RATIONALIST INTERNATIONAL

Bulletin # 174 (25 April 2008)

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IN THIS ISSUE

Sanal Edamaruku exposes “New Age Hypnotic Guru” Sivanand on Live TV

Sanal Edamaruku exposes “New Age Hypnotic Guru” Sivanand on Live TV
Click this picture for viewing a video clip of the program
(with English sub-titles)

After the “Great Tantra Challenge”, it was the turn of a New Age guru. On the evening of 15th March 2008, India TV invited “New Age Hypnotic Guru” Sivanand for a show. As pre-planned, Sanal Edamaruku was posted initially in the audience.

After the viewers got warmed up with a video clip full of confusing images, pendulum swings and psychedelic music, with artificial smoke fumed up on the podium from both sides, Hypnotic Guru Sivanand started his show. Spotting Sanal in the front row, he tried to take advance bail and said that his hypnosis was no tantra or mantra but a New Age scientific way to ensure instant strength and stamina. It will make the person intelligent, clever and physically powerful, he claimed. His clients always got power and intelligence in seconds after he hypnotized, the Guru asserted.

Hypnotic Guru touched their foreheads and told them to relax and fall into deep sleep. He counted up to three, and they both were seen sleeping. They slept standing till he put them down on two chairs. From then onwards, he would switch continuously between talking to the anchor, the audience and his subjects. Very soon the lady became the sole focus of attention, while the role of the man was limited to a sleeping decoration piece throughout the program.

His customers, Hypnotic Guru explained, came to him to get strength and confidence, to loose tension and to develop their will power and mind control, and he had a success rate of 90 per cent. In between his sentences, he addressed the lady with commands like “you become stronger … and stronger… now… one, two, three”, “power… power” etc. After some time, he asked her to raise her arm, and she did. She seemed to understand clearly which out of all his sentences were meant for the anchor, which were meant for the audience and which were for her. The Hypnotic Guru even allowed the anchor to ask her to narrate her experience about sea and mountains, and alas, she did it!

The Hypnotic Guru then began his grand finale. The lady was put flat down on two chairs, the middle part of her body remaining straight without support. This was the Hypnotic Guru’s ultimate proof. “This is only possible under hypnosis!” he declared triumphantly, as hypnosis could unleash unimagined capacities of the human body. To crown his success, he called a boy from the audience and asked him to climb up and carefully stand on her thighs. She remained stable. After half a minute, the boy was taken down.

Sanal Edamaruku walked up to the podium at this moment and announced: “This has nothing to do with hypnosis.” He said: “It is a normal capacity of the human body and I can show you the same exercise without any hypnosis!” Upon his request, a middle aged man volunteered for the show. Sanal positioned him on three chairs, the first for his head, the second for his hip, and the third for his legs. “Be confident”, Sanal said to him and removed the middle chair that was under his hip. To everyone’s surprise, the man remained stable without falling down. “He is not hypnotized”, said Sanal. Human hips have this strength and only we need confidence to remain on two chairs without falling down.”

Sanal then asked the same boy to stand on the man’s thighs. Yes, it worked without hypnosis. The volunteer did not fall down. He explained that he was feeling fine. There was spontaneous great applause from the audience. More people wanted to try. And while the game went on, Sanal Edamaruku explained his proof that Hypnotic Guru was a charlatan.

Firstly, there was a long list of flaws and mistakes in his “hypnosis”, which contradicted medical knowledge and experience and proved his demonstration a drama. A psychiatrist in the audience supported this observation and added some points. And secondly, Sanal Edamaruku continued, the subject of his demonstration was not freely chosen, as pretended, but well known to him, prepared for the show and was acting. Sanal Edamaruku and some others had witnessed the over-enthused young lady telephoning some friends before the beginning of the program and proudly announcing “her show”. Moreover, from these phone conversations they understood that she was an amateur actress who had just passed the entrance test of the Delhi School of Drama!

The Hypnotic Guru Sivanand had no medical or psychiatric education and was practicing this quackery on several thousand people over the years.

Though the two and a half hour long program ended there, the audience did not want to go home, but thronged Sanal Edamaruku to congratulate him for the exposure and to bombard him with so many questions they had always wanted to ask but did not know whom to ask.

Italy: Padre Pio’s little secret

On occasion of his 40th death anniversary, the body of Padre Pio – meantime Saint Pio of Pietrelcina - is on display in a glass coffin at his friary at San Giovanni Rotondo, in Puglia, southern Italy. 700,000 pilgrims have registered in advance to take a look at the saint who bore what he claimed to be Jesus’ bleeding wounds. They may be disappointed, as there is no trace of those famous stigmata at his hands and feet now, though his skin is still intact.

Padre Pio had a little secret. He would use carbolic acid to create those holy wounds himself. He was "an ignorant and self-mutilating psychopath who exploited people's credulity", said the founder of Rome's Catholic University Hospital. Historian Sergio Suzette found Padre Poi out last year. His research was based on a document found in the Vatican's archive. It was the testimony of a pharmacist from San Giovanni Rotunda, from whom the padre had ordered for acid. He had disclosed to her that it was to sterilize needles and pledged her to secrecy. During the beatification process, the document was examined - but dismissed. Apparently the Vatican was in no mood to have a great miracle spoiled. Moreover, in his younger years, the late Pope John Paul II had himself been one of the pilgrims who came all the way to Puglia to get Padre Pio’s blessings.

Amnesty film on waterboarding torture

Amnesty International’s new short film “Stuff of Life” shows you what the CIA doesn’t want you to see: the horror of “waterboarding”.

“Waterboarding” is one of the “enhanced interrogation techniques” that are practiced by the CIA. It means partially drowning a prisoner by tilting his head back and pouring water up his nose and into the mouth. CIA officials have recently admitted that their operatives have used “waterboarding” in secret interrogations of “war of terror” prisoners. It was revealed that videotapes of such CIA interrogations have been destroyed. This has fuelled an intense debate about prisoner abuse. President Bush recently vetoed a bill that would have outlawed “waterboarding” and other torture techniques.

“For a few seconds our film makers did this for real,” said AI UK director Kate Allen. “Even for those few seconds its horrifying to watch, the reality, in a secret prison with no-one to stop it, is much, much worse.”

The film will be shown at UK cinemas from 9th May onwards. You can already watch it online at www.unsubscribe-me.org

Denmark: Child abuse in 'Father House' exposed

The island of Lolland, the fourth largest island of Denmark, has begun an investigation into the religious sect 'Father House' after former members reported cases of child abuse. The witnesses came forward on two television programs - public broadcaster DR's '21 Søndag' and a program of TV Avisen.

The witnesses on '21 Søndag’ reported that Father House leader Ruth Eversen was told by a three-year-old girl that her father had inserted objects into her rectum, which was confirmed by the girl's mother. Eversen refused to believe the girl and instead blamed her for being possessed by demons. The witnesses claimed Eversen forbade them to go to the police over the matter.

The Father House sect, who bought the former youth house Ungdomshuset in 2006, has since purchased several properties on Lolland, with some of the funding coming from Christian sects in the American 'Bible Belt'.

In another program aired by TV Avisen, several former members claim the sect was using brainwashing on its congregation. Psychologist Lotte Christiansen told TV2 that she had several former Father House members as patients and they substantiated those claims. "They break one's free will by systematically telling their members what to do," said Christiansen. "And when the members don't do what they're supposed to do, then they are told they are going to hell and threatened with various means of punishment." Many of the victims are depressed, suicidal and unable to establish close relationships. Filled with anger and fear, they've lost all hope for the future, she said.


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