Not all faceoffs over belief are civil. On Wednesday, the Atlantic Wire covered the ABC News Nightline special on God vs. science--an interesting if extremely well-worn debate. Meanwhile, in the Guardian, Sanal Edamaruku was relating his experiences debating "tantric power vs. science." Edamaruku, an atheist and advocate of rationalism, recalls how he challenged the tantra master:
It was in March 2008. The tantra master and I were studio guests on a popular TV show to debate on the subject of "Tantric power vs science". He boasted that he was able to kill anyone by mantra and tantra within three minutes. I grabbed my chance to put him in check and offered myself for a test. Caught on air, he couldn't escape without losing face--and his high-profile clientele.
Clearly, Edamaruku won the contest, but that doesn't mean he's about to stop mocking his opponent:
After several rounds of chanting failed to knock me out, he tried the whole arsenal of his tantric gimmickry on me, obviously without any result either. I was just laughing. In his embarrassment, he proposed I was protected by a supreme god whom I served--never mind that I am an atheist! Finally, he resorted to foul play, pressing his thumbs against my temples, hard enough to kill me the conventional way, but was cautioned by the umpiring anchor.
Apparently the conflict then escalated as the master proposed an "ultimate destruction ceremony" under the night sky with an altar, a fire, a peacock feather, mantra chanters, and more. That didn't work either. Though this opponent has been vanquished, Edamaruku continues his crusade against "spiritual fraudsters of all denominations and ranks."
(Video of their confrontation below. Be warned--they're not speaking English.)