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Gawd! You can do it too

With a little help from Narendra Nayak, you can produce vibhoothi from thin air and lie on a bed of nails


IT IS late afternoon, the gathering comprises students and their profs, their eyes riveted on the `holy man' performing `miracles' on the stage. The man rotates his palm and then out of thin air produces holy ash, which he distributes liberally to the gathering. Even after distributing it to the 50-odd people in the lecture hall, he has still plenty left and sprinkles it with a flourish in the tray before him.

He then invites me to perform another miracle, setting fire to a few pieces of paper after drizzling it with honey. With my `yogic powers' I stare hard at the paper in the bowl and lo and behold, the paper sizzles and bursts into flames.

The `holy man' is Narendra Nayak, Assistant Professor, Biochemistry, Kasthurba Medical College Mangalore. Dr. Nayak has taken it as his life mission to investigate the paranormal and the expose the `miracles' of godmen.

"We want to show how easy it is to perform these miracles. By exposing them, we try to create scientific thinking among the people. It takes a lot of time to overcome deep-rooted, superstitious beliefs. By performing these so-called miracles ourselves, we try to explain the scientific background so that people can overcome their total dependence on cults and miracle men," says Dr. Nayak, who is a member of the Dakshina Kannada Rationalists' Association.

Three years back he and the association exposed the fraudulent lamps of Chigalli, which reputedly had been burning without any oil for 25 years. In another instance, one Hanumantha Rayappa claimed he could read cards with the help of powers endowed on him by Lord Shani. Dr. Nayak read the same cards and exposed his `powers'.

In 2002, Bangalore had a unique visitor, a surgeon who claimed that he had supernatural powers and hence could perform an operation with bare hands without giving anaesthesia to the patient. Sure enough, Dr. Nayak performed the very same operation with little effort.

Walking on fire, standing on a sword, lying on a bed of nails, pulling a car with ropes tied to hooks in one's back, suspended with the help of those very same hooks, you name it, he and his associates can do it.

"Some of these miracle persons are involved in extensive social work. All this social work and `miracles' are simply a façade to cover their various nefarious activities," declares Dr. Nayak passionately.

What prompted him to become a rationalist and expose such people and organisations?

"As a child, I saw my family building being auctioned by the bank and my father had a simple solution to getting it back: winning the lottery ticket the astrologer had guaranteed a win. As a child I was a strong believer in God, but God never came to my aid. Gradually it dawned on me that all this is nonsense."

In 1982 he met B. Premanand, Kerala's most famous rationalist, who has been investigating the paranormal for the last four decades. That was a turning point.

Dr. Nayak has so far given about 2,000 performances both in India and abroad. "In all these places, we go to the people with the message that they should think scientifically."

He has been featured on BBC, Discovery Channel, and on Australia's ASA. He observes with a tone of asperity that politicians in high places prostrate before the godmen and godwomen.

Even as he speaks, he produces a chain and a currency note from thin air to demonstrate the ways of a famous godman who has lakhs of followers. His video footage of the godman exposes with great clarity the `miracles' he performs.

"I can produce the viboothi out of thin air and give it at a single point of time to 500 people with one hand and another 500 with my other hand," he says, swinging his arms. "And note, my viboothi has the same smell as his, because we both source it from same place. Only, we buy in kilos while he buys in tons, for we don't have so many `devotees'."

And why not, after all they are mere pellets hidden between the fingers and later deftly crushed into powder before dispensing.

Dr. Narendra Nayak can be contacted at mskamath@sancharnet.in and on 0824-2494379

NANDHINI SUNDAR

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