An Atheist in Exile


After he exposed a ‘miracle’ in Mumbai, multiple FIRs were registered against Sanal Edamaruku under a blasphemy law. Expecting arrest, he fled the country and has now lived abroad for a year

In one of the many lanes off Mumbai’s SV Road—that all-important artery connecting the city’s central region with its western suburbs—there exists an otherworldly place. Five minutes into Vile Parle’s Irla Lane, all the traffic disappears. There are no plush offices here, no towering buildings. Instead, large banyan trees line the sides of the roads, small crosses at intersections remind residents of their faith, and people live in small single floor homes with sloping roofs. This is a village of East Indians, the original inhabitants of Mumbai.

A little over a year ago, for a span of a few days, this sleepy hamlet transformed into nothing less than a carnival. People from various parts of the city, from a cross-section of religions, thronged the area for days, waiting to see a sign of god. The feet of a statue of Christ had started to drip water. For five days, water oozed out of Christ. In the glare of media channels transmitting this miracle live, people started collecting what they termed holy water. (Later, when their stock was running out, they increased it by adding ordinary water.) As the crowds increased, tarpaulin sheets were set up to shelter the faithful, chairs were organised for the elderly, all-night vigils began to be held, and, as with all good miracles, myths began to bloom. It was said that a few years ago, a tree fell at the spot, and while houses nearby were damaged, not a scratch befell the statue. People were said to have been magically cured of a variety of illnesses by the water. Two women over 60 years of age, one from Wadala and another from Khar, came hobbling on crutches, residents said, and after a sip went home with their backs ramrod straight.

The ‘miracle’ was first noticed not by a Catholic, but a Hindu woman. This pious lady, Sharda Parmar, always started her day by bowing to the statue. “Nothing was there when I reached that morning. It was when I was praying that I felt the first drop,” she says. Even after the dripping stopped, villagers had strangers knocking on their doors asking if they could share a few drops with them.

Written By: Lhendup G Bhutia
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  1. Indian Humanists should lobby to repeal their blasphemy law (which is not compatible with universal human rights).

  2. We would love to have you in the UK, Sanal. If this isn’t grounds for political asylum I don’t know what is.

    Perhaps we can do a swap. we have Sanal, and we will send India a creationist or two.

  3. I may be a bit old fashioned, but what kind of a world is it when religios persecute someone for showing that a man made statue was dripping raw sewage ? Oh dear Jesus covered in piss, OOO OOOH ! I’m offended.

    Bloody RCC numbskulls !

    Why aren’t these people more worried about the apparent lack of dark matter in the solar system ? There’s a real problem to be solved and it will involve much work, research, evidence and fact gathering. Probably most of the Indian RCC members will know bugger all about dark matter. I mean why should reality interfere with their fantasies ?

  4. A few months ago, I twice wrote to Vincent Nichols, head of the RCC of England, explained to him how Catholic organisations in India were persecuting Mr Edamaruku, and asked him to intervene, either directly or through the Vatican.

    No response.

  5. I’m glad Europe could offer a home to this brave man …
    In a just society – exposing a “con” is considered a public duty……Taking offence at almost everything seems to be religions main duty……..but believers should be getting annoyed at their own gullibility and these people should be bowing at the feet of this guy and thanking him for saving them from religious conmen and fakery…..but instead the dumb sheep follow the wolf shepherd…

  6. This is so strange. He in no way said anything rude about Jesus. He just exposed a bunch of con artists milking Jesus for a buck. I could hardly imagine the real Jesus being offended were he alive to notice.

  7. “Blasphemy” should be worn like a medal and encouraged. One should always try to avoid falling into the trap that Mr. Rushdie described as “wanting to be loved”.

    Go forth and be as blasphemous as you can

    … the world will be a better place for it.

  8. Whenever I hear the word blasphemy….it instantly triggers a memory of Monty Python – Life of Brian…. when the old guy has been sentenced to death by stoning for blasphemy and as he’s dancing around saying “how could it get any worse….. Jehovah Jehovah Jehovah…..That’s just so funny….

    Every religious person should be made to watch that film…to expose how ludicrous their beliefs are…

  9. Thisis why religion must never again have the power it once had.These people are capable of terrible atrocities as we know from reading history.Shocking stuff in this day and age

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