'Great Tantra Challenge' Hoax? Rationalist International, India TV & Sanal Edamaruku

‘Great Tantra Challenge’ Hoax? Rationalist International, India TV & Sanal Edamaruku
Was ‘The Great Tantra Challenge’ A Hoax & Publicity Stunt? This article was written to supply the general public with factual and verifiable information pertaining to an incident that was aired on India TV between the Indian Rationalist & Atheist Sanal Edamaruku (who is a vocal critic and skeptic of Sathya Sai Baba) and an unknown Tantrik & Black Magician named ‘Pandit Surinder Sharma’.

Pandit Surinder Sharma alleged he could kill anyone within three minutes by using tantra mantras and tantric rituals. Sanal Edamaruku challenged the Black Magician to kill him. The Tantric Priest chanted mantras and used various rituals but could not kill Sanal Edamaruku.

Rationalist International Article About The Death Challenge

The Great Tantra Challenge
On 3 March 2008, in a popular TV show, Sanal Edamaruku, the president of Rationalist International, challenged India’s most “powerful” tantrik (black magician) to demonstrate his powers on him. That was the beginning of an unprecedented experiment. After all his chanting of mantra (magic words) and ceremonies of tantra failed, the tantrik decided to kill Sanal Edamaruku with the “ultimate destruction ceremony” on live TV. Sanal Edamaruku agreed and sat in the altar of the black magic ritual. India TV observed skyrocketing viewership rates.

Everything started, when Uma Bharati (former chief minister of the state of Madhya Pradesh) accused her political opponents in a public statement of using tantrik powers to inflict damage upon her. In fact, within a few days, the unlucky lady had lost her favorite uncle, hit the door of her car against her head and found her legs covered with wounds and blisters.

India TV, one of India’s major Hindi channels with national outreach, invited Sanal Edamaruku for a discussion on “Tantrik power versus Science”. Pandit Surinder Sharma, who claims to be the tantrik of top politicians and is well known from his TV shows, represented the other side. During the discussion, the tantrik showed a small human shape of wheat flour dough, laid a thread around it like a noose and tightened it. He claimed that he was able to kill any person he wanted within three minutes by using black magic. Sanal challenged him to try and kill him.

The tantrik tried. He chanted his mantras (magic words): “Om lingalingalinalinga, kilikili…” But his efforts did not show any impact on Sanal – not after three minutes, and not after five. The time was extended and extended again. The original discussion program should have ended here, but the “breaking news” of the ongoing great tantra challenge was overrunning all program schedules.

Now the tantrik changed his technique. He started sprinkling water on Sanal and brandishing a knife in front of him. Sometimes he moved the blade all over his body. Sanal did not flinch. Then he touched Sanal’s head with his hand, rubbing and rumpling up his hair, pressing his forehead, laying his hand over his eyes, pressing his fingers against his temples. When he pressed harder and harder, Sanal reminded him that he was supposed to use black magic only, not forceful attacks to bring him down. The tantrik took a new run: water, knife, fingers, mantras. But Sanal kept looking very healthy and even amused.

After nearly two hours, the anchor declared the tantrik’s failure. The tantrik, unwilling to admit defeat, tried the excuse that a very strong god whom Sanal might be worshipping obviously protected him. “No, I am an atheist,” said Sanal Edamaruku. Finally, the disgraced tantrik tried to save his face by claiming that there was a never-failing special black magic for ultimate destruction, which could, however, only been done at night. Bad luck again, he did not get away with this, but was challenged to prove his claim this very night in another “breaking news” live program.

During the next three hours, India TV ran announcements for The Great Tantra Challenge that called several hundred million people to their TV sets.

The encounter took place under the open night sky. The tantrik and his two assistants were kindling a fire and staring into the flames. Sanal was in good humour. Once the ultimate magic was invoked, there wouldn’t be any way back, the tantrik warned. Within two minutes, Sanal would get crazy, and one minute later he would scream in pain and die. Didn’t he want to save his life before it was too late? Sanal laughed, and the countdown begun. The tantriks chanted their “Om lingalingalingalinga, kilikilikili….” followed by ever changing cascades of strange words and sounds. The speed increased hysterically. They threw all kinds of magic ingredients into the flames that produced changing colours, crackling and fizzling sounds and white smoke. While chanting, the tantrik came close to Sanal, moved his hands in front of him and touched him, but was called back by the anchor. After the earlier covert attempts of the tantrik to use force against Sanal, he was warned to keep distance and avoid touching Sanal. But the tantrik “forgot” this rule again and again.

