The cult of Kalki

Narendra Nayak

Secretary, D. K. Rationalist Association    


CULTS ARE VERY DANGEROUS, as many past examples have shown! Because, the members form a very closed group, stick to each other and interpret the whole world through their own, sometimes very much jaundiced eyes! We have the tragedies like mass suicides, murders, bombings etc by perpetrated followers of such cults. Sometimes the power struggles within have ended up in the annihilation of one or more groups.

One such becoming quite popular these days in the cult of ‘‘ Kalki Bhagwan’’. The bearded man and his consort shown in the photograph are the patron figures of this cult. One of their very important duties of every member is the performance of pujas on every auspicious occasion. The devotees are encouraged to perform various yagas to celebrate their birthdays, wedding anniversaries etc. naturally these cost money and good amount of the income of devotees will go into the coffers of the ‘‘Bhagwan’’. They have a nationwide network and are well organised. This organisation has been dogged by controversy. The ‘‘Bhagwan’’ who claims to be the last avatara of Vishnu is supposed to have many miraculous powers. Before his incarnation as the God, he was working as a clerk in Railways. Once one gets into the avatara of a God, there is no need to work! Devotees who slog will take care of all the needs, whims and fancies.

In Karnataka, this cult has a good following in many districts. A couple of years back, on a trip to Kodagu; I had been attacked by some of his devotees for having challenged the miracles. A couple of months ago, when I had been to Virajpet, one man asked me whether I could recognise him. When I said I had a vague collection of having seen him before, he informed me that he was one of the people who had attacked me a couple of years back. Now, he thanked me very much for having brought him out of the clutches of the Kalki gang. He also explained that it was my lecture-demonstration that started him thinking about the truth behind Kalki’s supernatural’s powers and after reasoning out, he had rejected the superstitions about him.

That reminded me of another incident of Mercara. Dr. Ganapathi, the convenor of the Kodagu district Vigyana Parishath had send me a cutting from a newspaper which started that honey was miraculously dripping from a photograph of Kalki! When I sent a statement to the same newspaper challenging the person who claimed that the miracle was happening in his house, to hand over the photographs to me and if it continued for a week. I would give him a lakh of rupees! The effect of this was that the miracle was not heard afterwards.

But, Kalki’s miracles do not stop that easily. The most recent are the happenings in a house at Chitpady, Udupi. To the observer, it becomes very clear that this is a business of one upmanship. Because in this house from a number of photos of the living God, turmeric powder and kumkum are supposed to be flowing. After appearing on a large laminated photograph, these substances are forming a heap at the feet of the divine couple. The only catch here is that the last part of the flow, i.e. from the picture to the heap is not visible to the naked eye. But, we are told that this is evidenced by the growing heap. When the growth was pointed out to be not apparent, the reply was that it was very, very slow and could be made out by the increasing sizes of the heaps, which were growing day by day or rather in the night!

Since this ‘miracle’ had been reported by a local eveninger on its front page, we decided to investigate it. When our team of four visited the place, there was a stream of visitors to and from the house. The house itself was a very small one with only two rooms. Occupying a very prominent place in the largest room was a photo of the Kalki couple, which was laminated and again covered with plastic. On the plastic cover there were smears of a yellowish liquid which was claimed to be ghee, stuck to this a few grains of rice could be seen. We were told that none except an appointed person who was the head of the local unit could touch that. The heaps of turmeric and kumkum were not allowed to be disturbed. We were told that those would be distributed after the heaps stopped growing. When queried as when that would be, the spokesperson said she had no idea. Most interesting character was this girl. A second year PU student, she and her widowed mother were the only occupants of the house. After Kalki’s local chapter heard of the news, one of their lady representatives who was sent there was also present. All the explanation were given by the daughter. The mother was inside a room and incommunicado to outsiders.

Below the photographs we noticed two small tumblers containing milk. We were told that milk used to be drunk by Kalki. But the glasses appeared to be full that evening. The explanation was that the drinking does not happen everyday. It appeared that Kalki required very little nourishment and sometimes nothing at all. The milk was turning sour because even Kalki’s great power could not check the spoilage. We were assured that at the end of the day, the milk would be replaced by a fresh quantity.

There were no independent witnesses to corroborate the version offered about the so-called miracles. All the happenings were when no outsider used to be present. The whole incident appeared to be a story concocted by the mother-daughter duo to attract attention to themselves. At a later stage it looks as if their co-conspirators of the Kalki gang joined in.

What was surprising to us was the gullibility of the general public and the press. The versions of the mother-daughter duo were swallowed hook, line and sinker by the sensation mongering evening newspapers. None questioned them as to how these things were materialising only when no one was present. No one raised doubts about the ghee pouring out of the photo, which appeared as liquid smeared on to the plastic covering.

For the four of us it was once again a damp squib in our search for a genuine miracle. The members of the investigating team were Dr Bhaskar Mayya and Balakrishna Parkala, the president and secretaries respectively of the Udupi District Vicharavadi Vedike, Varun Pai and yours truly from the DK Rationalists Association.


Prof Nayak is the Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at the Centre for Basic Sciences, Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore. He is known for his contribution in the field of rationalism. Since 1976 he has been the Secretary of the Dakshina Kannada Rationalist Association. He is also the Joint Convenor of the Federation of Indian Rationalist Organizations, which is an apex body committed to the development of scientific temper and humanism in the country. 


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