This blog contains material I wrote and posted on between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).

Monday, 22 October 2012

The Resurrection That Failed

There was once a man who called himself Balak Brahmachari. An Indian “godman”, a so-called religious “guru”, he was big – very big – in the Indian state of West Bengal from about the early 1960s until his death.

This Balak Brahmachari – which means, literally, Boy Celibate, a formal declaration of lifelong celibacy occupying a high place of honour in Hinduism – was a fairly transparent con man, using cheap misdirection and low-grade “magic” to bamboozle his devotees. But such is the willingness of people to believe whatever they want, that he swiftly became enormously famous, with people coming from far and wide to witness his “miracles” and to get his blessings. Soon enough, this Balak Brahmachari was the head of a very wealthy financial empire, quite a common thing in India to this day. His followers still run a website dedicated to him.

But time waits for no man, and Balak Brahmachari departed this life in May of the year 1993. Instead of formally cremating his corpse and declaring that he was now in heaven, as you’d expect, the organisation managing the ashram, known as the Santan Dal, declared that he was in a state of “trance”, what they called “Nirvikalpa Samadhi”, and that he would certainly rise from the dead. For the edification of the credulous, they even displayed the body in a glass case...conveniently, as it turned out, resting on an immense block of ice.

For no fewer than fifty five days, this farce continued, with more and more ice being brought in, and more incense being burned, to camouflage the smells of decomposition. Finally, the state government stepped in, and ordered the Santan Dal to cremate the body. Instead of complying, the Dal accused the government (which was, conveniently, Communist) of planning cold-blooded murder, and claimed that the Brahmachari would rise again, like the sages of old who allegedly stayed in trances for years and achieved enlightenment.

Fortunately, the state government wasn’t having any, and seized the body on the 55th day and cremated it. Of course, the Dal and the followers to this day claim it was murder. That was predictable.

What wasn’t predictable was the other thing the government found. They discovered a double of the Brahmachari, who was being coached in the man’s diction, style of walking, mannerisms, and so on, in fact being turned into a duplicate of the con/godman. Presumably, when the double was deemed ready, there would have been a grand resurrection, and the Balak Brahmachari would be alive to this day. And when he died again, well...

Immortality was that close.

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