Now the tantrik wrote Sanal’s name on a sheet of paper, tore it into small pieces, dipped them into a pot with boiling butter oil and threw them dramatically into the flames. Nothing happened. Singing and singing, he sprinkled water on Sanal, mopped a bunch of peacock feathers over his head, threw mustard seed into the fire and other outlandish things more. Sanal smiled, nothing happened, and time was running out. Only seven more minutes before midnight, the tantrik decided to use his ultimate weapon: the clod of wheat flour dough. He kneaded it and powdered it with mysterious ingredients, then asked Sanal to touch it. Sanal did so, and the grand magic finale begun. The tantrik pierced blunt nails on the dough, then cut it wildly with a knife and threw them into the fire. That moment, Sanal should have broken down. But he did not. He laughed. Forty more seconds, counted the anchor, twenty, ten, five… it’s over!

Millions of people must have uttered a sigh of relief in front their TVs. Sanal was very much alive. Tantra power had miserably failed. Tantriks are creating such a scaring atmosphere that even people, who know that black magic has no base, can just break down out of fear, commented a scientist during the program. It needs enormous courage and confidence to challenge them by actually putting one’s life at risk, he said. By doing so, Sanal Edamaruku has broken the spell, and has taken away much of the fear of those who witnessed his triumph.

In this night, one of the most dangerous and wide spread superstitions in India suffered a severe blow. (Ref)

Pandit Surinder Sharma Trying To Kill Sanal Edamaruku With Tantra And The Life-Preserving Mahamrityunjaya Mantra

Pandit Surinder Sharma Trying To Kill Sanal Edamaruku With Tantra And The Life-Preserving Mahamrityunjaya Mantra


Pandit Surinder Sharma Lost His Composure And Broke Down Laughing A Couple Of Times - Which Is Indicative Of Acting

Pandit Surinder Sharma Lost His Composure And Broke Down Laughing A Couple Of Times - Which Is Indicative Of Acting


Irrefutable Facts About The Alleged Black Magician ‘Pandit Surinder Sharma’ That Strongly Suggest A Hoax & Publicity Stunt By India TV And Sanal Edamaruku:

