Mr. Jaggi Vasudev, aka Sadhguru, is a new-age self-styled godman who has abundant modern educated urban Indian and NRI followers. Jaggi Vasudev is a Zakir Naik equivalent in many ways – the key differences are: Articulation, Assertions, Attires and Attachments (religious and political). Jaggi Vasudev’s reasoning skills are quite similar to another self-styled godman Nithyananda. Netizens outrightly make fun of Nithyananda but Jaggi Vasudev who is a fellow hustler celebrated by many urban dwellers. The reason – Nithyananda sounds stupid while Jaggi Vasudev presents his half-baked knowledge in an articulated way that apparently sounds logical. He has uncanny ability to blend his versions of spirituality and “science” which convince educated mediocre believers of spirituality and science. In plain language, Jaggi Vasudev serves pseudoscience and superstitions sugarcoated in sophisticated English.
Here are some of profound wisdom of Sadhguru:
“If you look at the Universe, you will not see anything. If you look at an atom intensely enough – and if it yields to you – then you know how the universe is made.”
“If you drink a certain volume of water at once, the body will determine how much to absorb and how much not, but if you sip it constantly, body will get confused and start absorbing more than it should.”
“Even this brain can be manufactured with something as simple as a piece of carrot or bread” (Conversation with Neuroscientist David Eagleman)
“The only reason why science is surviving because is throwing out useful technologies on the sides. If that was not there science is far more confused in a hundred years of exploration than it ever was before.” (Sadhguru on Science, Technology and Scientists)
Puzzled yet? If not, just watch any random Sadhguru videos you will find hundreds of such profound pearls of wisdom. I am undoubtedly puzzled and can’t figure out if I’m more confused with Jaggi Vasudev’s discourse or this Random Sentence Generator.
Debunking the pseudoscience and irrationalism
Mr. Vasudev is a serial pseudoscience peddler. He will make you believe that he understands the well-guarded secrets of the Universe and how the insignificant-Science is unable to comprehend it. But in reality, he doesn’t understand either Universe or Science. Jaggi Vasudev simply has the sheer audacity of openly display his ignorance and relay his figment of imaginations to support his propaganda.
Mahashivratri & astronomical phase of the planet
Jaggi Vasudev earlier this year published a video where he was seen making absurd assertions and explained – Why Should you Stay Awake All Night this February 13th? Part of the extracted discourse is below:
“Mahashivratri is not a religious festival, it has something to do with the astronomical phase of the planet. This planet is a part of a larger… So, we understand that at certain times, at certain positions, the planet behaves in a certain way. And we have figured out what phases of the planet are most advantageous to us. In that context, Mahashivaratri because there are 12 to 13… We have identified a specific Shivaratri, which comes in the month of February and March just when the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere there’s a significant impact on your body on that day there’s a natural upsurge of energies. So when there such natural upsurge of energies if you keep your body in a horizontal position then it could impact your body in a negative way. It’s important you keep it in a vertical posture because of the natural movement of energies in this direction. …”
Astronomy outreach @asipoec which is the Public Outreach and Education Committee of the Astronomical Society of India quickly rebounded and clarified twitting the the following:
#Mahashivratri had NOTHING to do with “astronomical phase of the planet”. In fact, astronomical phase of the planet is not even a real thing. No special astronomical alignment happens on this day.
Do not, even for a moment, believe the #pseudoscience being peddled by @SadhguruJV https://t.co/EuahmWZANj
— Astronomy outreach (@asipoec) February 20, 2020
Astronomy outreach further clarified the following points:
- given that our luni-solar calendars have to add Adhika Maasa every 2.5 years, the earth’s location w.r.t. sun and stars is not the same every year’s mahashivratri.
- phase of any astronomical body is merely an optical effect based on how that body appears to the observer – it has nothing to do with the body itself. E.g. half the moon is always lighted, irrespective of tithi. We just see differing part of lighted portion.
