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Tricks revealed

JAIDEEP SHENOY

Have you ever watched open mouthed when improbable tricks are being performed? Rationalise for a minute...



Rise to fame...

MANGALORE

According to Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English, "rationalism" is the belief that all behaviour, opinions should be based on reason rather than on emotions or religious beliefs. Propagating and practising this are a group of dedicated rationalists, who seek to debunk miracles, human or otherwise and promote rational thoughts in humans. Meet the members of Federation of Indian Rationalists' Association (FIRA).

Around 200 rationalists from all over the country gathered at Mangalore for the fourth national conference of FIRA held at the Canara College campus. Apart from discussing various topics of interest on the subject of rationalism, FIRA also conducted a special demonstration on "exposure of miracles" as part of the two-day deliberations. It certainly left one "better informed" if not fully "wiser" in a land of god men and Gods.

This event was also a big occasion for the hosts, Dakshina Kannada Rationalist Association (DKRA), which came into being in 1976, out of sheer necessity to host the talk by eminent rationalist from Sri Lanka, A.T. Kovoor. The Indian Rationalist Association then did not permit individuals to organise programmes featuring Dr. Kovoor and a few dedicated men here formed the DKRA so that they could listen to him.

Having come a long way since then, DKRA in association with FIRA performed a few "miracles", which had the young and old alike gathered gasping for breath. The Secretary of DKRA, Narendra Nayak, who has exposed quite a few "miracles" with his band of intrepid rationalists', started with the all time favourite "miracle" of producing sacred ash (vibhuti) from thin air. He distributed this vibhuti to the audience.

Dr. Nayak proceeded to repeat these miracles in slow-motion. Lo and behold, the sleight of hand came to fore and act of producing a chain hidden in transparent thimbles or note neatly folded between fingers was demonstrated to the people.

Next was demonstration of commonplace act of levitation in total defiance of Newton's well-established laws of gravity performed by President of DKRA, Madhav Rao on his son. While those who witnessed it from close quarters knew how Dr. Rao's son levitated, he chose not to disclose this lest it broke the oath of secrecy of magicians.

The miracle exposure programme also included demonstration by National Convener of FIRA, B. Premanand on technique used by hatta-yogis who "stopped" their heartbeat or their pulse beat. The fiery aspect of "kenda seve" (walking on smouldering coal), making a wick lamp burn using mere water and a host of other popular tricks performed by god men to earn the undivided attention of their followers came under the rationalists' hammer. While this demonstration may not pose any immediate danger to the livelihood of god men, FIRA will certainly succeed in converting more such believers over to their camp.

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