  • Besides stories duplicating the ‘Great Tantra Challenge’, there are no credible sources, reliable references or independent websites that confirm that ‘Pandit Surinder Sharma’ (not to be confused with the Hindi Poet, Surinder Sharma) is:
    1. A real person.
    2. A “tantrik of top politicians”.
    3. A person “well known from his TV shows”.
  • One would think that such a famous “tantrik” and “black magician” would have at least one webpage dedicated in his honor, at least one newspaper article covering his philosophy or at least one blogged article making reference to him. There are no independent articles, webpages, media or blogged posts about ‘Pandit Surinder Sharma’ on the internet whatsoever.
  • Sanal Edamaruku acknowledged that the claims of Uma Bharti accusing opponents of using tantrik powers against her were false (no reputable media ever made such a claim). Therefore, the entire premise for the encounter was based on a known untruth. Sanal Edamaruku said:
    • “Both of us were invited to comment on the claims of Uma Bharti, former chief minister of Indian state Madhya Pradesh, that her political opponents were using tantrik powers to damage her. It was a staged controversy. (Ref)
  • Sanal Edamaruku clearly stated numerous times that the alleged “Shaman”“Black Magic Priest”“Tantric” was an actual and genuine person who was widely regarded by politicians and television as a renown Priest of Tantra and explicitly stated that the encounter was not a stunt (Listen To Edamaruku’s Interview With NPR’s Rachel).
  • The alleged “Tantrik” broke down laughing a couple of times during his attempt to kill Sanal Edamaruku with mantras (See YouTube Video 02). One could easily discern how the “Tantrik” quickly tried to conceal his laughter and regain his composure. Even a viewer on YouTube (who believed the video) expressed surprise by this behavior. Why would ‘Pandit Surinder Sharma’ treat a matter of life & death (as well as his integrity and reputation) so casually?
  • Several Indians familiar with Sanskrit were thoroughly perplexed by the fact that ‘Pandit Surinder Sharma’ was chanting the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra (which is a well-known life-restoring mantra that is never used to induce death). Why would a Black Magician chant a mantra that is believed to protect one from death while trying to inflict death? The “Tantric” clearly chanted:
    • Om Tryambakam Yajamahe
      Sugandhim Pushtivardhanam
      Urvarukamiva Bandhanan
      Mrityor Mukshiya Maamritat
  • ‘Pandit Surinder Sharma’ chanted vedic slokas that are never used to induce death. Several Indians familiar with Sanskrit also pointed out that ‘Pandit Surinder Sharma’ incorrectly pronounced some of the mantras. He mostly repeated (ad nauseam) “Om Linga Linga Linga Linga”, which is unknown in Vedic or Tantric circles to cause or induce death.
  • India TV received a tremendous boost in ratings while the event was aired and Sanal Edamaruku alleged there were several hundred-million viewers. Strangely enough, after this unexpected and tremendous viewership, another night program was scheduled for the “ultimate destruction ceremony”.
  • Although it was alleged that ‘Pandit Surinder Sharma’ was unaware and unprepared to be challenged on national TV to kill Sanal Edamaruku, he apparently brought his own music cd that played eerie background music (with mantra sounds) while he chanted his death invocations.
  • Numerous viewers expressed utter astonishment that ‘Pandit Surinder Sharma’ would publicly engage in this type of behavior when he had everything to lose in front of hundreds of millions of viewers. This would not be astonishing if the event was a hoax or a set up. It would be very astonishing otherwise.
  • Contrary to Edamaruku’s claim that the Tantric Priest was “trapped” by his challenge to kill him using Tantra, the alleged Tantric Priest could have resorted to any numer of innumerable excuses to avoid being humiliated before hundreds of millions of viewers (amusingly, many excuses that could have been used to avoid the drama were raised by skeptics and critics on numerous webpages).
  • Indian Rationalists are notorious for their “Anti-Superstition Campaigns” in which Rationalists dress up as Holy Men, Gurus, Saints, Tantric Priests, Witch Doctors, Magicians, etc., to perform magic tricks and expose what they believe to be blind faith in religion and miracles by uneducated Indian villagers. Even Sanal Edamaruku’s son, Samkhya Edamaruku, pretended to be a devotee of a fake Guru (rationalist K.M. Sunny in guru attire) while working with his father at these “Anti-Superstition Campaigns”.
  • Indian Rationalists are well known for this type of theatrics. A similar incident occurred in the GuruBusters Documentary (View Actual Video) in which a dog was subjected to a bite from a venomous snake and an alleged ‘witch doctor’ was produced who said he could cure the dog using mantras. The ‘witch doctor’ failed, instantly became a rationalist, denounced his trade as a farce and told the crowd they should embrace rationalism and to not believe in religion, mantras or gurus. To the educated eye, the entire drama was an unconvincing set up. Nevertheless, to the uneducated Indian villagers, it was a convincing performance.

Tantriks / Tantrics – Tantra – Black Magic – Death Invocations: In Conclusion:
This ‘Great Tantra Challenge’ was published on numerous blogs (including Blogger, Yahoo, Wordpress, Forbes, Technorati, StumbleUpon, etc.), numerous Indian newspapers, numerous news broadcasts, numerous rationalist websites, numerous atheist websites, numerous online forums, numerous online groups (including Yahoo and Google), numerous online video websites (including YouTube: 010202), Richard Dawkins Website, NPR, Wikipedia – The Great Tantra Challenge, etc.

Surprising how so many people and so many websites blindly jumped on this bandwagon. Those who are so critical of “blind belief” should think deeply and reflect about what prompts them to blindly accept stories that enforce their scientific and/or atheistic beliefs and mindsets.

It is ironic how those who ask the general public to embrace rationalism, logic, skepticism, the scientific process and free thinking do not subject stories that advance their beliefs to the same standards they apply to stories that advance spiritual people’s beliefs. As far as is known, this is the first article that takes a critical look at Sanal Edamaruku’s ‘The Great Tantra Challenge’. Not even one scientist, researcher, atheist, skeptic, rationalist or free-thinker has publicly expressed the slightest doubt about what appears to be nothing more than a hoax and publicity stunt to advance Sanal Edamaruku’s extremist and fanatic atheistic beliefs and to boost the fairly new India TV’s television ratings.

