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The tantriks chanted their “Om lingalingalingalinga, kilikilikili….”
March 25, 2008 8:30 AM   Subscribe

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."
posted by Burhanistan (64 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sorry, only screencaps seem available now...no video yet.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:30 AM on March 25, 2008


Somewhere, James Randi just got a boner.
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:33 AM on March 25, 2008 [5 favorites]


After nearly two hours, the anchor declared the tantrik’s failure.

People sat and watched this guy chant and shit for almost two hours? How boring is TV over there?
posted by ND¢ at 8:37 AM on March 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


Oh wait, gotta go. NASCAR's on.
posted by ND¢ at 8:37 AM on March 25, 2008 [24 favorites]


ND¢ wins.
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:40 AM on March 25, 2008


"Somewhere, James Randi just got a boner."

Spooky action at a distance, indeed.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 8:42 AM on March 25, 2008 [7 favorites]


I've been asked to work my "tantric magic" a time or two. They wouldn't have had to preempt any programming on my account though.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:43 AM on March 25, 2008


Awesome. That guy is a hero.
posted by DU at 8:44 AM on March 25, 2008


Similarly, kiai master bets $5000 no one can defeat his magical powers of chi. MMA fighter takes the bet.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:45 AM on March 25, 2008 [7 favorites]


Both the FPP and the Kiai prove that these people aren't con men. They are just stupid. And perhaps, therefore, all the more dangerous.
posted by DU at 8:50 AM on March 25, 2008


People sat and watched this guy chant and shit for almost two hours? How boring is TV over there?

Are you fucking kidding me? If some "psychic" nutbar said he was going to KILL JAMES RANDI WITH HIS PSYCHIC POWERS and do it on LIVE TV, you wouldn't watch every second?
posted by ethnomethodologist at 8:56 AM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


If the proposed victim had been a believer in such stuff, could have ended up a bit different. Not because the tantric had any intrinsic power.
posted by konolia at 9:01 AM on March 25, 2008


konolia: probably, but these "tantriks" usually claim that they have objective power like the wind or electricity.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:03 AM on March 25, 2008


Where by "unprecedented" we mean "repeatedly precedented, despite those precedents always ending in failure". Really, Sanal wasn't just guessing he wouldn't die, he had pretty good evidence backing him up. What may be unprecedented is getting one of those experiments on TV in front of hundreds of millions of people; good for him!
posted by roystgnr at 9:04 AM on March 25, 2008


Similarly, kiai master bets $5000 no one can defeat his magical powers of chi. MMA fighter takes the bet.

Damn. Wish I'd heard about this earlier. I coulda taken gramps, no problem. Plus, "Overweight Record Store Geek Defeats KIAIA Master!" would have been a much awesomer YouTube video title.
posted by dobbs at 9:11 AM on March 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


In other news, the Earth is flat, discuss.
posted by caddis at 9:15 AM on March 25, 2008


You all laugh, but what if he succeeded?

WHERE'S YER SCIENCE NOW?
posted by blue_beetle at 9:21 AM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ok, keyboard cowboy. You know everything so we should start worshiping you.

See, I just alluded so it's ok.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:21 AM on March 25, 2008


"27 years later, Sanal Edamaruku collapsed in his home and died. The medical examiner declared the cause of death as 'acute myocardial infarction', brought on smoking and high levels of 'low-density lipoprotein'. Perhaps 'Black Magic' isn't quite so 'far-fetched' as 'some' would have us 'believe'...

Next, after the break: Monster Parties: Do They Exist? Some say maybe; others aren't so sure..."
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:25 AM on March 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


I would be worried more about contact poison than anything. That, or some Tantra fanatic kniving him after the show. People are really fond of their supernatural beliefs.
posted by LordSludge at 9:36 AM on March 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


...some Tantra fanatic kniving him after the show.

