The Great Tantra Challenge
The Great Tantra Challenge was the challenge put forward to Surinder Sharma, a tantrik, by Sanal Edamaruku, the president of Rationalist International to kill him on live TV using only the magical powers he claims to possess. The event was broadcast live on India TV in March 2008.
After a politician made accusations that her opponents were using Tantra to hurt her, India TV put together a panel to discuss Tantric Power versus Science. Sanal Edamaruku was invited to represent the science side while Surinder Sharma, who is a well known tantric, was invited to represent the other side. At one point in the discussion Sharma claimed he could use his powers to kill people, which Edamaruku turned into a challenge, offering himself as a test subject.
The initial attempt took place on live television, Sharma tried to intimidate Edamaruku by sprinkling water on him, brandishing a knife all over his body, Sharma put his hand on Edamaruku's head, ruffled his hair, covered his eyes, pressed down on his forehead. When Sharma pressed steadily harder Edamaruku reminded him to use Tantra only.
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)
Two hours later the show's anchor declared the tantra had failed. Surinder agreed to try again during the night (the initial panel session was during the day). Several hundred million viewers watched that night. A warning that Edamaruku would within minutes scream in pain and die did not impress him. Strange sounds were chanted and supposedly magical ingredients thrown into a fire that crackled and changed colour,
Same game, this time in proper style: open night sky, the auspicious hour before midnight, me sitting on the tantric altar, blazing flames, white smoke, voodoo doll, peacock feather, mustard seed and all that. The master, besmirched with ashes from the cemetery ground and after the prescribed ritual consumption of sex, meat and alcohol at his tantric best, was assisted by a chorus of vigorous mantra chanters. (Sanal Edamaruku)
Edamaruku laughed continually partly because he found the whole affair absurd but mainly to reassure viewers they need not fear for his safety. Sharma touched Edamaruku and the anchor reminded him to use Tantra only. Sharma repeatedly 'forgot' this rule. A clod of wheat that Edamaruku had touched had nails pierced through it, was cut into pieces and thrown into a fire. Edamaruku laughed, the challenge ended.
The event, dubbed The Great Tantra Challenge, was highly publicized and received a high number of viewers. Surinder had to give up and the tantric's reputation was dealt a blow. The story is spreading across the Internet in many languages. 
Aamir Khan's character in the popular Hindi movie PK is inspired by Sanal Edamaruku's Great Tantra Challenge on live TV.
- The Great Tantra Challenge, Rationalist Internal, accessed on 2008-6-12.
- India TV's Great Tantra Challenge - with an interview with Sanal and videos of the event, National Public Radio website, accessed on 2008-6-12.
- The night a guru tried to kill me on TV
- Great Tantra Challenge, “Reason has won the day”