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10 Comments

  1. aarrgghhv2
    Posted August 3, 2008 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    if sanal had gotten a real tantric priest to perform a real tantric death ritual, would he be alive today?

  2. Posted August 3, 2008 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Sanal Edamaruku has subsequently stated that Pandit Surendra Sharma regularly appears on spiritual channels and claims that he was a close disciple and relative of late Dhirendra Brahmachari. His ashram is at 3318, Kucha Kashgiri, Sita Ram Bazar, Delhi 6 (which is not an ‘ashram’ per se because it is located in a commercial building that sells textiles and luggage – Aggarwal Agency is located at 3315 Kuca Kashgiri, Sita Ram Bazar, Delhi 6) and he gave some lectures at an astrologers conference in 2006.

    If this is true, then it would appear that India TV and Sanal Edamaruku purposely embellished the claim that Pandit Surendra Sharma was India’s most powerful tantrik and black magician. He is practically unknown throughout India, let alone abroad. Since when did a practically unknown astrologer (of which there are thousands in India) become India’s most powerful black magician who advises top politicians?

  3. infernus006
    Posted October 16, 2008 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    If this was really just a hoax, as you claim, and Tantra is real, then why doesn’t a “real” Tantrik come forward and use his powers to go ahead and kill Sanal? Seems kind of strange to me, if their powers are real, that Sanal is still alive and well after making such a fool out them all on live TV.

  4. Posted October 16, 2008 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    I never claimed Tantra was/is real. You apparently missed the point to the article.

  5. pineapple
    Posted October 17, 2008 at 2:05 am | Permalink

    uhh… it was real, live on tv.
    most of those claims dont even make sense or were probably not deeply reaserched.

    how does laughing and concealing it have to do with reality? people laugh when they are nervous.

    tantra is just stupid, id like to see some other tantick come and kill the guy, they would probably let him on. its just pathetic. not many people would come forward because most of them know that it dosent work in reality but has a phycological effect. like placebos. since they know that he does not fear it, they would not even try to scare him. especially now that he told everyone he is a atheiest lol.
    just pathetic

  6. Posted October 17, 2008 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Too funny. You take a rational and logical position against superstition, yet apparently believe everything you see on TV as indisputable truth. Not all of us are that gullible or naive.

  7. izzledrizzle
    Posted October 22, 2008 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    sathyasaibaba this may have been a hoax but it still serves a point. like the other two guys above said if there is anyone in india who is in reality capable, don’t you think they could do something to make sanal look like a fool? not kill per se but challenge him again and make him crippled or make his balls fall off or something. even if sanal declined the challenge they would get enough screen time, no?

  8. Posted October 22, 2008 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    izzledrizzle, the only point the program served is that it made India TV a lot of money. The show falsely claimed that a practically unknown man was India’s most powerful “tantrik” who advised top politicians. If you do not care that India was publicly and internationally humiliated with fraudulent news, then keep defending Sanal Edamaruku and India TV.

  9. TONY
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    YOU ARE SMART!! HAHA HE WAS CHANTING THE LORD SHIVA MANTRA!! ALSO, I WATCHED THE FIRST VIDEO HE WAS CHANTING A MA DEVI CHANT AND I WAS LIKE ???????? BLACK MAGIC?? MAN IT WAS A HOAX!!! WELL DONE LOSERS, HAHA, ITS SAD SAD SAD THAT SOME PEOPLE DON’T KNOW WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT.

  10. James Steel
    Posted November 6, 2009 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    It may have been a media stunt to boost ratings and earn a new TV station tons of money, but it was more like one of those rigged WWF matches. I may not believe in Tantirc black magic, but that skeptic guy with his smug smile really ticked me off. All skeptics seem to have that same trademark arrogant look on their face while debunking what they don’t believe and make themselves out as “saviours” of the “ignorant”. Well, everyone wants to be famous in his own way, right? “Let’s trample on this myth or superstition and make people worship US instead!” To me, that’s the bottom line.