Sanal Edamaruku

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Sanal Edamaruku is an Indian skeptic and founder of Rationalist International. He is the acting president of both Rationalist International and the Indian Rationalist Association, as well as editor of the internet publication Rationalist International. He has exposed numerous frauds, mystics and superstitions in India.

He has been legally harassed for his work, and currently lives in Finland.

Early life[edit]

Edamaruku was born to a Christian-born father named Joseph Edamaruku, a well-known journalist, author and activist who wrote 170 books on religion, philosophy and miracle frauds, and a Hindu-born mother named Soley. The couple rejected religion at a young age and discarded the traditional qualification regarding religion and caste upon marrying each other. When Soley was pregnant, the couple were living at Joseph's family home. When Joseph was away, his parents pressured Soley to convert to Christianity. Soley had refused, clinging to her own beliefs and ideals. Due to her "disobedience", Joseph's parents declared that they would no longer support their son and his wife and the young couple were forced to leave. Soley was almost due at this time. Joseph and Soley decided to walk to Soley's parent's house. However, during their journey, Soley went into labor and under the pouring rain, she gave birth to Sanal.
When Joseph and Soley enrolled their son in school, they were told by administrators they had to include their son's religion and caste. They refused to fill both options and after an intense dispute, Sanal was enrolled in school as the first Indian child to have no religion and no caste. While a teenager, Sanal witnessed a traumatic event that changed his outlook on religion. A young woman named Susan lived close to the Edamarukus in their village. Susan fell ill with a disease that would have been easily preventable by medicine. However, her parents belonged to a Christian sect that refused vaccines and medications. Susan ended up dying before her 20th birthday. At that moment, Sanal Edamaruku decided to follow his father's footsteps and become an activist for rationalism and skepticism.

Involvement with the Indian Rationalist Association[edit]

He began to be involved with the Indian Rationalist Association(IRA), found in 1945. He became the organization's General-Secretary in 1983 and in 2005, he became its president. In addition, he is the editor of IRA's mouthpiece, Modern Freethinker and, like his father, has written numerous articles and books on the delusions religions promote and advocate for rationalism and free thought. [1]

Rationalist International[edit]

Edamaruku expanded his activism internationally in 1995 by organizing the First International Rationalist Conference in New Delhi with delegates from twenty-eight countries. Edamaruku became president of that organization. Two more conferences were held by Rationalist International in Trivandram, India (2000) and another one in New Delhi(2002). A number of well-known atheist activists have been given the status of honorary associates by Rationalist International including Taslima Nasrin, the late Christopher Hitchens, Paul Kurtz, James Randi, and Richard Dawkins.[2]

The Great Tantra Challenge[edit]

During a panel on India TV, Sanal Edamaruku and a Hindu tantric priest debated over the legitimacy of the powers of tantra. The tantric priest made the outstanding claim that tantric powers can kill a person. Edamaruku, like a boss, dared the tantric priest to kill him. As a result, India TV cancelled all of their prime-time programming for this unusual, yet captivating event. For hours, the tantric chanted Hindu mantras

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. (Sanal Edamaruku)[3]

After realizing that Edamaruku was still alive, and laughing, the tantric lamely concluded that Edamaruku was under the protection of a powerful god. Edamaruku bluntly said that he was an atheist.[4]

Mumbai "blasphemy" incident[edit]

In April 2012, Edamaruku debunked a hoax in Mumbai concerning a weeping crucifix at the Church of Our Lady of Velankanni that was leaking water it absorbed from a nearby drainage source via capillary action. The Church attempted to have him arrested for blasphemy after arguing about the incident.[5] In July, police in Delhi attempted to carry out the arrest warrant although Edamaruku was outside the city at that time.[6] When the Mumbai police later refused to issue "anticipatory bail" (effectively denying him release even if he succeeded in posting bail), Edamaruku fled to Finland.[7]

External links[edit]