Miracle buster: Why I traced holy water to leaky drain – opinion – 03 July 2012 – New Scientist


Indian rationalist Sanal Edamaruku faces a Catholic backlash after insisting that the “holy” water dripping from a statue of Christ came from a leaky drain

What was the so-called “miracle” you recently investigated in Mumbai?

The priest and the very active Catholic laity organisations associated with the Our Lady of Velankanni church in Mumbai were promoting the idea that water dripping from the feet of a statue of Jesus was a sign from God. Hundreds of believers flocked to the dripping cross, collecting and consuming “holy” drainage water that they believed would cure all ailments.

What prompted you to intervene?

I was invited to the Delhi studio of TV9, a Mumbai-based national channel, to comment. During the programme, I rejected the possibility of a miracle, but of course could not give scientific explanations without an investigation. The channel then invited me to come to Mumbai. The church authorities agreed.

What did you find?

I had a close look at a nearby washroom and the connected drainage system that passed underneath the concrete base of the cross. I removed some stones from the drain and found it was blocked. I touched the walls, the base and the cross and took some photographs for documentation. It was very simple: water from the washroom, which had been blocked in the clogged drainage system, had been transmitted via capillary action into the adjacent walls and the base of the cross as well as into the wooden cross itself. The water came out through a nail hole and ran down over the statue’s feet.

You now face possible arrest. Why?

Leaders of two Catholic laity organisations have launched charges against me under section 295A of the Indian penal code. This charges a person with “deliberately hurting religious feelings and attempting malicious acts intended to outrage the religious sentiments of any class or community”. It is absurd to claim that I did anything of the sort.


Written By: Jon White
continue to source article at newscientist.com


  1. ‘For many, the regressive belief in superstitions and miracles is an
    escape from the hardships of life. Once trapped into irrationalism, they
    become more incapable of mastering reality. It is a vicious circle,
    like an addiction.’

    Beautifully put. 

  2. In Lourdes you get at least source water. I remember my grandmothers supply in a small glass bottle with green algae growing in it. They gave that to you when you were sick.

     The promotion of superstition and belief in paranormal phenomena dulls people’s minds and establishes dangerous misconceptions about reality in our society. Such efforts have to be countered.

    Another astute and poignant remark.

  4. The Pope and other leaders of the Catholic Church have known about this case for several weeks now.

    Yet it appears they have done absolutely nothing to reverse the decision of the local Catholic organisations to pursue this legal prosecution, and the police have indeed now tried to arrest Sanal Edamaruku.

    As I mentioned before, there is no excuse or hiding place for the Pope and Catholic Church on this one. It is happening now and everyone is aware of the situation. The Pope can’t claim he had no knowledge of this outrageous behaviour by his followers. We are witnessing the true repugnant nature of the Catholic Church in real time.

  5. Had it been leaky toilet water, the story would have been even better.  Stupid, control freak Catholics.

  6. From the new thread:

      4 July 2012. This morning, officers of the Delhi Police reached Sanal
    Edamaruku’s house to arrest him. They came upon directions of a Delhi
    court to execute an arrest warrant issued by a Mumbai Metropolitan
    Magistrate Court (second highest Criminal Court). If Sanal had been at
    home, he would be in jail now….

    Clearly the police and courts, are under-employed if they have no more pressing matters to deal with!  – Or is this just “JOBSWORTH EMPLOYMENT” as an easier option than dealing with real crime!

    Anyone thought of employing a plumber?  Or is that too much for catholic brains?

  7. “…I traced holy water to a leaky drain.”

     This really should be the end of the conversation/mystery, should it?

  8. @bluebird

    I was unaware of Sanal Edamaruku.  There is more about this situation at his website ~ rationalistinternational.net

    @link:disqus  –

    MID DAY –
    Christian forums file FIRS after IRA chief calls ‘miracle water’ a scam

    Early last month Sanal Edamaruku, head of the Indian Rationalists
    Association had claimed on TV that the water seeping out of a cross
    near Vile Parle was fake.

    Vile Parle – For those who understand French – What an appropriate name!

  9. The crime is refusing to abet a swindle.  How did India get such laws? I think the original idea was to discourage Hindus and Moslems from taunting each other attempting to start fights hat would often lead to deaths.

    If the public were aware of how often clergy proclaiming miracles had staged them themselves or knew how they came about by natural means, they would be far less gullible.

    People get such a charge out of thinking the creator of the universe bent the usual rules just for them. It massively flattering. They want to be fooled because the fantasy is so pleasant.

  10. Just gave a bit of cash to his defense. Dropped a few harsh words on India and the Pope.

  11. All miracles are such until a rational explanation is found.  That’s what the RC church is frightened of.  In the UK there was a comedy called ‘Only Fools and Horses’ where a ‘crying’ Jesus was found to be caused by rain dripping from a roof leak because roof lead has been stolen.  Life imitating art here!  Milk from statues; blood from statues; apparitions; images in smoke; shapes in corn snacks – all of these have been claimed to be religious signs and have turned out to be bollocks: and will always be bollocks!  And they all seek to extort money from poor people. Frauds – the lot of them.

  12. Still not a peep from Vatican, aren’t they suppose to be sophisticated and mainstream or something?

  13. Still not a peep from Vatican,

     You would have thought that they would at least say it wasn’t a TrOOOOOOoooo miracle!!!

  14. Such stupidity is unworthy of comment…

    I’m now going to read the other Leakey story to restore my faith in humanity!

  15. Let’s say it had been a miracle — what do believers think God had in mind by having water drip from the feet of a statue?

  16. This is really really bad news for any further debunkings by anyone else and public rationality in general.

    But, what can we expect from a country where Astrology is deemed as science by its courts.

    Bill Gates, where are you…goddamn him, if I was a billionaire I would put 50 mil each year in such countries to develop organizations and lobbies. And I still wouldn’t feel a dent.


    “…I traced holy water to a leaky drain.”

    There are brain-drains from scientifically educated countries taking expertise overseas, and then there are drain-brains asserting themselves in ignorant ones!

    Someday the Vatican and its followers may learn science and stop making up crap about miracles, – but that would be a miracle!

  18. So there’s no prosecution of an organisation making money by letting people drink seeping washroom water and lying about its true provenence? Instead the man who is saving the deluded from drinking said water is prosecuted for telling the truth.
    Remind me again why I can’t be a moral person without letting Jesus into my heart and blindly accepting what I’m told.

  19. Probably it is a bit presumptuous of me,  but should we start a fund to aid his defense just in case he might need it?
    As an Indian, and having witnessed how much influence money & well-paid lawyers have on the outcome of legal battles, I think it would be a good idea to not only morally support him but do so financially as well. I do sincerely apologize, if someone at RDF is supporting his cause financially or that he doesnt need any financial support. Didnot mean to cause any offense.

  20. This is India with only a minority of christians. Had it been one of the majority gods, he would have got slapped or beaten. And had it been islam, he would be in exile like Rushdie.

  21. I dont know whether to laugh or to cry. Arrest a man for preventing people from drinking drainage water. In a place where diarrhea is prevalent, how dare he speak up telling masses not to drink tainted water.

  22.  Precisely! Of course if i gets blessed by a man in a funny outfit it transubstantiates into the urine of a first century Jew. 🙂

  23. In reply to #11 by Roedy:

     How did India get such laws? I think the original idea was to discourage Hindus and Moslems from taunting each other attempting to start fights hat would often lead to deaths.

    There are quite a few laws that we inherited from the British, this is one such law. This one is actually against the constitution (i think article 51, which talks about a citizen’s responsibility of free thinking, rationality and such).

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