THE ANTI-GURU: B.Premanand

by Page Stephens

Our October 30 meeting featured B.Premanand, the foremost Indian Skeptic. For the past twenty years he has been exposing the godmen of India, the phony gurus who take people's money by pretending to supernatural powers they don't possess.

Premanand's own natural powers are pretty impressive. During his presentation he sewed lemons onto the arms of members of the audience, set fire to their arms, turned water into wine, rang ghost bells, and gave Bob Lohman some fire to eat. Premanand also ate a light bulb though none from the audience agreed to follow his example. Unfortunately he didn't have the apparatus he uses to demonstrate the way the Indian godmen penetrate their tongues with spikes so he couldn't show us this trick. Fortunately he gave me a copy of his apparatus so - my tongue is a little too thick so I will have to adjust it and practice a little - I will be able to demonstrate it at a future meeting.

Believe me. It is suitably gory, and while I only know the basics of the trick which Premanand taught me, I think I can also add a couple of effects which will make it even a little bit gorier.

Now don't let this description of his performance put you off as it did me when he told me what he wanted to do. For I was a little bit skeptical - is that the right word - about how it would go over with the audience. In the context of his performance his tricks weren't frightening only spectacular. And within a few minutes the audience got into the spirit of the thing and readily volunteered to take part in his experiments.

In addition those of us who were able to stay and have supper with Premanand (my apologies to Rick Richards who arrived a couple of minutes after we had left to eat some pizza) after his performance had the opportunity to talk with one of the most interesting people we have ever met. When I made a presentation at the local groups meeting at the National CSICOP conference I told the people who attended that if they sponsored him - he only asks for room and board and will not accept any other form of remuneration - they should make sure that they schedule him for as many classes of philosophy, antropology, religion, etc., because he is not a one note song. He is, above and beyond his spectacular demonstrations of the tricks of the Indian godmen, one of the most interesting persons I have had the chance to talk to in recent years.

I only wish that more of you could have met and spent time talking to him.

Many thanks to Steve Hilliard, Willis Braun, and Olgierd Lindan who hosted Premanand while he was in Cleveland.

Courtesy: The South Shore Skeptic, Vol.5, No.9, November 1988.

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Last update: 19 June 1998