INDIA: Murderous Blessings
A TV program with Sanal Edamaruku puts a stop to a crazy 'godman's' horrifying activities
Though Katihar in east Bihar is proud on its Medical College, there are hundreds of people living in the nearby villages who would not seek modern medical treatment for their children when they fall ill. They submit them to a local 'godman' instead, who claims to have magic powers to cure anything from malaria to malnutrition. Baba Jamun Yadav made the poor and illiterate villagers believe that he was able to transfer divine energy through the soles of his feet to their ailing little children. And they allowed him to perform a barbaric ritual.
A camera team of the Indian TV channel Headlines Today caught horrifying scenes of the crazy baba trampling brutally on the tender bodies of hapless infants. He puts one foot with his full weight on their thighs and genitals, the other on their throat, muzzling their screams of deadly terror till they nearly suffocate.
This is nothing but child torture in the garb of religion. But nobody ever stopped the crazy 'holy man' – neither the gullible villagers, nor police and authorities. These cruelties are allegedly going on for some twenty years now. The perpetrator is even making a living out of them as the deluded villagers would shed away gifts and money for his 'blessings'. Nobody knows how many babies have suffered dangerous injuries and sooner or later died as a result of this 'treatment'. And nobody knows what deep psychological wounds and scars this haunting experience has caused in the survivors.
In a live program on Headlines Today, Sanal Edamaruku called for an immediate stop to this madness and for action against the 'godman'. He accused the authorities of tolerating these crimes in the name of religion for political expediency. During the program, pressed for a statement, the Health Minister of Bihar refused to take any action as tradition and religion were involved. Nikhil Chaudhary, member of Indian parliament (from the Hindu nationalist BJP), elected from Katihar where this happened, said: if people are benefited by this ritual they have the right to have it performed. He did not hesitate to defend this barbarism as a respectable part of the local tradition. So did the Shankaracharya swamy, spiritual head and chief priest of Kashi Sumeru peeth. Sanal Edamaruku urged him in the program, over telephone, to use his immense influence among believers and stop such dangerous superstitions.
The program made an enormous impact. After less than 24 hours, the godman was arrested for child torture.
Fabricating Memories and Identities
'Past Life Regression Therapy' hits Indian television
Hunting for higher TRP (television rating points), the Hindi language entertainment channel in India NDTV Imagine has come up with a sensationalist and bizarre reality show. Raaz Pichhle Janam Ka (Secrets of past life) invited viewers to witness every evening another glossy and highly dramatic session of so-called Past Life Regression Therapy with one Dr. Tripty Jain. The practitioner put her TV patients – many among them aspiring stars and starlets – in hypnotic trance and made them allegedly 'remember' the secrets of their past lives. They were the key, she claimed, to all their present problems such as fear from flying, water, crowds and snakes. What came to light were heart-wrenching tales of love, revenge, betrayal, rape and murder across the centuries and continents – all nicely pre-recorded to provide the colorful backdrop for the tearful procedures on the couch. And finally, but certainly not surprisingly, it would turn out that those afraid of flying in their present lives had earlier died in an air crash and those afraid of crowds had once (or even twice!) been lynched.
"The main problem with Past Life Regression Therapy is that there is no past life", said Sanal Edamaruku in one of the discussion programs in other TV channels, reacting to the obscure show. "All those ‘memories’, however vivid, are delusion and self-deception. They are prompted by the ‘therapist’ with questions and suggestions, and shaped by the subject’s own experiences, knowledge, imagination and desire. Such pseudo-memories and fabricated past identities can sometimes appear quite real to the patient. That makes this 'therapy' so dangerous, as any negative impact of haunting false memories cannot easily be corrected. Past Life Regression Therapy has no scientific base. It is occultism rather than therapy. How could possibly memory - stored as it is in neurons - be transmitted after death from the decayed brain cells to another brain?"
Through different TV channels, responding to the Past Life program, Sanal Edamaruku mobilized Indian public opinion and opened up a wide education plan through the media. He explained that the show was unscrupulously capitalizing on superstitions and the old belief in karma and unchangeable fate that damages people's mindset and paralyses all personal and social development. "It is inhuman and unethical also. Take for example the case of a man, who suffers from stunted growth and short legs. In the show, he is made to 'remember' that he broke his legs in a former life when he tried to escape the punishment of a furious crowd for raping a woman! Such programs have to be stopped for violating the general code of public ethics," Sanal demanded.
Though the Past Life TV show was stopped in NDTV Imagine after some episodes, the producers are planning an English remake for the British viewers.
Headlines Today, earlier, invited Sanal Edamaruku and Dr. Hans Tendam, the pioneer of 'Regression Therapy' from The Netherlands, for a TV debate on the obscure practise. Dr. Tendam has trained many Indian Past Life Therapy practitioners. Excerpts of this interesting encounter are available on YouTube.
New: Rationalists' Channel on
Visit our new channel on YouTube presenting TV programs with Sanal Edamaruku. There are new uploads every week. You can keep yourself updated by subscribing the free YouTube service. You can also become a friend of our channel.
As per today, there are alreay 10 videos uploaded. Among them are the three parts of the legendary Great Tantra Challenge that created TV history. They show how the tantrik Pandit Surendra Sharma tries for several hours on Live TV to kill Sanal Edamaruku by mantra and tantra, finally performing the 'Ultimate Destruction Ritual' against him - at night and with burning wood from the cremation ground. Of course, Sanal and Rationalism "won the day", as James Randi commented in apprecciation. These videos have been seen by millions on TV in May 2008 and ever since, they were a hit on YouTube. Recently, they have been reloaded by us and got a new web address on Rationalitsts' YouTube channel. If you have earlier embedded the clippings on your website, please change the link accordingly.
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