Monday, 29 October 2012

Science versus Miracles: Ash from Coins


B Premanand

While on a vijnan yatra in Maharashtrn in 1981, Vilas Baba, a godman from Phelton, challenged us that if we proved that his miracle ia false he would pay us Rupees five lakhs. His challenge was published by many vernacular dailies in Maharashtra. We agreed to investigate his clim and fixed a day for the same. In his reply he informed us that he was going into samadhi from that day up to the end of my tour in Maharashtra and as his soul would be roaming in the Himalayas, the date given was not suitable for him. Therefore, I gave rum the next day to investigate his claims and my lecture was arranged at Phelton on that date. Most of the people of Phelton and the suburbs had come to witness what would happen to me and the Baba. We waited for him for an hour and he did not turn out. Our people went to his ashram. It was locked and no one was there. He has not come back to the village to this day.

In 1982 when I visited Madhya Pradesh, I found that he had collected Rs. 5000 from a rich merchant for a male child and given him a coin to be placed in his prayer-room.

He claimed to be a Baba of the poor, and initially asked only 5 and 10 paisa coins. He took the coin and, bringing it near his mouth, recited some mantras and gave it back to the person to hold tight in his fists. Within a few minutes it became hot and when he opened his hand, vibhuti was seen emanat­ing from the coin. Even when the com was washed, vibhuti still formed. Being satisfied with his supernatural powers, the gullible met him to solve their prob­lems. He exploited them to the size of their purse. I was informed that he charged five to ten thousand rupees to see that one got a male child.

Experiment: 74

Effect: Ash from coins.

Props: Saturated mercuric chloride solution in water in a small container, an aluminium coin or a plate.

Method: Dip your index finger and thumb in the mercuric chloride solution stealthily. Call for a volunteer and ask for a five or ten-paisa coin. Take it and rub the coin with your index finger and thumb on both sides while chanting incantations. Then place it in the palm of the volunteer and ask him to close his hand. The solution and aluminium reacts, heat is generated and a grey sub­stance looking like vibhuti starts forming on the coin. Washing the coin starts the reaction again.

Take the plate, rub it with a piece of cloth dipped in the solution, and the same chemical reaction will occur.

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