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Indian guru fails to murder man on live TV

by Phil Plait, Mar 24 2010

With all the religious nutbaggery going on in the US of A, it’s sometime easy to forget that there’s a whole planet of wackiness out there.

The outspoken and hard-working Indian rationalist Sanal Edamaruku had enough. When the "guru" Pandit Surender Sharma claimed he could kill a man using nothing but magic powers, Edamaruku challenged Sharma to kill him on live TV in India.

For some reason, Sharma eventually agreed, and what played out on the air is pretty funny to watch:


Gee, this would’ve looked silly without the dramatic music.

My favorite part is Edamaruku constantly smiling and shaking his head, giving Sharma exactly what he deserves: derision. Still, millions of people in India follow gurus like this purveyor of nonsense, so it’s serious business. I imagine that Sharma will lose exactly zero followers after this, given people’s ability to rationalize failure (not to be confused over being rational about failure).

I’m very glad that this guy was exposed on national TV in India, but I have to think that Mr. Edamaruku could’ve saved quite a bit of time and effort had he pointed out one simple thing:

If this guy is so powerful, why does he wear glasses?

Tip o’ the turban to Mike Wagner. Originally posted on The Bad Astronomy Blog.

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37 Responses to “Indian guru fails to murder man on live TV”

  1. George Blovingsock says:

    The saddest thing is that this apparently passes for ‘breaking news’.
    But how to parse the situation from a legal perspective? Is assisted suicide legal in India? If not, then shouldn’t this be considered a murder attempt, however doomed?
    Also, I would have liked some subtitles. Perhaps not for the mantras, but more so for the bickering in between.

  2. Robo Sapien says:

    When I begin my new guru career, I will claim the ability to kill a human being with my flatulence. Nobody will ever challenge me then, I’ll just say it requires a headshot at point blank range.

  3. Paul says:

    I’m not sure why this is making the rounds of the Internet right now. It’s over two years old.

  4. Myk says:

    Didn’t this happen some time last year?

    • Robo Sapien says:

      This did in fact take place in 2008. The event was mentioned in a Times article to highlight the recent growth spurt of the Indian Rationalist Association (rofl at IRA acronym), of which Sharma is the current president.

  5. Max says:

    What kind of guru agrees to murder a guy to prove a point?

    • Kiljoy616 says:

      Even thought its old, this is big news, we should have more of this here in the States.

      I am all for exposing how silly people are believing this stone age believes. Like the French show showing that people don’t have as much control over their own thoughts as we would like to think we do.
      http://www.france24.com/en/20100317-disturbing-tv-docu-game-tests-limits-small-screen-power-france-game-of-death

      I am all for showing crazy people who have followers how dumb they are behaving in a world of cell phones and multi core computers. Next I like to see a show about sudo science as well as homeopathy or any of the other billion dollar quackery we see again and again with just a new spin on it.

      I had to force my self to watch the few minute video because it was so painfully funny and just gave me the impression that humans in a large scale are really just to dumb to comprehend reality as a whole.

    • Øyvind says:

      That was my first thought, too. If I had a rifle, I wouldn’t prove to you that it worked by putting a bullet in your head, would I?

      If he really believed he had the power to kill with his mind only, how did he plan to escape the inevitable arrest and prison time that WOULD have resulted?

  6. Max says:

    What kind of guru agrees to murder a guy to prove a point?

    • tmac57 says:

      But the more important question is: What kind of guru agrees to murder a guy to prove a point?

    • qbsmd says:

      The first time I saw this story, I made a comment about being surprised that he didn’t use that as an excuse after he failed: “I can’t kill someone just to make a point, I have to sincerely want him dead”.

  7. WScott says:

    Myk@3: I had the same thought, tho I can’t find a link to wheer I saw it previously. Is this a second incident, or is Phil just late to the party this time?

  8. WScott says:

    Found it: http://www.rationalistinternational.net/article/2008/20080310/en_1.html

    It’s from March of 2008. I note that the Times article, while dated March 19, 2010, doesn’t actually says when the event took place. Still, it’s well worth an “encore performance!”

  9. Kurt says:

    I hear the guru claimed success because Sanal Edamaruku stopped the chanting by saying:

    Stop it, you’re killing me! ;)

  10. Brian the Coyote says:

    Just wait. When (inevitably and hopefully not for a very long time) Mr. Edamaruku dies this Guru (if he’s still around) will jump out and say, “See! I did it!”

    I think it would have been even funnier if Sanal had started doing the robot dance or some such thing.

  11. Die Anyway says:

    Ha! This doesn’t prove that it can’t be done, it only proves that this particular swami is not adept. Or that the skeptic has superior Qi that shields him from the death rays. But it absolutely works on goats. I know because I saw it in a movie teaser… guy sits there straining like he’s about to crap the mother of all BMs and boom, the goat falls over dead.

    [/wanders off singing "I'm a believer..."] ;-)

  12. MadScientist says:

    It’s certainly funnier than trying to make James Randi pee on stage.

  13. See, that’s what happens when you skip breakfast. Your manta, tanta, fanta skills aren’t up to scratch. Next time, Pandit Surender Sharma will have his Rice Bubbles before he even thinks of attempting his magical death powers.

  14. Joshua Hunt says:

    How embarrassing! That “guru” is pathetic.

  15. Sgerbic says:

    I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t like having someone chanting he was going to kill me and then take out a knife and start spreading imaginary butter on me. Yikes!

    • Robo Sapien says:

      Therein lies the problem. The death spell calls for imaginary cream cheese, not butter. He’ll get it right next time.

  16. Sasho says:

    If he had splashed any more water would have been death by drowning.

  17. IPergosum says:

    If this guy is so powerful, why does he wear glasses?

    Simple, Kali/Shiva/Vishnu/Hanuman/Lakshmi et al. hate myopia. Where, in contrast, Yahweh just hates amputees.

  18. Paul says:

    I’m wondering why the “guru” wasn’t arrested for attempted murder.

  19. Tara says:

    Just goes to prove, some people will believe anything.
    Speaking of which, today is Easter. Lots of people here in the US going to pray to the Dead God. Anyone male who looks enough like the statues could wander around in white robes and probably gather up a fair bit of cash from those who are credible enough. I’ve thought a couple times about doing that and claiming I was risen female to prove that men and women are equal ( a nice heretical thought to try to introduce to the Christian theocracy).
    I would like to point out that not all “unproven” science is incredible. Back in the 1930s, people didn’t believe diet could help kids with phenylketonuria, then the largest cause of mental retardation in the United States. Not only did diet help, as proven in the 1940s, but they now have developed a drug that can help reduce the side effects when the kids (inevitably) break the diet. But diet is, for the mainstream medical community, a laughing stock. I have celiac disease and Asperger’s syndrome, and I ended up being gluten free for the celiac… which “coincidentally” helped reduce my Autistic behaviors. Funny how many parents of autistic kids are told that diet can’t help their kids, but they try the diet anyway and lo and behold, the kids get much better. I’ve worked with a couple who were just starting the diet, and we could see them gaining speech day by day, and one of them toilet trained within two weeks of starting the diet after 3 years with no progress in toilet training. Yet the kids regular MD claimed this had to be a coincidence, even though when she got hold of some goldfish, she pooped her pants for three days running. Hmmph.