Catholic groups in India have brought blasphemy charges against Sanal Edamarauku, the country’s most prominent rationalist. They may get more than they bargained for, says Caspar Melville
For the past two decades Edamaruku, president of the Indian Rationalist Association, has been spearheading a campaign of de-mystification and public education aimed at undermining the power of the fake gurus and God-men who still wield considerable power in India. In a never-ending series of rationalist roadshows Edamaruku and his merry band of debunkers have traversed India, setting up on street corners in big cities and small towns. On first glance they are no different from the travelling shows of the sadhus and gurus who criss-cross India performing miracles for cash. The rationalists perform a series of these same “miracles” — coconuts crack open and appear to bleed, beds of nails are reclined on, bodies levitated under sheets, flesh pierced without blood.