That makes me wonder about the aftermath of the Kiai video thing. I mean, that guy was (apparently) under the impression that he was defeating his students through the force of his mind or something. When he gets back there, is he going to ask them about it? If so, they'll probably keep humoring him. They'll each think to themselves "well, I'm faking it, but only because there must be something wrong with me because look how everyone else is swooning".
posted by DU at 9:40 AM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


[a few comments removed - all of you know where metatalk is.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:48 AM on March 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


If the proposed victim had been a believer in such stuff, could have ended up a bit different

Reality is that which, when I stop believing it it, doesn't go away.
posted by splice at 9:54 AM on March 25, 2008 [8 favorites]


When he gets back there, is he going to ask them about it? If so, they'll probably keep humoring him. They'll each think to themselves "well, I'm faking it, but only because there must be something wrong with me because look how everyone else is swooning".

They'll rationalize it as "energy artists" always do, as evidence of their own increased sensitivity to chi. The unrefined MMA fighter, not sensing the dangerous assaults being made upon his ethereal body, took everything on the chin and got lucky; but a seasoned energy artist will "roll with the punches," much like a judo practitioner ragdolls into a throw.
posted by kid ichorous at 9:54 AM on March 25, 2008


Splice, if it doesn't go away, you're just not not believing hard enough.

By the way, you're out of the club. No more orgies with the faithful, no more free meat from the sacrifices, no more ceremonial wine blowouts. Pack your shit and get back to the fields. [Kill him.]
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:13 AM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]




This is similar to James Randi taking an "overdose" of Calms Forte homeopathic sleeping tablets onstage to demonstrate their worthlessness.
posted by Tube at 10:52 AM on March 25, 2008


But Tube, he was awake all night after that.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:16 AM on March 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


Are you fucking kidding me? If some "psychic" nutbar said he was going to KILL JAMES RANDI WITH HIS PSYCHIC POWERS and do it on LIVE TV, you wouldn't watch every second?

Of course not, I already know how it would end.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:39 AM on March 25, 2008


He will eventually die.
posted by The World Famous at 11:48 AM on March 25, 2008


Reality is that which, when I stop believing in it, doesn't go away.

Parsed differently, Religion and Metallica can make that same claim.
posted by kid ichorous at 11:52 AM on March 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


Well, of course it didn't work. The skeptic was emitting negative vibrations!!!

Good post. Got to check the discussion at JREF...
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 12:10 PM on March 25, 2008


But Tube, he was awake all night after that.

Irregardless...
posted by Tube at 12:21 PM on March 25, 2008


Tantra/tantrik etc. Usually associated with sex in the West, and apparently "black magic" in the mysterious East. Actually, both associations are pretty much titillating exaggerations of what Tantra is, a can of worms I'm not going to open here. Open it yourself. You're on the Internets, aren't you?

I had a grad school professor of Hinduism who has an incredible command of idiomatic (and academic/theological) English...until that moment when he said "Well, that opens up another jar of worms," which almost made me laugh out loud, for some reason.
posted by kozad at 12:49 PM on March 25, 2008


To be honest, I expected something different from The Great Tantra Challenge.
posted by electroboy at 1:13 PM on March 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


electroboy: heh. Indian TV still has problems showing kissing and navels, let alone that. Though, tantra is not synonymous with sexual intercourse. In it's broad application it refers to transforming baser emotions and energies into something more refined. But the rumors about Sting's prowess in bed have given rise to an unbalanced public perception.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:18 PM on March 25, 2008


Are you fucking kidding me? If some "psychic" nutbar said he was going to KILL JAMES RANDI WITH HIS PSYCHIC POWERS and do it on LIVE TV, you wouldn't watch every second?

Of course not, I already know how it would end.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:39 PM on March 25 [+] [!]


Oh yeah. That's why Titanic was such a flop at the box office.
posted by notashroom at 1:20 PM on March 25, 2008


Oh yeah. That's why Titanic was such a flop at the box office.

Because Pope Guilty didn't go see it?
posted by The World Famous at 1:27 PM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


But the rumors about Sting's prowess in bed have given rise to an unbalanced public perception.

I think the Sting thing was late to the game. Most people that had heard of Tantra had already heard of it by the time the Sting story broke. I'd say people have been associating Tantra with sex magic in the Anglo world at least since the Kama Sutra was translated into English in the 1880's. Sting is a realative latecomer (pun gleefully intended).
posted by Pollomacho at 1:30 PM on March 25, 2008


Irregardless...

