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Indian Rationalists Expose Another Quack
Submitted by admin on 1 November, 2003 - 09:37
Indian Rationalists Expose Another Quack
Varadaraja Pai, from a village in Karnataka state, India, had been claiming powers of healing. He could diagnose disease using a pendulum. Treatment involved his recently discovered techniques of ‘cosmic therapy’ and ‘teletherapy’. He claimed that many VIPs were under his treatment, including the Indian Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and Queen Elizabeth’s grandson, Prince William, who was apparently receiving ‘teletherapy’ from him at the request of the Queen’s office!
It was this last claim that attracted our attention. Ms.Tanya Datta, a correspondent of the BBC, was coming to Mangalore to interview us for a feature on the leading rationalist and ‘guru buster’ B. Premanand. She was delighted at the idea of meeting a person treating a member of the British royal family!
We set off for the village of Nada, 50 km from Mangalore, Mr. Premanand, Ms. Datta, myself, and Ms. Sheila Samuel. There was a small crowd outside Mr. Pai’s gate. News had spread of the visit of the BBC. We entered the consulting room and, once introduced, we were treated to a lecture about the composition of white light. It is made of nine colours, said Mr. Pai, emanating from the nine planets. He then went on to talk of his technique. He would hold his pendulum over a book with a particular page open depending on the information required. A photograph of the patient, or a lock of hair or a thumbprint, would be placed in front of the book with the appropriate page open. The pendulum would then swing by itself and provide the required answers. Having diagnosed the disease, the same device would also suggest the treatment. It would show which colour the patient was ‘hungry for’. This hunger could be fulfilled by wearing a gemstone of the appropriate colour or Mr. Pai could send forth healing powers of the necessary colour, given a photograph of the patient. In a room in his house was an array of boxes with photographs stuck to the insides and containing coloured light bulbs. This was, he explained, the basis of his ‘scientific’ technique of ‘teletherapy’.
We were now ready for a demonstration. We had brought our own patient. Mr. Pai wanted something of hers to work with. In the absence of a photograph, she gave him a hair from her head. He placed this on the table, swung the pendulum, and quickly came to the conclusion that she was basically quite healthy. She just had some personality problems – the result of a deficiency of the colour green. We then told him that this ‘healthy’ individual was in fact a cancer patient. Briefly taken aback, he explained that diagnosis on the basis of a hair was unreliable. He really needed a photograph.
Since a photograph was clearly vital to his technique, we then gave him a group photograph to analyse. He cut it up to separate the images of the individuals and set to with his pendulum. One, he suggested, was not in the pink of health, and needed colour therapy. A second caused him grave concern. On being asked whether he might in fact be dead, he confirmed this. Perhaps the pendulum could inform us when he had passed away? Eleven years ago, came the answer. Mr. Pai was then informed that the first individual was in fact no longer living, while the second was most definitely alive. Mr. Pai was furious. It was because I had approached him with unclean hands. I showed him my hands. No, no, not literally – he meant figuratively, of course! I could not resist waving my hand and producing some holy ash...
Of course, we did not leave without asking him about his supposed treatment of Prince William. Did he have the letter from Queen Elizabeth’s office? It would not be easy to find among all his correspondence. Nevertheless, the letter was finally traced. It was merely an acknowledgement from Buckingham Palace of the receipt of his own letter. There was, alas, no mention of any treatment being requested. What a disappointment, especially for our BBC correspondent. We left him there, crestfallen. Another day, another quack exposed – all part of rationalist work in India.
Secretary, Dakshina Kannada Rationalist Association, India
The feature on B. Premanand’s rationalist activity was broadcast by BBC Radio 4 in My Story on 28 August. It followed the ‘guru buster’ in his travels and included a recording of the incident described above.