- the earth’s diameter is 12,000 km but we are 0.002 km tall and 0.0005 km wide. Sitting or standing or sleeping makes no practical difference.
- There is no positive or negative energy flowing, because of any such planetary configuration. No scientific proof for it.
Jaggi Vasudev’s nonsensical explanation asserting that during the course of 2 to 3 hours of the lunar eclipse everything fast forward 28 days to complete full lunar cycle, and thereby it makes food poisonous (as the food now aged 28 days in 2 to 3 hours). Holy crap!
“During lunar eclipses, what would happen in 28 days over a full lunar cycle is happening in a subtle way over the course of two to three hours of the eclipse. In terms of energy, the earth’s energy is mistaking this eclipse as a full cycle of the moon…There is a distinct change in the way cooked food is before and after the eclipse. What was nourishing food turns into poison. If there is food in your body, in two hours’ time your energies will age by approximately twenty-eight days. Does that mean you can eat a raw food diet on such a day? No, because the moment food goes into your body, the juices in your stomach attack and kill it. It becomes like semi-cooked food and will still have the same impact.”
He went on to demonstrate his theory through an “experiment” using rudraksha mala and a bowl of sambhar rice during an eclipse. He may not be as good as Sathya Sai Baba at the sleight of hand but that stunt demonstrates Jaggi has potential in acquiring this skill.
Jaggi Vasudev seems to lack an understanding of basic science and at the same time unaware of the limits of his personal knowledge. The NASA clarified1 that there is no connection between a bad meal that makes someone sick and an eclipse. Without going into details, has anyone heard people were dying of food poisoning during or immediately after an eclipse? I’m sure there are many people around the globe who do not follow such absurd rituals.
Pseudoscience on mercury
“Energy” is a favourite word of Jaggi Vasudev and other new-age godman. He claims that, he can solidify and liquefy mercury by simply holding it in his hand and ‘energise’ it at room temperature. According to the Jaggi Vasudev, such solidified mercury have phenomenally changed people’s health, mental and economics situations while referring to it as ‘subjective science’.
Whilst the entire world is concerned with the widespread global mercury pollution, such as mining and fossil fuel combustion, Jaggi Vasudev claims that mercury is not poisonous. The Union Cabinet of India approved the ratification of the Minamata Convention2 on mercury to ban its usage, while Jaggi Vasudev endorses mercury use in Ayurveda and Siddha medicines. Incidents of mercury toxicity reported post-consumption of Ayurveda and Siddha drugs that led to severe neurological damage and paralysis in adults, effects worse in children.3
Can Jaggi Vasudev solidify mercury at room temperature? Of course not without a mercury amalgam. Here’s a video demonstrating how it is done:
The list of passionate pseudoscience peddling goes on. Jaggi Vasudev pretends to be an expert on highly-specialised subjects from the ‘Black Hole‘ to ‘Technologies of the Future‘ and everything in between. Here’s a non-exhaustive list:
- Black hole
- Theory of evolution
- Time and space
- Theory of relativity
- Higgs Boson
- Structure of Atoms
- UFO & Aliens
- Technologies of the Future
Jaggi Vasudev is a mere mortal like all of us and has aspirations, including worldly desires of many to become famous and wealthy. He successfully commercialised spirituality including mass selling of Inner Engineering and other programs, potpourris and other snake oils marketed via his website and other social media platforms. I have less problem with his worldly ambitions, growth of his corporate portfolio, and improving his competitiveness using social selling, but when he uses anti-science to promote his propaganda things get murky. I am, however, more amazed and ponder how and why the institutions that suppose to uphold scientific temper invite such a person to utter nonsense? This phenomenon perhaps pose a bigger question, is it the society’s ingrained irrationalism that creates such a favourable ecosystem for such nonsensical cult to flourish?
I leave you with some lighthearted analysis of Jaggi’s jiggery-pokery. We must remember the age-old saying, all that glitters is not gold (or mercury 😉)!