And there you have it folks, irrefutable proof that psychic powers do not exist. If they did, my burning psychotic hatred should have caused Tube or myself (probably both) to burst into flames less than a second after I saw that hideous word.

Drat. There goes my plan to rule the planet with psychic terror. Hmph.

*shakes fist*

I'll defeat you yet, Tube!
posted by aramaic at 1:31 PM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Because Pope Guilty didn't go see it?
posted by The World Famous at 4:27 PM on March 25 [+] [!]


Because the audience already knows how it will end.
posted by notashroom at 1:34 PM on March 25, 2008


With an old lady dropping a necklace into the ocean?
posted by ND¢ at 1:50 PM on March 25, 2008


kozad:"Well, that opens up another jar of worms,"

Or, as my ex-wife used to say, "One can of worms leads to another"
posted by mmrtnt at 1:52 PM on March 25, 2008


I'll defeat you yet, Tube!

Tuuuuuuuuuuuuuuube!
posted by mmrtnt at 1:54 PM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


With an old lady dropping a necklace into the ocean?

Damnit, now there's no reason to watch the film. At least I still have the soundtrack to drown my sorrows in.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:55 PM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


an old lady dropping a necklace into the ocean

Isn't that the name for one of the stages of tantric sex? When the ecstasy overpowers one enough so that the old personality is shucked off and all that is left is its most valuable possession, the diamond of insight, is cast in the ocean of orgasmic bliss? No?
posted by Burhanistan at 1:56 PM on March 25, 2008


DU:
That makes me wonder about the aftermath of the Kiai video thing. I mean, that guy was (apparently) under the impression that he was defeating his students through the force of his mind or something. When he gets back there, is he going to ask them about it?
No, I bet that he explains it away to them.

For example, check out the second video on the link that 445supermag posted. After failing to knock the 125 pound chemist over, he calmly and authoritatively explains that the chemist must have been alternating between pressing one of his big toes down and lifting the other up, then vice versa. Because of course if you do that, there is no way that you can be knocked over.

Essentially, it's explained away as "that guy knew the secret".

And, of course, at that level, that's actually a true statement. The chemist does know the secret. Just not the secret that 25 DAN CHI MASTER is claiming that he knows.
posted by Flunkie at 4:57 PM on March 25, 2008


This is similar to James Randi taking an "overdose" of Calms Forte homeopathic sleeping tablets onstage to demonstrate their worthlessness.

You mean he took a quarter tablet? 'cause homepathically, swallowing a bottle-ful of the pills would have run completely contrary to the idea that the more dilute the concoction, the more powerful it becomes.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:48 PM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Burhanistan probably, but these "tantriks" usually claim that they have objective power like the wind or electricity

They have to believe that, or it wouldn't work for them. (Or perhaps the other way around.) It's exactly like the placebo effect. But given that if a person believes it, it works for them, it is therefore wrong to say that it doesn't work at all. It's an interesting little headgame, and rests on the distinctions between one's own subjective perceptions, one's subjective perception of what objective truth is, and objective truth itself. Personally I'm happy to take the position that it will work on him, but doesn't work on me.

If you, having survived the death-chant, grabbed one of the chanters out of the crowd and told his friends to focus the death-chant on him, there would be protestations and tears, but if you made them do it, then unless he's phenomenally skilled at creating and exchanging self-deceptions (crying out to Jesus or Allah to save him springs to mind), I'd bet the poor bastard would die. I wouldn't be surprised if this had been done, during the Raj.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:51 PM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Because Pope Guilty didn't go see it?

I did, though! My then-girlfriend told me I was going to see it, and it was that kind of relationship...

You mean he took a quarter tablet? 'cause homepathically, swallowing a bottle-ful of the pills would have run completely contrary to the idea that the more dilute the concoction, the more powerful it becomes.

