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Live on TV, a Mystic's Attempts to Kill a Rationalist

More than a month ago, a local politician in India claimed her political opponents were trying to harm her using tantra. Following the politician's accusations, a major television network there, India TV, held a discussion called "Tantric Power Versus Science" between a well-known tantric named Pandit Surinder Sharma and the president of Rationalist International, Sanal Edamaruku.

Tantric sex may be a familiar term to Americans, but in India the word tantra connotes a lot more than that. BeliefNet defines it as an "ancient, esoteric Indian spiritual tradition, common to both Hinduism and Buddhism." But tantra also has been linked to nefarious acts of so-called "black magic."

At one point during the live conversation, the tantric claimed he could use his powers to kill people, to which Sanal responded, "OK, prove it. Kill me right here and now." The tantric took up the challenge and began chanting. What followed was something few Indians had ever seen.

The event was such a sensation that India TV broke through the next show and splashed a "Breaking News" banner on the screen. Then it continued the showdown that evening, on another breaking news special.

In the end, Sanal survived, and the tantric's reputation took a major hit. People in India are still talking about it. Sanal appeared on Thursday's edition of BPP to tell his side. Click the "Listen" link at the top of this page to hear the interview. And read Sanal's full story for more details.

Highlights of the encounter have been posted on YouTube here, here, and here.

BONUS: How a pitch becomes a segment

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