blind fold reading. Couldn’t believe really they are promoting something without verification.
    Somewhere this should stop.

  • Such tv shows have been continuously aired in local tv channel in Assam for last two days. I wonder nobody has come forward to expose it.

  • Narendra Nayak

    I think you should draw the public attention to my challenge to the m to read after my blindfold is put. My write up on that will be on nirmukta in a day or two.

  • This is a complete fraud.
    Last week I have spotted some TV channels of NE india such as NEWS LIVE (tatasky channel no 998) showing such kind of demonstration under banner of some organisation called “Brain Magic”.

    The way of demonstration is same. Like first put some cotton on eyes and then use a piece of cloth to so called blindfold. However, by observing closely it can be found obviously that those children were taught to peep through the small gap.

    Even I will pay a prize money of Rs 50,000/- if some one lets Mr Narendra Nayak to conduct the test as per his condition. If test fails, the person who claims to be superpower guy has to pay me 10% of the prize money i.e. 5,000 to me.

    • We are ready to accept you challenge. Pls lety me know your specific conditions.

      • First of all let us know what you think you can do. Read the number of a sealed currency note? Read something held in front of the the blind folded eyes? First specify that before we can go ahead. I don’t want to waste my time with those peeking through the gaps between the blindfold and the bridge of the nose and identifying things held under it.
        These are only the gross outlines-The blind folding will be done by us and the subject is not allowed to change its configuration in any way.No one shall be allowed to provide any sensory inputs except us. The material will be brought by us for identification, reading etc. An undertaking in writing should be given by the person taking up the challenge that the subject who is performing the the required feat is fully competent to give us permission to investigate all the aspects of the challenge. An amount of 2% of the corpus put as stakes should be deposited with us subject to a minimum of Rs.10,000. The test will be conducted at Mangaluru and the expenses of the travel, stay etc. shall be borne by you. The fine print will be worked out subject to these broad outlines. You can also go through this.http://nirmukta.com/2015/03/26/midbrain-activation-and-mastery-a-skeptics-view/ for the latest on this.

        • Thank you for replying.
          The details of the blindfold activities can do will convey you soon.
          I also have conditions for accepting the challenge.

          with reagrds
          Vinoj

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