Actually, the reason homeopathic concoctions have very small (read: nonexistent) amounts of active ingredients is because the "active ingredients" are usually toxic.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:58 PM on March 25, 2008


Are you suggesting that 50% of the viewers of Edamaruku's spectacle were also forced to watch it by their then-girlfriends, even though they knew how it would turn out?
posted by The World Famous at 7:00 PM on March 25, 2008


And I would note that homeopaths don't believe that smaller amounts of a substance are more effective; homeopathy outright denies the dose-response relationship.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:04 PM on March 25, 2008


In the reading I've done, Pope Guilty, potentiation is directly related to dilution. Which is to say that the founder of homeopathic quackery himself makes it very clear that not only does "like cure like," but that the more times one repeats the potentiation ritual, the more powerful the remedy — to the point that in his final years, he even recommended using a less dilute remedy in cases where the patient was extra-sensitive to the concoction.

Homeopathics is some of the looniest bullshit I've ever encountered, and I am flabbergasted that so many presumably intelligent people believe in it. Simply astounding.

My recommendation in treating victims of homeopathic quackery is to administer homeopathic doses of oxygen. Within three minutes, all that ails them ceases to ail them any longer. As an added bonus, they'll never again run about spreading their foolish ideas.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:24 PM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


But the rumors about Sting's prowess in bed have given rise to an unbalanced public perception.

Sting's "I have tantric sex for 3 days" media nonsense is easily explained away as yet another of the patently absurd order-of-magnitude hyperbolies the man likes to engage in, like receiving 100 billion bottles, or calling people 1000 times a day. He means 3 minutes.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 7:31 PM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


They have to believe that, or it wouldn't work for them. (Or perhaps the other way around.) It's exactly like the placebo effect. But given that if a person believes it, it works for them, it is therefore wrong to say that it doesn't work at all.

Well, if I was going to subscribe to any so-called tantrik's newsletter, he should be able to zap people irrespective of belief or disbelief. This guy has objective, measurable "power". Subscription to his newsletter should be avoided!
posted by Burhanistan at 7:41 PM on March 25, 2008


You have to remember, Sting was a school teacher.

That tells you all you ever need to know about the man.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:42 PM on March 25, 2008


You have to remember, Sting was a school teacher.

In that case, I hope that he invents a cold remedy!
posted by The World Famous at 7:43 PM on March 25, 2008 [2 favorites]



In the reading I've done, Pope Guilty, potentiation is directly related to dilution. Which is to say that the founder of homeopathic quackery himself makes it very clear that not only does "like cure like," but that the more times one repeats the potentiation ritual, the more powerful the remedy — to the point that in his final years, he even recommended using a less dilute remedy in cases where the patient was extra-sensitive to the concoction.


Fascinating! My reading had indicated that the usage of incredibly small amounts of active ingredient was so as to not poison the patient victim.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:49 PM on March 25, 2008


Of course, this sort of thing is not exclusively asian, watch evangelist Benny Hinn Let the Bodies hit the Floor (that has to be one of the funniest things I've ever seen).
posted by 445supermag at 8:18 PM on March 25, 2008


electroboy said: To be honest, I expected something different from The Great Tantra Challenge.

You and me both. I was totally expecting at least a 3 black diamond Kama Sutra approach.
posted by dejah420 at 8:26 PM on March 25, 2008


on the other side of the world, a Korean show exposed a woman, who has conned people into believing that she can tell them the future through the spirit of an alien god which came inside of her. The show shows the reporter asking her to say some things, which comes as complete jibberish, and her translating it into something later on... there is another clip of her and another woman - similar con woman- talking on the phone to eachother...(unfortunately in korean)
posted by insatiablehee at 3:19 AM on March 26, 2008


Makes you wonder why no one's proposed a match-up between, say, Christopher Hitchens and James Dobson, Elijah-style.
posted by EarBucket at 9:56 AM on March 26, 2008


Here's a homeopathic cocktail of mine. One drop of vodka, fill glass with water. Pour out 95% of the glass, refill with water. After ten dilutions, you should be well under one part per trillion vodka. Drinking a homeopathic dilution of this potency should make you sober very, very fast.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:42 PM on March 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Of course, this sort of thing is not exclusively asian, watch evangelist Benny Hinn Let the Bodies hit the Floor (that has to be one of the funniest things I've ever seen).

You're right, that video is really funny.
posted by Locative at 2:24 AM on April 16, 2008


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