Once in awhile, we get a victory story, like the one about Sanal Edamaruku, who heard an announcement by an Indian guru named Pandit Surender Sharma, who claimed he could kill another man with only his mind. Edamaruku stepped forward and said, “Really? Then kill me." Edamaruku is not a suicidal nutjob, he’s a skeptic, the president of the Indian Rationalist Association. Remarkably, the guru accepted the challenge. A TV channel carried the whole thing live, even preempting other programming as the showdown went on, hour after hour.That incident four years ago was the most-watched TV show in the history of Indian television. Unfortunately, what has happened to Sanal since then isn't as amusing.
According to the Sunday Times:
"When the guru’s initial efforts failed, he accused Mr. Edamaruku of praying to gods to protect him. "No, I’m an atheist," came the response. The holy man then said he needed to conduct a ritual that could only be done at night, outdoors, and after he had slept with a woman, drunk alcohol and rubbed himself in ash. Not wanting Sharma to have any excuses for his failure, Edamaruku accompanied him to an outdoor studio, where the farce continued until midnight, when the TV station's host declared it over. In the end, of course, Edamaruku is still alive.We don't get many opportunities to show these mystics to be the fakes they really are, so Edamaruku really hit a home run for reason with this demonstration. It's particularly important in a nation like India, where huge numbers of the poor and uneducated (and plenty of rich, smart people) fall for this sort of nonsense every day. Considering how gullible Americans are in this realm, it's even worse in a nation with nearly four times the population.
I had a close look at a nearby washroom and the connected drainage system that passed underneath the concrete base of the cross. I removed some stones from the drain and found it was blocked. I touched the walls, the base, and the cross and took some photographs for documentation. It was very simple: Water from the washroom, which had been blocked in the clogged drainage system, had been transmitted via capillary action into the adjacent walls and the base of the cross as well as into the wooden cross itself. The water came out through a nail hole and ran down over the statue's feet.When Sanal tested it, he discovered that the "holy water" was sewage that contained a million times more E. Coli bacteria than the human body can tolerate. He did a live television broadcast to explain the real source of the "miracle" and the accompanying danger.