Sunday, August 01, 2004

Busting the Guru-Buster, Premanand

Busting the Guru-Buster, Premanand
by Lisa De Witt

Premanand, an atheist disguised as rationalist and self-taught guru-buster, prides himself on figuring out how phony gurus, sometimes called fakirs or street magicians, perform their illusions.

Having been thrown out of school at an early age over what he contends was a political dispute, Premanand was home schooled by his father.

Apparently, however, Premanand's home schooling didn't teach him about mercury poisoning. I was aghast after reading in an online article that at the age of 12 he had broken a thermometer in his home and then hid it under his bed on an aluminum plate! When Premanand's father found out he told the 12 year old to scrub the plate really well but no mention is made of where all that mercury went. The toxic fumes emitted from under Premanand's bed were probably highly dangerous given the Indian heat. Anyone living in the house thereafter would be subject to mercury poisoning unless the mercury was disposed of properly.

Having read that article several months ago, I went back recently to find it and realized someone had edited out a specific reference to mercury from the original article, "Miracles Don't Happen", by Beatrice Newbery. It was obvious to me why they edited that portion. Premanand had claimed in the now-missing paragraph that Sai Baba used highly toxic mercury to create vibhuti on photographs. The edited articles are also missing the original title (lest people might wonder whether Beatrice is an atheist?).

Here is the now-missing paragraph:
"Later on, Premanand was to find that this is how SaiBaba produces "vibhuti", or holy ash, from photographs of himself. The photo-frames are made of aluminium, behind which he hides mercury which reacts with damp to create a perfect "holy ash" of aluminium oxide..."

So, according to the great mental giant, Premanand, Sai Baba endangers his followers by contaminating them with mercury and aluminum, since vibhuti is often ingested! Makes you wonder what kind of schooling Beatrice Newbery acquired before writing this article in 2000.

Amazingly, the only original article left on the internet is a copy posted at Imagine that. Is knowingly trying to give people the impression that Sai Baba intentionally poisons his followers with mercury and aluminum or are they just as intellectually inept as Premanand? I'm sure there's a very interesting story as to why the original article by Beatrice Newbery has been edited. We'll probably never hear it though.

Note: Original article is now listed on (as of 2006).


Original, Unedited Miracles Don't Happen article posted at

Edited version from Miracles Don't Happen:
"Instead, from the age of 12, Premanand was given an imaginative schooling at home. His father had a laboratory in the garden shed which he used for concocting products for his various soap and ink manufacturing businesses. "One day, I broke my father's thermometer, so I hid it on an aluminium plate under my bed. When my father found out, he ordered me to wash the plate vigorously. But, when I did, a frothy grey substance appeared." Later on, Premanand was to find that this is how Sai Baba produces "vibhuti", or holy ash from the photographs of himself..."

The Dangers of Mercury Thermometers

Mercury poisoning spurs warning

Greenpeace Accuses Unilever of Negligence Over Poisoning of Indian Tourist Resort